Remember Disney's Pinocchio? Cute, sweet, little wooden boy? All he wanted was to be a real boy. But he didn't have a conscience, so Jiminy Cricket volunteered. He followed him around and helped him make difficult choices. And sometimes, as we all do, Pinocchio blew off his conscience and did whatever he wanted regardless of the consequences.
Pinocchio was so lucky. He only had one conscience. I have several.
I have the one I came with. It's standard with the human model; we all have one. Some function better than others. Mine works pretty well most of the time. But there are times when it fails. Or at least, others in my life think it does.
The first external consciences I remember were my parents. When I was griping about someone, they were always quick to point out that I didn't know what kind of a life that person had experienced. I didn't know what kind of trials they were going through. I didn't know the intent of their heart.
Okay, I can accept this. I learned a lot from them. We'll call them training wheels for my conscience.
Sometimes my husband tries to fill this role. Guess how well that goes over. Now, he's learned a lot over the years. He doesn't do this as much as he used to. But every once in a while when my PMS is particularly bad I get a little . . . how to describe it . . . let's say snarky. A little testy. A little short-tempered. A little less kind. With a lot less compassion (which I don't have an abundance of to begin with, but that's another post).
During this time one of my children will push a button. One of my buttons. One of my bite-your-head-off buttons. And since they pushed the button I all too often oblige. This is when he steps in. Sometimes it's a look. Sometimes it's, "I don't think that was very nice." Sometimes it's even, "Hey! You're out of line."
Do I appreciate this? Am I grateful for his protection of these beautiful children I claim to love? Um . . . no. Usually he will get his head bitten off as well. This is when I start to realize that maybe my buttons are a little too sensitive right now and I should probably go to my room. Time outs aren't just for children, you know.
But the ones that bug me, that I truly value the most, are my children. I have great kids. I'm not sure where they came from, but they are awesome! Yes, I want to beat them at times -- I'm not afraid to admit it. But usually they rock.
Occasionally I will not be at the top of my game as far as behavior. I wish I could say this only happens when I am PMSing, but it doesn't. Sometimes I get catty. Sometimes I talk behind someone's back. And sometimes my kids are there when I do it. Yes, I am ashamed. But it doesn't seem to stop me from doing it again.
Or sometimes my husband will deliberately try to irritate me. You may think that he doesn't actually do it deliberately. If you think this, then you obviously don't know my husband. Yes, he does. He thinks it's funny to watch me try not to lose it. I think he likes watching my face turn that particular shade of red, while the blood drips from the tongue I'm biting (yes, my own). Look! I think her head is really going to explode this time. I've had it and I swear at him.
If one of these things happens in front of my children you can be sure that I will hear about it, sometimes with scripture to back it up.
Do I know that what I am doing is wrong? Yes. Do I care? In that moment, no. But then my daughter gently says that it makes her sad when I talk that way. She looks at me with disappointment. I am two inches tall.
And I am proud.
As much as they irritate me, I am proud that my children have the courage to stand up for their convictions. I am proud that they love me enough to care about my behavior. I am proud that they are mine.
So I guess I am really the lucky one. Pinocchio only had one conscience. I have many. And I am grateful for them all.