Our ancestors were hunters and gatherers. They wandered around the wilderness eating whatever they could kill, catch, pick, or dig up. They just had to avoid being eaten or poisoned themselves.
“Survival” was carved at the top of their vision boards.
I try to keep this in mind as I “hunt” through the fridge and “gather” a beer because WHAT. A. DAY.
My sciatica is flaring up from sitting on my ass in my air conditioned office grinding out my “survival” for four hours. The arthritis in my knee is killing me from playing a few too many tennis matches. And the grocery delivery service is two hours late.
But I suffer through it out of respect for those who came before.
Our ancestors worked together in small groups with a singular purpose: survival. If someone got too woke or political and was unfriended by the tribe, they were on their own.
Belonging to a tribe was a matter of life and death.
This “need to belong” is no longer necessary for survival, but it’s still in our DNA. I know this because I’ve read a lot of books by people with a bunch of titles and credentials in their names.
I have no credentials, so I’ll trust them.
I like being around anyone who listens to ‘90s grunge music, reads way too many books, plays tennis, or enjoys double IPAs because actually parenting energetic kids calls for it. Fortunately there’s a lot of overlap so I don’t have to keep up with too many people.
Having just the slightest thing in common with another group of humans makes us part of an “in group.” It lowers our guard, makes us comfortable, and helps us connect. And if we learned anything from Pandemic 2020 it’s that we NEED social connection and interaction.
This is especially true for kids.
I’m (extremely) far from being a child psychologist, but it seems that kids start trying to find “their people” at a young age. They just don’t call them tribes. And it’s more a process of trial-and-error. Because they’re not as smart as us.
Do you want to play with my Paw Patrol toys?
Do you want to play Super Mario?
Do you want to climb this tree with me?
Come look at this dead frog!
My 4-year old is learning that for now his tribe is mostly “other boys my age.” For those not in that demographic, he finds common ground with playgrounds, swimming pools, and ice cream.
So he’s doing all right.
The trial-and-error part is painful. It’s hard to watch him fluctuate between happy and sad, excited and dejected. It’s a roller coaster of emotions–for all of us–as he tries to find his way in this still-new-to-him world.
All I know to do is love, support, and encourage him as he figures it out.
And educate him on the ways of the world, of course.
I tried to explain the ins and outs of “finding our people” while laying in bed with him one night. I told him about our innate need to be part of a group with common interests and how some kids like different things. I reminded him of the gorillas we saw at the zoo and how they behave the same way as us.
Just then his eyes lit up and he said, “Daddy, Marshall drives a really big fire truck.”
Yes. Yes he does.