I overheard a conversation between an authority figure and a child today and a lot of how we’re doing this Pandemic thing became clear. You see I’m a child, a child at heart and sometimes a child of the mind and body. I mean, I’m an adult but I’ve worked hard to keep a child like perspective on some things and I’ve worked hard to keep a childish perspective on some things.
On of the things I love about my child like perspecitve is how much joy and beauty I find in life and, how much fun. It’s not always easy but I’ve managed to keep it, strong and youthful, barefooted, sometimes naked, eating with my hands, laying in the grass, being amazed and being sweet.
But I am no child. A child doesn’t have to try to be a child. A child doesn’t have to keep anything alive, at least that’s the hope, because a child is naturally amazed, naturally joyful and present and full of live. Because a child hasn’t been taught, yet, that there are things he or she should fear so deeply that they put their amazement away for cynicism, complaints, misery and conflict (to name a few), like us adults.
So what did I hear today? I heard what is wrong with the world in a single sentence.
What’s the silver lining for you during this Covid-19
That’s is. That was the sentence. And it struck me…why…what causes the need to find a silver lining? Well, a shitty lining, of course. You can’t search for a silver lining if you’re not in the midst of a shitting lining. People who are in the silver lining don’t search for more silver. You have to be unhappy with your current situation if you’re creating the opportunity for a silver lining.
And this is what we, us adults, are doing to and for our kids. We’re assuming, for them, that their lives are shitty and we’re suggesting, based on that assumption, that they try to find something better.
I’m going to come back to to this in a moment, but first I’d ask that you take a moment and think and feel about your kids. Remember their birthday, how that day you became so much more full as a human. Remember how perfect they were (and still are). Remember how you saw and wanted nothing but goodness and love and joy for them in their lives. Can you think of your kids that way?
Now think what you would do and how you would feel if you knew someone was forcing your kids to learn about misery, teaching them how to to focus on negativity, guiding them to disregard their own feelings about life and replace them with feelings of a scared, overwhelmed, stressed out, adult.
What if that adult if you?
Kids are creatures of the present. Everytime we encourage them to abstract we’re encouraging them to get out of the present moment and enter the world of the mind. There is a time and place for this, obviously it’s good if a human learns how to use their mind, but be careful when they are young. Be careful of how you want them to use their mind. Be careful what you feed them, especially if it feels right, to you.
What we do when we assume that our kids are confused and scared and stressed, like us, is that we teach them to be that way. We open up doors to them, we show them how and we are very good teachers, because we’ve been doing it all our lives.
A kid isn’t thinking what we’re thinking. A kid doesn’t understand a global pandemic. A kid isn’t struggling with school being closed…or having more time to play or stay up late, or have less rules or eat more of what they like…A kid is psyched that there’s no more school, and completely pysched about all the other things that come. And stop reading if you’re sensitive, but if your kids isn’t psyched, they’re probably lying or you’ve already embedded your negative assumptions into their fertile little brains.
That’s rough. But you don’t have to keep doing it. And please, don’t keep doing it. Don’t keep leading your child to see the way you see the world, encourage them to be themselves and have enough courage to allow their nurturing gaze and their joy for life, rule, uninhibited and let it wash over your own fear and displeasure. Our children should not learn displeasure from us, they will learn it plenty from the world. You would not want someone to teach your child how to be afraid, especially if they are not, so do not be the someone who teaches fear to children.