“Be good.” It is what I tell Alec as I’m leaving. When I said that the other night as I headed to work and left him with his grandparents, his grandmother said, “He’s always good.”
When I think about it. He usually is good. Why then do I say it? Is it a last reminder before I leave? Am I afraid that as soon as I walk out he will turn into a little monster? Is my saying it an unchecked habit that I have formed?
A few days before that I got upset with him. He made a small error. I got upset. Why? I don’t know. I could make a bunch of excuses but none of them would be legitimate. How many mistakes have I made in my life? How many of greater consequence than the one he made. When I made it, the last thing I wanted was to be reprimanded of it. The misdeed was instantly noticed, reprimands were only piling on. And I of course, hating when it was done to me, I piled on. A few minutes later, I apologized. It was unnecessary, and I was not helping the situation or him to become better. I was the little monster.
If there is anyone I hope to influence in this world, it is him. How can I help him become what he is capable of becoming? I can treat him as what he ought to be, not what he is now. Even though he is still just a child, I can treat him as a fellow human capable of making appropriate decisions. I can guide him along the way into what I believe is acceptable behavior, but I shouldn’t harangue him for every little action I perceive to be an annoyance. I need to keep Solomon’s words in mind, “Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not be intent on his death.”* There is no need to engage in psychological warfare. I know what it feels like and would not want it for him. I don’t need to nitpick. I don’t want to become a nag for no other reason than to be disagreeable.
Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them become what they are capable of becoming. -Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
As I meditate on these words of Von Goethe, I think of all those I with whom I come into contact: those in my community, at church, within my workplace. Are we not all on a path of what we are becoming? Treat others as they were what they ought to be, and we can have a hand in helping them meet their capabilities.