“Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.” – Kalil Gibran
My husband often quotes from the famous poem, “On Children” by Kalil Gibran while he is interacting with children in various settings. I have heard him quote Gibran in a café, a restaurant, grocery store and so on. It is a quote that I have heard so often recited to the parents of the children he is doting on that it has almost been dismissed from my mind. Though each time he recites this quote unconsciously it must have been seeping further and further into my core because today at the store I embodied that quote. Or so I think, I will let you determine for yourself.
I was at the Dollar Store today picking up a few necessities for my studio space and for my puppy Noir who is turning one year tomorrow. I am throwing her a birthday party. I know, maybe a little ridiculous but she is my baby. Now back to the dollar store. I was picking up a few necessities and was approaching the end of my shopping. My cart bore the items I came for and while the pushpins and journal were still missing from my list I searched the last few rows for the miscellaneous items. I’m moseying along when a young boy of about 10 years old walks swiftly in front of my cart from my left to my right. I continue walking when I replay something the young boy has muttered under his breath, “next time watch where you’re going!” I take a few more steps before pausing; looking over my shoulder an inquiring, “excuse me?” Unto which he stops in his tracks and looks over his shoulder at me and says sheepishly, “please.” At this point I recognize that this is a teachable moment. I am not angry nor upset as there is nothing to be upset about. I look at him briefly, asses the situation, and see that he was in the process of approaching what looks to be like his mother. I look at her and then back at the child and my next words somewhat involuntarily come from my lips almost too wise for my young body, “sweetie that was not very nice.” Then I turn without skipping a beat and walk in the direction I was originally headed. After walking a few paces I hear a woman shouting across the store at me. “Don’t you think talking to a child without addressing the mother is a bit rude?” Her tone is rude, she is not happy. I look at her and so I do not yell across the store as she is doing I walk towards the woman. I ask her the same question I asked her son because I felt I couldn’t have possibly heard this woman of this rude young man correctly, “excuse me?” She repeats herself in which I reply, “I apologize if you felt like I was rude. I addressed you when I made eye contact with you.” In which I felt I had and did not necessarily feel that I needed to speak to her before speaking with her son. In hindsight I can see her point, which is why I apologized. She began to defend her son stating that he said excuse me and in fact said nothing rude. I tell her, “I get it, he is your son and you are going to take his side but that is in fact NOT what he said. Your son was very rude and considering the way you are yelling at me in public it is clear to me the lack of discipline and the type of example that you set for your son.” We bantered back and forth for a brief moment where I truly realized that I was in fact despite my good intentions uncomfortable and feeling that regardless of my point the woman I was speaking with was clearly upset, raising her voice, and not being civil. There was nothing productive about the conversation so I exit.
I’m from a time, though only 26 years of age, where children respect, PERIOD. There are no ifs, ands, or buts! Children are not dictators in the era I grew up in which was molded by some very southern women. Children say, “yes ma’am and no ma’am.” They really did not even have an opinion, which I do NOT agree with but I do feel like children are to be respectful. Notwithstanding I do feel like I could have approached her versus her son. My reason for addressing the child was to be sure that I heard what I thought I heard. Then I should have come up to the mother once the young boy confirmed that he had said what I thought. At the time I figured that since I made eye contact with the mother and then addressed the boy loud enough for her to hear that it was not necessary considering my tone was not impolite that it was not a big deal. The point is I could have done it differently. I do not think I personally handled the situation poorly but I if I could go back I would address the mother instead of the child. We live and we learn, right?
As Gibran says, “your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.” I listen to my husband more than I thought.
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