Thursday, March 6, 2008

Judge Not, Lest You Look Like a Schmuck

I have been learning this lesson in some obvious ways recently.

Before I begin telling you how, you should know--I pride myself on not being a judgmental person. I don't pride myself on my modesty or humility, but I do on being pretty non-judgmental. I really feel like there's a lot that goes into a person that we (I) don't know and it's pretty rude and ignorant to make judgments on that person based on the very little that we see.

But that doesn't make me immune to being a schmuck. Fo' sho.

I have a coworker that I really like. She's really poor and they don't have a car. She lives about 7 minutes from me and has asked me for a ride to or from work a couple of times. I have always been willing because it really hasn't ever been an inconvenience. Then, last week, she called me on my day off and asked for a ride. I told her I wasn't working that day. She responded, "Well, I knew that." Well, the old Nobody would have said, "Oh, let me wake my sleeping child, put shoes and coats on 3 kids, load them into my cold van, and come pick you up." Stupid. I said, "I'm sorry, I won't be able to give you a ride today." And it was done. I know she was probably in a tight spot, but I really have too much on my plate right now to be worrying about that. And I have to remind myself of that, because it's in my blood to make other people's problems mine. Stupid.

Well, she called again the other day. I was scheduled to work that night, I was perfectly able to take her to work. But for some reason, the request got under my skin. Whatever on earth did she do before I started working there? I am not interested in being taken advantage of just because I'm nice. I called my sister and griped. She has lots of experience with people who take advantage. She can spot them a mile away. Funny thing is, she still helps most of them. After I finished griping at her, I called my mom and griped. Both of them stroked my ego and my superiority of being the one who owned a car, the poor poor victim. They love me---they say what I want to hear.

However, my mom had said during my gripe fest to her "Kindness done with an unkind heart is no kindness at all". She speaks solely in proverbs. So, I made an effort to get rid of my bad attitude and told myself it wasn't that big of a deal (which it wasn't) and that I could be gracious (which I could).

That afternoon when I picked my coworker up, she jumped in the car (she's always ready and waiting for me) buckled up, reached into her purse and handed me a folded up wad of cash. "Here's for gas money. I really appreciate you picking me up while we are in this situation. We should have a car by Friday."

I kind of choked on my pride and my crappy, stupid, attitude right then. I told her thank you for the offer but I was okay and that I really appreciated her thinking to give me gas money.

My entire perception changed. She wasn't taking advantage. She wasn't trying to suck every little bit of free gas out of my tank that she could. She was doing the best she could. Just like we all are. And I made a resolve to stop being such a jerk. For the rest of the day.

Last night, the kids had gymnastics. This could be an entire post in and of itself, but suffice it to say, Avee, a head shorter than everyone in her class could do everything perfectly (and looking like a million bucks) and Bo, true to form, rolled and flapped and squawked on the map anytime the instructor wasn't looking. Oh yeah, and laid down and took a nap in the middle of warm-ups.

Anyway, during Bo's session, a mom brought in 2 boys like 10 minutes late. They were wild and unruly and loud. The instructor could hardly talk for all the talking they were doing. It was annoying me. I paid a good $2 for this class for Bo--I wanted every penny's worth. Really I was worried that Bo would follow suit. And I just can't have my boy being the obnoxious one. At least not when I'm in the room...

I silently hoped the kids wouldn't be back next week. I rudely noted that the instructor, while firm, was a lot kinder to the kids than I probably would have been. She could probably also do flips on a balance beam and herkies, so really it was dumb of me to compare.

Afterwards, as I was corralling my own children into the van, I heard this mom leaving with her two boys. I heard her saying loudly, "I am SO MAD. SO MAD." I figured the instructor had told her they had been unruly. I have said such things loudly to my own children. Only, it's been in my own home where no one can hear me. Or judge. (So I post about it on the internets) She continued on pretty loudly and then I heard her say, "Billy, STOP!" He apparently didn't stop, and I turned just in time to see her yank his head back by the hair on the top of his head. He screamed. She yelled more.

My heart broke a little. I felt sad for these boys. No wonder they act crazy when their mom isn't around, if that's how they are being raised. And I thought about the times I've been angry enough to yank the hair on the top of my kids' head. But I've had a husband come rescue me when I'm at the end of my rope. I have an education and a proper upbringing that has taught me coping skills that help me calm down. I have a support system in my family, in my friends. I have a blog. I don't work full time. It's not up to me to keep a house, pay the bills, go work, raise the children, have a life. I don't have to do it all. I felt sad for the boys and sad that I had judged so harshly. And I felt sad for the mom.

As I climbed in my own van, with my own perfectly behaved children, the thought came into my mind. "Judge not Nobody---see how very little you know about anything."

25 comments:

Leslie said...

you're being so deep lately. me likey.

there's a boy in my son's preschool class who is a grade A top of the line bully. and he's a head taller than my son and his shoulders are as wide as mine. he's been mean to my youngest child when we've come to class and is just generally pretty horrible to deal with.

last week i found out his dad died when he was two and that his mom is remarried and doing the best she can in a difficult situation. i learned that she is actually pretty cool and not the horrible mother that i assumed she would be since her child is so difficult.

now i make a point to smile at big ole alex and try to convince parker to be nice to him even though he's not nice back.

being a mom is hard. :) thanks for the post! sorry i wrote a book.

