What Happens When We Ask Kids About Being Kids?
On September 23, as part of our theme on humility and listening, I had a conversation with the kids in children’s worship about what it’s like to be a kid today. I set it up by doing an investigation of an art piece, Shotgun, Third Ward #1 by John T Biggers. I also told the kids that I’d be sharing with the congregation the things that they said but I wouldn’t give names or identifying info and I’d check back to be sure it was ok to share. Here are some snippets from the conversation.
"Shotgun" by John Biggers
What do you notice about this picture?
- There are adults and kids.
- The colors are different.
- The adults look sad but the kids look like they’re playing.
- It looks like something bad happened. (Pointing to the church.) This comment sparked conversation about what might have happened, which we explored for a few minutes.
What’s it like to be a kid when something bad happens?
- Well, sometimes it’s nice. We don’t have to worry about it as much.
- Sometimes we can be the ones playing while adults have to worry.
- Sometimes it’s nice because we can cheer up the adults a little bit. But sometimes it feels hard to be the ones who have to be cheerful and keep things fun.
- Adults don’t always tell us stuff. We can tell something bad is happening from how they are acting but they’re trying to keep it from us.
- Sometimes that makes sense. Like, there are adult things that aren’t kid things. Adults should know more. But sometimes they keep more from us than they have to. Maybe we could know a little bit.
When we go back to the sanctuary, I’ll be talking to everyone about what it’s like to be a kid today. What is it like for you?
- It’s fun!
- There are sad things, too, though. Like my parents got divorced and that was really hard and I didn’t get to choose that, I just had to deal with it.
- There’s a lot of pressure sometimes. We don’t get a choice about what we do or when. Like at school, it would be nice if we had the chance to say when we’ve just had too much and need a break.
- Sometimes we’re dealing with something at home, or with our friends, and nobody knows about it. So we’re sad but we still have to act like we aren’t and do all of the things that are expected like homework and being good in class.
Choices became a big theme of the conversation—we talked about it for several minutes, with kids naming everything from screen time, to homework, to going to school when they don’t feel well, to behaving in class even when they want to cry or be angry.
How can adults help you?
- Well, they could try to give us more choices and more information.
- They could also try to notice more. If we’re sad or feeling overwhelmed, maybe they could try to help us get a break. Because they can talk to other adults for us and the adults listen.
- They could listen better. You know you can tell when adults aren’t listening, like they’re just nodding and going uh-uh, uh-uh. (Several kids did a perfect imitation! In fact, as time was getting short, I was probably doing it right that second. That was tough to hear.)
- Or interrupting! Sometimes they don’t even pretend to listen, they just interrupt.
- Yeah, sometimes if I’m talking and we need to get in the car to go to school or something, that makes sense. I understand if my mom interrupts me because we have to leave. But we’re not always in a rush. So sometimes adults could listen better.