Thursday, June 5, 2014

ASSumptions.

Today I loaded the kids in the car and decided to take them to Chick-fil-A for lunch before we ran errands. We don't usually eat lunches out, not unless we meet up with Justin for his lunch break. That probably won't be happening much anymore because he is so busy with his new job. I don't know, I guess I just needed a break from peanut butter and jelly sandwich making and wiping up yogurt smears.

As a modern mom, I sometimes have trouble keeping my phone off and paying attention to what is important. I was doing a good job at Chick-fil-A today, however, enjoying the nonsensical conversations one has with three-and-five-year-olds. I found myself reaching for my phone a couple times, but each time I stopped and remembered that Instagram and Facebook could wait for nap time.

Then another mom and her eight(I think?)-year-old daughter sat down at the table next to us. Mom tucked into her lunch while hunched over her iPhone, her daughter was fidgeting beside her. Few words were spoken between the two, and toward the end of their lunch date the daughter accidentally knocked her kids meal bag onto the floor. Mom was furious, even though it was an accident {which she didn't see because she was looking at her phone}. She started scolding the girl for "throwing her lunch on the floor" and spent a good five minutes before they left berating her daughter for various offenses that I didn't see happen.

I am a total hypocrite. I have a habit of looking at my phone too often, especially when the kids are around. I don't want them to remember their youth as sitting around watching their mom look at a screen. When my kids speak to me, it is absolutely imperative to me that I stop what I'm doing and pay attention to what they are saying. Still, I do spend too much of my day on my smartphone. It bothers me. I need to do a better job.

The mother-daughter scenario at CFA today was just the start of my day's run-ins with rudeness and assumptions.

The truth is, I'm not the type of person who shies away from confrontation. Not scared of speaking up, you could say I'm even sometimes smug when calling others out on their "rudeness" or "bad behavior". My mother knows this about me, and she has told me on more than one occasion, "Someone could pull a gun on you one of these days." It does happen.

As I get older, I'm learning to become more tolerant of other peoples behavior. I'm not in charge of policing their behavior. What was once one of my worst traits, snarking at strangers, is now something I'm really trying to curb. I don't like it about myself. I used to, but I don't anymore. I think it's somewhat immature, I suppose. Also, pretty hypocritical. What is it the Bible says about the beam in your own eye? Anyway...

For a moment I thought about saying to that mom, "Maybe if you hadn't spent your entire lunch ignoring your daughter via your iPhone, she wouldn't feel the need to act out to get your attention?"

A few years ago, I probably would have said just that.

I am slowly learning {duh!} not to make assumptions about people. It is usually better for everyone when you assume the best, but I rarely do. I have come to believe that it is no coincidence that the word assumption starts with the word ASS.

ASSumptions: because they make asses out of us. 

I am an ass all the time.

But I'm starting to make more excuses for people, or at least I'm trying to. Not even as much for their sake as for mine. To give people the benefit of the doubt, because I, too, have been on the receiving end of smug snark. People have made ill-educated assumptions about me, my marriage, my children, my life, my words, my intentions etc. It drives me crazy when it happens to me. Yet I make similar assumptions about others pretty much...all day. Pretty much all the time.

How often do we really have enough details of a situation to make a judgement call? Very rarely, I'm finding. We don't know what has gone on behind closed doors.

I remember several months ago, when Paxton was a newborn, my family was headed out to Costco for a shopping trip. On our way there, we encountered a crazy driver: speeding, in and out of lanes, driving recklessly. I remember Justin calling him a jerk and we made a few unkind remarks about what kind of person that was. One our way home, Paxton started screaming. After about ten minutes of driving with a screaming infant, we were now the ones speeding and changing lanes like crazy. We just wanted to get home and get that baby calmed down!

I remember thinking that day, boy, are we hypocrites or what?

Not that there is any excuse for speeding, mind you. It's against the law and that's that. But when I occasionally observe that other crazy driver and start to think bad thoughts about them, it might be helpful to remember that they might be rushing to a hospital or something. Or they might be a jerk. Does it matter? Not really, no. People will speed and I'm not a cop, so it's not my problem.

