What I’ve Learned…about Children

Comments (0) August 2019 KW Magazine, Boomer Life

children

We women are a remarkable bunch, don’t you think? The ability to conceive, carry, and deliver children is nothing short of a miracle and requires skills that men don’t think about much as they pursue their roles in life. Men deserve their just rewards in this marvelous process and I do like to include them. It’s that “it takes two to tango” thing.

I thought my role in life was to become a nun, so I spent six years in the convent exploring that idea. The result was I felt there just had to be more somehow, someway, so I left the convent to discover just what that something else might be.

Could it be marriage? I gave that a try. I remember the day in the hospital when the nurse brought my first-born son to me and told me not to unwrap his swaddling blanket. Oh right, I could restrain myself from counting all the fingers and toes! He was a gorgeous miracle and several years later, his brother showed up, equally magnificent.

When my second son was six months old, I got a divorce, and my tour of single motherhood began.  It was the biggest challenge of my life, but it wasn’t until I became a grandma, that I was actually able to see the patterns in the unfoldment of a child as I’m about to share with you.

Babies are born with everything they are about to become all tucked inside as innate capabilities. If we moms and dads encourage them properly, out it comes. But in the beginning, it’s all happening on auto-pilot and we may not notice the patterns.

Take a child’s abilities as an example: each of us unfolded these abilities in the same order.  First we hear, then we see, then we familiarize ourselves with tough, taste, and smell. The last two abilities – reason and understanding – don’t begin to happen until around age seven in most kids. I know that when I was busy mixing formula and changing diapers, I had no clue there was any rhyme or reason to this. Now that I’m a grandma, I’ve watched all five of those little darlings unfold these abilities in order. Just another miracle in this marvelous thing called Life. I was so vested in providing the food, clothing and shelter commodities as a single mother that it’s a darn good thing these abilities were on autopilot. If you’re at the grand mothering point of your life, watch your new grandbabies and you’ll see the patterns.

As a single mother, I was still trying to figure out my own life, and while I had a background in teaching and childhood development, I just didn’t have the sense of appreciation for all that my sons were. Their appearance is one area where I was a bit clueless. It wasn’t until they were in high school that I was able to look back and remember the comments I’d heard from others about how beautiful they were as babies and how handsome they were as young men. I adored every breath they drew and their looks were not something I gave a lot of attention to. Today, I can admit that they are handsome guys. Were you able to see and give credence to all that was intrinsic to your kids? I felt it was important to acknowledge their gifts and talents to help build self-esteem, and I guess this one wasn’t all that important. Now, when I see some budding talent in one of my grandkids, I’m sure to mention it to them, and I “get” why grandchildren and grandparents have such a special bonding.

Once my children got to be of an age where their ability to reason needed to be exercised, I was attentive to that and I developed a rather special way to encourage them into using it. When they asked me if they could do something, I would often say “No,” but I would also add “If you can give me some good reasons why you should be able to do it, I’ll consider your good reasons and change my mind.” That’s some pretty strong motivation and they became good little reasoners by the time they hit middle school.

Part of the intrinsic capabilities each of us was born with along with our set of abilities is our set of faculties, sometimes called virtues. Here’s a list of them: strength, truth, love, courage, patience, wisdom and purity. Just think about it: our kids came with all of them tucked inside, and they learned incrementally how to use them, how to strengthen them, and how to perfect their use.

As an example, let’s consider courage: those without much courage in operation are not referred to as gutless or reticent. They’re called shy. They haven’t yet learned or been taught to run toward the roar, to show a little spunk, to be brave, to have valor. We have to point out courage in the videos watch on YouTube, in TV shows, when you do something that takes courage, and little by little they’ll become more comfortable in taking risks and their wonderful virtue of courage will stand them in good stead.

One of the things I did to understand my own virtues was to do dictionary work. I would look up each word; check out its roots; see the examples the dictionary gives and see if I was capable of doing that. I like to use OneLook.com because it lists Webster’s 1828 dictionary along with many others, and it helps me flesh out the idea I’m pursuing. Following ideas down a word usage path has always been fascinating to me. Here’s what Webster’s 1828 says about courage:

COURAGEnoun [Latin , the heart.] Bravery; intrepidity; that quality of mind which enables men to encounter danger and difficulties with firmness, or without fear or depression of spirits; valor; boldness; resolution. It is a constituent part of fortitude; but fortitude implies patience to bear continued suffering.

COURAGE that grows from constitution, often forsakes a man when he has occasion for it; courage which arises from a sense of duty, acts in a uniform manner.

I was more conscious of pointing these out to my high-school-age sons. I believe that conscious recognition is a good thing and I encouraged them to take each stately step forward to unfold each of the virtues for themselves.

Bottom line? I learned that each child is born with a set of intrinsic capabilities that just need encouragement and nurturing to utilize and strengthen in himself. If you can make yourself consciously aware (and I hope this article helps in that) of what’s inside of each kid you encounter, and you can foster an environment where they can learn how to use the tools with which they were gifted, you’ll enjoy some dynamite kids as I did.

Pat Matson

I’ve retired from my copywriting business. I’m still teaching metaphysics. If you would like to know what is behind the way I think, pat.matson@gmail.com is the best way to reach me. I want to make hundreds more new friends and share what I’ve learned before it’s time to go toes up. BTW, I’ve always thought living to be 126 was a great idea. I’m working on it.

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