Small Stories for a Big World

There are people in my life—Garnet and Sparkle Girl for starters—who are of the opinion that I tend to over-think things. Certainly, I am well-acquainted with the experiences of regretting something that I said, wishing that I had put something in a kinder or more thoughtful way and wondering how someone took what I just said.

Until the other day, though, I had not really given any thought to how even things that I think are completely innocent may upset someone.

Here’s the story:

Garnet and I were sitting at the kitchen table talking about household business. As I was giving Garnet an update on the status of our mortgage, Sparkle Girl came in. Hearing the word “mortgage” reminded her of the last time she heard me talking about the subject.

“Remember that time when you said we own the living room, the kitchen, the dining room and the bathroom, but we don’t own any of the bedrooms?” she said.

“I do,” I said.

Although it was years back, I remembered it well because, at the time, I thought I was being clever and had congratulated myself on coming up with an amusing and helpful way to picture where we were in the process of paying off the mortgage.

That’s not how Sparkle Girl remembered it.

“It scared me,” she said. “When you said we didn’t own any of the bedrooms, I thought it meant that somebody could come and take away my bedroom and everything in it.”

“I am so sorry,” I said. “I had no idea.”

I felt bad that the possibility of scaring her never crossed my mind. In retrospect, it was easy to see how unsettling it would have been when she was much younger to imagine someone coming and taking away the place where you sleep and all of your dolls and toys.

This month, Sparkle Girl turns 16. If I said something like that today, she might say that they were certainly welcome to take away my bedroom, but that she was definitely keeping hers.

We laughed about her fretting about that, and I assured her that, these days, we do indeed own her bedroom.

Since then, as someone who wonders what lessons I am supposed to learn from this experience or that, I have been wondering what lessons I should take away from this experience or what I should do differently in the future.

I have no idea.

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