About 24 hours from the writing of this post, I will be the grateful recipient of a corneal transplant. Belonging to the dark humor club of if you don’t laugh you’ll cry, and being more than a little freaked out by having part of a deceased person’s eye placed into mine after having part of mine removed, I made up jokes about it. “I see dead people… no wait, that’s just my eye.” Funny or not, it helps me relieve some of the stress and fear.
But then the phrase made me think of other things a different way. Is this how our kids see life? Do they see things so totally differently that it’s like looking through the eyes of a different person, with different experiences, expectations, realizations, dreams, even experiencing clouds, colors and nature in different ways? And the answer is, of course. Talking with an experienced foster mom recently, she said, “I just don’t understand why after all this time they still don’t understand just the most basic of the house rules.” I understood, at least, that the children she was referring to were a different level of need than the children she normally fostered, a different level of abuse, a different level of trauma, I knew they had severe attachment issues. I understood their brains were totally miswired from birth or even before. But this was beyond her experience from the past. They were an enigma, a puzzle to her. If we were to look at the world through their eyes, the world would not make any sense to us with our experiences, our expectations, our reasonings – but to them, it makes sense. And when we place our expectations of how we know or expect the world to work upon them – to them it’s an alien landscape where up is sideways and down is diagonal but only sometimes.
For us, with our world experience, trying to make sense of why our children do the things they do, what their reasoning is behind their actions, will never work. We’re alien species from each other in that sense. To the same degree, we can’t force our reasoning onto our children and expect that just by explaining it to them “up is this way” that they’re going to say, “oh, ok” and go on their merry way. They have to experience a new way of things, a new way of life, they have to see time and time again that up IS that way. We have to prove to them repeatedly which way is up. Talking won’t do it. Only experience and time will.
So in that sense, I guess, we just need to roll with it and not try to make sense of it. Because we will never understand. Never having lived in their heads, never having lived their lives, we can’t understand any more than they can understand ours. Trying to make sense of it only hurts our own brains, and we’ll never make sense of it anyway. We just have to keep showing them the world how it really is, how it really works, and hope that eventually, the experience will help show them how the world really is – or how it should work, because it obviously didn’t work that way in their past.
Hang in there!