We are not always kind to our kids. It is not intentional, we will provide a snarky comment to a serious question, we will yell when kindness is needed, and we will ignore a serious kid problem in lieu of the more serious adult problems we have.
I remember as a kid being scared needlessly when an older friend terrified me with the thought that I was going to die because I put fingernail polish on my lips. This happened after she of course had dared me to put the fingernail polish on my lips in the first place. She convinced me that I would now die and then I would be buried in the fish tank at their house.
Needless to say for a long time I though nail polish would kill you, and I never wanted to go back to that house.
Kids don't process things correctly sometimes because their brains lack the necessary connections to separate good information from false information. What you end up with is a conversation a little like this.
I was driving my 3 kids and my niece and nephew back to my house for lunch. My brother in law kindly watched my kiddos so I could go to a Dr. appointment and I was returning the favor by watching his kids so he could run errands. In all honesty, I wanted them to come over to entertain my kids so I could read, write and hopefully clean in peace.
On the way home we drove by a construction site for a new commercial development that is going in. Isaac asked innocently, "Why is there a bathroom in that field?"
"Where else do you think they go to the bathroom?' Was my reply.
"I thought they would just pee in the field while they worked." Isaac said contemplating a world where you didn't have to stop what you were doing to go the bathroom and not even have to wash your hands afterwards. This must be heaven to him.
Rebecca then recalled the story of our next door neighbor who had hired workers to rebuild their driveway. One of the workers was arrested as he peed in the front yard when a police cruiser drove by.
My nephew's eyes grow wide with alarm. He gulps and says, "He got arrested for peeing in the yard?"
"Yep, you are not allowed to pee in the yard, that is against the law," Isaac proclaims.
Aaron then relates that one time he in fact peed in the yard because his mom had accidentally locked them out of the house and he really really had to go.
Very seriously he asks, "Do you think I could be arrested for that?"
Realizing now how Aaron had begun to process this new information I reassured him that he was fine.
"They don't arrest kids for peeing in the yard. It's okay Bear. You are fine." I try to comfort him.
"I really had to go, I couldn't hold it anymore, do you think the police would be okay with that?" He protests in defense of his illegal act.
"Oh, yeah. It's adults that have to watch out for police and urinating in public. That is considered a nuisance. With kids, that is just trying to relieve a tight situation." I answer. "You are fine. Police understand extenuating circumstances"
He settles back in his seat and is quiet. I imagine him tormented over the fact that his short life is now over. Instead of trading Pokeman cards he would be trading cigarettes in prison and instead of pretending that he was Harry Potter battling Lord Voldemort he was now going to be sharpening shanks out of the pens his mom brought him on visiting day. He was a criminal. He peed in a yard and now he had to 'fess up to his crime.
If I was a different kind of aunt, I sure could have played into his irrational fears, just like that friend did to me so many years ago. The harmless prank that has me scared of lip gloss application to this day.
Thankfully, in this instance I am not that aunt. We changed the topic to gross things that we eat and I hope he won't carry around this guilt too long. His parents may never forgive me. Actually, it was Rebecca who brought it all up. I can always blame it on her.
But I probably shouldn't tell her that, I wouldn't want her to feel bad.
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