Wednesday, June 11, 2008

All the things he doesn't know

I have been trying out a new early-reading program with Graham the last few days, teaching him language skills that I hope will one day benefit him.

Teaching is what parents do, after all. Every day, every hour, we teach our children.

We teach them to read and to count and to identify colors. We teach them to tell time and do up their shoes and button their coats. We teach them about their body and their family and their history. We teach them to be gentle with animals and respectful of people and that manners and social skills make life easier and more pleasant.

But tonight it occurred to me that as Graham grows, he’ll be better off if I can prevent him from learning certain things: his intellectual and emotional life will develop in a more healthy fashion if I can, at the very least, delay his knowledge of certain truths that discourage and demoralize, that call into question our faith in the inherent goodness of humankind.

Strange, isn’t it, to think that sometimes a parent must work to ensure their child does not learn things? To think that thoughtful parenting is often a balancing act between revealing to our children some realities and shielding them from others.

There are certain things that I hope will dawn on Graham gradually, well after he has the maturity to deal with them: there are certain things I wish he didn't have to learn.

I wish he didn't have to learn that a lot of medical breakthroughs are really just press releases for big drug companies and that a lot of people cheat on their taxes because they think the government is corrupt.

I wish he didn't have to learn that where a person is born, the color of their skin, the language they speak and the way they worship often determines their access to basic nutrition and medical care.

I wish he didn't have to learn that some people don’t care for children or animals or worse, see them merely as commodities. I wish he didn't have to learn that newspapers are in the business of selling ads and that lending institutions want to see him indebted.

I wish he didn't have to learn that a lot of the time the runt of the litter will die, the person dating the boss’s son will get promoted, the nice guy will finish last and the jerk will walk away with the girl.

I wish he didn't have to learn that the world isn’t fair and that bad things happen to good people and that some folks out there will never, ever change their minds, so it’s probably better not to waste your energy trying to make them.

But most of all, I wish to be successful in teaching him that wisdom, knowledge and compassion are always the best weapons in the fight against the world’s ugly truths.

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54 comments:

Jaina said...

Wonderfully written. You have a very lucky little boy.

Kathryn said...

Beautiful! The last line is my fav!

angie said...

Absolutely beautiful......I especially love this part, "I wish to be successful in teaching him that wisdom, knowledge and compassion are always the best weapons in the fight against the world’s ugly truths."

ewe are here said...

Spot on. So much we want to shield them from... so hard to do.

Jen said...

Very good post.

Elaine A. said...

I wish all these things too. You are definitely "arming" him with the best defense though. Wonderful post.

kittenpie said...

Too true - it's a tough balance with those ugly things - we need to teach them how to deal with that stuff, how to protect themselves from some of it, while wanting to keep them from getting disheartened or jaded.

Dawn said...

I love this. I remember the first time I saw another child be mean to my daughter- I started thinking about these things I wish I could shield her from knowing at that point. You're so right in that last line.

OHmommy said...

Awe. LOVE the last line.

Shannon said...

So so true, every word. I can't believe the things I am already teaching my four year old . . . why kids are mean, why some people get sick, why people die. It's heartbreaking so I try so hard to end each day with only the positive and best things . . . leaving him with only that as he goes to sleep.

Melissa said...

Gosh, I wish you could not teach me all those things, too! Isn't it amazing the things we have to teach them and to hope they get the right lesson from us? Being a parent is daunting!

Indy said...

Amen.

Rachel said...

Let me second what Indy said 'Amen' honey.
Fabulously written!!

the last line is awesome.

Ali said...

i love this. beautiful post!

Heather said...

It's a delicate balance, protecting and arming with knowledge.

womaninawindow said...

As long as we're present as their parents, their friends and their teachers they'll be able to put all that other learning into context...I hope.

Mayberry said...

It's a big world out there -- sometimes I'd really like to keep my babies small forever!

ourlittlefunnybunny said...

Well said!

Brittany said...

Bravo mommy, Bravo!

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

It sounds like you know just what to teach him for him to grow into a wonderful man.

Damselfly said...

Ah. I love this post. Thank you!

