Did you ever change your behaviours when around children?
I developed a ‘potty mouth’ pretty early on in Life, but was very careful not to empty my potty in front of my boys… not until they were a lot older. Now, they teach me ‘words’.
“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” is a ridiculously inaccurate saying. I had a conversion experience last week that proved the cliché to be in error. On a ‘day off’ with my son, his partner, and my grandson, we explored the adventure trail that leads up to Durlston Castle. It’s brilliant – and ‘free’. While we were having a happy time, a young girl greeted me with no sense of caution. My ‘safeguarding’ filter was activated, wondering if she’d never been taught not to talk to strangers. A quick glance confirmed that Mum was safely nearby, so I relaxed a little and said a cheerful, “Hello!” back to her.
Then the magic happened…
“You came to my school last week!” Immediately, I felt released from anxiety about her safety in the strange world we live in. To her, I was not a stranger – but rather a trusted adult who had taken her school assembly.
What was the magic?
Suddenly, I realised that, in a very limited geographical region, I was known, recognised, and trusted. This made me want to polish my ‘act’ and become the best ‘knight in shining armour’ I could possibly be. Bottom line: zero tolerance for potty mouth or unbecoming behaviour in public. I realised that, in Swanage at least, I was always ‘on stage’ when out in public… and that felt wonderful.
In one of my favourite films, “As Good As It Gets,” Jack Nicholson says to Helen Hunt, “You make me want to be a better man.” This little angel and her sister and her Mum made me want to be a better man (at least in public), and I was transformed for the right reasons.
My point is that we can switch on self-control when it is important to us. Too often we are our ‘real’ selves with the people we most should be honouring too. Penny has seen me at my lowest ebb (and still accepts me), but surely I should polish my armour for her???
Children can bring out the best in us. Therefore, I’m curious to discover your answers to this question: What have you learned from children?