I have a three rants that have been bubbling up lately. Please indulge my soap box for COMFY.
When a person burps, passes gas, hiccups, or any other noise comes out of our body, our knee-jerk reaction is to say "excuse me" with a bit of embarrassment in our voice. But, really, what are we embarrassed about? Why do we need an excuse? After all, our body just performed a perfectly natural, normal function. But, in our society, we have come to associate embarrassment with normal bodily function, when, in reality, we should just go on with our day as if nothing out of the ordinary happened...because: Nothing out of the ordinary happened!
I was reminded of this recently when Joshua was talking to me very seriously about how excavators are made on a production line, what parts were assembled first, and why. As he was explaining this all to me he was passing gas quite frequently without any notice. He just kept talking. In his 4 (and three-quarters!) year old mind, which is devoid of societal expectations and uncluttered of unnecessary embarrassments, he was just having a conversation. Not feeling uncomfortable because his body was functioning in a completely normal way.
Jeremy and I talked about this later that day. Do we teach Joshua to say "excuse me" in this kind of situation? We really feel it is unnecessary and teaches him the wrong lesson about his body, but we also don't want him to ever get any grief from someone else for not saying excuse me. So, no excuses and a simple explanation of "each family does things differently and makes different decisions."
God bless you or Bless you
I just sneezed. It was not an act of religion (or anti-religion). It is unlikely that I need any kind of healing or biblical fortitude. The devil will not possess my soul as I explode air from my mouth. I just sneezed, a normal bodily function. Again, why do we turn completely normal functions into anything? Why can't we simply keep on with our day after a sneeze instead of turning it into a religious blessing. Maybe, in some circumstances (which would likely be obvious) it would be helpful to offer the sneezer a tissue or give a moment to catch one's breath. But, unless I am missing something, I do not think religion has any role to play.
But, here again, how do we, for Joshua's sake, make sense of this? How do we, for ourselves, make sense of this? Should we just teach him what is expected even if it is unnecessary and reinforces what we think is a bad habit? Ugh.
I am totally guilty of this one myself. I say "I'm sorry" all the time. I recently realized how much I say it because Joshua started saying it. Ugh. The bad habits we unknowingly teach our kids!
I bumped you by accident? I'm sorry.
I didn't hear what you said? I'm sorry, what did you say?
I need to borrow a chair? I'm sorry, can I borrow this?
You want cheese puffs and we don't have any? I'm sorry.
How about this (here is where you can get out a lot of those pent up "excuse me's"):
I bumped you by accident? Excuse me, I did not mean to bump you.
I didn't hear what you said? Could you repeat yourself, please? Or the simple: Say Again.
I need to borrow the extra chair at your table? Could I use that chair if you are not using it? (Add in an "excuse me" if you are interrupting a conversation.)
You want cheese puffs and we don't have any? (Depending on the day, this could be an emergency situation!) We are all out. I'll put them on our store list. Would you like...instead?
When is it appropriate to say "I'm sorry?"
I forgot your birthday. I'm sorry, that was inconsiderate of me. Can I take you out for a belated birthday cup of tea?
I lost track of time and got to school pick up late. I'm sorry. It must have been really frustrating to have to wait so long for me.
I was running late and made you rush to do something. I'm sorry. I am the one running late. I should not make you feel hurried.
When I listen to myself and others around me I observe the things I do and what other are doing. Many of our words and actions have become so automated, they don't convey any authentic meaning. We don't really question their validity or if they even make a modicum of sense. But, lately, I've had the advantage of observing a 4 (and ¾!) year old who could care less if he burps or passes gas while he is excitedly telling me about something, who sneezes without feeling he needs a religious invocation for it (although covering that sneeze is still a work in progress), and who realizes he really has very little to apologize for. How freeing that must be!
There are so many mindless habits that get passed on just as mindlessly to children. Let's stop, think about these things, and think if they are truly messages we want to convey. Children are not mindlessly observing them. They are mimicking them very literally and absorbing them into their awareness of themselves and the world around them.