Bite your tongue…

On my way in to work today, my co-worker called and re-routed me to stop by the school. ” What happened?” I asked

“We have a dress code issue.”

“Ah, was it just a dress code issue?”

“No, it was how she responded that got her into trouble.”

“Yep, that makes sense.”

As I drove onto the school campus colorful fall leaves fell from the trees. Signs spaced every four feet apart set the pace for a day of encouragement. You can do this! Have an amazing day! You’re successful! I laughed and found the nearest parking spot.

As the child entered the car, I opened the conversation with the signs of encouragement I found along the driveway. “Why do you think the school wants to be so encouraging?” I ask.

“Who knows! I’ve worn this shirt five times and never been dress coded. I don’t know why it became a problem today” responded the child.

So I asked, “If I were to speed every single day to work and then get a ticket one day when I got caught, whose fault would it be?”

“I see what you’re saying. But it just made me so angry I said some things I shouldn’t have” she responded.

“Ok, so what does tomorrow look like?”

“I wear a different shirt?”

” Yes.” I asked. “That’s one part. But what else?”

“Ummmm, I don’t know?”

Hmmm, here’s my perspective…

Every day, people fail. We are after all human beings and we are not perfect beings. However, when we do fail, it’s our responsibility to make things right. And so I asked “What do you think would have happened if you would have taken responsibility today and said I’m sorry. I have worn this shirt before and I did not realize it was not appropriate?”

Her smile and quiet laughter told me she heard me.

As we drove home today, we talked about how we treat other people. Are we kind? Do we say things that we shouldn’t when we are angry? At the beginning and end of each day, do we ask for guidance on where we are going and forgiveness for where we’ve been? As we drove and talked through “how we say versus what we say” her insight was comforting.

“Mrs. Susan, I have already made a mistake today. I just want to do better tomorrow.”

With a nod of approval, I shared a story that has been with me during my life.

When I was in Basic Training, my Company Commander tossed my locker. The infraction was small. I had folded my underwear “right over left” instead of “left over right.” I felt it was a bit heavy handed to toss my locker and hurl my mattress out the window, but hey…I see it often now, so I’m not judging! But when I graduated my Commander said to me “do you know why I tossed your locker when you didn’t follow my instructions?” “Not really.” I responded. “I did it to teach you this. If we were on a sinking ship and I said go left and you instead go right, you might not get out alive. Sometimes, rules are in place to help you succeed.”

As the underwear violation so many years ago was discussed in today’s dress code world scenario, my take away is this. Challenging every human being for every simple task is not necessary. Sometimes, when we are asked to follow rules, our job is to follow them. If we are going to contest them, do so respectfully. The only way that the issue is heard and ultimately changed is if you are successful at communicating your side of the issue. Adults often need this lesson as often as children. Rules are rules . We don’t always like them, we might not agree on them. But, how we disagree says more about us than any other issue. Learn how to communicate. It’s okay to disagree. It doesn’t have to turn into a screaming tantrum, door slamming kind of day. This behavior only jeopardizes the point you are trying to make.

And if you are currently serving in the military and you are asked to fold your underwear left over right, make it happen! Lol! I challenge you to learn to be the keeper of your own tongue. No one else has that power but you. Visit us often at to learn more about us and how we make a difference.

Published by susanworsley

I'm the Executive Director of the North Georgia Angel House Inc. located in Canton, GA. I joined our agency in 2007 after leaving the Miami area where I also worked in the field of child welfare. Over the span of nearly 30 years I have served on all sides of the system. Prior to child welfare I served in the US Navy for seven years on both active duty and in the reserves. You will rarely see me without my beloved Pembroke Welsh Corgi. Join me in my journey to share my love of what we do.

2 thoughts on “Bite your tongue…

  1. As I read this, I am also wondering what the adult’s tone and/or words were to the student as he or she reprimanded the child. Yes, so many times, it is how we say things, rather than what we say. Maybe her reaction would have been different had the adult’s words or reaction been different.
    You are so calm and have a way with dealing with the young ladies, and make them truly think about their choices. They are valued by you! God has truly blessed the Angel House to have you there!
    I need to come and see you soon. I’d love to see the new renovations! Id also love to do bingo or other games with the girls as a volunteer. I have my 15 year old granddaughter, Zoe on most weekends. She is a cadet in the Pickens County Sheriff’s Explorers Program, since the age of 13. She has been in competition, and has won. Zoe has faced many obstacles in her life, like many of the girls who have passed through AH. But she has turned her experiences into positives. She has wonderful role models who are great examples. You are a great role models to your girls.
    I go grateful for my time at Angel House as a house parent. I know some times were tough, but these kids have been through so much. I hope I helped just a fraction of how you have helped these kids. They admired you and they didn’t want to disappoint you or us house parents. Most of them anyhow!
    I will give you a call soon! I’m very proud of you Susan and you have always been a great friend. Take care and keep up the good work! Message me on Facebook if you want to talk. Kim

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