Prior to becoming a father if you asked me to define a selfish child, I’d say a kid who doesn’t like sharing. The prime example that I’d give is a kid who doesn’t share his toys with other children or siblings. Now after cutting my teeth as a parent, I’m realizing that children are inherently selfish. The degree to which they remain selfish, or rather how this manifests as they mature over time is what distinguishes each child. Moreover, being selfish is not a bad thing. In other words, being selfish is not the same as being greedy or lacking empathy.
What brought this to mind is something that took place last night. Snuggle biscuit and I had to make a late run to the store to pick up some household stuff. We left Teen Biscuit in charge with the mandate to take a shower and have Singing Biscuit in bed by 10:30pm. When we left the house it was about 9:45, so we informed him this was going to be a quick trip because we wanted to get to sleep ourselves. Had Turtle Biscuit not run out of diapers, we wouldn’t have even made this trip…
When we returned home at 10:52, not only was Singing Biscuit still up, but Teen Biscuit had not taken a shower, lights were on all over the house, and tvs were on in both the living room and in the basement. Thus instead of coming home to a calm environment, we returned to a homemade version of Dave & Busters.
Teen Biscuit was not being malicious in not fulfilling his charge, he simply wanted to hang out with his little brother some more (plus he’s afraid of the dark which is why he always lights up the house when he’s alone). But, by not heeding our wishes, he now put us in a position to have to calm down a now hyper Singing Biscuit, a problem that would doubled the following morning when we had to drag his sleepy-Singing-Biscuit self out of bed for baseball camp the next morning. And at 8-years old, the only thing that Singing Biscuit could think about when we told him to get right to bed is that whatever show he was watching wasn’t over and that he wanted a snack–preferably something loaded with sugar.
When these two boys turn into grown men and they’re calling their Mama every weekend, tending to their respective nieces and nephews they’ll argue tooth and nail to any assertion that they were once selfish little biscuits. How do I know, well because I’ve done it myself.
What we as adults fail to realize at times is that being a selfish child is not a bad thing–it’s an evolutionary phase. Had Snuggle Biscuit and I tried reprimanding Teen Biscuit last night it would have been a losing effort on our part. It would’ve taken too much analysis to get him to understand why he did what he did. And once he did understand, the takeaway would’ve been its understandable that children are selfish.
Its in moments like these where I almost wish I wasn’t such a self-reflective parent. I feel as if I would have more fun if I came in like my parents screaming, belt or shoe waving and forcing the kids to scurry like mice.
But I can’t. I’m not my parents. Plus, that would be just plain selfish…