Thursday, March 29, 2012

Kids Scare Me

"What are those on your teeth?"
I was 16 years old and was in a Child developing class in high school.  There were about 15 small four year olds that we were watching for a grade.  I had these wonderful things called braces that automatically make me a target for selfless attacks on my soul.  A cute harmless little four year old comes shyly over to me and asked me, “What are those on your teeth?”  Awe…she wants to know about me!  She cares and has started a friendship by proving to me that even the smallest children want relationships.  I am honored.  Kids can say mean things…but you just got to get down to their level.  So I get down on the floor to be on her level so she doesn’t feel threaten by my tall 5’ 1” stature.  I start to share with her my experience at the dentist and explain, “They are called braces, and it’s to help make my teeth straight”.  She just starred.  Not at me, or my eyes…but straight at the railroad tracks in my mouth.   Her face went from smiling to confusion and to be painfully honest…utterly disgust.   She thought deep and hard and what she wanted to say and without hesitation when she found the perfect response, “I NEVER want those on my teeth…yuck!”  Ouch. 

Kids are scary.  Well, sorta.  It’s not their appearance that I’m nervous of, cause let’s face it…me and a kid in an arm wrestling tournament…I would eat their confidence for lunch.  What am I afraid of?  Is it that they are better in video games than me, which shows their quick reflexes?  No, cause I know that I could school them in a game of Pacman.   Is it that they can throw a fit in any situation immediately making it the most embarrassing moment on any given day in any given situation?  Probably that could be it too, but that is not it.  Maybe it’s that they look like a wild beast when it comes to eating.  Is that what they would do to me in a forest that we are trapped together in, and I’m their last idea for a meal to survive?  No…I mean, really?   When am I going to be trapped with a 5 year old in the woods and I’m their dinner…that’s a little stretched, so the eating habits I can put aside as non-scary.   What is it about these little three-foot beings that make me a little scared?  I mean…I have like 30 years of experience that I can release into their ever-growing minds.  Their small size should make it super easy to share my knowledge with them and how they should go.  At least I think it should.  But that’s not always the case.  They say what ever they want, they don’t hold back on telling you what they think of you. 

Kids say the sweetest but yet most hurtful things.  Not sure if your child has ever said that they “don’t like you”.  I know…it only happens to the bad mom’s right?  Nope.  You could be Rachel Ray and make the most amazing meals.   You could be J.K. Rowling and be the richest woman in the world and shower them with gifts.  You could be Cinderella herself as their mom and clean and sing while working all while having birds chirping on your shoulders.  You could be best friends with Justin Bieber and it still wouldn’t matter.  They could still say the most hurtful things that take away everything you tried to do for them.
I think I figured it out…I know what it is!  The only thing about kids that sometimes scare me…is their tongue.   The just not knowing what will come out of their mouth.  Sometimes they say the sweetest things ever but the situation isn’t going in their favor…they say the most bizarre things.  Whether it’s to scream, “Mom, you just farted” in a grocery store, or tells a lady that her breath stinks, or asking why someone looks so weird.  I mean, not that this has ever happened to me…just “theatrically” speaking, of course.  We can’t control it, we can teach them the way they should go, but the words that come out of their mouth is their choice.  They can determine if that choice will be a good or bad one.  I realize though, that most of what comes out of their mouth is mirroring what they see or heard in my tone.  Wait, what?!  Stop the cassette player right now…I can help my fear of what will come out of their mouth?  Sorta, kinda, yes, not really, sure, nope, maybe.  What I can do is help them understand what to say, when to say it, how to say it and more importantly in the tone to do it.  It’s not easy to control your tongue when you are carrying groceries in one hand, balancing a child in the other, kicking a sippy cup out of the way, holding the door open with your free leg, and resting a phone on your shoulder finishing a conversation with a friend, all while arguing with your child that it’s not time for TV right now.   Been there, done that.  But it only takes a few breathes to make sure you approach a situation with much needed respect for our kids and to talk through their frustration which in turn teaches them to talk with respect, grace, love and patience.    So challenging myself to listen…no, not just listen, but to really Hear my child’s voice today.   And the fear of what comes out may be a little more tamed and manageable!  So no…I’m not scared of kids…thanks to that little girl that destroyed my confidence and for giving me thick skin.

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