Monday, March 17, 2008
Everyday Kindness: Your Inner Child
For the second week in a row Sunday has blended into Monday. I had to be at the giant-ass retail store early yesterday, very early, for a fascinating training and pointing the finger meeting. Then I did my shift.
I was pooped and having a pity party the rest of Sunday.
I pulled myself out of the funk by reaching in for my inner child – not in a silly, let’s all join hands and feel the pain way but rather in a joyous remembrance of how simply clear and true children are about who they are and what they feel.
The Easter Bunny was at the store yesterday, in the Portrait Studio, so there were plenty of kids around. I love kids, even when they’re misbehaving, sometimes especially when they’re misbehaving. They’re honest and open. They say what they mean and mean what they say.
Three little girls came into the department with their Mom. They had just been to a Breakfast with the Easter Bunny and each of them had their face painted as a bunny. Or so I innocently assumed.
Me – “wow, I love your face painting; you all look great, pretty colors”
Oldest girl – “thanks”
Youngest girl shyly giggles and runs to Mom – “can I talk to the stranger lady?”
Mom gives permission to talk to the stranger (strange?) lady and youngest girl returns to tell me all about bunnies and Easter and what she had for breakfast.
Middle girl has been staring me down the entire time and finally says – “I am NOT a bunny, I AM a cat”.
Before I can respond the oldest girl pokes her sister and tells her she’s stupid.
Middle girl doesn’t miss a beat – “I’m not stupid, I’m not a bunny, I AM a cat and if people don’t know that then it’s their problem”.
Mom looks over at me and rolls her eyes and I smile and nod the Mom universal symbol of empathy.
I tell Middle girl that she is a lovely cat; I don’t know what I was thinking. I must have been confused. Since her sisters were both bunnies, I just assumed.
Middle girl looks elated – “that’s OK, nobody gets it and I don’t care. I know what I am and that’s all that matters”.
I am lovin’ Middle girl!
Mom finds the green sweater she needs for a St. Patrick’s Day party and off they go. As they reach the door Middle girl turns, blows me a kiss and meows. Even Oldest girl thought it was funny.
When my son was a child he was surrounded by teens. His uncles and aunt were frequent babysitters and we all practiced the family art of sarcasm to survive being raised by wolves. My son was privy, at an early age, to the fine art of responding to stupidity. I am pale and red-headed – Irish/Russian/French genes all colliding into ruddiness and freckles. His Dad is African with a small amount of Native American thrown in, enough to create cheekbones to die for. My son’s skin is a beautiful coffee color and as a child he wore an Afro (it was the 70s) and my hair color would sprout out around his forehead, surrounding the dark black hair and giving the effect of a halo.
He looked different in a neighborhood full of people who didn’t get different.
He quickly understood what people were saying when they asked – “what are you?” and he grew tired of it. My favorite response of his, with no help from me, was – “Human, what are you?”
As he grew to understand racism and ignorance he grew to understand the unspoken prejudice in questions like – “that lady who puts you on the school bus, the one with the red hair, that’s your Mother!?” and he learned, through sarcasm genes I suppose, to meet stupidity with splendid grace. “That white woman?” he’d ask innocently, “that’s not my Mother, my Mother is black, that’s the nanny – we only have white people working for us”
I think and I hope that the incredibly sweet and wonderfully clever boy is still there in the man he has become. My Norma Rae feels he’s far too tolerant of stupid people today, especially his in-laws, but perhaps that is my Lioness Mother wishing to claw to death all who threaten her cub’s well being. Perhaps he is remembering that he knows who and what he is and that’s all that matters.
I am so grateful that Middle girl crossed my path yesterday. She reminded me of my inner child, my son’s inner child and all the inner children out there.
Be Childlike Out There
Be Kind Out There