I hate the lens that children can be viewed through and I hate the rhetoric that accompanies modern parenting. I hate the way that children’s intentions are always transplated into the pessimism and jaded attitude of the adult bullshit world we live in. No, we cannot ALWAYS just bend the knee to every whim of a child, but at the same time…we cannot ALWAYS paint their actions in some manipulative way, some conniving way, some black hearted way. If we don’t at least give children a clean slate, how can we attempt to give ourselves the same grace? If we are continually perpetuating these cycles of blame, distrust and competition onto our children…how are they supposed to have any foundation of hope or goodness to spring off from? Surely they will make mistakes, and surely they will grow into being a part of this bullshit adult world we’re all dwelling in. But why can’t we plant a foundation of hope and trust somewhere deep within their brains and hearts that they can always find solace in as the truth beyond bullshit when the world continues to knock them down?
We don’t need anymore pessimism and we don’t need any more distorting of good intentions into bad ones. We need compassion and we need to reach across the table to see the full heart that everyone acts from. I’m not much of a Freudian but I have seen time and time again in this adult world all of the grown ups around me clearly acting out of a place of some deep seated pain. Something they never got when they were a child or something they were made to feel ashamed of or some way that they were forced into a corner and told to shut up. Some aggression, some lack of heart, some lack of something, some addition of something that is so deeply engrained in their brain…in the deepest and most traumatic linking of emotion to cell structure that they cannot shake. Something at the foundation of the blocks being stacked that you cannot remove for fear of collapsing the whole jenga tower. No, no, I don’t think EVERYTHING can be traced back to childhood. I don’t think we should overgeneralize anything. But sometimes it’s just so glaringly obvious. And sometimes it just makes sense. And sometimes it’s just basic psychology. And sometimes people do real damage to each other.
I mean that’s ok…we’re all damaged, we’re all always going to be. We should be. We should be cracked in places and bandaged up and folded and inverted and flipped over. That makes for dynamism and complexity and art and everything interesting in the adult world. But what I think is a waste…is fear. Is what holds us back. Is what keeps us separate. Is what spreads anger, hatred, aggression. I have no affection for aggression. It serves me in no way. I do not find it interesting or complex. I find it to be a waste.
Yes, I understand that from an adult’s perspective it can often seem easy to simplify a child’s behavior to just “Oh you greedy child, you just want attention.” Or to imply that they are crafty and manipulative and are just doing something to get their way. OK well, firstly age matters a great deal in these sentiments and a lot of people seem to lump them all together and imply that a baby might have the same black motivations as a mischevious pre-teen. Secondly, maybe a need for attention IS some aspect of the intention for their behavior…but do we need to say it out loud? TO them? Embarrass them and belittle the whole complex experience of what it is to be little into something so crass? And WHY is that such a bad intention? It is an entirely understandable intention. If we get ourselves out of connoting that as selfish and ugly and understand a child’s world, needs and heart…it is a perfectly understandable impulse if not a beautiful one. Thirdly, there is a whole array of things going on. And they are no different than we are. They are not us-PLUS-selfishness-and- manipulativeness. They are gazing into a terrifyingly large world with no map or guidebook as to exactly how to do things and they are looking at us (adults) with big gazing eyes saying help me. Almost ALWAYS saying help me. Help me get what I believe with every fiber of my being that I need. Help me learn how to be you. Help me not make a fool of myself. Help me not be afraid. Help me not be embarrassed. Help me look cool in this social situation because it is scary and I am inexperienced. Help me because I genuinely don’t know. And of course it comes off in a thousand confused ways. And I remember what it all felt like and it was all very confusing and very exciting and my INTENTIONS were almost always good. Even when I was lying as a very young child it was an exploration. Testing the limits of your world from a pure hearted place. Or from a place of fear. Not from a place of fuck you. When a toddler is throwing something or destroying something almost always the deepest intention is one of exploring the physical dimensions of this world. And genuinely not registering the full weight of what their actions may imply.
And that too. Why are we so mad and so continually shocked when children do things that harm our “precious” possessions. Apart from some things that really are valuable and really need to be kept by a specific adult…so much of it is bullshit. And if you have a kid…why do you need to tempt them by having fucking ornamental vases out? And why do you not understand why that might seem fun to play with? Kids are not just out to fuck with you. Little kids, I mean. And why are we not grateful that children give us some MUCH needed perspective in this materialist obsessed world? Why are we not grateful for the opportunity to reevaluate what we take stock in and reassess what is meaningful to us and what is not? What is bullshit and what is nonsense to spend a whole ton of money on. Children ask the questions and children disregard the expense of an object because it is BULLSHIT and largely arbitrary. And why are we not grateful to children. For keeping us awake and aware of the nonsense of the world. They see through all the bullshit we tell them. They say why and instead of being exasperated at their questions…maybe we should actually question the world we are presenting them with. And if there is a good enough reason for it, then relish in the opportunity to remind yourself of the meaning of things. To see the world with fresh eyes again and be reminded of all the ways the world ticks. And if there is not a good enough reason for something…take note of that. Do not be exasperated when you cannot answer a why but take it as an opportunity to relish those unanswerable questions in life, those unending mysteries and all the beautiful things too profound to articulate. And relish the opportunity to TRY to articulate them.
