Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Shy Kid

"We are all something, but none of us are everything."  -B. Pascal

Allow me to introduce you to my daughter, N.  She's going to be three this year.  N. is the most girly-girl, precious and soft spoken three year old fairy princess wanna-be you might ever meet.  If you do ever have the absolutely divine pleasure of meeting her, though, you might not hear her voice during that first meeting.  (Unless, of course she's begging me to pick her up so she can bury her face in my shoulder).  In fact, if N. warms up to you in twenty minutes or less you might have to put smelling salts under my nose because I'll most likely have passed out from the shock of it all. 
Because of this, some people say she is "shy, " but I don't.  And let me explain why.

The Oxford American Dictionary defines shy as "having or showing nervousness or timidity in the company of other people." Another definition of the word is "slow, or reluctant to do something."  The major problem that I have with this definition being applied to my daughter, and other children like her, is that these children do not display nervousness or timidity around other people all the time.  They simply display what others interpret as timidity, and what I refer to as "caution," in the presence of some people, some of the time.  

That said, if you've ever said that N. is shy in my presence, I want to let you know it didn't make me angry.  I know the difference between malice and misunderstanding.  And I also know that we live in a world, actually a civilization, that undervalues the traits that seem, so far, to predominate my daughter's personality.  She behaves in very careful, cautious, reserved and measured ways (well, as measured as a two year old can be) around people with whom she is not completely familiar.  I respect these traits because they are traits that I have had to learn, often at my own peril. 

To me, children like N. are not shy, though they do act like it sometimes.  But you know what?  They also chatter, jump up and down on the sofa,  giggle, dance, have tantrums, give bear hugs and kisses and they've even been known to high five complete strangers at the supermarket.

So, what is the big deal with saying a kid is "shy"? 

Let's say your idiot boss has just done something idiotic for the fifth time today. You're upset and storm off to the water cooler to keep yourself from killing him or her.  Your closest water cooler buddy says, "Wow, I can see you're angry."  Are you actually angry?  

In my opinion, the answer is no.  You may be feeling angry right now, but in the grand scheme of it all, you are you, not the anger that you feel.  You are infinite possibilities, infinite emotions and far too complex and wonderful to be pigeon holed into the one feeling that you have chosen to act upon in this very moment.

As an adult, you have the understanding and wisdom (hopefully) to contextualize emotions with events.  In other words, you can say "I am angry" and understand that there is a cause behind it and that the feeling will eventually pass.  However, if an adult tells a small child that she is shy, mean, wild, crazy, or stupid, they tend to understand that statement as if it were a universal truth, not in the context of the current situation.  Incidentally, this also applies to comments directed at other adults within the hearing range of said child.

Really think about this, do you actually expect a three year old, or even a five or six year old, to have the advanced skill of contextualizing your judgement of them with respect to specific instances of behavior?  Well, they simply can't.  They hear things such as "He's so hyper/shy/mean" and they believe that you think they are that quality all of the time.
In this world, the majority of people either spend their lives trying to live up to or destroy the expectations that others have set upon them.  Furthermore, most of the dysfunctionality in this world emanates from unchecked self-centeredness.  I think these issues are connected by the way that children have been socialized.  It's unfortunate that the inherent goodness of a child is forever linked with his actions or specific personality traits.  

If you do your homework, you are good.  If you break something, you are bad.  If you say hello to a new adult, you are polite and outgoing.  If you don't, you are rude or shy.  If you sit quietly and play with your toys, you are well mannered.  If you jump up and down on the sofa, you're feral.  Hello?  Kids are always good.  A child might feel angry, shy, sad, mad, etc., but those emotions shouldn't define them.  There are times when they behave badly, but no child is inherently bad.  Love the child, judge (if you must) the behavior.
And we may not think that what we say or how we say it matters too much, but to a small child we are god-like in our wisdom and understanding of how things work.  They believe what you say about everything, especially what you say about them. Every single word.  By the way, I'm not making this stuff up.  This is what the "experts" on child development have said.  (Only they needed three hundred plus pages to communicate that while I did in a few paragraphs.  Is it even worth wondering why I still haven't finished writing my Masters thesis?)

A few days ago, we went to Target and N. held my hand as we walked into the store.  This is probably her thousandth visit there, so as soon as we entered she let go of my hand and just started walking.  I lingered behind her for a while, still watching, but very amazed at her dramatic show of independence.  I finally just grabbed her and put her in the shopping cart because I had a lot of shopping to do.  But I wonder, where was she going?  

