Lessons From Little Ones

I have mentioned that I have a three-year old.  And I have also mentioned some of the challenges she imposes me with.  So why not talk some more?

My daughter engages in a list of things that upset me daily.  From rubbing Vaseline all over her face and hair to crushing my toes with her “princess heels” as she walks around the house.  Or wiping her hands on her pretty dress at dinner rather than on the napkin she just asked for 30 seconds ago.  There’s a ton more but I’m sure you get the idea.  Well, right now, I am torn as to how I should feel when she does something like, say, pour water all over the counter and floor for no apparent reason or spoons soup out of her bowl and places it under the placemat at the dinner table and proceeds to smash it into the table.  Once I realize what she’s done, she immediately shouts out an: “I’m sorry” along with the appropriate level of ‘sad face’ to fit the crime.  Although these are the most insincere apologies, they are still well-timed and what I have been training her to say after doing something wrong.  The thing is, after one of her befitting apologies, she promptly goes into singing, talking to her dolls or going so far as to tell me how much she loves me! All thought of her recent wrongdoing seem to be erased from her memory and she goes on like it never happened!  Doesn’t she realize I just yelled at her and that my blood pressure has gone up at least two systolic decimals and that I’m still angry with her?  I recognize that this could be a ploy on her part to deflect my thoughts from deciding to punish her any further than I already have.  But nonetheless, here lies my dilemma.  The kid has a point–neither of us should be reflecting on the wrong that was just done.  We should be moving past it and getting on with our lives. But I don’t want to!!

Even though she is displaying the best attitude to have toward any negative situation, that’s not how it all usually goes is it?  When someone offends us or hurts us in any way, we want them to know what they’ve done, realize how it has affected us and to feel some kind of anguish for it.  We want them to stand there and listen to us explain how hurt we are and why.  Perhaps allow us to delve into soliloquy to truly define the torment and pain they just caused.  Then we want them to prostrate themselves at our feet and plead for our mercy. Stress their ignorance to the sensitivity of our emotions and request a plan for how they can do better–no, be better–in the future.  After my daughter engages in one of her many transgressions, I want her to carry a ‘look of shame’ for the rest of the afternoon.  Bow her head in humiliation any time I walk pass her to show deep remorse for the wrong she has committed.  Talk to her dolls about her well-developed plans to be the ideal adolescent for years to come.

But none of that is happening with a toddler, let me tell you.  She doesn’t care about the infraction 10 seconds after it occurs.  So it is now up to me to let it go myself. I need to remember there is no use crying over spilled milk.  Literally. (or juice or soda or oatmeal or ice cream)  I have to stop looking for more from her and just accept her apology. However contrived I think it may be.

I’m hoping I can get better with it in time because right now, I’m still battling with it all.  But I already see how following the example of my little hellion will be a good trait for me to attain.  It’ll help me to be more patient.  More forgiving.  Less stressed and angry.   It’ll enhance what we have together as well as benefit me and all of my relationships. What a good little lesson this little booger is teaching.

So if you catch me fussing at her for grabbing onto clothes as we walk by with our cart, nearly toppling over the rack…just know that I’m really going to try to be done with it after she apologizes.  And not fester with anger as I pick up all the items that have fallen to the floor.

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Mystery Man

My husband and I have been married for 13 years.  And sometimes he still surprises me.  No, I don’t mean in the “he brought me flowers” or “he went to Jared” type of way.  Although I do get a few of those on occasion.  But he surprises me at times when he becomes this other guy for other people.  I’ll call this guy Ethan.  No, Rick.  That sounds like a fun-loving guy, don’t you think?

So Rick comes out at different times.  Like, if we go out with his job for the occasional bru-ha-ha after work.  Or take his team out for dinner and drinks to keep the morale up for work.  I sometimes have to take a second look at him to realize who he is.  Let me explain such an occasion recently when we went to a baseball game with some friends.

Neither of us are big fans of any sport in particular.  But we may accept the one-off invite to go to a game here or there.  On this particular day, the weather was gorgeous.  Breezy, balmy and the sun was out but not too intimidating.  Although the weather was acting perfect, he and I were on separate moons that day.  Not arguing or bickering.  But just not meshing and flowing either.  If you’re married, I’m sure you know that sort of day.  But I promise I won’t let that sway my opinions of this event.

