Thursday, April 19, 2007

Thicket Dweller got me thinking (again) in her recent posts, "How do I feel about what people, even strangers, think about me." My first response?

I don't care what others think of me. thank. you. very. much. I yam what I yam.

Those of you who know me, know that I don't struggle terribly with negative self worth, and I'm not hopelessly inclined toward arrogance either.

However, my first "I don't care" reaction didn't ring true inside the core of my being.

Yes. I. do. care. what. others. think.

And here's how I know- because the behavior of my children tells me so. Thicket taught me that when my children turn into whirling dervishes upon entering a store, it's because they sense my immediate dislike for what they "might" do. When children feel uncertain, they act uncertain. In turn, they look to parents for clues of how to be in times of question. When I give my son the "you are an embarrassment to me" vibe, inevitably, he becomes an embarrassment.

If I didn't care what other people thought of me and my brood of children, I wouldn't worry over their behavior. After all, and with the exception of the childish untrained parts, my kids are incredible human beings. I like who they are. Why do I change my mind so quickly about my own stepping into a china shop? They aren't bulls. Monkeys maybe, but not bulls.

The one factor which changes in the "china shop + me + children= certain disaster" equation is me with all my selfish thoughts and fears. It's simply callous that my own child can instantly become a bother to me if I want to look without his interruptions of "I have to go to the bathroom." and "Can't we go to the children's books first?"
I worry that something might get broken if I don't watch like a hawk. So, why can't my hoodlums look silently without touching and follow me wherever I want to go?

One answer is that God made children curious, so that they would be hungry to learn. How boring and sad the alternative would be to have zombies thoughtlessly trudgng behind in a store I find delightful. One goal I've always had for my offspring, aside from the goal of creating compassionate activists (as if I could do that?), was for each one to fall in love with learning.

In thirteen years of parenting my children in public, nothing has ever been broken except for perhaps a crevice in my child's heart when I am too harsh.

Hat tip to Thicket for teacing me a new lesson. Let's hope it sticks.

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