How in the world can we teach our kids that their choices don’t just affect them, but others as well? This week I took Megan and TJ to the dentist. Megan finished up quite quickly, yet TJ seemed to be taking quite a long time with the dental hygienist. Finally (after Megan had complained multiple times about the amount of time we were waiting and how she was going to be late to track practice), the hygienist came out and asked me to come back with her. She said there was an enormous amount of plaque build up on TJ’s teeth which signified to her that maybe he wasn’t brushing well. At this moment the dentist appeared (and steam was coming out of my head from anger at TJ). Sure enough TJ had a cavity that would require us coming back the next day for another appointment. Then on top of all this information, the dentist suggested that I help TJ with his brushing. I kept my mouth closed at this point because nothing good was going to come out of saying anything to the dentist.
I wanted to say, “Are you kidding me? Brush a 13 year olds teeth? What, do you want me to continue to help him through high school and college? You have got to be joking.” But I didn’t say any of those things. I just steamed and pushed my feelings back into my mouth and down my throat until my stomach was ready to burst with anger.
We all got back into the car and I started to think of all the driving I have been doing for my kids. This appointment was going to add a whole new dimension to my already planned out day tomorrow. That means that I will need to go back to TJ’s school to pick him up, take him to the dentist, then back to school then back to our home (20 minutes from the school). I was not happy.
As we arrived home, I told TJ how disappointed I was in him. He had been lying to me about his brushing habits and I was angry that I couldn’t trust him anymore. Did he even realize that his bad choice not only affected him, but me? Did he realize that my day that I had all planned out now was completely changed and cut down by the 3 extra hours that I would spend driving and waiting at the dentist office? No, I don’t think he did.
So the next day, I took Megan and Katie to school and then I told TJ to stay in the car. We drove back home and I immediately gave him a list of the things that I was going to do today. “We are going to do these things together this morning before your dentist appointment.” He looked at me with big eyes and realized that he was going to help me mow the lawn (yes all the acres of lawn that we now mow), trim the bushes, and pick up trash along the creek (I added that one in for fun). Anyway, he did it. Since we didn’t finish it all before his appointment, when he arrived home from school the two of us pushed mowed the additional acre of grass that needed mowing (remember I was stuck in the mud that day with my tractor).
Later I talked with TJ about hygiene and the importance of it not only to ourselves but to those around us. We talked about choices and how they affect more than just ourselves. It actually ended up being a great day.
It got me thinking that I too make choices that not only affect myself, but others. I make choices everyday that affect people I don’t even know. It could be choices I make when I am driving, choices at the grocery store, choices on writing topics, choices about my kids, choices about my household. There are so many ways that we affect others and we don’t even realize it.
Just for today, when you make a choice (which will be all day long) think about the consequences to those around you. I think you will find eye opening results.