Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Leadership at Age 7

My husband, son and I recently traveled to New Jersey for the Thanksgiving holiday. This is a trip I typically avoid at all costs due to the abundance of traffic that flows from New England down to the tri-state area at this festive time of year. If you have never been on the George Washington or the Tappanzee Bridges in a traffic jam then count yourself as most lucky! For those that know it, welcome to hell! Truly.

Anyway, we went to be with the entire clan to celebrate the holiday at my parents house. Something we have not done in many long years. In fact, I do not think my mother has had the entire family over since she lived in Trumbull, CT and that was close to 20 years a go! So it has been a long time indeed. My sisters and I took on the task of cleaning the house, preparing the food and getting the place ready for the feast. It was a lot of work and while it was very exhausting and most stressful, it was fun having us all together, including some new additions to the extended family. That just made it all the more special.

In the midst of preparing the meal and sweating buckets in my elderly parents already too warm house, made even hotter by dual ovens baking and stove burners blazing, my son came up to tell me he wanted to plan some fun activities for everyone to participate in after the dinner. In my distracted and steaming brain, I vaguely recall telling him it sounded great and no I could not help. He knew it was going to be up to him to to take on this responsibility, and without missing a beat in that positive, upbeat way kids have when all is right with the world, he said "OK I will!" I told him to ask his Dad for any help he might need and that was that!
Ty looking so proud of his accomplishments

As the morning progressed and the heat rose to almost 90 in the house, (I kid you not) my son continued to update me periodically on his ideas. I have to be honest and say here that I was so consumed by the heat and the need to get things moving along for the arrival of the guests that I truly was not listening to him fully in the moment. In addition, my sister and I were far more focused on opening the front door of the house to get a cross breeze blowing. Our meager attempt to cool us off in that ridiculously hot kitchen. I would then lookout for Dad, so I could rapidly close the door when he was spotted approaching. Talk abut being transported back to being a kid again! We felt like two little, naughty girls doing something "bad" behind our parents back, only it was way more fun! (Dad and Mom don't know this so help keep our secret, MUMS the word!)

After dinner, Ty came to me and asked me to announce that the activities were to begin. He gave me a handwritten sheet of paper on which he had carefully written the name of each activity and who was going to be in each station. There were four in all. A Turkey hunt all over the downstairs to search out 5 hand drawn turkey pictures that were hidden. A cut-out, craft project that my son was hosting in which each participant would trace their hand and footprints to construct a turkey. Then there was pop up card making station, in which two different card designs could be made, hosted by my sister, and finally a math game station that my husband was asked to host.

Everyone had a lot of fun, despite being stuffed and tired from all the food. There was a ton of shared laughter and good sportsmanship about participating. One nephew expressed his dislike of math, but his love of games won out, and he quickly discovered, much to my sons delight, that math can be fun!
Pop up card station participants

Aunt Terry hosting

Ty helping his grandmother trace her foot
It was not till long after the day was over and my tired brain was finally able to process the days events that I truly came to see what my little 7 year old had undertaken and achieved in so short a period of time. I was overcome with emotion as I realized that he not only had taken the opportunity to work independently to make sure everyone had a good time, but he taught me that he is indeed a "born" leader! Despite his youthfulness and years of growing up yet to do, there was a glimpse of the very capable and strong man that he is to become and I almost missed it happening due to my own distractedness that day.

He took the time to have his father tell him the names of everyone who was coming so he could divide us up into groups. Those groups were carefully thought out by him and were indeed ones that really worked well together. He taught all of his hosts what they need to do and set up the activity areas with all the necessary objects, such as pens, paper, game boards, scissors, tape, etc, to make it easy on the guests to participate. He thoughtfully selected locations for each station and made sure there were enough seats for each person. In short, he took the "bull by the horns" and 16 people had a blast!

Two hip college students making turkey cut-outs
Dad leading the dudes in math games
I am so moved to be retelling the days events here because I know how difficult it can be as a parent to truly "see" it all. It is so easy to become caught up with our myriad of activities and routines, that we sometimes miss what is unfolding right before our very eyes.  So thank you to my little man who took so much upon his young shoulders and made the day even more special for a bunch of "grown-ups" who every now and then need to be reminded what it means to let go and be a kid! I am in awe of the man you are to become one day and no matter what your path or choice in life, know now that you are supported in all your future endeavors whatever those may be! 

After all, raising a child is about learning to let them go, even when the things they do make us want to hold on to them even tighter.

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