Yesterday was a great day. Jason worked from home so he could do a bit more work on our deck in the late afternoon, and after weeks of mess and chaos in the backyard, it's almost finished and ready for some entertaining on our upcoming small-town rodeo weekend. I spent the day relaxing, puttering around the house, going for a long walk with William and playing at the park, then concocting a delicious chicken lasagna for dinner.
After dinner we visited with neighbours, then went to our grocery store for some Oreo ice cream treats that we enjoyed on our new deck. After our burst of sugar we jumped on the trampoline and had a few laughs together. Ava remarked out of the blue on the fact that I am "a little chunky", and we all chuckled because it came completely out of left field. When you laugh once at something a child says, all parents know what happens next: they repeat it. And so she began to experiment with variations on the theme that mommy needs to go on a diet and is chunky and chubby.
Lessons for our kids (and ourselves) come in all forms, and often when you least expect them. Telling Ava sternly to stop being rude didn't have the desired effect, so we halted the trampoline fun and came inside for bath and bed. I spent a long time alone with Ava, talking about how our words can be hurtful to others, and explaining the attitudes that power our words and our outlook on life.
These aren't easy discussions to hold because I have to think honestly about my own attitudes when I am encouraging her to be aware of her own. I told her it's not enough to think of yourself as better than someone else and choose not to say anything, because that attitude of superiority leaks out just as clearly as if you stated it in words.
I said, "You aren't better than anyone else because of your body shape, or your brain, or your sense of humour. Everyone is good at something, and as people, we are all equal to each other. You have the choice to be upset by other people's opinions of you, and don't ever give that power away to someone else. You and only you are in charge of your feelings and actions. If you think kindly about others, you will be kind, and not hurtful to other people."
I believed it as I was saying it, but needed to take a minute to think about how often I don't take my own advice. It can be easy to become superior to someone else, or allow myself to feel inferior because I'm not as thin, pretty, successful, etc. as someone else. The point is, we are all in control of how we feel, about ourselves and others, but we don't take the time to make our unconscious thoughts and attitudes conscious. If we aren't aware of what we truly think and say, we can be hurtful all over the place and we have no idea of the destruction we are leaving in our wake.
Today I'm going to be more aware of my judgemental attitude. I'm going to notice my thoughts as they flit into my mind, and keep track of how often I'm rude to others in my own mind and attitude, even if I don't ever say anything with words. I can't teach my children how to be genuinely kind in their attitudes and words unless I can show them the way with my own life. It's important not to lose sight of this truth. If we were all more aware of our private values and judgements, we would all be kinder, each and every day.