A Way With Words

November 5, 2008

As the crowded airliner is about to take off, the peace is shattered by a five-year-old boy who picks that moment to throw a wild temper tantrum. No matter what his frustrated, embarrassed mother does to try to calm him down, the boy continues to scream furiously and kick the seats around him.

Suddenly, from the rear of the plane, an elderly man in the uniform of an Air Force General is seen slowly walking forward up the aisle. Stopping the flustered mother with an upraised hand, the white-haired, courtly, soft-spoken General leans down and, motioning toward his chest, whispers something into the boy’s ear.

Instantly, the boy calms down, gently takes his mother’s hand, and quietly fastens his seat belt. All the other passengers burst into spontaneous applause. As the General slowly makes his way back to his seat, one of the cabin attendants touches his sleeve.

“Excuse me, General,” she asks quietly, “but could I ask you what magic words you used on that little boy?”

The old man smiles serenely and gently confides, “I showed him my pilot’s wings, service stars, and battle ribbons, and explained that they entitle me to throw one passenger out the plane door, on any flight I choose.”

So I guess that took care of business.

Kids. We just have to deal with them with the right words.

Some parents are so exasperated with their kids and the way they behave and you see this visibly as you hear their conversation-taking place.

One father said, “My son has a new nickname for me-“Baldy.” And so I told him,” said the father: “Son, I’ve got a new word for you-“Heredity!”

One father complained that his son is at that age where he’s got to be so cool.

“Dad, can you drop me a block away so I won’t be embarrassed?”

“You want to be really cool, walk the five miles!” Says the dad.

Being cool means knowing the names of the latest bands. There is a band, no I’m not making this up, named “Garbage.”

“Son, what is that garbage you’re listening to?”

“Hey dad, I didn’t know you were that cool!”

“What is that crap?”

“No dad, Crap opened for Garbage.”

“Son, this is madness!”

“Dad, Madness broke up over a year ago! You’re really not so cool.”

How could the father know that all those ugly words pertained to the names of different musical bands?

One father is just about given up. He says: “My son’s got roller blades, a skateboard and now he wants a BMX bike. And so I told him, “Son, if you want to die let me kill you. I save money and we both get something out of it!”

When I’m tired and I’m about running low on patience, then that’s the time I make sure that I should be very careful with the words I use on my kids. One incident never left me. Bryan came to me with a red mark on his report card. Every vein and artery within my system begins to boil and was about to blow up. How easily I would have said, “You’re a big fat failure.” Boy, I was that close to saying it. But out of the mercies of God I said instead, “Bryan, I am absolutely disappointed with what you did or what you failed to do. But I have my full confidence that you could do better and I know you will.”

So what happened there? Well, I separated the event from the person, the sin from the sinner. Had I told him to his face that he was a failure, it carries the potential to become a self-fulfilling prophecy and then I will have to regret that for the rest of my life.

No. I don’t want to.

I’d rather affirm, encourage and admonish because I want them to grow up confident, secure and strong knowing that their dad will be there behind them every step of the way.

Parenting is not easy but then every incident and every experience is a learning process. Funny but I had to be a parent in order to understand what my own parents have been saying all along. And mind you I’m still learning. I really am.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Van

    Your son is lucky to have you Mr. Francis Kong… hehehe

  2. annliz728

    Even before Obama scream CHANGE, even before he inspire, motivate, encourage and moved people, you, Mr. Francis Kong have been doing it!
    I had a chance to listen to you a few years back and since then, I am hook on your way of thinking, your insights and words. You are not over-acting or trying to be preachy-preachy, but you are a natural motivator and, yes, I am getting better and better everyday and is always trying to be a better version of myself with a lot of inspiration from you. Oh, by the way, I love A WAY WITH WORDS, I am applying proper and correct word choices and yes, extended patience when dealing with my 6yr old son, Isaiah.
    Continue to inspire people, Mr. Kong and I hope that one day, this country will finally have a leader who can really MOVE, INSPIRE and MOTIVATE people. 🙂

  3. Lena Mendoza

    Im so amaze by your inspirational talk. I cant help to admire you.

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