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GAIL WHITE Teaching others to be considerate starts within



Published: Thu, August 16, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Several evenings ago, I was hanging curtains out on the line to dry.

As I reached the center of the line, I noticed the weight of the curtains was causing the line to sag so severely that they were dragging on the ground.

I looked and, sure enough, the end of the rope attached to a tree was coming lose.

I untied the line and proceeded to tighten it and re-tie it to the tree.

I soon realized the weight of the curtains was going to make this a very difficult task.

I pulled and yanked at the rope attempting to get a tight fit, with no success.

My arms over my head, I began a serious marching charge around the tree, my hands straining and my feet digging ruts in the ground.

Meanwhile, my husband and four sons were sitting inside watching a ballgame on television, in full view of my dilemma.

The 3-year-old eventually became curious. He wandered over to the door. "What doin' Mommy?" he asked in his 3-year-old lingo.

"Fix ... clothesline ..." I managed to utter.

Satisfied with my response, he disappeared back inside.

Finally, sweat dripping from my brow, my arms pulling out of their sockets and my legs ready to buckle, my husband appeared.

"Really, Honey. Need some help?"

At this point, I could not respond.

Being innately intuitive, he thought I did. So, he sauntered over to the tree.

I had just made my way around the tree with the rope and had begun tying a knot.

Leaning my exhausted body against the tree, I choked, "I don't need your help."

I said it to be mean; to show him how rude and insensitive he was.

He understood it as, I didn't need his help, and he sauntered back into the house.

I stood under the tree and stewed.

"Self-centered ... Inconsiderate ... Thoughtless ..." I fumed. "My sons are not going to grow up and be so insensitive to their wives," I vowed.

Revelation: Then I realized those sons were all sitting in the same room as my husband, watching television. Not one, minus the 3 year old, had budged.

As I angrily clipped the rest of the curtains to the line, I determined that I would go in there and give them a good, sound lecture on "Sensory Acuity; Being Aware of Those Around You."

The last curtain hung, I turned on my heels and headed for the house.

"This is it," I thought as I charged toward the door. "They're going to hear from me!"

The closer I came, the slower I walked.

I was envisioning the scene.

I would march in, stand in front of the television and give them all a good tongue lashing about the importance of being caring and considerate.

They would endure the lecture, staring at me with blank looks on their faces.

My husband would say indignantly, "You said you didn't need any help!"

With that, they would all focus their eyes past me, back to the ballgame on television, as if I had not said a word.

As I neared the house, I decided to handle the situation in a different way, without lectures and yelling.

This required a more sophisticated approach.

I would employ simple, small doses of sensitivity training on a daily basis.

Little by little I would whittle away at this "Oh, there are other people in the world?" mentality.

Everything -- from helping little old ladies cross the street to carrying in the groceries -- would become my classroom.

The training would include lessons for myself as well, beginning with asking for help.

Goal: I envision helpful, caring, considerate young men, ready to assist in a time of need.

Though I am comfortable with my solution, I still can't help but wonder ...

If I had been on fire under that tree, would any of them have come running with a hose?

gwhite@vindy.com




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