Respect

Respect is a funny thing isn’t it? An intangible but a powerful force to reckon with. You know when you have it. However, a bit like water and food, you’re even more acutely aware of it when you don’t have it.

We’re taught from a young age that adults and authority figures deserve respect. Throughout history, there have been innumerable instances when those figures have abused the power of the respect bestowed on them by others by taking advantage of and mistreating those around them. Often, they get away with their actions with very few consequences. Why? Because they are often shielded by others who revere them or benefit from them or bask in the reflected glory of the respected person.

When you go through life and there are ups and downs, you realise quite quickly that people are chameleons. People quite often astound me – and not in the positive sense of the world. To some, position, power and wealth is king. It is absolutely everything. You can be an absolutely wretched, deplorable human being. But, because you have an important position, or are in power, or have wealth – you are impressive, worthy and deserving of respect. On the other hand, you can be kind, helpful, an angel of a human being – but without wealth, or an important job, or not wielding power over anyone – you’re valued as worthless. Undeserving of respect. Your words are not valued, your actions are not valued. You are a ‘nothing’ in their eyes. Nothing.

The older I get, the more and more I observe this behaviour in the world around me. People fawning like sycophants over people with wealth and/or power. If truth be told, it angers me. Those people who are so superficial and lacking in integrity, that the way they judge people is purely based on wealth and power and position – and that is their criteria for giving people respect – in my eyes, these people are truly despicable.

Surely, you have to dig a bit deeper? Surely, if you are going to give respect to someone – you have to have loftier ideals? Surely, the recipient of your respect has to be a good human being in the first place? Surely, they have to be kind and good? Surely, being in their presence should make you feel good about yourself?

The thing with wealth and power – you never know when it will come, or when it will go. The other intangible qualities: kindness, helpfulness, reliability, integrity, ability to keep your promises…these are not transient attributes. They don’t simply come and go. These qualities, if you have them – they are there for life. Why aren’t these people given the most amount or respect? Because if they were – our world would be a different place. Certainly not the brutal mess it is at the moment.

I have met people who have been cruel. Who have been unkind. Who have done their best to break people around them, destroy their confidence, stamped out the light inside others. Often, it is these types of people in power. They treat their subordinates in this way. Many leave. Some leave before too much damage has been done. Others leave after they have been completely destroyed. Those who stay they emulate this behaviour once they get into power because they admire and respect this style and believe that this is the best way to be.

There are those of course who have wealth, power and position, and are absolute gems of human beings. Those people are few and far between.

I will say this – we are on the brink of a new year. 2019. 2018 has felt extremely drama filled and tumultuous when you look at events on a global scale. At the moment, the world doesn’t seem like a particularly kind, safe place to be living in. On the Earth at the moment, the best people are actually primary school aged children. They are the ones who are the most idealistic people, wanting the world to be a better place, treating each other with kindness and calling out others who do not behave correctly. They often show patience to those who are different, and won’t tolerate unkindness in others.

What the hell happens to them? Why do those incredible qualities that they are born with, because children are inherently good and kind, why do they get battered out of them? When does respect for goodness and kindness become substituted for money and power?

I don’t know. What I do know is that we need to take a good hard look at ourselves and reflect on our own behaviour. If we want to live in a more peaceful and happier world, we need to re-evaluate as a society who and what we give respect to.

I know, I know, I’ve laboured the point enough… but I’ll leave you with this…

We make choices all the time. Our choices have consequences. If we choose to give the wrong type of people respect – the repercussions are horrific. We cannot blame those in power for their behaviour, if we are the people who put them there and crucially, keep them there in the first place. Let’s start taking responsibility for our actions, and slowly but surely, let’s start changing the world.

One can only but hope.


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Step back in time

I don’t know if you’re familiar with the app ‘Timehop’, most of you probably have it.  If you don’t, I’ll explain what it does.  You can link it to the photos on your camera roll, to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Dropbox etc, and everyday it gives an update of any photos, or Facebook statuses, or tweets you may have written on that day years ago.  I love it.  Everyday, it shows me memories of photos and videos of my little ones that I or others took and I marvel at how small they were.  I marvel at videos of them when they were only 18 months old and how I could understand them perfectly at the time – but I look back at their broken English, and attempts to communicate, gesturing and nodding – like a game of charades – and I think how nobody else would probably understand what they were trying to say, but my husband and I did.  

