Dear Children…

Dear Children,

Despite some things you might be told or you might hear or you might read about always trying your hardest, trying to be the best at what you do, and making choices in early life about how you might live your adult life, I – as your loving mother – see things slightly differently.

You see, I’ve thought a lot recently about this being the best thing and what I’ve noticed is that while people are trying to beat everyone else they are not necessarily being the best and nicest person they can be.
I’ve noticed too that constant testing makes children, parents and teachers anxious about performance. Performance? Isn’t that a word for the stage? For car engines? I don’t think you should expect yourselves either to act a certain way or drive yourself a certain way as if you are a machine.

No. I want you to be yourselves.

Over the last 2 years, the system which has taken over your childhoods, has made me worry that my youngest child hadn’t learnt to write and spell by the age of six (six?!), that my middle child was “lazy” because his handwriting isn’t neat, that my eldest child might suffer under the strain of having to choose a university and future career before she’s finished growing.
The system made me think for a time that always doing one’s best, always working hard was important.

Why?

So I stopped. I thought about this and I thought about you three and I thought about myself and I thought about those “at the top” status-wise, power-wise, money-wise, fame-wise, in all sorts of different areas of life and I thought, ‘Is that what my children want? Is that what I want?’
What do I want from you and for you? I wondered.

Well. I want nothing from you. That is my gift. It came when I gave you life.

But what I want for you is happiness, I want you to live, I want you to know about what is real, I want you to look around you and see other people and wildlife and the world you share with them. I do not want you thinking you are better than other people or lowlier than other people. I do not want you always striving for status, money, power or recognition. I do not want you worrying about performance but about reasons and enjoyment when you choose to do something.
I want you to remember that life is short and can sometimes be shorter than we expect.

I want you to remember to watch sunrises and sunsets, to listen to birdsong, to follow the waxing and waning of the moon, to fall in and out of and back in love. I want you to cry at the suffering of others not at a C instead of a B. I want you to be out of the range of judgement but because that is impossible I want you to know how false all judgement is. I want you to appreciate what you can do because it gives you pleasure not be constantly comparing yourself with others – or worse still a fake set of standards about what is better.

Striving for positions, for power, for a big bank balance, for notoriety, for the “top” always comes at a price. Being a good, genuine, caring, life-embracing human-being comes with rewards.

There are different types of respect that come with the different paths one can take in life. I can’t tell you which ones to take but I’m certainly not going to push you down one that gives you pain.

You were born with five senses and big brains on a beautiful planet surrounded by other creatures that could do with a bit more respect. I hope you come to realise that the rest is less important.

Don’t be fooled by what others – who are too caught up in made-up stuff – tell you is good and bad. Be happy, be good, be kind, be open-minded, and think of life not as giving, taking, and succeeding but as being for a while. Being you.

Enjoy.

All my love, always,
Mum

PS Please stop leaving the lid off the peanut butter

15 thoughts on “Dear Children…

  1. Lovely. True. And it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot myself, with the eldest studying hard for her exams, crying over her results, (which were excellent but not to her) and my middle child who has ability but doesn’t want to use it and the youngest who flys in the face of it all and won’t do what she doesn’t want to do, like read books or like geography or wear her tie up to her collar.

    Can I give this to them please, Rachel? I think it says it beautifully.

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  2. Thank you. Really THANK YOU! We want 15yo to be the best HE can be but it’s hard to keep a grip on that sometimes with all the ‘made up stuff’ out there. Your words have really clarified my thoughts x

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  3. This is lovely. This is also why we home educated our children, it’s so hard to let our kids grow when the world they live in knocks them down. It sounds like you’re the buffer for them against the hard world of tests and pressure. Great stuff, as usual, spectacularly written.

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  4. Here you are, talking sense in a world where people forget what’s important. Your children are lucky to have you guiding them. xxx

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  5. So true! Just supported eldest quitting college and starting up her own Face Painting business, makes her happy! Trying to help son do well in exams but point out it’s not the be all and end all…he won’t get A’s, but it doesn’t matter as long as he does his best and is happy.
    Children need to be children and need to grow up happy and well rounded, not stressed and miserable! Thank you for this post!

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  6. Beautiful Rachel. We have considered home ed’ing our kids too as a result of the current fiasco we call education. We’re not doing it and I’m hoping that they are getting enough of the good balanced stuff at home.

    We have just been away for a night camping and as we sat in the drizzle eating fish and chips my 7yo said “it’s really beautiful sitting here watching the waves mummy”, testament that we have done something right I think – ‘specially since we were in Rhyl – arcade and trailer park capital of North Wales.

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  7. I had a similar conversation with my son this morning, when he bought a small plastic toy (Bungee? Bumpee? Gogo? Moshi?) and was trying to figure out what “rank” it was — what number, what category — rather than thinking of a name or game for it. The same with sport, he’s less overjoyed about being able to swim than he is about a certificate saying “stage 5”. It’s all numbers, no sense, as if there’s no enjoyment without certification.

    I love the post you’ve written here, it’s beautiful and reflects so much of what we’re trying to achieve at the moment. It’s cheered me up to have read it. x

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  8. I love this post, Rachel. Such wise words. I agree with them all, and have had very similar conversations with my older two children recently.

    How lovely that your children have something to look back on whenever they’re feeling the need to reflect.

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