What do you get when you have brown bananas, a hungry little girl, and no time to go get fresh ones? A life lesson of course!
Recently my almost 6-year-old daughter wanted a banana. I went to get one and realized they were all brown. Well, said child is very picky and because of this, I will jump at the chance to give her fresh fruit and vegetables. However, I knew there was no way she was going to eat this spotted brown banana that more closely resembled a cheetah’s coat then a piece of fruit.
I offered it to her anyway.
The look that she gave me was that of disdain, hurt and disappointment. Feeling like a failure for about the thousandth time that day, I went to put it back for banana bread. Or its eventual demise.
Then I had a thought: Why waste a teachable moment? I pulled a chair over to the counter and motioned for her to climb up and have a seat. Unhappiness still scrawled across her little face, I began to peel the banana as I asked her why she didn’t want to eat it.
With disbelief hanging in her voice, she proclaimed that it was the ugliest banana she had ever seen. In all fairness, it was a very ugly banana. I asked her if that made it taste any different and she just look at me as though I had lost my mind. Also in fairness, I wasn’t sure that I hadn’t.
I picked up the banana that was now peeled (or naked, as she would say). Inside was soft, pale piece of fruit, free from the imperfections that were visible on the outside. I asked her if she had never seen the outside of this banana, would she still think it was ugly? She thought for a minute and replied that she didn’t think she would.
I asked if she had ever tasted a brown banana. As she shook her little head no, I broke a small piece off and gave it to her. She tasted it and smiled. It was much sweeter than the hard, yellow, perfect-looking bananas she was used to.
I explained that people were very much like that banana: We all have imperfections on the outside. It is what is inside that is important. Her smile said everything.
How quickly was I to discard the banana? How hastily am I guilty of doing that with the people in my own life? We all possess many imperfections. Why is it human nature to steer away from them?
My mind went back to an incident a few weeks ago where I was in line behind an elderly man who had likely not taken a shower in quite some time. Instead of engaging with him when he smiled and said hello, I only nodded politely and began to fiddle with my phone in an effort to look busy. I am ashamed of that moment.
Who am I to teach my children about total acceptance of others when I am guilty of avoiding someone for such a superficial reason myself? In an attempt to teach my daughter, I ended up with a vivid realization.
The examples I set must be done by action. I can tell my children what to do or how to act, but it is my behaviors that they will mimic. Our children are blank slates. It is up to us to fill in the lines with thoughtfulness, love, compassion, and consideration for others. She may have ended up with a banana, but it was I who ended up with the life lesson.
Photograph Credit: Hannah Moore – Pictured: Emma Moore
This story was written for CharlotteFive’s latest channel for parents in the QC, called QC Playground. Sign up for the weekly QC Playground newsletter here.