There are somethings that I don’t like listening to but really love not reacting to. Like people screaming and blaming me for stuff they did to themselves.
The other day I was chatting with an old friend about the future. It was an interesting conversation because I thought they know me fairly well. The conversation drifted towards children and the prospects of me ending up with someone who has children already – in the grand scheme of things, this isn’t so far from a possibility given that I’m fairly old and that a lot of the women who are close to my age already have children.
They made a really odd comment that initially stung until I realized it didn’t actually mean anything to me. “You have never even baby sat or changed a diaper.” Not entirely true, I changed a diaper when I was 6 and I baby sat a few times as a teenage to make some money for chocolate bars and new grips for my BMX bike. I didn’t say this, there seemed to be some satisfaction in the words so I wasn’t going to rod them of it. The point seemed to have more to do with the big difference between us and I didn’t feel like mentioning that it was only because they’ve done something more times that I had. There didn’t seem to be anything to gain from reminding them that I can ride a bike better simply because I have done it more. Intelligent people know skills are acquired through practice. Intelligent people who *forget* this point are saying something else entirely.
I have never been married and I don’t have children so I didn’t get to practice changing diapers or baby sitting. With every girl friend I have ever had, we talked about having kids one day and I ultimately decided that I didn’t want to have any. Marrying the right person was more important to me than procreating. Kids grow old and move out and before they do, they are children for a long time. A home without my real partner didn’t really stack-up in my view.
Every task that I know how to do, I learned how to do it. That means driving, cutting bread, reading, playing, washing my clothes, creative writing, playing guitar, showering, etc…. Every task that I presently do not know how to do I can learn how to do. I wanted to become a cycling instructor, no one told me that I had never done it, they told me that I could learn. I wasn’t a personal trainer and no one told me that I had never done it, they encouraged me to study and make it my craft and I was able to do it. I was, in my time, a very effective and successful trainer and I got there fairly quickly. This occurred because I wanted to be very good at it and I put the time in to figure-out the best way to make it happen.
In fact, their comment was very helpful because it sounded like something I would say to myself as a justification for not putting in the hard work to learn how to do something.
I just heard their words, considered them, realized that it was the same dismissive tone that I have attacked myself with for a very long time – you’ve never done blank before so why would you think you could do it? The comment made me very happy actually. They were right, I haven’t done the same things they have done. There are many paths through life and ours were just two. But to be maligned for not doing something that wasn’t right for me, my girl friend or any potential offspring is not anything that I need to be a part of. It’s hardly a bad thing to not marry someone I wasn’t completely compatible with. In fact, most of my old girl friends are married, some have started families and the others are partnered-up with people they really care about.
Imagine if, as a group fitness instructor I asked the question at the start of class “is this anyone’s first class?” and when someone replies yes, I say “well you shouldn’t even try because you have never done it before”. Three things happen, 1) I get fired or written-up, 2) I would need at accept that my comment was attempting to say something else to them or imply something about me and 3) people will very quickly see me as a toxic influence who has no interest in creating order in others.
I considered what I heard and just assume it was a throw away comment and made the decision to not receive it as fact. Gifts and insults are like that, if you don’t receive them, they still below to the other person.