When my son arrived home, he asked his two toddlers if they’d had “a terrible, horrible, disgusting day that they didn’t want to talk about.” Through giggles, they answered they’d had each had a good day, and happily shared what they did in school and on the playground.
Watching my children parent their children continues to be rewarding and edifying as I wonder (and don’t remember) if I handled issues of sibling squabbles, extreme exhaustion, and general toddler tendencies with grace. For sure, I’ve observed, that there’s much more attention to feelings. I often hear one of the parents ask a child if he or she is “frustrated” by something, and by acknowledging this, and showing understanding, the behavior shifts and the situation eases. My 2½-year -old granddaughter knows words like “confident” and her 4½ year- old brother talks about having a “complicated” day. There’s a bit of “Tom Sawyer” reverse psychology used too get them to do things they might resist, like picking up toys or throwing something in the trash. I hear “I bet you can’t do this by yourself, “ or “I wonder if you can .. “ that usually brings about the desired result.
In my playwriting class this week, I noticed that Caitlin’s hand was bandaged. A college student, aspiring playwright and actor, who reads the stage directions for the workshop participants, she described how she got injured. While bar tending, she’d tried to remove a customer from the bar – we can only imagine this person’s behavior that required her to be escorted from the premises—the woman bit Caitlin in the hand, severed a tendon and gave her blood poisoning. As she talked, I’m thinking, “Ok, she is a drama student. This can’t be true.” However my doubt disappeared when she added that the perpetrator is a lawyer, that the bar has no intention of suing, and that her work colleagues, who witnessed the event, are staying mum to protect their own jobs. Wow. That’s a lot to take in.
We live in an ever -violent world—or perhaps we just know more about incidences that occur in schools, work places, and army bases thanks to our access to instant information. All the yoga classes in the world can’t seem to address the vast mental health issues plaguing people. Great literature creates plots and characters based on human drama. Real life provides enough to fill libraries and movie screens; often I wish it wasn’t so. Too bad the values taught in nursery school aren’t remembered.