Joey at 7 Years By Ruth
Last night, as I sat with my grandsons reviewing their five and seven year old accomplishments, I was drawn again to memories of my own childhood experiences. Joey, my seven year old, proudly displayed his ability to write in handwriting, which had mostly been learned through self teaching, some of his capital letters. This, despite the fact that his mother was repeatedly requesting that they say goodnight and get ready for bed. “Let me show you a capital T, Gramma”, he said, laboriously outlining his project. “Oops!” I remarked, “You shouldn’t have crossed the T, honey, that makes it an F.” There was a stricken look on his face, and with an “Oh no!” he left the room. He returned shortly with his specially wrapped gift for his parents which had a large beautifully made capital F in “Fo Mom & Pop.” I whispered to get an eraser and we would fix it and he went and desperately began searching the drawer where such things were kept. Mom, by this time, and not knowing what was going in, demanded that bed time was now! And she forcefully directed him toward the stairs. The enormity, to him, of his predicament, started a totally frustrated cry, but he went upstairs. When she returned I briefly told her what was happening and went to call the sobbing child for just one minute. I explained to him that if he added a small “r” to the “Fo” it would change the word. With brimming eyes, and a moment’s thought, he realized it would say “For” which was perfectly acceptable. Tears stopped, the correction was made, and a true weight had been lifted in his young mind.
It is the tendency of busy adults to forget the importance of the little tragedies that are as monumental to a small store of experiences in children as larger ones are to adults. Showing them how to deal with and minimize error is one of the best and kindest tools to give them. The humiliation and lack of self esteem that comes from not doing what is acceptably correct can leave a scar no different than the scar an adult gets from the same type of things. The child has within him the adult he will be. Treat him with the respect you would afford, and the kindness you should use, in your dealings with all people.
The enormity of unresolved calamities of my own childhood, though they are small by adult standards, still come back to haunt me. Not that adults were uncaring, but there was an opinion that because children were small, their feelings were relative to their size. Not so! The adult is wrapped in a small confining package, straining to find answers to enormous complexities in the child’s body.
I miss you Grandma.