One of the things my husband and I enjoy presenting at our marriage seminars is the fact that the differences men and women find fascinating about each other at the beginning can become frustrations after they are married – but there’s hope! We teach people how to reignite understanding their spouse and give them tools to turn those frustrations back into fascination about the person they love!
The funny thing about these principles, and many others, is that they can be applied to many relationships, not just marriages. So we found ourselves having yet another discussion with the oldest regarding the youngest of our offspring. Here is the scenario.
Greta was told to wash her hands before handling a book. She went to the kitchen sink that was full of the dishes I had just used to make breakfast, instead of either of the other two sinks in the house that were completely free. Michael was dumbfounded. Why would she choose the most difficult sink to wash her hands in? That’s easy. For Greta, she just wanted it done so she could move on to the next thing and the kitchen sink was the closest to her. She went for it.
After discussing it further, we came to the crux of the perspective problem between the two of them. Michael finds it unthinkable that someone could care so little about a situation. We then assured him that it was equally unthinkable to Greta that someone would care so much!
We interact with other people on a daily basis and perhaps we even judge them because of something they have done that we find unthinkable! But we must bear in mind that the unthinkable is molded by our perspective. Let’s give others some grace that their perspective may be different than ours and therefore their actions may not be as unthinkable as previously thought.
I rather like being a clear cut it is either right or wrong kind of person. The cop out answer of “It’s complicated,” more often than not is an excuse to do what you want to do anyway because you’ve spent some time rationalizing it.
Yet as a mother of three children, with different personalities and ways of doing things, it’s not always easy to show them that I’m being clear cut with the principle of the issue. Perhaps it is because they, as children, appear to us adults to be always on the lookout for any amount of unfairness. It is as if they go to special training to hunt out any possibility that their brother or sister may have gotten away with something that they did not.
My son got out some roast leftovers (which I managed to incorporate into breakfast this morning) for lunch and I told him no, because we were going to use some of it again at supper time. My daughter pulled out a biscuit from this morning and he was upset that she was getting away with it. I gently reminded him that biscuits weren’t on the menu for tonight, but the leftover roast had appeared at breakfast this morning and would again at super tonight so he didn’t need it at lunch as well.
I look at how some adults, as individuals, corporations and even nations interact with each other and it seems to me that many of them never outgrew that childish phase of hunting for ways where they were being treated unfairly. I wonder what would happen if they spent the same amount of time volunteering and making a difference in their community?
Missing one of your children is an interesting experience. My husband moped around the house for a few weeks. He missed Michael greatly. I certainly noticed that my right hand in cooking was gone. We all missed Mr. Witty and random fact spiller. But Greta’s reaction was one of the most endearing.
As I tucked her into bed one night and we discussed her missing brother, dutifully working at summer camp, she wondered about the most important part of their relationship as siblings. “Will Michael forget how to tickle me?”
I assured her that Michael wouldn’t lose his ability to tickle her and they would still have a lot of fun when he got back. The simplicity of childhood – and yet the most vulnerable and intimate. Here we were, adults and so mature, thinking about surface level areas of missing our son. Greta went straight for the heart of the matter, to a very personal level, and she wasn’t afraid to do so. She also seemed much more at peace once I had reassured her of her biggest most personal fear about her brother being gone.
Perhaps we, like Greta, should open up about our deepest fears to people we can trust instead of dwelling forever on the surface level ones. The sooner we are assured – the sooner we have peace.
My two youngest children are participating in a bike-a-thon for their school today. We are trying to train them to do some of their own fundraising and I suggested a particular name to Matthew. He asked for the phone number and I dialed it for him then handed him the phone. I heard the sweetest thing from him.
Mrs. T., this is Matthew. I was wondering if you would sponsor me and my sister for the bike-a-thon tomorrow.
Just when you think that your kids will never learn to work together, play together or figure out a way to get along before they are adults, this happens. Me and my sister. At the family breakfast table this morning, I shared the story with my husband who had been at a board meeting last night. The story melted his heart too.