It’s been awhile since I last posted, though it hasn’t been for lack of trying. I’ve started a number of posts, but just can’t seem to finish them – sometimes ideas come and flow out in an instance, and other times it seems to take a very long time for all my thoughts to come together into something cohesive. But today seems to be one of those lightening-strike days, full of a little thunder.
A few days ago I was at the library with my kids, and they had these cute little shopping carts for the kids to collect their books in as they walked around – just like a regular shopping cart only child-size. Unfortunately there was only one available shopping cart, which with two kids, one who is one-and-a-half-year-old who is still learning the concept of sharing and taking turns, proved rather difficult. That’s when I noticed an empty shopping cart, several feet away from a little boy who was playing with a kitchen set in the toy area. I sent Will over to get the cart, relieved both kids could now push carts and collect books in peace; however, when Will tried to take the cart, the little boy, who was probably not much older than three, quickly called out that the cart was his. He had claimed it. A few minutes later I continued to encourage both my kids to pick out books and share their cart, but when I looked over and saw that the little boy was still playing with the kitchen set, the cart still several feet away empty and unused, I lost patience. I walked over and took the cart, and when the boy once again turned around to call out, “That’s mine,” I explained to him that he wasn’t using it, so it was someone else’s turn.
First, the boy’s face darkened, and I knew we were in for a tantrum. Second, his mom rounded the corner from an aisle of books, and at the sight of her son, she turned on me with mama-bear ire written all over her face. Feeling cornered I tried to explain the situation. I don’t know if she didn’t understand what I was saying, or didn’t care, but she quickly gathered her son and walked off, making sure we were within earshot when she told her son, “They are not very nice,” and a few other muttered words that made it clear she believed that since we already had a cart, we shouldn’t have taken another.
I was seriously upset. It got even worse when we went to check out, and as she and her son walked past us her son loudly called out in a sour voice, “They are not nice people.”
Seriously? Yet I could understand his reaction – it’s hard to be a nice kid when you have a parent who teaches you to call names and throw a fit when you don’t get your way.
Going to the library with two small kids is kind of chaotic, especially when they only offer self-checkout and when they have iPad and computer centers all over the kids’ area that continually suck my kids in like magnets. However, after the “incident,” I was so flustered I could hardly keep my kids in order, not to mention I completely knocked over one of the iPad centers while trying to keep my daughter from knocking over the iPad center, and I walked off and left my wallet at the checkout area.
Why did I let that lady make me so flustered? What did it matter if she called me and my kids “not nice.” Why did I let her words bother me? I didn’t even know her, and even if I did, what did it matter what she thought?
An hour later, as I sat in Chick-fil-A, finally getting a chance to relax as my kids ran around the play area, it came to me.
I didn’t have enough confidence in myself and my choice.
Initially I knew I was within my rights to take the cart, but on the other hand, when I was faced with a tantrumous kid and an angry mother, I faltered. I felt that by provoking them, maybe I somehow really was the bad guy. I felt bewildered and even a little guilty. It wasn’t until I had a chance to sit and think back through the event that I really felt confident I hadn’t done anything wrong.
This isn’t the first time I’ve felt myself cave or waver when faced with anger. I don’t like confrontation. I don’t like making people angry. So when I feel like I’ve angered someone, my first reaction is to retreat to the nearest solution that I think will diffuse the situation. While this makes me a good peacemaker, there have been times I haven’t been fair or honest with myself.
I believe in meekness. I believe in being a peacemaker. But I also believe that we can’t make everyone happy in this life, and sometimes we have to stand up and be honest with people around us, even if it might upset someone.
Fear and peer-pressure should never direct our lives. The directions of our lives should always be grounded in honesty and integrity. When we make honest choices with confidence, yet balance that honesty with kindness, love, and softness, these are the hallmarks of a person who has succeeded at the game of life, someone who will be revered as a leader among men and women.
I have a ways to go when it comes to the confidence part. But I like to think I have at least a few more decades to master that skill. Not to mention my kids aren’t even in school yet. Something tells me I’ll probably encounter many more “library” moms when my kids enter the public school system. Guess I better buckle up. Or rather, maybe they should buckle up. Old Lalove is telling it like it is – in a polite, respectful, honest way, of course.by