My family and I were lucky this past week. We spent 5 days on a trip to Disney World with our neighbors who have two kids the same age as ours. We had a blast from shooting Zerg to riding Space Mountain. During the trip, a few things stood out to me as lessons to take back.
First, we all get tired, and when we are tired, even the smallest things can be either frightening or disturbing. It is interesting to me to sit back for a minute and look at the social interactions at a place like Disney World, especially amongst the different groups of people. After a day at an amusement park having fun, kids have an extremely hard time settling down for a good dinner, even in a place with entertainment to occupy their minds. Suddenly dinosaurs thought fun and interesting hours before are too scary to be near. For the adults, a day of sitting in lines entertaining kids on their way to the entertainment they seek is enough to strain anyone. The arguments about which way to go in a park with often end with bruised impressions to decide to take the 10 minute path over the 11 minute path …. After 5 min of arguments and mean looks finally resolved with a look upwards and a resolution, it is not worth fighting over. We are all human, and we are most human when tired.
Still, the happiest parents seemed to be those who realized early on that the trip was not about them. It is for the kids and their memories. Those last two sentences are the best take away from the trip because I believe they hold true outside of Orlando too.
Second, I again found it interesting how much better the young mind is at taking in points of stories and mental images rather than the meaning of a lecture. After one screaming and hitting match between my kids, I had them stop for a story:
Picture this in your mind. There before you stands a man in a business suit yelling and screaming at a 300 lb. pig. He is yelling at the pig to move! “Just move! You are in my way!” The pig is not moving.
Is the man silly or the pig? Is the man more or less silly if the pig is comfortably rolling around in a pigpen? Can you picture it? It would seem crazy for the pig to move, right? It is being a pig. What do you expect? Now, what if the muddy pig was rolling around on a train track with a train coming towards it? Does the man look less silly for yelling at the pig instead of actually trying to do something to entice the pig off the tracks? Regardless of whether the man in the business suit is right or wrong, isn’t the picture of a man in business suit wagging his finger and giving a muddy pig a lecture rather silly?
Now, let’s change this around a bit. What if we see your favorite female clown wagging her finger at the pig? I would be laughing it up right along with you. If the clown traded her clown clothes for a business suit, does she look any less the clown for arguing with a pig? I doubt she will get different results from the stubborn pig. In fact, I would say both the executive and the clown look the same, silly. For you see, there really is not a way to come across as a smart reasonable person as you sit there arguing with a pig.
At some point in everyone’s life, we will be on both sides of the argument. We will be the person correctly trying to move the pig to a better place, and we will be the pig completely ignoring what the silly clown is yelling at us. The pig will always look the fool. The question is will we recognize when we are yelling at the pig, and will we be smart enough to go another direction. The other direction may be going for a treat to encourage the pig to move or just deciding we can live with what ever happens to the pig because we cannot change its mind.
Please try to remember this as you find yourself wanting to yell and scream at your sister, your bother, your friend, or even your parent. We are all pig herders, and we are all pigs.
The term yelling at pigs became instantly understood and defused a few ugly scenes by turning them into gales of laughter at the imagined scene. However, there were still many times exhaustion trumped humor. Even pigs get tired.