Bob and I had the rare chance to go out together last night. Little year-end party, people we knew, people we didn't know that well. Socializing! Colleen's cheese puffs! Beer! Now that's holiday.
Nowadays, living where we do, sooner or later most conversations come around to kids. Or school. Or kids and school. That's ok by me. We love our school. The teachers are motivated and smart and kind, the other parents are G-R-E-A-T, and the lighting is not too soul-crushing. We have lot of nice anecdotes about how well our kids are responding to it.
For example! Last week it snowed a little, and Mao, looking out the car window, started reciting a poem that had been in his Poetry Book last year in first grade.
Snow makes whiteness where it falls.
The bushes look like popcorn-balls.
The places where I always play
Look like somewhere else today.
And! Yesterday Zhou got into a scrap with a kid in his class. It's not like they were rolling around on the floor gouging each other's eyes out, but still, that stuff is taken really seriously: the teacher took them to the principal's office, and since it was the end of the day, the other mom and I were invited as well. The interrogation went like this:
Teacher: First of all, Zhou, are you all right?
Teacher: Ok, can you tell me why your pal here was hitting you?
Zhou: I was saying something he didn't like.
Teacher: What were you saying?
Teacher, turning to the other kid: Ok, what did you say that he disagreed with?
Other kid: I said 'Uh huh'.
Oh, it took forever to tease out what exactly they were arguing about, and by then the teacher was late for a doctor's appointment, so she said she'd put this discussion in her pocket until tomorrow, and then they'd play it out in class. This perked Zhou right up. "You mean a reenactment?" he asked, his eyes bright. "I LOVE reenactments!"
So we're telling all these tales to the other parents last night, and I realize we are BRAGGING. I realize that we brag about our kids ALL THE TIME. We brag discreetly, we brag openly, we do the back-door brag. After we got home, I brought it up to Bob.
"You know, we brag about the kids ALL THE TIME," I said.
"Well, they're pretty great kids," he says.
"Yeah," I said. "I think we should keep doing it. I think if we spend a lot of time talking about how great they are, they're going to think they're great, even if we don't do it right in front of them."
"I think you're right," Bob says. "If our default posture is that they are great, we will be more convincingly disappointed when they act like assholes."
Consensus. The essence of successful parenting.