Hey Ruth, I registered the kids for swimming

by MW Cook

It’s neat being alone with a single child. You know the pulsating mass of primal energy that we are accustomed to: ChildrenChildren are hard to deal with. Impossible to control. Kinda crazy. Most folks figure there’s one way to deal with children: Control. Correct. Coerce.

But now it’s really quiet. And instead of a mass of children, I see Asha. And since the the backdrop of chaos is gone, I can look into her eyes when she speaks to me. And I can see that she really her own person, distinct and independent from me. A person with internal, unspoken thoughts and desires and urges.

I think there’s only one way to deal with a person, and it has nothing to do with control. The golden rule still cannot be beat: Do as you’d be done by. Asha (and Joe and Dev) is a thoughtful, willful, powerfully complex person. If I were that kind of person, I’d want the people I lived with to look at me. To treat me like a peer–a fellow sentient being stumbling through existence. I’d want the people in my house to listen when I spoke, and to speak with me in return. I’d want to feel included and accepted and I’d want to have the freedom to withdraw when I chose. I’d want a place where I didn’t have to feel ashamed for the things I thought and felt. And I’d want those who’s been around longer than I to let me in on whatever they’d figured out so far.

I’m preaching to the choir, of course. In the midst of children, you are the one who remembers they are people–peers. And I’m so glad that you do. It’s a little crazy to treat children like peers. But, in the words of Michel de Montaigne:

A man must be a little mad if he does not want to be even more stupid.

Have a child-like third day, Ruth. I’ll say Hey again tomorrow.