Evenings at my house are like giant waves converging from opposite directions. We come in through separate doors after going 90/100 mph and try to wrap the day up in an hour’s time. Translated that means dinner cooked, clothes picked up, bathes taken, dinner eaten, dog walked, favorite TV show watched and so on until at last we all fall into bed just so that we can start all over again at the crack of dawn tomorrow. Last night was no exception and as usual I played director to this crazy staging of events, using my wooden spoon to coordinate all the night’s activities.
With a big pot of homemade chicken noodle soup simmering on the stove, I ran up the stairs and down the hall to remind Paris to pick up everything from the bathroom floor and put dirty clothes where they belonged, etc. (if you are a parent you know the drill). Sometimes he can be a bit forgetful, but last night, he had done a pretty good job of picking up after himself. Casting a quick glance around the bathroom, I caught sight of one of my pet peeves. Someone had pee’d on the toilet seat. If you’ve ever walked into the bathroom in the middle of the night and taken a seat on the throne only to find yourself sitting in a puddle of wet, you’ll understand perfectly well why this is a HUGE pet peeve of mine…UGH! It just ain’t right!
I had a pretty good suspicion of who the culprit was as we’ve played out this drill before. “Hey Paris!” I yelled. “Get yer butt in here NOW!” And then I waited, standing over a wet toilet seat. Out he came from his bedroom saying “What?” I just pointed. With the most bewildered look he said to me, “Did I pee on the toilet seat…again?!?” His face showed a mixture of surprise and shock and even a hint of horror that he would have been responsible for something so silly. It took everything I had in me not to laugh out loud. In fact, I just pointed to the disinfecting wipes and prayed he would figure out that I wanted him to clean up his mess.
Being a 9 year old boy means that he’s still learning bathroom etiquette. Heck, I know guys who are my age and still learning bathroom etiquette. The more I thought about it, the more convinced I became that this was not a yelling moment (I’m real good with those), this was in fact a reinforcement moment. Getting a grip on myself, I reminded him that we should always lift the seat when peeing and should he forget we always clean up our messes.
I think most of us are rather like last night’s event with Paris. We are, or should be, in constant growth mode. But that doesn’t mean we will always get it right on the first go-around. I’m finding that at almost 38 years of age, I still forget to do certain things, things that I’ve supposedly “learned” already. It’s not because I’m rebelling, it’s just that sometimes I forget to do what I know I should. Alot of times I’ve been known to really beat myself up wondering why I made the same mistake again! I’m beginning to believe that those moments of self-flagellation are really quite counter-productive. What do I learn from those moments of beating myself up for perceived short-comings? Nothing but self-hate!
I remember talking to a friend who ran a drug rehab and she told me most people, when trying to clean up their act, fall off the wagon at least once and sometimes many times. This would seem to be a great time to pull out the belt and beat the lesson home or maybe even a great time for a really good ass-chewing. I’m extremely well trained when it comes to giving myself an ass-chewing of monumental proportions. Often the ass-chewing out-weighs the infraction all together. I’m beginning to wonder if the best way to deal with my repeated screw-ups is not by yelling and screaming about what an idiot I am, but rather a great time to reinforce what I already know.
Growth is constant! But as with all growth there will be failure. Learning to accept the fact that failure is part of the growth process is itself an important part. Maybe even more important is learning not to beat myself up or allow someone else to beat me up because I messed up (again). Rather it should be a time to pick myself up, dust myself off, get back on track AND maybe even have a good laugh over the absurdity of it all.
“Again?!?!” Sure! No problem! Just clean up your mess and try to remember that’s it’s not the end of the world!