My son loves Yoda—the Jedi Master from Star Wars. He has never seen Star Wars, but loves to read books about R2D2 and C3PO's adventures. My son also loves Kobe Bryant—that shooting guard for the Lakers? The fact that I'm even interested in who these people are is solely due to my proximity to a husband and a son. I actually watch Laker games and am excited about planning my son's first viewing of the original Star Wars movie this summer. This is officially The Summer of Star Wars, and there will be a party.
Since my son turned four a couple of months ago, he has replaced his usual, "I can do it by myself" with "I can't do it." I cringe inside every time I hear it because that is SO not what we're going for over here. So we began to encourage him to always try to do everything he thinks he can't do until he perfects it. We're all about practice, practice, practice, perfect.
After a while, he stopped saying, "I can't do it" and adopted a new phrase, "I can/will try." The problem with that is he thinks that as long as he tries or commits to trying, his work is done. We noticed that every morning he'd say, "I'll try to be a good listener today" or "I'll try to be quiet at nap time" or "I'll try to clean up my toys"—each time failing to actually do them. Each time there are consequences. We tried telling him that God and Jesus and Mom and Dad are happy when he does well. We remind him of how good he feels when he behaves well, but his behavior hasn't gotten significantly better. Today, we brought out the big guns, hoping Yoda and Kobe would be as effective as Santa had been around Christmastime.
This morning, when discussing Zack's plans for school, I overheard him say what he would try his best to do. My husband told him that trying was not enough, and asked him to rephrase his plans…
Dad: So tell me again, what are you going to do today?
Zack: I will try my best to be a good listener when my teacher is talking. I will try my best be quiet and rest at nap time. I will try my best be kind to my friends.
Dad: Son, do know what Yoda says? He says, "Do or do not. There is no try".
Zack: He does? He's the best Jedi in the whole world!
Dad: That's right, so remember there is no "try", only "do".
I took Dad's lead and added that Kobe says, "Just Do It". I know that's Nike's tag line, but Kobe must have actually said the words at some point, yes?
So anyway, when we got to school and I was getting him out of his seat, I asked Zack to tell me again what his plans were for the day…
Zack: Well? I will try my best to be…(mumbles to himself) no…wait-wait…Yoda…Kobe…(returns to his regular speaking voice) I will be kind to my friends and listen to my teacher and be quiet at nap time and rest on my mat.
Me: Sounds like a plan!
Zack: And then my teachers will be happy. And you and daddy…and me and God and Kobe and Jesus and even Yoda will be happy.
Today, he broke his red note streak and actually made Teacher's Choice! I'm totally not a fan of the rainbow behavior system—red is the worst. We're trying out a different school--almost one month now, and I'm missing the Montessori school he stared out in for many reasons, the sticker-to-be-good system is one of them—but still glad he actually had a good-behavior day today.
Big-ups to Yoda and Kobe. I need my son to hurry up and internalize this good-behavior thing because after God, Jesus, Mom, Dad, Himself, Kobe and Yoda, who is there? If I'm left to follow his lead, there is Chris Brown, Micheal Jackson, Justin Beiber and Will.I.Am. He worships their dance moves, but I cannot possibly bring them into any discussion about how he should behave. I've heard that boys really mature a lot between the ages of four and five. Time will tell.