A Bear Will Come & Eat You
My husband and have a story that we both remember fondly about my grandmother who recently passed. When our twins were toddlers she was watching them one day, and they were probably arguing over a toy or something. When we walked in we heard her telling them that if they didn’t quit fighting a bear was going to come and eat them. She said it quite matter-of-factly. My husband looked at each other in shocked hilarity and did our best to suppress our giggles.
That is how parenting used to work…well the work part is subjective. Lies; the general consensus on how to raise children…tell them lies. Lie, threaten, keep secrets, make the family look good, and preserve the reputation…look how hard our parents have had to work to recover from that way of thinking. I am not okay with lying to children. I don’t do it with my kids. Sometimes I refuse to answer, sometimes I explain that it is something that I don’t think they are ready to understand or that it just isn’t their business. I don’t lie though. Because I don’t lie, they trust me.
My sister became seriously ill when she was about sixteen. It was touch and go there for a while, and blessedly she made a full recovery. After being in and out of the hospital for years, she decided that she needed to go back. She wants to help the children who are sick. She experienced how kept in the dark they are, and how much it terrifies them. Children are so much more able to understand big realities than most people give them credit for. Kids are usually more resilient than grown-ups; yet we shelter them endlessly. Maybe we do it because it makes us feel better.
When my first dog died my father made up this huge elaborate story about how he and my mother had found her dead, with a look of peace on her face, after I left for school one day. When I started questioning my mother she admitted that they had to have the dog put down because she was suffering. My father was trying to protect me. He didn’t want me to think about the dog in pain. I think that what he didn’t understand at the time is that children, at least a great number of them, value the truth a lot more than they do protective consideration.
One of my favorite poets is named James Whitcomb Riley and my favorite poem of his is called Little Orphant Annie. I know more than half of the poem by heart and I love to recite it, especially for the kids at Halloween. It goes along the same lines as what we caught my grandmother telling the children so long ago…about the bear eating them. Ironically, Mr. Riley and my grandmother come form the same part of the country and use the same colloquialisms cousant and orphant. Scaring children doesn’t work these days. It never really did. It’s time we start learning different methods of parenting. It’s time that we start being more honest with our kids.
If you are interested in Mr. Riley’s beautiful poem, here is the link: