I learned a very important parenting lesson when Helen was 2. Another parent was cool as a cucumber when Helen laid a kiss on his baby and rather than freaking out at the potential germ transfer he said "Everybody likes to be treated nicely.". And while it seems like such a simple lesson, I feel like some folks make it so hard.
A few nights ago, I was busy knitting at the PTA meeting, when the subject of the school dance marathon came up. The person running it gave a brief overview, and noted that teams needed to get registered soon.
Another parent noted that sometimes in the upper grades, navigating the social ins and outs of putting a team can be difficult, and asked if there was any plan for what to do with kids who didn't yet have a team.
The person in charge of the dance said that while anyone could attend "we won't make them go home", prizes could only be awarded to a pre-registered team. I get that she's put a lot of time into this fundraiser, and I suspect she's a very organized person that doesn't like surprises. But let's face it, this is an absolutely ridiculous position to take. This is a fundraising event at an elementary school. This is not "Dancing with the Stars". But, because I know how unhelpful comments late in planning can be, I kept my mouth shut.
To her credit, the principal stepped in and said maybe as children came in the night of the party without a team, they could be formed into an ad hoc team, and there appeared to be general agreement on this.
While this was going on, all I could think about was how the daughter of the woman running the dance marathon has probably learned from her mom that it's appropriate to create arbitrary rules that everyone has to follow that make her own life easier. And when they don't get followed, the appropriate response is to exclude, rather than include.
What I wish the mom were teaching was that "everybody likes to be treated nicely", even if it is sometimes inconvenient.
In our own house, Connor did not wish to participate in the dance party when I initially brought it up. Then a buddy's mom in his class sent me an email letting me know a team was forming and asked if Connor wanted to be part of it. The next morning, I said to Connor "remember how I told you about the dance party at school and you said you didn't want to go?" "Yeah, I don't want to go." "OK - F's Mom sent me a note and wanted to know if you wanted to be on a team with F, D, etc." Connor did a complete 180 and exclaimed how he had "always wanted to go to the dance party - that it was his most favorite thing in the whole world - and that he definitely, definitely did NOT want to miss it".
Thank you, moms in Connor's class, for including him. Because just like everyone else, Connor loves being treated so nicely.
We have the power to change the world. I'm not even exaggerating here.