Wednesday, October 29, 2008

First Impressions...

...Are not always 'spot on.'

I have been going to the gym since the temperatures have dropped some and my beloved daylight slips off much too early in the evening. I thought some indoor running might compensate for this lack of energy to really go 'out' to run and here lately I've been taking DQ with me.

There are classes for the kids and the other night, after I finished my run - I stopped in to get DQ from the tumbling class she choose to attend. While in there I noticed a little girl, 7ish who was not so little. She was actually a rather 'large' little girl who was trying to do cartwheels and flips and stuff the other girls were doing. She, however, was having trouble getting her legs high enough in the air to go all the way over.

I sat and watched this little girl try many times to do this and I was inspired by her will - personally, I would have stopped after a few rounds ending on the floor, but she did not. As I watched, I could only feel pity for this girl - obviously we live in a time where a lot of children are not healthy, but times have not changed that much since I was a little girl and kids are hurtful.

I sat there and watched and waited as the kids finished their class and at the end of the class a woman, very much resembling this girl, walked in and waited. I noticed this woman, I could not miss the resemblance between her and her daughter - she was not there to work out (she was in blue jeans), with her overall disheveled appearance. I smiled as I past this woman on my way out all the while wondering why she was at the gym and why she was not setting a better example for healthy living for her child.

In the days that followed, I noticed this woman more often. It turns out she works at the gym in the child care center any one day she stopped me and asked if DQ could sit with her girls and have some snacks. This woman, who did not know me from anyone else, went out of her way to be nice to my daughter, the only other little girl waiting for the class to begin.

I know it's not much, it's really more like nothing, but something inside of me is ashamed. Not for the way I treated this woman, but for the way I originally 'thought' about this woman, based solely on what she looked like. I don't think of myself as someone who judges based on appearances, I try very hard to look past them because I know very well how deceiving they can be and yet on this occasion - while I didn't treat her any differently I looked at her differently. I saw her as someone who was hurting her child by not taking steps to teach her a healthy life.

I don't know this woman, I don't know her story, I don't know what she does or does not teach her child, but in that moment I passed judgement from one mother to another. Motherhood is hard enough with out judgement from is hard enough without judgement from strangers.

Classy Chaos recently posted about appearances - it struck a chord with me because I've worked a long time to not be that person who sees 'hired help' or someone of a different social class and dismisses them based on that alone. I go out of my way to speak, smile, acknowledge people and perhaps I had gotten complacent in my efforts. Perhaps that is what makes this so much more personal for me - I thought I was beyond this behavior and yet I see that just because my words are not thoughts still affect my actions.

I still do not know this woman's story, I do not know what she does or does not teach her child, but I know that she tries, she provides her child with an option to be active and the tools to learn a healthier lifestyle. In her own way, this woman taught me a lesson, one I still need to work on.

Have you ever had a first impression turn out to be wrong?


April said...

As cliche as it sounds, I have to always remind myself "Do not judge a book by it's cover" and I am reminded of this over and over by the applicants who come in to apply at our school. My first initial judgement is sometimes SO far off the mark that I'm embarrassed, even though it was only a thought I had in my head and not one i said out loud. Great post, Kel!

Aleta said...

First impressions are often lasting if we don't allow ourselves to see past it. I guess.. for me, I've often found it easier to believe in other people and so, I look for the good in other people. That helps to not make a first impression impact on me. Does that makes sense? But I do judge, when I least expect it and then I get very upset with myself, because I wouldn't want someone to judge me and it's not my place to do so to another person. As long as we're aware and we try to not to do so, it's the best we can aim for..

Let us know if you learn any more about the lady you met. Who knows, she could have hypothroidism, like me. She might have lead a fascinating life, who knows.

mommaof4wife2r said...

wow...what a thought. and you know, the way the world puts out the images to us, it's really hard to not fall into that 'perfection' dip. i am really trying hard to work on a more positive self's hard when i'm not the norm...

Jenn said...

Yeah, I have once or twice judeged a student and turned out to be wrong. It's usually "looks like a slacker." But he turns out to be smart and a hard worker.

OHmommy said...

Hey, I too try never to judge. At Blogher 08 so many people judged or labeled and I just could not. I had people approach me and ask, "Why are you hanging out with an old person like me..."

"Because you are great!" I told them.

Life's too short. I try to smile often. GREAT post Kel.

Gregg Fraley said...

This is a big insight. Deferral of judgement is probably the state of mind that best promotes a lot of good things...creativity, access to intuition, and kindness. Like you I've judged too easily even when I try not to, it really takes bending over backwards. Some might even call it a Christian way to be, but you don't have to be Christian to give people a chance.

Nice post, a truly insightful post. I'll be reading you more often now.

Kimmylyn said...

I am sorry I am just getting a chance to read this post Kel.. It really is awesome.

There are times that I too have kicked myself in the butt for judging solely based on is terrible and I always end up feeling really guilty about it..

Again..wonderful post Kel!