Sunday, September 13, 2009

Homework : What Was She Thinking?

Homework: Choose any or all, or be inspired.
~Think about an old person you love or admire. Write a detailed description of the character and experience reflected in their face. Use a thesaurus if necessary to find the most precise words. (Ideas: conviction, spunk, wit.) What do you hope to look like when you're old?
~List your five biggest worries. Now imagine how each could become a blessing in disguise.
~Has your attitude been changed by your experiences or has it been the other way around? Write a paragraph that starts: "My outlook is more_____than______ (insert lemon and lemonade.) I grew up in a house filled with______."
*If you do any part of this assignment on your blog, link it back to TravelinOma. And please leave a comment here with a link to your blog as part of our class discussion. I'll be keeping track, and spot checking your work, giving points for participation. You can grade your own work, based on your individual progress. (A for Accomplishment, B for Basic Effort, C for Class Comments, D for thinking this post is Dumb, and F for Failure to Communicate.)

"You're so judgemental!" Kari told me.

It was practically a sentencing. Until then I had looked up to her and her love of life. She fairly sparkled with a zest for living and the laugh lines surrounding her blue eyes are forever etched in my memory. She had a certain spring in her step, her short blond curls seemed to bounce about in everything she did, and her laughter tinkled like sleigh bells. In fact, she reminded me of a young Mrs. Claus.

I know that I'd always been quite the realist. I didn't see my pronouncements or attitudes towards life as judging, but rather as a realistic view of events. Most people would call that being negative.

As a twelve year old, it's difficult to see much past your own nose. Life is never fair, and sometimes it feels as if the world is against you. Unless, of course, you were one of the cute girls. Then you could be as a negative as you liked or show it when your feelings got hurt, but when it was my underwear run up the flag pole and I had to retrieve them in the pouring rain, all of the sudden I was judgemental for feeling singled out. The camp counselor preached at me, "It's all just part of the fun. Lighten up!"

Or when my secret sister completely forgot about me until the very last day (when I'm sure one of the camp leaders covered for her) and it was hard not to feel jealous or hurt because of it, I was told not to be so selfish.

Or when the oldest, gorgeous girl extinguished a match (used to start the dinner fire) on my behind and it burned through three layers of clothing, melting my thermal undies into the hole in my skin, I was admonished not to hold it against her, "She didn't mean any harm, after all." I'm sure she didn't, even though there was no apology.

But having that sentence, "You're so judgemental" slapped as a label in my mental file, somewhat changed my course. I will never forget her face as she said it. It wasn't said with love, but with tolerance. Gone was her sweetness and I saw the sharpness come out, her words snapped like a whip. Now there were worry lines where I had only seen laughter, pursed lips where before had been only sweetness. Her whole outlook changed towards me and it was as tangible as if she'd struck me. But it was only words she'd used. Cutting words.

And in that moment, I determined that I would be the same with everyone. Cute or not, there is no difference in how I treat people. I hope to help each person I meet feel valued (although I am an formidable adversary, I am a faithful friend).

Am I judgemental? Probably so, to some extent. It feels like something I can never escape completely, but I hope never to sentence anyone in the same way.

Go do your homework


Kristina P. said...

I think everyone is judgemental to a certain extent.

I'm working hard at judging more. It's not that difficult.

Travelin'Oma said...

Reading all these homework assignments, I'm realizing we all learn from experience. Thanks for sharing yours!

Queen Scarlett said...

I find that the very people who use that phrase "you're being so judgmental" etc... are doing that exact phrase with that pronouncement. It is such a hypocritical phrase, and attitude.

We all judge. It's part of life. It's our responsibility. Pretneding that we don't - is deceitful. We judge who we let affect us, who we don't every minute of every day.

And let me just say... I am totally with you on being a formidable adversary...but faithful friend. Reading this made me want to fight for you as a kid.

Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Queen Scarlett; I read stories like those and want to call out those girls and make them apologize. I can't remember what blog I was reading recently where someone was saying what a fun-loving mom she'd had: "She was always the one at girls' camp to steal the bra of the most large-chested woman and run it up the flagpole!" and I was, well, horrified--why do we have to perpetuate these mean rituals? Maybe it's an attempt at some sort of false intimacy, but I really hate any sort of hazing. Plus I pictured I'd probably be the one with the stolen bra and I would not find it fun or funny, any more than a smaller-chested woman would like that pointed out and made an object of derision. I'm proud that when I gained some seniority at girls' camp, I tried to replace mean traditions with kinder ones, and it seemed to make a real difference.

andrea said...

Very well written. I have tried to bury all of those adolescent insecurities and mortifying experiences so deeply that I don't know if I could write about them so well.

And those experiences you wrote about are the exact reason I went to Girls Camp once, came home early, and never ever went back. I hated Mia Shalom. :(

Anonymous said...

Holy. Cow. Both about the skinny dipping (I guess now you'll have to delete my comment, too,) and the bra skit. There were no repercussions?

I've thought I would never want to be in YW because I'm not "fun," but my sister who's been in YW says there's a place there, even a needed place, for stable women that insecure and picked-upon girls can identify with and count on. We don't really want the TAMNs of the world running the show, right? (On the other hand, one of DeNae's (of My Life Was Backordered) recent posts satirized the overscheduling and cutesiness of girls' camp (which I'd blocked out) and managed to scare me off Young Women's and camp again. But then yet again, I haven't been fired yet from being the Enrichment counselor even though I've been doing my utmost to tear down the fluffiest of the traditions and to simplify, (which takes a ton of courage and feels a little futile, since I suspect once I'm gone all the fluff will be brought right back,) so maybe I could buck up my courage and take my ruthless pruning shears to the Girls' camp fluffy traditions. I definitely think anyone brave enough to try that ought to get some sort of medal (but would probably just get lots of frownsmiles.)

Emma J said...

(First of all, I remember when I first met you thinking you were such an incredibly lovely young woman that I can't imagine you being anything other than one of the cute girls - some people!) And for the record, I've been in YW for two years now and camp person the two years before that and can testify there is a deep need (and deep appreciation by the girls and most of the other leaders) for real women to work with YW.

I was terrified to be in YW at first because cool I am not. And fluffy I could never be. And I was amazed at the acceptance of the girls who are all such admirable and delightful human beings. I love working in YW.

Isn't there some island where we can stick all those Kari's and the "fu"' chicas and let them run each other's bras up the flagpole to their hearts' content?

Emma J said...

that's "fun" chicas - though really, they are kind of "fu," too - though I hate to say it and really didn't mean to.

Mrs. Organic said...

MIB - frownsmiles by the truckload.

Emma J - you made my heart happy with your comment. The trouble is they would all get such a kick out of having their undies on display. Maybe if we took away their make-up it would give them a taste of awkwardness?

I'm just curious how you work with "fluffy" people because it's pretty much guaranteed I'm one of only two non-fluffies here.