Monday, July 22, 2013

The Children Around Us

I co-teach a class of 7-8 year old kids once a week, and we have a particularly difficult child in the class, I'll call him Michael. Michael comes from a broken family, and he lets you know it. He lives with his grandparents who are really nice and teach him a lot. He can spout off almost anything, more than the other kids. I'm not sure if he's high functioning autistic, or has ADHD or what, but he's a handful. It's difficult to teach the class and get him to stay in his seat and not interrupt.

I've also worked in a junior high with the resource kids, and I've worked in a high school library. I've also done tutoring in elementary schools. I've learned that kids are hard to control. They want to do what they want to do, or what their peers want them to do when they want to do it, which is usually when you're trying to tell them something.

Most adults I know want perfectly behaved kids. Kids that don't talk back, that do what you tell them when you tell them to do it, that don't interrupt, that don't talk incessantly. But that's not possible, it probably isn't near as fun too.

Some main characters from popular children's books have main characters that aren't ideally behaved children: Anne of Green Gables, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Tom Sawyer, Ramona Quimby, and many more. They are beloved characters but not models of perfect behavior. It's the very trying and quirky characteristics that endear them to us.

Children need a bit of freedom to be creative, to experiment, to learn about the world, to learn about themselves, to make mistakes, to be themselves- within limits of course. There are some behaviors that should never be condoned or permitted, but besides those, kids should be able to have an innocent adventurous life.

In schools, classes, churches, concerts, movies, restaurants, when they should be napping, we want perfectly obedient, silent unless called upon children, but I don't think we'd love them as much. It's a child's innocent chatter and questioning that makes them so lovable. Their excitement in finding a worm in the dirt that makes you want to scream. Their love of everyone and everything.

I know many parents who keep their children on such tight leashes or on the other hand ignore them so much that the child feels unloved, unwanted, and unappreciated.

Within reason, we try to let our daughter have a well rounded life. She gets dirty, we find rocks in her mouth, she gets food on her clothes and in her hair, she falls down and gets holes in her pants, she loves animals, she tries different foods, she plays with other kids, she licks rocks, and she gets lots of love and attention from her parents.

Trying to conform children to an insuperable standard quenches their spirits. My co-teacher and I need to be able to teach the class, but we are understanding with Michael's questions, his interruptions, his getting out of his seat, his stories. Some people would try to crush his spirit, but love works best. Love always wins. It will always be trying but worth it to work with him instead of against him.

The class clowns are the ones who grow up to be the Shawn Spencers in Psych. The super smart kids who don't pay attention grow up to be the Tony Starks in Iron Man. The ones who don't quite fit in grow up to be the Gracie Harts in Miss Congeniality. If we could see their future, we would treat them with more respect. Imagining and helping to fulfill each child's potential will bring about a better world.


  1. I love this, Lis. Such excellent points. I think you are really right.

  2. Thanks, I think children are individuals who also deserve love and respect