Tuesday, January 14, 2014

channeling Atticus

Charlie's best impression of Gene Simmons.

The other day I told Nate that I thought Banjo was a good name for a dog. He countered that "Banjo" falls into Category #3 for names, the ones you think are unique but aren't really. He's right, you know. I admit that I fancy myself "cool, but not too annoying." Nate's astute observations are a good reason to keep him around.

I occasionally point out good dog names to Nate in the same vein as I mention boy's names to him; I don't have a specific boy or dog I'm naming, it's just a thing I do. I name stuff. This aside is apropos to nothing I'm writing about today except that I also think Atticus is a good dog name and a good boy name, and typing the title made me ponder my naming proclivity.


A friend recently asked me if I've read Kim John Payne's Simplicity Parenting. I did and loved it! Her question prompted me to realize I've never talked about it here. I have a specific point of his to share that I've been mulling over, and I'll get to it in a minute. First I want to tell you about a book I'm reading....err...listening to.

I've just begun J.K. Rowling's Casual Vacancy audiobook (linked to NYT review). Although I'm not that far into it, I can already tell you that I probably won't finish it. I have a hard time listening to fictional audiobooks because unless I am really into it, my mind will wander away from the world the author is creating and onto my grocery list. Anyway, I'm not mentioning it to give you a review--as I said, I've only just begun it--but what I can testify to is that it is a scathing portrayal of small-town gossip, one that gives me pause about my own chattiness and snap judgments.

This pause brings me to Payne's useful rule for the garrulous: he suggests using a three-fold filter when deciding whether to say something in front of your kids (I think "kids" could be expanded to: any time).

Before saying whatever you wanted to say, ask yourself whether it is:

1) true,
2) kind, and
3) necessary.

The "three-fold filter" completely rules out all gossip. And let's be honest, these rules are also useful to keep in mind when you feel like playing your broken record for your husband, e.g. lamenting for the umpteenth time that you can't understand why he just isn't good at finding items in the refrigerator. Or when you want to tell your kid that she is SO SLOW.

I was born in the middle of a giant pack of cousins who were only too willing to tell me how slow I was or that no one cared what I thought, and I stand by this upbringing being the reason I am told often that I didn't end up with "only child syndrome." Thus, I am by no means suggesting I should wipe out all constructive criticism about my kids' speed or propensity toward daydreaming.

But the thing is, sometimes my comments aren't even correct. Take this morning, for example, when I was volunteering in Vivi's class. The kids were washing up, grabbing their lunches, and going to stand in line when I noticed Vivi doing what looked like lollygagging. I said, "Vivi, snap out of it and hurry up!" and she turned to me with a surprised look and said, "I'm waiting in line to wash my hands." Oops, there goes rule #1.

I guess the point isn't that I need to stop myself from pointing out areas of improvement, but perhaps I could use a teensy bit more restraint. Had I waited even a few more seconds before speaking that time, I might have noticed what she was really doing.

If you've read To Kill a Mockingbird lately, you'll recall why I am referring to my new pause as "channeling Atticus." If not, go read it again! It's a fantastic book that shouldn't be reserved just for school reading lists, and the character of Atticus is probably the greatest example of restraint you can imagine. And while I don't usually make official resolutions, I will raise a glass this January to more restraint!

What are y'all up to? Any areas for restraint? Do gossip, erm, I mean, tell. xoxo j


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sarah saad said...

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sarah saad said...

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Sharon D. Johnson said...

I appreciate your photo and article , well-done .


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