1888 Goody Two Shoes Cover
My pre-teen daughter asks interesting questions in our numerous chats. Like one time when she asked, in relation to future special relationships, “What if you like someone, and they like you, but you know they aren’t good for you.”
It’s a very good question; a very, very good question. That is what I said to her various times before formulating an answer.
Anytime she chats to me, I feel a deep sense of privilege — something I will never take for granted — and most of our conversations will never be shared.
This particular interaction happened after the younger children had gone to bed; Miss 12 is allowed to stay up later than her sibblings.
“Can I just be with you for a bit?” she asked.
I don’t know how the subject turned, as conversations often go: snaking like a river, currents carrying water into tangent streams, and you look up and don’t know how you got there.
“So, do kids sometimes sneak out of home?” she said.
“Are you planning to sneak out, are you?” I countered her question with laughter in my voice, not in the least bit worried about a run away.
Responding to the humour in my voice she said cheekily, “W-hh—eee—lll…” And then followed with, “No mum. I would be scared and I don’t have enough money.”
I came back to her question and answered seriously, “I know some kids do probably sneak out of home. I can’t really speak from experience because I never did…”
“Of course you wouldn’t mum.” she interjected with an emphasis on the word you.
I faked shocked affront. “Are you saying I’m a Goody Two-Shoes?”
“Ahh-ha.” She giggled as she nodded. The giggling turned to laughter and she put her hands up in the air I interpretted as “just saying”.
She’s fantastic, I thought. There was no disrespect in her voice. Her voice held humour; her acknowledgement was insightful…and you know what? It’s true.
“You’re right. I am a Goody Two-Shoes,” I conceded.
I was curious at the origination of the term Goody Two-Shoes. The terms was popularised through the book The History of Little Goody Tw0-Shoes, published in 1765. A variation of Cinderella, the story tells poor orphan girl named Margery Meanwell, who goes through life with only one shoe. When a rich gentleman gives her a complete pair, she is so happy that she tells everyone she has “two shoes”. Later, Margery becomes a teacher and marries a rich widower. This earning of wealth serves as proof that her virtuousness has been rewarded, a popular theme in children’s literature of the years.
As I recall the interaction now, I don’t know where we got off on the conversation river bank. I don’t remember how it ended. I can’t remember if we talked about my take on life, or hers, or running away from home. But you know what? It doesn’t really matter.
The conversation did make me think though. I am who I am. I’m often blamed for being “good”. I must admit, I resent the label. Over the years I’ve felt heavy expectation and even a good deal of condescension because of “good” things I seem to do.
My dad descrbed me as a child recently, “She was rarely got into trouble.”
“The perfect child”, my sister added mockingly, with no unkind intent.
I can’t help but cringe. Cringe at myself. You see, I am a bit of a do-gooder. It gives me much satisfaction to edify, empower and do, especially for those less fortunate than myself. I read recent a book called The Selfish Altruist by Tony Vaux and it bluntly examines selfish motivations behind humanitarian work, and how important it is to recognise this if we are truly offer assistance to others. It was fascinating, and I appreciated how open the author was about his own physiological make up. I guess what I’m trying to say here is we all have our bent, and so then certain things often comes naturally to us, and offer fulfilment and satisfaction. In this way, there’s always an element of selfishness to consider, and it’s important to acknowledge so it can be put it its place.
This conversation with my daughter also helped me to realise, that while I’ll keep being me, I want to be careful about imposing my own bent on my children as expectations. I don’t want my kids to be like me. I want them to be like them. If I could go back to the current of conversation, I would take back the “I can’t really speak from experience because I never did…” part of my response. It wasn’t helpful, edifying or necessary. I don’t want place myself as one of being superior or even particularly “good”, because that is a fallacy. I would rather remove that completely, and instead be a facilitator of growth and learning as my children grapple their own way. I am glad I was able to see that I may have a tendency to do the I-did/didn’t-do this, so I will be more aware of that in my interactions. What I truly want, in my heart, is to foster these wonderful people in my care, so they can blossom in their own wonderful way.
I feel the need to hunt down a copy of the 1888 Goody Two Shoes book. On my to-do list.