We all think about ourselves first and foremost. What benefits us. What irritates us. What we love and what we dislike. And in doing so are really selfish. When we only consider how things affect us and us alone, is how we come to live in a society of ‘It’s not my fault.’ ‘I didn’t do it.” ‘Well he did it to me so I had to do it back.’ And it is hard to think beyond ourselves, our families, our little world to the world at large.
Once upon a time I only did what I had to do. I never looked beyond that. Garbage not quite full, well leave it for the next person. Sink full of dishes as I did not have time to wash them. A load of product to be tended to, they don’t do anything anyways. Selfish. What was easiest for me. And I have to be honest I am not sure what changed me or when, I only know that I made a switch in the way that I was thinking.
I went from it being all about me to being about the life around me. I began to think how the things I did affected people long after I have gone. How when I left unfinished work, garbage, dishes to be done, I was putting others behind in their tasks. When I didn’t clean up after myself, the person coming behind me would have to clean up my mess. And how was that even right? Why on earth should I be leaving tasks undone? I had more than enough time. I needed to structure better.
Now I am working to ensure that T is learning this. How his actions affect not only himself and me but his friends, his dad, even our neighbors. He still does not quite get it, after all he is 9, but he will.
I have so many things that I want to teach T about being a good person. How we should not lie. How we need to be polite and say please and thank you. To be pleasant and kind. To help others. To be respectful. To stand up for others. To not bully.
T schooled me this week. We had a small incident with the neighbor boy. He made a comment about me that was not appreciated. T decided that he no longer wanted to play with this boy. And I was giving him excuses to use. Little white fibs to make this boy feel better that T did not want to play with him. Because we don’t want to hurt people’s feelings even if they have hurt ours.
Finally T looked at me and said ‘mom I will just tell him that I do not want to play with him. I don’t need to lie.’ Okay, have to admit that I was a little embarassed when I realized what I was doing. I was perpetuating this idea of not wanting to hurt someone so tell a little white fib. This is the only time that it is alright to lie. Yet, on the other hand, I was preaching to T that he should not lie. He needed to be truthful. I was not acting the way I was speaking.
The doorbell rang and T went up the stairs. I heard the low hum of voices but could not make out what was said. T came back down into the apartment and I looked at him. Asked what that was all about. Sure enough the boy had come to ask T if he wanted to play with him. T told him no he did not want to play with him. The boy asked why.
This is where my child schooled me. This is his response to the boy:
“You were disrespectful towards my mom. And that is not right.”
I stared at my little boy and my heart nigh on burst with pride. I had tears in my eyes. I repeated over and over to him that I was so proud and his little cheeks flamed red. He came over and gave me a huge hug. I text the Ex to tell him what T had done. He responded with ‘Tell him I am proud to be his dad.’
My 9 year old son has more courage than I do. He saw a situation that he felt was wrong and he dealt with it. Not by fibbing to spare the other person’s feelings, but spearing directly to the reason why.
Not teling someone that you think the dress they are wearing or the hair color they have is not your cup of tea, you will hedge how you say it. For the most part I can find a compliment as the person feels good about themselves and it is not up to us to tell them that they are wrong. The other times I can’t I fall back on the tried and true momism: ‘If you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all.’
The pride I feel for T and how he handled the situation is indescribable. The maturity he showed and the fact that he stuck to his guns about not fibbing. And is that not what I want? Do I not want T to have these attributes? I do. Having boundaries that he is not willing to compromise. (See yesterday’s reblog about when to compromise and when not to by Grateful Single Moms.) Truth and respect. Bravery and strength of conviction. It is not my actions that T needs to mimic, it is I who needs to implement his.