“Wearing Our Hearts on Our Sleeves”

Dear Reader:

When we refer to little children’s feelings…the old phrase “They wear their hearts on their sleeves”  seems appropriate…especially when we witness  little children’s feelings getting hurt quite easily by a careless remark. The phrase ….‘wearing one’s heart on their sleeves’ refers to a person who  openly shows and shares their feelings or emotions rather than keeping them hidden.

This trait is widely accepted (by parents, grandparents, and most adults) in children, as just part of child development, but there is a tendency for adults to look down on the same trait in older youth and adults. It is as if there is an imaginary time-line that society dictates when one must lock away open feelings and emotions…along with their favorite stuffed animals and dolls, in a closet of lost childhood dreams and memories.

Yesterday our minister, Jeff Kackley, referred to this childhood tendency… as not only acceptable… but a gateway to honest communication. He was wondering aloud at about what stage/age in life did children lose their confidence in themselves becoming anything and anyone they want to be in life. Astronauts, performers, teachers, sports professionals, nurses, doctors, technology experts, video game creators, directors, producers, firemen, policemen, etc.

Certainly the natural separation of reality from imagination plays a part during child development… but sadly society, as a whole, also contributes to this disillusionment of endless life opportunities through negative comments, disparaging remarks, and on-going assessments… placing too much emphasis on results and labels rather than progress.

In scripture this circumstance plays out when God approaches Jeremiah, a boy, to do His bidding….Jeremiah’s excuse is that he can’t tell others what to do …he is only a boy. If that excuse didn’t hold water with our Creator…could it possibly be because God considers all of us, regardless of age, children of God?

I have always thought that some children are born with “old souls” when they make remarks using adult thoughts as small children. Jake was the candidate this time. Last Thursday we played “cars” his favorite game to play…he collects ‘Hot Wheels’ and can play all day endlessly. I told him when I kept him last Thursday that I would play cars with him as long as he wanted to…and I did.

We ended up playing a new game where we sat on the sofa and threw our special colored /named car into a basket that held sofa blankets. We wanted to see how many times we could get our assigned  Hot Wheeler  in the basket…we must have played this game well over an hour. At first I was hitting the basket pretty regularly with my special car but as time went on I started losing interest and started missing more than making.

The same thing was happening to Jake too….our arms were getting tired. I would say things like “Boy, Jake… Boo Boo just can’t seem to get her car in that old basket any more” or “Oops I can’t believe I missed the basket again.” Jake was having his ups and downs also..and I confess my “Darn It”  uttered each time I missed became his parrot ‘mantra’ too….sorry John and Mandy. 🙂

Suddenly Jake slowly walked over to me….he started rubbing my hand and then looked me directly in my eyes saying ” Boo Boo…you should not be so hard on yourself…we are both just doing the best we can.” (I have always prided myself on my acting ability and it was definitely needed here. Jake was so serious while “comforting” me…my lips were quivering with repressed laughter…but I kept a straight face…hugged him and told him that this was very good advice and I would remember it always!) *And I will! 🙂

If this is an example of wearing our ‘hearts on our sleeves’ then my wish is that none of my grandchildren ever lose it. It is the lack of open adult communication that leads to broken relationships, closed leadership, and honest conversations among personal family members and professional friends and co-horts.

So until tomorrow….Let us always keep our hearts included in personal and professional choices; not just letting our brains guide us through the ups and down of our own unique journey on earth.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

Spots of rain on and off this past weekend provided just enough moisture to bring back two morning glories and make other garden flowers smile gratefully….especially little orange mushrooms and happy garden fairies!


About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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