"Who I Am" has new meaning this morning after yesterday's park visit with my grandaughter.
"Who I Am" has meant for me in the past; "fallen", "saved by grace", "hopeless apart from Christ", "a mistake", "a product of divorce", "a wife", "a mother" and the many other temporary roles that have been mine thoroughout my life.
Science is bringing us new information all the time about our physical world, and now, I am understanding more and more how the physical world impacts "Who I Am".
Yesterday, my grandaughter had asked an important person in her life to go to the park with her. After a little while, I also went to the park to visit and watch the kids play. But, to my dismay, my grandaughter and her cousin had a "conflict of interest", and came running up to us. Hannah was distraught, but before she reached the park bench where we were sitting, Hannah's cousin had given 'her side of the story".
Without even hearing Hannah's side, this "idolized adult" stroked the hair of the cousin and reprimanded Hannah over the other child's percieved exclusion. Hannah was absolutely devastated, for when she would try to "tell her side", she was told she could not be understood unless she calmed down. All the while, she was being excluded from telling "her side of the story". She perceived the situation as "shaming" to her "person", as Hannah has an honest nature and this was not being affirmed.
When I tried to get Hannah's side, this adult reprimanded me, by saying that Hannah had no business excluding her cousin. Hannah kept saying how she was only trying to "make a new friend", that "cousins were not friends", and that her cousin had pinched her.
In her little mind, categories had not expanded to include different roles. Though she has played with her cousin since birth, her "social side" wanted to expand and befriend the strangers around her. She is an extrovert, this is "who she is". The more she kept defending herself and her desire to make "a new friend", the more this adult kept telling her it was unkind to exclude others and not to get "so hysterical". I was mortified, as I didn't know how to defend Hannah, except to try to help Hannah see an expansion to her categories of "cousin" and "friend", but Hannah perceived my attempt to expand her categories as "shaming". This was never my intent, and it reminded me of the time I tried to give different names to those she loved, when she was only three. Her immaturity was by no means "sinful".
What could have been only a minor incidence of childhood "trauma", had become a major "message" to Hannah's "person". I don't want my grandaughter to think or feel as if "who she is" is "bad innately" and she is in a social environment that will suggest this ego "framing" for her.
On the way back from the park, her Opa attempted to walk along side of her, but she kept telling him that "no one loved her", except her Mommy and Daddy and she didn't want to walk with him, an unusual response from her. She only wanted her Daddy to "come get her". So, her Opa called her Daddy to walk with her back to our house. This suggested to me, that she had internalized a lot of the "guilt" and responsibility for the situation. It is called "shame" and it is an "internal message" about "Who I Am".
Hannah felt betrayed by most everyone that she had loved and trusted in this minor childhood "trauma", because her innate extrovertedness was percieved as "sinful" for excluding another, while her cousin's "sin" of pinching was never addressed.
My daughter has expressed her desire to reconsider how she is approaching Hannah's childishness and I am glad. Hannah is the oldest child and has already taken the "back seat' to her brother's physical problems, and her younger sister's "immediate needs". Hannah's immediate family has been "dysfunctional" in her mind, as her Daddy has been gone every week since March to the "Police Academy". Since she is going into kindergarten, it is important for Hannah to feel confident about "who she is", supported by her whole family, not shamed and demoralized.
All parents have these "encounters" with childishness, but religious ones exasperate the problems by labelling "what is normal" as "sinful". "The Cosmos" (or "God") is displeased with the chld's normal tendencies. Instead of approaching childishness as a stage of immaturity and seeking to guide and reorient the child,; the child is "scared, shamed, and scarred" by messages of "immense importance". The child's needs are minimized, while the "Cosmic God" is immortalized and idolized, by such "child sacrifice"!
I am no child psychologist, but I am a grandparent that has "lived and learned" and loves her grandaughter. My grandaughter should never be "shamed" into submission or obedience. She should obey with the knowledge that doing so, only brings her own happiness, not some "God". Love should be understood and experienced as desiring the best for "Who I Am" apart from any "God". This is what I hope my grandaughter come to know and understand.
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