“If I have four and you give me more than I have more.”
This axiomatic truth came from the mouth of a bright preschooler. His speech is difficult to understand, but his ideas are crystal.
He asked me, the other day, about math. More like, told me. Checked to see I understand …
Math, but also some other things.
“If I get angry and then my mommy gets angry than we have a lot more angry.”
Yes. That’s true.
“I don’t like it when we have more angry.”
I totally understood that, and told him that I didn’t like ‘having more angry’ either.
“It is lots more better when we have giggles. I love giggles.”
So do I.
He was quiet a moment, then asked me about the news he’d heard. Children often pick up more than you give them credit for, and understand more than you would like to think they have internalized.
“A lot of people are angry and crying on TV,” he said. He was referring to the news of three teens who were kidnapped and murdered by Hamas terrorists in Israel. The teenagers’ bodies were found that day, and his parents were aghast and upset with the realities in the Palestinian territories, terror, hate, and rage. They discussed the news among themselves, along with their reactions and thoughts. He saw and heard reactions of others, perceived the agony of desperate angst, the fumes of hate. I’ve seen it, too. It is difficult, difficult stuff.
“Yes,” I responded. “They are.”
“Are more people going to be mean?” he worried. “I don’t like it when more people want to be mean.”
Oh, how I agree, dear boy, neither do I.
He wasn’t quite done. How could he be? These are big issues, even for grownups, let alone little ones. He pressed on: “If more people are going to be mean then it is going to be even more mean and more mean.”
I think I sighed. He looked at me a bit quizzically, adorable in his earnestness. I smiled at him and asked, “do you have suggestions about what people can do?”
“I don’t know,” he said after a thought. “Maybe a ‘safe tantrum’?” (in his house, this is the term used for when someone–usually him…–gets very angry. They can’t hurt themselves o others but they can punch a boxing bag and shout a little and jump and jump …).
I nodded. Safe tantrums would be a good, in fact a very good alternative.
“But,” he interjected, “even if they still feel mean I think maybe they need to learn to use their words.”
From the mouth of babes, Little Teacher. Simplified reality yet no less wise. In all war, terror, conflict, violence–may all find room for less hatred, more reason, some space, more safety, less meanness … more peace … in their hearts.