Quite a title, huh? I'm sure you are completely confused, Lent was months ago and has nothing to do with dogs. Well, my grandma had 2 sayings. One was "if you lie with dogs your going to get fleas". The other was what you needed to do instead, "soar with the eagles". Not until this Lent did I realise how much this also applied to modeling for our kids. Modeling for our kids is probably the best way to teach them what is important to you. You know the saying, "practice what you preach".
So how did Lent teach me this applied to the influences I allow myself too? And why am I updating about Lent now. Well, it's been over 6 months so I've now seen the full effect of something that changed at Lent. Every Lent we give something up but we also try to add something. Usually the "give up" has not much to do with the church, instead it is more about sacrifice: chocolate, sweets, caffeine, (now that I think about it, it's mostly foods, hmmm, I guess that shows what's important to us, I will need to contemplate that), etc. Then the "add" is something religious, prayer, bible study, charity, etc.
This year the "give up" became an "add". You see, I had noticed that the country music I listened to with the kids wasn't as "clean" as I thought it was. My impression was that if it didn't have people "pumping and grinding", didn't talk about "big buts", didn't say "so take off all your clothes", and there was never any "F bombs", it was "clean". Therefore, country was the cleanest music I knew. For years the fact it wasn't was there. B wanted to know what Tequila was and why it "makes your clothes fall off". Then she wanted to know what a "4 letter word that started with S" and would cause concern was. That progressed to one day her accidentally slipping and singing along, "...kiss my a**". Soon my smaller kids were singing about how "rain is a good thing" because it "makes my baby feel a little frisky". Or going for a ride on my big green tractor, my baby liking to fish, and their favorite music video was "Stuck Like Glue" (if you haven't seen it, look it up, though hilarious it isn't kid appropriate). So we gave up "inappropriate" music for Lent, though I just told the kids I gave up "country music" for Lent.
I couldn't go from country to pop, rap, alternative, those were all steps in the wrong direction. Kids music CDs got old fast. Classical is nice and soothing, even the sad or angry portions of a classical composition don't seem to ramp you up. There are 2 problems with classical. First, when sitting in traffic you can't sing along to distract yourself. Second, our classical station has just as much talk as music. This wouldn't be a problem if our CD player worked in the minivan but one of the kids jammed something in it. That leaves only one thing, Christian. That's when our "give up" became an "add", we "added" Christian music.
By the end of Lent though I was noticing a difference. I was calmer. This is one of the things I didn't actually notice until I tried to go back. After Lent I turned the radio in the baby's room back to country, to listen as I put away laundry. I soon realised that listening to an "angry american" rubbed off a little anger. Listening to a woman take a "...Lousville slugger to both headlights..." got me to thinking, "well he deserved it". And if Montgomery Gentry doesn't give a damn, why should I. Not to even mention the amount of sexual innuendos (and not so innuendo) I now noticed, after nearly 2 months of the emphasis being on how "family friendly" the Christian station is. That lasted about a day before I turned it back to Christian.
Yes, even what you listen to, or the people you surround yourself with, can effect you. If one of the kids is having a bad day it can irritate me. If I am irritated soon everyone is irritated. Yes, a "smile is contagious" but so is a bad attitude. Just as my optimism can rub off on my husband, his pessimism can rub off on me. If you surround yourself with positive people you will slowly become more positive and optimistic. If you are a naturally positive person, negative people can effect you. Some of those negative people just need your influence, your ear to listen, your shoulder to cry on. Some of those people don't want to be anything but negative and mean. And if you lie with those dogs your bound to get fleas.
I have explained it to my kids, for years, in terms of buckets. Everyone has a "nice" bucket and a "mean" bucket. If someone is mean to you they fill your "mean" bucket. You can chose to "let it go" by dumping that bucket out or you can scoop some out and give it to someone else. Of course if you give it to someone else you are filling their bucket so they can scoop right back out and give it back again. Which bucket would you rather fill? If you fill other peoples "nice" buckets but dump out your "mean" bucket soon you will only be passing around the "nice" and they'll be no "mean" left.
That isn't to say that my kids "mean" buckets are empty, it's a work in progress. Hopefully singing about the "voice of truth" will be a better influence than singing about "shaking her fist". Besides, its much cuter when your 2 year old sings "holy, holy, holy" as opposed to "all your ever gonna be is mean".