Posts Tagged ‘ character ’

The Invention of Name Calling

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Nine months.

I would love to believe that I am not at all judgmental of other people; that I don’t think or act as if I am “better” than any other person in this world. Because to my conscious knowledge, I firmly am convinced that is the case. In fact, I don’t want the responsibility of having to judge others- even down to a performance review of a coworker. If it’s up to me, I just want to stay out of any situation where critiquing someone’s value and worth in society is left up to me.

But it’s obviously not that easy. To think I am so not judgmental is, if anything, conceited: I’m no exception to human nature. Saying that I am not judgmental is almost as much of a paradox as a person bragging about how humble they are.

If I knew I was shaking the hand of a convicted child molester who just got out of prison, despite believing that God’s grace and forgiveness is more powerful than any wrong a person can commit, and despite that because of God’s grace and forgiveness I myself have been forgiven of “much lesser” sins, there would still be something in my subconscious that would judge that man even though I wouldn’t want to.

The reason? Like everyone in this world, I have what’s called “judge of character,” which is a very important and necessary trait to live by.

In general, I try to give people the benefit of the doubt, but when my instincts warn me about a person, I follow them. And I need to instill those particular instincts in my son to serve as a guide in his decision-making processes throughout life.

What I don’t want to teach my son is to think, however, is that he is ever cooler, more physically attractive, richer, or simply “better” than any other kid.

So really, the question is this: What’s the difference between being judgmental and having a good judge of character?

I believe it has a lot to do with whether or not we generalize another person as “good” or “bad,” or if they are “better” or “worse” than we are, in an overall sense.

Recently, as I was pulling my car out out from where I work onto a road with a 35 mile per hour speed limit, I saw that there was another car coming. But based on my learned perception, I wouldn’t have slowed down the other driver at all; if they were going anywhere near the speed limit.

Turns out, the person in the other car was driving somewhere around 55 miles per hour and had to cross a double line to pass me to keep from running in to me. Then the driver did the same thing to the car which was in front of me, which was also going the speed limit. By the time this speedy driver passed that second car, they had to immediately stop; there was a red light.

Whether or not I said it out loud, I know I at least thought it: “What an idiot! This person is so stupid!”.

Right through the red light, just about one block away from where I pulled out from my employer’s parking lot is KinderCare, the exact place I was going to pick up my son. Interestingly enough, the speedy driver had pulled into KinderCare right before me. She got out of the car and walked in. I followed only feet behind, then stood there waiting on her so that I could “clock out” my son on the computer.

I think it was more awkward for her than it was for me, but she mustered up a hello along with a smile, as if her daredevil driving stunt hadn’t just happened.

This same “idiotic” and “stupid” person who had without a doubt put herself and others in some serious danger, only to be stopped by a red light and ultimately only beat me by 7 seconds to KinderCare, is also a wife and mother. The truth is, I’m sure her abilities to raise her child are nothing like her ridiculous driving habits. I’m sure she’s a very decent woman and a wonderful mother.

Yet I labeled her as a stupid and idiotic person, based on just one of her actions.

For a guy who doesn’t want to teach my son to be judgmental of others, I’m sure there are plenty of other examples where I negatively label a person overall because of only one thing I see. Who else do I think is a stupid idiot, and for what reasons am I superior in some minimal way?

I am not ashamed of my “judge of character,” but starting now, I am attempting to make a habit of not generalizing people as good or bad, based on a solitary trait. I want to make a conscious effort to refrain from calling people names; because after all, it’s pretty juvenile. If through my speech habits I teach my son to call other people names, then I want them to be good names.

If I want to set out to be less judgmental of others both consciously and subconsciouly, this is my starting point.

Granted, I’ll never be completely successful at this new “no name calling” campaign. But surely I can improve. I just need to be careful not to begin thinking that I am better than all the people who still call others names. (Insert laugh tracks here.)

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Becoming a Complete Goofball to Entertain the Baby

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

Twenty-seven weeks.

