Big blue eyes.
White blond hair.
“Mummy I good boy today”
All lashes and cheeks
My heart takes a pause;
I stop. I brake.
Have I gone too far?
Have I made a mistake,
In trying to make you
the good boy you are?
I try to explain:
There’s no such thing.
No good boys.
You look confused
Are you sad?
(Mum’s gone mad!)
Why do I say it so much?
Ask you to
“Be a good boy please”
Try to appease
Your mum and your dad
But it doesn’t make sense.
We’re both so glad;
You’re our son.
There’s no such thing
As good boys
Who wants a “good boy” anyway?
A little side of parental guilt with this one. There are some days where I feel as though I’ve spent all day asking my son to “be a good boy please” and then I feel bad about it at the end of the day (vintage parenthood!).
It will feel like he’s not listening and nothing is going in but then out of the blue he will say something which catches me by surprise and I’ll wonder if always trying to keep his behaviour in check is the right thing to do.
Especially when, to be honest (*biased mother alert*) he’s a really good kid.
Often as parents we spit out these little instructions blithely, on parental autopilot, and forget that there’s a little person hearing the same thing a hundred times a day. It’s not just us saying it: grandparents, aunties, friends, sometimes strangers we cross paths with in the day will all ask well meaningly: “are you a good boy for your mummy?”.
In one sense the phrase, if that’s what it is, loses its meaning. What is a “good boy” anyway?
And in another it’s a continual reinforcement of an impossible ideal. There really is no such thing as “good boys”.
Ironically, if I were presented with a perpetually well-behaved “good boy” or “good girl” I would be a bit non-plussed (really, there’s no pleasing some people).
I don’t want my son to be wet and insipid; I want him to have gumption and spark.
I don’t want him to always follow my instructions to the letter; I want him to learn to take risks and figure things out for himself. I want him to show initiative.
That’s all got a bit deeper than I intended but what I’m trying to say is, this continual impressing upon our children to be “good”: is it the right thing to do? does it matter?
Our children will be “good” sometimes and they will be “bad” sometimes because they are human, like us.
So when should we draw the line as parents? Let the odd snatched toy or elbow shove slide? And are there better words we could be using?
Are you an over-user of the classic “good boy”, “good girl” phraseology like me, or do you avoid these words?
Am I just really, really over-thinking this one?
Let me know what you think!