I was in a wind up mood yesterday. I have no excuse, I guess sometimes, as with everyone, I am just plain old annoying. My oldest son bore the brunt of it yesterday, probably not helped by the fact that he was in a stroppy mood anyway, but I did nothing to help him out of his funk.
We were out in the Forest, kids on their bikes, us attempting to teach child number three how to cycle without stabilizers (unsuccessfully). Child number one was off and about cycling the perimeter of the site, and coming back and going off again. I can’t remember the exact details of what was said and when. All I remember is that I annoyed him. Well and truely. He glowered at me, and told me he was annoyed in no uncertain terms.
I reigned myself in and I apologised, but he wasn’t in the mood for any of my grovelling, and off he went again.
Later on, I again apologised, it was half heartedly received.
But by the evening he was back to being the cuddly little man at my side on the sofa, and what he said next melted my heart.
“I’m sorry I was stroppy earlier mummy.” Here he was apologising for how he felt, apologising for having perfectly valid feelings.
“You are entitled to be stroppy! You are entitled to get in a mood with me if I’m annoying you! Everyone is entitled to get upset, angry, low, have bad days. It’s all part of being human and alive.”
But it does make me think. All too often adults invalidate their children’s feelings. We think that because a child is a child, they have no right to the extremes of emotions that we feel as adults, but actually, surely, they are as entitled if not more so? They are constantly learning about themselves and their environment, they are learning what pleases them and what pees them off! They are learning social skills, how to interact with others depending on the emotions they are feelings, and when we belittle those thoughts and feelings, we cause them to question their place in the world and who they are and how they should act.
I don’t want my children feeling invalidated. I don’t want my children to feel they have to apologise for not having a constantly sunny disposition.
Maybe this is one of the flaws with today’s society. We are so used to people telling us to “cheer up it may never happen” or “pull yourself together” or “stop feeling sorry for yourself”, but actually why do we have to be cheerful all the time? Why do we have to put on a happy show every minute of the day? To make other people feel comfortable? So that those other people don’t have to get involved in our lives? So other people can worry just about themselves and not need be concerned for anyone else.
The “Me” generation is getting out of hand, and when it involves a child limiting the emotions they display for the sake of people around them then something needs to change.
It’s not all about “ME”. It’s all about “WE”