I could have given the mom at CFA an excuse too. What if she had just spent the entire morning one-on-one with her daughter? I know better than anyone how a mom needs some down time after hours of entertaining your kids. What if she was now waiting for important life-changing news to come in via phone? She could have been dealing with some very real stress, maybe she didn't usually ignore her daughter but today I just happened to witness a rare occurrence? I saw them for 20 minutes of their day, tops. Yet I was ready to assume she always ignored her daughter. She didn't need me to snark at her for it. She is in charge of her choices. It wasn't my business to start with.

Leaving Chick-fil-A, I heard someone say, "Didn't you cut kids hair?" I turned toward the voice and there was my favorite old client from my hairstyling days. I did their son and daughter's hair for a few years, they were SO nice, loved that family. Their dad is the manager for the Colorado Rockies. I remember going to their immaculate house once to cut their hair right before the World Series, they didn't have time to make appointments. Anyway, she was at lunch with her son, her daughter apparently in college...already?! She was shocked to see me with three kids...already. Her son looked so big! Thirteen-years-old now. I was shocked, and it was just another humbling reminder to me: set down that phone, indeed! Look at how fast this goes. I cut that kids hair when he was Eisley's age.

So after Chick-fil-A today, I hit up Old Navy to buy Justin some new clothes for work and then we headed for the grocery store. I dread the grocery store, especially when my kids are in tow.

An elderly lady followed me around the produce section, but she looked annoyed every time I stopped to select some fruit. I don't understand why she was following me and why she couldn't go around. A few years ago I might have snarked at her, today I just smiled.

Then I saw a little girl standing in a cart. She looked about two-years-old. She was sitting on the edge of the basket and moving around quite a bit. I was watching her out of the corner of my eye while picking out yogurt. I didn't see mom anywhere. A few other customers and even an employee were watching her also. Where was mom?

I finally saw mom down at the other end of the aisle from her daughter, browsing cereals. I had to remind myself: Heather, not all moms are like you. They don't all worry and fret as much as you, they aren't terrified of letting their kids out of their sight the way you are. Do I think it unwise? Absolutely. But she wasn't my daughter.

At check out, the same mom got in line behind us and her daughter ran to the horse ride at the front of the store. I always select a lane near the horses so my girls can ride it while I'm checking out, but today the horse ride was out of order. The little girl climbed on the horses anyway, and mom left the lane to go grab another item. It makes me so nervous to see a two-year-old left alone in the store! After we finished checking out, I hung out around the horse ride for a long moment until mom came back, the cashier already half-way through her abandoned cart.

A few years ago, I would have said something snarky to her too.

I recently did say something to a mom in a store, actually. She was yelling at her pre-teen daughter and I was going to stay out of it until--I'm not making this up--mom lunged for the girl, got her in a choke hold and started shaking her. I said something then. Not snarky. More along the lines of calm down lady! You can't lose it like that!

I wish I'd said more. I wish I had told her, "I feel you, I have fantasized about choking my kids when they are driving me bananas. But good gracious, you can't act on that!"

When we got to our car--I had been lucky enough to swipe the front row parking spot at the store today--I saw a beat up old truck was parked next to my Volvo. By "parked next to" I mean, a mere six inches away. He was over the line.

WHY does this ALWAYS happen to me? I mean, if I had a dollar for every time I've had to go into a store to have someone paged to come move their car because I can't get a car seat in...I'd have, like, $5.

Makes me want a mini-van. Almost. Not really.

I could get the baby in, but the girls and I would have had to climb in from the other side. Violet also can't buckle herself in.  But look, mostly, it's just the principle of it! I shouldn't have to climb into my car from the other side because you can't park!

This time was different, though. The driver of that car was not in the store to be paged. He was asleep in the truck. I also shouldn't stereotype or judge on appearances {ASSumptions, people!} but he looked like he could have been the type my mother has warned me of: the gun owning type. After loading my baby and groceries, hoping he'd wake up and notice me {he didn't} I finally gathered the courage to knock on his window.

A few years ago, I would have been a real stinker toward him about it. Huffy and snippy and snotty. I am not proud of that.

Today, I just apologized for waking him and asked if he could move his car. He was really nice about it, actually. Very friendly. I'm an ass.

Finally, on my way home! The only thing left to do was get my buggy out of the parking lot.

