I knew that I was a pretty cynical person with tendencies towards sarcasm and biting wit, but it hit home this past weekend when talking to my daughter, Aimee, that these are things that I really need to work on overcoming and pushing out of my life.
As my daughter was telling me about how school is going and what life is like in a different state, she mentioned that she feels really out of place. One of the reasons is that she's an only child in the midst of young adults who almost all come from large families. This was something that she was blessed to not have to deal with in our last ward, and I don't think we realized just how big a blessing it was at the time. In Fairfield Ward there were many different family dynamics and a couple with only one child wasn't treated like a freak occurrence (as we had experienced in a past ward.) Aimee spent her teen years in this cocoon of acceptance and with a great example of the variety of people that make up a family. Now she's out in Idaho and sharing an apartment with 5 other girls and the differences between our family and the "normal" Mormon family are becoming more noticeable.
Aimee is fairly social and enjoys time with friends and going out and doing stuff, but she's also realized that she has a real need for quiet alone time. Most people would chalk this up to her being an only child, but (as simple as that answer would be) it's not the biggest reason. You see, my child is a lot like me. For better and for worse. And even though I grew up in a family with four children, I always needed my own space and alone time. As a teenager I even lived in a tent in our backyard so that I could be alone. And that hasn't changed much since becoming an adult. I deal with social anxiety disorder so there may be some predisposition to solitary behavior, but what Aimee and I have both come to recognize is that we also have a low threshold for sensory overload. It doesn't matter if it's having a good time with friends, going to class, or just spending time in a noisy place- after awhile we have a very real need to get away and be someplace quiet, and we actually enjoy spending some time all alone.
Add to this the fact that most of her roommates (and I guess most of the other kids in general) are very sweet, nice, proper Mormons who seem very naive and innocent. They don't get it when Aimee is jokingly making fun of someone or something, and they really don't understand when she's teasing them. Are we really the only ones who see the humor in how some other people act? Or have the cynicism to not believe everything we hear? Maybe we're just the only Mormons like that, since Aimee has plenty of other friends who had similar senses of humor and ways of thinking.
Which leads me to my need to change. I really appreciate the people I've met who are genuinely nice, caring, and sweet... who don't seem to have a single cynical or mean bone in their body, and I'd much rather be like that than to be what I am. I may have come by my mean streak naturally, but that doesn't make it right. It's just hard to have it pointed out in a way that emphasizes that what I've said and done over the years has made it harder on my daughter to feel comfortable around people who aren't like that. How about a big ol' piece of humble pie? I'll take two or three, thanks.