Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Be a Horse, Not an Ass

Justice and I went to the library's "Make and Take" project last week.  It was our first time to attend one so we had no idea what to expect.  The project was a terrarium made from a water bottle.  It looked fun on the flyer but when we arrived she was not impressed. She didn't get to cut the bottle, mix the dirt or even plant and water the seeds.  She just colored.  I get that it was super lame for a 9-year old who can make her own paper mache and whittle her own bow and arrows, but her attitude and snide comments surprised me.

The flyer we received a few days before when checking out books had her interest.  "Oh mom can just you and I come back, without the twins?"  "Sure thing."  She was excited.  I was excited.  So a few days later we rushed through dinner and cleaning and headed out, found a parking spot, slide in just minutes late (good for us) and then she saw the line of little kids the twin's age.

"Why did we come, it's for little kids?"
"The flyer didn't say that.  The librarian even personally handed it to you, so she must have thought it was age appropriate."
"I want to go, this is dumb." 
"Look, we're here, get your craft, stay for awhile and we'll just not come again."
"Let's just go."
"I didn't rush through dinner and cleaning so you could pout.  Just do the project.  Thank them for taking the time to do this and we'll go next door and pick up some crafts to do at home."

More attitude, loud sighs, a few 'lames' and 'dumbs' and I had enough.

"You get in that line.  You smile.  You say please and thank you and then you fix your attitude."

She recognized the anger in my voice and straightened up.  She wasn't pleasant by any stretch of the imagination, but she did stop the rude comments... for awhile.

After she finished and took the colors back up and said her thank you's, we left.  The moment she buckled her seat belt I turned around and started the, "Don't be an Ass be a Horse lecture".   We've had it before.  It was one of those not so great mom moments when I spoke before thinking and called her an ass.  I can't even tell you what had happened that day, but I can tell you it was about her attitude.

I do remember her reaction though, total shock.  I quickly recovered, sat her down on the couch and gently explained what an ass was... the donkey version of course.  Stubborn, rude, unwilling to cooperate and in the end just unpleasant.  I 'fixed' the outburst by telling her that the alternative was a horse.  (Go with me on this people... she did.)  ;)

"You see kid, a horse, even though it's strong and can harm a human and certainly out run us, it works with us to get things done.  It might not even be what the horse wants.  Working in a field, carrying a rider around, or pulling a cart full of people or produce.  But they do it and in return they are cared for.  No worries about what they'll eat, drink or even if they'll be brushed and cleaned.  It's a give and take and because of it we admire and love them.  So do me a favor, don't ever be an ass.  Be a horse, even if you don't see the immediate benefits, just know in the end you'll be better off." 

Now, when that unpleasant attitude rears it's ugly head I remind her to be a horse.  I guess it's similar to the Eagle and Turkey speech, but to a 9-year old little girl, horses kinda rock.  So she gets it.

After the library reminder she sat back in her seat.  Told me she was sorry for her attitude and wasn't surprised when I told her no trip to the craft store and no TV for the rest of the week.  She made her choice while pouting in the library.  I even took a picture to remind her.  And the funny side note is in the picture you'll see she's sitting next to a book about Egypt.  Her latest fascination. 

"Did you notice the book you sat down next to?"

I hand her the camera:

The not so happy crafter. 

"You've been wanted a book about Egypt and you sat right next to one but never noticed because you were too busy being upset over a free project.  A negative attitude will sometimes blind us to the positive things around us.  You can miss out on things you enjoy because you're too busy being upset over something that matters so little.  Don't let your emotions blind you again, okay?"

She dropped her head; "Being a kid is tough mom."
A gave a short laugh, squeezed her knee and replied;
"Try raising a few."

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