Thursday, January 26, 2012

Flushed Away!

Had an experience in a public place that struck me about something for the first time...

It's something that I think happens to all of us...unless it's just me? But, I think it's something in the "no-big-deal" category...something that...if I were to post the story on Facebook there'd be lots of comments beneath it like, "LOL" and "LMBO"...but it just struck me last night that it's actually not funny...

Imagine this...you're in a public restroom with one of those wonderful automatic-flushing toilets (that have scared many of my kids!). You sit down and set your cell phone on your skirt...do your business...and then forget that the phone is there and you stand up...dropping the phone <pluuunk!!!> into the toilet. Imagine your horror! You would turn, think, "eew" for a second, and reach for the phone...only then to have that toilet...that wonderful modern toilet...make that little "click" and "WHOOOOOSH!" and suck your phone away in an instant before you could even get the tips of your fingers into the water.

Would that be funny? Maybe later you'd tell the story in retrospect and laugh. But, at that moment, would you be laughing?

Some people might...but I think most people would be pretty mad. And, depending on the phone and how personal it was...sad, too.

Well, now let's say you're not you...you're 6...and the phone is your $3 laser pointer that you have been enjoying and dragging around with you for several days now. And, let's say this actually happened to you...how do you think you would feel?

Yesterday, I saw a 6 year old girl rush out of the bathroom crying hysterically...and her older sister, a young woman in her early 20's, was following behind her stifling giggles.

As I mentioned earlier...if I were to post this on Facebook that one of my kids had had this happen to them...the comments beneath would for sure have at least one "LOL" in it, true? And, I myself felt a bit like smiling...when I heard the young woman tell their mother what had just happened in the bathroom. But, it struck me suddenly how not actually funny that was...

The little girls' pain was real...and what she'd just experienced was obviously very upsetting to her. And, had she just flushed her pet hamster down the toilet, or if she were crying hysterically because she'd just seen her cat get run over by a car...we wouldn't laugh. I think it is that if we identify the event as something we'd think is worth being sad over we have empathy. But, if we think it's no big deal, then we don't really "care" about what the child is going thru.

The other thing that struck me is that I do this. I listen to my kids sometimes when they cry hysterically and I don't connect with them "there". I turn my head and giggle a little. I sort of look at them from afar and detached and rather than "feel" their pain and hug them and offer them the emotional support they need at that moment because I think the thing they're upset about is "unimportant"...I brush it off. I laugh. I tell them to "quit crying". I tell them not to worry about it. I tell them "it's OK". I think a lot of times when I'm at my "wits end" not knowing how to handle a situation with my kids is simply because I'm not seeing the situation from their perspective and so of course, I can't handle what's going on.

It makes me sad when I think about my own reactions just because I don't "get it" and how alone that can make my kids feel. And, it makes me sad for all the kids in the world because a LOT of kids out there in the world not only feel "alone" when they're this hurt or upset...they get punished/rejected/spanked when they're feeling these feelings...such a sad world...

It just struck me that this is one very empathy-less world we're living in....that kids don't get respect...and that I still have so much to learn and grow...I'm hoping I'll remember this moment every time they cry from now on...and treat them how they feel not how I would feel in their elementary school age situation as a 40 year old...



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