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October 4, 2021
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Step Ten In Action
November 1, 2021

Right Back at You Grand-Pa

When my grandson was in preschool, we talked for many hours about everything from stars and space to bugs and animals. I tried to give him the best perspective I could about how to respond to life issues at a level that he could understand.

He came home from school one day and told me that one of the boys in his class was being bad and had gotten into trouble. I tried to explain to my grandson that, at five years old, the boy was too young to be bad and was just misbehaving.

I explained to my grandson that maybe that boy did not have someone who could teach him how to behave properly. He continued the conversation and asked: “Grandpa, if someone said I was a bad boy…” I stopped him in midsentence and asked: “Who said that you were a bad boy?” He replied, “no one, but if they did…”

I stopped him again and said, if anyone says that you’re a bad boy, you can just say, “I’m not a bad boy. I’m just a kid learning how to do life.”

I was at an AA meeting shortly thereafter and the topic was about resentment. And, for lack of a better analogy, I told the story of my grandson and how I look at everyone in the same way. Most people act out to compensate for deeper rooted emotional problems.

None of us is perfect. We all have shortcomings. For me to condemn someone else who may be plagued by these things and not yet resolved them would be like piling on. I always feel worse when I resort to those old behaviors. I should never let my emotions, or my ego, draw me into conflict with other troubled people. I must always try to take the high road in these situations.

But what about when other people cross my boundaries in a negative way? Do I have to be a doormat? No, if there is a way to remove myself from the situation, I do not have to participate in it. But I should not be judgmental either. I must refrain from pointing out the faults of other people.

They are like my grandson’s little classmate. They are all like kids learning how to do life. And for me to engage in criticism in that situation would be like two old men in a care facility hitting each other with their canes because one was not walking fast enough for the other. It might sound funny, but figuratively speaking, we do it every day.

I am no better or worse than the next man. I may be further along the path than he. But I am no better. I pray for understanding and compassion in these situations. I must never judge a man on his surface behavior. I must have the strength to look deeper. We are all just like those kids learning how to do life.

A few months after that discussion with my grandson, we were running a little late taking him to his Taekwondo class. He was in his car seat as I bickered with my wife about getting there on time when he interrupted us saying: “Guys, I can hear you.” I responded by saying, “you should have been ready yourself,” when he responded, “Grandpa, I am not a bad boy. I am just a kid learning how to do life.” My wife and I broke out in laughter.

God, I love that kid.

By Rick R.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the AA Cleveland District Office.