I know nothing about how to take care of a baby, yet.  But what I do know, and what I have always known when it comes to babies is how to make them laugh and play with them.  In the way that women instinctively speak in a high, falsetto voice to babies (I’ve read that that’s the frequency babies hear when they’re that young, as opposed to a normal speaking voice), I automatically become any given idiot monster when I find myself in a situation where a baby is looking at me, waiting for some kind of confirmation.

The default character I play while entertaining babies could best be described as Popeye mixed with Grimace mixed with Beaker: A smiling, squinty-eyed, beeping mutant.  But what can I say?  Babies like me when I am this fictional goofball.

And really, that’s what happens to any adult when a baby is set in front of them.  Adults become ridiculous.  That’s one of the many reasons people like babies.  Because adults get a free pass to act stupid.  All in the name of making a baby happy.

Needless to say, I am so looking forward to my free pass.

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com


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Proud Papa

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Twenty weeks.

*Did you hear about this blog from American Baby magazine?  If so, click here to get to the main page (table of contents) for “dad from day one”.  There’s a whole lot more where this come from…

During the closing credits of my favorite movie of all time, I Love You, Man, Barry (Jon Favreau) finds out his wife Denise (Jamie Pressly) is pregnant after she vomits on him at the wedding reception.  With puke on his shirt, he says to her, “Please, try to make it a boy.”  Barry is a Type A jerk, inhabiting every memory and idea of a typical beer-guzzling frat boy.  So of course, having a boy (instead of a girl) would be very important to him.

Being that I’m nothing like that character in the movie, instead being much more like the main character, Peter Klaven (Paul Rudd), I had just always assumed I would have all daughters.  Here’s the picture I had in my head of my future family: Me, wifey, three daughters, and two Cockapoos (or Labradoodles).

It just makes more sense that a guy who has no interest (or talent whatsoever) in sports or hunting (or anything proving I’m man enough by showing my “game face”), but instead has always been enthralled in everything artistic (drawing, entertaining, acting, singing, songwriting, writing) would somehow automatically make a better father to daughters instead of sons.  So that’s part of the reason I was so authentically surprised to learn that our baby is a boy.  Like somehow I deserved a son less because I’m not a certain macho stereotype I’ve memorized from three decades of watching sitcoms and movies.

And now, I have to admit, there’s a part of me that can’t help but laugh that without any preconceived hopes or crossed fingers, I get what every man secretly hopes for- a son.  There’s an unspoken concept (at least in my mind) that raising a son is a rite of passage for a man.  A coveted elective course, a special honorary badge, an engraved trophy so easily received- to be a father to a son.  A chance not so much to relive my own life, but to enhance another future man with all the life experience and knowledge I’ve learned the hard way.

The movie I Love You, Man is built around the fact that male friendships and bonds don’t often come so easily.  By a man having a son, he is automatically given that opportunity- to nurture a male the way every boy and man craves to be taught and directed.  What I lack in knowledge of fixing cars and football statistics and home repairs, I can make up for in teaching healthy communication skills and anything that falls under that categories of “literary”, “artistic”, “psychological”, and “entertainment”.

In other words, I have a feeling I will be raising  the likeness of a future Jewish comedic actor, maybe the next Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the next Shia LaBeouf, the next James Franco…

A well-rounded people-person who is confident in who he is, that’s who I predict he will become.  Who knows?  Maybe he’ll be a quiet, mild-mannered, studious, future accountant.  But with a dad as quirky and Hawaiian-shirt-wearing as me, I just don’t think he has a chance of being anything like Clark Kent.

Baby Jack's body is the length of a cantaloupe this week.

Here’s what The Bump says about Week 20:

Baby’s digestive system is busy creating meconium (a tarry black substance made of swallowed amniotic fluid, digestive secretion and dead cells), which will fill the first diaper after birth. And, speaking of the diaper situation… baby’s genitals are now fully formed!

To return to the “dad from day one” main page, click here.

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com

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