I was reading Facebook status updates yesterday and ran across one that annoyed me tremendously. It was one of those slacktivist* posts about being patient with children because they might have motor skill delays when they take too long to pick candy.
My annoyance wasn’t around children with motor skills. My annoyance came from the notion that there are people who deserve patience and those who don’t. I want to build a particular type of community, a specific sort of neighbourhood. One of the practical outcomes of this is that on Hallowe’en I bestir myself to decorate and buy candy.
That’s important. Decorating and buying candy are concrete ways I can engage with my neighbourhood. It’s a way of saying that I’m proud of where I live and that I like my neighbours and I wish to meet them and I wish to live a more open sort of life.
Handing out candy, and more particularly the way I hand out candy is much more a notion of how I want the world to be. I need to be kind and patient with the children at my door not because they may or may not be part of a particular group, but because I am an adult and I want to live in a world that is filled with kindness and politeness.
I make a more general statement about the world I want to live in when I am kind to small children. It’s not a statement that says “you are different and I must make special accommodation for you”, it’s a statement that says “we all live here. We are all worthy of kindness and politeness and consideration. I will model that behaviour for you, so that when you are an adult, you will know how to behave, because I believe you are watching me.”
Really, when did it become ok for grownups to be rude? When did that become acceptable? When did it become ok for adults to be badly behaved? It seems to me that’s one of the hallmarks of becoming and adult, that you pay attention to your behaviour and mind your p’s and q’s.
So, please, stomp up to my porch and yell trick or treat. You take all the time in the world and I’ll exclaim over your costume (or make you sing because you aren’t wearing one), and I will make the interaction as pleasant as I can be, because that’s my job as an adult.
*slactivism: the process of updating your Facebook status or twitter feed with some random crie du coeur for a cause that you will do nothing with your actual physical body to further. I assure you, no lasting change or cure for cancer came from posting “put this on your status for an hour because people have cancer”. If you want to cure cancer, donate to the cancer society. If you want to help kids with developmental delays, go read in a neighbourhood school, join a board or help stuff envelopes for an organization that helps those children.