I love to read non-fiction books, particularly history and biography. And, I like to go to the movies. And I like to watch news, sports, and movies on television. But much of my current literary interests can be found in children’s books, videos, and television programs.
Trying to keep up with the toddlers, I can’t even tell you what’s going on in world events. I don’t know what the latest blockbuster movies or bestselling books are. And I don’t even know if my favorite sports teams are winning or losing.
I’m not saying this to complain. I’m saying this to explain that if there’s any personal development taking place in my life, it’s going to come from children’s books, animated videos, or kid’s television programs.
Here’s what I mean…
Kaleb’s favorite children’s program is Barney. And it has been for several years! I keep waiting for him to grow out of it, but he hasn’t yet. So, I know all the Barney songs by heart and have watched all or almost all Barney episodes on DVD countless times.
Recently, as we were driving to school and work one day, the toddlers were watching and I was listening to a Barney DVD in the car. I say “listening” because the vehicle’s DVD system is restricted from displaying to the video stream on the driver’s screen when the vehicle’s transmission is in Drive…thank goodness!
The Barney episode is one I’ve listened to on numerous occasions. (“Dozens” probably doesn’t adequately describe the number of times it’s been played in the car. “Hundreds” is probably a closer estimate, or at least that’s how it seems to me!)
The episode is about Barney’s house and the children come over and see all the amazing things that take place at Barney’s house. For example, Barney has a machine that makes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. And then occasionally Barney is visited by characters from nursery rhymes or classic children’s stories.
So the doorbell rings at Barney’s house and Barney goes to open the door and it’s the big, bad wolf. I don’t know if the description, “big, bad wolf,” identifies the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood or the wolf in the Three Little Pigs. But around our house, they are one in the same wolf!
Anyway, the wolf that shows up at Barney’s door in this episode is the wolf of Three Little Pigs fame. When Barney answers the door, the wolf, of course, says: “I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down!”
Barney doesn’t think that is a very friendly thing to do and launches into a song-and-dance routine about being friendly. The wolf replies that he doesn’t have any friends and Barney proceeds to tell the wolf that he’s friendless because he wants to blow everybody’s house down.
The big, bad wolf then declares: “But huffing and puffing is what I’m good at!”
And a light bulb goes on (or off) in my head! THAT’S ME! HUFFING AND PUFFING IS WHAT I’M GOOD AT!
As I said, I’ve listened to this Barney episode and heard those lines repeated numerous times. But on this particular day, on this particularly distressing day, it hit me right between the eyes.
It suddenly occurred to me, huffing and puffing is exactly what I do with the toddlers to discipline them.
Bellowing orders and commands at them. All the time. To correct their behavior. Or punish their misbehavior!
Threatening. Chiding. Chastening. Reprimanding.
“No!” “Stop!” “Quit!” “Don’t!” “You better…” “If you do that again, then I’ll…” “If you don’t do that, then I’ll…”
Incessantly, it seems, I’m scolding them about something.
I guess I do it so much because I’m good at it. Or maybe I’m good at it because I do it so much. Or maybe, just like the wolf, that’s all I know how to do and so that’s how I discipline the toddlers.
But, I’m tired of huffing and puffing. There’s got to be a better way. Maybe I need to lower my expectations for the toddlers. Maybe I need to raise my expectations for the toddlers.
Maybe I just need to stop huffing and puffing so much!
Because, I don’t think all my huffing and puffing is forming them into well-adjusted human beings.
They might develop into frightened little pigs, or even worse, mean and troubled wolves!
So, I think ‘ll just take the advice Barney gave the big, bad wolf in that episode and put my huffing and puffing skills to better use doing something friendly like blowing up beach balls and balloons!