I was watching a strange video in my shop the other day. (My shop because I sleep outside it every night) On the strange video, toddlers as big as my thumb were swimming without having gone for any swimming lessons! They knew how to hold their breath under water, how to float and wade through the water.
I think (Yes it happens to me too…even without my consent) babies are very close to the human definition of madness. Think about it; they walk up to strangers with no care in the world. They know no boundaries no sense of caution until it hurts and then they go back to the same thing, everything is harmless! They don’t know fear or worry they live for now.
As a baby, you can fearlessly play around with poisonous snakes without being bitten, courageously walk up to a stranger and demand for their attention and get it.
Then you grow up, rather, you are brought up. Even though not out of choice, all privileges of being a baby are soon revoked and limitations introduced to “protect” you.
This is not the end of it. No. Grown ups then take you to school, to church and to “your corner”. Your language soon evolves into short memorable sentences like “stop this” and “don’t do that”, “watch out for this” (and am not talking about the song even though it plays in my head every time I say that) and “stay away from that”.
The only explanation you get for these literally ‘life changing’ rules is profound expressions like “its not good for you”. Oh, here is a more familiar one; “I am your mother/father. I know what’s best for you. Don’t argue with me”!
So, after a few years our children graduate (with honors) in the courses we took them through (or funded); fear, doubt, worry, restrain and suspicious of people. (Anyone going for the bash this graduation – dont forget to throw away some of that chicken)
I have always wondered (to myself of course) don’t you think that in teaching our children caution we actually taught them to second guess themselves? We clipped their wings in the name of empowerment and instilled fear in the name of protection?
True, their actions have consequences and this is a valuable lesson for them to learn, but isn’t teaching kids to avoid taking actions all together a more painful lesson ?
Everything is a risk and taking risks is a critical lesson for kids to learn to trust and to believe in themselves. How will these kids know what to fight for if we don’t even give them the chance to pick their own battles?
Who are we protecting as parents anyway, ourselves or our kids? Would you rather spend all the money in the world to get your kids the best toys than trust yourself that you have raised your child well enough to go out and make one for themselves? (even if once in a while the toy will be your dog, or the neighbours kids)
Would you rather pay all possible TV subscriptions to keep you child indoors than allow them to step out and learn who they are through pain and failure and the reassurance of friends?
Before you ask me if I am mad, I often tend to think I am. I don’t have kids of my own (not yet) but believe it or not, I too was someone’s kid (at one point). There are many parents who in the name of protecting their kids and bringing them up in the best way they know how, “fund” their kids from making mistakes, from taking risks and worse of all from getting to know themselves.
I could be wrong (I am a Mad Man) but the best gift you can give your kid is self confidence. If you can invest in making your kids believe in themselves so much, that whether they make the right decision or not if they are true to themselves, that’s a win.
So whatever the decision; big or small, career, sexual début, what to wear; your kid needs to make the decision for themselves, not to please you the parent the preacher the teacher or any other authority.
To know themselves kids need to make choices and learn to live with the consequences of those choices. Good or bad.
Unlike what Lady Gaga says, (Hi Lady Gaga. My name is Guy Gaga but you can call me Gaga Man) I was not born this way.You taught me. You made me this way.
But what do I know anyway? Am just a Gaga Man?