Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Working our way up to eye to eye

Knees. Yep, knees. A toddler sees nothing but knees and chins from the time they are born until they reach somewhere between three and four years of age. Always the same in their little lives. People looking down on them. Their little necks must get tired looking up at us all the time. I can't see under my chin, so I hope the view is good. Yep, knees and chins.

I detest meals where the children either eat before the parents or at family gatherings are relegated to the children's table. I grew up sitting with the adults. I learned patience and respect at that table. I learned about my family history as well as what was happening in the lives of those around me. I learned to listen. As I grew older, I learned to participate in the conversations. Learning to observe. Learning about those I love.

Why isolate the children? Well, probably because there isn't enough room at the table or perhaps the parents don't want to be bothered. So including them takes a little effort and perhaps a lot of patience. Well, isn't that what parenting is all about? Children grow up and are gone too quickly. A baby turns into a preschooler before you know it. Toys fall away and soon a new driver is on the road. I'm in my later years and realize how important it is to celebrate each and every moment with the children.

Never have I been aware of age. I attribute this to the times I was included with the family. Of course, growing up country, you learned at an early age to work along side the adults. It was indeed a blessing. Trust comes with inclusion. Worlds are larger when tapped into other aged people.

Now honesty time. It is work. Pulling yourself up to the task at the end of a long day is difficult. Stopping to work with a toddler when the family has gathered for the first time in ages, calls on every resource mentally and physically when a child is screaming. As my son would say, "Mom, you don't understand." Well, I do. Yes, he has twins. Twice the work. Twice the challenge. And, if you work at the patience, twice the success for the adult and the child.

I try as much as possible with the two-year-olds to get down to their size when I talk to them. Eye contact and focus is important. They deserve it. Then the task of reading the child. What does that child need from you....from the situation? Sometimes they cannot articulate how they feel. Another task. Ask questions. Look around the room and try to understand. If it is a baby, you try everything ; however, I find that adult tension feeds the distress of a baby. Calming arms and quiet voices go a long way. With older kids asking questions about their lives and friends is a must. You might not really be interested but the more you are involved, the more you will care. Respect for the child begets loving relationships.

I have never really had a good look under my chin. I can well understand when a small child looks up at Santa and sees white hair crawling from his chin to the child. The prospective of a child. The gift of teaching and learning from raising children only makes us into better people. Relinquishing pieces of our own comfort and ease opens doors to more trusting relationships.

Knees and chins. Working our way up to eye to eye.

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