I’ve been working from home/staying at home for exactly eight weeks, and I’ve realized I say some ridiculous sentences. Things like “Stop licking the vacuum” and “Don’t rinse your toothbrush in the toilet.” A few days ago I said something else to my two year old, and it struck me as odd. He was upset about something that I had determined wasn’t worth tears, and so I told him “Stop crying.” As I said it I realized that just the night before, I had been on the phone with a friend of mine, who was literally in tears because she and her boyfriend had broken up for the 97th time, and it NEVER crossed my mind to tell her “stop crying” even if I felt it was ridiculous.
I am aware that we are raising little people, and teaching them how to function in our world, but seriously, we ask a lot of immature minds. With that in mind, here are 5 things we ask of children that we’d never ask of an adult.
1. Stop crying. Our definition of “things worth crying over” is quite different from a child that is 2, 7, or 15. We’ve learned that a popped balloon isn’t as big a deal as say, finding out your loved one has cancer. But in a two year old’s world, a balloon is a wonderous thing, and when that balloon “dies” it’s devastating. And if it pops in his or her face, it’s also terrifying. I know I have cried while reading books and a character I love is hurt, and my husband looks at me like I have two heads, but he would never say “Oh stop crying, you’re fine.” He knows better.
2. Say you’re sorry/say you forgive. So while I’m all over the lesson of apologizing when we’ve hurt someone, and forgiving someone who has hurt us, we ask kids to do it way too quickly sometimes. I personally do this a lot, because I’m trying to teach my boys grace. But when they’ve just had a drum thrown at their head by a friend who wasn’t ready to take turns, and the sting is still there, we say “Forgive your friend because he’s sorry.” And let’s face it, the kid that threw it IS NOT sorry, he felt entitled and angry, and now he has to apologize when he isn’t ready. Now, while adults typically don’t resort to physical violence, we also stew about our hurt! We bury it, we let it simmer. This doesn’t mean it’s RIGHT, but the fact is we take a long time to forgive someone, and usually longer to apologize. We don’t march our friends up to the person that they hurt and say (publicly!) “Now say you’re sorry!” It kinda ties into:
2a. Walk away when you’re angry. My boys get on each others nerves. I find myself constantly telling Cash “When you get angry, you leave the room, or just get away from Cruz, you don’t hit/yell/get angry.” Yet when I get angry at them, I rarely take the time to calm down and walk away. I yell, I get angry, and when warranted, I spank. As adults we don’t tell each other to walk away (unless it’s about to get physical), we tell each other to work it out. To talk about it, or fight about it. “Oh, Monica, just walk away from her.” Whatever. I’m mad and I will confront you. Especially if you are smaller and I think I could take you in a fight.
3. Share prized possessions with anyone and everyone. Hey, Tommy, sweet Camaro. I’m going to keep it for a few days, because you need to share. Rachel! I love your dress. It’s my turn to wear it tomorrow, right? Okay, so maybe their Happy Meal toy isn’t their prized possession, but in that five minutes, it sure is. I’m not saying we don’t teach our kids to share, but I also don’t think there’s anything wrong with recognizing that some things can just be theirs, especially things they don’t want ruined. My almost-seven-year-old has one of my old digital cameras. We do not let the little guy play with it, because while it’s old and easily replaced, there’s the acknowledgment that it just belongs to Cash. I also do not make my kids share immediately. If we get to the park and take a toy in the sandbox, that doesn’t make it fair game to anyone that comes along, even if Cruz “wasn’t touching it!”
4. Leave somewhere when you’re having a good time. So you’re out with a few of your bro-hams, at a party or a gathering, and everyone is dancing, eating, and having a great time. Maybe two friends are in the middle of a card game. And you say “Time to go! Drop what you’re doing and get your shoes on! Quick!” They will ignore you. Or tell you to leave by yourself. We yank our kiddos in prime playing time all the time! This doesn’t mean we don’t have places to be, or time schedules, I get that… But again, it’s the consideration of it all. If little Ben is having the time of his life playing tag with his new besties on the playground, can you not give him five more minutes? He might nap longer later. And you can get another level completed on Candy Crush. Or take another selfie. Hashtag, at the park with the kiddo!
5. Hug and/or kiss “strangers” goodbye. Okay, this is the one that REALLY gets me. I have a friend that has her not-quite-three-year-old hug and kiss every single person in the room before they go home. Random aunts and uncles. Great-grand-parents they see twice a year. Friends of family members that SHE has known her whole life but her daughter doesn’t know from Adam. And inwardly I cringe. I would never tell my husband he has to go kiss my second cousin once removed that he just met “goodbye”. Or tell one of my friends to hug a random person that happens to be at the same cookout. It’s weird. They don’t know each other; they don’t have a relationship in any way. I don’t make my boys hug or kiss ANYONE, except me and their dad (and I like to think I’m not MAKING them do it!). I don’t even force them to hug their grandparents. I definitely have them tell people goodbye, they thank hosts for having us at their house… But making them give affection to people that they wouldn’t go to on their own just makes me worried about how they’d react if someone tried to force their affection on them. They might think they HAVE to do that, because Mommy always makes them kiss her random uncle goodbye. Nope.
So there’s my first stab at a “list”. I’m interested to know what things you think we ask of children that we’d never ask of an adult?