“Mom, sometimes I wonder about what it is like to be you.”
A little more prodding from my side and this comes up – “I often think about what it would be like to be other people but I don’t know because I have never been a grown-up……I wonder about what you think and feel…about me…..Do you ever wonder about what it is being me?”
Taken aback and caught off guard, I end up telling him – “I feel a sense of wonder that I am a parent and that you are my kid. I feel responsible towards you and your well-being, but most of all I just feel happy that we have each other. It is a great quality to be willing and able to consider how other people think and feel. I feel happy that you are thinking this way and hope that you would continue to do so.”
We reach the school, he gets out of the car and that is the end of the conversation.
But the thought dwells in my mind all day, it ruminates and that last line -“Do you ever wonder about what it is being me? ” really floors me and I think to myself, “I DO know what it is to be a kid. I have been one, and I have lived through a lot of the experiences that my kids are going through. Yet, how often do I put myself in their place and think about their perspective?”
Granted, the world has changed drastically since the time we were out and about riding our bikes, just being kids. However, the angst of that age is still the same. The journey of discovering multiple realities that spread outward from our family is still relatable.
If we make the effort, the world seems magical when looked at anew through our children’s eyes. Also, we somehow seem to see ourselves in a clearer light when examined through these different lenses.
As parents we have a ready frame of reference to fall back upon, and our task is somewhat easier than that of our kids who are still learning to navigate their way around the world.
In spite of this difference, we inexplicably expect our kids to know how to behave according to our expectations of them, assuming that they should be able to figure out what it is that we need from them, when they have no idea about our thought process, our current experiences.
They cannot metaphorically or realistically fill our shoes.
Simply because they have not lived that life yet.
So maybe it is time to let go of our egos and our self-consciousness about our roles as parents and simply remember what it is to be a kid.
To look at our kids and wonder —What is it like to be you?