Good OR nice (and which to choose when you can’t be both)…
Good: that which is morally right.
From the time we’re old enough to interact with other children, we are grilled with something that, in itself is a good thing: “Corey, BE NICE!” Play nice, talk nice, look nice etc etc.
What mom really meant was “Corey, get along with everybody and don’t make a scene!”
But making a scene was my specialty…
She took me to the local health nurse when I was really little for a checkup to test my coordination (or something). The nurse handed me one of those giant red plastic bats we used to play with and proceeded to toss a rubber ball my way from the distance of a few feet to see if I could hit it.
My mom spoke up in alarm “Are you sure you want to be that close to him? He can hit!”
The nurse replied “He’s so little, how hard could it be?” and proceeded to pitch.
I couldn’t believe my good fortune, some crazy lady dressed in white pokes and prods me with stuff and asks questions while making me sit still (a feat in itself), and then hands me a bat to take out my frustration? I like it here!!
What she didn’t know is that my dad was so excited he’d had a boy the day I was born that he returned to the hospital and put a ball and bat in my crib, so I was well versed in it’s use ahead of other boys my age.
I heard my mom utter the words of caution which went unheeded and swung for the fence! Well, that little hallway was a pinball machine and the nurse barely escaped alive during the best three seconds of my life!
“That wasn’t very nice of your mom!”
First, be careful what you say about my mom!
Secondly, my mom told the nurse the truth and let her make up her own mind (after all it was her clinic). Nice would have been to agree with her and not warn her at all!
I wasn’t a spoiled child, I just possessed an endless curiosity and fearlessness which made me attempt things other kids might not. I love that my parents raised us to be nice when we could, but to value something above being nice all the time…honesty. Adventure and the thrill of accomplishment is accompanied by skinned knees sometimes, which is not Nice if you’re a knee. I used to think the Principal of my elementary school in Los Angeles’ main job was bandaging kids knees, but she never told us to stop playing.
Most of us grow up to be terrified, not of failure or pain per se, but of something far worse in Canadian society… That we would ever be accused of being Mean. It keeps us from trying sometimes.
What’s really expected is that we are agreeable all the time and don’t make waves, even at the expense of doing what is right. Hmmm, so it’s socially acceptable to be bad if you’re nice about it? Kind of..
I’m trying to figure out how a single mom I know is supposed to raise her strong willed daughter by herself and agree with her all the time? That’s what the little rascal really wants of course when she says “You’re not NICE!”, but for this mom to feel pressure to make peace for the moment by selling out what would damage her daughter in the long run would be wrong, wouldn’t it?
As a person I must decide that speaking the truth and being as nice about it as I can is about the best that I can do. There are times when the other person will accuse me of being mean if they don’t get what they want, but for me to be their version of Nice I’d have to lie and not do what’s right, then I would be much more likely to walk into the hallway and say something about them that actually IS mean!
It’s no fun to live like that. People can’t become what they need to become if they live in fear of being misunderstood all the time. It’s like handing a kid a bat but warning them not to hurt the feelings of the other team.
So years ago the mother of a boy asked a nurse if she was sure about her plan, then let him swing for the fence.
Telling my daughters it’s never ok to swing doesn’t make me a good dad though…
Love ya mom!! It was a home run!!