by Devina Gunawan
I have noticed that sometimes, we exaggerate things we say. Sometimes in a good way, and sometimes, bad.
The worst of this comes when we are dealing with children. Because children remember.
And you know what’s worse than dealing with children? It is knowing that we are all children. No matter how old we are, deep down, there are children within us.
So I confronted one of my grandmothers on this particular issue. The way she deals with her grandchildren. Or more like, the way she talks to them.
She often criticizes me and my cousins in ways that are pushing us away. And perhaps she does not mean it that way. Fine, old people have their ways.
But think of the hearts one could save by remembering that, “I am speaking to a child.” Especially when it comes to criticizing.
For instance, I have a perfect sister. She is perfect in almost every way. Beautiful, 4.0 GPA, research scholar, a great cook, a perfectionist, and a perfect everything. And next to her, I am the artistic child with weird views upon the world in the family.
I do not cook as well, but I know I can cook. I cook for myself and I can’t remember the last meal that doesn’t taste good.
So moments in which my grandmothers say something like, “One daughter can cook, and the other one can only roll in bed,” and “You can cook? No you can’t. Your sister is the one who cooks. You don’t.”
And we all know that only people we love most can hurt us. Well played, grandmothers, well played.
So I confronted my grandmother sometime ago. I asked her right away, “Hey grams, do people here always talk like you and my paternal grandma does?” To which she asked, “Like how?”
And I reminded her of what she had said, that and more.
“I mean that your sister cooks, and you cook for yourself. Because you like your Italian foods and you’re the only one eating that everyday. So what my statement refers to is that… your sister cooks, and you cook for yourself.”
In what universe does, “That one can only roll in bed” mean that “You cook for yourself”?
So I told her that, “Well grandma… it hurts me, and the other grandchildren…” To which she responded, “Then get a dictionary or a translator. Read my mind.”
How frustrating! I guess one will choose habits over love. And don’t even get me started on comparison. Because comparison is one’s worst nightmare.
Nobody likes being compared to someone else. Nobody. Not even if that person is a famous celebrity.
I always roll my eyes when someone comes up to me and says, “You look like that model…”
No! I find it neither flattering nor sweet. I am not a fan of being in someone else’s shadow. I don’t think anybody does.
Even if someone is told, “You look like Beyonce,” I am sure that the happiness will only last for a bit. Then it will hit her that, “Oh.. I am seen as a copy of someone else.” And I hope you are all happy, famous celebrities, for categorizing the rest of the world with your faces.
A child remembers and grows with it. And you can’t simply say, “Take it like a man.”
Whether you are comparing or criticizing, know that there is always a child in the person in front of you. A child that absorbs and remembers, a child that will carry on the personal growth with what you have told him or her.
And how terrifying is it to know that your negative statements have impacted someone’s growth?
There is a child in me who listens to what others say. And it’s easy for the world to say, “Nothing can hurt you unless you let it.” So easy. But the truth is, when there is a war within you, a child and an adult, it will always hurt.
And the least we can do is be kind and gentle. To understand that