Dear Nasty Lady at the Restaurant,
It was so nice of you to make fun of my husband and I while we were in ear shot. Thanks, I really appreciated (and needed) that. Looking back, you inadvertently taught me that I have changed and that yelling really doesn’t achieve a thing. So I guess my thanks is genuine. Darnnit. I really didn’t want to say anything nice regarding you.
The Orange Rhino
P.S. 61 days without yelling at my kids! 304 to go!
A few weekends ago, my husband and I had the rare opportunity to go out to dinner, just the two of us. Well, at least in theory. We didn’t have our four boys with us but instead we had the privilege of being squeezed in between two other tables of 2. In fact, we were so close together it felt like we were a party of 6. I could hear everything the couples next to us said. You see, I have supersonic hearing and can carry on my own conversation and hear and remember 1 to 2 others at the same time. It’s mostly a blessing, ie. I can hear my boys whispering their plot to cause trouble from across the room while on the phone. But it’s also a curse. Big time. On this particular night out, it was a curse.
In usual self confessed dorky Orange Rhino husband and wife fashion, the first thing we did on our intimate night out was talk business, tonight’s conversation being what reward system we want to use at home to help the boys become more responsible. We’re thorough and analytical people. We covered all the pros and cons of different systems. Actually, we exhausted all the options.
Do we do points or stickers on a chart? Or do we do money or gold dabloons (ie. Jake and the Pirates) in a jar/treasure chest? Do we only reward good behavior or do we also subtract for bad behavior?
We decided on gold dabloons in a treasure chest. Most visual, most fun.
Well how many gold dabloons do you get for clearing your plate? For making your bed? Then how many gold dabloons are needed for a reward? What about #3, he is too young to collect, he’ll want instant gratification. How do we handle that?
I won’t bore you with the iterations. You get the point. We were being anal, but to us, it was an important conversation. Helping our kids learn to be responsible, polite, loving kids is important to us. Is that dorky? Is it loserish to be committed to finding a reward system that will easily, clearly, and fairly help inspire these new behaviors? I don’t think so.
Well to our neighbors to my left, specifically the single, clearly no children, under the age of 30 woman, our personal and important conversation did. In fact, she thought our private conversation was hilarious. So funny in fact she felt it necessary to start making fun of us. Yup. While we were sitting not more than 2 feet away. And given my supersonic hearing, I heard every word.
Her: “What losers. They are out without kids and they are talking about reward systems.”
Him: “Shhh. You’re talking loud. They can hear you.”
Her: “I don’t care. Wait, do I lose 2 gold dabloons for being rude? Or is it 1?”
Him: “Shhh. Please. Seriously. It’s embarrassing.”
Her: “Honey, you get 1 gold dabloon for saying please. Would you like 2 gold dabloons for getting out of bed in the morning?”
I won’t bore you with her iterations either as she went on for oh say, 10 minutes? And it just got more hurtful with every jab at us. Tears slowly started to fill my eyes and I fought my hardest to keep them from falling onto my plate. I fought my hardest to keep her from knowing how upset I was. I fought my hardest to keep myself from taking my glass of red wine and throwing it at her yellow blouse. You see, I’ve had the distinct honor of catching people talking badly about me on numerous occasions…the first being when I was 6. Yup, it was that bad that I still remember it. So to say the least, this chick, this obnoxious chick, really hit a nerve.
And oh did I want to YELL. I wanted to scream at her. I wanted to tell her to go screw herself and that she had no idea about parenting and how hard it is. I wanted her to get up to go to the bathroom and have to say “Excuse Me” to us just so that I could say, “Of course! That is 2 gold dabloons for asking so politely!” And well if she never got up I wanted to turn to her and say “You know, I can hear you. And it is incredibly rude to be listening to my conversation and making fun of it, all while we can hear you.”
But my husband wouldn’t let me do any of those things. As he so perfectly put it that I immediately put it in my blackberry to remember…
“What would yelling at her do? Sure it would make you feel better, but what would it accomplish? Nothing. You’ll still feel crappy. She might pick a fight making things worse. And it will ruin what is supposed to be a nice night out.”
He was right. Yelling REALLY would make me feel better. But he was also right that it wouldn’t achieve anything. The cons of yelling far outweighed the pros… darn it!
So I sat there, not yelling and trying to ignore her and enjoy my dinner. Which is exactly what I did. Which was a really big step for me. Before Challenge, I would have sat there and pouted, sat there and felt embarrassed, annoyed, angry, sat there and thought well maybe she is right, maybe we do sound like losers. Before Challenge, I would have let her ruin my night.
But not tonight. The new me, The Orange Rhino, who is learning to stay calm, find perspective, let go and more, decided to think Screw her! This is my night out with my husband. I am not going to let some nasty woman ruin my night. I am not going to let anger ruin my night. I am going to choose love. I am going to choose to love my time with the one I love.
And I did.
And it felt great. Much better than yelling would have. My husband gets 2 gold dabloons for great advice. And I think I deserve 5 for listening to said advice, 10 for telling him he was right, and 20 for not yelling (even though she more than deserved it!!!)
Even though this post is about me as an adult and not a mom per say, I think the take aways apply to my life as a mom too, don’t you? When have you wanted to yell but didn’t? Did you feel better?
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