Brad asked how I think I influenced his development as a child. I think I taught him about leadership, perseverance, patience, problem solving, pattern recognition, innovative thinking, and compassion for others. The irony is I believe he taught me more than I taught him.
Mutual trust and respect must go hand and hand with the love for a child. Kids are people too. They have the same emotional responses to perceived events as we do as adults.
One of many incidents of mutual respect comes to mind. Brad was 11 years old in the 6th grade.
My accountant, at that time, was an avid stamp collector. I thought learning about the sub culture of stamp collecting would be a terrific intellectual experience for both of us. My accountant took us to several stamp shows and taught us how to value stamps. We started collecting. We accumulated a nice stamp collection. The collection had great potential to increase in value. We both learned a lot and grew together in the stamp collecting business.
Brad was very proud of his stamp collection. One night at dinner, Brad asked if he could bring a couple of sleeves of stamps to his 6th grade to explain the joys of stamp collecting. I said “sure.”
At dinner the next evening he told us someone had stolen his stamps. He left them in his school desk pocket during recess. They were gone when he got back to his desk. He explained that he was certain he knew who stole the stamps.
I asked him how he knew who stole the stamps. He told me about a wise guy kid who was always intimidating his classmates. This kid bullied other kids and constantly took things from them.
I remember a kid like that in my 6th grade class. He was always hitting us up for pennies.
I asked Brad what he wanted to do. He said he wanted to figure out how to get his stamps back. He had already spoken to the teacher. She said she would talk to the boy.
I thought that was a great first step. I said I would call the teacher in the morning. I spoke to the teacher. It was obvious to me she did not want to get involved.
I then asked to speak to the Principal. When I explained the situation to the Principal, she volunteered to speak to the teacher. She then set up a meeting with both boys and their fathers.
I cancelled my scheduled patients from 10.30 am to 2pm on the day of the meeting and came to the school. Brad told me he was more convinced than ever that the boy took the stamps. Other kids told him he had taken things from them but they did not have the courage to complain.
The meeting started at 11 a.m. There were two fathers, two boys and the Principal present. After I explained the situation the boy’s father became indignant. I said,” hold it.” We have evidence that your son has been a bully to other kids in the class. He has intimidated them and taken things from them. He is the most likely person in the class to have taken Brad’s stamps.
The father wanted the proof. I told him we would be happy to produce the proof. The pressure on the boy was too much. He admitted taking the stamps. He promised to return them in the morning. The boy’s father was enraged and embarrassed. There would be no attempt by the father to understand the boy’s behavior.
Both the father and son apologized to us. Brad and I accepted the apology. I could just feel how proud Brad was of me. I expressed how proud I was of him for sticking up for his rights.
This bonding experience is one of many. It lasts to this very day. The proof of this bonding between us can be seen in Brad’s introductory blog to this series.
Our goal is to explore why our relationship works and help others if we can improve their relationship with their kids.
*This blog post was originally published at Repairing the Healthcare System*