One of the things that I took with me from childhood (and that landed me in therapy) was feeling invisible. I distinctly remember feeling like I had Important things to offer–and I did not measure them against the fact that I was a kid. To me, they weren’t a kid’s thoughts. They were just Important thoughts. So why were the adults around me treating me like a kid, when what I felt like was a human being with important things to say and observations to share?
What got me thinking about this today was the fact that I caught myself in a moment of gross adulthood. That is, behaving in a way that, as a kid, I swore I never would.
My kids and I were meeting my husband outside my doctor’s office so he could drive them (in the van) home while I had my appointment. And I would then take his truck home. So the kids were in the van, and Justin and I were standing outside the van, talking about schedules and the agenda for the evening. Then Justin got in to take the kids home. I said goodbye to him and walked away from the van.
As he was driving away, I realized I had not said goodbye to my kids. This might not seem like a big deal. Kids are often in their own world. And a three year old and an eleven month old might not notice their mom not saying goodbye. But honestly, I know kids do remember things just like that. Because I remember being a kid and wondering why adults acted like I wasn’t in the van, or in the room or wherever I found myself being passively ignored.
I felt bad. I’m usually pretty good at including them as small people in my world, and offering them the same courtesies as I would an adult. But I slipped.
OK, that’s part of parenting. But it got me thinking about sharing the test I have that keeps me in check.
Here it is: In any moment involving common courtesy (saying hello, goodbye, please, or thank you; apologizing if I’m wrong or rude), I pretend the kid is an adult. It’s a litmus test to see if I’m treating my kids like people.
In the case today, if I had been saying goodbye to Justin and two of my friends were in the backseat, and I had walked away without saying goodbye to them, it would have been rude. The fact that the two people in the back seat were little people doesn’t make a lick of difference. I should have taken a second to say goodbye. Kids are people too.