One late afternoon I was picking up my son from school. He realized he had left something outside on the playground so he ran off to go and get it whilst I held the door open for him. We were making a game of it, I was counting how long it would take as I held the door open for him, catching what little was left of the summer sun on my face.
All of a sudden the school janitor came roaring up the hallway (shouting at me and another mom) to keep the door closed as he was tired of cleaning up all the leaves that drifted in and those doors needed to be closed…NOW.
Off he huffed.
Taken aback and not sure how to respond, I closed the door and waited for my son. There he was in a few seconds bright faced and beaming with his forgotten item, asking me how long he had been…34, no 36 seconds (dammit I was internally frazzled, trying to maintain my composure and pick a number from thin air). On the way home, my son was eating his after school snack and I asked him if I could have one. He gave me a tiny piece, and I got annoyed. Sweetie I said…could you not be so stingy? For goodness sake just give me a full piece…just like that my mood had twisted on itself and I had gone from being the dog being kicked to becoming the kicker.
A few weeks ago in my job I encountered an individual (on project A I was working on) whose interaction with me left me locking the bathroom stall and breathing through my anger as the hot tears welled up on my face. When did it become ok for grown ups to act like toddlers, screaming to get their way? And when did we as the recipient grown ups start letting them get away with it? I would love to have said to both parties (as the after effects settled on me) you’re on time out! Go sit in the corner until you can learn how to behave! You don’t get your way by screaming! All things my husband and I constantly say to our 3 year old when the immense torture of getting a blue spoon instead of the green spoon takes hold of her emotions.
In contrast a few weeks ago in the same said job, I encountered another individual (on Project B I was working on) whose conversation left me with great next steps, open door dialogue and a feeling of mutual respect to get the job done. No bathroom stalls or fictionary green time out chairs needed here!
Going forward I plan on speaking to the Principal about the leaf incident, being armored up going into my next project A communication, and in general just trying to not be a deer in the headlights until the person storms off, but rather the voice that starts to push back protecting my boundaries. Lighting my match during the cold and not after I am safely indoors. And until that match gets lit outside in the real world, giving myself a break for how I reacted (or didn’t react). Realizing that standing up for myself (like any new behaviour) is a learned behaviour, will come with time, and as long as I am listening to my inner voice and not pooh poohing it away then at least I am on the right track to giving my match a striking chance.
Just watch out world …when this fire gets started..