So that the world is truly a better place in 20 years.
I grew up in an era where Pokemon was a new thing and trading cards at Burger King on a Wednesday night was cool. I also grew up in an era where hip hop was taking over for the 99 and 2000’s. I grew up when pants were really slim, then really wide, then boot cut then slim again. It’s been a confusing time venturing into adulting. It’s been a confusing time venturing into motherhood. And an even more confusing time, finding the time, to carry out both at the same damn time.
I knew it would be hard to raise a child but I didn’t know it would be this hard. I haven’t been to any parenting classes. I haven’t even asked that much advice from anyone. And some could say that maybe that’s the reason why parenting is hard; but I don’t believe parenting is hard because of the things you don’t ask about. Parenting is hard because sometimes, you can’t even find the question to ask.
So here we are. My husband and I. Trying to find our way through the things we don’t even know how to explain, yet we have to work together to do it and do it well.
Six years into marriage, we are parents of a 4 year old and a three year old. Girl and boy, respectively.
They are beautiful.
But they are challenging as hell. They move quickly and then sometimes too slow. They are always yelling about something small and being quiet about something big — like putting Vaseline all over themselves and the mirrors and the floors.
Kids are hard. But I also know, that they serve a purpose. At least, I think they do. (I haven’t really quite figured it out yet except for the fact that they are here to populate the Earth. But that’s another subject for another day.) And whatever purpose they serve, I am here to help them with it.
Thus the question that inspired these thoughts, what are we supposed to be teaching our kids right now? All of us. Meaning, anyone who is raising a child between 2–5 years old right now. What are we teaching them together so that we can all feel safe in twenty years when they’re out in the world learning things and being subtle parts of society?
I know that’s a big question. And I know many of us don’t even know what we’re supposed to be teaching them. But I’ve been thinking about it. Really thinking about it. And I’ve come up with one thing.
So what we should be teaching our kids is the same thing we should all be teaching ourselves — love.
Generic answer. But the only one I can think of. The only one that makes sense to me. And I think love is a hard enough concept to grasp yet alone teach so I have a while before I can master that.
Ironically, whether we’re intentional about it or not, I believe we automatically teach our kids whatever it is we’re learning — even if what we’re learning is how to be an unhealthy, immature version of ourselves.
If we yell, we teach our kids to yell. If we avoid, we teach our kids to avoid, if we freak out, we teach our kids to freak out.
But what if it works both ways? We can also teach our kids to be just like us, when and if we grow to be better.
So instead of teaching our kids to handle their emotions by spazzing on someone smaller than them (which is what most adults do), we can teach our kids patience and self restraint and learn to express without yelling or being driven by our circumstances at the moment.
We can teach our kids patience when we drive. Or patience with another person who isn’t moving as fast as us. We can teach them to overcome anxiety by being more open to the day and how it flows.
My daughter is 4, and one day, I looked back at her in the car and asked if she was alright. She replied, “yes, I’m just enjoying the ride.” Enjoying the ride. Being patient. Her dad taught her that, and she is determined to stick with it.
We can teach our kids love or we can teach our kids hatred. Either way, most of it lies within what we do, what we say and how we treat our kids and others when they’re with us. That is how we teach them.
They need to know that it’s OK to feel sad and express without throwing a temper tantrum and letting it all out on the person next to us. We need to know that running away from something doesn’t make it better, avoiding isn’t going to create a new reality. And even if it doesn't, the old one still exists.
And we all need to know that love will not always come easy, the more we seek to live within and from it, the more it will become second nature.
What we need to be teaching our children, is always what we should be teaching ourselves, that no matter how big or small a person is, they deserve to be treated the way we desire to be treated — with understanding, patience, care, and love.