People Are Prisms

Original title was, What You Mean to Put In is NOT Necessarily What You Will Get Out, too wordy, don't you agree, Pa would never have read it!

Photo by Vasyl Yakobchuk/Hemera / Getty Images
Photo by Vasyl Yakobchuk/Hemera / Getty Images

If you've taken one of my classes or workshops you will have heard this story, take your free time and check out a guilty pleasure website, GoFugYourself.  Celebrities, Fashion, Gossip . . . what could be more relaxing?

I loved Little House on the Prairie.  No, I LOVE Little House on the Prairie.  I read it aloud to my kids, we watched the DVD's of the 1970's series, we listened to books on tape.  I hate to say it, but it was super exciting listening to the Long Winter while one of my kids had scarlet fever (true fans will know what I'm talking about).  The series is filled with adventure, ingenuity, hunger, disease, whippings, panthers and oh, the list goes on!

Cut to one day at breakfast, I am standing at the sink looking over the 1/2 wall at my two kids, let's say 6 and 8, on the bench with a bottle of bubbly water and a couple of glasses.  My older son is acting drunk, sloshing the water and slurring his words while the younger son is laughing hysterically.  My mind immediately went to all the ne're do well kids on the block. I was going to find out who the tiny hoodlum was that put this in my child's mind.  I shriek, "WHO taught you that?  WHERE did you get that from?  You are NEVER playing with THEM again."

Innocently he looks up and says, "Mr. Edwards, from Little House on the Prairie." 

Gulp. What?

What I was putting in that child with those books and tv shows and tapes were the lessons of family loyalty, love, respect for your parents, working very, very hard, taking care of yourself and your loved ones, pitching in, the glory in every day chores, the honor of contributing to the family, the joy of eating home cooked meals when you are truly hungry, the mystery and beauty of nature, thrift, gratitude, I could go on and on and on . . . 

What he got out, drunk Mr. Edwards.

What's the lesson?  People are like prisms.  What we mean to shoot through is not necessarily what comes out the other side.  This goes for everyone.  It's a sobering lesson, isn't it? 

I share the story not only because it's so darn funny, but because if we keep it in the front of our minds we'll be less forceful in our lessons, we'll ask more questions, we'll check in, we'll listen and learn something new about the people we live with and love dearly.