Sunday, October 15, 2006

Different Minds – Different Conclusions

I think it’s interesting that as we grow we lose touch with ourselves as children. It’s as if there is a specific time in our lives where we flip a switch and things are different. We react to things differently and we see things differently. I was thinking about this when I was reading how some parents reacted to insensitive questions and I was remembering how I used to react.

As a parent, I tend to react with outrage now. When I hear someone make a comment that is so obviously racist or insensitive to my child, my claws come out and I contemplate tearing the speaker to shreds (verbally of course). My emotions often overshadow what my child might be thinking and I forget to ask. Now, my son is young (not yet three) and, thankfully, he doesn’t understand most of the comments that make his mommy angry. I know that he will soon. Within the next couple of years, his comprehension will be at a level where these comments stimulate thought and question. One thing that I know is that you can’t discount a child’s emotions because they are young.

Looking back, I only have a few memories of my early childhood and most of them are wrapped around negative emotions. I was a very verbal child and I spoke like a mini-adult when I was quite young. You can imagine how funny it was for adults to hear very adult-like phrases coming from a very small child. My mother is an author and when I was around three she was still doing free-lance writing for various papers and magazines. She often had other writers at her house to discuss whatever projects they were working on. I remember sitting with them in the living room and I remember how embarrassed I was when they laughed at me. I don’t remember what I said, but I remember that I thought that I was participating in the conversation and I remember the feelings that coursed through me.

On my other blog, I wrote about what I remember about my reaction to racism as a child. While anger and disbelief tend to be my primary emotions now, when I was a child I reacted quite differently. My primary emotions as a child were embarrassment and hurt. Even though my parents had never lead me to believe that I was anything but the perfect daughter, I felt that other people’s reactions were somehow my fault.

I once read on a message board where a woman was talking about a situation where a man rejected her child. She said that she didn’t think her son seemed to be upset and she wondered if she should just ignore it…let it go away. I remember thinking, “No! No! No!” Never ignore it. Never think it will just go away or assume that everything is okay if your child doesn’t say anything. They may not be saying anything because they think it’s their fault.

I try to constantly remind myself that children do not think like adults. I have the added advantage of having lived the childhood of a Korean adoptee, but you don’t have to be a KAD to talk things through and ask the questions. Sometimes, I think you’ll be surprised by what you learn and, beware the KAD who tells you what they think you want to hear instead of what they really want you to hear.

If you are interested, here are the links to my blog post about how I viewed racism when I was a child. Though I can never speak for all KADs, because we are all different, I can speak for myself and hope that it helps someone.

Racism Through A Child's Eyes - Part 1

Racism Through A Child's Eyes - Part 2

1 comment:

Julie said...

Found your blog from the adoptingfromkorea board. Thanks for the great posts. Good reminders for an adoptive parent. Your articles gave me chills especially when I think of my children dealing with these issues. I want to protect them, and it is hard to think that I can't. BTW, loved the Halloween photos. Your son is a doll!