Yesterday, as is my daily ritual, I opened Timehop again, and saw a series of photographs and videos that physically hurt my heart.  It reminded me of a time when I desperately wanted to be in control of my life – but nothing could have been further from it. 

Let me digress and travel off track a little.  On the BBC at the moment, there is an advert that has caused a bit of a controversy amongst some viewers.  The advert shows a teenage boy and a fraught mother.  It’s Christmas time and the mother has to work – she can’t spend the time that she would have liked to with her son, and her son resents her for, as he sees it, putting her job before him.  As a viewer, you can see the conflict in both of those people.  Mum has to work.  The son probably gets that too – but he wants to spend some time with her.  The mum is also torn in half, she needs to work, but she also wants to spend time with her son.  We see shots of them both struggling in their different settings, both angry, both frustrated.  Finally, the mum runs out of work, races to be with her son and they spend the perfect evening together, reconnecting.  

Why the controversy?  I wondered why people were outraged.  I wasn’t.  I got it.  Having felt that way many, many times in my life, I understood how that mother felt.  I never wanted my own children to feel that way about me.  You see the objection to the advert was that it was a woman.  Why do women have to feel guilty about going to work and having a career and leaving children at home?  I think those people are misguided.  The advert wasn’t trying to say that.  My interpretation was, in a world where we seem to be living to work, instead to working to live – there are times when we need to take a step back, revaluate what is important, the times and moments that we will never get back, and grab those moments so that we can live without regrets.  

The photos and videos that I referred to earlier, was my eldest’s very first Christmas play, when she was in Reception.  I had resigned myself to the fact that I couldn’t go.  I didn’t bother asking my boss at the time, whether I could go because…because I didn’t want to put anyone out.  It was alright, I convinced myself, my husband would be going, she would have one parent there to watch, that would be ok.  It didn’t matter if I didn’t go.  That’s what I told myself.  

The day of the performance finally arrived, and all I could think about was making sure that she was ok.  I hugged her and explained that she was going to be brilliant and that daddy was going to take lots of pictures and videos, so I wouldn’t miss a thing.  From an extremely early age, she has been incredibly emotionally intelligent, so she just smiled and said that everything was fine.  With a heavy heart, I drove to work.  Now the play was starting at 1.30 in the afternoon, and my husband had to pick his parents up from Heathrow that morning.  A completely straight-forward job.  He was keeping me updated about the flight and his arrival time and all was going well – until the flight was delayed.  The airport was about 2 to 2 and a half hours away – and we were in trouble.  Chances were that he wasn’t going to make it back in time, and our little 4 year old was going to have no one there to watch her in her first performance.  

I felt anxious anyway about not being to watch her, but knowing that we had promised that Daddy would be there, and for her to not see anyone in the audience was too much for my heart to bear.  Feeling distraught, I went to my head and explained the situation to her.  I’m not sure how articulate I was, but she could see the distress that I was in, she was completely wonderful and let me go.  

I made it.  I made it on time, to watch my daughter play the part of a sheep, singing her songs and doing the actions that she had spent hours at home learning and perfecting.  All the other parents were sitting together, they all seemed to know each other, I found an empty seat somewhere in the crowd and suddenly there was a bustling of excitement as the play was about to start and the children were walking in.  

Looking back through the photos, I remembered my daughter’s face, so wide-eyed with amazement as she took seconds to process the fact that I was there!  Mummy was there to watch her.  And then she waved excitedly as I blew kisses and waved like a crazy person back at her.  

The play began, and I sat back in my chair wondering at the might of God.  Even though I thought that this was an event that I was destined to miss – the Almighty had other plans.  Genuinely, it felt like a Christmas miracle.  My husband didn’t miss out either.  20 minutes into the performance, he arrived and saw the rest of the play too.  Both of us had tears of both pride and joy and relief in our eyes…

Although it pains me to look back on those times, I’m also extremely grateful that I was able to make life choices and decisions that helped me to redress the imbalances in my life.  I’ll be honest, a few years on and I had forgotten about that time.  But the photos and videos brought everything back to me, like a jolt of lightning.  

One of my mantras in life is to have no regrets.  Life is short and unpredictable, so at times, we have to make life choices that may seem bizarre to others – but are right for us.  I am grateful to God every day for being with me, and helping me to not live a life of regret.  And I will never forget the day that I was not supposed to watch my daughter’s play – but God had other plans.  And for that memory, I will be thankful and grateful forever.

