Bullying always starts at home

Photo coutesy of Jürgen
Photo coutesy of Jürgen

Bullying seems to be a game of popularity and domination. Children bullying their peers are in it to win it. Their low self-esteem may be the reason they yearn for attention and dominance.

Self-esteem isn’t a product of peer influence. Even if the negative effects of it being low do not appear until a child starts interacting with other children, it all starts at a younger age, at home, with parents.

Parents must teach their children their worth: “Look, how good you are at ______ !” However, the sense of one’s worthlessness needs but a “You could never ______ !” to rocket.

This post is part of the #blogg100 challenge—100 blog posts à 100 words in 100 days.

Little failures

Stool

Photo Credit: Evil Erin via Compfight (cc)

Today, my almost three-year-old fell from a stool. No visible consequences like bruises or injuries. Just a couple of tears. Most probably, she was shocked by how the chair could not sustain her little body. The remedy for the shock? The mother’s hug.

With every day that passes, my daughter learns how to adapt to the world around her. Today, the lesson was about motor coordination and what happens when she does not pay attention to where she places her foot. Next time she is on a chair dancing, she will remember today’s incident as an incentive for her to be more careful, most hopefully.

We adults often view children’s falls, mistakes and incompetence as failures: “How clumsy of you!” or “Could you be quiet? Don’t you see I’m busy?” What we usually forget is that we were once little failures as well.

My daughter does not understand gravitation, but she learned its force and effect the hard(er) way. I learned something, too. Thinking twice before I get annoyed at someone’s inability to perform basic in my eyes tasks is my implication of today’s lesson. What’s yours?

Being a parent: what it is about (part 2)

Looking for part 1? Here’s what being a parent is not.

Being a parent is about taking responsibility for one’s words and actions. Often even thoughts.

Being a parent is about patience and kindness. It is about contentedness and modesty. It is about meekness and respect.

Being a parent is about tolerance and acceptance. It is about resilience, geniality and triumf.

Being a parent is about justice, joy and truth. It is about accedence and faith. It is about endurance and hope.

Being a parent is a lot like love.

Being a parent: what it’s not about (part 1)

Being a parent isn’t a bed of roses, constant cuddling or endless chocolate kisses. It isn’t about stillness and harmony. Neither is it about staying up and waking up late.

Being a parent isn’t an indulgence or lack of self-control. It isn’t about ignorance, lightheartedness or disrespect. Neither is it about a warm fluffy gladness or sparkling energy.

Being a parent isn’t a war or even a battlefield. It isn’t about denial, hesitation or weakness. Neither is it about keeping or letting go.

Being a parent isn’t painless.

“More tickle, daddy, more tickle!”

Laughter is one of the things I appreciate about my three-year-old most. Genuine, offhanded laughter coming from enjoying the moment. We like to play and read and dance. Yesterday, as we were playing, in between my tickling her, she exclaimed, “More tickle, daddy, more tickle!”

This callow and pure carelessness that is about my daughter—there is something about it that charms me. It makes me look for words to describe how jealous I am. Her clear and simple point of reference—I want to obtain that, again.

I wonder if, as she grows older, her desire for “more-tickle” will fade. I wonder if, as it fades, the chasm between her raw delicacy and my biased pragmatism will narrow. I wonder if, as it narrows, we will some day laugh as unprecedentedly and easy as we do today.

Of value

My almost-three-year-old daughter’s enthusiasm about the little things blows me away every time. Today, enjoying her laughter as she swayed back and forth on the swings, I came to realise that there are very few of my possessions that are of worth. That have real value. The lack of which would devastate me to the point of not willing to continue living. Some pieces of furniture, a bunch of electronic devices, a couple items of expensive clothing—nothing that I have paid for once is a contribution to the potential value my life has.

There are, however, a couple of things I would never want to exchange for any worthless rubbish. Things that have shaped me into who I am today. That have a worth of the world to me. The lack of which would most probably strip my existence of meaning and sense. These are relationships, experience and faith.

For me, this little ball of joy I am proud to call my daughter sure knows how to put things into perspective.

Turning back time

I love observing my daughter, and I am fascinated by how she goes about learning the world she lives in. Today, it struck me. Almost everything she experiences is new to her. She is curious about the little things. Things that eventually will shape her into a grown-up woman, she is learning today. Now.

Children do not rely on logic when, for example, making an argument against broccoli. ”It is good for you” is just as weak an argument for broccoli from my part as “I can’t prove it, I just know.” Somewhere along the way of becoming an adult, I’ve accepted a point of reference that my daughter still lacks. Among the things I’ve learned is discerning right from wrong, which I am now teaching my daughter.

Sometimes, I wonder if there’s a way to turn it all back in time. The innocence, the naïveté, the curiosity. And if I got the chance, would I take it?

Memories and experience

Recently, my wife and I started writing down words and phrases our almost-three-year-old daughter says. We often laugh at how sweet she sounds when she pronounces words we all use every day. Sometimes, she surprises us though by saying a word we know we’ve never explicitly taught her. We hurry as we jot down the date of her saying the word and us hearing it for the first time.

Which got me thinking. My human body is limited by time. I can only perceive and describe reality from one perspective – the present. What has happened to me is duller by every second that passes, and what will happen to me is, ultimately, unclear. Who I am today, therefore, is the best representation of what can be defined as my true self. I might be at peace with this representation, and I might not.

I’ve heard that the shape of a human ear is unique to every person, which does not change with age. Whether it is true or not I don’t know. What I do know is that what makes me most definitely unique is my experience and my memories.

Sure, I can take photos, record voice notes, publish video messages or send e-mails to my descendants in an attempt to preserve my memories of those near and dear to me. These are good ways, but do not underestimate the power of “showing” compared to “telling”. I am persuaded that sharing my memories with others in a way that they become part of their own experience is the best way of preserving them.

Prohibition as a means of protection

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.

Will I?