There’s a quite interesting set-up of events this year with yesterday’s Ash Wednesday and today’s Valentine’s Day being right after each other. Kids know that special things are happening, but what is the kids’ perspective on them?
Yesterday was Ash Wednesday and, as a generally Catholic family, we went to the evening mass to celebrate the beginning of Lent. The kids are present at Church once in a while, although I’m not too big on forcing them to attend every Sunday for several reasons. Maybe I post on that one day, for now what matters is that they always have a new experience in Church, which is good as it keeps them calm and wanting to ask a million questions.
Some of the most impressive, and probably hard to answer questions from yesterday:
- Why is ash being put on our heads?
- Why is there blood flowing down this man’s hands and legs? (This, of course, refers to the figure of Jesus crucified)
- So who is God anyway? (Meaning the difference between God, Jesus and Mary)
- Why is this taking so long?
Why do I consider those questions to be somehow crucial to the kids perspective on life? Because first of all, one has to explain to them the idea of Lent with the ash-on-their-head thing. We, as adults, regardless of religious beliefs, are capable to understand that we’re not perfect and that we need constant improvement. Be it for personal or business matters. But kids generally don’t – they live in a world in which they believe to be just perfect. If you tell them that Lent is because we (people) do bad stuff and should be sorry for it they will not understand – they automatically assume that they have done something wrong (a particular thing) and this will sadden them for no reason. Especially that children are as innocent as we people get, aren’t they?
Another thing is the matter of death (death in general, although in this particular example related to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ). The Bigguy is quite familiar with the idea of death, the Littleone is slowly getting there with things like dinosaur extinction and the like. But I’m not too confident that I want them to get into the details, that once upon a time people would take a Man, ram steel nails through his hands and feet, pierce his side and leave him hanging until dead. That’s a little bit too harsh, don’t you think? On the other hand, I cannot sqew their kids perspective on this issue, as they will eventually find out how it happened and may be unhappy about being lied to. And besides, what kind of story could I possibly make up?
The questions about God and the time it takes for a mass to finish are slightly similar in nature, even though this may not be obvious from the start. They require an overall explanation on why we, adults, often do things which from a kids perspective seem silly. First of all – when we explain the existence of God at first, we wouldn’t get into the details of the Holy Family, Holy Trinity and what not. Most adults, including me, probably don’t really get it. So who are we finally praying to? And who is nice? Kid will always define people and things as nice and not nice, which is probably why Virgin Mary has a significant advantage over all the other Holy Figures. And the time? Well, can you please explain why we would spend almost and hour and half in a big crowd of people seemingly not doing anything? Similarly, could we explain, to a kids perspective, why we’re sitting at a table with friends and talking the entire evening even though we could be on the ground playing with toys? After all, we’re adults and we can do what we want, can’t we?
I mentioned love in the title, as Valentine’s day is here to stay and we will be certainly preparing something for our Mom and telling her just how much we love her. She’s got three Valentines today, I guess And again, the kids perspective on love is so much different from ours. They don’t seem to distinguish at all the difference between mutual, family love the way it exists between us in the family (and which they well understand, perhaps even better than us adults) and the romantic love that binds two people, who are not related. And why bother with hearts and roses? I mean, they’re nice but why today and not in a month or so?
Talking with children, and taking a look at life from a kids perspective really makes me think differently about things. We all know that in order to teach something, you really have to know it yourself. So how it is with teaching life?