Stoicism 101

ENTRY # 18 I saw a toddler walk into a table once, and start crying. The mother went, “Aw, poor baby.” She hit the table. “Bad! table!” What the hell was that? See, my response would be to pick up the kid, hold him and say, “Oh, honey, dont walk into tables. They dont move.”

It starts early, teaching someone about their relative importance in the world. Connor and Aidan were tearing around the store while I was shopping. Bam! Connor runs into a display. Am I sympathetic? No. Just like my dad before me, Im mad because he ran into the display. “You hurt?” “Yeeeeeah.” (sniff, tears, sniff, sniff) “You know why?” “Because I ran into the shelfs.” “Why?” “Because I was running around.” “Okay, were going home. If we dont have to go to the hospital, were going home.” “Okay.” (Sniff, sniff). Then comes the interminable (for him Im sure) mini lecture on consequences of ones actions, a query about the need for amputation (no?) and the “if youre gonna play, sometimes you get hurt” speech. I am teaching them not to cry, complain, or whine. That authority is unsympathetic to such behavior. When they contain their cries in the face of bashed shins or doctors injections, I tell them they are brave and strong. I am my father. I remember being perplexed when my dad would be mad at us for getting hurt. “Sige!” (Rough translation is- so there! or more meaningfully See! Thats what you get). All they have to figure out at the end of the day is whether or not the risk of getting hurt is worth the play? And that with few exceptions, when you get hurt, you suck it up- because thats what happens.


Brendyn,,, ,, 1055999961, 2004-05-16 20:41:17, Youre a very wise parent. Ive never really considered it before, but youre really preparing your children to do well. I wish I had been taught like that. In a way I was, my step-fathers motto was “Stop crying or Ill give you something to cry about!” Things began to pale in comparison to what that “something” was. I realized that tears are natural when you get hurt, but lingering on it isnt. I think the way you handled Connor running into the shelf was great. Sympathy breeds bad things sometimes. See, every time you post Im reminded why Im glad youre blogging now 🙂

elouise,,, 1056124099, 2004-05-16 20:41:17, In Virginia with my parents. Heard the familiar “Sige!” followed by tsking noises from dad. The grandkids (twins and Gabriel) were getting into something. Too funny. Home.

Cath,,, 1056127395, 2004-05-16 20:41:17, Bad TABLE??? And we wonder why people no longer accept responsibility for their actions? Geesh! I am more of a “Are ya gonna die from it?….No? Well then get over it, and go play somewhere else” kinda person. Making sure they knew WHY something happened is important in preventing it from happening again. Interestingly, this can be translated to students. Student: “Why did I get a C on my paper?” Prof: “Well, you did not follow the guidelines.” Student: “Well you didnt explain it clearly.” Prof: “I explained it in class, and distributed a hand-out clearly detailing the requirements, which is also posted online.” Student: “Well, thats not FAIR…I was absent that day.” Uh huh. Our actions are just that: ours. We own them. We are responsible for them and the subsequent outcomes. I am not suggesting that kids should KNOW better, but that we should not set up expectations that everything else in our environment is to blame for icky things that happen.

elouise,,, 1056211139, 2004-05-16 20:41:17, and that is why youre my friend

Francois Lachance,,, ,, 1083719325, 2004-05-16 20:41:17, Should I know better? I am writing this comment with the -g. parodies in mind and fully responsible for my action. No fancy mapping or word play. Just the sheer joy of reading the reproduced dialogue from the June “Stocisim 101” entry from 2003 with the quotation from Emily Dickinson in the March “I cannot live with you” entry from 2004. The last stanza from Dickinsons 637 “The Childs faith is new -“Grown bye and byeTo hold mistakenHis pretty estimatesOf Prickly ThingsHe gains the skillSorrowful – as certain -Men – to anticipateInstead of Kings

LiL,,, ,, 1083766610, 2004-05-16 20:41:17, I am just tracking Francois here… though I cant quite come up with anything nearly as fun though… It occurs to me that the mother you describe beating the table must in some form have been of Hungarian extraction. Ive seen so many mothers do this sort of thing there. What always mystifed me about the beat-the-table-dont-take-the-child-seriously approach: 1. This way, its not just the child thats hurt but also the mothers hand. (Also: 2. These mothers (if Hungarian) secretly share the “sige” attitude. Roughly translatable as: if you cant take it, tough. If you actually said something, youd say “a dogs bones heal” or “its a soldier thing,” unsaid but implied: get over it. You start saying that at an age when children have some command of language. 3. From the last bit (sorta) follows that this attitude is displayed by someone who is at that moment not able to take her child seriously. Its easier to spend three seconds beating a table than pulling her brain back from wherever its distracted to and making this little incident not be irrelevant – no, traumatically inconsistent in a childs all-consuming world view. So… is hurting her own hand on the table an indirect way the mother punishes herself for not being quite there for her child?)

weez,,, ,, 1083767038, 2004-05-16 20:41:17, There is the masochistic parenting style. (Once saw a brushed steel picture frame that had a sliding label – one way it said “mother”, slid the other way it said “martyr”). I wonder if anyone has mapped the relationship between parents blaming inanimate objects for their childrens hurts (the table, the floor that smacked their heads, etc.) and a child’s belief that their house is populated with monsters?

LiL,,, ,, 1083767303, 2004-05-16 20:41:17, Ah, good question. My instinct would be to say there is a pretty strong correlation…

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