For the entire lives of my 5 year old and 6 year old my wife and I made a big deal about how strong they were. When they flexed their muscles we oohed. When they lifted pillows over their heads we awed. We pinched their flexed arms and exclaim, "How strong!" For awhile, we even pretended that their muscles were so strong that it hurt our fingers to pinch them. Between the two kids, that's 11 years of muscular encouragement.
My 5 year old asked us what we did while they were at school. We told them that we were going to the gym. My 5 year old pinched my arm and said, "It's not so strong, Dad. Work harder." While I bit my tongue, holding in the nasty remark I would have made had anyone else said that, my 6 year old pinched my wife's flexed arms. "It's kind of soft, Mom," she said. Then she called to my 5 year old and said, "Pinch Mom. She's like a marshmallow." Now I had a whole new set of comments I knew better than to say.
The Cost of Civilized Society
1 week ago