It started as a one-off. Now it’s become a habit.
I just don’t seem to be able to stop myself.
I put him in the trolley and we start shopping. We go past the fruit and veg with no problems. The cakes, the crisps, even the sweets- they’re all fine.
And I then I pick up the baguette.
It goes in the trolley and a chubby little hand reaches for it, and then the pterodactyl squawk starts. I give in, tear off some of the unpaid-for baguette, and hand it to him. And as I reach the cashier I mutter something about how there must be a baguette-eating- mouse in the trolley, followed by a little nervous giggle.
Most people would have no problem with this scenario.
But I do….Well I used to.
I used to internally “tut” when I saw other mothers opening up unpaid groceries and doling them out to their children. I didn’t realise I’d been judging them until I found myself doing it, and felt the pang of hypocrisy.
I was sharing this situation the other day and one of my friends remarked how she used to see one child pushing another child and assume that they were an ill-disciplined “thug” until that child pushing another child became her child.
It is easy to judge. It is easy to observe behaviour in another and come to an unfair conclusion. It is easy to make assumptions. And it is easier to find good reasons and excuses for our own behaviour than it is for others.
I remember being struck when reading the first chapter of Steven Covey’s book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” He talks about the day he has a paradigm shift. He describes how he is sat on the subway on a quiet Sunday morning when a man and his unruly children enter the subway car. They cause complete chaos and the father does nothing to stop them. Covey says
“It was difficult not to feel irritated. I could not believe that he could be so insensitive as to let his children run wild like that and do nothing about it, taking no responsibility at all. It was easy to see that everyone else on the subway felt irritated, too. So finally, with what I felt was unusual patience and restraint, I turned to him and said “Sir, your children are really disturbing a lot of people. I wonder if you can’t control them more?” The man lifted his gaze as if to come to a consciousness of the situation for the first time and said softly, “Oh, you’re right. I guess I should do something about it. We just came from the hospital where their mother died about an hour ago. I don’t know what to think, and I guess they don’t know how to handle it either.”
Covey goes on to say how his paradigm shifted on hearing this information. He saw things differently, and because he saw differently, he thought, felt, and behaved differently.
With a new paradigm or a different perspective, the people and situations around us can look very different.
posted by Anna