Wednesday, February 6, 2019

On Recognizing Kids As Fully Human

This meme knows my life.

Real talk: I'm not a morning person. Matter of fact, most mornings I'm cranky as hell. 

Also, I'm cranky when I don't get enough sleep. Or when I'm home and want to take a nap, but can't. Or when someone in my house wakes me up from a nap. Or when I'm hungry. Hangry. 

Or when I think things are stupid, but I have to do them anyway. (That makes me really cranky.)

And you know what? 

Because I'm grown, I get to "get away" with being cranky for the most part. (I mean, I don't walk around with an attitude or anything, but if folks know that I'm not in a good mood, they tend to leave me alone. Or hold the space for me as I work through my feelings.)

Here's the thing though: that's not the norm for our kids. Generally kids aren't offered that same level of grace. If kids are having a rough day or a rough moment, it's seen as disrespectful or unacceptable. 

In fact, I've found that so much of motherhood (Black motherhood) has been folks looking at me to prove to them that I have control over my kids.

But motherhood has taught me to accept my children as fully human. And that means holding the space for them to experience the gamut of human emotions. 

The other day, Aiden was super moody as I was helping him with his homework. Actually, he walked into the house in a funk, went to his room, sat on his bed for a few minutes, and then came out into the living room. When I asked him if he wanted to talk about his day, he declined. 

That's cool. 

But I told him that I'm here for him if he wanted to talk about anything. I left the space for him to just... be.

While we were going over his homework, he was snappy. I checked him when he tried to direct his energy towards me. I told him that he's allowed to be in a bad mood, but he's not allowed to speak to me any 'ol way. 

I asked him if he wanted a hug, he declined. 

That's cool. 

Again, I told him that I'm here for him. And we continued with his history assignment. 

Ten minutes later, he wanted a hug. So we did that. And I could feel the release as we embraced. 

The thing is: I could have easily yelled at him or sent him to his room for being "rude" or grounded him or took away his phone for his behavior. I could have easily seen his behavior as unacceptable.

But I didn't.

Because kids are allowed to be cranky. And because kids are allowed to be in a funk. And because kids are allowed to be in a bad mood. Just as much as adults are allowed. And it's my job to help Aiden navigate and make sense of these tricky feelings instead of punishing him for them. 

And that's what I'll continue to do. 


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