Home has images of safety and comfort, warm food filling grumbling stomachs, comfortable clothes embracing bodies, laughter and fun touching hearts. This is home, a place where we can just be ourselves, be accepted and be nourished.
For many, though, home would be described as a place of tension and stress, and without comfort. During this pandemic, many have lost their homes and work, or are working online which has blurred the lines between home and workspaces.
I am mindful of young children who learn about life and others through their experiences and views of home. In this blog, I would like to try to peep inside the window of a child’s perspective of home when life is challenging.
I remember many days coming home to my children after working away. All was calm, as I parked my car. I stepped inside my home expecting a welcome greeting but was dumped by unexpected emotions, coming from nowhere. This massive outburst, like a great forceful wave dumped me, and then enveloped me in twists and turns, of ‘he said’ and ‘it’s not fair’, and ‘I hate it’. The words continued to roll over the tongues until I found myself flattened in the middle of somewhere, supposedly at home. I sat for a while to gather my breathe, not knowing where I was or if the sky was even up. Disorientated and dumped by the largeness of honesty and truthful words from small people. I looked at the child minder, who shrugged her shoulders and said calmly that my children were absolutely fine until I came home. This felt like another crashing wave of disappointment, that made me wonder what was wrong with me. I have thought about these experiences many times. Now, looking back, I realise I only saw the overwhelming wave and missed seeing the children, who felt so deeply and did not know what to do with their emotions apart from dumping them onto someone else. This is what we do at home, don’t we?
Children learn through their observations how to deal with life, which includes being flattened by the unexpected. I knew this in my head, but not fully in the rest of me. Time has allowed me to see experiences from a child’s eyes, and to understand more of how they look at the world. The child in me would still love to dump stuff on others but this only leads to conflict and judgement about what is acceptable behaviour for a big person. When we come closer to the viewpoint of a child, we can see their perspective better. Children feel emotions deeply and do not always have the words to express them. Emotions are hard to contain so they simply let them burst out. Emotions are felt deeply and do not always have a name. Losing a game is hard especially when we are told that winning is the best. And losing is not often rewarded. Making mistakes can cause more trouble, even telling the truth. It feels like life is scary and threatening like a big dumping wave.
Time can bring waves of realization that honest feelings expressed by children are a gift to be treasured. They are giving their deep, real self to the relationship. To receive this honesty may feel uncomfortable, perhaps because we are not used to such honesty and trust from others. Children are not looking for any wisdom, just a safe place to dump their truth. To give a child a place, a home to be able to express these honest emotions and still feel safe is a huge gift to their wellbeing and safety. To teach a child that truthful emotions are okay, enables a child to take a deep breath and relax into the challenges of life. Many of us have not had experiences of being able to express our truthful emotions and have spent many years behind walls within our own homes, walls to protect us from the judgments of others. Children do not need parents to sort their problems out, as in helicoptering parenting, they merely need our presence. They need parents to hear their stories and see their best intentions.
Let us be present to our children.
Let us show up and be with our children when they need us most.