Reading Cazzie's post about her husband and the veggie garden he's showing his kids reminded me of a subject which really pisses me off. Cazzie and her husband are actually "interested" parents - this doesn't mean having to be on tap for your kids as some sort of entertainment provider - it means being aware, being a parent first - before being a friend - all of this - we all know what I mean there.
What has had me gasping at times is when I see mums and dads in the shopping centers with little kids who are so disconnected that they don't respond to smiles, or little questions and don't look at their kids. Sometimes you will see little ones straggling after a parent who doesn't even look back to see the child is still there. I have walked behind people like this watching to see if they ever turn around and check that the child hasn't wandered off in another direction - whereas other parents will hold their child's hand, or have them hold onto a trolley, or in one case I saw recently carry the child and talk to it eyes to eyes. I have seen parents crossing busy roads and allowing three or four of their small kids to just amble across behind them and not even holding hands -
Sometimes I hear beautiful little kids try to engage the parent and all they get in response is a dead stare of disinterest...or worse they are sworn at and called the worst names imaginable - the worst being a mother calling her child a little "C..." My daughters were shocked to their core when they heard this beauty.
How many years can a small child maintain the interest and curiousity in the new world it inhabits if it is turned off constantly? This is for me a real tragedy. I used to talk my head off to mum and dad, and no doubt they were tired at times, no doubt I may have been tiresome as well (I am sure of that) but all I remember is them answering me, laughing with (or at) me and treating me kindly. From this I was able to maintain and grow an insatiable curiousity about the world I had just met - still do today.
Another thing I don't like when i am at it is there is a choice when you buy a pram to have one facing the mother or dad pushing the stroller - so the little one can see your face and interact - or to choose one which is faced away and enclosed like a sort of capsule wherein all the baby sees is a small area in front of it...no wonder they get upset and grizzle -
another thing while I am on my rant - are parents who push the stroller out into the road in front of them on busy roads thus ensuring that if anyone is hit by a car its the baby first - this just beggars believe and is so common.
Our kids were precious to us and all kids are precious - To see kids treated with such a lack of interest is hard and you feel like saying something or doing something - maybe I will start and just become that mad old woman I feel like being at times.
Things like being engaged with your kids cost nothing at all. I remember when mine were little loving to carry them and talk with them as we went places...they were more interesting to me than some of the adults I had about me. To be attentive and engaged is not to spoil a child...its the time in life when you get to teach them about the world before the world gets hold of them and imposes its limits - I remember walking for ages with our eldest's little face close to mine and at only 15months having quite a converstaion with her giggling every few minutes or so. We went everywhere together and she made as much sens to me as anyone else did around then. I remember when the youngestwas just three she made the most amazing statement about why God made us and in a short sentence she explained for me the purpose of my life. Sadly i didn't write this down and forgot the actual words but still remember my flood of amazement at her wisdom - that wisdom did not come from me, it came from her own little heart - but had I been bored by her and disengaged she wouldn't have talked to me in that ways.
Our kids didn't have much. The first home was a $12 a week rented house...For a time clothes shelves were made by me by nailing half a dozen old fruit boxes together, after scrubbing them out and painting them bright orange - and then putting a curtain around the front -in lieu of a cupboard door - so they were not spoiled with things - and I was too young and feisty as was their dad to give in to them too often - but I have memories of us all rocketing off each other and laughing a lot. maybe easier to do when really young -
It just breaks my heart when I see the little faces trying to get the attention/acknowledgement of a parent who would rather be elsewhere and alone. We have all been tired - but some people treat kids as if they were their own objects maybe thinking they won't remember (thats if they think at all) and the children do remember - they remember to forget their curiousity, forget their spontaneity, and to slowly close down and in many cases become as disengaged as the parents who raised them.
I was so lucky to have been born into a family who knew how to be, what to do - so lucky that we had enough in us to be the same - and the product of that is two amazingly curious, funny, compassionate and aware women, soon to be mothers themselves - i hope :)
We weren't any special sorts of parents - and there are millions of families out there just like ours where kids are precious and wanted - but there are also millions of families out there where children are "switched off" by parents who couldn't be bothered switching them on -
What a wonderful world it would be if all children had parents who looked into their eyes and wondered...and talked and laughed.