This afternoon, I was teaching my daughter some basic words by using a picture book.
'This is a tiger. This is an antelope...' The usual picture books. I was struck with the importance of symbolism that we teach our young ones, and how symbolism goes out the window once we develop the intellect to tackle calculus, geometry and history. Symbolism is intrinsic to making sense of a complex world. We need to ensure that when we look at something we don't understand, such as the madness of a 'terrorist' attack on innocent children in France last week, that there is a cause underlying the actions. Was it a lone madman? Could it be something more complex yet more sensible like a child's deception, by incriminating someone in order to get away? Just a thought...
I have always marvelled at the simple way that children play. It is linear, impulsive, non-directional, even whimsical. As children mature, at around three years of age, they begin to use manipulative play with regards to their siblings versus parents. This form of play is a natural instinct that is inherent in all children, and as they continue to mature intellectually, such manipulative play is usually redundant as the child realises that rewards become ever more diminishing in such negative ways of interacting.
Some of the interesting ways in which they play these manipulative games include:
1) Deflection - that is, the blame game. Children blame others for what is obviously their fault
2) Denial - children deny their actions, even when caught red-handed
3) Deception - children get their siblings in trouble to take their parents attention off their own trouble or to draw attention away from their siblings onto themselves.
In these watershed times, let us seize the year, remembering that the games adults play can sometimes be obtuse, obtund or obsequious, but if we see them as defensive acts from someone who has not learned a mature way of dealing with their own personal needs, then they can merely be seen as just a child's tantrums. We can see their games for what they are and know that eventually, they will see the errors of their ways. This takes immeasurable patience, but is worth it, as it is with children. None of us are so mature that we can call another immature, even if that immature person is head of a bank or government. We must allow the year to unfold, to remember that not all of us have the inside knowledge of what is happening to this world. We must see the world as a giant playground, and as Tennessee Williams once wrote in Suddenly Last Summer, 'we are all of us children in a vast kindergarten trying to spell God's name with the wrong alphabet blocks.'