I had to stop by school and interrupted our AP class for a short five minutes. It's a small class of six and both Deb and I have become very close to the students. So when I interrupted, we had to talk. The end of the year looms and already the students are feeling nostalgic and so the conversation went to end of year parties. They know they are the apple of both their teachers' eyes, so they don't hesitate to ask for favors.
"We need a swimming party."
"Of course," I responded, then slipped and said the worst thing an adult can say in the midst of teenagers. I turned to Deb and jokingly said, "We're starting our diets now."
Deb responded, "I'm not swimming. I'll be serving food."
It was easy to slink out of the room after I'd made the comment and had introduced the idea that somehow our bodies weren't good enough for a class pool party. I'd also planted the idea that if we weren't in good enough shape, then neither were they.
Hopefully no one really did pick up on that message. Hopefully they brushed it off as two mature women talking foolishly and self consciously. But if we want to change body hang-ups, we have to start with ourselves.
I was overly disappointed in myself that I'd let that old/outdated/unnecessary/sometimes debilitating self conscious-body-image self flare in front of the students.
Each time I say something I shouldn't have, or didn't mean to, I suffer. Sometimes an apology is timely and appropriate, other times I just have to walk out and hope no one heard (how sad to speak and hope no one heard when words are so valuable). The diet comment wasn't worth explaining or deliberating over. To give it more attention might have been more foolish than the initial comment. But because of my own weakness, regrets, and wish-I-hadn't-said-that goofs, I give other people a wide berth. Instead of feeling bad or criticized from other's comments, I take them in the spirit they should have been spoken. I understand my own weaknesses, why not give the same compassion towards others?
It happened the other day in a heart to heart conversation with a student. She told me she didn't like me at the beginning of the year. Her reasons were superficial.
I could have been hurt (I was just a little), by her comment, but I took it in the spirit of how it should have been expressed. She wanted to tell me that she liked me now and the easiest way was to contrast her feelings with how she felt in the past. It's okay. I also conclude she needed to learn from her mistake. Just like I will never make a body conscious comment again, hopefully she will remember how she felt when she revealed her personal, hurtful feelings.
At my doctor's office, a small plaque sits on the receptionist's desk, "Be kind, you never know what kind of day a person is having." I've re-written the sign to end cap my thoughts: "Be kind regardless of what a person says to you--he probably didn't mean it and wishes he hadn't. Treat it as if he hadn't."
A little humor to lighten up the subject--Found in a boutique yesterday--a sign that read: How to have a beach body: 1. Have a body 2. Go to the beach