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Ruining Children

(written on Sat 12/18/10)

Today I felt rude and stabby as I waited for my shuttle bus outside MCO (Orlando airport). 30 minute wait. Argh. Maybe it was the wait that was agitating me most, maybe it was the dreary rain or maybe it was just leftover bitterness from my brush with the older woman at DCA this morning who was extremely rude to me while we waited for our plane. I should have confronted her perhaps. In any case I was cranky. And then, as it typical, my inner voice reminds me it is my civic and spiritual duty to be kind to others even when I don’t feel like it. Manners are a simple expression of love for others.

Suddenly with this thought I am pulled back to the time I explained this concept of love-as-demonstrated-through-manners to a particularly unruly child at church once. A child with a difficult home life who had likely never seen good manners modeled for him at home. Now I panicked – had I, in that moment, been the stranger who confirmed for him with one casual sentence his deepest fear –that his parents didn’t love him (b/c they didn’t show good manners)? Did I ruin a child and give it no thought until a year later? Oh my goodness.

Shaping the minds and hearts of children is such a delicate task. One wrong word and you can probably break a child forever. This is why I don’t have children: I can’t be trusted to be delicate.

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