This is not a new thing, considering judgement, it’s worth and it’s impact. I mean, you’ll see several quotes littered throughout this post talking about just that. Judgement has been on my mind a lot lately, especially since the middle of last week. I wanted to share this with you immediately, but 3 kids, visiting family, summer vacation and back-to-school preparations… well, time is scarce. That said, what I have found most surprising is that it’s Kate Moss whose words resonate most with me on this subject. She says:
“Everyone’s projecting onto you, or you feel like everyone is judging you. I feel like I’m being judged a lot of the time. You become really self-conscious.” ~Kate Moss
Last Wednesday was the last day that Connor went to day camp. There is a free, drop-in program in a park fairly close to our house that he’s been going to since the first full week of July. It’s about a 10 minute walk from here, and most of that walk is on the nature trail that runs across the foot of my street. Sam had been spending 4 mornings a week in a kindergarten prepatory program (also free) in the school that he’ll begin attending in just a few short weeks, which is why Connor went to this day camp. Because Sam was away, and it gave me some time alone with Ellie to bond, or sleep, or maybe even run a few errands.
“Judging others makes us blind, whereas love is illuminating. By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.” ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
So yeah – I let my 8 year old take himself to and from camp. He did it every day for 6 weeks, and there were exactly zero incidents. He’s ready for the independence, and frankly: it’s the way that things have worked out this summer. I’m not making excuses, I’m not asking you to approve our decision and in fact, I really not asking for your opinion on it at all.
“It’s not given to people to judge what’s right or wrong. People have eternally been mistaken and will be mistaken, and in nothing more than in what they consider right and wrong.” ― Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
Cue last Wednesday. You’ll recall that it was the last day of day camp, of him walking himself to and from said camp. What I haven’t mentioned is that there was a wasp nest in the part of our roof that overhangs our garage. Both of my kids have been stung this summer (although, not here at home by these wasps, but still: a sting is a sting) and as a result are positively terrified of these creatures. So on Connor’s last day, he came home early from day camp and when he tried to open the front door, he felt that he was being swarmed by the wasps. Was he? Who knows. It’s irrelevant really. It’s what he perceived, and perception is truth in the eyes of the beholder. His response was to run screaming from the house.
“That mess about judging people by the content of their character and not the color of their skin—that’s some bullshit. Nobody has the right to judge anybody else. Period. If you ain’t been in my skin, you ain’t never gonna understand my character.” ― Emily Raboteau, The Professor’s Daughter: A Novel
Cue the neighbours. Immediately next door lives a man about our age and his parents. His parents are home through the day, and were outside when Connor took off running for his life. Mrs K got him to stop running, asked what was wrong, and tried to calm him. A few minutes after she encouraged him to sit on her porch so I would see him when I got home (which: I was) he took off running again. Another neighbour – next to the K’s – who has children my kids play with, got home and he went to be with her. That neighbour (we’ll call her Mrs H) called me, and answered the phone because I again: I was home, and she walked him back to our house. I thanked her for helping him, she filled me in on the story as she knew it, and then Mrs K came over. She filled in the blanks, I thanked them for their help, and for me that was it.
“When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.”
Cue the judgement. I actually heard it in in the phone call from Mrs H. She said that she would be leaving to pickup her children from their day camp, and that Connor needed to come home. She actually emphasized “her children”. Well if I’m honest, I perceived that she did. Whether she did so with intention, or really whether she did at all, will never really be known. What matters – as with Connor and the swarming wasps – is that I perceived it. Mrs K took the time to tell me that we think our children are old enough to be on the street, but they are not, that any one could take them, and that I should ask for help if I need it, not let him be alone on the street. All of it said with a look of sympathy that one reserves for mentally challenged people.
This absolutely enraged me. Who are they to give me unsolicited opinions? Was I grateful for their help? Yes. Do I appreciate that I live in a community with people who my children can turn to for help? Absolutely. Does this entitle them to opinions on what’s happening in my home? I don’t think so. They don’t know my children well at all, no one knows what’s happening in our house except for those of us who live here, and really: aren’t we all just doing the best we can with what we have? Shouldn’t that be the baseline assumption of all people?
I’m not going to get into “when I was a kid” comparisons. You were all kids once too and you know how different a world it was. All I’m asking for is compassion and support without judgement. And really: is that too much to ask for?