I also hope my boy doesn't learn how to burp the alphabet or make fart noises under his armpit.

Rhea said...

Wonderful post, so eloquently written. It gets much harder to keep little kids from learning things when they have big brothers to learn from. My six year old knows way more than he should from his eleven year of brother. Sheesh.

lattemommy said...

The best that we can ask for is that they learn these lessons without getting hurt in the process.

Parenting is so bloody painful sometimes, isn't it?

Mighty Morphin' Mama said...

This is right on. So many things we wish we could shield them from.
Beautiful post.

Lady M said...

Beautifully said!

JCK said...

Well said. It sounds like you are focused on what's really important. Those difficult life lessons will come...hopefully years from now.

Huckdoll said...

Very nice, Diva! Loved this for real...I'm sad and hopeful all the same.

David said...

Brilliant post!
With his parents he will undoubtedly learn many things that will shape his character.
On his own he will learn many things as well. He will learn that life does not follow scripts and at times make no sense, but he will accept and no doubt make sense of it one day and learn to love live, warts and all.

Kitty said...

Those things you mention not wanting him to learn about - that's where your example teaches him more than any words, books or lessons he could ever experience. Children take it all in - even when you think they can't or aren't: they do. With the example of you and your husband, that little man of yours will be just fine. You'll see. x

Kyla said...

I think he'll learn that from example alone, DMD.

Marmarbug said...

Fantastic blog my dear. The last line says it all.

common mom said...

Amen Sista!

Becky said...

So many great truths here. Life has some very hard and very sad lessons. Well written my friend.

Adrian said...

Good post! He will learn those things one day, but hopefully not until he's old enough to understand them. But it will all come out right in the end, I'm sure of it.

daysgoby said...

Your little man is beautiful!

And smart, too...

wheelsonthebus said...

The hard thing about them turning about 2 is that I have found I cannot shield them from the world at that point. Wonderful post.

Angella said...

So true, so true.

Beautifully said, Kelly.

Momma Mary said...

:) Wonderful. I know exactly how you feel. They start learning so fast, and they pick up a lot more than you realize.

Karen MEG said...

That last line tells it all ... you're a wonderful mother; Graham is a lucky boy indeed!

chelle said...

We totally are filters for our children, guarding them from learning too much too soon.

Mental P Mama said...

You are doing fine...and our world does not help us. I'll never forget going to pick up my children the afternoon of 9-11-01. That was one horrible talk with two ten-year-olds. Graham is one lucky little boy!

DysFUNctional Mom said...

What a great post! Thanks for visiting my blog.

Jo Beaufoix said...

That was brilliant. It's so hard when you see them learning some of those lessons. like that people aren't always nice. It sounds like Graham will get the best start though. That's what I'm trying to do with my two. It's all we can do isn't it.

anne said...

I still don't like to think about those things either! Well written!

Shamelessly Sassy said...

This is a lovely post. I could not agree more. (PS. Totally off topic, but thank you for being one of the few Blogspot users that does not use the captcha feature.)

painted maypole said...

beautiful post, and adorable picture

C said...

Wow! What an amazing post! Graham is certainly lucky to have you as a Mom :)

Chantal said...

well said!

E said...

But there is also this....
“Remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible but in the end, they always fall -- think of it, ALWAYS.” Ghandi

April said...

Yep, I know what you mean.

Lisa said...

What a lovely person you are, Kelly. Graham is so lucky to have such a wise mother like you!

caramama said...

This is beautiful. So true, and so well said.

iheartchocolate said...

Unfortunately, you are so right.

It broke my heart when my 20 month old would wave to a stranger and they would say nothing in response to her enthusiastic "hello". I had to watch as she learned, not everyone adores her the way we do. It was difficult to watch, and I am certainly NOT looking foward to the rest.

iheartchocolate said...

Unfortunately, you are so right.

It broke my heart when my 20 month old would wave to a stranger and they would say nothing in response to her enthusiastic "hello". I had to watch as she learned, not everyone adores her the way we do. It was difficult to watch, and I am certainly NOT looking foward to the rest.