I was snuggling her tight before she went to bed. Her head comes just above my shoulders now, so as I stood there and squeezed her, I lowered my head to kiss the top of hers. As her arms were wrapped around me, and her nose was nestled near my armpit, she said: “No offense, but you stink.”
Freaking kids, man.
Honesty is important to me. I want my children to feel like they can tell me anything. In turn I give them honest (albeit age-appropriate) answers to their questions. In fact, in all facets of my life I strive to tell the truth and encourage my daughters to do the same. Apparently my almost 12 year-old was listening to me at some point and took my message to heart. But did it have to replace her heart?
Brutal honesty, perhaps, is the issue I should address with my tween now. The problem, though, is honesty can be helpful as well as hurtful. The difference is often in the eye of the beholder; how can the messenger anticipate that difference?
People are quick to take offense, even when the offending comment or issue is not directed at them. People are also quick to pass judgement and often share that judgement without giving a second (or first!) thought. You could say the offended group of people are too sensitive. You could say the judgmental group is too harsh. Are either of these statements actually true, though?
They both are. And they’re both not. What both groups are lacking is introspection. A little bit of thoughtfulness that will put the issue in perspective.
Perhaps my daughter could have realized that sticking your nose in someone’s armpit is not an accurate way to judge overall stinkiness. I really wanted to be hurt by her comment (and I was) but I knew a) she’s a cantankerous tween; and b) her nose was DIRECTLY IN MY PIT… so I let it go. Which is obvious. I’m not at all bitter. I’ve moved on…ish. Anyway.
A moment of consideration, which can be as short as the time it takes for a deep inhalation, is often all we need to find our humanity. Imagine what we could find if we sat with our thoughts for longer than one deep breath.
Tweens and teens often speak without thinking. They are still learning the rules of human-to-human engagement. Ideally by the time they are adults they will have learned to take things less personally, or to rephrase honesty in a more thoughtful way. Ideally these lessons are being modeled by adults in their lives. But, honestly? Many adults have not yet learned these lessons.
I was quick to forgive my daughter. I filed her brutally honest comment away as something to address in the light of day and told her goodnight. And then I took a shower…because she wasn’t wrong. I did stink a little.