When I was about 19 or so, I remember coming to the realization that certain character faults, areas I knew I needed to work on, were shared by my own parents. This was discouraging. A friend of mine smiled and said, “How nice! You know you’re not alone.” But he didn’t get it. This meant I couldn’t assume that I would grow out of things; there was no guarantee that I would reach my 30s or 40s and get to be the mature adult and smirk happily at all the immature teenagers, knowing that I was So Over their issues. (Um, actually, that part did happen after all, at least in many areas. Smirk! Love it!)
I was thinking about this recently, watching Abel deal with some conflict. Abel is a kind boy. When the Evil Fairies visited our children’s cribs (oh right, like your kids don’t have some element of their personalities that couldn’t have come from anywhere else), the gift they left him to make him think, “I’m not like anyone else in this family” was just a sort of cartoon goofiness that he’ll either outgrow or use to become a junior high teacher or camp counselor. No biggie.
There’s a boy at school that’s been tormenting him lately. Perhaps that is too strong a word. They started out being friends, and this boy has even had Abel over to play a couple of times. But then he started to harass Abel. It became a problem.
That evening, the boy called to invite Abel to play. Donn and I were amazed. Then we heard Abel say, “Hang on, let me ask my parents” and turn to us. Our mouths dropped open. Because this boy is MEAN to Abel. And now he was asking us if he could go play with him?
Donn is still puzzling about this, but I think I realize what’s going on. Abel has inherited my debilitating form of conflict avoidance. In order to not have to confront this boy, he is ready to go along with anything.
It’s depressing. I can already see the long road ahead of him as he agonizes over talking to anyone about anything, even when he is in the right.
I remember one of my college roommates, who always borrowed my clothes, and left them dirty on the floor. That was weird and obnoxious. But could I talk to her about it? No. I borrowed a black t-shirt one time and she talked to me about it, told me maybe it’d be best if we didn’t borrow each others’ clothes. Grr.
I know this boy‘s mother. I‘ve spoken to her several times. But when Donn suggested we talk to her, I shrank. Confront her with her son‘s behaviour? I didn‘t want to do it at all. Guess I still haven‘t outgrown this issue.
Poor Abel. I don’t want him to be like me. I want him to be take-charge and stride-forth, while maintaining that basic kindness and consideration that comes so naturally to him. I don’t want him to get taken advantage of. I wish we could choose which parts of our make-up get passed down to our offspring. (And would we choose to pass on what they would choose to receive?)
And I hate not being able to blame those evil fairies once again!
What aspects of your character would you choose to pass on, or have you passed on?