I don't know why I need constant reminders not to be a jerk. You'd think that one of these days, maybe, I would learn that lesson and it would stick. I suspect the truth is that I am one of natures jackasses. But I haven't given up! I strive to be nicer and it's helpful that I'm married to a man who's superpower is empathy. Some of my friends have that superpower too and usually keep me in line by gently pointing out that I'm being a jerk. Again.
Anyhow, the other day I was talking with a friend about how our toddlers say these crazy and confrontational things. For example her daughter, when walking past a smoker, dramatically coughs and gags and says "smoking is so bad for you" or the like. My friend, being a non-confrontational person, tries to gently and quietly say "yes, you're right but we don't need to make a scene". She said her husband on the other hand says (at normal volume) things like "you are absolutely right! Smoking is completely disgusting!"
Small has taken to saying things like "we never ever eat candy because it is soooo bad for you" and I have traditionally responded rather like my friend's husband and said "you are absolutely right! candy is a totally unnecessary food and it will make you less healthy so we don't eat it" regardless of who hears me.
And here is my latest reminder of why I am (constantly) in the wrong. This piece in Huffington Post is about explaining to privileged kids what it means to be working poor. It's only tangentially related to the conversation my friend and I were having but it talks about food deserts and that reminded me that I have no idea why people make the food choices they do. I can say "well there's never a reason for candy" but if I try (if I use the empathy I often neglect to employ!) I can come up with all kinds of reasons why giving that kid a piece of candy is the compassionate thing. Maybe he has a rough time and not much food and yes, candy doesn't help with that, but maybe it provides a little brightness. Maybe he has major food allergies and the usual, more acceptable, maybe more nutritious treats are off limits and that candy makes him feel normal and included. Or maybe the parent is creating an off-the-wall sugar monster who is going to grow up with a craving for sweets and no taste for nutritious foods who will be diabetic by 35 but the point is I have no idea what is going on!
Non-judgement is always the appropriate response but I can't seem to remember that from one week to the next. I'm not going to lie to Small. We will explain the reasoning for our food choices because we want him to understand. I might even think that others, in general, would be better off if they ate food like us. But I shouldn't judge others for the choices they make because that way lies all the bad things. Life (and parenthood) is hard enough without me making others feel bad about the things they do.
And speaking of regular reminders, Zen Shorts by Jon J Muth is one of my favorite books ever and I feel like I should probably read it daily to become a better person. It's the story of three siblings and their new friend Stillwater (a panda). Each child's interaction with Stillwater provokes him to tell a story and each story is a beautiful nugget of wisdom about how to live a contented life. So lovely.