I've been reading Discover your childrens' gifts by Katie and Don Fortune. Yes, the pink book that has followed me everywhere over the last few weeks. As I've thought about the gifting of our children, I have also been thinking about my own gifting. I think I would most strongly fall into the Compassion and Administration gifts.
Tonight at bedtime The Boy asked for stories.
"Tell me a story about when you were six."
And the story that came flowing out was this:
When I was six I was in Mrs. So-and-so's class. We were given books to take home to read. When we brought them back to school we would get a new book. I do not remember if I knew that the teacher was marking them down and keeping track of all the books we had "read."
The goal was that our parents would read to us each day, that we would learn to love books and reading, that we would be able to read and be healthy and be happy. I do remember only reading one of the books with my dad, your Grandpa. The Suessian One Fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish.
Sometime in the winter my dad read on a report card that I/we had read a certain number of books. The report card celebrated the milestone. And my dad turned to me and asked me about it. He knew he had not read all those books to me. My step mom had not read those books to me. How could we possibly have been at so many books?
Whether through misunderstanding, missing the point because I was daydreaming or active deceit, I had lied. I was required to confess my lie to Mrs. So-and-so and apologize. I remember going to school the next possible day was horrendous. And I couldn't screw up the courage to talk to her. I remember finally making my way to her desk in the corner of the classroom while we were to be working away at something. "Mrs. So-and-so, I didn't read all those books at home. I lied to you. I am sorry."
When I reflect now on that experience, particularly in light of this reading on motivational gifts, I have light-bulbs clicking on in my head.
- Many times, given the stresses of life in the family I lived in during my school years, I felt like I was in a position where lying felt like the only option to protect myself. I wasn't lying with intention to dupe someone else. I was afraid I would be so crushed by the anger, opposition or harshness, that I chose instead to let people think what they would by my silence. Or I would actively try to cover my mistakes (honest, genuine childhood mistakes) instead of admitting them.
- the compassion motivational gifting makes for easy wounding. I have the sense now that I asked for a grown up to read with me, but that was not welcomed. Books, and my love of them, were seen as suspect. Maybe it was just that every time I raised the issue of reading it was responded to as a nuisance. Did I stop asking to be read to at home because it was too painful? Or because I was afraid it would be too painful? Or because I didn't want to be seen as a nuisance? What else have I done through the years because I didn't want to be a nuisance? What actions and attitudes and patterns of thinking are based on those foundations in my life today?
- I wonder if Girlie will have some of the same propensities, temptations to cover truth when it appears as though it might have negative emotional consequences. If possible, I'd like to remember that it is so important that she know she is loved. That "punishment" and the emotional baggage of an upset grown-up, an upset me, need to be set aside to offer her forgiveness when she "confesses." And I want to offer her an adult hand to hold when she needs to confess/apologize to another adult or even another child.
- As I've been reading about the vulnerability of the compassion person and the potential for abuse by unscrupulous people, I am grateful for what I have been saved from. So grateful.