We’ve been watching a lot of The Sandlot lately. A lot. In typical 3-year-old style, my son watches and re-watches a movie until something new comes along. Thus: watching The Sandlot at least twice a day.
We can both recite it by heart.
It’s flat out hilarious to hear a 3-year-old say “She knows exactly what she’s doing… I can’t take it anymore” only to get out of his kiddie pool in our front yard, stomp around to the other side and jump in the deep/er end. Entertainment at it’s finest, folks.
In watching this movie back to back for … about 3 months now, I can’t help but wonder what little Scotty Smalls’ mom would think of our approach to parenting today. A prime example:
Early on in the plot, before the boys of the Sandlot have accepted Smalls as one of their own, his mom sits down with him in his bedroom and asks if he’s made any friends. Smalls claims he’s still new, but she’s not buying. She wants him to get out in the fresh air. You know, be a kid. Lamenting his friendless fate, Smalls says he’s not good at anything – he’s just an egg head.
His mom’s response: “You’ll always be an egg head with an attitude like that.”
Holy catfish! Can… can we say that?
Here’s how I surmise that same situation might play out in a 10-year-old boy’s bedroom across America today:
“Face it, I’m just an egg head.”
“Oh, honey. NO! You’re not an egg head. You’re so smart. They’re just jealous. Some day the kids will realize how much fun you are, until then it’s their loss! They’re missing out because you’re awesome.” And then secretly (or maybe not so secretly) the mom finds out these kids names and talks to their parents. Which could result in a pity invitation or even more teasing. If I were the betting sort, my money would be on the latter.
Ya killin’ me, Smalls!
(Oh stop. You knew it was coming.)
Such a fine line between being empathetic and entitlement. Kids are so intuitive. They know what their peers think about them without a word ever being spoken. I’m no psychologist but teaching them the other kids are just wrong makes them feel better about themselves but it’s just a band-aid. It doesn’t teach them what to do with it. It doesn’t teach them how to deal, especially if you create the solution for them too.
Kids need to know they are not defined by what others think. But even more so, they need to realize they hold the power to change the outcome, to change the perception – if they want. Smalls mom managed to do all that in a single sentence. I suspect it’s far easier to teach that lesson over childhood spats than it is over larger, more real life issues. Who’s going to be to blame if they get a bad grade? Or they don’t get accepted to the college of their choice?
“I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.” – Charles Swindoll