“Words are powerful forces of nature. they are destruction. they are nourishment. they are flesh. they are water. they are flowers and bone.
they burn. they cleanse. they erase. they etch.
they can either leave you feeling homeless or brimming with home.”
― Sanober Khan
on the last day of school, we had a little get together with friends. i just wanted a party-like atmosphere on the last day. i invited two different families and i planned various activities, procured and filled a pinata and we made homemade pizzas. each child was able to pick from an assortment of toppings and build what type of pizza pleased them. i'm not the best or most creative party planner but i was hoping that just getting together would be entertainment enough for the kids. some of our guests were great, really great. they were gracious, they were excited to be there, they were willing to try new things. some of our other guests were not quite as pleasant to have in our home. they complained about the guest list, they complained about the activities, they complained about the food, they were rude to their mom, they were rude to me. i tried my best to make everything go well, but some people just don't know how to do anything but see the negative. the unpleasant guests soon left and our delightful guests remained and we finished the party with the pinata. however, that evening, as i was reflecting upon the day's events, i realized how deeply the negative words from our guests had affected me. i was really sad! despite the good guests, i spent the evening wondering why i even bothered having people over if i couldn't put together a good party. the critical comments and attitude made me feel terrible! i was mad at myself for even trying. we haven't invited anyone over since.
contrast that to last week when we took our daily walk at the local park. normally, we go as early as possible to beat the heat but today's schedule only allowed for us to go around noon. we ran our errands and then packed a lunch for the park. we played a bit and then continued on the loop around the lake. besides the heat, this route was a bit longer than our regular walk. we started off strong but about halfway in, this went downhill. everyone was complaining, i was pushing herschel in the stroller with one arm and dragging athena blythe behind me with the other arm. we were all sweating bullets and i was questioning my sanity. one of my summer goals is healthy eating and daily exercise for the whole family and all of that was sounding pretty stupid and impossible at this moment. we trudged along only because we had to finish the trail in order to get back to our car. as we rounded the lake, an older asian woman and her husband were sitting on a park bench. in very broken english, she stopped me and asked me, "these all you babies?" i'm asked that question quite often because 4 children is the new 8 children and many people are incredulous that i could have so many in this day and age. i replied, "yep, they're all mine!" i was anticipating more incredulity but instead she stood up and threw her arms in the air and shouted, "hurray, hurray, hurray!" it took me so off guard that i could hardly choke out a garbled, "thank you!" as we continued on. i was fighting back tears because of how GOOD her words made me feel. my entire perspective and temper of this walk changed in an instance. her positive cheer enlivened me! i could feel myself smiling! my stride was lengthening! i was able to encourage the children and not nag the children! up until this point i had been saying to unmotivated athena blythe, "hurry up! keep up!" and athena blythe kept dragging along. after, i started saying "come on, you can do it!" and she started saying, "i can do it! i'm AM doing it!" everthing had improved because of kind words. we finished the walk. it was still hard. we still had to walk up a big hill in 90 degree heat. but i was no longer daunted by the process. i knew that we could keep working on our family summer fitness goals and that one hard day wasn't going to be the end for us.
i've reflected on these two experiences a lot in the subsequent weeks. as a result of the first experience, we've talked a lot as a family about how using our manners even if we are in a situation that we don't like. we talked about making sure our hosts feels good about their efforts because it is not easy to be the host. we talked about saying kind things and being everyone's friend, even people we do not know very well. we talked about choking down food that is served to us, even if we know we don't like it. we can always complain at home later. as a result of the second experience, we've also talked about saying nice things when they occur to us and to never suppress a kind thought, that that thought may change the course of someone's day. we've talked about how hard experiences can be changed simply by how we view them and we can improve things for others if we have a good attitude.
in short, i will try and invite people over and continue to plan activities and try hard and while i can't control other people's kids, i can control my own.