Thursday, January 24, 2013

That's Really Really Good

Little Man is two-and-a-half which means he has learned to express himself but he has not yet learned to tamper his words. In short, he is honest. Brutally honest. Right now, in his world of black and white, things are either good or bad. When he experiences something that he likes he enthusiastically says "That's really, really good!" But when it is unpleasant he says, "Oh no, that's really bad."

Now it's one thing to be at home and have him express his displeasure at the dinner I slaved to make for him. (Here's your spaghetti and meatballs, Sweetie! Oh no, that's really bad.) However, it's nerve-wrecking to take him out. The other night we were having dinner at church. They were serving meatloaf. He takes one bite, looks at me, and opens his mouth to express his opinion. I cringed. What would he say now? Out loud, in public, at church?! Ready? "That's really, really good." (Swipe brow). My blood pressure dropped dramatically.
This started me thinking about what we teach our children. Right now he's honest. And nothing he says is out of malice. I remember being 3-ish and making an observation about someone (he's fat, or she walks funny) that was not meant maliciously. I remember my mother telling me "don't say that, it hurts their feelings." And that's when it started. I felt bad about myself that I might have made someone feel bad about himself and maybe when people say something about me I should feel bad about myself and I should feel bad about making them say something bad. If you can follow that at all. All I'm saying is that we teach our children to obfuscate what they say (lie) and at the same time crumble their self-esteem because they said it or because someone said something about them.

The result is a bunch of hyper-sensitive people who take everything too seriously, believe every word uttered is a judgment on them, and they try their best to not hurt others by speaking some form of Political Correct speech. Which is "unspeech" which is "double plus ungood." To counter balance all this negativity we create "sensitivity programs" and we give every child a trophy for showing up. Wouldn't this be better - "Mommy, that man is fat." "Yes, Honey, he is. Let's talk about it at home." And really, if you are fat, is it too hard to acknowledge it? Perhaps the sensitivity training needs to be reversed and we need to teach people to not be so sensitive.
Okay, I'm not on a soapbox, I have a point. My point being that with my novel almost done (yay!) I have embarked on the editing process with a couple of friends. I have revisions I want to make already but I'm beginning to get nervous about what they will say. I recently sent back the edits I did on their work and I find myself hoping I didn't hurt their feelings, or insult them or their work. I have to remind myself that any comments I made were not made in malice but in honesty to make their work better - in my opinion. And that any comments they may make about my work is not disparaging but a way to make my work better - in their opinions. The whole point of having others help you with your editing is to take your work from "oh no, that's really bad" to "that's really, really good!"

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