While I would never verbally attest to such an absurd fact, I often act as if I am the only person who has problems. I may not be gracious to others in their time of need, but when I am upset, I expect the entire world to take pity on me. Too often, I forget that we each have a different story. We each have our own trials and problems.
Today at work, I asked a mother if her daughter would be coming to daycare on an upcoming no-school day. The mom turned to her daughter, “Would you rather come to daycare or spend the night with Grandma?”
Before I could remark about how fun a day with Grandma would be, the girl’s face filled with disgust.”Can’t I just go to a friend’s house?”
The mom relented a little. “Well, you wouldn’t have to spend the night with Grandma; we could just take you over there early in the morning.”
The girl’s lip curled even farther. “I guess I will just come to daycare,” she sighed.
I was astounded. As a child, I jumped at a chance to stay with Grandma. With my maternal grandma, I could eat Mickey Mouse pancakes, swim, and play board games. My paternal grandma always had ice cream and took me shopping. If all else failed, I just stayed with my best friend’s grandma and helped her bake cookies. Grandma was always better than daycare.
But now I realize that these children’s lives are different than mine. In fact, I am often astonished when they begin to open up and tell me their stories. One fifth grade boy has a father, step-mother, and siblings in Nevada that he sees once a year. A brilliant bibliophile transferred to the middle school last month because the bullying was so intense at her old school. I will never forget the look of excitement on another boy’s face when he said to me, “My mom–my REAL mom–is coming today.” One mother at the high school has been putting off brain surgery because she wants to see her son graduate in three months. She has been told that she will probably not live through the surgery, but they know that she will not live without it. The operation is scheduled for next week.
So when I get carried away like I am the only one who has problems, remind me that I don’t know what others are facing. We don’t always show our struggles.