Wednesday, March 7, 2007

praise

Do you remember the last time you said "I did it!"? In answer to something other than "who left the cap off the toothpaste?"

The reason I ask, is because I noticed something yesterday while Joe-Henry was flying his balsa wood airplane with his dad in the front yard. He had been struggling with it, throwing it too hard, but his dad was so great with him, praising him for everything he did right at each step along the way, until he did it. He finally got the hang of it, and started throwing it less like a rock and more like the delicate, decrepit dime-store toy that it is, and the plane would float gently, gracefully along, circling the whole front yard, like a tiny, mystical cropduster, spraying magic and twilight. It was beautiful to watch, the best kind of airshow (no feeling of impending disaster to nearby neighborhoods), and the pilot, the pilot was one big toothless grin. He glowed with happiness. His walk was so confident (it usually is anyway, but it had an extra bounce), and he was so clearly proud of his newfound skill.

This feeling carried on into the rest of his activities last night, too. When he practiced his piano lesson, he was so thrilled when he got the two note song right, he couldn't stop himself, he had to move right on to the next page, with it's more challenging THREE notes. He captured the flag there too, even singing the words to that tune, in his clear, strong, voice. I noticed though, that when he got it, when he figured out the rhythm and the fingering and made it through the song, he was so proud of himself before he even looked at us for approval. It was thrilling to witness.

So simple, really. Encouragement, praise, a pat on the back for a job well done. Just noticing. We forget the impact these things have on how we move through our days. It's so easy to bitch and moan about lousy service, bad traffic, not to mention the people we live with and their annoying habits. And usually we save the worst of it for ourselves. We beat ourselves up over mistakes made, rethinking our choices, mired in the what-if-I'd-done-that-differently? Okay, maybe I'm the only one who does that, but I'm going to challenge myself today.

Today, I will recognize myself. I will give myself a mental high-five for something I do well. And I'll carry it out with me, and notice the people around me, give a bit of that to someone who looks like they could use a pat on the back. I challenge you to do the same.

I don't think the world will change. The wars won't end, and there will still be famine and hate. I'll still be the only person in my house that knows how to load the dishwasher.

But it might be the tiniest step in the right direction.

2 comments:

Franklin5 said...

So I'm reading this and loving it and thinking, yes! encouragement! yes! praise! and then I reached your call of action for turning these affirmations around to ourselves and: smack! was the sound of me running into a brick wall at a high rate of speed.

I don't know why it's so hard for me to be kind to myself, to pat myself on the back for jobs well done and shake off the things that don't go quite as smoothly and move on with ease. I'm aware of it. I'm aware that my children notice it, too. But I don't know exactly how to change it.

This is a great first step; thanks for sharing it. High five, Annie!

anniemcq said...

Oh Franklin, you should know better than to do any kind of physical comedy around me. No matter how hurt you are, if you run right into a brick wall, try as I might to contain myself, I will laugh. I'm so sorry. Not very highminded of me, but it's true.

Glad you liked the post. It actually wasn't headed in that direction when I was writing it, but my fingers just sort of typed it before my brain could catch up. That self-love stuff is hard for me too, but like you said, the little ones notice it, and for that reason alone, we should try it.

So glad you're on my bloggie block.