Footprints…

The journey that life takes you on is a strange and surreal one.  I often think that it’s a bit like a train ride – people arrive on the train, share part of your journey with you, they get on the same train as you at different points, leave when their station arrives.  During your journey, some of the passengers sit with you, share food with you, share incredible stories with and you can’t imagine travelling the rest of the way without them.  But then, their stop arrives, they have to depart to catch another train and continue with their journey.  Sometimes you see them again, perhaps stay in touch through social media, or the odd text now and then.  Most of the time, you will never see them again.  

Friendships are like that too.  Best friends you had when you were at primary school or secondary school – they are your universe at the time.  Then you drift away.  Never to think of them ever again.  And this can happen at any point of your life – friends that you make when you are older, you become firm, best friends with.  You share all your secrets with them, you are there for them or they are there for you during some of the toughest times….and then – something happens.  Perhaps you move away, or they do.  Perhaps you meet someone who becomes your partner and you don’t have as much time for anyone else because you’re totally absorbed in this new person and you’re trying so hard to make this new relationship work…before you know it, old friends become relegated to the status of acquaintances.  And then you completely lose touch.  

Do you look back with regret on not being in contact with those people anymore?  Or is it an organic, healthy part of life anyway?  They say that those people who are no longer a part of your life, it is that way for a reason.  Their journey with you was only destined for a period of time.  You met them when it was the right time for you to meet, and they left your life when it was the right time for that to happen also.   It’s not without sadness that I look back and think of some friends that I no longer see.  It’s easy to say we should make time for others and reconnect – but often that’s tricky.  Geography plays a huge part.  Making the time to see someone who lives in a different part of the country, when you have job and family commitments is hard.  And the truth is, after a huge expanse of time, you and your close friends sometimes have actually grown apart for a reason.  Both of you are no longer the people you were when you first connected and made friends.  The close bond that you had, may never be recreated because of the stages of life that you are at.  Before, when you were single, had no commitments, had no children, you could be there for one another at the drop of a hat.  But now, that isn’t possible….

I don’t often look back.  If truth be told, I’m so busy moving forward thinking about the next thing that needs to be done, I don’t have the time to look back.  A friend I once knew said that there are a few people you meet in the world who, when they leave, you can feel the imprints of their footsteps on your heart.  You’ll never forget them.  There are a handful of people who have made that impression on me.  Who I find it hard to forget.  Who were fiercely protective of me, and were at the end of a phone call whenever I needed them.  You can tell I’m talking about pre 2010, because nowadays people would rather die than speak to one another on the phone! I’m talking about friends who built me up and made me feel that I was worth something.  They would make me feel incredible about myself.  We would meet and just laugh and laugh forever.  We were young and invincible.  Everything was in our grasp.  

I think if I hadn’t met this bunch of disparate, incredible, loyal, strong, intelligent, beautiful women – I wouldn’t be the person that I am now.  I wouldn’t have had the courage to make certain decisions that I made in life.  I wouldn’t have realised the importance of raising people up, so that they can become the best versions of themselves.  It’s only when you have experienced true sisterhood, true friendship, positivity – that you can pay that forward.  

I may not be constantly in touch with all the wonderful friends that I had in the past, the ones who made me realise that life is for enjoying and isn’t always a serious slog and fight.  But those incredible women have left  indelible imprints on my heart, and the lessons I learnt from them, and the positivity and boost in self esteem that they gave me, I hope that I am able to pass onto others.  

But – just like the train journey that I referred to earlier – the wonderful thing about life is that you never know who will embark upon that journey with you.  Which exciting people you will meet next?  New friendships that will take you to new places?  

All I know is that life is an unpredictable, strange, journey – be kind, positive and loving to the people you meet along the way, so that when we leave, people smile and remember us with fondness.  

 

The sunrise

This morning my youngest was getting ready in her room, putting on her school uniform, tidying things up, making her bed, finally pulling the curtains open. I was in my room doing pretty much the same things when all of a sudden she gasped with surprise. ‘Mummy!’ she screamed. ‘Mummy, it’s the sunrise. Have a look at the sunrise!’

At this point, I had two choices. Tell her that’s great and get on with my jobs as I was running late, or go and have a look to see what she was so enthralled with….

I chose option 2. And when I went into her room I thank God that I did. Out of her window, on the opposite side of the street, past the roofs and chimneys in the distance, the sky was incredible hues of pinks and purples. I couldn’t see the sun but it delighted me to see that she was making a grand entrance. Trees were silhouetted against the background and I hugged my youngest as tightly as I could, thanking her for alerting me to this beautiful sight.

