I've mentioned before, that I have an amazing lady who stays at my home to help me with my housework and in taking care of Nanma when I am at work. This person - lets call her S- is about my Mom's age and has known me and my family since I was 5. He is amazingly patient with Nanma and I really don't know what I would do without her! Nanma loves her and calls her Paati (granny in Tamil) and has even named one of her teddies after her.
Yesterday, I got upset over a small issue. There was enough reason for me to get worked up and I think any mother would have, given the situation. But I chose the wrong way to react. My emotions come across very strongly for me and it is very hard to hide them. I chose the words I spoke very carefully. But not the tone in which they were delivered. After this little incident, I took Nanma out and we went for a walk on the beach. I had enough time to cool down and sort things out in my brain.
When S opened the door for us, I saw that her eyes were red and puffy and I knew she had been crying. I felt so bad. I apologized immediately for the way I spoke to her. I assured her that I was in no way doubting her capabilities and her love for Nanma. I told her again, what I had to say. Except this time, I was calmer and I got the (same) point across. Then she told me that she feels hurt when I speak angrily. She reminded me of how much younger I was to her. I apologized again, knowing how important respect for elders is in our Indian Society. Things were patched up.
And then I started thinking. Words. They're not just words in reality. I teach my own students about how stress at the wrong place in a sentence can alter the whole meaning you're trying to convey. But the tone of voice is so important as well! The words I speak can build or break someone.
Here's a quote from the Bible that sums up what I learned the hard way yesterday.
It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.