In all my time working with others at St. Joseph or as a teacher, the anticipation of behavior could be pinpointed as an area that set people apart. In other words, those who could do it were easy to work with and those who couldn't.... (recess anyone?) Certain house parents were hard to work beside because they couldn't see the next move from the children they were working with. Sometimes parenting is similar to a chess match. Good chess players may know the basic tenets of the game but great ones know how to win by anticipating and out thinking their opponent. Here's a couple of examples to illustrate the point.
My mother used to babysit my oldest child while I was still teaching. One day, she walked out of her house for some reason and Cameron came behind her and locked the door. He was probably 2 1/2 at the time. There was no way for her to get back in. She left the house (what choice did she have) and walked down the road to where her brother in law lived. Eventually, they found a way to get in but, as best I remember, the process took 45 minutes or so with an unsupervised child in the house.
This story has stuck with me so every time I leave the house to get the mail, bring in the trash cans, or grab the newspaper, I always bring my house key. Wouldn't you know about a month ago, my youngest child did the same thing to me. Luke thought it was pretty funny until I used my key to get back inside. After I got in, he wasn't exactly laughing.
No one is perfect at this skill though. I'm certainly not the Anticipation King so here's a story that will prove it. About a week and a half ago, I was upstairs when I noticed half the doorknob had been taken off on the guest bedroom door. The screwdriver was sitting on the night stand. Obviously, my wife did it. Why, you may ask? I have no idea. (If she reads this, I'm sure it was for a good reason- wink wink)
Upon seeing this, I knew it should be fixed but I was busy at the time and thought I would get to it later. A couple of hours passed and I was in the basement working on a blog. My oldest son came to the top of the steps and yelled, "Dad, mom needs you." I would like to tell you I jumped out of my chair and glided to my wife to alleviate her concern. The truth is I walked up the stairs thinking, "what now?"
Lauren was at the bedroom door clearly flustered. My youngest son had gone into the guest bedroom, shut the door and pulled out the other side of the door handle. Unfortunately, the door locked and he was trapped. Of course, the screwdriver I wanted was still inside the room. I worked with the door for a minute but couldn't find the trigger to release it. It was at that point when I went into "man mode" and determined I needed my hammer.
By the time I made it back upstairs with my tool of destruction, Lauren had worked with the door some more and successfully unlocked it. When the family went downstairs, I reattached the doorknob, heavily taped the lock on the inside part of the door, and brought the screwdriver downstairs.
Had I only anticipated things properly, I could have avoided the whole fiasco. Sometimes, that's what happens. You mess up, reflect on how you messed up, and learn form it.
This Friday, I will return to answer another parenting question. Hopefully, I will not be answering any questions about doorknobs or hardware supplies. I also want to thank my readers who looked at last Friday's post A Good Problem to Have. There were almost 400 hits and 23 comments as best I remember. All the support is greatly appreciated!!!