Yesterday, I took SquiggleBug (7) and Smunchie (5) to a friend’s birthday party. While another dad and I were struggling through our first tentative and awkward interactions, he abruptly called out to his son, as parents rudely but appropriately do when they spot their child doing something they probably shouldn’t. His son bounded over, brandishing a short stick.
Dad: You need to put the stick down. This is a girl party, and girls don’t like sticks as much as you do.
Me (in my head): You haven’t met my girls. Also, I have half a mind to give you a full piece of my mind (redundancy intended).
Me (today, also in my head): How does that math work? How much is a full piece of half of my mind?
Dad (back to yesterday): You should put the stick down, go hang out with the birthday girl and see what kinds of things she likes to do, and then you should do what she wants to do!
Me (in my head): That was brilliant. Possibly the best advice I’ve heard a parent give their child on how to behave at a birthday party, or really in any social setting.
His son drops the stick and bounds back to the group of kids.
Me (out loud, to the Dad, laughing): You know, I have a couple of girls that would love to have a stick party!
Dad (to me, after a genuine laugh): Yeah, my son loves to play with sticks, and he never hits anyone with them, but he does invade people’s personal space with them. I’ve been talking with him about this recently. He needs to understand that even though he doesn’t hit anyone, he doesn’t want people to be afraid of him for getting too close.
Me: That makes sense.
I loved hearing this dad give his son direction on how to behave at a birthday party.
Focus on the other person.
Figure out what they want to do, what they like.
Do those things with them.
That’s just sound relationship advice for anyone, of any age.