Five Life Lessons for Ryland
My youngest son, Ryland, is 7, going on 8. It is an interesting stage in his life, as I have also experienced with my two older ones. He is very inquisitive, very curious. He is also starting to wonder about life, about the future. When he asks questions, I try to answer him as honestly as I could in words that his young mind can understand.
Most of the time, I tuck him in bed. I would lie down in his bed until he falls asleep. But before he does, we would have these little conversations. Sometimes I would ask him what he did or learned at school. Sometimes he would tell me jokes. Sometimes he would ask me questions.
Like this one…
1. Que Sera Sera. What will be will be.
Ryland: Mommy, who am I going to marry?
Mom: (I was surprised) You can marry whomever you want.
Ryland: But I don’t know who.
Mom: You’ll know when you grow up.
Neither of my two older boys have asked me that when they were Ryland’s age, or even now, ever. Ryland is really sweet that way.
Sometimes he would tell me, “I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.” He knows that Reggie is into his jazz music and Ryan is into basketball. But he doesn’t quite know what he wants. I would tell him, “You’ll know when you’re older.” He would then say, “What happens if I don’t.” Then I would assure him, “Oh, you will.”
Or this one…
2. We are mortal.
Ryland: Mommy, when you’re a 100 years old, will you die?
Mom: I don’t know. Maybe not. But maybe yes. Most people don’t reach a 100 years old.
(I didn’t like where this conversation was going. I’ve had this conversation with my father and similar ones with my two older sons.)
Ryland: Are you gonna miss me when you die?
Mom: How will I miss you if I’m already dead?
Ryland: I’m gonna miss you when you die. (Then he cried.)
Mom: Oh, Ryland. I’m not gonna die yet. Not for a very long time.
He learns from the answers that I give him. But there are also times when he learns through his own experience.
3. Sometimes saving the best for last is not a good idea.
Two Decembers ago, I bought a box of chocolates, Pot of Gold. Ryland’s favourite in this box is the one in the middle – the rectangular signature piece. His friend, Blake, came over one night and he offered him the chocolates. What do you know! Blake picked the rectangular piece, which Ryland was saving for later. Ryland cried when Blake was gone. I tried to comfort him and explained to him that sometimes we give our friends our favourites.
Here’s another instance.
Just this New Year’s Eve, my kids were looking forward to lighting their sparklers (lusis). We only had six sticks in the house and I decided to buy some more at the grocery store. But I forgot. So we had to do with the six that we had. Two for each child. One of the sticks was longer than the rest. Ryland got this one in his loot bag when he went to a classmate’s birthday party. So he told Ryan that he was saving this for himself.
Midnight came and we started lighting the sparklers. Ryland saved the longer one for last. Nobody noticed that Reggie took it and lighted it for himself. When Ryland’s first sparkler was done, he came looking for his favourite sparkler and only then did we notice that Reggie had lighted it already. Reggie didn’t know. Ryland didn’t cry that time and just lighted his other sparkler. He cried later. And so I told him that maybe it’s not a good idea to save the best for last.
4. Sometimes we win and sometimes we lose.
Last week, Ryland was playing with his new Pokemon Emerald Gameboy Advance game, which he bought with his Christmas money. All of a sudden, he just came to me crying. “I’m gonna lose all my money,” he said. In this game, he battles trainers and gym leaders. He gets money when he wins and loses money when he loses a battle. I’m not really much into this Gameboy games and I scrambled for words.
“Well, can you just turn it off and start again?” I asked him.
“No, I’ll still lose my money.”
“Then go to the last place that you saved.”
“No, because it’s hard.”
That was when I realized my mistake in letting him buy this game. It’s still too hard for him. Later on, Ryan helped him play it and recover his money. If it is only like that in real life.
5. Some people are just lucky. Or… We all have jobs and roles.
The other day Ryland said, “Gaudie is lucky. He doesn’t have to wash the dishes.” Gaudie is his 8-year old cousin. “That’s because he has three older siblings who do the dishes,” Ryan blurted out.
I believe in giving children chores – the earlier the better. I have talked about this many times. I am the oldest of two daughters and I remember complaining to my father when I was still a child why I had to do all the chores and my youngest sister didn’t help around. He explained to me that she was still too young to do chores. “When you girls grow up, you can order her around,” my father assured me. Well, I didn’t get to order her around. He he he. Kidding aside, my sister and I had our fair share of the chores when we got older. This is the reason I wanted to give my children chores as early as possible, according to what they can handle.
Ryland is usually an eager helper. But sometimes he and his brothers are not too enthusiastic about doing their chores. But that’s the reason they are called so, right? A chore is a task.
The picture on the right is my famous chores list that is posted on our fridge door. (Click on it for a full view.) Anybody who has been to our house has seen this and either approves of it or is impressed by it. I made this list so the kids can just look here to find out whose turn it is to wash the dishes, cook rice, etc. This way I don’t have to remind them all the time. They can’t cheat either. I noticed that they take their chores more seriously if it is posted there in print.
Ryland understands that he has “jobs” at home, just as he has “jobs” at school where he and his classmates take turns in being the blackboard monitor, milk monitor, etc.
Gaudie, actually, is the fifth child in a family of seven children. And I explained to Ryland that Gaudie will eventually wash the dishes when he is older.