Now that I have kids, I see kids differently. Before, my only experience with kids was being one and babysitting for other people’s. Neither of those experiences really gives you insight like giving birth to kids does.
Since having my own kids, I’m growing ever sensitive to how we talk about them. And it’s kind of horrifying. Basically, we act like children are little shits, deliberately setting out to make our lives difficult.
Before having kids, I bought into this view of kids, even though I knew better. (I certainly never set out to give my parents a hard time.) Worse, I supported it, without thinking. Found humor in it, even.
I’m not saying I am innocent even now. I poke fun at my kids’ idiosyncrasies. I act like they are trying to make me crazy. I post photos they will kill me for later. I talk about them like they are not there. I bought my kid this shirt.
|Granted, it’s true. But it’s not her fault.|
I feel bad about it all now. I get that sometimes you have to laugh so you don’t cry, but at what cost? So I’m working on improving my mindset, and trying to take into consideration how it makes my kids feel when I say things like “You are making me crazy.”
But the rest of the world says stuff like this, too, and worse. Unapologetically. And it’s starting to piss me off.
Like the carpet commercial from Home Depot. Look, kids are messy. You don’t have to tell me that. I wish I could shampoo my carpet, because after 4 years of my daughter and 7 months of my son, it is beyond nasty. (I can’t shampoo it because it’s all bunchy, which is another rant entirely.) My living room alone bears several red blotches (not blood…red Kool-Aid and juice), some gray grime, and too many spit-up spots to count. It, quite frankly, smells. And it’s mostly the kids’ fault. But the commercial calling the kid a professional carpet stainer, the one that implies this kid lives to stain the carpet, really irritates me. If we say, even in jest, that kids do this stuff on purpose, don’t we — and others — end up treating them that way? Don’t they start to think of themselves that way? What the hell kind of start in life is that?
You want to know why kids act the way they do? Imagine talking to your friends, your coworkers, your boss, your parents the way you talk to and about your kids. Imagine if everyone spoke to you that way. There’s part of your answer right there.
Kids are not small adults. They are people in progress — emphasis on in progress. Sometimes they say and do things that create more work for us, irritate us, even destroy property. It’s not intentional most of the time. (And if it is intentional, you have bigger issues to deal with than a muddy carpet, my friend.) But they do have feelings, understand more than you give them credit for, and are listening to your every word.
Use those words carefully.