Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Out of the Mouths of Teens

I wrote before about my daughter Lily’s life mantra “Everything will be all right” (Zen Girl). My other daughters have given me great sayings, too.

“I’m okay with that.” I got this from my foster daughter Grace. Grace would use this in the context of considering whether something was worth objecting to. Or when she was negotiating for something she wanted. It signified that the situation might not be optimum, but she was willing to accept something as good enough. I like it because it reminds me to choose my battles carefully. Much of what I get all worked up over isn’t really worth the energy I waste on it. If I can say, “I’m okay with that,” I’m acknowledging that something isn’t exactly what I want, but it is acceptable. I can choose to feel okay about it and move on.

“I’m just saying....” I also got this from Grace. She would use it when she had to get in the last word, or when she wanted to emphasize her point without escalating the situation. She had a disarming way of leaving that last word trailing as she threw up her hands signaling she was done. This has become sort of a special phrase between us. Sometimes I will text her “Love you. Just saying....”

“It’s all good.” This one is from Mia. What she really means when she says this is, “Okay, Mom, I get it. Please stop nagging me.” But beyond that meaning, it is a pleasant reminder that, at some level, it really is all good. It tells me to stop pushing and take a breath. I use this one with myself a lot!

“Speak wisely.” This one is courtesy of Lily’s friend Jamie. Lily and Jamie grew up together in an orphanage in China and were both adopted as teens. I took Lily to visit Jamie not long after they were settled in their new homes. This was the first time I had met Jamie’s mom. We took the girls to a mall. Jamie’s mom and I decided to sit and relax in the food court while the girls went shopping. Jamie smiled and admonished us to “speak wisely” before running off to join Lily. I have no idea what she thought we were going to say, but I cherish this phrase and the memory of her delivery of it.

It reminds me of Buddhism’s Eightfold Noble Path, which includes Right Speech. It teaches us to ask three questions before we speak. 1) Is it true? 2) Is it necessary? 3) Is it kind? If we can answer all three questions yes, then we are assured that we are speaking wisely. As a person who appreciates the power of words, I value Jamie’s advice deep in my heart. And while I don’t always follow it, I have stopped on more than one occasion and considered these questions before deciding to keep silent.

So it’s all good. And I’m okay with that. Just saying....

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