08 Mar Slice of Life: Non-Best-Self-Moments #SOL19 #TWTBlog
He ran up the street. Kicking rocks and jumping over cracks in the sidewalk, completely immersed in some imaginary game being played out in his mind.
He looks up. His eyes engage. He tilts his head to the side.
I see him. I notice the contact. I know what he is thinking before he knows what he is thinking. I sprint down the street toward him. My mind is racing, “She spent hours setting those up.” I know I have to get to him before he gets to them.
He picks up his pace. He is now full speed ahead. His arm stretches out.
“NOOOOOOOOOooooooooooo!” I scream, hoping to break his trajectory.
No such luck. There is a force stronger than both of us that is pulling him towards them. All I can do is stop and watch him enjoy this moment because I know the moments after will not be good.
A smile spreads across his face as his arm hits the first string and moves through them like a row of dominoes sending each carefully placed, color coordinated, balloon soaring into the air. He watches in awe as each balloon ascends higher and higher until he hears his sister’s voice bellow his name.
I am back to running. I intercept, grab his hand and drag him to my house. I signal to her – give me a minute.
He immediately breaks down into tears and buries his head into his arms.
“I am an idiot. Why did I do that? She is so mad at me. I am an idiot.”
I know he is not an idiot. He is a typical seven-year-old who could not resist what he saw in front of him. He is impulsive. He is active. He has a sense of adventure. He is not an idiot.
“Look, I agree she is not going to be happy. I agree it was not your best choice. You are not an idiot. You are not mean. You did not intend to hurt her. You had a not-best-self-moment. We all have them.”
“I know. All you can do is think about what you are going to do now. You can’t take back your “not-best-self-moment,” but you can decide your next move. That’s all you can do in life. Take responsibility for what you do and what you will do next.”
He quickly comes up with some ideas and wants to go find her. I commend his speed and explain that time is also on one’s side in these situations. She may not be ready.
I think of this story when I overhear parents saying a child is mean or a bully. I understand it is difficult when our own child gets hurt, emotionally or physically, but I worry these words, strong words, are being used too often and too casually with young kids. We have to ask ourselves how these words are impacting these kids. Can one outlive these words, or do they become a self-fulfilling prophecy? Are we explaining the difference between intent and impact? Are we explaining the difference between a bad choice and a bad person? Do they understand you can have a “not-best-self-moment” and not have that moment be your trait?
These questions are heavy on my mind. These young friends are impressionable and are looking to us to help them find or create their identity. Our words matter. Our words stick. Our words just might make a child believe an action or two represents their character.
I believe we all have our “not-best-self-moments” and it is our job to make sure we share this with our kids and our students. We are human. We are flawed. We have the capacity to learn and grow. We have the power of choice. It is most often not the misstep that matters most, it is the next step we make that truly counts.
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