Fireman Alex

Written by Christy Whitman November 3, 2012

One day, as Alex, Maxim and I were driving in the car on our way out to do some errands, we passed by a fire station. Because both boys are crazy about firemen, fire trucks, and anything remotely related to either one, and since we weren’t in any particular rush, I decided to stop so the boys could have a look around. As we pulled into the station, we were greeted by three firemen, all dressed in full gear and looking like true heroes.

I rolled down the window to say hello, and soon one of the men came over to the car and started talking with Alex, asking him questions about what games he liked to play and the things he liked to do. I watched their interaction with curiosity, wondering whether Alex would get nervous or intimidated as a result of having a conversation with a real, live FIREMAN! To my amazement, he looked him straight in the eye, and was excited, articulate, and confident as he spoke with him.

I realized in that moment that all the empowering messages that our boys receive over and over from their dad and from me really do make a difference in terms of the level of empowerment they express when they are with others. Ironically, we don’t always see this same side of our boys at home – in the presence of our unconditional love they know they are safe to vent their more unpleasant emotions. Parents of school age children often tell us that their sons and daughters receive rosy, idyllic reports from teachers while at school, but become cranky, distracted or disruptive when at home. Remembering that our job as parents is to work ourselves out of a job, we would do well to measure their progress as well as own not as much by how they behave when they’re around us, but by how they conduct themselves with others. Looking through this lens gives us a much more balanced and objective view.

As our visit at the fire station was coming to a close, Alex reached out to shake the Fireman’s hand and said, “It was nice to meet you.” My heart felt like it was going to burst with love. My three-year-old may act like a toddler around the house, but out in the “real world” – on that day, at least – Fireman Alex was three going on thirty!

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