The deeds of children are a testament to the upbringing they received from their parents. ~ Christopher Paolini
A child’s innocence is a precious gift. It should be protected, harnessed and revered for as long as possible. For there will come a day when it is ripped away despite the most conscientious parenting. That day was yesterday.
There are certain words that are never uttered in our home. Words that carry emotion and do harm. Words that coming from the mouth of any human, no matter age make me sad inside. But when they come from the very innocent I actually die a little.
Yesterday my highly sensitive empathetic 4 year old began her progression down the back deck stairs to play in the yard and passing through a swarm of gnats, this phrase came out of her mouth. “I’m going to kill those buggies, I hate those buggies”. When I asked her to explain what she just said, she didn’t quite fully grasp it’s meaning.
We quickly had a conversation about the words she used and why all God’s creatures were given life and it is not for us to unnecessarily take it. “Buggies have Mommies, Daddies and Sisters just like you do. Wouldn’t they have been sad if one of their family didn’t come home?”
Now I know some of you are thinking “it’s just bugs”, well first of all, no, they are living things, secondly my daughter does not think, act or talk like this normally. If you think I’m overreacting call me a Buddhist and feel free to unclick that follow button on the upper left corner. You are not my people.
Where did she learn this?
In this house we don’t KILL anything. Spiders are to be left untouched until Mommy can identify it’s nature. Bees are our friends who only harm those who try to hurt them. Wasps are relocated and all others are dealt with swiftly if they have been deemed a threat to my family. My children are sent immediately from the room, as there is a poisonous creature in their vicinity and it is not discussed. So on rare occasions I defend my home, but we do not talk of killing God’s creations. The only thing they might overhear is the pitiful apology I utter as I do the deed. And we most certainly NEVER use the word hate.
So where was this coming from?
It took me a full day to remember that just a few days ago a young girl stopped in front of our house and began stomping an ant pile exclaiming “I hate ants, I’m going to kill these ants”. It was loud enough that it reverberated through the open window into our home where one thinks we can keep our children from the influence of the less than character building behavior of neighbor kids. But she was loud, very loud. It didn’t even occur to me that my little one heard it, but in hindsight, how could she not have? She was standing in the same room with me, no doubt watching as I craned my head in that young girl’s direction and grimaced.
Truth is on many occasions, the phrases, “I hate you”, “You’re stupid”, “Shutup” and “I’m going to kill you” is screamed, and I do mean at the top of their lungs, by children all under 11 in my neighborhood. I don’t live in a bad neighborhood, quite the opposite. I live in a family friendly, church going, pay your bills, tithe and mow your lawn neighborhood. Yet these children feel it’s ok to say these things, bellowing them for all to hear and does not render any reaction from their parents. It’s heartbreaking, but they are not my children. Don’t get me wrong I watch out for the kids. I’ve pulled toddlers off the street, taken crawling babies back inside their home when they’ve escaped, those sort of things, but this stuff is beyond the scope of a neighbor. And it doesn’t concern me, or so I thought.
Until my sweet innocent child repeated something she didn’t even understand.
5 thoughts on “The Deeds of Children”
All of these are also verboten words and phrases in our home. I agree, it is distressing to realize that we can’t shield them entirely and always from those influences that would counter what they learn at home, but my fervent hope is that by instilling that understanding at home, that these are unacceptable word choices, that they will be brave and independent enough not to choose to use those phrases as they get older and are presented with opportunities and influences I can’t control. And, indeed, I was commenting to another Waldorf mom just this morning that I stress less arranging playdates within our community of like-minded families than outside. Not because I want seclusion or separation from the world. But yes, I guess in a way, I do–I rest easier knowing my kids are playing at a home that I know shares our values on low-to-no-media, unacceptable word choices, etc. I do believe giving my children a good grounding in these beliefs, both at home and school and even, yes, at many of her playdates, will help to give her a strong basis to keep following this path in the face of so many other popular culture notions in the wide world. And when she gets frustrated and says passionately through tears that she hates…something, anything… I tell her firmly that is not a word we use, and ask her to choose another. I admit to even changing words in some of the books I’ve read her that violate this rule. The Lorax, one of our favorites, I think uses the word ‘stupid,’ which I continually change to ‘silly.’ I’m sure I will be caught as she learns to read those letters, but then we can again have a conversation about why those words aren’t allowed in our home.
Oh yes, I’ve changed many a word and or outcome in books I’ve read.
I’ve always thought sheltering a child was not the best option, I was extremely sheltered and resented it in my early “adult” years. A sheltered child would seem unprepared for the world. But as I’ve aged I’ve realized that sheltering fostered shock. Instead of apathy at injustice I felt it deeply and also felt the need to act, respond and step up. A child who steps into the world with new eyes is more likely to care about what they see and do something about it. Instead of the casual acceptance I see in so many adults who were “prepared” for the world.
We only have a short time with our children before the world gets them. I think it’s important to control as much of their influences and environment as possible. How else do we instill in them character and principles? If it is left to the world it will not be done.
I finally understand you and I am happy that I do. I’ve always felt sheltered children will be too hurt when finally exposed to life but you are right about some of them trying to correct their environment. The unsheltered ones do become apathetic.
I believe in seeking a middle course though. Let them be aware of some things but they should know they are unacceptable for them.
May God ease the task ahead of us because it’s a tough one.
I think we’ve had this discussion before, but I absolutely agree with sheltering children (but disagree on just exactly what and where to shelter). We don’t have a lot of media in our house (no television), and I don’t expose my children to the negative attitudes that I see in so much children’s material (I don’t like Caillou or Max & Ruby, for example). But I don’t shelter them from certain harsh realities when they are dealt with in a positive, constructive, Christian-based manner (like death, as in Anne of Green Gables or the LHOP books), and we cheerfully kill bugs that venture into our house. We even bought them a foam set of bows and arrows from Cremps’ for Christmas. One of my boys’ first spontaneous games of make-believe was a violent game — You be Goliath, I’ll be David! But we don’t use harsh language such as you described. I prefer them to make up their own games of warfare based on the Old Testament rather than play Superheroes as the children do at the park near our home. And I prefer to help them make friends within a Christian homeschool group than in the world-at-large. I wonder if part of our difference is a gender divide. I certainly never played Israelites and Philistines as a little girl, as my little boys do!
I think the important thing is to set a standard for one’s family, and to stick to it, in the midst of a world whose standards are ever-shifting. Of course one person’s standards would vary from another’s. Let everyone be convinced in his own mind, as Paul says to the Romans on a not-so-entirely-unrelated matter. Kudos to you for setting that standard, and standing firm!
Anchorkeidi, I wasn’t able to respond so that you would be notified of my response through WordPress. So I spent some time on your blog. I do always enjoy your lessons. Thank you for your thoughts. I agree, there are times and situations where as a parent we must let our children see the world and guide them as best we can. It is most definitely a difficult task knowing when to show them the world and when to keep them from it.