Get ready to have your mind blown…
Did you know that your kids are people? Even your newborn is a person! A whole entire person, albeit a small one, with a whole entire range of emotions and ideas!
Do you know how I know? I mean besides all of that science mumbo-jumbo that gets thrown around (read Dr. John Medina). I know because I was once a child. Crazy. I know. I consider myself lucky to have very vivid memories going all the way back to toddlerhood. If for no other reason than I can pull from them in order to help myself understand children.
The most prominent thing for me is my “inner voice”, you know, the thoughts you think, and the “voice” that narrates them. I do a lot of thinking. I remember doing a lot of thinking as a child. Here’s the thing, that “voice” is the exact same voice I “heard” when I was an itty bitty. That voice HAS NOT CHANGED in the least. You know what this tells me? It tells me that I’ve always been me. That children are always the same person. Of course, as grown-ups we know many of the changes that lie ahead, but kids don’t. They can’t, because they learn through experience. And frankly, how much experience can a three year-old have?
On my fourth birthday (which is Christmas Day, go me!) I got a baby buggy, like an old-school pram thingy. I loved it! I remember thinking something along the lines of: WHOA! THIS SHIT IS TIGHT, YO! I’m paraphrasing, but you get the idea. Anyway, bonus for me, not only did I have a brand new, sweet-ass ride for my dolls… I. WAS. FOUR! FOUR!!! Come on people, go there with me. HOLY SHIT! I’M FUCKING FOUR YEARS OLD! This is as old as I’ve EVER been! I am CLEARLY fully grown, and I’m ready to take on the world! Look out, bitchez! I’m four, and I’m coming for you!
Do you remember being four? Try. Try to remember how you felt. Hell, try to remember how you felt on any day when you were little.
Yes, having your birthday on Christmas blows. But at least no one was concerned about safety back then, and I got to walk my happy, four-year-old ass two blocks down the street to my “Gramma Charlie’s” house (where we had family gatherings), IN the snow… WITH my awesome baby buggy… ALL BY MYSELF! Actually, I walked it alone before I was four, and in all kinds of weather. But GOD DAMN IT! Today I’m FOUR! FUCK YEAH!
Seriously, I tear-up remembering how happy I was to be four. I wore THE BIGGEST smile while I was walking, all the while, absolutely BURSTING! When I got to Gramma Charlie’s with my buggy, I announced to everyone, “I’M FOUR!” And the grown-ups were all like, “that’s great”, “happy birthday”, and shit. Obviously they had never been four, because this shit was off the chizz-ain!
The point here is that no matter how young, in your child’s mind, they are always the same person. Think of who you are now, and then think about how you like to be treated. That is all your children want… To be treated like a person whose feelings matter, and whose thoughts are validated, and to be respected as an individual. Trying to control children, dismissing them, thinking that this time while they’re little is just an obstacle to a time when they can do everything for themselves and your life will be so much easier – is a recipe for disaster. This time DOES matter. Every fucking day matters. Not all people have memories going back so far, but even if you don’t remember being little… it still happened. And it shaped who you are right this very minute.
Your kids are people, treat them as such.
And PS, now that you’re a parent, your life will never be easy again. I’m sorry to be the one to have to tell you this, but it’s true. “Newborn” is as easy as it gets. For the rest of your life you will lose sleep over, have your heart broken by, and worry about the safety of your children. At least newborns can’t drive, say they hate you, or marry a total asshole.