Friday, October 10, 2014

When adults crash: Are you "coming"?

One of my daughter's favorite games is to stand on a couch or the coffee table, stretch out her hands, say "come?" and fall into my arms. We've played it too many times for me to count and it's always been great fun.

Until last week.

Bekah (my daughter) was playing on the couch as she usually does. I was sitting on the floor next to the couch changing her little brother's diaper. Next thing I know, the noise on the couch stops and a couple seconds later, she comes crashing into my side. The angle that she hit me with caused her to roll off onto my back and crash--again--into the coffee table.

She wanted to play her favorite game, but she forgot one important thing: 

She didn't tell me.

She was so used to me knowing what she wanted that, in her two-year-old mind, she probably thought that if she just stood on the couch and held her arms out, I would instinctively stop changing her brothers diaper, realize what she was doing, and react accordingly. I mean, we've played it enough times, so technically it makes perfect sense.

Except that I wasn't paying attention to her at the time. My thoughts were focused elsewhere. I wasn't even looking at her to get a silent que for her needs.

Then I got to thinking: adults do that all the time. We crash into (get mad at) the people who know us the best because we didn't tell them we were "coming." We just expect them to know what we want without letting them know there's an issue. I mean, we've known each other long enough, so why shouldn't they pick up on our silent cues even if we aren't the main focus of their thoughts? 

Your husband didn't even realize you had a bad day. Didn't he see the look on your face?

Your wife didn't give you a big hug when she saw you at the end of the day. Doesn't she know how stressed you've been lately? Doesn't she know how much that would help?

You see your best friend after not talking to her for a while and she goes on for hours about everything in her life and then, as a side note, asks how you're doing. Doesn't she know that you would like to contribute equally to the conversation?

Once we crash, we do so in one of four ways:

1. We crash inwardly
We get quiet. We refuse to talk about what's going on, leaving the other person to wonder what on Earth just happened.

Because yeah, that's gonna work.

2. We crash externally
We blow up at the person. We say everything that's on our minds and accuse them of anything that even slightly resembles the situation. Again, the person is staring at you wondering what just happened. 

Because we all know that that works, too.

3. We crash into others
Around the person, we pretend like nothing happened. But as soon as the person is out of sight or as soon as we get home, we crash into whoever happens to be there. We blow up at a poor, innocent person who did nothing but make eye contact with us...and maybe smile.

Because crashing into somebody who has nothing to do with the situation is really going to help us resolve the issue with the person that upset us. Right?

4. We combine 2 and 3
Sometimes we crash into the person at a "bad angle." Since it doesn't go the way we want, we go crashing into someone else, too.

But you know what's amazing? As long as my daughter lets me know she's "coming," a crash can generally be avoided. 

How many times have I crashed into my husband because I didn't let him know I was coming? Why couldn't I just say "Hon, I need a hug. It's been a hard day." or "Hon, I'm a little frustrated at something you said. I need a minute to come down before I can talk about it." or "Hon, I need to talk to you about something."? 

Why do I just expect him to get every single silent cue when he has things on his mind, too?

And why does it always have to be about me? Why can't I put myself aside and realize that my friend may have issues that she needs to get out? Do I always have to go first? Why do I get upset and want to crash into people who never intended to hurt my feelings in the first place? That's--kind of rude.

Next time I want to crash, I need to ask myself if the person even knows I'm coming. It's not fair to crash into poor, unsuspecting people like that.

On that note, next time you want to crash into me, please let me know that you're "coming."

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