It was a funny day today.
After years of wishful thinking, we are finally having solar panels installed on our roof. We had to wait until we were able to bring down a bunch of huge trees, but now we are finally sunny enough to make it work.
We talked to a few companies, researched various systems and finally decided on NRG Solar. They have been incredibly helpful and supportive through the process; calling and emailing and explaining every step of the way.
Today I woke up and thought, “Yay! Today is the day when our solar will be installed!” We had arranged it for a day when I would be home to let the crew come in and out, as they needed to access our electrical panels, our attic and our internet router.
They arrived bright and early, and introduced themselves to us. One guy was very warm and friendly, telling me about his children and his pets. One was a young woman, very sweet and kind, who looked at my baby granddaughter and said, “We’re going to save the environment for you, honey!”
I loved showing Ellie a woman in a hardhat, climbing a ladder and using power tools.
And the third member of the crew was a tall, broad shouldered man with long dark hair and a big black beard that spread across his chest. He was more shy and quiet than his colleagues, shaking my hand, but coming and going the rest of the day without a word.
This afternoon I was sitting in my rocking chair, trying to soothe poor little Ellie to sleep while people were hammering, pounding and drilling on the roof. She was having a very hard time relaxing as you might imagine.
At one point, the bearded young man was up on a ladder, right outside the window where we sat. He was working to feed a long metal pipe into the attic. He word his white NRG hardhat, and had on dark glasses, but his thick black beard was clearly visible. My little Ellie looked out at him, and started to cry harder. She reached her hands out toward him. I didn’t think that he saw us, but I knew what she was thinking.
After a while, the young man climbed down from the ladder, and with my hand pressed to her ear, Ellie settled into sleep on my chest.
As the crew was leaving tonight, the friendly cheerful electrician came in to say goodbye. I thanked him for their hard work, and then I told him about Ellie. I said, “My granddaughter was staring at your friend as he worked outside the window.” Before I could explain, he answered me, “I know. He told me. He said that the baby was staring at him, and he’s sorry if he scared her.”
Wow! I suddenly pictured how he might see himself. As the mom of two tall, broad shouldered, bearded men, I understand that sometimes my sons are viewed as scary big men. I understand that they realize this fact.
But today, when the big bearded man was in our window, my little Ellie was thinking, “Daddy!!! I want you!”
Isn’t it funny that we so often see ourselves in a completely different light than the way in which we are seen?
How many times have I worried that everyone sees me as angry and rude, only to find out later that they described me as “strong and calm”? How many times have I felt like a big huge uncoordinated mess, and then figured out that I seemed pretty much in control of the situation?
I wonder how many times big bearded gentle men worry that they are scaring people, when really the people are thinking, “He looks like my Dad!” or “He reminds me of my son!”
I don’t know.
I just think that this was an interesting lesson today. Maybe we should trust each other a little bit more, and realize that the people around us are more insightful than we realize.
And babies are really good judges of character!
11 thoughts on “How we see things”
What a gorgeous family you have! You must be so proud.
Growing up in America as an African-American, I am sad to say, I’ve experienced the reverse more often than not. I usually think, “I bet they think I’m a really nice person, sharply dressed, and in command of my shit, but I usually find out that they were thinking, “She’s too strong and forceful–she scares me to death.” I’ll never forget the time I was sporting a gorgeous Afro (ala Angela Davis) in the early 70s. I wasn’t wearing my hair like that because I was professing any political position, I just thought I looked hot. A young White woman who I had been attending church with for months (in other words, she was no stranger) finally confessed that my Afro scared her senseless (made her see Black Panthers under every rock) and she wished I would change my hair. (I didn’t.) What you gonna do? Beard, no beard; Afro no Afro–we all have to just be ourselves.
So true! We just have to be ourselves…..But so often I wish that others could see themselves the way I see them! And sometimes (when I feel brave) I wish I could see myself the way others see me.
One of my sons (the one on the right) always appears gentle; puppies and little kids and old ladies just love him. My boy on the left has to work at appearing unthreatening for some reason. We’ve talked about how much harder that whole thing is for young black men!
And I bet you WERE super hot in that afro!
Until I read this, I hadn’t really thought about beards too much. My brother has had one for 40 years, and my son started to grow his pretty much in 7th grade (I’m not exaggerating — he had significant facial hair IN 7TH GRADE!). Kids love Jacob. I haven’t ever thought to ask if he intimidates anyone. Jacob is such a goofy guy, that it would be hard to imagine him scaring anybody!
But I’m so envious of the solar panels. We are too woodsy here …
Its funny, I think the long beards make men look kind of messy yet huggable. My Matt seems to look scary, though (or that is his perception…..h’mmm). I think my son in law looks like a happy hobbit with his beard!
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I’ve had solar panels for two years and while I’m at the beach, a friend is supervising the installation of a solar hot water heater as well. Hope it works! I had to cut down a large palm tree to do so but I have so many plants and trees that I don’t even miss it. I know. Hard to cut down trees. But nice not to have all those fuel bills for hot water! Judy
And in our case, we waited for almost 6 years, until the trees were honestly so old and brittle that they had to come down whether or not we put the panels on. Old white pines, I have planted a small tree, flowering cherry or spruce, to replace each one (only far from the ouse this time!)
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When I built my studio, I put a scoop in the wall to go around the tree so I wouldn’t have to cut it. Now, without the tree, that scoop doesn’t make sense. I’m going to have to figure out something interesting to do with that scoop. Perhaps make it look like someone has taken a bite out of the building! Ha.
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Number one: great family photo! Number two: great post! We never do see ourselves as others see us, and sometimes that is just plain sad. I remember once when someone told me how calm I was, and all I could think was, “Really? You are that clueless?” Luckily, that was one time I kept my thoughts to myself.
Oh, ann, I have had the exact same thing happen, and all I can this is maybe I get so flustered that I freeze, and others see it as calm! But I’ll accept the old “perception is reality” theory!
Such a great post, and a good reminder that our internal voice is often wrong!
Thanks: I do that SO often!!!!
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