think before you speak

Elderflower stall

Yesterday I called my younger son ‘stupid’ in front of his friends.

This morning I apologised to him profusely and told him that it was not him who was stupid but I.

Yesterday I had been helping out at my son’s school annual summer fair.  I had made some organic elderflower cordial which he was selling at a stall.  I had given him some spending money for food while I was running another stall.  After he came back to ask for more money, I realised that he had used his money to buy my own elderflower cordial at his own stall.  I don’t know what kind of logic he followed because he could have had that cordial any time at home.  The cordial was supposed to be sold to visitors.  Of course, now he had run out of money to buy food.  In the heat of the moment, I called him ‘stupid’ for doing that.

This morning having had some rest, I thought about the repercussions of what I had called him. First I had insulted him in front of his friends.  Second, thought occurred that perhaps he had been generous and honest (also rather loving of his mother’s elderflower preparation), rather than been ‘stupid’. Third, I was mindful that whatever we call our children, they become that.  I remember all the phobias and fears I have inherited from my parents and it is only now, after several decades I am getting rid of them.

I thought of all the alternate ways I could have dealt with the situation. I could have taken him aside and told him that I could not understand the logic of his actions.  I could have joked and told him in a pleasant way not to spend any more money buying things that we already had at home and instead, spend his money on food.  I thought I would have never spoken to an adult like that and yet, felt free to call my own son stupid.  Surely I was also stupid. So this morning, we had a little chat about it and he said that he had been hurt by what I had said. I said I was very sorry.  I also explained why I had said what I had said, wrong as it may be.  We both laughed it off.

Children pick up on little things we say rather thoughtlessly; and what they say and do later are reflections of what we are saying and doing.  I would be mortified if he called someone else stupid.  So I have decided not to be stupid myself again and think before I speak! I also gave myself a pat on the back for apologising to my son.  Hopefully that is something he has also learnt to do now.