Children Speak Another Language From Adults.
"No I Said to Go Play, Not Stay!"
Children see things literally and can’t seem to understand why we get angry. They do what they think is what we have said and get confused so easily when it turns out to be wrong. Yet, we know we didn't speak in a foreign language. "What did you do?" is often heard in family homes.
I have listed some examples of how children follow the directions they are given below. They are based on family and friends. They are true, to a point, but I’m hoping you get a good giggle out of it after a hard day with the kids (or the boss). See it from a humorous side and smile.
Pick Up Your Jacket
To a child’s way of thinking, you have just told them to pick up their jacket. You didn’t tell them what to do with it once they picked it up. Their logic is to pick it up from where it was and toss it to another spot. They did what you told them to do and do not understand when you get angry about it. Did they know what was actually wanted? Probably, but I found that being very detailed with your requests didn't work either. Could they have a "pick up" malfunction?
“You Had Better Clean Your Plate"
To a child, you just told them to clean the plate, not how to clean the plate. To them, it is perfectly acceptable to dump the food into the garbage can or to give it to the dog. They might even decide that you need to have a few more colors around the dining room and begin hiding the food in different spots to see what it does and if you find it before it rots. After all, you only said to clean the plate; you didn’t tell them they couldn’t experiment with the food. You have no insurance policy that says they will clean the plate by eating the food. For that, you must first specify how you would like them to "clean the plate". For example, telling them to eat all of their food.
Clean Your Room
Oh what a can of worms you open with that one. Children don’t truly understand the concept of clean, even when their environment is kept clean all around them. To them, having their favorite (at the moment) toys right where they can get at them is keeping the room organized for easy playing. That’s why they get upset when you pick up those organized toys and toss them in the toy box. The same with all those clothes; they only had them on for a little while, after all, and they might want to wear them again. As for the dirty dishes, glasses, and silverware, well, they might need to use them at another time and so they left them there. That way they wouldn’t have to go to the kitchen to get more. What is wrong with us adults that we can't see that?
Get That Stuff Out of Here!
This one could mean so many different things to a kid. For instance: if any of your things are anywhere near where you pointed, they might decide that your stuff has to go, not theirs. In that case, you might find your car keys in the trash and your briefcase out in the back yard filled with mud (for the mud pies for dessert). Also, they might decide that the vase sitting next to your keys is a good hiding place for their frogs and spiders. They might also decide that they need to hide their tiny soldiers and blocks in the toes of your shoes (for safekeeping). Well, I guess they did pick up that stuff, right?
Children have two sides to them: the side that knows how to make you mad and the side that knows how to make you happy. As parents, we can't help but love them both!
Get That Dog Out Of Here
Well, you want the dog out because he is racing around chasing the ball they are tossing, and/or he has muddy feet. The child, however, believes that you want the dog out of that room only. So they will take the dog up the stairs, into the kitchen, into the coat closet, perhaps even to another side of the room (since you didn’t say get the dog out of the room, that is acceptable, right?) Also, they might just take the dog into the kitchen and then bring the dog back. After all, you didn't say for how long, did you? Once I started thinking like a kid, my whole perspective changed. Yup, now I know they do it on purpose. They are geniuses in disguise.
"What? I couldn't see them there!"
“Go Upstairs in Mommy's Closet ..."
Perhaps you think you said to go to the closet and get the brown pair of shoes on the floor next to the black boots.” Sounds pretty straightforward and easy, right? Wrong! The child will race up the stairs and stand in the middle of your bedroom for about 10 minutes turning in circles screaming “I CAN’T FIND THEM, WHERE ARE THEY ?” You then give them the directions again adding that they actually have to open the closet door. Now they will open the closet door and look at all the clothes hanging there and shout “I DON’T SEE THEM !” You will then give them the directions again adding that they will have to look at the floor. They will look at the floor where their feet are and shout “THEY AIN’T HERE !” At that point, you will race up the stairs, stand next to the child and point to the shoes 1/2” away from their feet. They will say “Oh, you didn’t say over there!”
Kids seem to have a built-in patch over their eyes that blocks out certain areas, especially the ones to which they have been specifically directed. Or maybe it is their way of getting you to do the job since you did have to run up the stairs and get the items you had originally sent the kid up to retrieve. Or point out to the child the shoes that really were right where you said they would be. Perhaps their radar hasn't properly adjusted itself yet. It could be the answer, but I doubt it.
Don't Leave Your Shoes There Someone Will Trip
Now, because you have begun to see their pattern of reasoning, you add “Take them to the closet and put them where they belong.” You go finish whatever it is you were doing, confident that this time you were exact enough to get the job done correctly. However, you forgot that you were dealing with a child, whose ideas are somewhat warped. They will pick up the shoes, turn in a circle for a bit, see the closet door and toss them (not set them) in front of the door. You walk in, see the shoes lying haphazardly in front of the door (where you almost trip on them) and ask the child why they put them there; and the child says, “You said they go in the closet, but I wasn’t over there yet.” A totally different language.
Be honest, do see these things happening with your children? Remember, be honest.
It Is Raining
They, meaning the kids, didn’t want to get wet so they brought their outdoor toys indoors to play. You finally have a moment to yourself and you want to watch a bit of TV. You walk in, see the mud on the floor, the toys everywhere (including on your brand new beige couch) and the kids are nowhere to be found. You shout for them and get answers from various parts of the house, but no kids. You tell them to get in the living room and they shout back “WHY?” Now you are about ready to break through the roof so you calmly ask them to come to you in the living room. They slowly trickle in and you point to the mess. “What is all this?” you ask. Your wonderful, intelligent, beautiful children look at you as if you have two heads and say “TOYS!” You answer that you know they are toys, but why are they in your living room. And these same, wonderful, intelligent, beautiful children giggle and say “It’s raining out!” Finally, you tell them to clean up their mess and get the mud off the floor, and your couch.
I need another paragraph for this one because: they argue a bit that they will do it later, then they sigh and slowly move towards something and you leave the room before you get angry enough to do something irrational. Several moments later, you hear squealing and laughing coming from the living room and you go to find out what is happening. You arrive just in time to see one of your wonderful children toss a skateboard over the couch. It hits the coffee table and knocks the vase of real flowers and water onto the floor. It then slides off of the coffee table into the mess. Another child picks it up and tosses it back. It lands against the TV, cracking the screen before falling to the floor with a loud “THUMP”. The first child turns, picks it up and raises it to toss once more, and then freezes because they see you standing there. You ask what they are doing and they say, in all innocence, “We’re picking it up like you said!” Then you notice the blanket that you used to drape the new beige couch sitting in a pile near the door. You pick it up and it is covered in mud. You ask the children what is that all about and you get smiles and “you said to clean up the mud on the floor, so we did.”
- They are the treasure of our lives.
- They are the reason we have gray hair.
- They are the reason we get migraines.
- They are the reason we are happy.
- BUT...you gotta love them (what parent wouldn't), and sometimes that is really hard to do!
- Here’s hoping your children are much more intelligent and wonderful and beautiful than the ones depicted here, LOL.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2012 Cheryl Simonds