Brief history: My mother was not afraid of dirt from what I remember. It was an antibody, a friend, and a constant. I remember being dirty when I was a kid because I was outside playing. It seemed a natural consequence and it fills me with fond memories.
Present experience: We’re in line waiting to rent a U-Haul truck last weekend and there’s a little girl hanging out behind us. It’s taking much longer than you might expect to get the keys to a truck, so we start talking to this little girl.
Please know that by this point of waiting, Michael had already taken a box off of the wall and I had to figure out how to reattach it and he was still “exploring” all the other things that needn’t be explored. We needed a distraction and this little girl was perfect. 🙂
We’re doing different tricks with her and so on and so forth. Michael ends up showing this little girl his very fancy foot on his head trick*. I am still wonderfully impressed by this trick.
What do we expect after that? Of course the little girl wanted to try it!
It was instantly clear that her mother was upset by this. She was more than insistent that her daughter not get on the floor at this U-Haul place even after my son was already on the floor and I hadn’t said anything. Her daughter didn’t try the trick.
I realize now the potential for this exchange and how these moments happen in so many situations and relationships each day.
- I allow my son on the floor to show his trick.
- The little girl wants to see if she can do the trick.
- The little girl is not allowed on the floor; the mother seems a bit shocked and fearful about the floor.
- We all find ways to move on to other tricks—while standing.
What’s Right? What’s Wrong?
Two moms have differing opinions about what’s right and wrong in that moment.
I come from a mother who was lenient and laid-back. She mostly accepted what happened and didn’t get too upset about much. I will share that she was a single mother and, as someone who knows how the rules change in that situation, it was understandable. There are only so many battles a single full-time parent has energy for in one day.
This other mother protecting her daughter from germs and a dirty floor might come from a mother who didn’t allow as much “dirt” into her life. Or maybe she got an infection from floor germs one time. Or maybe she’s got some OCD issues with dirt and dirty floors.
I want to be very clear that I do in fact have limits on floor exposure! Bathroom floors are never to be laid upon. Floors in general are not to be eaten off of. The five second rule depends on what has dropped.
The point is that we all have different thresholds for dirt and cleanliness. In fact, we have different thresholds for most everything in life.
So here are two mothers with children waiting in a long line. One mother is okay with her child getting on the floor to share a trick; the other mother is not okay with her child getting on the floor to try a trick.
Where do we go from here?
From here we hopefully go straight to acceptance and understanding. I can understand that this mother might have very justified reasons for not allowing her daughter on the floor. It makes sense. Floors are dirty and gross.
For me, though, my son had a trick he wanted to share and the only way to share was on the ground. I know he’ll get up and brush it off and, really, I’m chock full of the “he’ll be fine” attitude so far as dirt is concerned. It was just “too much” for this other mother though.
So we compromise. We build a bridge that we can both stand on.
Michael was beautiful and very aware of the situation as he guided the sharing in a different way, one that was standing and still very fun. He has an uncanny ability to understand certain social situations and struggle in others. He was a superstar in this one and really helped everyone out by quickly moving to “another trick.”
And then it was time to part ways because we finally had the keys to the truck.
Her little girl followed us out the door after we were finally done and she called out, “Okay, until we meet again.”
Afterwards, I realize I am incredibly grateful for the beautiful connection we made with this little girl and her mom. I am grateful for the insight I came away with regarding slight differences and how they can affect us. I’m grateful I can see our relationships with those around us and how to build bridges rather than destroy them.
So much love for each and every one of us,
When did you move toward someone that you didn’t agree with? I’d love to hear about it on Facebook!
*I’ve heard that children on the autism spectrum can have extraordinary flexibility with their bodies. Michael’s always been able to do this. I never have been able to, though I’ve definitely tried. I’ve not found any research as of yet to support this theory, but it might be a thing.