From my experience, children are like wet cement. Maybe you thought by the title I was going to post something about home building, did you? Well in a way, humans are like a home built from the ground up.
The wet cement that goes into the foundation is a figurative way to look at childhood. So important and yet often not as much credibility is given to it as there ought to be. Because when you see a grown up you aren’t thinking about that five year old girl she was, and in fact still is deep down.
I got to thinking about this wet cement concept today when I ran across this “Children Learn What They Live” quote. This was magnetized to our refrigerator door as my two kids were growing up. It was the one constant up there amongst all the spelling tests and various arts and crafts projects. It is powerful parenting stuff alright. And makes you realize that each and every interaction leaves a mark. This quote was my guide to parenting since I didn’t have a good example modeled for me. My kids are in their 30s and I can re-read this and feel confident all these years later that it still holds true.
Here is the thing, children are like wet cement and the impressions that get left will harden and stay. If it is a beautiful impression that’s wonderful, but what if it’s not so beautiful, in fact what if it’s flawed or worse damaged? Unlike a home built on a damaged foundation that is often left with no other option then a total demolition and rebuild from scratch, I believe there can be a remedy. This is where therapy comes in. Therapy has the ability to act as an ice pick and chip away at that nasty impression left behind in the hardened cement. Then, along with LOVE the repair can be smoothed over with a bit of time.
I’ve always enjoyed walking, not only for the physical benefits, but it also gives me time to think and observe things around me. In busy and growing London, I seem to pass a lot of constructions sites. Lately I’ve notice signage that makes me wonder how we as humans have similar signs, but of course they are invisible to the naked eye. However, you can’t deny that they are manifested in our thoughts, words, and behaviors. Warnings such as CAUTION or UNDER CONSTRUCTION are common, but these I spotted while out walking are even more descriptive!
Therapy isn’t for everyone. Some are fortunate enough that through loving parenting and minimal traumas they are adults with very firm foundations. Others of us that unfortunately have had a rough go in our childhoods and indeed suffered numerous traumas need to have that hardened cement chisled out and replaced with something healthier in order to survive the storms of life. Otherwise we will walk around with these invisible warning signs.
People wonder why they have problems in work and relationships and yet with a still damaged cement foundation, they have to keep their signs and barbed wire fences in tact. A natural protection I suppose. Wouldn’t want anyone to see the extent of the damage. Even if they know their childhood played a role, by continuing to blame their parents it doesn’t actually move them forward, it just keeps them stuck.
When you hear that quote “kids don’t come with user manuals” that’s true. But then we rely on the old fall back, which is how we were parented. Are you a parent that didn’t have the best role model? I suggest you print this CHILDREN LEARN WHAT THEY LIVE and put it on your refrigerator. They could be the pertinent instructions you need as you are pouring the cement foundations (aka rearing your children). And if you are walking around wearing an invisible “keep out” sign because your cement foundation hardened in a damaged way, think about investing in therapy. I know it helped me to create a new foundation!