They are playing witch today. Two cats are in the basket. My book of spells and healing magic is on the floor. What is it with kids today and dark things? I only pretend-played princesses. But my children inaugurate witch schools, assemble spy outfits and concoct poison. They handed me a spray bottle of moldy green. “It’s to keep the burglars out,” they said.
I’m curious if I am the root of this obsession with witches and potions. Or if my unrestrained conversations with husband, the gardener, and the driver, on locks and bolts, and guard dogs, have formulated a poison bottle.
I keep forgetting to refine exchanges at the dinner table. My children have heard us talk about someone trying to break in. And that a doctor was hogtied just outside the village for a laptop.
Add to that the computer screen, and how I am transfixed half of the time in stories of life and death. Do they see those too? Magnify life and death with what you catch on the news today: there’s the saga of an anchorman, an alleged rape and how someone literally fired up his manhood. This genre of stories land primetime, are deemed front-page worthy. And if you don’t deliberately shut off, these pollute your days with intrigue and scandal.
And aside from the stories of fear and sensationalism, what about the harmless tittle-tattle of friends while mommy’s entertaining? They overhear how I hate someone’s guts, how a certain crook should rot in jail, or how a favorite aunt now looks like Garfield (I take artistic license, any resemblance to anyone is clearly unintended.) Do my children carry our talk about someone’s wretched life to sleep?
I realize I have often let my guard down, chattering to children, as though they’ve had more than 30 years of life work too. They make an excellent sounding board. Nonjudgmental. Sympathetic too.
What about the things we don’t say? The tide of emotions, the hidden undertow that’s nevertheless there? Months ago when the world was despairing for Yolanda, my cast of lighthearted was suddenly gloomy as well. Did they need to know about the thousands of dead, strewn all over the streets of Tacloban? Or that they needed to pack their clothes and toys, as children like them had lost theirs, some their mommies too?
“Children do not have the mental faculties to process a lot of information that way, especially information about issues and things far beyond their scope of reference. Too much information does not prepare a child for a complicated world, it paralyzes them.
…Children need to know that theirs is a good world. They need to feel that, sheltered by those they love, they are where they should be. They have a place, in a time and a world of hope and promise. –Kim John Payne, Simplicity Parenting”
Unknowingly, our children become privy to our fears, and the frightening, ugly, maddening adult world. You think you have shielded them from the dark by keeping media and screens out except that they feed off your conversations, tittle-tattle and the unseen.
“[We need to be] more conscious of the sanctity of these two worlds- the adult world and the world of kids- in conversation…When we let children in on too much information- adult verbal and emotional clutter- it rushes them along, pushing them ahead without a foundation…“ –Kim John Payne, Simplicity Parenting
And while we cannot outfit them with blinders or rose-colored glasses, we are obliged to be on our guard. Watch our conservations, filter what they hear, mind what they perceive when our actions speak louder than our words. This frightening, ugly, maddening world is our adult world. One day they will get here too. Not yet. Their world is a garden where they bunch up flowers and give to mommy, so everything is good again. Our adult world, they are to approach, get to know, schooled in, and understand- at a slow and steady pace. Until then, it is for our eyes, and our ears only. More importantly, they need to witness how we are able to live quite confidently there. So that they learn from the masters (the good witches and not the warlocks) and hone their skills by age and adventure. So that in time, they can whip up potions to keep the burglars out.
“Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.”