Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Kid Land vs. Grownup Land

I have a deep, deep, not so secret: there's something I like even more than knitting... Kids.

Let's face it, kids are the number one "project" it seems and I'm not so sure they should be.

After a full day I decided to treat myself to dinner at my favorite neighborhood sushi place. I of course choose the table closest to the one small child in the place, with all good intentions not to get involved. "Just say hi and keep to yourself Kim" I thought, but one smile to a kid and we're instant best friends! He really wanted to be my buddy (probably because he was so annoyed by his parents already in life.) They really were sweethearts- totally encouraging of our budding friendship and even asked if I would be interested in babysitting. (I get that a lot...)

Over the course of my dinner, I played evesdropper, keeping Super Nanny notes in my head. Something about them bugged me so much that I was relieved I had already said no to babysitting. I just have to say, it's amazing that children grow up to have any sort of "normal" speech pattern considering way the majority of adults talk to children.

Anything the mother and father said was directed at the child, meaning that there was no 'adult' conversation being had here. Strike 1. Voices were higher pitched. Strike 2. Everything was put in the form of a question---"Are you eating rice?" "Did you just play the drums with your chopsticks?" Strike 3. His every action was narriated by mom. The dad just kept saying "Are you eating your tofu, my friend?" My friend this, my friend that. Constantly nagging him to eat yet condesendingly calling him "my friend." (Dude, if my friends did that, I'd kick 'em to the curb.)

That's when it occured to me that maybe we pay TOO MUCH attention to kids. They become our biggest "project" and we talk to them in ways that would never fly in the real world. If you want a kid to be smart, don't talk to him like he's dumb. We've got to change the way we engage children. More importantly, we need to realiz that we don't always have to be engaging our children. It's ok to sit down to dinner and have an adult conversation that doesn't revolve around your toddler. They can deal, so chill.

In my mind there are two Lands: Kid Land and Grownup Land. The world we live in, like it or not, is Grownup Land. Kid Land exists in small tucked away pockets and I reccommend you visit as often as possible. When I'm babysitting and am feeling particularly grownuppy (usually because the kids just want to scream really loudly in the house and I don't like it and know better than to tell them that) I ask the kids to go to Kid Land. When they're ready, they can come back to Grownup Land all worn out and ready to not scream anymore. The two worlds overlap it's true, but they need to be seperate sometimes, for all our sakes.

I guess what I'm getting at here and what was bothering me about my dinner mates, is that if you're constantly hanging out in Kid Land.... how are your kids ever going to have that truly amazing Kid Land adventure they've always wanted..... and how are they ever going to communicate and survive in Grownup Land? You can't train them to expect Kid Land, when we all know what the realitly is.

1 comment:

jpn96 said...

Sounds right to me, I didn't know how to talk to my niece at first and just talked to her like a 'regular' person, only shorter and without the swearing.

The whole high-pitched voice and feigned wonderment in what they are doing wasn't going to fly with me, I'm too dry and sarcastic to pull that off convincingly. More importantly, if I went the adult idea of their 'level' I would've felt as if I was treating her like she was dumb while being dishonest to her.