I hope she remembers that. When she’s older and has children of her own, curly haired, bright eyed, beautiful children of her own who get excited about sunsets and sunrises and the colours of the sky – I hope that she too can drop everything in a heartbeat and share their awe and wonder with them.

Tomorrow is a painful day for me. My father passed away 31 years ago. He was 33 years old. There are so many things that I never got to share with my father, so many things I never got to tell him, that he never got to tell me.

I know that he would have loved his grandchildren. All four of them. Their curiosity. Their humour. Seeing the world again, through their young, innocent eyes would have invigorated him. He would have loved their spirit, their intelligence, how they care about others.

Life is cruel at times. When I think of him, I remember him as a giant of a man, kind, stern, brave, full of wisdom. Then I remember that I am older than he was when he passed away – and it never fails to astound me.

If getting older has taught me anything, it is this – growing old is a bloody privilege – not something terrible. A privilege. Grey hairs, sagging skin, hair loss, weight gain – none of it compares to growing old to see your babies grow into toddlers, children, adolescents, adults and then seeing them have children of their own…that’s a miracle. A gift – not something that everyone gets.

What I would give to share my excitement about the colours of the sky during the sunrise, with my father – I cannot even begin to explain. But it can’t happen. So I make sure that I share those moments with my loved ones so that they have those memories with me.

Life is too short to be busy doing jobs – and forgetting to live. So – you’re a couple of minutes late for work? You’ll never share that excitement of the sunrise again. Life is a gift. Getting old is a privilege. And your children – they are only little once. Spend time marvelling at how wonderful life and the world is when they are little…because looking at the world through their eyes makes everything more beautiful for you too.

Darkest Times

It’s funny when you have two children, you give them the same upbringing, the same experiences, give them the same values – you expect them to be quite similar in likes, dislikes, personality etc.  It never fails to shock me how different both of my children are.  My eldest walks into a room and can make friends or at least talk to people straight away – a bit like her father.  My youngest – she has to hang back a bit, assess the situation, suss out who is there and then she may or may not interact with others.  I think she must get that from me.

My eldest, will naturally find people, make sure they are ok, look after those who need to be taken care of.  My youngest – is still finding her own way in this complex world of ours.  So this evening I was completely taken aback when she casually mentioned a name that I had not heard before.  My ears pricked up.  ‘Who’s this?’ I asked.  ‘Ohh, she’s a new girl.  She started today and she looked like she was going to cry because she had no friends.  So I played with her and made her laugh.  Now she’s not lonely anymore.  I’ll play with her tomorrow too because she’s a really nice person.’

My heart was almost bursting with happiness with the kindness she had shown, without being prompted, towards another person.  We talked about how being new to somewhere was so hard and not having any friends can be so tricky.  And she recounted how things were tricky for her when she first started school, but then she made friends with other people and is happy.  She wanted this new girl to feel happy too.  The way that she could remember, reason and articulate her feelings astounded me.  I realised that both of my little girls are growing up so quickly, both of them now, are happy to take care of others.

This blog is entitled ‘Darkest Times’ – and so far, I haven’t mentioned anything remotely related to the title –  but bear with me, I am going somewhere with this.

In Hindi there is a very famous saying, ‘Sukh ke sab saathi, dukh mein na koi‘.  This translates to, ‘In happiness, everyone is your companion, in sadness there is no one.’ And this is so true.  If you want to know who your real friends are – you have to go through the bad times.  You have to go through the tough times.  Only then will you realise who is truly there for you.  Who truly valued you.  You realise that the people that you were there for, and would still be there for at the drop of a hat – they just don’t want to know you.  They don’t want to hear your problems, they don’t want to meet you, they don’t want to get involved.  After all, they have ‘enough going on’ themselves – or worse still – you’re not someone they want to be associated with anymore.

It’s almost as though God intentionally gives you the tough times to cull the rubbish from out of your life.  You discover who and what is good for you – and you dispose of the toxic.  People you were really close to, behave like strangers – and you receive support from those you may never have dreamed of.  You go with it though – it may pain you to discover the true colours of some people – but you go with it.  Because that’s life.  You have to keep learning.  You have to keep rolling with the punches.  You will never stop being surprised.

