by Rick R.
When my grandson was in preschool I spent many hours with him, talking about everything from stars and space to bugs and animals. I wanted to give him the best perspective I could about how to respond to life issues at a level that he could understand. He came home from school one day and told me one of the boys in his class was being bad and had gotten into trouble. I tried to explain to him the boy was not bad, he was just misbehaving and that at five years old, he was too young to be bad. I explained to him that maybe that boy did not have someone who could teach him how to behave properly.
Who said that you were a bad boy?
He said, “Grandpa, if someone said I was a bad boy …” I stopped him mid-sentence and asked, “Who said that you were a bad boy?” He replied, “No one, but if they did …”
I stopped him again and said, if anyone says that you’re a bad boy, you can just say, “I’m not a bad boy, I’m just a kid learning how to do life.” I was at a meeting shortly thereafter and the topic was resentment, and, for lack of a better analogy, I told the story of my grandson and how I look at everyone in the same way. I believe most people act out to compensate for deeper-rooted emotional problems. None of us are perfect. We all have shortcomings and for me to condemn someone else, who is still plagued by these things and has not resolved them yet, would be like piling on.
I always feel worse when I resort back to those old behaviors and strive to never let my emotions, or my ego, draw me into conflict with other troubled people. I must always try to take the high road in these situations. But what about when other people cross my boundaries in a negative way? Do I have to be a doormat? No, I do not have to participate in it with them, if there is a way to remove myself from the situation. I aim to not be judgmental, either.
I’m just a kid learning how to do life
I must refrain from pointing out that other person’s faults. To me, they are like my grandson’s young classmate. They are all like kids learning how to do life. For me to engage in criticism would be like two old men in a care facility hitting each other with their canes because one was not walking fast enough for the other. It sounds funny, but we do it every day. I am no better or worse than the next man. I may be further along the path than him, but no better. I pray for understanding and compassion in these situations. I must never judge a man on his surface behavior, I must have the strength to look deeper. As far as I am concerned, we are all just like those kids learning how to do life.
A few months after that discussion with my grandson we were running a little late taking him to his Taekwondo class. He was in his child seat behind us and I was bickering with my wife about getting there on time. He interrupted us saying “Guys, I can hear you.” I said, “You should have been ready yourself.” He responded, “Grandpa, I am not a bad boy, I am just a kid learning how to do life.”