Sunday, August 22, 2010
Be An E.G.
They were playing in the back yard – the two little girls who lived in the house directly behind mine.
‘Let’s play mothers and fathers,’ suggested one as I pegged my washing on the line. ‘I’ll be the mother and you can be the Dad. And he (the dog I presume) can be the kid, okay?’
This agreed upon, she immediately launched into her role.
‘I have to do every bleep thing around this place. I’ve hardly had a wink of sleep for days with this bleep squawking brat of a kid of yours and you can’t even get off your bleep and give me a hand to clean up this pig sty of a bleep house’
Don’t talk to me like that you bleep bleep’ rallied the other girl ‘You sit around on your bleep bleep and do nothing every day of the week while I have to go to work. The least you can bleep do is take care of the baby and clean the bleep house.’
‘What the bleep is going on out here you two?’ demanded the real Mum, as she burst out into the yard. ‘If I catch you using that language again I’ll wash both your mouths out with bleep soap. Where do you pick up this stuff anyway? ‘
Those little girls had grown up believing that this was how married people interacted – because this was the example set for them by their parents. How many times had we quietly gone back into the house rather than listen to another of the screaming matches from over the back fence?
Why didn’t the mother recognise her own voice, and the voice of her husband, in the role playing of her daughters? It was obviously easier to imagine their little minds had been corrupted by the behaviour of other children at their school.
The children were learning, by the example of their parents, that the way to make their thoughts and opinions known was to launch a verbal attack. There was no need for tact and diplomacy, no need for respect or concern for the feelings of the other person. Just open up your mouth and let all the frustrations erupt like a flow of red hot lava.
Of course I understand that the behaviour of my neighbours was probably the result of the example shown to them by their own parents. That’s how it goes, doesn’t it? We all pass on what we’ve learned – both the good and the bad.
I suppose there are some of us who truly never realize our faults. But, for most of us, we know! We get that momentary glimpse of ourselves as others might see us; we hear the whining, the impatience, the rudeness in our voice, and we feel a stab of guilt. But then we justify, don’t we?
Well what about the things he/she said to me?
We are all quick to pounce of the well known celebrities who have managed to have their indiscretions plastered all over the newspaper headlines yet again. Don’t they understand that they are the role models for our young people? Surely they have an obligation to moderate their behaviour accordingly?
Well I might not have millions of adoring fans hanging on my every word. The masses might not care what I’ll be wearing the next time I appear in public. And no one is offering me big money to write my autobiography. But there are still people who fall inside my sphere of influence; people who can be touched and affected by the things I say and the things I do.
I need to be an E.G. -an example. I can’t change the world on any great scale. But I can stop and listen to myself sometimes when I’m speaking, especially if I’m angry or upset. I can read the emails I’m about to post off to friends – and the posts I’m about to put up on Facebook, or the messages I’ll text on my phone. I can ask myself how I’d feel if someone else had said or written those things. Would I find them rude or churlish – derogatory or insulting? And if I would, then perhaps it’s better to wait until I have something positive and constructive to say, or to write.