Day Twelve: Dark Clouds on the (Virtual) Horizon
Today’s Prompt: Write a post inspired by a real-world conversation.
We don’t write in a bubble — we write in the world, and what we say is influenced by our experiences. Today, take a cue from something you’ve overheard and write a post inspired by a real-life conversation. Revisit a time when you wish you’d spoken up, reminisce about an important conversation that will always stick with you, or tune in to a conversation happening around you right now and write your reaction.
Take time to listen — to what you hear around you, or what your memories stir up.
I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.
– Ernest Hemingway
Today’s twist: include an element of foreshadowing in the beginning of your post.
As the door opens, and we are welcome by our friend Dani, her younger son asks anxiously: “where are your kids?”
Dani asks the boy to go back playing with the other kids, and we follow her to meet the other guests.
There are several young couples in the room, many kids and a cute baby. Some of them we met one year before to celebrate Dani’s and her eldest son’s birthday.
After the round of greetings, I chatted with a woman I met before. As the conversation was short-lived, I talked briefly to a few more people, as we couldn’t stay longer. We had to go to another party.
I waved from distance to my husband, signaling that time was almost up. While waiting for him, I overheard a conversation of a couple standing beside me.
“I forgot to tell you what our son did yesterday. I was very embarrassed.”, said the woman. “When walking by my side, Luca said to a man who walked on the opposite side, that he looked like a monkey! Can you believe that?, she asks her husband.
He laughs profusely and says: “He is just a child”.
“I know he’s a child, and that is why he cannot behave like that, as people will hold us responsible for his bad manners.”, says the woman.
The father answers with an irritated voice: “He is a child. He is only five. It is ok.”
“You should have seen the expression of surprise of that poor man. He may have thought the kid repeated my words.! Luca shouldn’t do that again. I disagree with you”, insists the mother.
“That is what children do, they speak the truth. Let him be himself”, shrugged the father.
Very early on, some parents repress kids ability to express themselves naturally, in the name of good manners. There is a fine line between manners and voicing open and honest opinions. Crossing the line is a subtle action, one that carries a heavy weight on the shoulders. In this way, children lose their pure and innocent way of speaking.
I have been, like many of you, one of these kids. I remember upsetting my sister when saying to one of my friends from school that my sister didn’t like her. Well, I was 6 years old. My parents say that I always expressed my opinions without fear, even though I was a shy kid.
After spending my adolescence playing the ungracious battle, father x daughter, I somehow toned down my approach. A rigid Catholic education has also played a huge influence on repressing my natural instinct to speak up in public.
I remember several occasions when I swallowed my questions or opinions, ashamed of speaking in public. It took me some years to open up again. Being a shy person, might have lengthened the ‘recovery’ process.
Eventually, my spontaneous drive to voice my opinions, and say the truth, no matter what, struck back. I know that sometimes I pay a huge price for that, as most often people tell me they would rather not hear about the raw and crude reality of facts, but believe their own stories.
That does not make me popular. But my values do not include running for a popularity contest.
Let me make clear that I am not defending to offend and insult people. One can be honest with sweetest words. The truth should be packaged and delivered with respect and dignity. Let’s not mix bad format with good content.
The kid who greeted us at the door, was visibly upset because we arrived without kids to play with him. His mother’s reaction denoted embarrassment for his honest remark towards us and she shortly cut him off, pointing out his “mistake”.
Isn’t that bizarre to judge the truth as insulting and teach kids to lie? What do you think?