Thursday, October 27, 2011

Your Words Mean Something

When I was in 6th grade I got the most hideous perm.  Why I permed my already wavy, full-of-body hair is beyond me.  I suppose I begged my mother to perm my hair because all the other girls were perming their hair.  Anyway, my perm was a disaster.

I was mortified that my already voluminous locks were now even more voluminous. I didn't really fancy the idea of going out in public looking like a mushroom.  Knowing that a perm was, well, permanent I knew I would have to live with that hairstyle for a long while.  I cried.  I began planning ways to join the circus or at the very least come down with a bad case of the six-month flu so a tutor would have to come to my house.  How could I ever show my face at school again?

As it turns out school was the least of my problems because I promised my sister I would go roller skating with her and my Dad had no intention of letting me break my promise.

I didn't want to peek my head out of my front door let alone go to the roller skating rink on a jam-packed Saturday afternoon.  I would have preferred sticking a hot poker in my eye than hanging out with all the popular kids sporting their back-pocket combs used to run through their beautiful, perfectly placed locks.  Nope.  No assortment of rainbow-colored, fuzzy pom-poms with silver bells could have enticed me to leave my house.

But, my Dad insisted I go roller skating.  I promised.  It didn't matter to him that I was a highly vain 11-year-old.  He didn't care that I was embarrassed.

"You promised your sister you would go roller skating with her.  You need to keep your word."

I was dragged kicking and screaming out of the house, but I went roller skating with my sister that day.  I made a promise and I had to keep it.  I've kept every promise since.  Once it's ingrained in you that what you say influences how you're perceived, you work a little harder to make good impressions.

When Christopher tells Nicholas he will play catch with him in the backyard, but then gets a better, more interesting offer to play on the swings with the neighbor, guess what he chooses?  If you guessed he chose to play catch with his brother you'd be wrong.  But, he has to play catch with his brother anyway because he said he would.  He has to keep his word.  Of course better offers come along every day, but we don't get to just dismiss a promise or dismiss our family because we changed our mind. We learn in our house that you don't get to tell someone you will do something and then not do it. 

Even I have to live by this rule. 

Christopher had a bad case of the hiccups.  We tried everything to get the hiccups to go away to no avail.  Finally, I told Christopher I would give him $5 if he could hiccup again.  I cursed myself as soon as I said it  because I should have said $1.00 or something smaller, but out of my mouth came the $5 dare.  He hiccuped again and now I owe him $5.  Rats.

I wonder today if when I'm waiting with my kids at the park for friends to meet us and no one shows up if those friends were ever dragged kicking and screaming to the roller rink against their wishes.  I wonder if they were every held accountable for keeping promises made?  The ones who were held accountable will call and tell me something came up and they can't make it.  They might even drive to the park to tell me they couldn't get a hold of me on the phone and didn't want to keep me waiting indefinitely, but they need a raincheck.  The ones who were not held accountable will brush it off as no big deal and go off and do something else without any explanation.

My roller skating/perm fiasco wasn't my only lesson in the importance of keeping promises.  It took many other reminders and crying fits about cause and effect over the years for it to finally sink in that my words mean something. 

The one thing I know for sure is my kids will be dragged kicking and screaming into many situations they don't want to be in.  I will hear excuses and curses and pleas.  But, I won't let them off the hook, just like my Dad never let me off the hook. 

One day they will look back on their own roller skating/perm fiasco story and laugh when they realize how much impact one tear-filled afternoon actually had.


CrazyNutsMom said...

I grew up too that when you make a promise you keep it. I try to instill this with my kids as well.
And show them, that when I promise to do something, I do it.

New follower.

Regina, the Crazy Nuts Mom

Kim Murray said...

Hi Regina,

Welcome! Thanks for commenting and following Life Isn't Rocket Science. I'm going over to check out your blog right now!



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