A week ago in church, The Hulk learned about Alma the Younger. Our conversation about his lesson went about like this:
Wonder Woman: Who is Alma the Younger?
Hulk: He's from the Book of Mormon. He was a bad guy, but then he was good.
WW: How did he become a good guy?
H: An angel came and told him to stop being bad.
WW: Then what happened?
H: Then he was good and a missionary. With Ammon! (Hulk loves the story of Ammon. What LDS boy doesn't?)
So tonight, The Hulk came to the dinner table with a red string wrapped around his head, Book of Mormon style. He told me he was like Alma with the red headband.
I said, "I'll bet you are like Alma." Superman chimed in, saying the same thing. We were both thinking about this sweet boy who loves to push buttons and oft-times takes prodding to do the right thing. Yes, I'll bet that Alma the Younger needed a bit of 'prodding' as a child.
But then The Hulk said, "Because I'm bad?"
That kid saw right through us and hit the nail on the head.
We quickly tried to smooth over what we had said.
"No, because you're good. Alma repented and turned good, right? And you do that, too."
"Yeah, sometimes I'm good. But when I'm bad I'm like Alma when he was bad."
I was still trying to find a way to turn the conversation around, so I went with what we could do in the future.
"Hulk, if sometimes you are being bad, should I remind you about Alma?"
"Yeah! And when I'm being good, you can say that I'm being like Alma, too! When he was good!"
"Yes. I will definitely say that when you are being good."
Superman and I have made conscious efforts to catch our children being good, and commenting on their strengths. But it's kind of ended up that Spiderman is the "good" one, and The Hulk is the "smart" one. And while both of those things are great in their own right, I'm worried that we have unintentionally labeled each child as one thing and not as the other.
Since Spiderman has started reading and writing in kindergarten, we have pointed out how smart he much more often. But we haven't had the same frequency of opportunities to catch The Hulk being good.
So now that's my goal -- to point out when BOTH of my children are being good and making the right choices. I'm also going to tear off any labels that I have unintentionally given them.
Slowly, but surely, I'm getting the hang of this parenting thing.