Today before my kids got out of the car for school, I told them to be “confident winners” and try hard to not “worry about what people think of you BUT you probably WILL, and that’s ok. Just do your best.” It’s hard to explain to young children that they shouldn’t care about something, and then basically tell them in the same breath they probably will care. It’s like saying I shouldn’t curse, although I know I will, so why set myself up for failure? The truth is we DO care what others think about us, even if we say we couldn’t care less, because deep down, we know we are being judged. And trust me, no one likes to be judged. I found this out first hand yesterday, after I was cornered by two precocious 6-year-old girls while visiting my son’s classroom.
The girls (in that creepy unison voice): Hi, Miss Kat.
Me (smiling): Hi girls.
Girl #1: Miss Kat, J (my son) says that you have rats in your house.
Girl #2 (without blinking…at all): Yes, he said you had rats
Me: (stuttering): No, we don’t have rats. Of course not.
Girl #2: Are you sure, because he said you guys had rats
Girl #1: He said his dad was screaming and scared. Is that true?
Me: (nervously): No, I mean…, well, I mean, we did have this one baby mouse. It got in through the garage. You have to understand, we live by a lake and it just…happened
Girl #1: Oh
Me: (flustered) Ok, so seriously, so it wasn’t a rat. It was a baby mouse, I mean like the tiniest thing ever, and I did call the Orkin man right away, and we never saw the mouse again, ok?
Girl #1: Oh
Girl #2: Miss Kat, are you from America?
I stood there, sweating profusely, until their attention turned from me to the crunchy Goldfish Crackers that were being handed out for a snack. I immediately thought about the time I was in college when an acquaintance of mine told me it was just a “spider” that she brushed off the couch after I asked her, “What WAS that?” Really? Beeyotch please, I know a roach when I see one. My friend knew I didn’t believe her about the spider, just like I knew those little girls didn’t believe me about the one tiny mouse, and it feels terrible! As I stood alone by the art easel, I was reminded of how hard it is to shake off feelings of judgment, to have someone think something about you, whether it’s true or false. As I started to leave the classroom, I wanted to say more to the girls, explain myself better, but I knew it was too late. The moment was gone. I’ll remember that feeling the next time I choose to judge someone too quickly. And just for the record, it was just one baby mouse. Honest.