Kid: Hey – can we bake Slutty Brownies?
Me: I don’t care what you bake…just don’t ever call them that again!
Kid: What? Why??
Me: Because your brother is 10 and the last thing I need is him going to school using that word! He doesn’t even know what it means!!
Kid: Seriously? You have GOT to be kidding, Mom! You honestly think he doesn’t know what that means?
Me: How would he know?
Kid: MOM! OHHHHHHHmygosh!!! He’s not that innocent! I mean…out of all of us…you’re probably the most innocent!!
(Well…God help us all, then.)
I went on to ask her
how she thinks they all got here what she meant. What she meant, she explained, is that she thinks that – out of all of us – I’m the one who spends the most time looking for the best in people. Believing that it’s there. She thinks that’s a little naive, I guess. And that I’m a bit of an innocent.
I didn’t tell her that I’m glad she noticed. That it’s a conscious choice of mine. That some days it’s easier than others. I didn’t tell her that I spent years looking for – and finding – the bad in people. Prepping myself for the inevitable let-down. Steeling myself against the disappointment that was just around the corner. Then, at some point, I started to wonder why I was trying so hard to find people’s weaknesses when they seemed so eager to show them to me anyway. And so I started looking for their strengths. I didn’t tell her that, even when you do that…even when you work to find the best in people…sometimes they’ll still disappoint you. Sometimes you’ll still get hurt. The thing about finding people’s strengths, though – the advantage – is that it feels a lot better than finding flaws. For me, I mean. I can’t imagine that it impacts them much at all. But for me…it’s a better world when I go around believing that people are good. That they want to help. And I don’t know if it’s expectations shaping behavior shaping outcome…or just my own perception…but to me, the world seems like a kinder, more loving place since I started.
I didn’t tell her any of that. Maybe I should have. I feel like it’s enough that she’s noticed that there are different ways of sizing people up. That you can choose your focus. Maybe noticing is the best teacher. And maybe I am a little naive. Maybe I do believe in more good – more grace, more redemption, more good intentions…than are actually there. I don’t know. The only thing I know for sure is this:
In MY house, we do not call them “Slutty Brownies” (that’s just rude). But we do eat them. And they’re delicious.