Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Diary of a Wimpy Pal.....


Our oldest son LOVES the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. My husband and I saw the movies a long time ago, but hadn't read the books. When our son got into the books, I thought about the movies again. Greg (the main character) is not a very good friend. I certainly didn't want our son getting the message about how to be a terrible friend. But, he also loves the series and they didn't really have inappropriate things in them (like drugs, sex, and cuss words). So, I determined that I was going to read the books with him (well, after him) and have some conversations about being a good friend. I pick one scenario in each book where Greg is treating his best friend, Rowley, in a demeaning or unkind way (or a situation with his older brother Rodrick). This has turned out to be a fantastic way for us to talk about good friends and how to recognize and be a good friend (WITHOUT dealing with bad friends like this personally). Now I love the series because it gives our son and me opportunities to talk about things I want to discuss, but where I haven't had a lot of teachable moments. I think he's better armed to recognize the kind of people with whom he wants to associate. I am going to post our conversations about each book in the series. If you haven't read the books, I'll give a brief overview of the scenario in the book I chose to start a conversation.

Book One: Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Greg and Rowley sign up to be crossing guard helpers for the kindergarten children to safely cross the street. One day, Rowley was not able to help with the kindergarteners. Greg wore Rowley's coat while taking the kids across the street. He teased them by chasing after them with a worm because it had been raining. A neighbor saw him "torturing" the kindergarten children and called the school. She recognized Rowley's coat and the whole incident was blamed on Rowley. Greg recognized the mistake, but decided to let Rowley take the fall for it. Rowley was taken off kindergarten guard duty and punished. It took Rowley a while to figure out what had happened. When he realized Greg had done something, he wanted Greg to make it right. Greg wouldn't do it because he didn't want to lose his privileges and he figured Rowley could just "take one for the team."

Here's my conversation with our son. I had already established which part of the book I was asking him about:
M: How would you feel if you were Rowley and your best friend did this to you?
K: I would be mad.
M: Why would you be mad?
K: Because I wouldn't have done anything wrong, but I would have gotten in trouble because my friend wouldn't tell the truth!
M: Why do you think Rowley is still friends with Greg?
K: Because he doesn't have any other friends.
Me: What would you do if you didn't have any other friends? Would you still be friends with Greg so you could have a friend?
K: No.
Me: What would you do?
K: I would look around in my classes and see if there was another kid that didn't really have anyone to play with and ask him to play at recess.
Me: That's a good idea. Do you think Rowley knows Greg isn't a good friend?
K: Maybe. He does get mad and won't talk to him for a while after that happened.
Me: Why is Rowley such a good friend?
K: He's always kind, even when Greg is mean to him.
Me: So, you think kindness is a good thing to look for in a friend.
K: Yeah.
Me: What else?
K: Well, he's like a little kid and doesn't care about what other kids think; like he got a pink diary in one book and he didn't care that it was pink and the other kids might think he was like a girl. He was just happy.
Me: So, you think being happy and not caring about what others think are good traits to look for in a friend.
K: Yeah.
Me: Good. So, what kind of friend do you think Bob is?
K: I know he's not a great friend. I hope he's not in my class next year so I won't have to tell him I don't really want to be his friend.
Me: I think it's kind of you to consider his feelings, but you can always tell him you don't want to play in a nice way.
K: Well, I kind of did the other day. At recess we were playing a game and another kid wanted to come join our game. Bob said, "No way." I said there was no reason we couldn't add another kid to our game. We had lots of ways he could play. Bob wouldn't play anymore, but we played with the other kid and he was really nice.
Me: How did that make you feel?
K: I was happy that we got to play with the other kid, but I was sad Bob decided he couldn't still play too. It was kind of weird. I don't see why he wouldn't play with just one more kid. It was fun. I thought it worked out.
Me: I'm glad you felt good about the choice you made. I think that was a wise choice too.
K: Yeah. I just hope Bob isn't in my class next year.
Me: What kind of friend do you want to be?
K: I want to be like Rowley.
Me: Why? (Of course he was going to say Rowley; I don't care about the textbook answer, I just want him to think about WHY he gave that answer).
K: He's a great friend. He really cares about Greg. He is always doing nice things for him and sticking up for him. He doesn't care about what other people think and he's just happy all the time.
Me: I think you already do some of those things as a friend. What do you think you can try that's more like Rowley, but you don't already do as a friend?
K: Ummmmmm..........I can probably do more nice things, like help them with their school work or be a good example.
M: Good. I like that.

The goal of this conversation was to get him thinking more consciously about what makes a friend and what kind of friend he wants to be. I didn't encourage him to set any goals to change or push this topic anymore. I just want for him to start thinking about the kind of people he's around and if they are really the kind of people he wants to be around all the time. Eventually this will turn into how friends influence each other and how we can actively seek good friends, not just have friends happen by circumstance.

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