I had a really interesting exchange on Friday with a gentleman as the kids and I got onto the elevator with him going down to the metro. Gerry was playing games on one of our iPhones and the volume was a bit loud. I asked him outside to turn it down and he didn't do it right then.
So once we were all on the elevator (including the aforementioned gentleman), I gently, calmly (and quite quietly) asked Gerry to turn it down again. He said no. So I gently touched his head and leaned down close and told him it was too loud for when we were on the metro so we needed to turn it down or we couldn't have the iPhone out. He then turned it down and I said Thank you.
The gentleman then said to me, "Don't expect that kind of cooperation for the next 10-12 years!"
I smiled. Then I noted that "He does pretty good, doesn't he?" in reference to Gerry. As we got off the elevator I joked that he should give me his number so I could call him in 10 years.
But this short interaction made me think about what people see in public versus the "behind the scenes" action. I thought of all the times we've asked Gerry to turn his shows or games down and he hasn't right away. I thought of the times that we've plugged in headphones. I thought of the many times where he says, "no!" and I sigh and resign myself to general noisiness, only to have him turn it down a few seconds later. I thought of the many times when I pushed the button myself to turn down the volume, then Gerry pushed the opposite right back up to where it was. I think now, as I type, that there were probably a few times when I may have even taken the phone away (but none immediately jump to mind). So "cooperation" on this one small action is something that has grown over time. We've been flexible, we've never punished him, and we've tried to be respectful of others (whether that means his sister or a complete stranger). And so, Friday on the elevator I wasn't even worried about it. It was natural and loving and easy. Could it have gone another way? Sure. And then I would have done my best to navigate whatever feelings Gerry was having with what was appropriate in our environment (which is always the hardest thing to figure out - what *is* appropriate?? I mean was it really too loud, or was I being too sensitive? And is a screaming child any better? Lucky for me, I didn't have to go through that assessment this time!)
Will cooperation always be that easy? Well, I don't know. If the gentleman knew all of those things, would he still have thought it was "easy?" I do know that I do not expect blind obedience from my children. I try to treat them respectfully and to guide them as they learn to offer the same to others. Is it always easy? I guess not. But no one ever told me parenting would be.
Wife, mom, information and peace seeker.