Joan and I were the elder couple at our grandson Nate’s 2-yr old Birthday Party. The parents invited several friends over who had church playmates about the same age as Nate….. In a couple of cases, they were friends with children slightly older but had done a lot with and for John, Laurie and Nate…. and a couple who had a child Nate’s age had a couple older children too. So it was an interesting mix.
They were all helping Nate break in his new birthday swing set.
2-yr olds aren’t very good at sharing and Nate seemed slightly puzzled at times why all these other kids were in HIS yard playing with HIS toys. The parents were closely supervising their children, especially around the swing set and helping explain sharing, being polite and taking turns.
In addition to the close involvement, there were some notable moments. My favorite was an exchange between one of the older boys there (maybe 6 or 7) and his mother. The mother had just instructed the boy to return a toy to one of the younger children when he responded with, “Why, there are plenty of other balls for him to play with.” The mother calmly called the son closer and quietly instructed him to “go over there and tell your father you were rude to me.” I wish I could have heard THAT exchange. I found that impressive.
A 2-yr old toddler wanted his dad to pick him up so he could dunk the miniature basketball in the toddler basketball goal. When the ball goes through the hoop, the dad yelled “scooooore” as he tossed the screeching tot into the air twice. As soon as he put the boy down, the toddler would run to get the ball, bring it back to the dad and motion to do it again. Gradually the dad started moving back from the goal. When the ball went in, there was the “scooooore” and toss routine and when he missed there was a “boooooo” and no toss. But this went on …… oh my, until dad’s shirt was wringing wet with sweat.
Another dad’s daughter delivered a soft rubbery ball that she wanted him to pitch to her to hit with a plastic bat. Dad explained that although the ball was soft and rubbery and probably wouldn’t hurt anybody, the bat could…and that toddlers wouldn’t necessarily know how to stay out of the way. He then offered to trade her the ball for the bat. She looked disappointed, but did not complain nor question his wisdom or authority.
Whenever there were kids on the swing set, there were parents back there keeping watch…..not always the same parents and not watching only their children….. shared parenting and supervising that just happened.
When some of the older kids were first to grab the chairs around the birthday cake table, their parents asked them to surrender those chairs to the 2-yr olds…. and they did, without question or argument.
When it was time for Nate to open presents and couple of the other toddlers wanted to help, Laurie (Nate’s mom) let them help when she didn’t have to.
In general, there were no fights or arguments over who got to do what or play with what ….. it was just a yard full of polite, respectful, compliant, happy, sharing kids….
The common denominator: An active, vibrant, teaching, encouraging church family.