On a recent holiday in Japan, we were playing a game of “Questions for Candy” in the car with the boys during a long road trip.
The rule of the game was that to win a piece of candy, they had to answer questions correctly. They were given a choice of 1 hard question; 3 medium level questions or 5 easy questions. Whichever level of difficulty they chose, they must answer all the questions correctly to win a piece of candy.
At one point of the game, Joshua decided to bravely go for the 1 hard question. Jeff thought about it for quite some time, and then posed this conceptually difficult question to a 5 year old:
“What is the hardest thing mommy and daddy have to do as parents?”
Thinking we have thrown them off, we expected him to say “I don’t know” and move on. But even Jayden took up the challenge, and the boys offered up answers like: “Cook for us!”, “Reading to us!”, “Cleaning up our toys!” and “Taking us on adventures!”
Eventually, they had to give up but demanded an answer.
Jeff explained to them that the hardest thing mommy and daddy have to do is to actually teach them to be good children, and it was especially hard when they don’t listen and are being naughty.
Everything became quiet in the car as if they were contemplating the depth of the lesson, and we thought nothing more of it for the rest of the trip or since then.
A month or so later…..
On a hot Sunday evening, the boys were being particularly trying after a long taxing day. They were fighting over lego and were both grumpy and stubborn. When it came time for tidying up, we were met with tantrums, tears and generally a whole lot of reluctance.
Voices were raised; threats were imposed; stern warning was issued; a lecture was delivered. With much effort, we managed to all calm down and tidy everything up ready for bedtime.
After all the teary fuss that he made, a surprisingly calm and collected Joshua made this odd comment to Jeff – “It’s hard isn’t it Daddy?”
Jeff, being quite perplexed, as this question seemed to come right out of the blue, returned: “What’s hard Joshua?”
“Teaching us, it is hard isn’t it?” replied Joshua matter of factly.
Stunned, I was thinking: “Wow, he remembered that lesson!“. Jeff looked at me with eyes wide open. His facial expression read like “OMG, I can’t believe he used that lesson right back at us!“.
Calmly, we regrouped and rearranged our look of disbelief: “Yes, Joshie, it is hard, one of the hardest things we have to do.”
With some sudden profound maturity, our 5 year old acknowledged, “Yeah, I know.” and then added after a slight pause “Good job mommy and daddy. Keep it up!”
Now, what do you say to that?!