Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Children Understand More Than You Think

Last night, I was watching my TiVo'd episode of "The Voice" on NBC. I was moved to tears when I saw the very young brother of a contestant rooting for his sister. He must have been about 9 or 10, and she around 30. When his sister was selected for the show, the boy became so excited and happy for her that he clung to his mother as his eyes welled up with tears of joy.  It was so moving to see.

"Tears of Joy" image courtesy of MoLifa

I flashed back to when I was about 5 years old. I was in kindergarten. Because the relationship between my parents was tumultuous, this was one of those years where I wasn't sure if my Dad would show up on Christmas...but he did.  I was so excited to see that, by the big, lit up Christmas tree, my father, who I loved dearly at that age, was sitting there holding a present for me. I opened it up, and it was the "It's a Small World" book and tape. I remember feeling so touched. I somehow knew that my parents didn't have much money for gifts, and they knew how desperately I loved this Disney song and story.

That is the first time that my eyes welled up and I cried tears of joy. My Dad asked if I was ok. I just said, "Thank you Daddy," and wrapped my arms around him. I carried that plastic resealable pouch with the book and tape EVERYWHERE with me. I even brought it to "show and tell."

One time, after class, the teacher told my mother how the morning kindergartners really enjoyed the story and tape. My mother offered it out to her to borrow for her afternoon class. She didn't ask me. I cried and remember going into hysterics. My teacher, Mrs. DiFiori, kept asking my mom, "Are you sure?" They had no idea why this gift held so much significance for me, and how I felt like a precious part of me was being taken away, and neither of them really seemed to care much. I never forgot it. 

Thirty years later, and I remember, clear as this monitor is before me, both the event where I was filled with joy at the thoughtful gift I received and the devastation I felt when I was ignored, invalidated, and not consulted when something so precious to me was involved.

Please be gentle, kind, careful, and loving with and around your and others' children. Do not assume that because a child is very young that he or she doesn't really "get" or understand what is happening -- that the child won't remember.  Some things get written on our hearts and souls and remembered for decades after.

When you have the enormous responsibility and honor of spending time with a child, behave as if everything you say and do matters...because it does.

I couldn't believe it, but I found something
very similar to what I had on ebay just now.


1 comment:

  1. I had my parents do something simillar. It wasn't so much abusive but it really hurt. My grandma threw away a bunch of old videos that i hadn't watched in a long time. I was so sad that my dad (he wasn't much of one) remembered and kept my winnie the pooh action figures until at 12 I blankly wondered why they were still around. It was the sweetest thing my dad ever did for me.

    Thank you for the touching story :)


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