Learning How to Not Be Selfish

Isaac watched Monsters vs Aliens the other night for about the fourth time with Uncle Cody.  The next day at dinner Isaac yelled, “Selfish jerk,” at Daddy.  Zach remembers it as being said in the movie.  I asked Isaac if he knew what selfish was…he didn’t…and I tried to explain it as best as I could.

Since this conversation, and with number two on the way, I’ve been thinking a lot about how we teach our “only” child how not to be selfish – how to not think the world revolves around him, as it does for the most part.  I don’t know that Isaac will really get it until he isn’t the only center of our world, but he has done a few cute, unselfish things this weekend.

On Friday, I was rushing Isaac out of the house because I needed to ship my world computer to our office in Chicago.  I asked Isaac if he would please carry my water, since the boxed up computer was a bit awkward.  He whined about it, but carried it down the first flight of stairs, then he was done.  I was annoyed so I balanced it on top of my box as we continues down the stairs.  I don’t know exactly what I bumped, but the cup went tumbling, breaking the lid and spilling my 24oz of water all over the stairs and floor.

I had one of those moments in parenting that you wish you could take back.  I yelled.  Told Isaac to get in the car and that it was basically all his fault because he wasn’t willing to help.  I cleaned up the mess and got in the car.  In the car, Isaac said it was okay, that I could fix it, to which I made it clear that it wasn’t fixable and it was all his fault.  Really not my best parenting approach!

On Saturday we were watching a movie and Isaac was floating in and out of the room.  At one point, he decided to cuddle and there were flowers on the screen (I’m fuzzy on those details) and Isaac began to talk about them being like the pretty flowers on my cup that was broken and how sad he was that it was all his fault.  I gave him a tight squeeze and told him we’d already gotten a new lid, so it was all fixed and it wasn’t all his fault in the first place.  He asked a few questions to make sure it was really fixed and then said, “okay.”

I felt so bad for making him feel bad, but how proud I am that he actually cared.  He was sorry and sad and wanted it to be all better.  Not for himself, but for me, so I would have my cup that he knows I always use.

On Sunday, I ate too much for dinner and I eventually ended up laying in the hall on my stomach.  Isaac came up the stairs and says, “Oh, there you are.  I’ve been looking for you,” as he sits on the step to be eye level with me.  We discuss the pretty marble he is playing with and all it’s colors…

I: Do you what to share it with me?

Me: Not right now.  Mommy doesn’t feel very good.

I: Where does it hurt Mommy?

Me: My tummy and my back?

I: Oh (pause) maybe I should give you a massage to make it feel better.

Me: That might work.

Isaac then stands up, sits on my butt and gives me a bit of a massage.  Then, “oh, I forgot to take my shoes off,” and the moment was broken.  But oh how thoughtful and considerate?  I couldn’t believe he thought about it all by himself and was gentle about it.


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