“What I know is that it’s an act of courage to stay with someone who needs you. It’s a sign of character.” His voice cracks as he says, “A hero can be afraid, but a hero never runs away.” (from Countdown by Deborah Wiles)
I so want to instill this in my son, this heroic character, this courage to go the distance. In Countdown, the protagonist is faced with a situation in which a friend she used to love but has lately been treating her with contempt needs her. Should she stay or run from a friend who has been downright mean? I want Benjamin to be the kind of person who stays, even if it’s uncomfortable, and works things out with character and courage. Jon and I will try to teach this at home. He’ll probably learn it on the playground. He’ll use it in family life, friendship, and definitely in marriage.
You know, one of the things I look for in a good children’s book is a child working things out for himself with little or no adult intervention. I think it empowers children when they read these characters–they don’t need an adult to fix things for them. They know what they know and they have their own characters–big character in a little person sometimes–and they can do it by themselves. I kind of cringe when I hear a lot of tattling to adults when children are playing together. I kind of want to be the parent that stands back and says, “Hey, you work it out amongst yourselves.” I definitely cringe when I hear an adult woman who has nothing kind or respectful to say about her own husband. You know the type–it’s like she’s always tattling on her spouse. My guess is, this is the woman who never learned to work things out on the playground or in the school cafeteria when she was eleven. She probably tattled a lot and changed friends like she changed shoes.
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I’m thinking right now that I’m thankful for my husband’s parents and siblings. They let him learn how to work things out. (When you have five kids you just have to let them work things out for themselves.) Sometimes I’m so rude to Jon I can’t even believe myself. Sometimes I’m so whiney and clingy I think I’d want to drop me off on the side of the highway if I were him. But he stays with me and we fight it out if we have to. And it’s a sign of character, an act of courage.