One would think that after having been a child myself, raising three children, being a teacher for a kazillion years, being with my grandchildren frequently, the secret world of childhood would not be such a mystery.
The total delight we feel in their accomplishments tempered with the narcissism that our DNA and/or our nurturing produced these accomplishments. WHAAAAAAA? We are taking credit for an accomplishment for which they worked so hard?? But it’s true.
When I was younger the expression was “chip off the old block.” Now we hear “his solo on the violin was fantastic…he takes just after you.” Man, am I good. He takes just after me (caveat – child and accomplishment changed to protect the genius). And the truth is, we automatically internalize the talent and either assign it to ourselves or to someone else we love. “She’s such a science whiz…..she must take after the other side of the family.” “Even at this young age, he certainly gets his drive and work ethic from my side of the family.” “I’m so proud, I was exactly the same way.”
The child rarely gets to hear, except by acquaintances or friends, “You are fantastic and you and only you are responsible for your hard work and how wonderful you are!” Ouch.
Conversely, if a child does something wrong, fails in school, gets “in trouble,” we don’t take any responsibility for that. The blame goes to the child him/herself, the other parent, teacher……”What’s wrong with you? I taught you better than that.” “YOUR daughter certainly isn’t going to be President of the United States.” “YOUR son takes after your father and look what happened to HIM.” “What goes on in YOUR classroom to make my son act this way?” “This would NEVER have happened if I were watching him.”
When are we, the adults, taking a long, hard look at ourselves and what we could have done differently and can change to help these children? In the middle of the night, when we can’t sleep.
The secret world of adulthood….