Saturday, August 3, 2013

What a Kid Wants

At the end of the plant walk today the herbalist invited me to bring my children along on another walk.  "Oh no, they're into guns and digging mines into the earth and general tom-foolery.  Add to that that anything I'm interested in is immediately perceived as uninteresting by the 8yo."  Oh no, my kids would rather run all over the trail, throw rocks, dig in the ground with sticks, pretend to shoot each other, whoop and holler, and destroy any zen balance that may have been present prior to their arrival.  How can this be?  How can I crave peace so much and have children who love to play war?

If I tell my children to listen to the plants and animals and walk softly, will they listen some day?

I figured out what my 8yo wants in a friendship, what he is looking for, by listening to him banter with his friend... his very tolerant friend.  They tease each other back and forth, taking turns and changing subjects randomly and rapidly at times to diffuse the tension if someone went too far in their teasing.  Noah wants a friend that he can tease mercilessly and say bad words to and nonsense phrases and inappropriate raunchy things to, and the friend will tolerate it all.  He is like Donkey, looking for Shrek.  He wants to be annoying to someone who will love him through it.  I recognize myself in that appraisal.  I always thought I was annoying, the annoying little sister was a label I identified with for a long time and during desperate and confusing times in past relationships I felt like I must be an irritating or annoying person.

I remember visiting my cousin, my sister-cousin, we are the same age and our moms are sisters and we have similar features, when I was in my early twenties and she was already in a stable (at the time) relationship.  I remember being mesmerized by how comfortable they were with each other.  It seemed that she could say or do anything and he would stay mellow (I later learned that this was not the case, but from my single-girl perspective, it seemed enchanting.)  I specifically remember a moment where she was sitting behind him as he was chatting and at one point she said, "I just have this overwhelming urge to bite you or slap you, right here on your shoulder.  Can I do it?"  Cool as a cucumber he responds, "Yeah, sure.  Go ahead.  Do it."  So she did, with a little spasm of glee, she slapped him and then maybe bit him, my memory is failing me.  But the point is that he just stayed so calm and cool.  He seemed strong, like he had used his shoulder muscles a lot in his job.  I don't know all the personal details of why they split, but they did, and it really doesn't matter now because she is with the real person who was waiting for her and they have a child together, but that's beside the point.  When I saw my cousin act that way with her fiance, I understood that it was possible for me to meet someone who would be a kind of a sounding board for me, and I did, and I'm married to him.

I see now how even the friendships that are formed when we are a child are all a pre-quel to the Great Love that comes our way in life.  Attachment, trust, bonding, love, are all explored in the friendships of childhood.  Before the hormones kick in, children can love freely all of their companions without any labels attached to them.  The land of teenage-hood feels very foreign and distant to me, so I can't comment much on how to deal with/accept children's sexuality, but the feelings of love and attachment are so clearly explored in childhood friendships, and I see it now.

On the one hand I think, "Should I be that person for Noah, the person that he can say the worst stuff to and will still love him?"  Of course I do, but I don't like it at all when he talks that way and I tell him so!  I don't like cuss words or teasing.  It's not fun for me.  So I can't really fill that role for him.  It's a cleaving, in a way.

Same thing with Micah and his guns.  I just can't relate and I don't like it.  I don't even like the sound of his playing sometimes.  Even though he tells me, "Mom!  I don't mean it!  I'm just playing!"  It's hard to accept it.  It's hard to accept that his way of understanding evil forces in the world is to personify them, to know them inside and out.  But if he can't do it through play, then how else can he do it?  How else can he explore what being alive in this world means?  So I try hard to be tolerant and allow him to play, especially if the only person hearing it is me.  But at the same time I can't help but think, whatever he acts out is what he is practicing to be, so acting out violent or destructive acts would be what he is preparing to do, versus encouraging him to act out positive role models.  Have I done him an injustice by turning a blind eye to his desire to always play the bad guy?  Or does play in children not necessarily indicate their desire to do evil, but maybe a way for them to understand it in order to better deal with its presence in life?

Maybe some day I will be able to comment on some of these questions, but for now these are some of the issues I am exploring.

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