I said I would write about kittens, puppies or rainbows today but decided that children would be a fair trade. Recently I was in a cafe and a little toddler girl (her name was Eva) walked over to my table determined to make friends. Her mother kept trying to herd her back into her pen but she was much more interested in walking over to my table grinning playing little miss social butterfly. “Hi! My name’s Eva! What’s yours?” So precious. I could tell by how engaging she was that her mother related to her not as Louise Vuitton purse or trained chihuahua but as a separate entity, rightfully here. It seemed like she might have been given a certain amount of respect not always given to children, that her mother honored that she had an instinctually keen intelligence not yet tainted yet by the filters and fears we adopt as adults.
Of course, I see examples of how to and how not to relate to children (IMHO) all the time. Today I was on the subway and was getting slightly irritated by a mother (or nanny or sitter) who was talking to a two-year-old boy as if he had the intelligence of a paramecium. I will never understand the benefit behind the tres annoying babytalk thing. “Well, helloooo! A-goo goo ga gaa! I know! You do?? Well, a-boo-boo-boo-boo. You’re such a cutie, a-yes you are!” Um…gag me with a spoon. Can you imagine being that poor kid? Why do we treat kids like derelicts, pets and accessories? And do we really need to be teaching them how to sound like a complete moron? I mean, children are sponges, so let’s soak them with something of value that they can actually use.
I am grateful that the adults in my family spoke to us like adults when we were growing up and not mindless twits. It likely instilled us with an inherent self-respect as we were treated as unique, original and worthy of being heard and sharing our opinion. So in some ways we were cultivated rather than objectified. Children are not pets and they have no less of a right to be and share who they are than their parents. Most parents have the very best of intentions, I just think that some may not see how they are dominating and patronizing their children without meaning to. Children have super-sonar instincts and they pick up cues from adults: if a parent talks down to a child, how can that child start to believe in themselves? In short, I have a real problem with infantilizing children. That may seem like an oxymoron or paradox but it isn’t. If I was a child again and I had a choice, I would rather have someone speaking over my head than under it.
Babushkas Weigh In…..
“Oh, well Mom said all I had to use was the sponge and dish detergent.” — 12 year old daughter, when her father told her he used elbow grease to get the dishes clean
“Well, sometimes I say something mean to my brother, but I feel really good inside. Does that mean I’m a hypocrite?” — 7 year old girl, after a Sunday School teacher explained that a hypocrite was someone who says one thing but feels something else.
“Don’t kid me, Mom, I know they’re my feet.” — 3 year old son, when his mother told him his shoes were on the wrong feet
“I wish someone we knew would die so we could leave them flowers.” — 6 year old girl, upon seeing flowers in a cemetery.
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us some email.” — 4 year old girl, misquoting the Lord’s Prayer
When I called home one day, my six year old son answered the phone. “Hello,” he said, panting a little. I said, “Hi, Nick. Wow, you sound out of breath.” He replied, “No, I have more.”
Babushkas Weigh In On Love & Marriage:
“On the first date, they just tell each other lies, and that usually gets them interested enough to go for a second date.” — Mike, 10
“One of the people has freckles, and so he finds somebody else who has freckles too.” — Andrew, age 6
“If falling in love is anything like learning how to spell, I don’t want to do it. It takes too long.” — Glenn, age 7
“When somebody’s been dating for a while, the boy might propose to the girl. He says to her, ‘I’ll take you for a whole life, or at least until we have kids and get divorced.'” — Anita, 9
“One of you should know how to write a check. Because, even if you have tons of love, there is still going to be a lot of bills.” — Ava, age 8
“If it’s your mother, you can kiss her anytime. But if it’s a new person, you have to ask permission.” — Roger, age 6
“The law says you have to be eighteen, so I wouldn’t want to mess with that.” — Curt, age 7
“If you want to be loved by somebody who isn’t already in your family, it doesn’t hurt to be beautiful.” — Anita, age 8
“See if the man picks up the check. That’s how you can tell if he’s in love.” — John, age 9
“Married people usually look happy to talk to other people.” — Eddie, age 6
“No person really decides before they grow up who they’re going to marry. God decides it all way before, and you get to find out later who you’re stuck with.” — Kirsten, age 10
“Dates are for having fun, and people should use them to get to know each other. Even boys have something to say if you listen long enough.” — Lynnette, age 8
“Be a good kisser. It might make your wife forget that you never take out the trash.” — Erin, age 8
“Don’t say you love somebody and then change your mind. Love isn’t like picking what movie you want to watch.” — Natalie, age 9