So, we get in the car to meet the group at a friend’s house.  On the way there, I notice just how quiet we are.  I’m a talker.  I love to talk.  So I notice the lack of conversation.  No small talk.  Nothing to fill the silence.  But this is my husband.  He gets like this.  And I accept it.  (Lord only knows the things he “accepts” of me.  I’m scared to wonder.)  We arrive at the friend’s home to a house full of folks.  Already started drinking with music playing.  A huge smile settles on my husband’s face and I know immediately I am seeing the first signs of Rick.  After all the arrangements are made as to who was driving and who was riding with whom, we loaded into the cars for the trip to the stadium.  I was forced into the third row of a huge Chevy Tahoe with a wife I’ve spoken to only in passing over the years. But I am sitting behind Rick who is now in full force.  Talking, making conversation, asking questions to the group at the front of the car.  Laughing, joking and being what I’d call charming.  Once inside the stadium, he is focused on being such a people pleaser that he loses me in the chaos of folks entering to see the game.  And he barely notices until all the other husbands are walking in with their wives and making sure they have their tickets together.  This may be the one flaw Rick has.

The group of us are now at our seats.  My husband–oh I’m sorry, I mean Rick–begins to chat it up profusely with one of the couples sitting beside him.  Again, asking interest arousing questions, making jokes.  Showing this conversational side that I only get to witness every once in a while.  I’m at a disadvantage because I can’t hear most of the conversation going on between he and them.  And the couple on my side are busy talking to the other side of the group on their end.  So I’m sort of left out.  But that’s not the purpose of this blog.  To complain about me sitting at a boring baseball game in perfect weather, surrounded by thousands with absolutely no one to talk to.  No, that’s not what this is about.  This is about this guy Rick that I meet every once in a while who I think I may like to get to know a little better by seeing more often. Although I’m not altogether sure of this. I’d love to see what relationship he and I would have if we met alone some time.  (Maybe while driving in the car to some friends house to go to a game or something.)

But let me finish telling you about Rick that evening.  As always, Rick throws one liners and talks about topics I didn’t even know was part of his repertoire.  Rick buys rounds of beer for all the fellas and even drinks it himself.  (Something my husband never requests on the grocery list app we synced up on our phones.) He even has a beer preference!  (Ha!  Who knew?!)  And let me tell you the absolute best part.  We were put on the jumbo tron at the game!  Although they show folks time after time after time during the entire game, I for one have never been on there.  And I must say have never talked to someone who has been on it.  (Are we sure they don’t just continue to play old footage of games from ’94 and that’s why we know no one on there?) But to our surprise, the camera guy came to our section and taped us!  The entire group was amazed and so excited!  Screaming and waving at the camera and holding up their beers in mock celebration.  (Because our team lost horribly.) You want to know what Rick did?  Well, I’m gonna tell you.  Rick pulled up his shirt and aired all 250 pounds of his round belly to the fan-filled stadium! Isn’t Rick silly?  My husband would never do those things.  He’s a relatively reserved guy.  But these are the things that Rick does.  You never know what he’s going to do or say next.

Well now it’s time for us to go home.  And no one else notices it, but I can see Rick starting to disappear.  He’s still there mind you, but not as much.  He is still laughing and talking and throwing in digs as if timed beforehand.  But as his estranged wife, I can see Rick starting to step back into the shadows.  We say our goodbyes and give hugs with promises to do this again soon and get back into our car.  The man in the driver seat lets out a long, wide yawn and says something about being too old to stay out this late anymore.  And with that, Rick is gone.  We don’t ride home in silence this time.  The excitement of just being out in the fresh air and the fun of being on a jumbo tron for our first time coupled with relaxing effects of the beer, we are beginning to mesh a little bit.  So we talk.  But we talk about aching legs from the walk to the stadium from the parking lot, how much it cost for our wings and fries–noticing we could have went to Ruth Chris for the same amount we paid for fast food.  You know, the basic conversation of husband and wife.  Nope, I’m not complaining one bit.  As stated, I love to talk.  I’ll make conversation about anything.  I just wonder if these are things Rick would have talked about if he were there.