Is their treasure our trash? At times, our worlds feel very removed and distant from our children’s, and we tend to live life, like planets circling speedily around in the manic chaos of a fast-paced solar system. We want to slow down, understand, connect… but what’s the key?
To really get to know the essence of a child, we need to get to know the things that are valuable to them, things which excite them, which fascinate their minds and fill their spirits with joy. Very often, as adults we may gloss over these items, these fads, these philosophies, and consider them things more suitable for rubbish bins, or at the very least, placement outside the back door. But in getting to intricately know the materials which spark flickers of light in our children’s eyes, which ignite their passion, we are getting to know them, and in the process, they are feeling loved and valued.
I have a treadmill on my outside patio, which I attempt to frequent a few times a week. During most of these times, Christian likes to put on his takkies too, and either jump on the trampoline or explore the vicinity. This morning as my takkies conversed with rubber, he decided he would take a detailed look at the sandy patch between the wall and the veranda. To him, our garden is like an excavation site, a patchwork of endless potential treasures.
We bought our house a year ago from a couple who had four young children who left behind plenty of interesting pieces of Lego, figurines and much more scattered between plants and hiding under leaves. An adventure! This morning was one such morning, where Christian wanted to explore. Whilst I treaded along to some upbeat vibes, he ran inside, grabbed a little spade and began the search. He found an extraordinary number of interesting and odd items in that small patch, ones which I would quickly have tossed away, but to him, each was as valuable as priceless gold. At each find, he excitedly looked up and shouted, “Look Mommy”, at which I turned (whilst delicately attempting not to rotate my body so much that I would plummet into the sliding door behind me), and exclaimed my “wows’ and “That’s amazing”s. After my treadmilling, I carefully inspected his findings with him and had the privilege of being a part of that radiant delight, sharing in his enthusiasm, and in the process, he felt worthwhile, acknowledged, and loved enough that an adult took time to share in his adventure, to delight in HIS world. To him these bits of useless rubbish created pure joy, sheer delight, unbelievable excitement. Things which as an adult I considered worthless, lit his soul… and in that, left mine lit too.
Over my years of therapy with children and teens, I have realised that the key to opening the heart and connecting with the angry child, the anxious child, the impossible child, the distant child, and absolutely any child for that matter, is stepping into their world and WANTING to be there, exploring it along with them. In this adventure together, the connection and healing takes place.
As parents it’s so easy to expect our children to connect with us in our world, but to truly connect, we need to break into their world, and learn about what sparks them, what excites them. Changes in children’s lives happen when they feel like an adult is taking time to get to understand their passions, no matter what our opinion of these may be. To connect, we need to get down from our adult vantage points and reach into THEIR worlds. THAT is how we build relationships. Whether it’s the latest fashion, the newest song, the kitsch fad toy, the rocks in the garden, the teddy bears picnic, the latest book craze or the treasure trove of junk hiding under the autumn leaves. Get into their world, be submerged in it, let them know in no uncertain terms that their world fascinates you. In doing this, our children will feel understood, they will feel heard. The spin off for us is not just a deeper connection- our children’s joy is infectious, and it is impossible at these moments for our souls not to ignite in delight along with theirs.
Our trash may well be their treasure. Their ‘junk’ is the key to unlocking their world, understanding their world, connecting with their souls. These disguised treasures will give you access to their kingdoms- reach in, take hold, be fascinated, be overwhelmed, unlock the door to your child’s soul. In doing this, we develop a closer understanding of the extraordinary beings our children are, and of the incredible people they are becoming. Enter… and be amazed.

With heartfelt love


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