In today’s first reading from the first book of Kings we hear about the dream in which God asks King Solomon to request something of Him and He will give it to him. King Solomon responds by asking for an understanding heart instead of a long life or riches. So God gives him that plus everything else. How cool is that?
But what the reading reminded me of today was the family bible we had when I was a child. It had many illustrations in it; I have many fond memories browsing through it as a kid. The one story/illustration that really stuck in my head from that bible was the story of King Solomon and the two “harlots” which is actually the next story in the same chapter ~ 1Kings 3: 16-28. As a child I remember being horrified by the story… that he, the wise king, would suggest that the baby be cut in half! Of course his decision was brilliant because through it the women showed their true colors and the real mother was revealed. That story still sticks in my head as being wild and out there. I am still blown away, in awe like the rest of Israel, of King Solomon’s wisdom.
This in turn brings me to an idea I wanted to blog about earlier this week which at the time did not seem to be a very Catholic topic. (But now it does, of course, bear with me, I know I go in big silly circles at times. It has to do with children and how they are treated by some silly adults…) In the summer I teach at a camp for high functioning autistic students. I love this job because it is camp and even though we are trying to teach the kids social skills we are also trying to have fun, playing games and making crafts. I don’t know if I should have been an elementary school teacher… but I do enjoy hanging out with these neat kids and having fun. During the school year I work as a case manager (special ed, resource room teacher) in a high school, which I love~ I love hanging out with teens too. But I do like the break in the summer … to be a bit sillier and goof off with the little ones.
So why do I bring this up? Well it has always bothered me the way some people talk to children. You know what I mean~that condescending, high pitched, sing-song-y, baby-talk that some people revert to when they speak to children. UGH! It drives me insane. Makes my eyes bug out of my head! And makes me want to come out swinging (yes it still does)! Because YES I do remember loathing that way of speaking waaaay back when I was a little kid, and I am talking back when I was in early elementary school in the 1970’s at Genesee Hills Elementary School in DeWitt, New York (it is now a very nice Jewish Community Center). I hatedhatedhated it when teachers or any adults spoke to me or any other kid in that “voice.” (I also hated some of the silly moronic children songs or rhymes too). I wondered why they felt the need to talk to me/us that way? Did they think I/we were stupid? It pissed me off. Why couldn’t they speak to me/us in a normal voice? I made me feel like “this” big… (small) .. it was a horrible feeling, like they thought they were better and felt the need to talk down to us. Because of this I always wanted to be a grown up because I hated how (most) adults treated kids.
So now when I hang out with my students, or with kids at church or at a family gathering, I don’t speak that way to the little peeps. I talk in a normal voice. I may be silly and say and do silly things (well I do that with adults too LOL) to make them laugh but I don’t talk down to them. And I try not to talk about them in front of them (another thing adults do in front of kids that I hate!)! By talking like that (condescending sing-song-y baby-talk) you are not being respectful. What about their dignity? Seriously. They are people. Little people. Little people who like to play and be silly, but for the love of God TALK to them like people!
One more thing before I jump off of my soap box. I cannot stand it when teachers say to their students, “Okay friends…” or “Let’s all wait for our friends …” Friends! When I was a kid we did not call our classmates “friends” never ever. Sure some of the other kids in our class were our friends, or they became our friends, but not all of them. Yes I understand the concept of being nice, kind and respectful to everyone in the class … but they are NOT all “Friends!” These teachers have ruined the meaning of the word! When I hear someone saying it to kids my undies get in a bunch (yes they do!) and I want to SCREAM… it is almost one of “those” PC words … this “friends” word is like teetering on the edge of the bucket of my least favorite PC BS words … you know like “tolerance”, “Diversity” “coexist” … (oh I could go off with a big list… but I will refrain)… Hey, I like to make friends and like new friends. I am the kind of person who likes 99.9 % of the population. I see the good in everyone and like most people’s company… don’t get me wrong… but the idea that EVERYONE must be your friend irks me to no end. Yeah maybe I’m being a jerk… but there it is. Ha.
So … yeah. Jesus knew you should respect and show children their true dignity! He did not talk down to them. He gathered them around Him and spoke to them with love~ In both Matthew 19:14 and Luke 18:16 “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
If I hear someone use that voice one more time…