I was driving my son Faris (9 yrs old) to school, just like I always do. We were talking along the way, just like we always do. He is really into Lord of the Rings these days and he is reading The Hobbit. We were planning an outing to go and see the movie, and our conversation side tracked to other related subjects. Faris has been wearing a ring on his third finger under the influence of the story – it is one of my rings. This morning in the car he held up his right hand and said, “mama, this is my fat hand”, then he lifted his left hand and said “and this is my thin hand”. “How’s that Faris?” I said.
“The ring fits on my finger on this hand, but this hand is too fat – it doesn’t fit”. I thought about it for a split second, because that’s just like me, and I was going to tell him that – then I thought, if I say to him “you are just like me Faris”, even though I would be saying it in the context of the rings, he may interpret it to go farther than that. He might think that he was like me in other ways – some good, and some not so good. And I thought I don’t want to influence him that way – I want him to make his own observations about things and people including myself and take what he wants.
I laughed and said, “yes, isn’t that interesting – and you know what, I’m sure there are lots of people who are just like that, and I’m one of them too!”
My mother used to say “if you don’t have anything good to say, be quiet”. I think I know more and more what that means. We don’t think about the little things that we can say that can influence the way other people, especially little people think.
It reminds me of a conversation I was having with my sister-in-law a couple of years ago. We were on a shopping expedition and we had our children with us (4 kids all under the age of 7). For some reason, she said “I could never be a doctor – I hate the sight of blood – it makes me feel sick”. Not so long ago, I would have agreed with her and then we would have had an extended conversation on the subject. This time, I knew too much. I knew that little ears were listening, and picking up. I knew that some of them may not give it another thought, but some might absorb that belief system and wouldn’t that be terrible? We would unconsciously be helping to close that door of opportunity for a child. So I mumbled something about the fact that she was funny and not everyone had to be that way and how wonderful doctors were, and in the same breath changed the subject. Whew…close call.
I explained to her later why I had behaved a little abruptly and hoped that she would understand. But do you see how conversations with people where we express our perspective can have an impact on theirs. Wouldn’t it be so much better to only share only empowering thoughts and perspectives?