And I suppose that’s why I wrote this blog tonight.  It hurts to feel let down.  It’s extremely painful to want and need support from others and realise that there is none there.  But it doesn’t have to be that way.  If we teach our children that kindness isn’t buying people presents; kindness isn’t a simple case of celebrating people’s good news and making a song and dance about things going well.  No.  Kindness is intangible.  It’s letting people know that you think of them.  It’s noticing that something is wrong – and then proactively doing something about it.  It’s letting people know – you might think that you’re on your own – but you’re not and you don’t have to be.  I’m here.

I’ve been on the receiving end of some unkindness in life – but the kindness that I have received far outweighs that.  I’m lucky enough to have children of my own and also work with children for a living.  So I am constantly surrounded by immense kindness.  Children asking me if I’m ok, did I have a good lunch, a good break time, a good day?  They help me – sometimes without me even needing to say a word, and make sure that my life is that little bit easier.  And I tell them – the kindness that they show me, is more valuable than a huge box full of money.  I mean that.  I’m geuninely not being twee – I mean that.  Because if our future generations of children learn that kindness matters – our world can only grow to be a more beautiful place.

In the meantime – we adults need to take a leaf out of books of the little ones.  Be kind to those who need it.  Notice those who are struggling and be brave enough to do something about it.  Don’t cut those in need loose because it’s inconvenient and annoying for you.  Help others.  God knows, you may be in their situation one day and hope that people will be there for you.  So – take the time to notice and help people – especially during their darkest times.

Ambition

It’s interesting – the word ‘ambition’.  The definition in most dictionaries for this word is, ‘a strong desire to do or achieve something’.  The word conjures up an energetic go-getter.  Hardworking.  Determined.  Lets nothing get in their way.  Ruthless at times.  Focussed.  People to be admired!

Ambitious people don’t understand people who don’t put their careers first.  Ambitious people don’t understand when people have other priorities in their lives and therefore are not motivated by money or promotion.  Ambitious people find those people very difficult to understand – because they do not know what motivates them.

Family, you tell them.  Yes, but everyone has a family, I have a family – what makes yours so important?

And therein lies the difference in perspective.  A career driven person is deemed to be ambitious because they are chasing a desire to be financially successful and achieve status and respect because of their talent – what they do.

A family driven person is also ambitious.  They have an overwhelming desire to have a family life where they can look after their partner, be there for their children, be present and mindful and make their house a happy home.

Sadly – this is looked down upon as a lack of ambition.  But if we go back to the definition of what ambition actually is – then what is the difference?  Following one path will make you financially rich and secure – but it may come at a cost.  What cost?  Not being able to be there for the ones that you love because of the demands of your job.  Not noticing that anything may be wrong with the ones you love because of the demands of your job.  Having to neglect the ones that you love – because of the demands of your job.

Following the other path may mean that you are seen as lacking commitment by your employers because you put your family first.  You may miss out on opportunities for promotion or not even be considered for certain roles because you don’t give your ‘all’ to work.  This may mean that financially you are not as well off as you might have been, if only your thought processes or approach was different.

In each case – neither person is wrong.  It is not wrong to want to be successful in your job, to be talented in an area and want to strive to reach new heights and be good at what you do.  However, it is also not wrong to want to look after your family.  To have the time to tuck your children in bed so that they sleep peacefully.  It is not wrong to refuse to take on additional responsibilities at work, because you know that takes time away from how much you will be able to be there for the ones that you love.  The latter choice is not a lack of ambition – it is a different ambition though  – to have a successful family life.

If we could – we would marry the two up.  Be extremely successful in our careers and have plenty of time to spend with loved ones.  Some people to manage it – at least from afar, it appears that they do…

But the point of my blog today is, let’s not dismiss the homemakers – the people who make a choice to stay at home and look after their families; or the ones that decide that they only want to go ‘so far’ in their careers.  Let’s not think that they are lacking in ambition, are lazy, or just don’t have what it takes!   Let’s dig a bit deeper and realise that their ambition – to create happiness and stability in their family homes is one to be admired as well.  These people that are there to comfort their loved ones, who have the time to ensure that their family is healthy (mentally, as well as physically), and happy  – these people are just as important and necessary and are just as deserving of respect as those who are financially successful and receive promotion upon promotion.

It is important to remember – and this is where I will end really…a job is just a job.  If you love it – that’s brilliant.  I have a job that I am fortunate enough to love.  But it’s the people in my life that drive me.  Not money.  Not finance.  Nothing else.  It is the people around me who look after me when I am feeling sick, or tired, or need cheering up.  It is the people in my life who I share my happiness and successes with, who make me laugh and bring me joy.  Jobs will come.  Jobs will go.  Family and loved ones – we should do our best to keep them forever, and make as much time as we can to be with them.  Money, you can earn again.  Promotions, you can achieve those later.  But once a person that you love has gone, or once your child’s childhood has changed into adulthood – no matter how much you try to turn back the tides of time – you can never get those people, those moments or those missed opportunities back ever again.