The thing about this King Soopers is that there are two cart storing thingys {what are those called? anyone?} in the back of the parking lot. I don't always take my cart where I should, sometimes I leave it at the front bumper of my car. Because: kids in my car.

Today, since I had a prime front row parking spot, I decided I could lock my kids in the car for a quick moment and at least run my cart up to the front of the store. So I did just that. I parked my cart next to a bunch of other carts by the flowers that are being sold for springtime. I thought I was doing the nice thing by moving it to the store entrance. I noticed a hipster couple walking past, a young man and his girlfriend.

I turned to run back to my car when I heard Hipster girl say, in a sing-songy voice just dripping with smug snottiness,

"That's not where the carts go!"

Oh no, she didn't. Yes, she did.

Seriously? Here I'd been on my best behavior all day, keeping my mouth shut and being polite as I could despite my hypocritical thoughts. She sounded just like me, the snarky me.

Without skipping a beat, I spun around and said, in my sternest momma bear voice,

"Bend over and I'll show you where the carts go!"

I didn't say that, I said:

"It is, actually, when you have three babies waiting in the car for you. Why don't you do a young mom a favor and take it in for me? Huh? No?"

I headed back to my car and my kids, but not before observing a smug smile on her face and a slightly embarrassed smile on his face. I recognized their smiles as the same ones I used to wear, they were actually surprised that I'd stand up to their calling out my supposed rudeness because usually--I know this from experience--people are assuming that you won't. Stand up to them, that is.

As I drove out of the parking lot, I couldn't help but ask myself, My stars, Heather. Is that how you have come off to people? You little snot. 

While we're on the topic, by the way, I have to say I have had a handful of lovely people approach me in parking lots after noticing me load my kids in and offer to take my cart in for me. People who don't have kids might not think of that, so I'm putting it out there: next time you see a mom loading groceries, it makes her day when you collect her cart for her. It might also save her from some smug hipster rage. You never know.

This meandering post doesn't really have much of a point other than to say that I continue to slowly learn that assumptions make asses out of people, myself included. I've been quite the ass so far in my life. But people can change.

I'll never forget, nor will Justin, the time I jumped out of my car to scream at another driver who had just nearly killed us in a car accident. {It had been one of those days at work, and he scared the daylights out of me.} I was so angry. I'd expected him to get out and yell back {or pull a gun on me} but instead he put his hands up in the air, tilted his head, and said with the utmost sincerity, "I'm so sorry."

That really stopped me in my tracks. I got in the car and felt like a total jerk. By being nice to me instead of smug and snarky and on the defense, that guy had totally won. I went home ashamed of myself that night.

I turn 30 this month and I'm just now learning to give people the benefit of the doubt.

Cheers,
Heather

4 comments:

  1. great post! i get snotty too. i have also calmed myself in recent years. it's just not worth it. one thing that made me see my craziness was a few years ago we were in a rental car parked on the street while my hubby and son were in a bookstore, my daughter and I sat in the car waiting. suddenly a truck passed by real fast and side swiped the car we were in breaking the mirror completely off. he never stopped, but me... I took off after him and followed him, I was so mad. but what the heck was I going to do? run him off the road? i decide, heck it's not worth it, my life and my daughters could have been in danger doing something like that.I turned around and went back to the street, parked and found my husband. I left it to the police after that. anyways...I have a handful of stories like yours, myself and I am not proud. It's just not worth it for anyone to steal my joy, it's not worth being an ass. I thoroughly enjoyed this post, thanks

    Mica/ Frolicking Freckles

    ReplyDelete
  2. Awesome post, Heather. I have always taught my kids to "kill then with kindness" instead of outright verbally attacking someone for being an idiot. You would never think that a smile and a few nice words can totally make more of an impact than a smirk and some snarkiness. Also, thank you so much for talking about moms being on their phones rather than having one on one time with their kids. Guilty. Absolutely 100% guilty. I am stopping that today.

    Have a wonderful weekend! Graduation is looming on the horizon and I have tons to do!

    ~Erica

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  3. There is definitely a balance and as a general re I leave my phone in my purse when I'm out with my crew.

    This article went viral a couple months ago and I think speaks to the point.

    http://motherwiselife.org/2014/05/08/dear-mom-judging-the-mom-on-her-iphone/

    ReplyDelete

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