Monday, June 23, 2008

Extra, Extra! Emily Avoids Annoying Others!

Here a few of my small attempts at reducing my emotional footprint:

Scene A: At Target, in the baby gear aisle, yesterday afternoon.
Situation: Young mother asks me what I think about the harness and leash she has buckled onto her toddler son. She says she has never liked the things, but that her son just doesn't listen and she's afraid he'll really hurt himself the next time he wanders off.
What I Was Thinking: Have you ever heard of a stroller, shopping cart, or sling? There are better ways to control your child than tethering them like a disobedient dog. If I were you, I would work on obedience and 'listening ears', because no leash will hold him when he's fifteen years old and five foot eleven.
What I Said: Nothing. I shrugged.
Why I Think This Was a Better Way: She wants reassurance, not advice, and the mom with a bazillion small children who are not wandering off is a quick mark. As much as I LOVE telling others what I think about their lives, this is a matter for a close friend or sister who can help her come up with a plan, not just share that PETA is against putting dogs on leashes and here she wants to do the same to her own offspring. She obviously has an immediate problem that this device will solve.

Scene B: Farmer's Market
Situation: My total was $3.90 and the tween behind the stall took my five and gave me back a dollar.
What I Was Thinking: Behold a product of public schools. I've seen the math textbooks and they spend more time on estimating than on, um, math. Give me my friggin dime, you little gypsy.
What I Said: Thank you, sir. And then I walked away without my dime.
Why I Think This Was a Better Way: I can make $25 dollars an hour writing lousy hotel reviews and I am going to make a donkey of myself quibbling about ten cents? Sure, there's a principle at stake, but I'll choose the principle of kindness and grace. Jesus himself would not demand his dime, so I'll just shut up and go buy my zucchini now. Maybe that dime will pay for a portion of his Sylvan Learning Center fees and he can finally learn about decimals.

Scene C: On the phone with my recently-released-from-the-hospital son, who is still doing his mandatory annual month with dad a few states away.
Situation: I ask Tyler what he's eaten today and the answer is dry cereal. It's after 7 PM in Colorado! His dad is napping (he was napping when I called that morning too) and there is almost no food in the house,
What I Was Thinking: Leon, get off your lazy ass and feed my kid. I wanted to take him home with me so he could recover properly, and you assured me you were up to the challenge of caring for a twelve year old. He can even cook himself if you keep minimal ingredients in the cupboards. At least get some non-curdled milk so he can have a proper bowl of cereal. And while you're at it, clean your freaking house or have your wife hire a maid, because a child who just had surgery shouldn't have to wipe off a toilet before he can safely sit on it. You make six figures a year, so I think there could be room in the budget for milk and Comet.
What I Said: I'm sure you just overslept, but it sounds like Tyler needs dinner now. Can he order some Chinese delivery or something?
Why I Think This Was a Better Way: He knows what I'm thinking. He knows he seriously blew this one and that I have soooooo busted him on it. And he knows he should be feeding our post-surgical son regular meals. So, instead of bitching, I am just going to call three times a day and make sure Tyler has eaten regularly. Just as annoying, more effective, and I avoid saying something that would further erode our floundering ability to speak in sentences that don't include the words 'idiot', 'court', and 'custody review'.