Nick King's Blog

I've done some pretty cool things, but nothing's as cool as creating our family

We're discussing Halloween Me:"It's celebrating bad stuff" 7yo:"Well there are different degrees of evil, some of its not that bad" Umm..No!

Until we had children, I had never really celebrated Halloween.  31st October is my father's birthday, so that always seemed to take precedence.  

Additionally, back in the 1970s Halloween was never a very big thing here in the UK.  The more important date at that time of year was November 5th, Guy Fawkes Night. 

Halloween has of course taken on much greater significance more recently.  So, excitement builds through October as our son in particular becomes more excited about the prospect of being able to trick or treat his way around the neighbouring village.

Why not our own village?

Well, for the last couple of years our village has very sensibly shipped all of our children across to an organised trick or treat event centred around the pub in the neighbouring village.  

It's like trick or treat ethnic cleansing.  The neighbouring village becomes the refuge for any child in the locality longing to knock on doors and obtain obscene amounts of sweets and chocolate.

Our three year old daughter is too young to go across to the organised events attended by our son.  We therefore, last year, ended up having our own trick or treat event for her.  

Three year old rings doorbell, I open door. "Trick or Sweet!" she shouts, I give her a sweet for her bag and shut door.  Wait 10 seconds and she rings doorbell again.

This was vaguely entertaining for us both the first five times.  By the time it got to round fourteen I was begging for it to stop.

 

I digress as usual.

The conversation repeated in the tweet that's the title of this post happened a couple of weeks before Halloween.  I was trying to explain to our son how many people considered Halloween to be a rather unsavoury thing to celebrate.  

"It celebrates bad stuff"

His answer floored me slightly: "Well there are different degrees of evil, some if it's not that bad"

"Umm, No!" I replied.  "Evil is evil and therefore it's bad."

"But you tell lies sometimes, like when you tell Auntie Sue that you like the shampoo she buys you for Christmas!" I have to admit he has me there.

"Well, yes, that's not exactly evil!  I'm saving her feelings."

"You're bald, she should know."  As usual seven year old son hits nail on head.

 

Helping children discern what is good and bad and how there are occurrences when it's perhaps OK to be a little bad is really very hard.  

In fact, if I'm honest, our seven year old was right in saying that there are differing degrees of bad (if not necessarily differing degrees of evil).

We try and find our way by encouraging honesty, but explaining on the, luckily, rare occasion that one of us has to tell a white lie why we are doing so.

There's an interesting connection to adoption here.  As adoptive parents our default position in discussing our children's birth parents with them had been to try and sanitise what happened.  Your instinct is to not drag up any unhappy memories by being too blunt about the past.  

Consequently we would talk about how our son's birth parents loved him very much, but were simply unable to do the job of being a mummy and daddy and that's why his social worker and foster mother looked for a new Forever Family for him.

That was until a chance conversation with a child psychologist at an adoption event.  I told her what we said when talking about our son's birth parents.   "No, don't do THAT," she said emphatically.  "He needs to know what happened to him, not least so that he can understand why things were so bad that a new family had to be found for him.  Sanitising the past can store up problems for the future."

So now we are very honest with both our children.  We remain non specific, but we do make it clear that their birth parents could not keep the safe, behaved inappropriately around them, left them on their own for long periods of time, didn't give them enough to eat and didn't make sure they were warm and loved.

That honesty appears to have helped both of our children.  It's very clear to them that they have a new family because they needed one and because they deserved one.  I hope they continue to appreciate that honesty.

 

Sadly, that honesty doesn't always rub off when you're three.

"Hah, I got the last chocolate biscuit," says seven year old waving it in front of three year old having grabbed it from biscuit tin.

*bang* Three year old floors seven year old with a right hook.

"I got it now," says three year old.

Required to have some thinking time with me about her actions, three year old needs to learn a little about honesty: "You hit *7yo*, is that good or bad?"

"I didn't!" She replied

"You did, I saw you!" I'm a bit incredulous.

"No I didn't. I didn't hit him, just got this biscuit."

As the child psychologist also said, when you are three your perception of what's honest tends to be what you want it to be, rather than what it actually is.