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.

“Yes, Barbara, you can sign me up for your newsletter…”

I recently tried to take on the task of finding a vacation destination for my family.  This is a job my husband usually fulfills but because the trip was to include my whole side of the family, I felt I should carry the responsibility.  I logged on and tried finding vacation homes and hotels that could accomodate all of us for a week.  There was one hotel in particular that looked very nice online.  I was having a hard time finding out room rates so I had to call to get more information.  The receptionist was extremely nice.  And very helpful.  And with rates at $845 a night per couple, she sure as heck should have been!  I was floored at this price.  But I still felt the need to play it cool.

And that, my friends, is the point.  Why do we feel it necessary to pretend our mouths are not left open at the complete shock of hearing things like this?  Whether it’s the price of a hotel, jewelry we are looking into buying or even a new washer/dryer set.  When someone tells us a price we cannot understand anyone in their right mind paying, why do we feel the need to “play it off”?   I don’t think that we need to curse out a receptionist and tell her where she can stick her $845 a night fee.  Or take that pretty bracelet and shove it down the jeweler’s throat.  But we could easily say something like: “Whoa!  Wow.  I wasn’t expecting that.  I am looking for something a tad bit cheaper.”  And perhaps ask if they have a place they could recommend.  Sounds good, doesn’t it?  But no, we don’t do that.  I think part of all of this is that we know the person on the other end of the phone has no idea who we are.  So we can pretend to be whomever we want.  “$845 you say? Oh that’s a great price compared to what we paid last year in Aspen!” is how we might decide to respond.  Or we’ll keep asking more and more questions to pretend we are actually thinking of still paying such a price.  “Do you have a swimming pool?”  “Is your hotel kid-friendly?” “Do you serve a continental breakfast?” “Can I request a late check-out?” 

The fact that these persons have no idea as to who we are should allow us to just be ourselves.  But it doesn’t.  We should have no fear to let them know that we have lost interest in their item because of the price.  But we do.  We should not be embarrassed to ask if they give discounts to AAA members.  But we are.  So at the end of the conversation, when they ask if we want to go on and book the dates in question we have to connive our way out of the situation.  “Oh no.  I can’t book this without my husband’s consent.  Let me talk it over with him first.”  “Well, this is the first jewelry store I’ve been to.  I’d like to shop around a little more first.”

I have fallen victim to this so many times I’m unable to tell you.  So when the receptionist asked me if she could get my email to send out upcoming events and specials of the hotel, I didn’t have it in me to tell her that no discount would ever be enough to get me to stay there.  “Sure.”  I said.  “Please send me more information.”  And I may have added an: “I’d love that.” on the end.

Why are we wooed by the wiles of the voices coming from our telephones?  How is it that we get spellbound by the three-minute conversation we have with an operator and suddenly decide that they are our friend–and we don’t want to disappoint them?

I say all this but I cannot guarantee that I will man up the next time I’m asked if I want to be on the calling list to receive updates on the migration patterns of geese in our area.  I think my mailbox will continue to be barraged with newsletters and bulletins from every company’s secretary that I talk with.  But maybe I’ll start sharing them and start to forward them to all of you…;-) jk