Tuesday, January 26, 2016
On Children Teaching Us Common Sense
I've been trying to write an article about how children teach us common sense for a while now. It's not flowing well, I probably need to scrap it and start over, and today I might finally get a chance because everyone around here is sick.
Not terribly so, but everyone is suffering from fevers and feeling miserable. So we've been drinking tea, watching some extra Netflix, lying around with extra blankets, trying not to get angry over every little thing (although that seems to be a herculean task for 4 outta 5 kids right now), and hopefully letting little bodies heal themselves. I've cancelled and rescheduled appointments we were meant to be at today and Dominic is sad to be missing his tae kwon do tonight.
But back to how all of this reminds me of this business of common sense and children!
The thing with kids is they are constantly bringing you back to reality. Your newborn's cries demand to be fed and changed and comforted. And it's simply common sense to do that for them when they cry. But the cries can't be ignored and they bring an attention and focus to the moment you can't escape. I used to think this constant demand for nourishment was so inconvenient and that newborns were impossible to figure out. But in reality their basic needs are simple if tireless. The more you come to understand the simple needs the less overwhelming it is to meet them.
But it also retrains our brains a bit to make them understand that we need to meet the demands of the present moment. The ones looking/screaming us right in the face, if you will. That's common sense. And it's a lot less common than we think.
How many of us act as if the real demands of our life at the moment can be put off, ignored for a while, or maybe looked at in just the right way that they become not really demands at all. We can shrug off feeding ourselves well, getting enough sleep, and pushing ourselves harder because of technology. We live in ways that try to ignore basic realities. And nothing calls us back to basic realities like children.
I know when I'm sick I'll still push myself as much as I can. I hate cancelling things when I'm not feeling well. I don't like to not get things done. I hate feeling like I'm lying around not accomplishing anything. But it's really hard to not see how sickness affects our littles. It reframes how I see rest, healing, and time. I can't rush or control how long it will take for them to feel better, I can't heal them instantly or pretend they aren't ill, but I do have to acknowledge that the best thing for them is rest. And that usually means a lot more work, and a lot less getting things done for me. It's one of those inconvenient truths when it comes to common sense: we can't have it exactly the way we want it when we want it.
But that's exactly what reality is. And that common Catholic way of thinking that truth is aligning ourselves with reality really does show itself in the little things. Like letting our sick kids rest on the couch when they're feeling bad. Maybe we'll grow in common sense along the way.
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