Saturday, November 22, 2014

Like Water

The flustered mother told me this about how difficult it was to get her school-aged son to do what she wanted: "He's like water. Whatever I try to do, whatever rules I set up, he finds a way around them."

I said, "Well, that must be very frustrating."

Here's what I wish I had been clever enough to say to her instead: 

"You're right. Kids are a lot like water. The harder you try to grab them, the more they slip through your fingers.

Like water, kids can mirror their surroundings. They are given shape by their environment, while over time they are also shaping the environment.

Similar to water, kids can exist in different states. Too much heat or too much cold, and they may become explosive or get more rigid and brittle.

Water is very resilient. Most of the time, like water, kids can return to their previous state after a perturbation if the environment allows it.

It always takes energy to change the flow, the direction, the trajectory of water. Otherwise it just follows the path of least resistance.

Just as you can make water move against gravity through capillary action, giving the right scaffolding for a child can make all the difference. 

While water running rampant can be destructive, water put to purpose can do immeasurable good.

So you're absolutely right: your child is very much like water. Now what shall we do about it?"