This weekend I watched as two of my nephews got into a fight, like little boys sometimes do. I saw the conflict moment by moment. Someone accidentally hit someone else too hard while playing football. Someone got hurt. Someone pouted. Someone stopped playing football for a few minutes until he was ready to say sorry and start playing again. I watched them work through the problem without the help of any adults.
It’s pretty cool what kids can do when you leave them to their own devices. They work through problems, because ultimately they don’t want to hurt or be hurt for too long.
A few weeks ago I was in the same place, at the same time, as another adult with whom I once had a conflict. There’s no need for details, except that you need to know I take my blame for the part I played in the conflict… and you need to know that I tried for a very long time to fix what I apparently couldn’t.
We were in the same public place for the second or third time in recent months, and I watched as that person made a very obvious effort to avoid interacting with me.
For a moment I let myself hurt again. I played through every possible scenario in which I could maybe approach this person and try, again, to resolve the conflict. Then I realized I’m not a child.
Too often we minimize children by saying someone is “acting like a child”… but sometimes they get it right. When it comes to loving each other unconditionally, little kids nail it.
I was not interacting with a childlike person. If I had been, we’d be back on speaking terms and playing the same games again. We wouldn’t be hiding from each other.
Somewhere along the way, we forget what it’s like to behave like children, in the best ways.
I hate that for us.