Don't be a sheep!
Growing up, I can remember the handful of people that I looked up to at different times; those who I couldn’t wait to be with, whatever the scenario. Although there were more than mentioned here, there were a few “key” players.
There was a close friend of my parents who ran a mobile disco company and I would do his “gigs” with him whenever I got offered the chance. There was a cousin who had (and still has) a very successful cleaning company (where there’s muck there’s brass) whom I worked with for a while. Finally there was my Dad although my hero worship was probably less obvious to my Dad.
It was there though.
My point is that on Sunday, while we were out celebrating my parent’s 40th wedding anniversary, I could see in Joseph the same adoration of others that I had. All morning he kept saying, “is Tom going to be there? Is he? Can I see him?” Tom being the teenage son of long term family friend’s and yes, he was going to be there.
Joseph sat patiently through starters and the main course before he could stand it no more and asked if he could go and speak to Tom.
And Tom was very good, very patient and put up with not only Joseph hanging around him for the remainder of the meal but also Annabel who cottoned on to the fact that her brother was with someone other than Mum or Dad which is automatically more fun.
Watching them grow over recent months however, their personalities are coming through more and more and one thing is becoming apparent.
I think that in life, you can be one of two types of person; a leader or a follower. You can inspire people to do what you suggest or you can be one of those who carry out the suggested.
Much as I hate to admit it, I was a follower.
I say ‘was’ because that isn’t the case anymore and I think that being a follower is a little bit ….... sad.
M on the other hand is a leader and, thankfully, so is Annabel. You can see it a mile away.
Joseph will try to get his friends attention, try to get them to run in the direction he wants to run but mostly they run in the opposite direction and he follows, slight frustration written across his face. His friends will tell him to say something mean to someone (I’ve heard them) and he will move to do what they’ve asked – until he catches sight of me looking but of course I won’t always be there.
It’s the same when he plays together with Annabel. “Annabel do this, Annabel do that” but she will have none of this. She usually replies with “NO, I’m the teacher” (while waving a forefinger at him) and amazingly, he will often comply with what she has asked.
M has always been pleased that Annabel is quite tough and that it will stand her in good stead in the ‘big bad world’ and she is right. Annabel seems a perfect mix of girlie girl and tough cookie when need be.
As for Joseph, it doesn’t matter how much you tell them not to do what so-and-so says; if that’s what they want to do, that’s what they will do.
I know from experience.
Knowing this, I am trying to be careful because as we all know, whenever your parents tell you not to do something it automatically makes you want to do it more.
Take the last couple of weeks for example. When I have been collecting Joseph from school, his tie is on the outside of his jumper.
“Did you do PE again today?” I ask, wondering why this might be.
I tuck his tie in and forget it.
It happens several more times before M sees his tie and says, “look at the state of your tie! How did it get so dirty?”
And so, finally, we hear that his friend (or ringleader as I call him) has decided that they must get to school and immediately put their tie on the outside of their jumper, meaning that during a messy lunchtime, the tie is the first thing to suffer.
“Well don’t listen to (friend). He’s only going to get you in trouble. Don’t do what he says, ok?”
Joseph’s answer sums it all up in one easy sentence.
“But I want to”.
What do you say to that?
Again, from experience I know that children want to challenge their parents’ authority. I just thought it might not be for a few more years yet.