Some people wouldn’t tell this story, but I am going to tell it , because I believe it’s instructive in the sense that it shows I’m human and capable of making mistakes, as we all are! Hopefully I’m learning from my mistakes as well!
I was driving S. home from pre-school earlier this week, and we were chatting as usual, while she sipped from her juice box and munched a snack.
S. started to play with the straw from her juice box, pulling it out and splashing little drops of juice around in the process. I unthinkingly said, “I hate it when you play with the straw from your juice box.”
S. replied, “Is it because it makes a mess, and then sometimes the straw gets lost, and then I get sad because I can’t drink my juice?”
S.- “OK, I’ll put the straw back.”
Me- “Thank you.”
A few moments of silence- then- “Lisa, are you a part of our family?”
Me-(Wondering where this question is coming from)- “Well, yes, I guess I am in a way.” (I’ve been S.’s full time caregiver for three years now, and I relocated to Santa Cruz with her family late last year.)
S.- ” Because in our family, we don’t use the word hate. Hate it is a very strong word.”
There I was- CAUGHT! Of course she was right.
Nothing left for me to do except apologize for speaking carelessly.
So I apologized and validated what S. had just said- “You know S., you are absolutely right. I spoke without thinking. There are lots of other ways for me to say that I don’t want you to play with your straw, without saying hate.”
S. -“Yeah, like you could just ask me not to do it, or you could say you don’t like it, or you would prefer I didn’t…”
I had to smile as I heard my oft repeated words coming back to me, reminding me to remain conscious that I am responsible not just for imparting lessons, but also responsible for leading by example!
We should all be so lucky as to have a four year old following us around reminding us to be our best selves !