I’ve always thought that children are placed at a wonderful time in your life. Not the opposite. To shake you out of your skin. Just when you start to get a cocky ass head on your shoulders assuming you know the way the world works…you get a baby (if you do) and the world knocks you on your ass again. You start over. You get humble. You see the world new again. And ther’s a reason for it all. Just when society pushes you to this point of full compliance to the rules of this world…when you are this fully grown adult full of falsities and niceties and ridiculous obsession with looks and accomplishments…you are sent into this messy world of spit up and shit and mess and screams and you are RELEASED from this whole bullshit world back into the way that things REALLY are. And you can get some perspective. And you can be released from all the bullshit society pushes on you. And you can see the ridiculousness of it all. What we really are. What we really need. What is important and what is not. And you can see how your possessions just get in the way. But that’s not the rhetoric I hear these days. I see parents getting EVEN more high tech and useless gadgets for their babies…and then are upset at the baby when they mess it up. Ultimately it’s all for the parent, not the child at all. I see moms blaming the “little monster” for not treating their what-the-fuck-ever with enough grace and I say…did you know you were having a BABY and not a baby magazine? It is AWESOME to be pushed into the wilderness and have everything you know questioned…not the other way around. STOP yelling at your toddler for not standing still and smiling for your picture…realize that the moment is happening around you and that they genuinely don’t understand why it is so important to you and ultimately a candid will be much more beautiful and much more representative of the whirlwind that is life.
We have the strangest expectations of kids and then get outraged when they don’t fulfill OUR fantasies. Well I’m sorry, it’s not really all about the parents. The thing is a giving thing. Be grateful for the perspective, for the jolt to your ego and for the surprise that it is maybe not what you thought. THAT is the gift. The shaking you up. Telling you you don’t know a thing. THAT is exciting.
I do believe. I do believe that our intentions as children are almost always coming from a good place. That’s what I remember. And I think most people have simply forgotten what it is to be a child.
The WORST is the intentions people place on a baby. Crying is their own source of communication.
I think if we loosened our hearts and loosened our minds and changed our perspective of what children’s intentions are and what we should expect from a child…we would all be much happier.
Ultimately though, the same can be said of all people. All ages. All intentions. Ultimately I just see a bunch of boys and girls. All with a thousand honest intentions. Unfortunately, most people really, truly, genuinely believe what it is they believe. Or find a way to convince themselves. I cannot blame anyone. Even my father, I don’t necessarily think his intentions come from a purely GOOD place…but the struggle is real for him and he genuinely gets himself to believe a lot of what he says. And I’m sure the guilt and shame of what he has done weighs on him in whatever ways he can psychologically allow it to.
People punish themselves in far more intricate, complex and powerful ways than we could ever imagine we could do with words or acts of aggression.
That doesn’t mean everyone should always be off the hook or that you should never stand up for yourself. It means that there is a complexity to everything. There is some slice of truth in everything and that compassion should be the ruler of the world. And love. At the very least, love. Understanding. And we can all take each other’s hands and rise each other up. Not because we are all “sinners” but because we can all find ourselves within each other, if we try hard enough.
You could paint any action under the guise of any interpretation…and it is a slippery slope, and a scary one. Any action could be interpreted with the worst of intentions or the best…but I think in the end nearly all actions, when they are really, truly reflected on…come from those true hearted intentions. To the best of anyone’s ability. They often come from that broken place inside. And that is not often their fault. They have often not done the breaking. Not everyone is simply a victim, no, that’s not what I’m saying. But everyone has a story and everyone’s narrative makes sense within the singular and unique context in which they have lived their life. So compassion. And let’s get out of our heads and off of our self-righteous pedestals and see each other in our best lights. Because that is more often the truth than anything else. The benefit of the doubt.
We can’t blame each other for the millions of impulses that float through our bodies. Certainly not children for they have not developped the filters and walls that we have. This is a beautiful thing and a difficult thing all at once. An incredible force to be around and an incredibly complex thing to try to contain and teach the nonsense, bullshit rules of this society we have selected.
That’s why childhood is so wonderful. None of the absolute bullshit has set in.
And children remind us what is important and what is not. Love, just love. And patience and your true character. And nothing you have accomplished matters an ounce to a child. You are loved unconditionally simply because you exist. And that’s the way it really is, isn’t it? Accomplishments are mostly just dust and air for an ego. Love, that’s real. That’s life changing force. That’s running this whole machine. That’s what is giving the next generation the tools to succeed, the heart to tackle the complex problems we face, the optimism to say it’s worth it to be alive at all. Not smartboards or iPads or some Vera Bradley bag. Just love. And that is worth waking up for. That is worth giving to a child.