let them howl!

My hands are buried in a bin of t-shirts – shopping a sale for the ever-growing young people in the house – when I sense an argument behind me, a man and a woman. As they move close to where I’m installed I hear her say with intensity, “I’m grumpy because you screamed at someone in the parking lot which caused a panic attack!”. I laugh and say, “Yeah dude, that’s totally uncool!”

I look up to see a young woman with her father. She looks shocked, and blurts out: ” – that’s my dad!”. Meanwhile “dad” is glaring at me like he’d like to light me on fire with his mind. But what strikes me is that this young woman clearly finds him so fearsome she can’t believe someone would call him out. I think, “Well I’m not scared of your dad, babe!”

But I say, “Hi!” to them both and smile. She feels better a second later and compliments my hat – and I tell her, “Thank you.”

It is sad to me this man thinks he can act like a bully, can scream at someone, and in no way expects to be confronted. I used to be so incredibly non-confrontational I could never say a thing. But it’s a lose-lose, isn’t it? You call someone out directly, or with any heat – they’re angry. You call someone out with humor – they’re angry. What this means is this fellow thinks he can treat people poorly and that no one should object.

What an example to demonstrate for your child!

I hope this young woman comes to realize that she is not the bad behavior of her parents. She doesn’t have to answer for their poor behavior nor does she have to stand for it. She can un-learn these behaviors if she likes. She can love her dad but not participate when he does this sort of thing.

I’m thinking of my kids. I certainly don’t want them to grow up abusing people on the street – so Ralph and I don’t do those things. But don’t give me credit. Maybe it’s easy for me to treat strangers with respect, because my own father modeled this behavior.

But I also don’t want my kids to grow up like I used to be – scared to say anything. I figure I gotta work on having compassion for every one on the planet, every single person. If I’ve got the compassion in place, I should speak up like I feel.

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