I find myself in the inevitable position of acknowledging my grandchildren are “not so small” as they used to be. The last time we had one of our famous Cousin Sleepovers, I went to the store…as usual…to get them all a “small toy” as a “party favor” of the evening’s event. I found myself putting small colorful bouncy balls in the cart, only to look at them and think, ‘They’re too big for these,’ (at least the older four–and if you can’t buy the identical gift for everyone….trust me…don’t do it). I put them all back. After all, the oldest grandchild is headed to middle school next year. The older three ended up playing football…real football…with rules…for most of the evening.
That got me to thinking: How do you know when someone is grown up? Even the adults in your life? Here are some guidelines:
- You are able to put yourself in the other person’s place. Though you may disagree with a certain person’s viewpoint or find his personality distasteful, stop and think: “Why does this person feel this way? Why did he react this way?”
Perhaps he had different upbringing than you did. Perhaps he’s not so brimming with self-confidence as you are. Maybe he just came from the hospital. Maybe …
- You are able to keep your mouth shut. Yes, we all know sticks and stones don’t break our bones. But let’s face it: words can break your spirit. Do you still remember some tacky remark some “friend,” foe or even family member made years (or days) ago? Did she say she was “teasing”? Did she apologize later? Do you still remember, though you’ve forgiven her?
When you do speak, use your words to encourage, instruct, lead, influence, comfort. If you’re angry, wait till later to talk. Think, think, think before you speak.
- You don’t pout when you don’t get your way. From the time we begin to have a sense of our own identity and “space,” we must learn to accept that we have to share, take turns, yield, obey, be still, be alone, be quiet in a group, listen while others speak, play games we don’t want to play, sing songs we don’t want to sing, eat food we don’t want to eat. Learn not to pout.
- You have balance. You do not let one habit, hobby, person, idea, opinion, practice, memory, injury, need, loss dominate your life and bring you under its power. You invest your time in proper amounts of work and rest, enjoyment and discipline, fulfilling your obligations before allowing yourself your pastime. You put others first, but do not neglect your own physical or emotional health. You eat reasonably, neither stuffing nor starving yourself. You manage your finances. You tell yourself “no” or “no more,” but do not deprive yourself of the joys of life.
- You take responsibility for right relationships. Practice saying, “I’m sorry. I’ll do better next time” when you’re rebuked. Not your fault? Say it anyway. A soft answer turns away wrath. Someone has to be the grown-up. It might as well be you.