“Trees that are slow to grow bear the best fruit.”
Sometimes my kids, Ellen and Will, commit some minor transgression and I find myself reacting really harshly. I’ve noticed at these times that in the back of my head I’m justifying my own rigidity with the refrain that they’ve got to “figure this out” because it’s “the way the world works.”
There are things they have to figure out. It’s just the pacing that’s up for debate. When Ellen struggles with some aspect of the cold, hard reality of things, my job isn’t to force her to confront it at full force — to make her sink or swim.
So, to use two metaphors simultaneously (because that’s how I do):
Sink or swim immersion into the challenges of life might make for a quick grasp of the dog paddle, but isn’t likely to result in a refined breaststroke.
And, to paraphrase Molière, trees that are allowed to grow slowly will bear the best fruit.
What the ever-loving, craptastic, holy heck! I’ve seen adults reprimand kids countless times before, but it wasn’t until yesterday morning that I finally noticed what jerks grown-ups are when they talk to kids.
It began in the library at about 8:00. I overheard a woman as she was tutoring three middle school kids. The tutor, her voice already dripping with disgust, sighed, “Open up your textbooks.” One of the guys, who looked particularly bleary-eyed and tired, was slow to react and the tutor said, “Is this how we’re going to start? Really?” She was exasperated already and the kids hadn’t even settled into their chairs. She began to drone out the text and asked the kids questions that had clearly been designed by the chairman of the board of a mattress company specifically to put people to sleep. Over the next half hour, she split her time between reading aloud from the textbook and complaining that the kids a) needed to keep all the chair legs on the floor, and b) needed to wake up and answer the questions she was sleep-reading from the book. Continue reading How we talk to kids