How did they perform today?
How was their performance?
They are performing better than expected.
They aren’t performing like their peers according to this graph.
Performing and performance, children are constantly being assessed, evaluated and tested.
Are they reaching milestones ?
Are they behaving like peers? Did their sibling read at this age? Are they doing well in maths? Do they behave themselves? Are they going to the toilet? They still need your help to get dressed? Do they say please and thank you?
Children appear to me to be on a conveyer belt of shaping, pushing and pulling into the shape of what adults think children should be.
A compliant, obedient, polite child.
Everything must be taught by lessons, consequences, rules, don’s, do’s, wrongs, rights, warnings.
Some children have carefully crafted activities, hobbies and tightly controlled access to their interests that aren’t deemed important by adults.
There is no trust in the child to grow by doing what interests them.
The values of compassion and kindness are best learnt by the the modelling of people around them. Children learn from us. How we treat them when they make mistakes, need help when we are stressed and things are getting on top of us, how we care for others, speak of others and treat others.
Importantly when children are having a hard time with difficult and big emotions, if they are supported and helped with this rather than punished for “really putting on a performance”, they will learn that it’s ok to have big emotions and someone they love will be there. They won’t feel shame for “putting on a performance” and having an adult punish them when they were really emotionally not equipped to handle the big turbulent feelings.
And none of this seems to allow children to just be, it’s all this performing and “working” towards a “well rounded child”.
What even is that?
I don’t want my children to perform for people, I want them to be children that are not measured on the performance of other children.
I want them to feel their essence and know that their true self does not need comparison to another child. They are innately beautiful in their self.
I don’t want to be measured on my performance in my life, my daily going about things, how I hang washing out, cook a meal, how I filled out a form.
I don’t want other people to compare me to others and make conclusions about my growth, knowledge or physical abilities.
I see children and parents pushed to constantly be scrutinising children, and if your child is Autistic the microscope comes out.
It is pervasive and intrusive.
It is hovering and having meetings, ticking boxes on their performance.
It is suggestions of hours and hours of therapy to have them perform as ‘passing’ as not autistic.
None of this is healthy.
I’m not asking my family, myself, my children to climb onto the stage. And I want to continue to remember this, because performing is not living.
Thanks to Cas Faulds for the inspiration for this post.