Our seven-year-old, William, is having a lot of "growing pains" lately. He was banned from playing with any toys the other day because he would. not. pick up after himself -- even after being reminded repeatedly, and warned of the consequences. Then, when he stomped around, angry about the punishment, I had to send him to his room. A bedtime sentence. "See you in the morning, buddy." Poor little guy. A double whammy: sentenced to his room with no toys to play with. When I came up to see him later, he asked if he could at least have the venerable and well-loved stuffed monkey, Lester, because, "he's not a toy (snifflesniffle), he's a friend."
|Yuyum and Lester|
But, William, William, William. God love him; He's always in trouble. Problem is, I'm the one who seems to be getting a complex about it. Though he's truly sorry when he's punished -- I mean really truly, pitifully, big-sad-brown-eyed sorry -- before the tears have dried, he either commits the same error or finds a new one to be in trouble for.
Sigh. Good thing I love him so much.
But, gosh, do you remember being in trouble? Trying to justify yourself out of it; blaming someone else; making it sound not-so-bad-as-all-that? Remember being the one doing the sap-sucking, wiping away the tears, making angry eyes at your Mom or Dad, knowing a spanking may be coming.... But almost preferring a spanking because it'd be over quicker than being grounded or sent to time out? And being sad and mad (at you're not sure whom). But then the spanking or time-out would be over, and you'd get the gentle after talk with Mommy or Daddy, the hug, the kiss, the apologies (mainly from you).... It was strangely cleansing to be over with it all. And easy to move on, forgetting the whole thing. Until the next incident.
I remember. I used to be the kid who was always in trouble.
And here I am approaching fifty, and I still get that "in trouble" feeling sometimes. Though now it's commonly known as "Catholic Guilt." If you're Catholic, anyways. I'm sure there are plenty of non-Catholics who have conscience attacks, too -- they maybe call it something different, is all.
Here are some examples of my personal brand of Catholic Guilt:
* We were watching a Netflix series the other night about the Iditarod, and there was a particular "musher" that I just didn't like; ohmygoodness -- what an arrogant fellow! And I said as much to the kids. Then I got that guilty feeling. "Oh, boy, I deserve to get the "be charitable" speech now... Sorry, Lord. Sorry arrogant musher dude." And then I had to add out loud for the kids' sake, "But he certainly has good qualities, kids. He's a very good musher. He may actually be a nice guy in real life; ya never know..."
* I feel guilty about sleeping in or slugging around when I'm sick. I still do sleep in and slug around -- but I feel guilty about it.
* I have never cut off a mattress tag. Ever. I don't even cut off decorative pillow tags.
* I cannot walk away from a shopping cart and not return it to the cart coral. I even put away other people's carts sometimes.
* I apologize to people in the store, even when they're the ones standing in the middle of the aisle blocking me from passing. And now that I'm saying it out loud, I feel guilty about how stupid it sounds.
* My dear and loving husband, who works in Nevada four days a week, called me this morning and told me that even though he wasn't going to be here, he had an appointment with the butcher to come take care of the cow. Tomorrow morning. I would have to find the brand inspection paperwork first (and he didn't know where it was), then meet the guy over at the pasture (which is a few miles down the road), then chase down and secure the cow, and have her ready by the time the butcher got there. I said, "Uh. Are you kidding? The answer is 'Notonyourlife, buddy. No way. No how." And then I felt guilty about it. (But I still ain't doing that.)
* I feel guilty for sitting here typing away about guilt instead of folding clothes or working on tomorrow's lesson plans or sitting with the kids while they watch Horton Hears a Who... And because I feel guilty about it, I'll probably sit up late correcting papers or pinning on Pintrest or something to make up for it.
But, it's all good, right? You hear non-religious folks, especially fallen-away Catholics, complaining about Catholic Guilt as if it were a bad thing. But it's not a bad thing at all; it's just our God-given consciences at work. There's pretty good proof right here that my parents did a bang-up job developing mine. And I hope in the end that I've passed it along to my children. If the whole world had a good dose of Catholic Guilt -- owned it, recognized it, and used it to guide them in their behavior, it'd be a much better world, all the way around. Little boys would put their blocks away. People would not run red lights -- or at least they'd scream apologies out the window while they sped by. Toothpaste would not be left out. Shopping carts would never ding car doors. Cow's butcher dates would still have to be postponed, but someone somewhere might feel kinda bad about it...
And, now... just because these made me laugh (as I guiltily wasted time scrolling through cow pictures on Bing...), I would like to share the following:
And that is all. Except I'm wondering who'll feel guilty for not leaving me a comment after they read this...