There is someone in my life that I have a very difficult time with. In fact, now that my father has passed, this is the one person who can push my buttons so fast I almost have to remove the top of my head to vent the steam.
This person is going to remain in my life…by my choice…and I know that I must have lessons to learn from this person, just as I had many lessons to learn from my dad, because otherwise I would not have these intense reactions.
Still, for the most part, despite my generally negative reactions to this person, I treat this person with politeness and kindness, as best I can. Being extremely human and fallible, I do not always succeed, but I do truly try.
Which brings me around to the children. Why is it that children, and for some people, adult partners as well, are not given the same politeness and respect that is give to strangers or even people we cannot stand? People save their best selves for others they only see randomly, or may never see again, while their loved ones, with whom they plan to spend a lifetime, get scorn, harshness, rudeness, and even verbal brutality. I grew up with it. It’s a way of life for many, many people.
I’ve been trying to be very aware of the tone and attitude I have been using with the children. They deserve no less than my very best, as does my spouse, and my friends, yes, even the person in my life I don’t care for very much. And I’m not talking about nicey, nicey. Blech. I was called “nice” so many times in high school it makes me want to vomit. It’s a stupid, half-demeaning word.
I’m talking about common human decency and respect. When I yell at my children or use a cutting tone, especially in front of other people, I’m not giving them the same respect I extend to every other person in my life. I would no more yell at Buds than the man in the moon. I wouldn’t consider yelling at my neighbors. I wouldn’t yell at the person that rings up my groceries at Trader Joe’s.
Think about the ubiquitous baby monitor. It was a huge part of our life for 6+ years. It was to help make sure we could hear our babies and toddlers if they needed us. But, what if we think of it from a different angle. What if it is a mouth monitor as well? Every word and tone I use is broadcast out to the world, allowing everyone to hear how I am speaking in my own home.
I was staying with friends when Monkey was very young, and I was talking to Buds on the phone. We’d been away from him for a week, though I was enjoying myself with these friends, it was a rather oppressive home for various reasons. I started to tell Buds my tale of woe, when I saw the baby monitor. It was turned on, and if I turned it off it would cause a loud, harsh sound on the other end, in the living room, where my friend and her husband were sitting with their children. I couldn’t know if they had turned the monitor off on their end. So, the rest of the conversation was in half-speak, and day-to-day stories. And it was fine. It was probably best that I didn’t speak negatively of my friend in her own home after she welcomed us as visitors. And, I certainly am grateful that I hadn’t said anything that would have been hurtful to her.
My children deserve no less.