Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Penguin Epiphany

One of my favorite high school teachers used to say that some of the most profound truths can be found in children's books. This is also true of kid's Saturday morning cartoons.

Christopher Robin knows that on Saturday mornings there is a kids' show he's allowed to watch. I don't think he realizes that kids' shows are on the whole morning long, across almost every channel... he just knows there is one, and that we've been missing it for the past few Saturdays, because I can't seem to get the time right. I let them watch Veggie Tales for half an hour on Saturday mornings, on the days we're home at the right time, but the network has moved the time around, and I keep missing it. Last Saturday Christopher Robin asked me at 9:30 if it was time for the kids' show, so I checked online to find out what time Veggie Tales came on, and saw that it had run at 9:00. Frustrated that I had failed AGAIN, I decided to let him watch 3-2-1 Penguins, which was just coming on.

The topic was compassion, and it showed the penguins throw a surprise birthday party 2 months late for the twins, a boy and a girl. The boy was happy and excited, but the little girl moped around dejectedly. Something was bothering her. Her brother explained that she'd been like that all day, and he didn't know what was wrong.

It's funny, because this is an issue that comes up repeatedly in my relationship with My Hero. I never quite know how to deal with him when he gets in a funk. Most of the time I notice he's in a bad mood, and I make up my mind that no matter what he does, I'll do my utmost to stay positive and not let him get me down. Sometimes I feel like booting him out the door, since that feels like the only way I won't be poisoned by his bad mood.
I saw the little girl moping at her surprise birthday party, and I felt the same response to her. What's her problem? Why doesn't she snap out of it and appreciate what her friends just did for her? I think my response would be, "Leave her alone, and she'll come out of it eventually."

Suddenly I was riveted, because from the show's approach, I could tell it wasn't the girl who needed to change her behavior, it was the brothers and the penguins who were about to learn something. To act happy and cheery when someone is feeling sad is not a compassionate approach. Huh. My determination to maintain my cheeriness might actually be the problem? Suddenly, I realize that this lines up with scripture.

Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured on soda, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart. Proverbs 25:20 (NIV)
The little boy stopped and heard his grandmother's words from earlier in the day echoing in his head. "To show a little compassion, you might start by listening to her."

Of course, he doesn't actually get around to listening to what his sister has to say until near the end of the program, but that is the solution that begins to help her feel better.

I have been blaming My Hero for being intent on dragging me down with him in the dirt, that he won't change his mood until he's brought me down to his level of misery. Hmm. Have I been a little lacking in compassion?

He has been facing stress and frustrations these past few days, so I've had a couple of opportunities to try out my new found wisdom. Instead of walling myself off from him, I have listened with compassion to what he's going through. It doesn't drag me down or ruin my day, but it does help lift him up. When I intentionally stop my chipper remarks and happy tunes to listen to his problems and offer any support I can, we continue through life together, in harmony, side by side. Now I see that most of the tension caused by our mismatched moods is dissipated not when I determine to remain unaffected, but when I willingly temper my cheerfulness in respect for his problems and focus my energy on listening and doing what I can to help.

It's obvious, isn't it? How could I have been so blind? I don't mean to point fingers, but I think God might have had something to do with my inability to pin down the time for Veggie Tales. He had a little something he wanted to show me about me.

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