What truly goes through the mind of a child? As adults, we tend to question why a child will do something. Why they are so upset about something so insignificant and small. Why something that is in no way funny will amuse them for hours. Why they will make certain decisions that to most others, with a rational brain, will seem like such an insane or strange thing to do. Child thought processes are truly wonderful, because they are quirky and weird and hilarious. They’re the unexpected, out of the box, and sometimes painfully logical. I’m sure as parents, we wish every day that we could understand just for a moment what goes on in their heads. It would certainly make our day to day lives in dealing with their eccentricities easier. How do they think, and why do they think it? How we wish they could put it into words. But for the most part, they just can’t.
For those that know me, they know I have an extraordinary memory. It is a fact that my earliest memory is from when I was 22 months old. I clearly remember walking around the front of my grandparent’s house, walking up the steps of their front patio, and seeing a bunch of flowers that had been delivered to my 18 year old aunt from an admirer. The flowers sat on the old wooden table that was kept out the front, for when my grandparents could sit outside and have a smoke. I clearly remember leaning down and smelling the small roses. I remember the thoughts very clearly. “Look, flowers. I want to smell them”. Such a simple little thought. Now I’m sure you’re all questioning this, “But Truthmummy, how can you KNOW that you were only 22 months old. That’s very specific”. I know, because at that moment my mother took a picture of me, and she placed it in my baby book and wrote the caption underneath with my name, simply stating “22 months old”. So yeah, long memory.
Now, keeping this framing in mind, let me tell you a story about my ridiculous thought processes as a three year old. I remember somehow getting my hands on a pair of scissors. I don’t know where the thought came from, or why I decided to do it, but the next thing I remember is holding a large chunk of my own hair in my hand. Perhaps I just wanted to play hairdresser. I don’t know. But the next thought I remember is still incredibly clear, “Oh no, I’m going to get in trouble. How can I hide this?” Looking around the room, my next thought is the one that still makes me laugh to this day, “I can’t put it in the bin, because Mummy will find it there. I know, I’ll put it down the side of the bed. She’ll never look there!” Of course, because the cleaning fairies are the ones who cleaned my room and made my bed every morning! *Adult facepalm* It’s at this point there is clearly a gap in my memory, because from my point of view, I swear it was only moments later that my mother confronts me with the discovered chunk of hair. The way my mum tells it however, it was most likely an hour later. I was in the front room playing with some toys, she went to make the bed, found the chunk of hair between the bed and the wall, and then came out and realised my hair looked incredibly lopsided. Confronting me she asked why I would do something like that. I’m pretty sure I didn’t answer her. Just looked at her dumbly and guiltily. And honestly, I probably couldn’t have told her why. It was a whim. I felt like it. I don’t know. All these answers wouldn’t have been good enough. Luckily for her, from my perspective, I realised from then on you just can’t hide anything from your mother. Unfortunately for me, after I was taken to the hair dresser to “fix” my hair, my mother decided I looked “lovely” with the world’s most dorky and ugly bob hair-style. Even 30 years later, she still tries to convince me to get my hair done the same way again because “I looked so nice”. Not happening Mum!
These incidents aren’t just confined to my own ridiculousness. One of my best friends recounts a story about why she destroyed a “precious” art work of her mother’s as a child. A black and white oil painting of Elvis, that to her mother was the most amazing piece of artwork, but to my friend simply a creepy nightmare. For reasons she couldn’t understand, it just simply scared her. There was just something not right about it. About the eyes. The eyes that seemed to follow her everywhere she went. The eyes would have to go. Before she knew what she was doing, she took a jar of nail polish remover and dabbed the eyes with some cotton wool. Something made her think that if she used the nail polish remover it would make the eyes stop following her. To her horror, it took the eyes right off the painting. She knew immediately what would happen once her mother found out. So she did the only thing a sensible six year old would do in the circumstance. She ran and hid. She hid for fifteen minutes, though to her it felt like hours. When her mother had found out what she had did, she demanded answers. Why, why would you do such a thing? Explain it to me! My friend stood silent, unable to speak, too upset and too guilty to muster up an explanation or even an apology. She tells me she simply didn’t know how to explain herself, and still isn’t quite sure what possessed her to go through with such an act. Her mother tried to fix the painting by colouring in the eyes with a marker pen. But it just didn’t look right and the painting was eventually thrown out. See kids, this is why adults can’t have nice things. Or nightmarish things that scare the hell out of you, as the case may be.
So here’s the thing, unless you have a really good memory for the things you did as a child, you’ll probably never know what goes on in the minds of your children. Sometimes there will be reasons, and they will be ridiculous. Other times there will never be reasons. Actions will manifest purely because thoughts have just landed in their heads. There will be no logic or reason to them. They just appeared. And they acted upon them, because they haven’t grown or lived long enough to understand action, reaction or consequence. It can be very frustrating when you ask your child for a reason for something, and all you are met with are blank stares. It may also be that they don’t want to provide an answer because they’re too scared to. Maybe the last time they gave you an answer that you didn’t like you yelled at them. Or maybe they’ve come to the conclusion themselves that their answer is silly. Perhaps they’re embarrassed, or feel foolish. Or worst of all, perhaps they don’t think you will believe them. It’s a timely reminder that when we are frustrated with our children that we need to take a step back and think about things from their point of view for a moment. Take them by the hand and guide them. Ask them why. If they don’t have an answer, tell them that’s ok. Tell them it’s ok to feel scared, or sad or embarrassed. Tell them that you won’t laugh, and that you’ll just listen and accept what they say. And above all, tell them that you will BELIEVE them, whatever they may tell you. Now yes, I know for the older children that may be a problem, especially if you’re going through the Always Lying phase. Well, admittedly as Stormaggedon is only 2 and a half, we’re not at that phase yet, so I’m yet to develop the right kind of advice. I think really the only thing you can do is explain what lying is, why it’s not really the best thing to do, and the consequences of what can happen. But apart from that, always believe what they tell you. Because if you refuse to believe the small, insignificant stories, or don’t take the weird wacky and ridiculous seriously, they’ll be less inclined to tell you the whole story when something big and important happens to them.
Just remember, we were all children once. We all cut our hair because we could, or destroyed something because we thought it was evil. And sometimes, there’s simply no explanation.