If you ever want to understand just how complicated we make our lives, take a look at things through the eyes of a child. To our beautiful children the logic of how the world works is quite simple, a+b=c. It is we, the grown-ups, that add in the what-ifs, contingency plans and endless obstacles that have us wondering if our youth will be in therapy for much of their natural born lives.
On a recent road trip our entire family was loaded snugly into my husband's truck for the three hour ride. When accelerating onto the interstate the truck's engine became very loud. Yes, it's got a hemmie. It sounded like we were going very fast. The conversation went like this:
A little girl gasping from the backseat, "Daddy! You need to slow down."
Daddy, laughing, "Why?'
"You're going to get arrested!"
"You won't be able to get the food you want and you'll have to wear orange!"
To my pink loving picky eater there could only be one fate more terrible...having to wear brown. For her it was a very simple thing, breaking the law equalled a loss of freedom. Which in turn meant losing the two things she adored most, fashion and cheese pizza. How would this scenario be different for an adult? What runs through your mind when you're in danger of being pulled over for speeding? If you've ever been in danger of such a thing. I myself would not be familiar with that feeling of heart pounding, gut wrenching, cold terror. Nope, not a clue what it's like.
Fear and tension over the initial pullover. Where is the money going to come from to pay for this fine? What is my husband/wife going to say? Is my insurance going to go up? Am I going to lose my insurance? Am I going to lose my licence? Will this effect my job? I'm going to be late picking the kids up from school. They'll be stranded. What if starts to rain? What if they don't know what to do? What if they start walking home and a stranger abducts them in a white unmarked van with out of state plates?
Maybe that last part was a stretch, but you see where the overcomplicated human mind goes. We think up extra stress for ourselves. Are there real issues we need to plan for and think through? Absolutely. Do we need to think about the minuscule details, weighing out every pro and con of each and every daily decision we make? I'd rather be stabbed in the eye with a spoon. You're probably thinking right now, "Of course I don't do that, it's ridiculous!". You do it with out even realizing it. Somewhere in the development of mankind our survival went from clubbing our food to worrying about life's what-ifs. There's nothing wrong with being prepared for the worst or even the slightly bad. However, our day is not full of life altering decisions and preparations for Armageddon and should not be given the same level of attention.
Should I have the salad for lunch? I'm going out tonight, so I'll probably have a big dinner, and the salad will be nice and light. But the burgers are on special for $5, that's half the price of the salad and I'm trying to save money. I wonder what everyone else from the office will think if I get a big greasy burger? I wonder what they're getting? This is a great example for the "Will it Matter Rule". Normally I'd say in twenty years is this going to matter, but in this instance I can say next week will this matter. If not, then you're over complicating it.
Sometimes we can add so much stress to our lives it can actually rub off on our children's and cause their simplistic logic to become intense. A few years ago I was preparing for a visit from a higher up manager in my company and the strain was getting to me, as was the rambunctiousness of my twin daughters. Before I could reprimand them my son, who was five at the time, harshly put them in their place.
"Girls be quiet! If Mommy doesn't do well at work tomorrow she'll get fired. We'll lose our house, our toys, EVERYTHING." After a moment of silence I decided I was projecting a little too much tension on my babies and it was time for a break. He still had easy three point logic, but no five year old should know what "fired" means.
Before the twins entered kindergarten I spent six months worrying about the decision to put them in separate classes. I asked teachers for opinions, parents of twins and of course googled it. They needed to develop their own interests and personalities, make their own friends. I stared at the ceiling at night imagining a first week of sobbing separation anxiety. The first day of school came and the girls rode off on the bus like princesses to the royal ball. When the terrible twosome arrived at school they went to their separate classrooms without a second thought and have never looked back. I nearly bled out from a gastric ulcer for nothing.
So what can we learn from the innocence of children? Don't make everything so complicated. In the grand scheme is this decision going to matter? If it's going to make you a better person, a happier person and a stronger member of your family, then it's a good choice and you can move on. As long as you don't have to wear orange.
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