Zipping It


Yesterday at the Spring Fair, I enjoyed watching little daredevils riding the mobile zip line.  A young man of about 7 or 8 shared my enjoyment, shouting as he walked by, “WOW! That is SO COOL!!”

My smile turned to a frown as I heard him whine, “Ow!”  Turning around, I saw his chin clamped in his father’s hand.  Through clenched teeth his dad barked, “Didn’t I tell you to stop yelling?  Why don’t you listen?”  The little guy rubbed his chin and looked at his dad with fearful eyes as they walked away.  I wanted to tap Dad on the shoulder and ask, “Can I show you a better way?”  Because soon that boy will be 13, and his dad will find that grabbing him will only make things worse.

In my fantasy world, I would advise the dad to stop walking, get down on his son’s level, and agree that yes, it is cool, BUT – yelling about it isn’t okay because he might disturb other people.  He could then ask his son to repeat what he’d said, but in a quieter tone.  And here’s the important part:  a few minutes later, when Junior expressed how excited he was about something else – but in a lower voice – Dad could smile and say, “That’s how you do it!”

Fast forward several years.  The son bursts in the door yelling, “I’M STARVING!  WHAT IS THERE. . . ” As he catches his dad’s warning eye, he lowers his voice, “. . .to eat?”  Without grabbing, yelling, or even speaking a word, the message has been sent and received.

And nobody’s rubbing his chin.

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