I have been working with children in some form or another for a long time. They are remarkable creations. They are intricate and simple all rolled into one. At times I think of children as living, breathing oxymorons. They say one thing and do something else or vice versa. They are easy to understand and yet entirely complicated at the same time, especially before they master the R sound. And this why I love them, they keep me on my toes, they consistently challenge my patience and yet I find them calming, most of the time.
The one thing that I have noticed over time is that children under the age of 6 lack the ability to live in the grey area. I notice this most often when a child asks to do something and they get the common adult response, I call it the YESBUTNO. Try and say that sentence, I dare you- google it if you have to, try to understand it. Impossible! Yes, no, but is a grammatical nightmare and yet I have heard it and I have said to my own children. Guilty. Here is what I mean. I am in the middle of doing a task or a chore and my son asks, “Papa can we go play outside?” My response is an emphatic “Yes!” He gets a huge smile on his face and is clearly excited at the upcoming outdoor adventure. Then I return to my task or chore and catch a glimpse of my bewildered son. Upon reflection I imagine what is going on his tiny, large, simple and yet complex brain- my papa said yes we can go outside and yet he is not getting ready nor is he helping me to get ready-maybe I should ask again. “um Papa, I thought you said we can go outside.” and my response is the stuff of legend, “I said yes, but not right this second, I have to just finish my task/chore.” I gave him the yesbutno. I asked him to wait in limbo.
I know we are busy and as adults, we have stuff that must get done. I am just sending out a reminder- children respond better to a yes or a no- I am not saying that parents and teachers should refrain from saying no- I am just saying, be aware of the yesbutno combo- its confusing.