We went to the zoo yesterday with friends, and the kids had a great time, and so did the moms. I had a million things to do in order to get out of the house today for our trip to the cabin, but I had set up this plan a week earlier as a way to celebrate the end of school. In hindsight I was so glad I went. Memories were made, the packing still got done, and I had a relaxed and enjoyable time with my friends.
Children are simple in the way they interact with each other. I watched the kids include one another, regardless of gender or age, and meet new friends on the playground or at the zoo dinosaur dig. They are transparent, with their need for community and friends shining through. They could be easily hurt by how vulnerable they are, but it all seems to work for them. Maybe it's because they don't read so much into every comment, look or Facebook status. They simply take each other at face value, and don't automatically assume the worst of their friends.
Somewhere along the line to adulthood we lose this charmed innocence with people. I wonder if the teen years are what do us in, with wildly raging hormone shifts that cause us to be distrustful of people. I suppose we all get hurt, and begin to find ways to protect ourselves from others, and the shell we build creates cynicism and fear.
I miss the childhood version of myself. I think I was probably gentler, and more fun, and kinder as a child than I am as an adult. I don't want to have a thin skin with others. I want to assume that people are basically good, and that the onus is on the other person to tell me if I've hurt them, and remind myself that not everything is about me. Every comment isn't loaded with a double message that I have to decode. Some things are simple, if I will take people at their face values and not read into each situation.
We all have to walk lightly with each other, and be prepared to offer the benefit of the doubt when people fail us. For years I've worked on communicating clearly with my friends and family; telling them where they have hurt me, and listening to their side of the story and offering my own apologies for my actions. We all have the ability to hurt each other, intentionally or otherwise. I strongly believe that clear communication is the key to healthy relationships. I'm deciding today not to read so much into what people say and do, but do my very best to take people at face value. I think it's safer to assume the situation is not about me unless someone tells me it is.
This is going to be a real challenge for me. I'm about to go and live in close quarters with family for a week, and I think this new perspective comes at a fortuitous time. I am responsible for my own actions, words and behaviours. I will take responsibility for them, but I will not guess at how other people are feeling about me. It is their responsibility to tell me. I'm going to do my very best to leave the emotional subtext and passive comments in the shadows, and let the rest of the relationship live in the light.
I apologize in advance for the possibility that I won't be writing posts for the next few days. I feel a mix of happiness and guilt when readers tell me they aren't sure how they are going to make it without reading my posts each day. I'm so glad to know you are reading and enjoying them, but sad that I may not have internet where I am going until Tuesday, when we resurface at a friend's house in Kelowna. I'll do my best to write when I can. I'll definitely miss talking to you each day, but I'll have my pen and paper with me at all times, and hopefully there will be no shortage of ideas for me to communicate when I'm home.