At what age do we finally realize that there are other people in this world than just us? That our needs, desires and wants aren’t always the only priority. When do we obtain the ability to recognize how we affect other people with our actions and words? As children we don’t posses these skills. Children are egocentric and selfish. They don’t mean to be, and they certainly aren’t doing it just to irritate you, although it can definitely feel that way. They just haven’t gained the ability to see that their actions have an effect on others. It is something we as parents try to teach them. To think of others and act kindly, to sympathize and have compassion, but it takes time to develop these skills. In fact I’m convinced that some people never develop these skills.
My kids are still in the selfish stage. For example, two seconds after either my husband or I sit down, they will invariable ask for food or a drink. If we are carrying something heavy or in the middle of an important task, they will want you to draw, glue, cut or look at something. It’s not their fault, but it is trying for us to not be frustrated by their poor timing. We have recently started giving the kids allowance for chores they perform. Simple tasks that are easy for them to perform to give them a sense of responsibility and independence. It is my hope that this will help give them a great sense of what it means to be busy. Perhaps their timing will become a little less frustrating. I’m probably delusional though.
A friend of mine once said “someday my kids will look back and realize what a superhero I am.” Being a parent means being completely unselfish. It is the ultimate act of altruism. Even when you do get a chance to hire a babysitter and go out, you are still concerned, and ultimately responsible for your children. You make sacrifices, work hard for and devote your life to them, and all with the knowledge that someday they will walk away to lead their own lives without you, perhaps never truly appreciating you. But that is what parenthood is about, preparing new people to contribute to the world.