My almost-three-year-old daughter must have been full of resentment at best and hatred at worst. Why was her father so mean to her? She was just going to see what it felt like to touch the oven. No big deal. The dinner was almost ready, and she was hungry and impatient. But her father didn’t even let her come near the oven. Why?
Was it because I wanted to be mean to her? Most definitely not. But is prohibition a good way to make sure she is safe? Are there other means of protecting her? Most probably yes. At the time, it seemed like the best way though.
Children are curious about things they aren’t fully aware of. Especially if there are other triggers that make her reach out and touch the hot oven. My daughter wasn’t interested in drawing or leafing through a book, which she readily would be occupied with at any other time. But not then.
Adults are smarter. We’ve learned that certain activities hurt us physically, and a normal state is for us to avoid them. We would not willingly jump out in front of a car, because we know we would get run over. Children, on the other hand, don’t think in these terms. Their focus is most often on their goal, their direction, not what happens to them on the way.
But adults are dumber, too. Why? Because we think that we are smarter. We think that we’ve learned how to bypass danger and avoid undesirable results. All too often, nevertheless, we forget that we, too, are still learning to fly. We get annoyed, because our bus didn’t pick our important selves on time. We get irritated, because our date stood us up. What we aren’t usually willing to ponder is that maybe the hinders are designed to teach us, to protect us and to make us better. Just like our prohibitions are often meant to keep our children safe.
My daughter doesn’t like me all the time, because I seem mean. One day, she will understand my intentions. One day, she will know that there’s more to what happens to her than to screw up her desires and wishes. One day, she will learn.