Lessons we can learn from bears!

 

This morning, I was scrolling through my Twitter feed and saw the most heart warming and inspirational video that I have ever seen.  When I was a little girl, I remember my father telling me the story of Robert the Bruce.  Robert was a Scotsman who had been fighting the English.  He had fought many, many battles and kept losing.  The story says that Robert was on the brink of giving up, and sat down in deep contemplation, thinking about what he would do next.  Whilst he was sat down, his eyes rested upon a spider who was trying to spin a web.  The spider kept trying, kept falling, but each time undeterred, the spider got back up and carried on with its endeavour. Legend says that on its 7th attempt, the spider was finally successful.  This tiny spider inspired Robert to continue in his battle of independence and was subsequently successful.  The video below, illustrates another beautiful example of another animal refusing to give up.

What is interesting for me in this video, is the adult bear.  I showed my daughters this video, and my eldest exclaimed with horror, ‘Why isn’t the big bear helping the little bear?’  Good question, I thought. Why not?  Is it because the big bear was frightened for its own safety and was thinking about self preservation?  Is it because the big bear wanted the little bear to make the climb on its own and that was the lesson it wanted to teach?  Or was it because the big bear had complete faith that the little bear would find its own way – regardless?  I don’t know…

It made me think though.  Animals know that the world is brutal and in a lot of instances, they teach their child the skills of how to survive – and then, when it’s time they let them go.  My youngest’s favourite story of all time is ‘The Three Little Pigs’.  What does it teach you?  You have to be strong to survive.  If you’re mollycoddled you won’t last a minute.  Either you won’t be able to find food and shelter, or you will be hunted down and ripped apart by a predator.  Animal parents know this.  And I think that is what the big bear is thinking, whilst she watches her cub making that climb.  Climb or die baby, climb or die trying.  Whilst watching that, I was questioning my own parenting skills – I wouldn’t have been able to help myself – I would have intervened.  Thinking as a human, I would have slid down that mountain and pulled the cub up – but it made me question – what would I have taught my cub?  Would that have been the right approach?  My instinct is, I don’t want my child to get hurt. Fine.  However, should I be thinking – it’s ok if you hurt yourself – what lessons will you learn from that?

The thing is, as a parent, you can’t always be there to protect your children and fend off predators.  The lessons that a lot of children learn in life, are when their parents are not there to intervene.  I’ve spoken and written about this before, but one of the things that we teach our children, is to be polite.  Use good manners.  Say please and thank you.  Talk to people, don’t ignore them.  Be polite.  I was brought up in this way, and so have my own children.  I worry though.  I worry because I know what they will have to encounter when they get older.  How do I know?  Because I faced some troubling situations myself.

I was polite.  Even when I was with people – ok men – that I didn’t particularly like, I was polite.  Treat people how you want to be treated yourself – that’s what we teach children isn’t it?  So, that’s how I would behave with others.  Talk, be polite, be interested in what people say – don’t be rude.  What’s wrong with that, you may wonder?  Well, nothing.  Until – men – some men – mistook that politeness – pure politeness – for interest.  Suddenly, you find yourself in quicksand.  You try – politely – to let the other person know that you are not interested – they don’t take the hint.  Suddenly, it’s a game.  Of course you were interested, you were so polite, you both got so well – now, your polite refusals are just an indication that you’re playing ‘hard to get’.  Just a bit more persistence and pressure and you’ll change your mind and ‘give in’.

That is what worries me as my children grow older.  Balancing politeness with being absolutely assertive and clear cut when they need to be.  Be polite.  Be kind.  It is good to be those things, I firmly believe in that.  But, always be totally clear and fearless when speaking to people.  If someone does or says something that you don’t like – you don’t need to be polite in that instance.  You need to be clear and know that when you are assertive, you aren’t being a bad person.  Self preservation is self preservation – whether that be in the animal kingdom, or in the concrete jungle.

I won’t be able to be there all the time for my daughters.  My parents were not able to be there all the time for me.  But I trust, that like the big bear in the footage above, I have given my children the life skills that they need to survive.  And know that even when things feel at their lowest – they should never give up.