A few nights ago, I was working on something in my office at home when I heard what sounded like my youngest daughter reading a book out loud in her room. When I went to look, I saw my youngest sitting next to her, listening as she read. Wanting to capture the moment, I went and grabbed my camera. On my way to take the picture, I remembered that my camera has a function that illuminates an orange led light just before you snap the picture, and this orange light had messed up some candid shots in the past because when someone sees it light up, they look, and it spoils the natural shot I was looking for.
So, instead of taking a picture, I decided to put it in video mode. As I started the video, I edged the camera slowly around the corner, and just watched from the small LCD screen. I listened and watched for a few seconds when my youngest daughter, holding a small Teddy Bear, announced “I’m going to take your temperature.” She grabbed a toy thermometer, and began holding it to the mouth of the bear.
My oldest saw this, and stopped reading long enough to make a swipe at the thermometer, but missed. She made another swipe at it, grabbing it away from her younger sister. After very forcefully getting rid of the thermometer out of reach, she gave a glare as if to say, “Don’t do that again!” and started reading again. As I watched this scene play out, I was shocked by two things: my oldest daughters action, and my youngest daughters reaction.
You see, my youngest did not react at all. She just took it, and my heart broke for her. If she had reacted defensively, I would have been on her side! The injustice of the moment angered something inside me, but I just let it play out because it was on video, and I wanted to see if this was going somewhere. It went nowhere. It was diffused immediately because there was no reaction.
Too often have I made the mistake of reacting to injustice, whether real or perceived. It is a quite unnatural thing for me to even think of remaining silent and “taking it” when I feel that someone has wronged me in some way. Convinced of their wrongness and my right to defend myself, I can get very defensive very quickly, and my reactions are there to put things back in balance. In the end, even if balance is restored, relationships are usually damaged and hurt.
For me, it is easy to say that my youngest daughter just took the injustice because she does not yet know another way to react, and though I may be right, I hope she never learns another way. Once you begin to react, it becomes a very hard habit to break.
As for the video I took of my daughters, about 90 seconds had passed from the incident when they noticed it was there. They had no idea how long I was there, and assumed wrongly that it was just a few seconds. They wanted to see the video.
As I took my oldest daughter to the office and played the video, I paused it when she made the first swipe and asked her, “What was that?” I restarted the video and when she made the second swipe I said, “What was that?” Then, I restarted the video and when she got rid of the thermometer I paused for the third time and asked, “What was that?” Her face was downcast. She had just seen and heard what I had seen and heard, and she was feeling the heat from being caught.
“Want to see it again?” I asked her. “No, Papa. Please don’t play it again.” It was enough. The point had been made. In trying to catch my daughter doing something very good and very right, I had been given a very unique opportunity to catch her doing something else. As I watched the video later, and saw how my youngest daughter just took the injustice, my heart was broken for her, but inside I knew she had reacted the right way.
© 2010-2013 John Bagwell www.MenRising.com All Rights Reserved