Sunday, February 20th 2011
What a 2 Yr Old Taught Me Today

The last time I filled in for the 2 year old Sunday School class, I thought I’d die. In the first ten minutes in the classroom, I was sweating more than in the first 10 minutes of any of my favorite exercise classes.

There were 11 that day, and they all needed to “try” to potty at least seventeen times each in my assigned 90 minutes. I had at least one child on my hip at all times, and sometimes two, often to prevent toddler uprisings or uproarious sink splashing.  Four little girls wore floor length dresses with tights and two little boys wore belts and none of this could be managed alone in the bathroom, of course. There was a whole lotta management going on, and not a lot of ‘let’s talk about Jesus’ going on.

So today I was SO happy to find I only had three 2 year olds. And zero floor length dresses with tights, and zero belts. Awesome. That 2 yr old class needs a dress code policy restricting parents from making their kids look cute in impractical ways.

Today one little angel faced blonde girl had a runny nose. I constantly chased her with a tissue, and this prompted an adorable little dark haired boy to proudly say, “I do not have crusties!” And then he would check the rest of our noses also, and declare us clean and clear as well. “YOU do not have crusties.”  And, “SHE does not have crusties.”  About the little angel faced blonde child who did, he would inspect and then give me a knowing look, but decline to announce a less than favorable report about her nose.

That kind of tactfulness cannot be taught at age 2. This child has a rare gift: the spiritual gift of tact.

I don’t have tact.

Instead, I have two speeds: 1) perfectly aloof, shy silence which often looks quite snotty, and 2) let me tell you everything whether you care or not.

The first of those is in effect almost always, and the second one is almost entirely limited to you guys. I’ve been thinking a lot about self-expression, and the lack thereof. And I’ve decided I’m messing it up. Tact would be good. Tact is deciding that your opinion on something would not be edifying and should be kept to oneself for varying reasons, or expressed very carefully.

Often what I do instead is the mental equivalent of “shhhh, don’t even think that! That is wrong because of x, y, and z.” And when one talks to onself like that constantly… the end result is you have NO idea what you really think about anything because you’re constantly shhing yourself.

That? SUCKS.

It’s bad enough to be constantly shhed by other people who find your thoughts or opinions to be inconvenient or unnecessary. (Because then you just stop sharing anything.) But it’s much worse to realize that before anyone else ever gets the chance, you’ve silenced yourself anyway.

The irony is I really have a deep appreciation for candor. Or, in light of all of this,  maybe I don’t and I always just thought that I did.  Such an appreciation seems unlikely, if I can’t even be candid within my own head.

I was doing errands last night and thinking what it would be like to REALLY just say it ALL. To first think it ALL, in its entirety, and then to SAY it. If I weren’t hung up on squashing every thought and feeling I “shouldn’t” be having, and wasn’t concerned with all of the things that we of course have to consider – like other people’s feelings, backgrounds, biases, boundaries, etc… what would that sort of honesty and unguardedness sound like?

Or, dialing it back, not to say it, but just to let myself think it all. The good, the bad, the awful, the ugly, the whatever. What would it sound like if I actually let myself think whatever I wanted and listened to myself without shhing at the first sign of a ‘wrong’ thought? Having a voice that at least I would respect and  listen to…? Why should that seem so radical?

Maybe y’all let yourselves think, feel, and have opinions and just know how to tactfully share or keep them to yourselves. I hope you do!

Psalm 139 comes to mind, where David is saying “search my heart, O God” and basically pull out all the yucky stuff. For years I’ve prayed along similar lines, but mine is less David and more like, ‘And shhh, don’t tell me of the grossness you find, please.’  This reminds me of the way I used to be able to change a poo diaper in such a way that I never had to actually see the poo. (That might sound impossible, but I had superhero diapering skills you cannot even comprehend, y’all.) Sure, you knew the gross was there. But let’s clean it up without dwelling on it or acknowledging it, ‘kay God? Same thing.

Some really wrong and ugly crap will undoubtedly be there – that’s why I’m always mentally shutting myself up. But maybe it would be better to just think it, acknowledge it, and THEN deal with it if necessary without all the self condemnation. Is that possible? I’ve only done it just this one way for as long as I can remember.

But maybe it wouldn’t all be awful. Or maybe it would.

And if so, I should probably find out.

I think.


10 Comments on “What a 2 Yr Old Taught Me Today”

February 20th, 2011
3:56 pm

If by any chance any of these ponderings were spurred by my over zealous comments on another blog this morning, I really should apologize for making you go on a pilgrimage of self searching. What really bugs me is not when ‘one’ person’s opinion seems to dampen the mood of certain holidays but when everyone else who thinks that one person is cool decides to dog pile on the idea because they want to go with the flow. Then anyone who opposes that thinking is crushed beneath them. Does that make sense? I hope so because I probably won’t have any better luck if I re edit this.
MIchele recently posted..Chickens!

February 20th, 2011
4:03 pm

No, silly girl. I genuinely appreciated your valentine-ish words! Really. Feel free to disagree or early morning vent here anytime!!

February 20th, 2011
4:08 pm

emailing an explanation. yikes, sooo not your fault. or anyone’s.

Jennifer Sullivan
February 20th, 2011
9:24 pm

1st – Can you perhaps send me instructions on changing diapers without seeing the contents?

2nd – I hope you never start censoring your thoughts. I don’t and I like that those I like the most seem to be honest no matter who it pisses off. Screw ‘em if they don’t like it! If we only say what we think will make others happy and try not to offend anyone else then we aren’t living for ourselves but for others who might not be around forever so why waste time trying to be pc or pleasant?

Am there for you!
Jennifer Sullivan recently posted..Bow chika bow wow

February 21st, 2011
8:27 pm


1 I could. If you really really wanted, I absolutely could.

2 the problem is I already DO censor. I know – it seems as if I don’t, right? and good. but that’s the scary part – this IS the stuff that makes it past my own interior, difficult censor!

3 thank you.

February 21st, 2011
9:49 pm

Stopped by for a second read and a comment.

I think candor and transparency run on a continuum that parallels age. For instance, have you ever met a 20 year old girl who has the qualities your talking about? However bright, she won’t posess the honesty and unguardedness that can be so attractive.

Today I met a lady at the pool, in her 80′s, who said whatever came into her lovely head. She spoke it with such grace, intellect, and utter silliness that I just wanted to listen to more. She was totally real, painfully honest, and a one woman show.

A younger woman could have never pulled it off. She is my new old age roll model! : )
Linda recently posted..Frances Speck- prisoner of self

Jennifer Sullivan
February 22nd, 2011
1:00 am

Kels, I really really do… I LOVE my niece but still gag over certain diapers!
Jennifer Sullivan recently posted..Screw comfort zones

February 22nd, 2011
5:29 pm


I’d like the pool lady, too. I’d like to have a version of the pool lady just within my own head, first. I’m still working out the details of what this would look like.

Jenn S,

One nasty email, coming right up!

March 6th, 2011
12:34 am

I can’t tell you how many times over the past week or so, this post has occurred to me…. I have caught myself constantly stopping thoughts instead of just DEALING with them and moving on – thanks to your insight, I have instead been acknowledging the faults and praying about them – and, as a result, I am seeing less thoughts (or at least less of the *same thoughts*) that I would have previously squelched.
Dawn recently posted..Week 5- Feb 2011

March 6th, 2011
3:08 pm


thank you!! we’re in this together then. I’m stopping myself, really acknowledging whatever thought or feeling it is, praying or writing it and then letting it go. it takes more time and effort than squashing it, but i think it’s better, right? keep me posted on how you’re doing with it, too!

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