Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Let it Ride

This past weekend I attended a Belt Loop Bonanza with my 7 year old son. A BLB if you aren't aware is a half day seminar for scouts to attend that allows them to earn belt loops. Belt loops are these cool little metal clips that go over the belt that scouts earn for completing a certain set of requirements. Adam's first three choices were Wildlife Conservation, Map & Compass, and Science. In the science one, they got to meet a real scientist who taught them about scientific method and then they did an experiment to apply what they learned. Wildlife conservation meant that they met an environmentalist who taught them about food chains and then them met some animals and drew their own food chain. Map and Compass, they learned about maps, topographic maps and how to read a compass. It was during this last one that I and other parents around me witnessed a travesty. After learning about how a map needed landmarks the kids took a nature walk and drew their own map of the nature center. After listening to a fellow dad at Cub Scouts ride his 1st grader that he was drawing his map incorrectly I had to post. Dude, let it go. My son was drawing his map all inaccurately and it took this guy's idiotic rant on his poor son to remind me that sometimes it is best to just hang back. We've all seen these helicopter parents, hovering around their kids fixing their every mistake before they even realize that they made one. This guy seriously said to his son "You are drawing it all wrong. That looks nothing like the nature center. What is that? Weeds? Why would you draw weeds, it makes no sense. Listen to me. NO. LISTEN TO ME! At this point this jackhole takes his kid aside and threatens to leave if the kid doesn't listen. Shame on you Dad. I on the other hand just let Adam do whatever he wanted. It was his map not mine. I was not earning the belt loop and it wasn't like we were turning these in for publication at the end of the day. Turns out that Adam realized some things on his own while I followed him in the rain. He turned to me and said "I think I drew it too big. Next time I draw one of these I am going to start smaller." I said "That's a great idea." and trudged ahead not even looking at his map. I followed my little cartographer around a big pond and up some steps to the barn. Adam said "I think that I shouldn't have drawn a few things and should have put other things in there instead. It's not really accurate." In which I replied "Your map is pretty awesome. Next time you make one you can apply what you learned and improve it." "Yeah, he said, thanks for taking me here." Voila! The kid learned on his own. Without tears and learning from his own mistakes. You don't need to Bobby Knight the kid into a stupor or make him forget that he is there to have FUN in the first place. Let's try and show some restraint when our kids are learning new things. You are the Akela, a guide. Guiding is not doing it for them but being there when they have questions. I know that it is hard to see our kids fail but it is necessary for their survival in this world. It gives them opportunities to learn from their mistakes and learn that they can improve their situation without Mom or Dad stepping in all the time. So next time overreaching dad, I hope you just step back and let it ride. It's more fun for your kid and you will enjoy it more too.

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