Tuesday, September 11, 2007

quick to judge

“Ryan! Come back here—Ryyyaan! Sit down!” The Mother pleaded desperately, while the rest of us sat quietly with our kids, waiting for music class to begin. What little control the mother had deteriorated quickly as the teacher handed out bells for the kids to use as instruments. Ryan literally ran circles around us during the entire class. I exchanged knowing looks with the moms around me. I watched my own boys participate appropriately in the class and thought smugly, “Heck, if I can get 2-year old twins to follow the directions, what is this lady’s problem?”

I became increasingly critical after the class, as I rehashed the experience over and over. “I understand that kids misbehave sometimes, that’s not what I have a problem with,” I explained to a girlfriend on the phone, “what I don’t understand is why his mother did nothing about it.”

The more I told the story, the more frustrated I became. Over dinner I told my husband angrily, “We’re paying a lot of money for this music class and I certainly didn’t pay to watch an undisciplined child run loose! I’m going to talk to that teacher next week and tell her she has to do something about Ryan, or we’re out of there.”

The next week Ryan did a bit better, but I was still fuming. While I round up the noisy boys and mentally rehearse my "Take care of this kid or we're out of here speech," I overheard Ryan’s Mom asking,“Are you sure it’s okay that we’re here?”
”It’s fine,” the teacher encouraged. “Music is so good for him. We can get an aide in next week to help you, if you’d like.”
“That would be great,” Ryan's Mom replied. Suddenly, I see her exhaustion and her son's autism.

My face reddens as I remember my rehearsed speech. Why hadn’t I even considered that this boy has special needs? Why am I so quick to judge this other Mom, when in reality I have no idea what she is dealing with?

Lord, teach me this lesson over and over until I get it right. Please help me to be slow to criticize and quick to encourage the people around me. Give me empathy and compassion in place of my hasty judgments. Root out the pride that lurks just under the surface and fill me with your grace. Amen.

12 comments:

Georgia Mom said...

You are so right! I've sat in that same seat of judgment, only to be humbled later by my own ignorance. I have a neighbor and close friend with a child with mild autism. I know what she goes through on a daily basis. The struggle to help him fit in, the looks she gets from other Moms and how discouraged she feels when someone judges her Mothering abilites unfairly. I know she's a good Mom. I see her with her kids almost everday. I know the time, effort and energy she puts into her family. And yet, she still gets called out of church because of something her child did or she still finds herself apologizing his behavior. It's taught me to not judge so quickly and be more understanding. Not everyone has it as easy as I do and someday it could be me that needs an extra measure of grace from someone. Good posts!

Marmot Mom said...

Wow. This is hugely convicting. I love nothing more than being God's little helper and pointing out everyone's stuff. The thing that stood out to me the most, reading this, was the way your thoughts snowballed. First it was annoyance, and then, bit by bit you moved up to a full-blown righeous indignation. How many times have I let that happen in my mind? Thanks for writing this. It was a good way to start my morning.

Llama Momma said...

thanks, Georgia Mom. Yes. I am learning that "smug" and "motherhood" should never be used in conjunction together. I have been on the other end of snap judgments too, and it is so hurtful. (It makes you want to wear a sign around your neck -- "Have mercy on me! We've been on the road for 9 hours!")

Llama Momma said...

Marmot Mom -- It does snowball. And the more we dwell on these things, and repeat them, the angrier we get. hmmm. Maybe that's why God gave us that verse...what is it? "Whatever things are of good report...think on these things." (Phil 4:8)

I'm glad this encouraged you today.

MamaToo said...

such good perspective. It reminds me that we don't need to give a child a label or disability in order to have compassion for his parent, either. How often have I been frustrated or smug, and how often have I needed the understanding grace of another parent? Your writing is well-timed.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Llama Momma, Thanks so much for sharing that with us. I need to be embarrassed with you, because I've done this more times than I'd want to say. But I am learning, I believe.

Jenny from Chicago said...

Good for you....teaching moments happen at many ages (even when we are old enough to be the teacher). I'm amazed by your strength at sharing this powerful lesson, you've helped the rest of us a great deal. Thanks.

Llama Momma said...

mamatoo -- I want to live in such a state of grace that it spills over onto everybody I meet. I am in such need myself, and yet I fall into this trap of pride over and over.

Llama Momma said...

Ted -- we're all learning and growing! And we struggle more than any of us care to admit.

Llama Momma said...

Jenny -- I'm glad you're encouraged by this. I share openly because I know we all struggle, and we all need to grow. And anyone who's got it all figured out...well...maybe this isn't the best blog for them to be reading! ;-)

C said...

Lord knows we have all been there. It wasn't but a year ago I heard this song come over the radio ... I believe the name of it was THEY DON'T UNDERSTAND by Sawyer Brown. It put life in prespective and whenever I get that judgy, miss know it all atitude I think of that song!

Llama Momma said...

c -- thank you for your comment. Oh, it's so easy to slip into this judgemental way, isn't it? And yet I so want to be a conduit of grace.