“Dude. Totes. Whatev’s. OMG” (prounounced “ohemgee,” btw. . . ). Yep. These are words that have just landed in the vocabulary of my eight year old daughter. Holy. Shit.
Now this girl has had some serious sass from day one, she’s my kid after all, poor thing can’t hardly help it. Nature and nurture are both on the same team here in their ambitious support of the development of her well rounded but sarcastic personality (and, ahem, the vocabulary to back it up, baby).
While I’ve been on the longer end of the rope in this tug of war for quite some time now, she’s my girl, and uh, her biceps are getting kind of big.
To use another metaphor, the Sassy Pants Express just arrived, about two years earlier than anticipated and missing one other adult on the platform to welcome it.
In examining how to best approach this, I immediately went into research and reflection mode, of course. I even wore my glasses, for effect and all, not because I can’t see without them . . .
Now for the background knowledge part. CHECK. Got it. That bucket is full, overflowing even. I have substantial professional training, education and experience that help me generate the “right” answers and give the “right advice” for parenting, child and human development. I also have a wealth of resources in the form of warm bodies at arms length via my most incredible friends, family and business associates.Plus, in the event none of these are sufficient, whatever I don’t know I can just google it. . . right?
However. And this is a big however, applying this schema and practice to my own child, or anyone with whom I have powerful emotional connections, is a whole different story with all new characters. Managing attitude and reactions with your own peeps ups the challenge level from novice to expert. In fact, it’s the reverse; I can easily go from expert to novice in the matter of one eye roll.
Okay, so clearly this is a challenge, and not a small one. Now what? Well my darling, to put it bluntly, remember, Karma’s only a bitch when um, you are.
Not worried? Think you only have good karma coming your way? Congratulations, you get a prize. It’s a pair of glasses . . . you know, so you can see past the end of your nose. Oops, weisenheiming attitude of mine coming back out, my bad.
Let me try that in a more loving way. We all make mistakes, we all fail, and we all want to duck responsibility for our actions at some point. It’s natural. However, the universe remembers and it likes to remind us, later, generally when we’d least like to see that scar.
Case in point- I will always remember this sermon a pastor gave at a church I used to attend (yes, I went to church. Close your mouth, you look like a fish. It was a long time ago, in another life. I might give it another go here sometime, just not in the red velvet carpeted pews held down by white haired old ladies and their snoring cantankerous gentleman companions. . . ). In any case, the pastor’s line was this-
“remember, whenever you point at someone there are three fingers pointing back at you.”
Try it. Ha! Oops, right? Like, big, big oops. Yeah. Accountability time starts now so put down your fingers and CTFD already.
Here’s the deal- you get what you put out there. Give happy, get happy. Give gratitude, get gratitude. Give smiles, get smiles. On the contrary, give negativity, get back attitude. Glare at someone, receive a frown in response. Raise your voice, get yelled at in return. See where I’m going here?
As a classroom teacher, my best moments were when I matched a students anger with love. When I met a raised voice with a quiet one. When I responded to confrontation with calm direction instead of resistance. When I send out kindness and respect even when I didn’t necessarily see it in front of me. These were the golden moments, the breakthroughs, the way we established a positive culture of learning in our room.
As a parent, when I’m in a bad mood, my kid’s language starts to shift, their actions become more intense, their negative energy level soars. When I’m happy, they smile, they play, they dance, they respond to me in kind. When I start the day in a pleasant mood I limit the chance that they will begin their day in a bad mood. If I start my day cranky and distracted their behavior declines rapidly.
It goes both ways too, their attitude effects others as well. In fact when the brassy lass herself stomps out of her bedroom determined to wreck havoc on anything misfortunate enough to be in her path I calmly ask her to return to her room, take some deep breaths in her bed and restart her day when she is ready to be kind. She gets a do-over, right there, and it works. That little lady has some pretty solid letting-go skills going because she actually resets pretty damn fast. Nice work kid.
This enigmatic dynamic holds true in all relationships with people in all scenarios. On the freeway, at the grocery story checkstand, the coffee shop, the wine bar, even the line at the DMV. The calmer and kinder you are, the better the reaction you are likely to entice from others. Even if it doesn’t’ result in a change in their behavior, it will most certainly have a positive effect on yours. When you maintain composure and monitor your reactions your own mood is better, and for longer stretches of time.
Your turn now. The next time someone cuts you off at the intersection, just smile and wave at them. Don’t yell, don’t give them the bird. Chances are good it was unintentional anyway. Watch their reaction, see if being calm helps you also.
When you are re-enacting the “The Never-Ending Story” while awaiting your two minute appearance at window seven, instead of moaning and groaning about it and in turn encouraging the other (equally bored) patrons to commiserate with you, try sparking a conversation with someone. Ask a question, smile at a toddler, pull your shoulders down from your ears, relax your neck and stop twitching your foot (insert blushing, guilty face emoticon here).
With your kids, your family, or your friends, watch your energy level. See what happens when you keep it chill. If a situation comes up, try not to react in a way that matches their negative energy and instead respond with love and kindness. Pay special attention to your tone of voice and body language, they say a great deal more than the words you choose.
So there we have it. A big, giant, monumental challenge to maintain composure in light of whatever is thrown our way. Will this be hard? Will we fail several times? Yep. That plan will continue to backfire, we will slip up again, progress that we make may momentarily lapse when we make an epically bad decision. That will happen for sure.But, the positive optimistic and resilient mindset reminds us that taking a step backward after taking a step forward isn’t a disaster – it’s simply a chance to learn the cha-cha. So universe, I’ve got an attitude or three to handle, stat, let’s dance.Remember, how others treat you is their karma, how you react is yours; choose your boomerang wisely. Like this post? Post it, tweet it, pin it, google it, trip on it, or otherwise spread the social love people.
Really, really, like it? Subscribe to my feed and get posts delivered in your inbox.