I’m not sure if I’ve become more sensitive in my old age but I’ve definitely become more in tune to things we say to children through observing the way people treat their little ones when I’m out and about. I don’t always mean negatively, sometimes I see a parent fully engrossed in what their young child has to say about something and it’s wonderful to watch the child’s face light up with the respect bestowed on them.
I qualified as a Montessori teacher about five years ago and that definitely opened my eyes to a deeper understanding of childhood and made me realise that children are viable human beings. They have thoughts, ideas and plans but as adults we often seem to dismiss these as unimportant, irrelevant, “cute” or just silly. We’re always in a rush, striving to complete the next task on our daily to do lists, never really seeing the world around us. If you watch a young child walking home from school with their parent or carer, they observe every tree they walk past, stop to admire a trail of ants scurrying up a wall, they smell flowers, watch people chatting to one another and generally live in the moment. I know as adults we have responsibilities and families to care for, but for me this year, I intend to slow down my pace as much as possible (with three children and two jobs) and just breathe. I have learnt to listen to Emmeline when she tries to tell me something and answer with a “yes, I know” or something relevant to whatever I think she’s said because I don’t ever want her to think I’m ignoring her. She’s a girl going places and even at seventeen months old she quite confidently lets me know what she wants or doesn’t want and even what she thinks we should buy whilst we move our way around the supermarket (not even kidding.) We give her choices about which book to read “shall we read this penguin book or the lion book?” “Blue or green socks?” “the grey jacket or the red one?”
Granted, sometimes we’re in a massive rush and I just grab anything I can and therefore suffer the consequences but for the most part, I try to give her a voice.
But why do we, as adults, feel we need to tell our children little white lies?
I heard something a couple of days ago outside Emmeline’s nursery and instantly I felt a bit upset and wondered why this lady felt the need to say it. I think I’m having a bit of an overly-sensitive kind of time at the moment and I know I over think things but go with me for a minute…
A little boy of about three didn’t want to put his wooly hat on so by way of making him do so, his mother said to him
“if you don’t wear your hat, Jack Frost will bite your ears off.”
For an adult, this is a seemingly harmless attempt to encourage their children to wear the hat and not cause a fuss. As a child who is yet to be able to realise their parent doesn’t mean this literally, it could be a cause for concern. Am I being too Montessorian?
My point is, I don’t like it when people undermine their children’s intelligence for a simple life. We all do it, I’m sure I do it at times too but that doesn’t make it right. If we just spent a few minutes explaining to our children what we mean or what we want them to do then a) they won’t think someone is going to bite their ears off and b) they may understand your rationale a bit better. Why do we never think a child will understand the reality and feel the need to woolly it up a bit? You’d be surprised. Having worked at a pre-school, I realise children’s awareness. They strive to be respected human beings just like adults and it’s down to us to encourage them and guide them in their quest for independence.
I think the biggest lie of all is about Father Christmas and I have to admit, I genuinely struggle with this concept. Basically, if you’re good all year some random, fat stranger will bring you gifts made by elves in the north Pole?! Yikes. When you really think about it, why do we do this?
Anyway, here are a few other corkers:
- If you eat your carrots you’ll be able to see in the dark. You’d seriously have to eat a hell of a lot of carrots to acquire night vision-esque sight.
- If you go out in the cold with wet hair, you’ll catch a cold. No, you’ll be just freezing.
- If you eat an apple pip, a tree will grow in your stomach (this one genuinely scared the life out of me as a child.)
- If you watch too much TV, your eyes will go square.
- If you keep pulling that fully face,the wind will change and it’ll get stuck like that forever.
- Don’t touch that, it’ll break (no, if I throw it against a wall it’ll break)
- lies about when a pet dies such as “He/she has gone to live on a farm.” Why not use this chance to teach about life and death? You’d be surprised how many children accept it well.
Can you think of any white lies you have heard?