Monday, March 15, 2010

Being Advanced

Being AdvancedAbout a year ago my husband Andrew and our son Spencer were in the car together. Who knows what they were talking about but there was a lull in the conversation and after a minute or two Andrew--being in a teasing mood--said, "Son, you're 12 years old now. It's time you were advanced. Would you like to be advanced?"

Spencer, totally confused and without a clue as to what "being advanced" meant had a vague idea that it was probably a good thing so he nodded and said, "Uh . . . yea!"

Whereupon Andrew said, "Good. You are now advanced."

And that was it.

From what started as a strange moment from a conversation in a car that was never meant to mean anything we've had a whole new opportunity open up to us as parents. Andrew wasn't actually serious when he asked Spencer if he'd like to become advanced but turns out that it hasn't been a joke at all.

Spencer came home that afternoon and told me the story, saying with a bit of pride, "So Dad says I'm advanced now."

"So what does being advanced mean?" I asked, confused.

He wasn't exactly sure, he just knew that it was a good thing. Which is why he immediately went to his younger brother and bragged about how he'd been advanced and David had not. At the dinner table that night David complained about why he hadn't been advanced too--as if we'd been passing out presents at Christmas and left him out--and what had started as a joke became a bit more serious.

"Well being advanced is important," Andrew said, "It means that you've shown us that you've grown up a little and are able to handle more responsibility and trust. It means that you're one step closer to being a man. You can be advanced too but it will take time and you'll have to prove to us that you're worthy of being advanced. Spencer still has more to go, he's just taken one step."

Being Advanced"Yea, I'm advanced because I'm older--" Spencer started to brag.

"Uh, that's the thing," Andrew continued, "part of being advanced is knowing you don't have to tell everyone how advanced you are. It's part of being more grown up and mature. Bragging about how you're so much more advanced than someone else just shows that you're not as advanced as I thought."

"Oh." And that was the end of that, at least for the time being because the idea stuck with them.

David didn't exactly like it, but rules were rules apparently and if he wanted to be considered for advancement himself he was going to have to work for it--and he has. Whenever Spencer, as the older child, wants to do something that David can't we use the explanation that it's because he's advanced and that David, too, can do that same activity once he too has advanced and oddly enough it's settled the argument and made both him sit up a little straighter.

There have been times when Spencer has done something kind or helpful and he'll say with a smile, "Well, you know that I'm advanced now." Sometimes he'll do something good and ask--half joking--if he's being more advanced and we'll answer--somewhat seriously--that yes, that was another move towards further advancement.

We've stumbled onto a great tool for molding our sons' behavior, they know that while being advanced carries more responsibilities it also carries more respect and privileges and it's a small step to becoming men.

My husband is a genius.

Sponsored by Dimples and Dandelions


MRMacrum said...

All Husbands are geniuses. It is nice that one of us actually is acknowledged as such.

I see too many parents look at parenthood as a war, when it really is just a matter of diplomacy. Or should be. Great tool you folks have developed.

John and Laura said...

Isn't that funny when we stumble upon motivating concepts for our kids? Very cool. :)

Patricia L said...

That's such a cute story! It's funny how some of the best parenting "things" happen quite by accident, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

Genius. This is how the ideas for parenting advice books get started. Tell Andrew to get writing - his millions await. LOL

Karen Olson said...

Brilliant idea.

Cecily R said...

Genius he is!! What a wonderful parenting accident to stumble into.

P.S. Beautifully written.

Headless Mom said...

I'm totally stealing this. My 10yo gets it but my 8yo? needs to 'step it up'. *sigh*

ewe are here said...

Very clever ... may have to use this someday.

Raejean said...

I love when we stumble on things that help show our children what they can be. A treasure chest analogy popped into my head an out of my mouth that helped our family focus on the big picture.

Al said...

Cheers to Dads all over the world.

Jill in MA said...


Angela Fehr said...

Love that story. My daughter decided that she was "advanced" when she turned 7 this year and has been rather heartbroken that growing up doesn't just happen when she decided it had.

Anonymous said...

Michelle and Andrew,

This is brillant!! Just what the world needs to mold wonderful men-to-be. You two are great parents.
I would know--I've been watching you. :)

Aunt Ann

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness, the happy little parenting accidents are usually the ones that prove to be the most fruitful!

This is awesome!

Robin Sue said...

Andrew is a genius! It is great how much weight that small word has carried in your family. Great parenting there!

Anonymous said...

Lovely story, and a great idea [which I am stealing without hesitation!]. This is better than anything I came across in the bazillion baby&child books I read throughout my bedrest pregnancy!

My daughter is only 10 months old, but when the time is right . . . ;)

Anonymous said...

Since he was a tyke, Andrew's mind has taken interesting turns. His high school art teacher submitted one of his pieces to the local HS art fair....not for the art, but the unusual perspective. Some things do not change. MOMM

Kris {The Freestyle Mom} said...

Very cool! With 2 little ones, it's always just been being a Big Girl/Boy versus a Baby (potty training and such). Now that the wee one isn't a baby anymore, we may have to take advancement into consideration!

Nancy from Two Mountains said...

I'm curious...What was going through your husband's mind when he brought this up? I bet he didn't have a clue to where it would lead... :) Or that it could be used in such a positive way.

mumple said...

That's a beautiful story about your boys and their dad! They're lucky boys to have a dad like that!

Those rites that lead to being an adult don't have to be big or showy.