Have you noticed that most families have a "saying"? Some small phrase that is repeated often within the family. A saying that helps keep the family grounded and focused on their familial goals.
One saying popular with LDS families is "Return With Honor". This saying reminds family members that the things they do outside the home matter. It encourages them to do good and strive hard in the outside world, so that when they return home, they will return with honor.
A saying popular with Christian families is "What Would Jesus Do?". Family members, when faced with choosing between various options, should ask themselves this question then proceed as Jesus would. This saying helps family members to mirror Jesus' actions, his charity and compassion.
Another saying used in Christian homes is "Wise Men Still Seek Him". This saying lets family members, and others know, that if they wish to be truly wise, they should seek for Christ.
A fun saying that I often seen adorning the walls of friends' homes is "Live Well, Laugh Often, Love Much". This saying encourages family members to truly enjoy their lives and live those lives to the fullest.
In my childhood home, the saying was "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." My Mom had even cross-stitched this scripture, framed it, and hung it on the wall in plain sight of all. In our family, there was great focus on truly following the Lord and learning to serve his children here on earth.
I appreciate these sayings. I think there is great wisdom in each. However, none can compare to the effectiveness of the saying that Hubby grew up with. This saying was no mamby-pamby, feel-good phrase. There was no positive spin, no uplifting words...Just straight-forward commonsense.
Now, I have to admit, when I first heard this saying, I was shocked. I couldn't believe that Hubby's Dad had actually said what he said. I was appalled by his lack of compassion and his blatant disregard for other's feelings. But over the years, I have come to understand and appreciate the true wisdom of this simple phrase.
Don't Do Dumb Things
Hubby's family usually referred to this phrase by its acronym: 3DT (pronounced Three, Dee, Tee).
As Hubby and his siblings were walking out the door to various activities, their Dad would call out, 3DT! Reminding them to, obviously, Not do dumb things.
This amazingly simple, yet powerful phrase has been employed in the Blue Household for the last few years. You would be astounded by the effectiveness!
Now, I feel it important to note that in our home we never call a person dumb. There is a palpable distinction made between a person's actions and that person as a whole. My undergraduate degree focused on child development and psychology. I know how detrimental it can be to a child's fragile psyche to be called dumb, especially by their parents. That is part of the reason that I was so appalled when I first heard this saying.
We have emphasized through lecture, modeling, and role play the difference between a person and their actions. Hubby's parents made the distinction too. And it because of this distinction that the saying works.
Our kids know that we know they are super-intelligent. They know we love them and will love them no matter what. They know that they will make mistakes, lots of mistakes. They also know that their mistakes don't define them. We can learn from those dumb mistakes and do better in the future.
On a Side Note: Making the distinction between actions and a person's self-worth was one of the best things we did for our foster daughter, Miss Q. In previous homes she had been called dumb, stupid, retarded, slow, and so on. In our home she was called an intelligent, bright, loving, and wonderful girl who occasionally made mistakes. The change this distinction wrought in her psyche was PHENOMENAL!!
By now you are probably asking yourselves, why the long essay on sayings and 3DT?
Well, that is the background you need to truly appreciate Joe's story.
Papa (Hubby's Dad) came to visit a couple weeks ago during the kids' fall break from school. Papa has been very sad since his wife died. We tried to plan things that would take Papa's mind off Grandma and to do things that he liked.
One day, while Hubby was at work, I made Papa his favorite lunch...Pimento Cheese Sandwiches. He was so tickled! After lunch the kids and I were going to take him to a Mormon Battalion Memorial and show him our favorite park. When the kids finished eating, I instructed them to use the bathroom and get their shoes on because we were leaving in twenty minutes. Simple task, right? WRONG!
After just a few minutes I hear a crash, followed by a wail. A minute later, a crying Joe enters the kitchen followed closely by Rose who is talking a mile a minute, trying to explain what happened and how it wasn't her fault. The short story, Cakes and Joe were in the bathroom (yes, at the same time...apparently boys can pee at the same time if they stand on different sides of the toilet. please don't ask me to delve any further into that scenario as it usually involves me cleaning urine off the floor at a later time). The door was Wide Open. The boys had finished and were washing their hands. For some reason, Joe, who is tall enough to reach the sink without a stool, felt the need to stand on the toilet. Maybe it was the fact that Cakes was standing on a stool...I just don't know.
Anyhoo, Rose walked down the hall, past the open bathroom door. Seeing her two younger brothers, she made a split-second decision to scare them. She turned, made a scary face, and growled. I'm not sure what Cakes reaction was since I am still unable to fully decipher his sentences. But Joe's reaction was to attempt an escape by jumping from the toilet lid to the bathtub...The rim of the bathtub. Naturally, the rim was slippery and the boy slipped. He tried to catch himself with his right hand, which didn't work, and crashed into the tub, crushing his right forearm.
I wasn't sure how serious the injury was, but knew a sure fire way to find out. After a severe lecture to Rose on not trying to scare people in the bathroom and and a milder lecture to Joe on not standing on toilets and not trying to jump to bathtub rims (not once citing 3DT), I loaded everyone into the van and proceeded to the park as planned. A kid with a serious injury will nurse the area while a kid whose just bumped or bruised will forget everything as soon as they reach the slides.
Joe was nursing his injury. Gingerly holding it as he went down the slides and avoiding the monkey bars altogether. It was starting to look like he had a serious injury.
When we returned home, Joe and Cakes ran out back to play. Cakes, being the mischievous little punk that he is, turned on the hose and aimed directly for Joe. Joe leaped out of the way, tripped over his feet in the process, and landed on his already injured right arm. And then he turned into a pile of goo! He literally curled into a ball and sobbed! Oh, my poor little guy!
I quickly put the baby down and rushed over to help Joe. I scooped the boy up, brought him inside, and laid him on the couch. When he had calmed down some, he turned to me and in between sniffs said:
"Mom, don't tell me 3DT about falling down 'cause that was a axe-dent and axe-dents aren't dumb their just axe-dents and if you say it was dumb then you're being mean. So don't be mean to me, 'cause I just don't feel good and my arm hurts and it was a axe-dent. Okay?"
I quickly agreed, gave him a kiss on the head, and high-tailed it out of the living room. As soon as I was out of his ear-shot I laughed and laughed and laughed.
That poor little guy. He was such a pitiful little mess of a kid at the moment, but he still had the wherewithal to recognize his own emotional needs and, in an attempt to avoid adding insult to injury, express those emotional needs to me in a way that showed he understood where he had done wrong earlier and to illustrate that no wrongs had occurred this time round. I was proud of him for voicing his concerns and asking for the things he needed. I was also proud of the depth of understanding he had shown. But, it was so unexpected and framed in such a poor, pitiful way that all I could do was laugh. Oh well, at least I didn't laugh where he could hear me.
It guess this just goes to show that the boy is paying attention as we try to teach him...at least, sometimes. The ironic thing was that this all happened when Papa was there. But he didn't say 3DT either. Come on people! We're not cruel!! ;)
The diagnosis for the darling Joe, a buckle fracture in the distal radius. Translation: He a broken right arm. Poor guy. At least he's left-handed. :)
The darling boy sporting a cast in his favorite color.
A Close-Up of the Cast