Today I was the shopping mall and I tend to notice and watch people when I go into public places – if you’ve never done this, I suggest to try it because when you pay close attention to the behavior of people it is really fascinating. Through my work as a teacher I have also taken an interest in the behavior of children and the development/progression of children into adulthood.
I was noticing the behavior of some children and it was downright insane. I mean, the way some kids were acting, just bustling with raw energy, flailing out of control, with no inhibitions, acting wildly or like complete fools. It is amazing to me because I imagine what the same behavior would look like if it were an adult doing it. Imagine a large, fully grown male behaving the same way, or a mature 65 year old woman – this would be beyond ridiculous, wouldn’t it? And yet the fascinating thing here is that even though adults eventually stop behaving in this way, it is because they have simply learned as they got older that this behavior is socially unacceptable for an adult and thus such behavior may threaten their survival, and so adults simply develop mechanisms to hide this behavior and others means through which it can be expressed.
I have had a tendency to treat children and others who society tends to deem as inferior in one way or another, as ‘innocent’ when they commit acts of destructive behavior. Give them the benefit of the doubt, because they’re cute and cuddly – I notice there is a societal double standard where we tend to be more forgiving of people with a ‘lower’ social status. But I am learning to see the connection of where the actions that we recognize as atrocious in adults actually begin early on in one’s life.
Thus as a teacher it is my challenge to begin treating children as equals – not in ability but in terms of being a human who is self responsible for what they accept and allow themselves to be – as everyone is equally capable of deciding what they will accept and allow themselves to be. So in this challenge is included for instance the necessity to stop coddling children and trying to please them as though they are so weak and inferior, or patronizing them, treating them as though they are inherently not capable.
Just the same as with adults, another challenge here is showing them what they are accepting and allowing of themselves – that sometimes their behavior is unacceptable as they are abusing themselves and others.
When I observed some of this kind of behavior today, seeing some children in the mall acting hysterically, like lunatics with no control over their impulses, I thought back to myself as a child – was I like this? I was not a perfect child either, I certainly had my moments of abusive behavior, yet what I do notice is that by comparison, I was a much quieter child than some of the ones that I more commonly observe. For all of her mistakes, one thing I can certainly give my mother credit for is that she limited our watching of television. We did not have video games. And we ate home-cooked meals, not foods that were pre-packaged or processed or filled with unnecessary chemicals to make the consumer addicted to them. We had candy sometimes, but these were considered treats and as such were occasional.
When I look at the amount of garbage that children are filled with, the mind garbage they get through images on television and video games, and the poisons that their bodies are filled with through the foods, it is no wonder children are such abominations. Just writing this now about children, makes me react a little bit to my own words, because again, due to how I’ve been conditioned this seems harsh – but it’s the truth.
There is a comedian named Louis C.K. who I enjoy listening to, and this post – and some of my common observations about children – often remind me of one of his bits in his stand up comedy where he basically rants and raves about what jerks his daughters are – his very young daughters. This bit made me laugh for the same reasons, it seems so outrageous because it is uncommon to recognize such a thing, because we like to present our children as being so innocent and beautiful and perfect, and yet this is often the case in truth. So the joke has some of that ‘shock value’ to it that makes one laugh – although if you see the joke it is clear that is reacting to his daughters – but this due to the fact that he is, as I’ve done above, holding them to the same standards that we hold adults to. Maybe it is time that we stop with the double standards and start having human standards.
Yet our methods of dealing with unacceptable behavior in adults is not effective – to simply react and attack others in blame and separation. Bad behavior is something that every human is found to do, to one extent or another, and whether they are aware of it or not. What we require is self forgiveness – to lead by example to correct who we are – that means to see how we have from early childhood been corrupted and filled with information that does not serve ourselves and others equally as life. To identify all of the ideas/beliefs that exist in our mind that are memory based – to indentify those memories and forgive ourselves for what we allowed ourselves to become based on those experience.
While this is a bit easier to explain to adults, what I am now challenged with is explaining such a message to children, because unfortunately for children they copy this behavior knowing little else of the world with which to be able to reflect themselves, and their current knowledge and behavior.
Perhaps I should begin writing children’s stories. If self honesty and self forgiveness were taught in schools, our world would be a heaven and would have become nothing like it is today.