Bow and Arrow

Is anyone else ready for the school bus to start showing up???  This is my favorite time of year, the transition from summer to fall.  We are all finished traveling and moving towards getting ready for the school year.  I feel like the year really begins in September - that makes way more sense to me than January being the first month of the year...

We did a lot of camping the last few weeks.  For some reason, there has been a lot of twine in my van, and we have made lots of bows and arrows out in the woods.  What kid doesn't love a bow and arrow?  And Ben is the man at making cool bows.  Ben is totally the dad in the neighborhood that all the kids come to if they need their bike seat raised, helmet adjusted or ball blown up.  He rules and is super handy.

Ben and I both love knowing the kids in the neighborhood, the kids our kids are running around with all day.  We know them all by name and are outside regularly enough to engage any one of them in conversation.  I think we do a pretty good job of connecting with the kids and as a result, they like to play over here, and they are all respectful and respond well when we need to redirect.

So yesterday, there were lots of kids playing down at our neighborhood park.  There is a wooded area between the park and another neighborhood that they like to play in and look for sticks and "hide out." Ian was there all day with his cool bow and arrow that Ben had put together for him that morning

Now, your kid may be really together when it comes to where he leaves his stuff.  Ian?  Not so much...  He is terrible about leaving his stuff wherever he goes - total "distracted by shiny" kid.  So it isn't any wonder that he left his bow and arrow at the park.  And I am sure you've heard finders keepers before...

Here's how it went:

"Mom!  I am so mad at Samson!"  Ian stomped into the kitchen and his faced was all scrunched up.

"Can you tell me about that?" was my response.  This is totally my go-to response whenever I want to know more.  I have been trying to avoid "why" by saying "tell me about that."  It seems like it may be less threatening to the kids and they seem quicker to share what is going on...

The crocodile tears started as he explained what had happened.  "Well, I went to the park and I left my bow there and Samson has it and says that it's his bow!  That he made it!  But it's the bow that daddy made me!"  Big tears...

Hmm.  how do I empower my child in this moment.  I know the child who took the bow, he is a bit of a rascal.  I want Ian to solve his own problems, I for sure don't want to be a crazy mom who rescues her kid every time he comes home crying...  In the end I decided to look at this opportunity as a chance for training.

"Do you want me to come help you talk to him?"  I asked.

"Yes," he says, calming down and wiping his face.

"Okay, but you are going to have to do the talking," I let him know.

We talked a bit about how cool his bow is, and how hard it is to find something that awesome at the park and not want to take it.  "I'll bet that if Samson knew that daddy would make one for him, he would have and easier time handing it over..."  I thought, out loud.

"Yes!" Ian said.  Then he practiced saying, "Hey Samson, that is my bow, and I bet if you find a good stick my dad would make one for you, too," while we rode our bikes back over to the park.

Samson was still at the park, and his eyes got big and didn't meet mine as we rode up.  Ian asked him for the bow and he claimed he didn't know where it was.  "The bow you just had?"  I asked, and Samson answered that he had made that bow.

"Can I see it?"  I asked, in a really, genuinely friendly voice, with a smile on my face.

"Uh, okay."  So, Samson heads into his backyard to get the bow.  When he comes out he gives the it  to Ian.

Now, the big moment.

Ian takes a step forward and says, "So, uh, Samson?  If you find a good stick, I bet my dad would make one for you too."  Samsons' head snaps up and he looks at Ian, then me.  I think he was surprised not to get a big lecture from me, that I wasn't mad, and that instead, I was smiling.  "Okay," he said.  Then we all high-fived.

I felt pretty proud about how it all went.  It is so easy for kids to get mad at each other when they make mistakes.  And then, lots of the time they want to "pay back" whoever did them wrong.  I really like Samson, I know he is hard to play with sometimes, but aren't all 6 year old boys?  And impulse control is tough to find when your are young and you find something you want.  We gave him an out, Ian practiced problem solving, and the bow was returned to its rightful owner.

I don't think I rescued Ian.  I think I took time for training while a scenario was playing out.  And I feel like Samson was able to learn from the experience as well.  Instead of holding on to negative feelings toward Ian because he came and got me, I think Samson is looking for a stick to bring over so Ben can make him a bow.  And I would bet that he realized he made a mistake by taking Ian's bow.  I am a total controller, and I love to micro-manage, but I think I did alright this time.

What do you think?  Let me know!