There is a saying in another language about a crab teaching its child how to walk straight. It’s easy to tell what that means. It means to teach someone to be/do something, you have to show them how to do it. If father crab himself walks sideways, how does he expect his child to know how to walk straight?
This is a saying that I’ve kept close to me because it applies to my life so much.
Growing up, my dad would always say, ‘Don’t be like dad in x way or y way’ or ‘don’t pick up dad’s bad habits’.
As I grew older, I realized how funny those words were. How is telling someone to not be like them any good if you don’t practice what you preach? How can anyone know what you actually mean if you don’t show it? Why should anyone even pay heed to your advice if you don’t do it yourself? Actions speak louder than words, especially to kids, I feel.
My dad also told me to set a good example for my sister.
I did not have a good example set for me by my brother which actually worked out alright because I’ve learned a lot of things on my own, figured out what I want to be and what I don’t want to be, and had my mom as someone to look up to. My moral compass has also been a leading force in my life for which I am grateful for.
Anyway, I told myself that I would learn from my dad’s inability to practice what he preached and consciously make the effort to be the good example to follow so that I would be able to say, ‘hey, try to be like this, you know?’. Not, of course, to other people, but to my sister.
Today I found myself in a situation where I realized that I couldn’t say, ‘hey, like this, you know?’ because I haven’t shown a good example in that department.
The situation was dish washing. I wash the dishes without gloves most of the time. I’m crap. I know, I know. When I started helping out with the dishes years ago, it was maybe one bowl and one spoon. One bowl turned into three bowls then into three bowls and five plates then into a full 30 minute dish washing session. It just turned into a thing.
My sister washes the dishes with gloves and she makes it a point to nag me about wearing gloves but lately I’ve seen her washing them without gloves. Today I almost opened my mouth to say, ‘why aren’t you wearing gloves?’ but realized that I don’t have the right since I don’t do it myself.
Consequently, I felt like shit.
Isn’t it absolutely crappy when you realize that you can’t preach because you don’t practice?
So I’ve decided that even though washing the dishes without gloves is so much faster because I don’t have to dry my hands and put the stupid gloves on then take them off and air dry them, I will consciously make the effort to wear the gloves to do the dishes.
Here’s a late 2015 goal for me. Let’s see how I do.