Saturday, March 24, 2012

I don't get it

It all started with a phone call this afternoon from son number two. The call came around 2:00 P.M. He was in Delta picking up his kids and wanted to know if I would be home since he was coming to Richfield. I was delighted at his unexpected visit and got busy getting things ready.

When I have guests, and my children are now "guests" when they visit, my husband thinks I go overboard with cleaning. I don't. I just think people will have a happier experience if they have clean bedding to sleep in, clean towels, and food to eat. Since the house elf ran away long ago, I'm the one who washes the sheets, blankets, towels, etc. I'm also the one who makes the beds. In others words, I'm the one who does all the cleaning. That takes a bit of doing for three people sleeping in three different beds in three different rooms. Since I have been busy with art projects that take insane amounts of time, It was necessary to do a few loads of towels to get caught up. As I was sorting the towels, I noticed the shower curtain was still in the laundry and needed to be washed as well.

Since my son's call I stopped working on my art project that was due Monday, I had been working on it since yesterday and it still wasn't done due to some difficulties I was running into. But since I had not seen my son and grandchildren for awhile, I put it on hold. After all... family comes first. So I hauled my ceramics project upstairs out of harm's reach. Wet clay + grandchildren = disaster. Somehow I'd find time to finish it.

I vacuumed the bedrooms, cleaned the bathroom, but more toilet paper on the holder, and cleaned the kitchen. After a couple of hours of cleaning and doing laundry, things were starting to look acceptable.

Finally, my most welcome guests arrived. I was so glad to see them! Unfortunately, they were only here for about five minutes before my son decided to take the kids to the park. No problem! I dashed to the grocery store after they left since I was out of milk and a bunch of other things my guests would be needing. I not only bought milk, I bought orange juice, thick sliced apple smoked bacon, hamburger for spaghetti, two different kinds of lunch meat, three kinds of cereal, and some things the grandchildren would like, like Oreo cookies, chips... Things quickly added up to almost $70.00. But hey, it's always a special occasion when I have guests.

Since my son had not returned from the park with the grandchildren when I got back from grocery shopping, I continued to tidy things up. Hubby suggested a trip to Capitol Reef in the morning. That sounded great! It had been a long time since I'd done fun. However, if I was to go, I had to get my art project done. I hauled it back downstairs to the kitchen table and spent at least another hour on it. When I noted the time it was time for dinner. Still no sign of my son and grandchildren. Should I start dinner? I had the feeling they had left the park long ago and were now at Jason's, my son's friend's house. A phone call proved me right. My son informed us he would be home with the children within the hour.

During all this hustle and bustle, my plans for the evening had changed. I had been waiting for over five months to see the movie "Hunger Games" and had planned to see it tonight. But since my son and grandchildren were coming, I decided to see it after their visit. Family comes first. The movie can wait. Later, when my son called to inform me that he and the children would be staying over at his friend's house after all, I realized it was too late to catch the last movie. I invited my son to join us at Capitol Reef in the morning. He replied, "I'm not sure about my plans tomorrow mom, we might be going with Jason to his mother's ranch."

Sadly, I realized that only some families come first.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Warm Fuzzies and Cold Pricklies

Recently, due to some interesting family interactions, I was reminded of some conversations I had with my psychologist father. Even though he has been gone for over 14 years, his shared knowledge about psychology has lingered with me. One of the insights he shared with me was concerning what psychologists call "warm fuzzies and "cold pricklies." He defined warm fuzzies as things people say or do that are kind, uplifting, thoughtful. The impact of such interactions creates a "warm fuzzy" feeling. Examples include things like acts of kindness, sincere complements, thinking of others first, etc.

Cold pricklies are when someone says or does something that makes you feel bad. It includes destructive comments or behavior. Cold pricklies are often demeaning and always erodes a person's sense of self worth. Hence, it produces a "cold prickly" feeling in its intended victim. Warm fuzzies and cold pricklies boil down to how we communicate with others both verbally and non verbally.

Dad went on to explain that some people operate exclusively on the "warm fuzzy" level. These people are uplifting to be around and associate with. They are not constantly tripping over their egos, their ego allows others to shine, nor do they have to be the center of attention all the time. They are patient and tolerant of others.

Then there were those who operate on both levels . They communicate using both warm fuzzies and cold prickelies, often they camouflage cold prickelies as warm fuzzies. In other words, they use warm fuzzies to blanket the oncoming cold prickelies. They appear to be nice but aren't really. Here is one example of how it works:

Let's say a little six year old girl works very hard on a handcrafted valentine card for her father. It takes her at least an hour to make, a long time for a six year old. Finally she is done with her valentine and tries to present it to her father, but she can't because her father is taking a nap. The door to his room is locked so she politely knocks on it which wakes up her father. He is irritated at being woke up and tells his daughter to go away and stop bothering him. She stands rejected outside the door. This father just gave his daughter a cold prickly. He has interacted with his daughter peering though the lens of his own selfish desires. Obviously this type of behavior is caustic. Cold pricklies can be intentional or unintentional, often they are ractionary, but not always.

Dad worked at the Nebo school district until he died unexpectedly from complications of luekemia. His work took in children from ages five to eighteen. As a counselor for three schools, he worked with hundreds of troubled students. Often he confided that the children would be fine if they didn't have to go home. He told me that in reality it wasn't the children who needed a good spanking, it was their parents. Children just acted out the behavior they were taught, and were allowed to be indulged in, at home. Sadly, the majority of troubled children came from good Mormon families.

Dad...where are you when we need you?