As a parent you have the joy of experiencing great exchanges like this every day with your minions…I mean children:
Me: Would you please bring me a tissue for Lilly?
Naomi: Over there.
Me: Yes, could you get me one, please?
Naomi: Over there?
Me: Yes, they’re over there. Can you bring me one, please?
Naomi: Over there.
Me: Yes. Can you walk over there and get one for me?
Naomi: (Walks past the tissues to the corner of the room)
Me: No, they’re on the couch. (points)
Naomi: (wanders over to me)
Me: No, the tissues are over there. See? Right there. (points emphatically)
Me: Yes, that’s it!
Me: Yes, would you bring me one?
Naomi: Just one? (holds finger up to eye)
Me: Yep, just one.
Naomi: (brings me a handful)
Me: Thank you. I love you so much!
I’ve had a hard time with complaints lately. And many have been really awful, 1st-world-type complaints. Like just now I was running to the gas station for pizza, and since we just got back from vacation, my keys were in two pieces rather than the normal convenient clip-to-my-belt fashion. I sat down in the driver’s seat and realized I had to *gasp* dig down in my pocket for my keys. I had just driven my dad’s brand new Toyota with a pushbutton start. Man, if only I had one of those, I wouldn’t need to twist my carpal-tunnel-addled wrist into my pocket, and I could just push the button.
We’ve been teaching our kids about thankfulness. For several years now, in fact, during bedtime prayers we ask each kid one thing about the day that they’re thankful for. My self-inflicted penance for complaints like this is to immediately think of something I’m thankful for that relates to the complaint. For really dumb ones like, “man, I have to reach into my pocket to get keys??” maybe I should do more.
- You know, people used to have to actually get out of their car and turn a crank to turn it on. Twisting a key is so hard.
- I’m thankful I even have a car, so I can make the 5-block trek for pizza in 2 minutes, rather than a 20-minute walk.
- I’ve been blessed with hands that can not only reach into a pocket, but can also tickle my kids, caress my wife’s cheek, produce beautiful music on a piano, and type out complex computer code that produces the income needed to pay for both the car and the pizza.
I’m trying to eliminate stupid complaints from my life. As you can see, so far I’m having a tough time of it. But if I can augment each complaint with 3 statements of gratitude, maybe I can eventually learn to skip the complaining portion. We’ll see. Now I just have to stretch my hand over to move the mouse all the way over to that ‘publish’ button.