My mom had very elastic limits. You could push her quite a bit before she pushed back. And even then she would go out of her way to help you make a good choice and avoid getting into trouble. My dad on the other hand, although an extremely patient and quiet man, had clear limits. No meant no the first time.
Sean learned this the hard way about my dad when my parents were here visiting last month.
Wivian and Papa Ed were walking behind Sean as he screamed down the jogging trail on his red Radio Flyer tricycle. As they approached the street, my dad told Sean to stop and turn around. Being stiff-necked and headstrong like his mother, Sean decided that he’d rather go on ahead. My dad gave him one last warning to turn back, which is one more than I ever got. When Sean still refused to yield, my dad picked up his tricycle with Sean on it, still pedaling furiously like the Wicked Witch of the West, and turned him in the opposite direction. He set him firmly down and then gave his tricycle a little shove from behind with his foot for emphasis.
Sean was a bit taken aback but he got the message that Papa Ed meant business. And he hasn’t forgotten it either.
When I told Sean that Wivian would be here in a few weeks, he said, “Well tell her not to bring Papa Ed. He turned me around!”
Yes, Sean. Papa Ed turned you around. That’s what good parents do. They turn you around when you are heading for danger and get you back on the path.