100 Ways to tell the Difference between a Child and a Weed…in case you were wondering
[Portions reprinted with permission from Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood by L.R.Knost available June 2013; Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages now available on Amazon and through other major retailers.]
I visited a home recently where I witnessed something heartbreaking. A young couple who deeply loved their five-year-old little guy, but didn’t have a clue as to what ‘normal’ behavior was, were literally crushing the child out of their child in their desire to do the best parenting job they could.
Every laugh from their child was met with a ’shhh.’ Every movement inspired a, “Settle down, now.” Every request received a, “Not now,” and every comment a silencing finger. The father told me it was important to them to keep their son quiet and calm at all times so he would learn to behave and “be good.”
When I asked about what a typical day looked like for their son, I found that his playtime was almost entirely alone in his room which was stocked with enough toys to fill a Toys-R-Us, but he was rarely allowed to venture outside. He spent hours in front of the television watching ‘educational’ dvds or on the computer. Occasionally, one of the parents would invite a little friend over for their son and they’d organize and supervise a craft or activity for them. Family time was a nightly movie on dvd and eating popcorn together.
There was very little communication or interaction between parents and child other than correction. Family time was scheduled and uncommunicative. All activities, when there were activities, were adult-directed. There was no freedom to be a child, to climb, to yell, to get dirty, to laugh hysterically, to play in the rain, to run and run and run until he could run no more and collapsed in the grass, panting and sweaty and happy and alive.
This young couple was methodically, albeit unknowingly, denying their son a childhood. Since they were doing it ‘gently,’ in their opinion (i.e. no yelling, hitting, name-calling, etc.), and were very proud of themselves for that, they were at a loss as to why their son was having frequent potty accidents, sneaking things out of the kitchen, having anger flares, passively refusing to follow simple directions, lying, and more.
I spoke with them about normal, age-appropriate expectations, shared some communication tips with them (mainly~listen, listen, listen!), encouraged them to interact and play and connect with their little guy along with giving him plenty of outside free time, and offered them the practical parenting techniques they were after. But I left their home a bit heavy-hearted at the thought of all of the joy and exuberance of a small child being so misunderstood by such obviously caring parents that they were intent on eradicating it by any means necessary. (Note: Some details changed to protect confidentiality.)
Many parents, not just this young couple, misinterpret normal, childlike behavior as an unwanted intruder, weeds to be plucked, poisoned, or prevented so their little ones can flourish in the hothouse of childhood. What they don’t realize is that childhood isn’t a hothouse to be fenced in and closed off and climate-controlled. It’s a wide-open, sun-drenched, wind-swept field of endless possibilities, experiences, and discoveries. And normal, childlike behavior is the riot of brilliant wildflowers sharing their vivid beauty for an all-too-brief season before they’re gone forever. (Before you leave a comment saying that wildflowers are weeds, that is a matter of opinion, lol. My little girls love picking wildflowers and bringing me bouquets overflowing with gorgeous yellows and oranges and purples…and love. I’ve never seen more beautiful flowers in my life )
So, parents, I thought I’d share 100 ways to differentiate a child from a weed:
- Weeds don’t giggle.
- Children eat more than weeds do and, when tiny, may also eat the occasional weed.
- Weeds aren’t all beautiful like children.
- Children need love.
- Weeds are enemies.
- Children aren’t.
- Weeds love bees.
- Children don’t.
- You can’t tickle a weed.
- Round-up is sprayed on weeds and locked away from children.
- Weeds don’t sleep.
- Children do…occasionally.
- It’s hard to play ‘Duck, Duck, Goose’ with a weed.
- Children like play-doh.
- Bringing weeds to the park…not a good idea.
- Weeds don’t have feelings that can be hurt.
- Children do.
- Children need baths.
- You can’t hug a weed.
- Brushing a weed’s teeth would be easier.
- Weeds don’t melt your heart.
- Children do.
- You don’t grow weeds on purpose.
- Weeds might enjoy carseats more.
- Children don’t like thunderstorms.
- You wouldn’t take a weed to Disney World.
- Children make more noise.
- Trying to teach a weed to read would be silly.
- Blowing bubbles is only fun when you do it with a child.
- You’d look a bit odd playing pat-a-cake with a weed.
- Breaking a weed is no big deal.
- Breaking a child is.
- Weeds don’t tell endless stories about snails.
- If they did, you wouldn’t listen like you would with a child.
- Weeds don’t have adorable grins.
- Children are messier.
- You can’t count stars with weeds.
- Weeds don’t listen as well (yes, really!).
- Kissing weeds would be much grosser than kissing drooly, toothless grins.
- Weeds don’t like ice cream.
- Children like to come inside…sometimes.
- Happiness belongs to children.
- Weeds aren’t very good at hide-n-seek.
- You can’t read a goodnight story to a weed…well, you could, but why would you want to?
- A sick weed isn’t a big deal.
- A sick child is.
- Tea parties with weeds are boring
- Weeds don’t giggle at hiccups.
- Weeds don’t look adorable with milk mustaches.
- Cloud watching takes imagination, not chlorophyll.
- Weeds don’t have ticklish toes.
- Weeds don’t ask “Why did God make weeds?”
- Children and weeds love mud for very different reasons.
- Weeds don’t whine.
- You wouldn’t whisper “I love you” to a sleeping weed.
- Weeds don’t care.
- Children do.
- Elderly people love hearing children’s laughter.
- Weeds won’t grow into future world leaders.
- Weeds don’t play.
- Finger paint and children are a good combination.
- Finger paint and weeds…less messy but much less fun, too.
- A child’s arms wrapped around your neck feels like love.
- Weeds wrapped around your neck feels like an episode of Lost.
- Overflowing joy is the prerogative of childhood…weeds don’t feel joy.
- Children experiment to learn their capabilities and limits…weeds don’t.
- Weeds don’t make up corny jokes and expect you to laugh like you mean it.
- Children can jump.
- Weeds have no imagination.
- If a child invites you to play, it’s a sign of trust. Take it seriously.
- If a weed invites you to play…you might want to get some help.
- Children grow into parents.
- You wouldn’t take a weed to the dentist (no teeth).
- Love is the fuel of childhood.
- Neglect is the fuel of weeds.
- Weeds aren’t any good at hopscotch.
- You fight the spread of weeds.
- You encourage children to spread their wings and fly.
- Diapering a weed would be weird.
- Asking your neighbor how to get rid of weeds is a great conversation starter.
- Asking your neighbor how to get rid of your children…not so much.
- Weeds don’t have hearts that can break.
- Children do.
- Weeds don’t get excited about Christmas.
- A child needs to be deeply rooted in love and security to thrive.
- A weed rooted in shallow dirt will still grow.
- Hope is the light that leads children to try.
- Weeds don’t have birthdays.
- Children are made in the image of our Creator.
- Children matter.
- Peek-a-boo is fun for a baby.
- Weeds do not enjoy peek-a-boo.
- Children are constantly communicating, through their behaviors if not their words.
- Weeds…not good communicators.
- Listening carefully to your children is always a good idea.
- Listening carefully to weeds might earn you a starring role in Horton Hears a Who.
- Paddling pools and children are lots of fun.
- Weeds do not like paddling pools as, generally, the pool is resting on top of the weeds.
- A playing child is poetry in motion.
- The future is in the hearts of our children.
Children are children for such a small season of life. Let their laughter ring out, their imaginations soar, their feet stomp in puddles, their hands clap for joy. They will grow up and out of their youthful exuberance and zest and settle into the life and routine of adulthood when the time comes. Don’t make them settle too soon.
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Photo credit: Portrait Photos