I remember the day clearly. My son was 18 months old and picking through the toys in the toy box we kept in the living room. My daughter was just a few weeks old and I sat on the couch nursing her. I was watching General Hospital because I was bored. The boredom that a stay-at-home mother feels on occasion should not be underestimated. I loved my kids more than I can possibly explain, but day after day of rhymes, fingerplays and working on easy puzzles can grow old quick! Even though General Hospital wasn't really taking away the boredom, at least the adults on the screen were speaking in full sentence and that was definitely something!
The scene was with Sonny Corinthos and he, being the coffee gangster that he was, was holding a gun to someone's head. Truly cheesier scripts have never been written and I was actually smiling at the absurdity of the whole premise. Then I glanced over at my boy. He was holding a toy, but his attention was on the screen. He was engrossed. I was amused. Then I looked at the screen and I did something I started doing simply to stave off the boredom, I tried to view things from his perspective, using the little knowledge I assumed he had. It struck me like a lightening bolt!
Here is this little guy, not yet two. He's learned so much but still had so much to learn. He could not yet know what was real and what was make believe. He did not yet understand the nuances of our language. This child (as are all children) was literal. What he was watching was a very unpleasant scene where a man was threatening someone with a gun and he was soaking it all up like a sponge. Is this one of the first scenes I wanted my child to witness? If it was real would I try to shield it from him? The answers came flooding in. If this was really happening I would be horrified that my son was a witness to it, yet to him IT WAS really happening and HE WAS witnessing it!
Needless to say that was the end of my General Hospital viewing. I developed a distaste for it so great that to this day I can't watch it. That wasn't the only thing that changed that day. Viewing the world the way my kids see it has been fascinating. It's been a blessing and sometimes a curse. I see wonder and beauty and sometimes I see hatred and sadness. I see potential in the simplest things and I see horror in the actions of men. To say that my children have opened my eyes is an understatement.
So I challenge you to take a moment, this moment to look at your child and try to see the world from their perspective, their view with their experience. What do you see? Do you see the gum stuck to the underside of a park bench? Do you see how high the top of that slide is? Do you see the concern in their frown when they watch yet another murder on T.V.? Do you see the wonder when they find a mushroom and learn it's name?
Will viewing the world through your child's eyes change the way you see things? Will it change the things you do or say? Can you put yourself in that place? I want to hear from you.