Not All Children Are Perfect
Since having a baby, there is no denying that I have become more of a ‘baby person’. I empathise when I see a stressed mum, or hear a toddler raising the roof of a supermarket with their screams. I lean in to prams and buggies more than I use to (actually, I never used to), smile and ask how old/ what are they called/ how are they doing. Oh yes, I am much more child friendly than before.
But it doesn’t mean I suddenly like all children. Children are people and as we know, people are all individual. And when we accept that people are all individual, we have to acknowledge that some of them are assholes. Of course there is the nature versus nurture debate, but above and beyond all of that, some people are innately just not very nice. There I’ve said it. I’m not calling all children assholes (and all the children of anyone who might read this are also exempt), I’m not even rolling out a percentage. I’m hedging my bets here. But every now and again I come across a child and think “Jeez, you really are a bit of an asshole”. I don’t say it out loud, and I don’t change my facial expression or my demeanour, but I think it.
It was the toddler at the playgroup who ground my son’s face into a Thomas the Tank Engine mat for no reason, and the one the week after who grabbed his rice cracker and stamped on it until it was dust. It was the wobbler in the playground who threw mud at my little boy because he coveted the swing he was on, and the 5 year old who kicked me in the shin at the bus stop. Assholes. The lot of them.
I know that a child’s world is essentially a more safeguarded version of the adult one they will one day wake up in (hey, we’ve all watched “The Secret Life of Four Year Olds”), and that they have to learn from a young age that not everyone is going to be charm personified or have their back. And that some day, maybe in a job or a relationship, they will experience the adult equivalent of someone stamping on their rice cracker.
I know all of this, and as an adult, I have had my face metaphorically ground into a Thomas the Tank Engine mat more times that I care to remember (keep up folks), but it doesn’t stop me wanting to grab my son the second I see anyone not being lovely to him. Whilst he is still so little, I can do this without offending anyone or being accused of cotton-wool parenting. The day will come when I can’t scoop him up and take him away from anything that might upset him (because that would be weird when he’s 23 right?), and I do understand that it’s all just a part of life I need to prepare him for.
I’m also acutely aware that at least occasionally in his life, someone might think he is the asshole. But I can’t think about that now.
Originally published at themword.ie on February 21, 2017.