Resolved -- to be responsible, to have fun

January 27, 2006|by LISA PREJEAN

I stopped at a convenience store one night earlier this week to pick up some milk and rolls.

The freshly brewed coffee beckoned to me, and I stood there for a moment trying to make a decision. Small or medium? Regular or decaf?

It was 8 p.m., I was about a half-hour from home, and there were still papers to grade. I could have justified my way out of a bad decision, but I was good. I went for a small decaf.

One of my New Year's resolutions was to cut down on caffeine. Another one was to eat less chocolate. (Yes, both resolutions are closely related since there's caffeine in chocolate.)


So far, I've had moderate success with both goals. After getting the coffee, I walked over to the candy bar aisle. I really wanted a chocolate bar but opted for granola instead.

As I was standing in line waiting to pay, two men in front of me struck up a conversation. They were talking about how many hours they've been working. One said he worked at a plant all day and then went to a side job to lay brick. He looked like he had just come from the job site - dirty jeans, hair filled with cement dust.

A wave of compassion came over me just as a woman came through the door to scold him. She was ready to go. What was taking him so long?

It appeared that she was just as overworked and tired as he was. Her flannel shirt was untucked, her hair disheveled, her shoes worn.

As they exchanged unkind words with each other, I started to feel uncomfortable, as if this were a conversation they should have had in private.

On the way home, I thought about their interchange and how it could have played out differently with a little patience on both sides.

As I related the incident to my husband, he shook his head and smiled. We've had a lot of conversations lately about anger in society.

Why is it that people get so angry about things that don't really matter? I think it's because many of us have adopted a rush mentality. We work fast. We play fast. We make decisions fast. We communicate fast.

We expect other people to respond quickly. When things don't go as planned, we react.

We could learn a lot from the little ones around us.

Children are much more contemplative than adults, which allows them to have lives that are filled with joy.

Sure they can be joyous, you say. They don't have the responsibilities that adults have.

Step into any elementary classroom if you think children have it easy. Their little brains are being challenged with new concepts every day. It's stressful to learn how to read, write and do arithmetic, especially at the rate grown-ups want them to learn in today's society.

Still, children can switch gears and have a great time when they hear the word recess. They make games out of everything, from getting dressed to shopping to cleaning. I have to admit that life is more fun with children around.

If only that joy could remain in society as its members age, the world would be a better place.

We can each do our part. We need to make sure our responsibilities are met, but we also can make a point to enjoy life along the way.

Children need to see us making the right choices even when we are tired, overworked or frustrated. That's when kindness means the most to those around us.

It's the discipline and self-control in our lives that will make the most lasting impression on our children.

It's also the best way for children to learn respect for themselves and for others.

And that's a choice we can all celebrate.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to her at

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