Traci said...

Such a great post. You are seriously my hero. And can TOTALLY be proud about being nonjudgmental.

I've learned not to judge or criticize, but it's only because I know that anything I make fun of or get irritated by is going to happen to me sooner or later. So I'm really just watching out for myself. ;) That's kindness with an unkind heart for ya.

One thing that being a mom has taught me is that you definitely cannot judge a parent by how their kids act. At least most days I hope you can't.

Tori :) said...

I SUCK!!!!!!!!! :( I can think of so many times I've judged and then found out how wrong I was. Don't tell Sei that I AM wrong occasionally...

Millie said...

Man, did I need this. What a great post.

Having a husband help raise the kids is SUCH a huge deal, one I take for granted every dang day of my life. I don't know how my single/divorced friends do it. I don't think I could.

omar said...

Your mom's not Yoda, is she? How about Mr. Miyagi?

Nice message, Nobo.

glittersmama said...

I think we are going to get along just fine.

Sarah said...

I do say that even with a great husband it is hard...

Michelle said...

I have done my fair share of judging...maybe even more than my share. It usually comes back to smack me upside the head. Thanks for you honesty, it's nice to know I'm not the only one.

S said...

I have never........a mile away what! I judge not, I am in awe of this world. But I do have to say I question why and HOW some people procreate, but that just walmart on Friday night and santi cali gon!

Sarah Tilley said...

schmuck's my middle name. i usually judge internally without commenting, my impatient eye-rolling kept to myself, unless i've been driven to insanity and have begun complaining about them to somebody, which only happens when they're standing right there behind me...

yer so cool. it usually takes me a moment of chewing on the chucks before i figure out what a jerk i am (or can be).

TheVasquez3 said...

i love how you are blogging so often, i can't get enough of your bloggy goodness.

i feel bad for kids with tired and unruly moms. being a mom is hard work and to not have a solid support system (or a blog) must make it a million times harder!

No Cool Story said...

And thusly, from here on, Nobody spoketh solely in proverbs.

No Cool Story said...

Awww, that was good Nobody.
You have a big heart :)

No Cool Story said...

S: What is "santi cali gon"?

elasticwaistbandlady said...

Sooooo, does this mean that there will never be a Judge Nobody in the court system?

I'm guilty of everything you just mentioned in this post not taking into account that I have a hard-working husband who has also made sure that our kids are disciplined enough to act civil in public. We also have the benefit of our church. Not everyone is so blessed. :)

Michelle Garff said...

I don't have to read my scriptures today after reading your last two posts. That was enough food for thought. Thanks for not judging me after my lovely first impressions at the east gate.

The Child Family said...

So, I don't need to go to church this week. I have been humbled. Thanks Nobody! It sure was easier to read it at home than hear it from the pulpit. I too have been guilty of this on more than one occasion. All to many times though I am on the other end as well. I know what its like to have people judging you and all I want to say in the moment is MIND YOUR OWN! But all this coming from a mom of a autistic child! :) My world is a little twisted.

Word.

MommyJ said...

The whole being nonjudgemental thing is really hard, isn't it? It's a great goal though... to try and really think about what it is that makes people the way they are.

Awesome post. You've given me much food for thought... and reminded to always think... before judging/speaking/anything else.

Barnecked Lady said...

hmmmmm interesting, when i see really bad kids, like the one I saw yesterday at the grocery store, that ran away from his mom at least 10 times in the 30 minutes I was there. I think to myself, huh, my kids aren't so bad after all.

EarthBint said...

I just read about 5 of your posts in a row. All awesome, as usual.

Well I don't have much expirience in the area of kids of my own being bullied... But I remember those kinds of people when I was a young-in. But I don't think there was any in my gymnastics class :-)

S said...

NCS: Santi-Cali-Gon is like walmart on Friday night amplified to 15,000+ people instead of 100. I might add remember where I live!!!!

Sketchy said...

See now it would probably be me saying something snotty and then realizing that I was completely wrong about the situation.

Aunt Emily said...

Maybe it's because I'M the single poor mom with two unruly boys, but I am always judgemental of the rich, married moms. Which is soooo
transparent and crappy, but I always think, wow, if I had all that time and cash and lovin' support, my life would be *perfect*... um, yeah. Embarrassing, to put it mildly, that these thoughts are given occasional spare rooms in my soul. Money has nothing to do with being a good parent. I know this. Having a husband, even a great husband, doesn't solve everything. I also know that good parents have children with bad behavior! But passing judgment is so much easier than being thoughtful and slow to make assumptions. Sigh. Then I get all defensive when people judge my situation? Have mercy.

I tell myself that stress and loss and hardship come in varieties I
haven't tasted. You don't know what people are dealing with. A lesson I have had to learn far too many times...

Great post, thanks.

ps. Santa-Cali-Gon is the perfect place to go practice my newfound
humility! heh heh

Emily said...

Aw, that was SUCH a good post - lots to wrap my brain around.

Bee said...

Wow! That was really moving! Who knew I'd come over here and learn a lesson. ;o)

Thank you for visiting me and I'm glad I made you laugh! :o)