Friday, February 13, 2009

The Story That Changed My View on the World


Last night, my husband and I attended a wedding. It was not your typical wedding as it was held in my school lunchroom. And the happy couple were puppets. It was the wedding of Q and U and my sweet husband was the Rabbi (apparently Q is Jewish). The second graders have been about to burst with excitement over this wedding.

You should have seen the decorations! The lunchroom was truly transformed into a chapel suitable for a wedding and reception. If they'll do this much for two puppets, I want to hire these teachers and parents for the end of the year party. It'll be a blow-out!

Only one child misbehaved at the wedding. Unfortunately, his mother makes a lot of excuses for him. "He peed his pants because he was really interested in the computer program." "He likes to collect a lot of things - even broken glass." "He doesn't always listen to me until I can promise him a new toy. That is how I get him to do his work." "The doctor says he has ADHD. That is why he hides under the desk when he doesn't want to do his work."

Last night, when this child started his shenanigans, we just sent him to his excuse maker. We don't get paid for evenings, so she can just deal with him.


While at the wedding, I saw the daughter of one of my teachers. This daughter is about my age. She is very close to her parents and is one of the nicest people you'll ever meet. And it reminded me of the story her mother once told me. I've used this story many times since when parents are giving excuses about their children. I think it is time for me to have a meeting with Mrs. Excuse Maker.


When nice daughter was 15, she was diagnosed with leukemia. It was very serious and at a point, the daughter was living on the cancer ward with a grim prognosis. Mom let this daughter talk to her however she wanted. She was terrified her daughter was going to die. The doctors kept talking about numbers and counts and the daughter got sicker and sicker. And meaner. And more demanding.


If this daughter said "I want" she got it. She became so mean and demanding the nurses had difficulty getting her to comply with her medical treatment. And her mother made excuses for her. "She doesn't feel well." "She really doesn't like getting shots." "She isn't very nice when she isn't feeling well."


All the while, the dad watched what was going on. He was scared. He didn't know what to do. Their life was turned upside down and they were on the verge of losing their youngest child.


One day, after the daughter had been especially ugly to her mother and a doctor, the dad took the mother down to the cafeteria for a chat. And the dad said, "We've got to start making our daughter be nice again. I can't stand the way she talks to you. I can't stand the way she talks to anyone."


When mom tried to interrupt with her excuses ("But she may be dying..."), he held up his hand.


Dad continued, "She has gotten gifts from you just because she demanded them. We have been at her beck and call and she isn't even appreciative. We need to start treating her like she is going to get better because we will have to live with the child we are creating."


Mom cried. "But what if she dies."

And dad's response was, "And what if she lives."

18 comments:

Deb said...

Hi ~ I am out exploring blogland and I stopped in for a visit! I loved my stay. In a past life I was a teacher so I could relate to so much of your writing. I love the puppet wedding - especially the part about "And what if she lives." Many of the excuse makers children end up on the 11 o'clock news when they become adults - arrested for whatever and the excuse makers are still making excuses! Have a relaxing weekend.

Ann's Rants said...

Congrats to the happy couple! So adorable. What a story. Just goes to show, you can never stop parenting--no matter how painful the scenario. Thanks for that. Sincerely.

Sunny said...

A story that teaches a lesson. So was the father's plan a success?

Anna Lefler said...

What a great story. I just heard a similar one yesterday about a child who was turning into an emotional terrorist in the hands of a parent who was too scared to set boundaries (unrelated to any kind of illness or crisis). It's just not fair to anyone, including the child.

Great post!

:^) Anna

Sarah's Blogtastic Adventures said...

Great post! Who knows what would have happened to the daughter had her mother kept giving in to her demands? I am sure that was difficult for her to do when her daughter was sick. Uggg I can only imagine!

Why were Q and U getting married? Baby QU on the way?? : )

Beth said...

Deb - Thanks for the nice compliment. And thanks for the followship. I agree with you about the 11 o'clock news. I've seen more than one former student there. It breaks my heart.

Ann - I think it would be tough to parent and not give in to demands with a sick child but I like the attitude of raising a kid to be likeable when they live.

Sunny - The father's plan was a huge success. The daughter is just a few years younger than me and volunteers in her mother's classroom often.

Anna - There are many parents who don't know how or are scared to set limits for their kids. The child is the biggest victim.

Sarah - Q just can't live without U. The can quilt, quarrel, quiver, and quack. Q has to have U to spell and read. It is a match made in heaven. :)

Jan said...

My sister has been around that block...several times. Her youngest son was shot while waiting for the bus (crackheads looking for some crack - my nephew couldn't help them, so they opened fire on him with an Uzi). He's been a paraplegic for nearly 2 years, and he's turned into a monster because his mother won't say no to him or demand decent behavior. He is awful to everyone and takes advantage of everyone. It's not been pretty - they have finally had to send him to a halfway house that offers occupational therapy and job training for the severe-to-moderately disabled, because it's actually become dangerous to have him in the house, he's so violent and irresponsible.

bernthis said...

OMG- what a great story. Great Story!!!!

Smart Mouth Broad said...

Congrats to the happy couple! That's just about the cutest thing I've ever heard.

The story about the sick daughter is a tough one. Smart dad to take control. I can certainly understand where the mother is coming from but she was doing the daughter no favors by allowing her behavior. That being said, it's not so easy to see when you're the one in the middle of it.

Have a great weekend. I'm really enjoying your blog.

Laufa said...

Maybe that is why so many single children are such rotten adults, they never learned to share. The story made me tear up, thanks for sharing. Sounds like it was an interesting night.

Kristina P. said...

SOunds like a cute wedding! I have never been to a Jewish wedding, but I have always wanted to!

Braja said...

Good story.

xenia6408@mypacks.net said...

This is the best thing on the web today. Kudos.

Peace-Rene

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

Great story Beth.

only a movie said...

I commented here, and it disappeared into blog-comment hell. Anyway, great post - I agree with Anna. Limits are so important. Saying 'no' is sometimes the most loving thing you can do...

Deb said...

oh i have to tell you, this was an important story for me to read. i have to admit that i have been guilty of indulging my son with cf because of the whole "oh he has to go thru so much" and "i will probably outlive him" crap that runs through my head. but you are right, i am not doing him any favors. i think he is a pretty good kid and treats people well (other grown ups better than his own parents), but i think i could have done a better job with limits. i don't know.... anyway, thanks for this.

Kulio said...

Ohhhh, what a great story. Parenting is SO hard, and setting limits can get the guilt going, but looking down the long road at a happy, well-adjusted adult is why we stick to our guns....will they thank us someday? Guess I should call my parents :-)

nikkicrumpet said...

OOOOOOOOOOO good story!!!! And it's so true that no matter what...we need to raise them to be decent folk...even when it's hard or it hurts.