by Brooklyn Lindsey
Meeting your kids in their world shows them that they matter to you.
Our chickens aren’t hiding useful intel on terrorists, but our kids tortured them anyway.
It was Taco Tuesday (the night our “framily” gets together at one of our houses for fajitas and guacamole—it’s the best night of the week).
Sometimes the kids play outside when Taco Tuesday lands at our house. A few weeks prior to hosting tacos at our house, we had been given some baby chicks. They were an unsolicited gift.
Sidenote: you should ALWAYS ask a mom and dad, in private, sans children, if you are interested in gifting chickens to a family.
So, the kids—and the little chickens—were outside. We’re inside. Fajitas are flying.
All is well in the world.
I’m dipping my extra crispy tortilla chip into some serious guac when I glance outside to see my youngest child holding a chicken hostage and another blasting it in the face with a water hose.
My friend and I make that noise that moms make that always causes additional panic. That inhaled high-pitched, fast gasp that can literally stop the earth from turning was the sound that came out of our mouths as I ran outside to save what was left of the chicken.
My youngest, knowing she was in trouble, thought she’d be helping by tossing the chicken quickly (head first) into the baby buggy that they had been using as chicken transport.
“Mya what are you doing?” (Why do we ask our kids that?)
“The chickens were dirty.” (Well, okay then. I guess I had never told them they shouldn’t treat chickens like toys. She seemed sincere enough.)
“We need to be gentle with animals.” (I’m also not sure about why I insist on saying “we” when it’s definitely “them” that were in question.)
“Otay. But what if the chicken needs me to save her from your tacos?”
“You can save her from the tacos. But chicken salvation probably doesn’t need to involve a water hose.”
A few days later, this same child told me that her hat powered the entire world.
She may be right.
I’m kidding. I know that her hat doesn’t power the world. But I’m not kidding about believing her.
It made me think back to a time when our church staff went through a training on how to respond to aging members who deal with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
We were taught to love the person in front of us by going into their world with them. Someone who is aging may call you by another name than your own. They may think we are in a different era or forget what simple things are named. Instead of correcting them, we’re invited to enter into their world, loving them right there in that place where they are coming to life.
I think the same should be true when relating to children and teenagers.
There’s a place for correcting and protecting a child (and aging adults). At the same time, there are many more places where the correction should be trumped by wonder. Your wonder.
You should wonder why it’s important that she thinks chickens need a bath. You should wonder why she’s afraid of her mama’s tacos. You should want to understand the story behind the red plastic firefighter hat that reportedly powers the whole world.
Because in those funny and sometimes terrifying moments, we meet them in their world and show them that their world matters to us.
Here are some things you can do to get into your kid’s world this week. In the meantime, I’ve got some work to do on my tacos.
- Pretend with your child that you could live today over again. Ask him or her what you would do differently. Even better, ask her that question at the beginning of the day and use your creativity to try to make it possible!
- When your teenager makes you want to ROLL your eyes with their nonsensical reasoning for wanting to do something that’s a mess waiting to happen, ditch the lecture and ROLE play instead. Help them figure out healthy ways of reasoning by letting them play out the scenarios with you.
- Terrified at something your child is doing (drowning a chicken, torturing a sibling, telling the teachers too many details about your family life)? Be interested in that. Find the reason behind their fascination. Make a list of your kid’s passions that may be hiding just underneath the freak-show.
- Get out of habits that keep you from seeing your children. When it’s been a stressful day, my husband will say, “lets go for a bike ride.” I’m always grateful for the wind in our hair and for a few minutes that help me see them for what they are, kids. Our precious, awesome, funny, sometimes terrifying kids.
What can you add to the list?