The aliens around us
I am sure everyone has felt like they dont belong at least once in their life. Sometimes it can be an empowering feeling, but mostly its draining and lonely.
We are social beings, we are meant to be part of a group, to share and feel loved and comfortable in our surroundings. Its a basic need, I am sure most would agree. Then why do we treat children like some unwelcomed foreigners?
Put yourself in the shoes of a child in our current environment. They just dont belong. Most everything about them is considered annoying and frowned upon. They are curious and want to touch things and explore, which is met with “Stop touching this! Put that down! Oooooh…now your shirt is dirty!”. They are full of energy and love to jump and run and climb, which is met with “Stop running! No climbing! You WILL fall off of there! You WILL break your head! STOP it!”. If they havent lost the desire yet, they need hugs and comfort and touch, which is met with “Not now, I need to do this first. You are a big gir/boy now, you dont need hugs for bed. You are not a baby, right!” or are just left to cry in their room to sleep. They are earning for knowledge and experiences, but their questions are met with “Because! What kind of question is that! Why this, why that…I dont know! Stop bugging me. Because I said so. The storks bring them in. Ask your dad”.
If they go to a restaurant they are expected to behave like grown ups or sent to a different section, so they wont disturb the place. Going to movies with small child? Forget it. The looks and words will be deadly. Taking your child to work? Hahahaha. If the boss doesnt stab your little toe, your colleagues will at the first obvious sign that that little person you brought in is in fact a … child!
How about in the home, with their closest family?
Having your life back to “normal” after having children means living with them as though they are not there. It is in fact a very desirable state of being. Its something to be proud of. Look! I had a baby few hours ago and I am out partying as though it never happen! Yooohooo!
“Is he good for you?” is a common question towards a new mom. “Good” baby is one that – does not demand attention, doesnt want to be held, sleeps all night and leaves the parent to do their thing… it is in an essence a baby behaving like it isnt there.
But children are people too. This is their world too. They want attention, they want love, they want to participate, they want to be heard, they want to be accepted… but mostly they want to belong. All the traits we find annoying and think we have to stomp over are there to ensure that they get what they need from their time in the slow lane.
Childhood is meant to be a time of learning the ropes. Time when mistakes are expected, because they are the way to polish one’s skills. Time when emotional or physical scars are easier to overcome. A stepping stone to full blown adulthood. When we exclude children from the real world all together on some unconsious level they know something is wrong. Something is not the way its supposed to be. And they fight. At which point we wonder what the hell is wrong with them, again! Those pesky little annoying, demanding children. And thank goodness for that. If babies dont cry, they will be moved from chair to floor to bed with little attention more than few smiles here and there. If they never the less become bright normal children, but are just quiet and follow directions to be invisible and cute, and not run, climb, discover, touch, feel, make mess, ask questions, demand attention etc. etc. then they will definitely not develop. If they are everything we demand of them, they will never BE.
We think we are so good to them, providing them palaces with plastic walls and piles of toys and fancy bed sheets, playing a few games here and there with them, buying them ice cream and lollies. But in reality they are just glorified inmates, expected to do what they are told whenever they are told. Go wherever we need them to go. Listen to everyone we want them to and not those that we dont want them to. They are supposed to not question or demand anything. They are just the barrier to our “normal” lives afterall and we will treat them accordingly. Because they simply do not belong.
We afford our own kids less courtesy than we would a stranger. Really.