March 4, 2024

In back of The Hematocritic, The pseudonym he uses on Twitter and whose account has more than 150,000 followers, is Miguel López (A Coruña, 1982), an Early Childhood and Primary Education teacher and author of numerous projects and children’s books such as Rapunzel with lice, Mrs. Trouble or the saga of Max Bubble. A defender of children and their rights, he admits that he still does not know if he has already become a “real adult”, one of those he imagined he would be. Perhaps that is why he maintains his enthusiasm and an empathetic, sensitive and respectful look towards a childhood hyperagendized who is a victim of the unstoppable hamster wheel that adults have also climbed on. Just published Listen to them! For parenting with empathya book that is a call to listen, look and accompany the boys and girls as the people they already are and not as the people they will be.

ASK. He talks about childhood as a stage that is lived and not just as a transition period until becoming an adult. In other words, focus on the person the child is at that time and not on the person who will be in the future because thinking about “tomorrow” we are forgetting about today. What attitudes do we have that would explain this?

ANSWER. I think what happens is that we are always living, in general, thinking of better days. For example, it happens a lot when we spend a week very busy with work commitments and we think that the following week is going to be better, but then in reality it is the same or worse. The moment of peace never ends. Reflecting on this, the conclusion I come to is that we pass it on to children. We are so involved in the hamster wheel that we believe that this is how they should live: running, with deadlines, with a full schedule…

Q. Is a child less of a person than a teenager or an adult?

R. We are all always complete people, no matter how old we are. The children too. We cannot spend the whole life of a child thinking that this is a period of preparation for what is coming his way. It is that there are people who even speak to them in a different way, with incomprehensible voices. What I defend is that it is not a boy or a girl, it is Marta, Juan, María and Ana. And we must put ourselves at their level, look them in the eye, listen to them, speak to them and treat them normally.

Q. This is seen a lot in children’s and youth literature. Many books are published that are either considered unintelligent or books for parents rather than children.

R. Indeed, in the children’s literature, the author’s gaze is very noticeable, and his intentions are immediately clear. If he is an author or author who wants to give children something fun or interesting or if he is positioned in an adult place from which he wants to give them a lesson to learn.

Q. You start off strong, talking about the number of special activities for children that we think we have to do on the weekends. What drags us to the incessant search for things to do?

R. Maybe it’s that we have the idea that we can’t waste a single moment of our incredible children’s lives because if we stop we can diminish an incredible potential (laughs). In reality, perhaps that boy or girl would make the most of their time doing nothing, because only in the act of learning to manage it, when they have time to do nothing, they are developing their personality, their hobbies, their tastes…

Q. What do you think of the so-called quality time?

R. Oops, that is a delusion that we tell ourselves, that it exists to stop feeling bad. First we would have to think about what quality time is. In my childhood, for me, quality time was lying on the sofa reading a comic. I see this in my daughters today: I see them reading a story by Anna Kadabra and I see that they are enjoying it and are building memories. That this is quality time for them.

Cover of the book 'Listen to them!', by Miguel López, 'El hematocrítico'.
Cover of the book ‘Listen to them!’, by Miguel López, ‘El hematocrítico’.

Q. It also talks about the self-demand that we have regarding our role as fathers and mothers. He says: “It seems that at any moment someone is going to audit us.”

R. It is that, sometimes, it seems so. we look at influencers of education or maternity, with their wonderful lives, their collection of wonderful children, their wonderful clothes, and we think that how bad we must be doing to go running all day and end the day putting your children on Netflix to be able to place the purchase and make a salad for dinner. We cannot aspire to that type of life that has a lot to do with it.

Q. There are things, like professionalized birthdays, that we organize because we think they have to be done because all families do it. Is there fear that our sons and daughters do not have what others have?

R. I think so, that we feel that way and that we are dragged by those institutions that have been created around birthdays, which are ball parks and all their derivatives. Birthdays today are almost like a first communion. They are events in which you leave a lot of money, with a lot of children, increasingly professionalized, you receive a lot of gifts… There was an attempt to flee from this and outdoor birthdays became fashionable. Well, nothing, this was also professionalized and the opportunity was seen to also monetize it with extras: decoration, activities, inflatable mats… The children’s birthday party colonizes everything.

Q. How to relax in the face of so much pressure?

R. The path that I propose in the book is common sense through listening to children, but also to ourselves, to the children we were before. To think about how all this would sit with that boy or girl that you were. How would you take running to get to the extracurricular school or that activity that takes place on Saturday morning? That macro birthday. How would you handle having that load of homework that children have today, which is impressive.

Q. The school must also change its look at childhood.

R. We are all in the wheel. It is very difficult to change the school because it is part of the culture war and any change that is proposed is frowned upon by some or others. And then also that we need enormous changes and we don’t have time to address them. You can’t stop school for two years to reform it.

Q. In the book, he criticizes the hours that teachers spend with bureaucracy.

R. In the 20 years that I have been teaching, I can affirm that the quality of life of teachers has greatly diminished. Not only do we not have time to stop, but the time we dedicate to thinking about the students has also been greatly affected. I remember that before in the teachers’ room we talked about personal things, about what the students needed, about support, and now it’s all paperwork and registration.

Q. And how have families changed? Do they also demand more from teachers?

R. The luck of being a teacher and a writer of children’s books is that I always have access to the latest models of children and families (laughs). There is everything, but the tendency that I observe is towards polarization, towards the constant division into two extremes, and this seems worrying to me. And boring.

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