I recently read that therapist Pittman McGehee states the opposite of love is not hate, but efficiency (according to Peter Block).
The words hit me dead center in my heart and I knew I had to write about this statement, which I fear is too often deeply true for young children. Especially, reading this statement so soon after a related conversation on Facebook with a friend seemed a call to speak more widely.
The opposite of love is efficiency. Speed. Git 'er done. Move it, mister. We're late. Check that box. Movin' on.
How many times have you heard a parent or teacher of young children say that? I believe it may be their second-most repeated phrase, right after, "I'm so tired."
Here's what picking battles looks like sometimes. This is Grace, eating lunch with socks on her hands. I pounced on this photo after her mom posted it on Facebook, and use it here with permission. (Disclaimer: Both Grace and her mom are members of my extended family.)
I recently saw and shared this great meme on Facebook. With some editing liberties, it said:
When we only look at behavior, we stop seeing the child. We look only with the intention to judge: will we reward or punish the behavior? "When we look behind the behavior, we see that little struggling human...who needs our help with something." ~Rebecca Eanes
Two true stories today, modified only to protect the reputations of the innocent.
Story 1. In the holiday-crowded aisle of a big box store, a three-year-old girl, with her mouth wrapped around three fingers of one hand, reaches up her other to grasp her mother's hand, trying to pluck it off the hem of the hanging garment Mom is examining. With a snarled, "Stop it. I'm busy," Mom smacks away the child's hand. The child begins to wail a thin, keening cry around the fingers still in her mouth.
Ships passing in the night is a poignant image for a missed opportunity at romance. Does it also describe you and your child or children?
From birth, you are your child's berth, her slip at the marina, the dock she is tied to. Are you as connected to your child as he is to you?
One of the many sources of shame in my childhood was my mother's regular disappointment with my inability to handle my personal care to her standards. From hygiene to care of my clothing and personal space, I was consistent only in my lack of skills and, well...consistency.
Why couldn't I do what she expected? Why can't your kids get those routines of self-care programmed in place and then just carry on? Why do you have to hover, remind, and nag?
I remember a cartoon I saw years ago, of two vultures in a tree. One turns to the other and says, "Patience, my a**! I'm going to kill something." A quick search showed me it's still pretty popular. I found dozens of memes, some with drawings and some with photos.
"My anxiety and I have just learned to live together. She is the longest relationship I have ever had." ~~ Jae Nichelle, from her spoken-word poem, "My Anxiety is Like a Friend-With-Benefits"
How do we avoid being "that" parent or "that" teacher -- the one who plants the seeds of anxiety in the early years?
I mean, we can't pretend that none of us is this kind of adult. Otherwise, why do half of all anxiety disorders begin as early as age 8?
I heard someone say the other day that a solution for society's ills is teachers in our public schools helping children develop empathy and compassion. Leaving aside my awareness that this comment revealed a vast lack of knowledge about what most teachers' lives are like these days, I simply responded, "There's an easier way to foster that development, at a more optimal time, though -- from birth up to three years of age." The astonishment I saw on the faces of the three others in this conversation, in turn, astonished me.
I thought everyone knew that, not just child development geeks like me.