Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Origin of the Species.


I have found it, the origin of the full grown snowflake, and the sight is not pretty. I had long since wondered how the snowflakes got to be snowflakes really, but after popping out a kid (now 14 months old) I have been privy to how it all happens, and folks it starts very early.

Being finished with my semester and free for the summer I decided to take the wee one to the park this morning as it was a gorgeous day. I was happy sitting on a park bench enjoying the sunshine and no more grading for a few months and wee one was enjoying the sandbox and chasing bugs. Then it happened, my daughter picked up a long and very pointy stick. As these things are never a good thing in the hands of a small child I took it away from her. Then the tantrum started. She cried and pointed at the aforementioned stick. She stomped her feet and complained loudly. Being too young for reason or time outs I tried to distract her with the slide, the swing, her bucket and shovel in the sand. She was having none of it and the tantrum escalated. She threw herself on the ground kicking her legs and screaming at the top of her voice. I did the only thing I could do at that point utilizing the best piece of parenting advice my mother ever gave me, I walked away. The tantrum continued for about 20 seconds until, realizing she was not getting the stick and no one was there to witness the tantrum, the wee one went back to playing in the sand. The mother sitting at the next bench stared at me with open moth horror, like I smacked my daughter rather than walked two feet away from her.

“I don’t know how you can do that” she said with the air of mommy judgment some women are just born with. “I just cannot stand to hear my baby cry, I usually just let him have what he wants, or at least give him a cookie instead.”

And there you have it. Instead of teaching her small child boundaries the snowflake mommy just gives in. Now I am not na├»ve enough to believe that this one incident will teach my child anything (she’s a baby after all) but after replaying it approximately 1.2 million times during her life she will eventually get it. Which brings me to my point; I have begun to really see where the blame lies for a lot of the snowflake behavior, the snowflake parents. How can we expect students to act like adults when they have never ever been told no. Of course this is not the case for every kid, but when you do not learn anything about discipline or boundaries, how can we expect them to have those tools? I do not blame my daughter for her tantrum that is what kids do as they learn to negotiate the world with limited communication skills. But I would blame myself if I never addressed the situation, never taught her how to walk in the world. I am not by any stretch of the imagination giving the snowflakes a free pass, but I wonder if many of them ever had a chance to be anything other than a snowflake.