Take the Dang Picture!
Today, my family hung out at the beach for a couple hours with another wonderful family who we enjoy being with so much. The beach is an interesting place to watch other people.
- You’re in close proximity with complete strangers.
- You’re exposed to the elements like no other place. (water, wind, sand, birds)
- Kids feel the freedom to go nuts.
After watching a flock of seagulls commandeer a full, sealed back of chips from a sleeping teenage girl and experiencing a full-body exfoliation from sand flying from the beach towels of our own children, I watched in amazement as a mother desperately begged her young girl…no more than 5 years old.
“Jen, stand up by your sister so I can take your picture.”
“No, I don’t wanna!”
“Jeeen, I really want us to remember this day. Stand up so I can take your picture.”
“Nope.” She dug her hands deeper into the sand and squished up her face with displeasure.
“I’m telling you right now to get up there. Don’t you want ice cream later? If you don’t stand up and take a picture right now, I’m not gonna get you ice cream!”
It was absolutely comical…and a bit unnerving. I was so sick of hearing this mother beg the little girl that I almost got out of my seat and yanked the girl out of the sand. “Take the dang picture, Jen! I’m ready for your mother to shut up!”
I resisted…and the mother finally gave up.
Isn’t it funny how we try to coax our kids (and lots of other people in this world) to do something we want them to do. It’s not as though her choice in the moment was so much of an act of disobedience as a choice to disconnect from relationship. She didn’t want to participate in the moment, but two other people (her mother and sister) were doing everything (outside of physically moving her) to get her to stand up and get in the photo.
I’m wondering what the line is between inviting others to join us in the moment versus verbally assaulting them to join in. Is it possible to cast a vision for a different kind of life without creating a reward/punishment scenario?
What if I let the people around me be themselves? What if I modeled the kind of life I value and desire? What if I share my values and invite them to join me on the journey as they’re ready? What if I encourage them as I see them taking courageous steps in their life?
I wonder if that would be more peaceful and life-giving rather than all the coaxing that I witnessed today.