Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Brain-Mouth Thing

If there is a switch that coordinates the brain and mouth, mine is definitely busted.  Generally speaking, I am polite and well mannered.  My Momma raised me well.  However, in my zeal to live honestly, I sometimes blurt things out without thought of consequences.  Actually, it is more like the thoughts enter my brain as the words exit my mouth.  For example, I was at the store a little while ago.  In the dressing room, which I hate in this particular store as it is one big room with lots of mirrors (I have no desire to see others in their skivvies or to parade around that way myself), there was this Mother and her teenage daughter.  The girl looked to be about 15.  She was trying on gowns for whatever reason.  Her Mom picked out some God awful outdated taffeta monstrosities and the daughter went full on hoochie.  I was about to escape, when all of a sudden I was stopped.  "Excuse me", it was the Mother.  She proceeded to ask me which of two dresses I liked better.  I did my best to get out of there, and even asked them if they were sure they wanted me to answer that question.  So I very politely told her that one of them looked like an Easter dress my 8yr old niece wore last year and the other was more suited for a night on the town than a dance.  The daughter was thrilled that I didn't choose the lavender frufru thing, but the Mom was so offended.  She turned all shades of pink and her eyes started to well up, perhaps in anger.  Who knows?  All I know is that I got roped into giving my opinion, and I don't lie to my family so why would I bother lying to someone I'll never see again.  It wasn't my intention to hurt her feelings, and I wasn't rude about it.  Maybe this woman was looking for a stranger to back her up?  Apparently she came to the wrong woman.

Normally, I don't really care.  Whatever I say I mean.  Then, there are those times when words make you wince.  Well, it's not the words really but others' reaction to what is said.  I have never gone out of my way to hurt anyone.  Not that I've never caused someone pain, just not intentionally.  I teach my kids it isn't only what you say, but how you say it.  Of course, that is in a vain attempt to curb their snotty tendencies.  But nonetheless, I should try harder to practice what I preach.  No doubt they picked their snottiness up from yours truly anyway.

Perhaps this all stems from the fact that I never think what I say holds any weight.  After all, who am I and why should anyone care what I say?  How could I possibly influence someone else.  But everyone has some bearing on the others they encounter.  If you pass a stranger on the street and are greeted with a warm and genuine smile, do you smile back.  Yes.  It is an almost automatic reaction.  So if a complete stranger can hold a bit of influence, then friends or acquaintances would hold more...exponentially more.  I haven't mentioned family, because they hold the key to emotions.  By that I mean, who else can push those ever so delicate buttons of affect better than those you love?  No one. 

Should I make a mental note to consider the feelings of the world every time I open my mouth?  I don't think so.  How can I assume responsibility for how others take what I say?  All I can do is try not to be an ass to people (unless, of course, they deserve it).  However, I have come to a decision about how I speak to a few others.  So, I need to be even more delicate with my kids.  I must remember that my incessant sarcasm is lost on them, though the oldest is picking up on it very well.  Realizing that there is a tendency to be kinder to strangers than loved ones saddens me.  This is a widespread phenomenon.  People pass with small talk and some common courtesy, yet at home, when you want to relax, a request to get something for someone else is often met with a curt "get it yourself".  I suppose being more courteous to your loved ones starts with each one of us.  Hopefully the kids will learn by example and choose the better of two options in all they do.  Even so, I have no control over who they become.  I can give them the best guidelines to life and shower them will all the love I have, and in the end, they must make their own decisions and learn from their own mistakes. 

Yep, I have enough to think about to be worried about how everyone I've never met will react to something I say or do that gets twisted by the interpretation of each individuals mind.   

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