How do you perceive things? Are you the type of person who sees a picture and automatically seeks out the negative connotations in it or are you a person who searches for the beauty in the mediocre? When you remember an event in your life, do you only remember the bad things or do you grasp tightly to the positive and beneficial?
I always like to believe that I’m the type who sees a picture, sees a situation and takes the time to make my mind up about it before judging it one way or the other. The type who refuses to always judge a book by its cover. The one, who when faced with an ugly exterior, chooses to scratch at more than just its surface until I have found the beauty underneath. But there’s times in life when I am reminded that I am also only human. I, too, fall into the media and the public’s perception of what is beautiful, what is normal and what is not.
It’s hard to realize this. I don’t want to admit I’m at fault for judging something without really delving in deep and getting to know about it first. I am at fault, though. And I am not the only one. Last night, I was watching TV with my husband. We were watching Parenthood, a show that we both love. There’s a boy on there that plays a kid with Asperger’s (a high functioning form of autism). Although I have watched this show from the beginning when the parents first find out their son has this syndrome, I am still fascinated by all the new information I learn about it through each new episode. I realized something very new indeed in this last one, though. The father takes the boy to this theme park for the day instead of school and he promises him he can ride this one ride as many times as he wants. Well, when they first get on this ride, something becomes wrong. The ride is in need of repairs so they have to get off and it’s closed for the day. If you know anything about Asperger’s, you know that they do not do good with change like this. If you promise them something and then you break it, whether in your control or against it, they freak out. So the boy freaks out bad. In the middle of an amusement park. Cue the stares from strangers and the scowls on their faces.
It was then I turned to my husband and said, “You know, if I was in that park and I didn’t know that kid had Asperger’s, I, just like many of those people, would be saying,”Shame on that parent for not disciplining that kid. That kid is obviously spoiled and lacks discipline.”
I realized at that moment that every time I have seen a kid misbehaving, this is exactly what I have thought. I had always heard my mom voice this opinion out loud to me when another kid misbehaved and I was a kid myself. So I grew up believing that when you see a kid misbehave that this is a product of bad parenting and lack of discipline. I’m not going to say that every time in the past that I HAVE seen this was wrong. Obviously not every child that misbehaves has Asperger’s or adhd, bi-polar, etc. BUT it made me think back and see that I was wrong to assume that lack of discipline is always the case. So next time, maybe I will stop for a second and think, “You know, there could be another reason and it’s not MY child, so who am I to assess blame on either the child or the parent if I don’t know any more than what I am seeing now.” I mean, you’re only seeing a small piece of a puzzle.
I don’t expect that I will never make this mistake again but this made me really stop and think. How many times in my life do I see something and automatically jump to a conclusion, in one way or the other, without first seeing the bigger picture? How many times do YOU do this?
I think the biggest lesson I have learned from this is to stop and work on changing my perception. When I am in a situation and I make a snap judgment, I want to pull myself back and think on it for a bit. What other possibilities are there that I could be missing here? Am I really viewing this in the best possible way?