Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Incentives

Apparently I've found the right incentive for potty training Emily: a train ride at the mall if she succeeds five times. Whereas she showed no interest in doing anything besides sitting on it and getting off in the past, she asked to use the potty the second she heard us stirring this morning (and succeeded!), and the only time I've gotten her off it in the past hour is when I told her eating her oatmeal would help her use it again. Wish us luck!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Judging a person by their books

A few months ago, someone made a judgment about me based on a book I said I liked. The details don’t really matter. I didn’t take it personally. It was far from the worst thing that’s been said about me behind my back, and it's not like she hates me or anything. But it got me thinking about how much of a judgment it is fair to make based about a person based on what they read. I've realized that in my own way, I do this all the time.

When I go to a friend's house for the first time, I love to browse their bookshelf. If I see a lot of books I love, I think to myself, “ooh, we're going to be good friends.” I should note I hope people don't do this at my house because I seldom reread books, so I just get what I want at the library and return it. My shelves are full of literary theory treatises from college and Mormon women's history books I can't get at the library – you wouldn't know I'm a fiction addict. But back to the point, my taste is so broad, it's hard to find a bookshelf I don't get excited about; I always leave thinking we'll be good friends. But I'll be honest, if I saw a shelf full of trashy romances or political vitriol (on either side of the aisle), I'd probably feel more guarded in their presence, assuming they don't want to discuss the nuances I love, or afraid of setting off a conflict. I wouldn't dislike them, but I wouldn't feel like I could be my full self around them.

Book groups are another place I've done this. I judged a book group “not serious” based on their reading list, and to my shame, about a book I hadn't read. I read it a few years later, and it turns out Spinelli's “Stargirl” was actually quite charming. I later joined the book group, and well, I was right in judging that it was a group where people didn't read the book and just sat around sharing birthing stories, but they were some interesting, thoughtful women I would have benefited from meeting sooner.

It's hard to read a book without it nudging you somehow. From my reading, I've gained empathy for people I didn't think I could, and become more resolute about the opinions I've already held. I've found an escape when I desperately needed one, and become more committed to and capable in the life I've chosen. I do think that the books a person chooses impacts their identity. But it isn't my place to judge how that book impacted a person.