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That sounds like such a trite and seemingly weird thing to say about oneself, right? I mean, would you ever actually say that if you were asked to describe yourself at a job interview?
No, you’d probably start off with your strengths in your field or the fact that you excelled at something, because that is what the interviewer wants to hear. He doesn’t want to hear or probably won’t believe you if you made a statement as simple as, ‘I believe in being honest. It’s something that I think everyone should bring to the table.’
But, the fact is honesty, simplicity, sensitivity and kindness are undervalued in the world today. It’s probably more important or cooler to seem cynical and look down our noses upon everything out there, since that gets more notice.
Small wonder then that we need networks like Good News network or The Better India to remind us of the goodness that abounds in life. The media does a bang-up job of presenting the worst of the worst, all in the name of ratings and views.
It’s one reason I appreciate and look at the #1000Speak initiative as a welcome breath of fresh air. But, this post is about how honesty starts at home. So, let me talk about how it has impacted me as a parent.
As a parent
To be brought up in a home like mine, with a dad who stood up for the most upright principles- honesty and straight talking- I have never found it incorrect to be straightforward in my opinions. Yes, I think before I speak, but I cannot, for the life of me, do double-speak or nod along for the sake of doing so.
This trait has earned me , not surprisingly, very few friends. A large part of my school and college years were spent in isolation or in the company of a close-knit group of trusted pals.
Learning to be honest though, has its pitfalls. I cannot sweet-talk. So if I find something unpalatable, I say so. Most times, I keep my trap shut, but you know how that isn’t always possible. It has its downside when you are parenting a strong-willed kid, of course. Being told you’re wrong is difficult for most adults to accept, let alone a nine-year-old. In the interest of good upbringing, I think it is an important skill to impart to our kids.
To be honest takes guts and the fact that we need to be willing to let go of things like friendship at times. We teach them not to gloss over disappointments but face them with courage.We learn to become tougher but stay true to our principles.
This was brought home in a bittersweet way this afternoon and it came from one of the wisest souls I know- my daughter, Gy.
Last week, she had enthusiastically participated in the elimination rounds for both song and dance contests at her school. She was very thrilled and kept asking me day after day if the results were out and if she’d made the cut. This morning, an alert on my phone indicated that the names of shortlisted participants had been put up. Checking warily, I was disappointed to see that she hadn’t made it to either list.
Sitting her down, I gently explained to her that this time, she hadn’t made it through. Her eyes filled with tears and I hugged her to say that I was proud of her for having participated and that there would be other contests.
‘But, I am allowed to feel sad, right?’
‘Of course you are. It’s very normal and even healthy to feel sad. Always express the emotion you feel.’
To make her understand further, I told her, ‘See, I too had applied for a blogger award this year. Last night, I found out that I didn’t make the shortlist. So, you know? I understand exactly how you feel.’
With a smile, she turned, hugged me and said, ‘It’s okay, Amma. You can cry too, if you want to.’
Smiling, I returned the hug and said, ‘You know? I think I will. Maybe just a little.’
After a while, I said, ‘Hey, do you want to go out and celebrate with ice-cream?’
‘What are we celebrating?’
‘Well, we both didn’t get selected, but we both participated. Isn’t that awesome? I think that deserves ice-cream.’
Jumping up, eyes shining, she said, ‘Yes! Let’s celebrate!’
She then ran off to get dressed and came running back to say, ‘You know? I am actually glad you didn’t get selected for the blog awards.’
A bit hurt, I asked her, ‘Why do you say that?’
‘Well, this way, you get to spend more time with me and lesser time blogging. Isn’t that awesome?’
As I watched her smile, jump up and down in gladness at my loss, a loss that seems so insignificant now, my heart filled up with gladness that my daughter has imbibed an important lesson- to be honest, no matter what.
*Since we are on the topic of honesty, I must admit that I just broke my no yelling streak again, this morning, much before the episode mentioned above. Lasted just 52 days this time. But, as the saying goes, tomorrow is a new day.