Recently our two year old son, Colton, learned what a “happy plate” is. In case you don’t know, a happy plate is a clean plate. I just learned this myself a few years ago when our daughter was about his age.
If you ask me, a clean plate is a sad plate…especially if you’re eating cake.
Obviously with kids though, a happy plate is considered a good thing, and when our children are in possession of one, we applaud them!
So, in order to get some kudos, Colton has learned a quick way to accomplish this feat…he dumps all of his food on the table and yells, “Happy plate!”
(If we’re having spaghetti…it’s not a pretty sight.)
When he does this, my wife’s and my first reaction is “noooo!”
Yet, the more I think about this, the more I become impressed instead of upset!
I mean, to my knowledge, we’ve never actually told him he had to eat everything on his plate. He just sees his sister getting a high five when hers is absent of any food.
So, he has found his own way to get in on the action! Brilliant!
And is having his own way of doing something really so bad?
You know, bad choices aside, I think it’s easy for us parents to fall into the trap of wanting our kids to be just like us.
After all, we have expressions to reinforce this as an accomplishment.
“Like father, like son!”
“He’s a chip off the ole block!”
I mean, having our kids turn out to be just like us is a good thing, right? Because well…we’re awesome!
As a result though, we often push them into things that don’t fit. We sign them up for football when they want to play guitar. We make a five-year old wear flats (did I use that right?) when she just wants to wear boots for crying out loud!
Remember this, though, if your kids don’t walk, talk, and act like you, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent and they don’t like you. It doesn’t mean they don’t want to associate with you or that you’re doing things all wrong.
In fact, maybe it means the exact opposite. You see, I don’t want my children to be just like me…I want them to be better!
And I don’t want to miss out on something really special in their lives because it doesn’t match my vision of who or what they should be.
I’m saying this, but I don’t know if I’m really ready to live it. Actually, I entered into this parenting thing thinking I was going to have a mini-me or two running around. But even though my children are only two and five, it’s happening already. They like things I don’t…like soccer!
I confess…I want Colton to play baseball and basketball. And, I want him to get Saturday Night Fever with me every fall. Geaux Tigers!!
But those are my happy plates. And, whether or not I like it, he will again find a way to make his own. And I need to be okay with that…because it’s my job as his dad to meet him where he is, not the other way around.
Unless, of course, he wants to be an Auburn fan…
What about you? Do you struggle with wanting your kids to share all of your interests? How do you feel when they don’t?