Some time ago, when my daughter was in her early 7s, she told me that she liked doing things to get people to like her. As a western person immersed in a culture telling you to “not people please” and to “do things for yourself,” my first half inclination was to tell her she didn’t have to do things to get people to like her. I, however, caught myself. First, SHE said it. This is something in her, that is natural. It’s her feelings, her thoughts. Second, I rather quickly thought back to when I did that, as well. I told her about the first date I went on with her father. I really, really wanted to show I was useful and provided value. We had a highly active date, and I volunteered to help out with all the stuff we were doing. It was important to me to do that. I, indeed, wanted him to like me. And so I told my daughter that. And she gushed, “I’m so glad we can RELATE.” The emphasis on the word “relate” was hers.
This has come up other times. Once, when I was working on a technological project I had, I was running into problems. My husband, to validate me, exaggerated the personalities of the people involved, as he made me laugh. I fell over in a giggle fit. My daughter, again in her early 7s at the time, loved that I also had a huge “giggle fit” like she sometimes did. She again said that she loved that we can RELATE.
I did this with my oldest once, as well. He and I have very similar personalities. We also have very similar sense of humors. We find things funny that no one else seems to find funny. So, my daughter likes the singer Billie Eilish. My oldest would say sometimes, “It’s not Billie Eilish. It’s Billie Eye-lash!” And he said this every time, which he thought was hilarious, and which no one else around thought was especially funny. My son’s jokes are sometimes a bit unbearably corny. But then I thought about a time I saw Adam Sandler do a comic routine where he pretended to be a young child examining the world with a childish innocence and called her, “Christina Has-No-Hair-A.” I thought it was funny. Every time I think of Christina Aguilera, I think of Christina Has-No-Hair-A. And so I shared that with my son after one of his many Billie Eye-Lash jokes, and he beamed.
In general, children don’t need lectures. Not even about what is currently morally popular, which now is to be a strong, independent woman as well as some other social justice causes. Actually, all lectures are always about what is currently morally popular. Children’s thoughts are their thoughts. Children grow in weird ways that we, the respectable members of adult society, don’t always understand or, perhaps, I should say, don’t always remember from when we were kids. Sometimes, perhaps always, what they need is just someone who can relate.
Amber does child development work, documenting the age-related stages children go through, and couldn’t do it without The Observant Dad. Her book series is Misbehavior is Growth. Send your friends and family to The Observant Mom.