I took Varmint and Critter to see the movie Mr. Peabody and Sherman a couple of days ago, then afterwards stopped at My Captain’s fire station to visit. We hadn’t been there long before the munchkins, who were fired up after eating precisely 5.356 pounds of gummy bears, each, during the movie, began to be raaawwwwthar annoying. You know…..
“I’m not touching you!”
“I’m not touching you!”
“I’m still not touching you!”
“Mom! Tell him to stop!”
“Critter, stop it.”
“Mom! I never touched her!”
That kind of thing. I was tired by that time of the day, and wasn’t in the mood to deal with it well. I begged the guys on the shift to help corral the brats.
One of My Captain’s Shift’s Master Firefighters, Craig, has kids of his own, and knew exactly what to do. He walked into the office, and said, “All right, kids, time to wash the truck.” And then he turned and strode confidently to the engine bay, without looking back, as if there were no question that his order would be followed.
Both kids looked at me, perplexed.
“Well, Go On!” I nodded.
They whined and griped, but reluctantly followed him.
I waited a couple of minutes…just enough to let Craig get them started, then snuck into the bay to catch this on film.
They spotted me and glared at me.
“This is so unfair!” one muttered.
“We’re not even getting paid.” one whined.
Craig chuckled and pointed out spots they missed.
And he kept them at it until it was done.
And then, something wonderful happened. Halfway through, the whining stopped. You could see my brats start to take pride in how clean the truck was.
Some of the other guys on the shift stopped and watched. You could tell the kids knew they were being observed, and made a show of putting extra elbow grease in.
It was attention, for the right reasons: They were helping. Being productive. Being selfless. They felt like a part of the team, like their efforts mattered.
And they were proud of it.
THAT is what kids need. They don’t need more toys or channels, or more Ipods and x-boxes. They need to be put to work, so they can prove to themselves that they matter, and what they do matters. You can tell them until you are blue in the face that it’s not what they say in life, but what they do that makes them, but until they actually do, DO, it can’t really register.
Master Firefighter Craig has several kids of his own….he knew what he was doing. This wasn’t his first rodeo! He turned their negative behavior around…morphed it into positive, self-image-building work, and, quite possibly saved their lives in the process.