In a previous post or two, I tried to explain tantes to all the youth out there who think they can read tante’s mind.
Recently, as the mother of a toddler, I have started to recall those feelings of insecurity we often get when we feel a tante is frowning at us. We are certain they are judging us, and we assume all their thoughts are hostile.
But as I grow older, I realize I frown in liturgy more often. Sometimes I frown at people coming in to the church. Sometimes I frown at someone passing by. And I wonder to myself what they must assume I’m thinking.
Here are a few things I might be thinking as I frown at you:
1. Did I forget to close the garage?
2. Oh, I love that dress she’s wearing. I hope I remember to tell her after.
3. Aww, look at that tiny newborn. Mine are all grown up now. Woe is me! How I miss that age.
4. I am a horrible person.
5. Did I ever return that call from her mom?
6. How come I don’t know this hymn?
7. Lord, forgive me, a sinner, and have mercy on me.
8. We really need to change that wallpaper.
9. Uh-oh. Was I supposed to bring a snack for the youth meeting?
10. She’s frowning at me. My kid’s whining must be bothering her.
11. I miss my mommy.
12. Oh goodness. Am I frowning? I hope I’m not frowning.
I mentioned before how much I loved How to Win Friends and Influence People and how my biggest takeaway from that noble tome is that everyone’s thoughts are self-centered. We all worry about ourselves and our situations first and foremost, and we assume everyone else is thinking about us, too. This way of viewing the world is at its most heightened in adolescence (about age 10-19) but can linger all through our 20s.
The likelihood someone is actually thinking what you think they’re thinking is so so slim. Trust me. I confront enough people to know that their thoughts are in quite an opposite direction from what I would expect.
If you really want to beat tante at her own game, go up to her after church and say, “I’m so sorry, tante, that I was bothering you in church.” I guarantee that in all sincerity she will be completely baffled and have no clue what you’re talking about–and will take special care to be extra kind to you from then on.