Small things like, hello, eye contact, and a smile are become lost arts. I’m both shocked and appalled. I want to spout, “What’s this world coming to?” It’s like I’ve gone from hip and cool, a younger generation in-crowd member to old-fart in the blink of an eye.
But the facts remain… these things are slipping away and I see it more and more every day (and I dont get out nearly as much as this implies) but it scares me enough to get out my Mom’s soapbox and stand on it again and again.
It’s back to school time, and we are in Day 3 of our first week. It feels like WEEK three for all the stress it brings into our home. I cant share the WHY’s of that stress… but I can share the challenges I have posed to my kids this week… of which I have loved hearing the stories coming back home from it. I am proud as a peacock of these 3. It’s not easy to be a teen or heck, and adult these days. So when your family faces some major things head on and get back up and do another day… my heart is humbled and I pray they have the faith to reach their goals and take baby steps up onto the big bold ones this week.
My house has not been overly loved by all in it for how backwards we are. We don’t do TV during the school week except for the news in the morning (because the kids have morning sessions that discuss the morning news going on in the world) and we haven’t yet given our kids cell phones of their own yet. I am very much out of favor about that one. But before you find me an old meanie… it’s simply because I want my kids to learn how to be a human and have social interactions in a real world before handing them something that will suck their brains into it and stunt their growth without the firm base of knowledge. Don’t worry – my daughter already knows her 14th birthday will bring her the “right” to own one. Those rights will have provisions and stipulations. Ah – the real world will come to live here even with virtual world a push button away.
Here’s what I mean…
I am given the finger at least once during a short visit with most members of ANY generation younger than mine. “The finger” – yes, that even has changed. It used to mean flipping someone the birdie, a NOT nice gesture of the middle finger. Now it’s the index, or pointing finger, held up in your general direction – as if the person whom time is being actually SPENT with is a child in need of shushing or pausing their conversation. Then, the finger holder will place said finger on a cell phone and begin texting away… and this is repeated over and over and over during the course of REAL conversation during a REALTIME face-to-face interaction or meeting. There is precious little eye contact during said conversation in the real world, as they are looking for incoming texts and then share knowing smiles in the direction of their phones that will never be seen by those it’s aimed at.
Out in the “real world” however, the same finger pointers will have trouble making eye contact longer than a few seconds. It’s like they don’t know what to do with themselves. They don’t smile automatically when someone comes by and says Hi, either. It’s something that needs to be taught over and over working in the food, and retail industries. Often the results are awkward and forced. The smile is aimed at the floor, not a person, and they say hi to the floor. It’s because it’s not from the heart and it truly isn’t real.
Now that you’ve heard my rant – here’s how it applies to my household…
My back-to-school mantra this year was simple. I had three challenges for each kid, depending on where they naturally were on the scale… I have introverts and extroverts mingling as siblings. The same three ideas were the same however… and they were this:
2. Make eye contact. If someone is talking to you, force your eyes to look at them and hold the conversation’s attention. (nod along with it as the conversation lends itself – if you want to be super awesome!)
3. Smile at someone else. Maybe try someone you cant find words to talk to, who no one has said hi to, someone who NEEDS a smile aimed their direction.
I am not sure how all this ended up being second nature to me, and why I tend to be one of those people who can walk into a grocery store, knowing no one, and end up having a conversation and having smiled at 40 others while in there and had wordless conversations the whole time. My head is always up, aware. I see a hurting world though. So many have heads bent in speeding through their list, in avoidance, in pain, in isolation, and just to shut out contact and interaction.
I wonder what the world would be like if we all took the challenge I set to my kids this week? What if we all took the time to just make eye contact? What if we took it one step further, and said Hi? What if we all wanted extra credit and we did both and aimed it at someone who really needed to hear it today?
PS – Meet Kori and Doogie, two rescue pooches adopted from the local shelter … and they are my “double dog dare” duo :-)