Sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of the effect you have on people when you are mired in your own thoughts. I was reminded of that today when I told my son to “move it along” when we were walking back to the car in ~-20 weather. He told me that he got in trouble for saying that in school the other day (my son is in kindergarten).
After he told me, I realized I was probably a little harsh when I said it. That whole situation got me thinking about a similar incident that happened to me when I was younger. I was a little older (probably around 9) and I was on a field trip. My class and I were heading back to school on the school bus. We were traveling through the countryside and we passed a farm that smelled really bad. I said a comment that my dad used to say to people all the time when there was a foul smell. Much to my surprise, I got a huge strip torn off me by my teacher for saying what I said. I know now that what I said was much worse than what it meant to a 9 year old at that time. I felt so ashamed at that moment but what was worse I was confused (because I didn’t really understand). I ended becoming a little ashamed of my dad for saying such things and resenting him for getting me into trouble.
In either case that incident was a long time ago but it came back to me as true as the day it happened. When I heard my son getting into trouble because he was only mimicking my behavior I wondered if he too was ashamed and confused with himself and me? The interesting point is my son told me what happened to him, I never told my dad. I apologized to my son and found myself driving home feeling pretty crappy overall.
Realizing that my life is not my own but rather shared (or followed – i.e.Footprints), how do you live knowing what you say, what you do and how you do it may be impacting others around you (especially if they are little sponges like kids)? All I can do is get in front of it, be honest and hope my kids tell me when I did something wrong :).