Some days I feel that my children have no concept of the value of “stuff.” I will often rant while in a temper that they treat everything like garbage then I go straight to “I’m just going to throw all your toys away!” or “Why can’t I have ANYTHING nice?”
Today, in the light of the morning sun as I listen to them play really nicely together (and having had nothing broken yet) I’m having this little revelation.
It really ISN’T that they treat everything like garbage. It’s just that they treat everything like experiment. They touch everything. They like to take things apart. They like to push buttons. They are extremely curious.
Most kids are curious. Mine have an added element. They are also courageous. They just try things. Sure, there are lots of moments when they are afraid, don’t get me wrong….it’s just that for the most part they are WILLING to push the button and see what happens.
Someone told me once that if they were in school that they’d learn to respect other people’s things faster, they’d have this “push buttons first, ask questions later” thing rooted out of them. I think that’s true. And somehow that makes me sad. We really do have such a short amount of time to be explorers before it’s rooted out of us.
As much as I HATE when they break something I LOVE now when Henry asks to take something apart. Most of the time I say “yes.” The lesson was in the asking and if I can, I reward that.
In the big picture moments like this one when I’m able to not generalize and just lump them all together into a lump of Demolition Men I realize that my 11 year old DOES respect other people’s things and her own things as well. My 8 year old is nearly there. My 6 year old sees the flicker of this reality and my 4 year old, while still clueless about the sacredness of “stuff” is very much engaged in the struggle of it all.
I like that I can see this.
I like too that I can see their remorse, real remorse when they make a mistake around this. It is what gives me the most hope. When they break something and see that I’m not delighted about it they are crushed. I think that if they were nonchalant or rebellious in that moment it would push me over the edge but I’m encouraged that they would have this moment of regret. It means that they are able to move out of themselves for a moment to see how their actions affect another person.
The goal here, I think, is that they’ll tap that moment before they start to tinker with something and somehow that is what’s happening organically. I hope they never lose their sense of curiosity, their spirit of adventure and their courage to explore while gaining a sense of respect and sacredness. If we all survive this grand experiment I am certain it will have been worthwhile. I am, however, hiding the good china until they graduate college.