Probably the toy section, or even the clothing aisle, she has become quite the little fashionista. Maybe, though, she was just headed towards the aisle called, "Infinite Possibilities."  Next time, if I don't have so much to get done, I might just follow her there.


Monday, April 7, 2008

Balancing Act and a New Beginning

I'm changing things up with my blog for a couple of reasons.  I had previously called it "Balancing Act" and wrote with the aim of helping others and myself achieve more "balance" in life.  

This endeavor had become tedious.  It meant that every time I wrote something, I felt the self inflicted need to post something insightful and brilliant.  A few weeks ago, I was racking my brain about the next topic for a post when I kicked myself and said, "Hey, this is a freakin' blog, not the great American novel..." Which by the way, I have every intention of writing... someday.
Furthermore, I had started off blogging wishing to be anonymous.  The radical revolutionary urging us to overthrow a monarchy that is levying unfair taxation upon us might enjoy the benefits of everlasting anonymity, but it proves short lived for a person whose life comprises mostly of everyday stuff.  I cannot write about what I do not know, and I only know my own life.  Besides, I like being Faiqa.  It took a long time to get here, and I'll be d@#$%d if I pretend not to be me, even if it is only the Internet.

In the meantime, this is just a blog about what I, Faiqa, think about life.  Sometimes, what I think is really brilliant, but more often than not it's just my opinion.  As Emerson said so eloquently, it is simply an expression of my character, which I hope is good and interesting.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Jack Shephard

     Be warned that if you don't watch "Lost," because this post is not going to make any sense to you.

I happen to be addicted to "Lost," which given the show's popularity is not so unusual.  I do belong, though, to the silent minority of fans who think that Dr. Jack Shephard, despite his dashing good looks and heroic tendencies, is totally annoying.  In fact, there are times that, and I'm not afraid of the persecution that will follow this comment, I hate Jack Shephard.  
Imagine my disgust, then, when the results of the most recent facebook quiz I took entitled, "Which Lost Character Are You?" said that I'm Jack Shephard.  Clearly, this quiz is completely whacked.  I'd much rather be McGyver-like Sayyid or compassionate and sweet Hurley.  Besides, this is just a facebook quiz, written by some computer nerd who has nothing better to do than to torture me with the fact that I might be like Jack Shephard.  By the way, the irony doesn't escape me that I'm currently writing a blog about said quiz thereby rendering me ten times more geeky than the guy who wrote that quiz.
First of all, Jack Shephard is really bossy.  He's also annoyingly dogmatic (For example, why does he still "love" Kate even though she's always coming up with new and innovative ways to humiliate him?)  And although he occasionally listens to the opinions of others, he doesn't flinch from his decided course of action unless circumstances prove so dire that he has no choice other than abandoning his way. (Remember that time in season 1 where he was trying to save that rich kids life and it ended up turning into a torture session?  The only reason Jack stopped trying to save him was because he died.)  

     In Dr. Jack's mind, he's always the best man for the job, regardless of what that job might be. In his head, he is always right.  Finally, despite all his stubborness, Jack is always unsure of himself, and is annoyingly insecure.  He acts like he has the right and the ability to make all the hard decisions on the island, then he sits around moaning about how he might not have done the right thing.
Oh my God, I am Jack Shephard!!  Excuse me, I need a minute to collect myself.

  Hmm, I guess that explains why I love "Lost" so much.  It obviously gives me the opportunity to practice self loathing in new, innovative and interesting ways.  Here I thought that the criticism of a fictional character bore no repercussions.  Criticizing a T.V. character should afford you the safety to openly disparage another's choices and character without offending anyone or appearing too judgmental, right?  Wrong.  It's true of T.V. characters as it is of real people, the qualities we despise in others may simply represent our deepest, darkest fears about ourselves.  Furthermore, I assert that the more fervent our dislike is of someone, be they real or fictional, the more that last statement is true.

That in mind, I could give Jack Shephard a break, just every now and then.  I could start to try and understand that when he's bossy, it's just because he wants to do the right thing.  I could start to understand that when he's being obstinate about a decision, it's because he wants what's best for everyone.  I could cut him some slack and realize that his questioning of himself could just be an attempt at humility. After all, Jack's motives are sincere and his heart is in the right place.  Being nicer to Jack, could be an exercise in being nicer to myself.  An act of personal development, if you will.  (Did I mention Jack's superhero ability to rationalize even the most questionable details?)

Yes from now on, I will give Jack Shephard (and myself) a break every now and then.  There are worse characters than Jack Shephard.  Like Benjamin Linus.  You'd have to be real sociopath to get that one.