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Monday, July 1, 2013

CHILDREN ARE LITTLE PEOPLE

 
vada
 

It is a rainy Monday bringing to mind a line from a pop song, Rainy days and Mondays always bring me down. Mamas & Papas. Something must be wrong. It's a double whammy today and I feel fine. I thought it was a boring song at the time. It's a boring song now. Like the Fleetwood Mac line, Thunder only happens when it's raining. Gag! Give me a break. I love the song right up there among their best, but every time I hear this line my mind comes in with, 'That is so not the case, how did the songwriter's inner critic allow such a ridiculous line?' But it works. Evidently, I'm the only one to notice. Or it totally doesn't matter. It's like a friend who can only speak in slang starting sentences with everybody, everything, nobody, nothing. Paying close attention to his language, which I have to do to try to figure out what he's saying, going not by what he says, but by what he means, I find he often negates a point he is making while he is making it. When I tell him he has negated everything he said, then I'm not paying attention to what's essential, just criticizing grammar. Whatever. I've attempted to point out that the only thing everybody does is ingest, evacuate and die. That's not what he meant. I'm expected to divine what he meant like I'm psychic.



Maybe I'm a literalist, hyper-aware of language. It is so. I am. Games I play with children tend toward language games, playing with words. Years ago in a car riding all the way back from Charlotte, two hours, I was with 2 kids and their mother. Little girl sitting in the middle of the front seat, mama driving, me shotgun, I probably said to her in play, "You look like a (fill in the blank) monkey." She said, "You look like a (fill in the blank) horse." She was six. We played like that back and forth, each one of us saying something that had not been said before, like, You look like a cloud, You look like a speed limit sign. You look like a tire, you look like the sky. You look like a windshield wiper. Everything we could think up. It started with easy words like the examples above, and evolved into abstract ideas in the words after it was dark and we were dependent on our minds after using up every item in and outside the car. The closer we came to home a very mild desperation came over us to get this wound up before the time is up, having so much fun we could have looked for words until we fell asleep from weariness. We were stretching way out there looking for meanings in words. I was so blown away by this child's vocabulary to start with, then the conceptual abilities in her mind. One of the many times I've seen intelligence in children that kids are not given credit for. Riding down my road the words were getting better. Car pulled up to let me out and it was her turn. She thought a moment before I opened the door and said, "You look like a gate." That one blew my circuits, I was so impressed by her child's mind. I said, "That was the best of them all." Her mother looked at me like she already knew I was stupid, now it's confirmed.

 


I can sit with a little kid just learning language and say Is, Is not, Is, Is not, Is, Is not for hours and never grow tired of it. Adults invariably tell us to stop at a certain point. For me, it is a communication moment with a clear, clean soul from out of the Blue, a mind uncluttered, fresh, untaught, fully aware of the moment. Playing a game like that with a kid, we're making eye-contact much of the time, and it is continuous mind contact. The kid is communicating at his/her level of comprehension, delighted with an adult who can understand the fun in repeating same words back and forth without end, as a mind brand new to this world understands it. The Pee Wee Herman lines, Take a picture, it'll last longer. I know you are, but what am I? It's children's slap-stick. When we grow out of it, we think it's stupid, but while we're in that phase of brain development, it is really funny. I like to play word games with kids. It is a good exercise for their quickly developing minds, conceptually more than the words. I can sit on the floor with a baby and roll a ball back and forth until the adults tell us to stop. At first, they think it's cute, then it's starting to look like it could go on forever, then it does go on forever, it starts getting on their nerves and they can't see or think about anything else. STOP. It disappoints us every time. This is how kids play at certain ages. What we're actually doing is tuning in to each other, communicating pre-language without words. We laugh. Baby and I are able to communicate very well after such shared experiences.


vada


Something like twenty years ago, I sat with half a dozen kids I knew, aged 6-10, thereabouts, and we watched a collection of Weird Al Yankovic music videos.  We're a garage band from Seattle--I guess that's better than raising cattle. Nature trail to hell. The kids were rolling on the floor holding their bellies. The ones in chairs fell out onto the floor. The room was hysterical with laughter for an hour. Adult women in the kitchen playing Thanksgiving, adult men watching football on another tv, and TJ in there laughing with the kids. When I "baby-sat" kids we'd watch a video of something they wanted to see. I saw Honey I Shrunk The Kids and laughed along with the kids. I loved it. Especially riding on the bee's back flying over the lawn. I could not enjoy that or Toy Story without kids anything at all like I enjoy them with kids. I couldn't watch one without kids. With kids, I enjoy seeing how the kids, themselves, comprehend. I treat the kids the same as I treat grownups, with basic human respect. The little bit of respect that doesn't interrupt them mid-sentence in a way that says I'm not interested in hearing anything you have to say, goes a long way toward simply affirming a child as a human being. When a kid wants to tell me something, I pay attention, the very same as when an adult wants to tell me something. Kids appreciate an adult who notices them, one who appreciates them as who they are at this time in their lives when consciousness is fully present with a new mind learning to catch up to everybody around them.

vada


In my own childhood, I told myself all along the way that when I grow up I will remember what it's like to be a child, how a child thinks, what a child sees, what a child knows all along the way of development. Some of the teachers seemed to get it a little bit. Only grandparents seemed to get it a little bit of family and the adults the kid knew through family, like the people at church. Very few of the adults in my life as a child were aware that a child was conscious. I vowed to myself all the way through childhood I would remember what it is like and at least talk with kids like they are simply aware. I wanted to be a teacher all the way though school. I wanted to be a teacher who understood the kids. By the time I'd finished college, I did not want any more to do with the school system, either side of the desk. Did not want to go to graduate school. Did not want to be a part of the educational system, even at the college level. It would be too much like being in the military. I knew I would be fired before the end of the first year of teaching. I can't operate by Policy. I will not put myself in a position where I have to answer questions, "Policy." My lifetime refusal to forfeit basic rights to have a good-paying job or to have position and status has kept me in the working class where I belong. I went into college wanting to climb into the middle class, came out of college wanting nothing to do with the middle class. I set out to live my life without money the motivation. Mostly, I've used this lifetime for learning. It turns out that puts me in a kind of common ground with the kids, makes it fun to play games with them that exercise their comprehension. I tend to see kids as little people. When I regard them as such, they respond, become animated, show me their toys, tell me their stories, share with me what is important to them. I value all the kids I know and have known with a loving heart that continues when they grow up.

vada, 2yr 2wk
 
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