It was late. Time had gotten away from us that Saturday evening and both Shawn and I were beat. He suggested we all just snuggle up in our bed to watch a 'last show' instead of me reading or us watching a show in the living room. We queued up a nature documentary and began watching an episode with a great white shark encounter. A 'shark expert' decided that with her bare hand, she would dangle a fish the size of her arm over the side of the boat, so that the great white shark would come up and take it from her.
Let me make sure you understand this scenario. This lady was holding a fish by its tail two feet above the surface of the open ocean, like you'd hold a treat for a dog and wait for him to jump up and take it from your hand. But she was holding this fish for a GREAT WHITE SHARK. A twenty two foot long marine annihilator with three thousand dagger teeth. She stood on this deck at the end of the boat and held out this fish over the ocean, luring in the shark.
With my voice dripping of ridicule, I declared, "What an idiot!"
My Little Lady immediately gasped. "Momma! You shouldn't say that!"
"What a foolish, foolish thing to do!" I justified. What person in their right mind would do something like that!?
"But Momma, that isn't nice!"
A little bit later I lay next to her tiny form in her bed, snuggled in close, ready to sing her a song. "My stomach hurts." Something is always hurting on my little lady. I've learned over time to just take it in passing. If something is really wrong, it'll continue to come up. So I just asked, "Are you ready for me to sing you a song?"
She dodged the question a bit and after a while she decided to just come out with it. "Momma, it upset my tummy when you said what you said." I knew instantly. She meant when I'd broken a house rule about name calling. We don't call people names. We don't say mean things. Period. Ever. It makes me so angry when I hear others call people (especially children) names.
I had clearly called this shark expert an idiot. A foolish idiot.
I had to apologize to her. Her sweet spirit humbled my haughty attitude. I had to ask her to forgive me for my lack of self control and my poor discernment. I thanked her for reminding me what it means to be a kind person, and for having the courage to call me out when I made a mistake. I thanked her for calling me up to be better, spurring me on to good deeds.
Her spirit is so kind and she has internalized the things I have taught her despite my awful actions. She is kindness, compassion, and empathy all wrapped into one.
I did ask her that she please not engage in foolish shark touching behavior. "Just please don't touch a shark, okay?"
"Aaaaaaany shark?" she had to ask. Of course. Clarifications. "What about the sharks at the tank in the Science Center?" Immediately I remembered the sharks we caught off the pier at the beach, and the sharks we caught off a boat on a fishing expedition on Hilton Head Island last summer. The sharks we held and urged her to touch. Encouraged her. Coaxed her. I was waiting for her to recall that.
"Those sharks at the science center are okay. Would they put unsafe creatures in the touch tanks at the aquariums or science centers?"
"No!" Of course not.
"Let's just not touch any great white sharks, okay? Deal???"