The Day I Lost My Cool

I don’t like conflict.

I don’t like yelling.

This may come as a surprise, because we all know that I love a good argument.  I have no problem picking a side and defending its merits.  Those of you who have heard my tales of customer service experiences would also wonder about the above statement, since I’ve told a story or three about dealing with customer service. (truth- my daughter thinks that every call center around the world has my number and picture with a big line crossed through it, and that  their free time is spent throwing darts at it)

But as a rule, I don’t like to yell at people.

You also know that I don’t discuss politics on my blog.  What you may not know it that I also refuse to discuss politics in real life (there are only about 3 people I will ever talk politics with) I am of the belief that everyone has an opinion that they are entitled to, but I also strongly believe that people don’t want to have a discussion, they want to get you to change your mind.  Obviously this is my opinion, which I am entitled to.

But anyway.

Everyone in my real life knows that I do not like discussing politics, especially at an event such as Father’s Day (see- you knew this would become topical).  Most of my youth was spent sitting around the dining room table on holidays, with people yelling at one another (the common refrain was – ‘we’re Italian- it’s not yelling- it’s how we talk- and my Mother adds facebook comments in ALL CAPS BECAUSE SHE JUST CAN’T HELP HERSELF) So my goal was to have holidays with the least amount of verbal conflict possible.  I did not want my daughter to feel like I did growing up.

My Father in Law knows that I do not like discussing politics.  I have said this to him about a thousand times.  No- make that a million.  My husband knows that I do not like discussing politics in an open forum.  Let me make this clear- if you know me, you know I do not discuss politics.

So naturally, on Fathers Day my FIL sat at the table and asked my daughter about politics.  And my daughter blew off the question the first five times because she knows that I don’t like political discussion at the dinner table.  So, the conversation went like this:

FIL (to daughter) What do you think of X?

Daughter: Can you pass the potatoes?

The above was repeated about five different times with my daughter varying her answers slightly

FIL- well you must have an opinion

Daughter: Actually, the past month has been crazy with tests and year end stuff.  The only things I’ve been reading are about school, and trying to get an internship for the summer, and pre season tennis practice.  I haven’t read a paper or watched the news.  I’m not informed enough to discuss X.

FIL- but don’t you think it’s wrong?

Daughter- I don’t know

FIL- makes ridiculous statement

Husband- makes opposite position ridiculous statement

My Father- alternate ridiculous statement

Father and Husband yelling at one another

Me: Hands slam the table saying in my loud, authoritative bond trading floor voice that I haven’t used in 18 years: “AND THE DISCUSSION OF POLITICS IS NOW OVER

FIL: (stands up from table) = “Oh, I guess your house, your rules.”

Me: (looking directly at him) You bet your ass.  My house,  My rules. (me staring him down till he sat back down at the table.

See- this is why I don’t like discussing politics, or yelling.  Because the fierce side of my personality comes out- the person who doesn’t put up with shit.  The person who takes control of the situation.  And normally this part of my personality is my friend- this part of my personality has gotten me through life.

But I don’t want to do it at the holiday table.

I don’t want yelling at the table.

I don’t want to yell at my Father.

And I was mad at myself for yelling.  I was annoyed that my FIL and Husband have so little respect for my one wish that politics are not discussed ( to be clear, my Husband engaged the conversation with the stupidest comment ever). But mostly I was mad at myself for yelling at my Father.  My Father is 80.  Thought there no imminent threat to his health, he has about a thousand issues.  I don’t know if I get another Father’s Day with him.  I did not want my last Father’s Day memory to be of yelling about politics, of all stupid things, and me losing my shit.

Yet, that is what happened.

I so want to blame everyone at the table.  But in the end I must take responsibility for my actions. But I can’t take back what I said, or what happened.

And I need to live with that.

 

Advertisements

Be Careful What You Wish For

My niece and nephew (twins)  recently had their B’Nai Mitzvah.  But when you plan this type of event, you must do it way in advance because kids are required to have prepared Torah passages, and most people I know do not speak conversational Hebrew.  So we, the family and friends, have known the date for years.

Years.

So, my mother in law and father in law have been talking about this for years.

Years.

Every conversation with them would start with “Can’t wait for the mitzvah.”  The middle of every conversation would include something about the mitzvah.  And every conversation would end with “Don’t forget the mitzvah will be here soon.”  And I get the grandparent thing.  They’re excited to share the religion with the offspring of their offspring (my daughter is not being raised to follow either Catholicism or Judaism- so the had no such joy from our household) Yet, it is also a case of having absolutely nothing else going on in their lives.  Nothing.  They have no hobbies.  They have few friends.  They have absolutely nothing to look forward to.

So here’s lesson number one: make sure you have at least one hobby that you enjoy.  When faced with the questions, “Why do I need to get out of bed today?” make sure it’s because you have something you can’t wait to do.  And it could literally be anything.  Set a goal to “walk” to China by counting your steps every day.  Watch every Cary Grant movie ever made.  Volunteer anyplace.  You’re getting the idea:  hobbies don’t have to cost a lot of money.

As of now, my in laws hobbies are: annoying my husband, annoying my sister in law, complaining about my husband and sister in law, complaining about their friends/neighbors, complaining about other relations and complaining about me.  They clearly need to find something else to do until the date is set for the Bar Mitzvah of my other nephew.

Now, let’s get to the next part of the issue: What happens when you talk about something for two years, when you look forward to something at the exclusion of everything else?  What happens when you build up something to epic proportions?

We had to go to Temple services the evening before.  my Mother in Law fell asleep during the Rabbi’s talk.  And not just a little doze: she tilted totally to the side, and if the benches did not have little separators, she would have fallen to the left.  Did I mention she snorts when she sleeps?

When we got to Temple the next morning, the first thing my Sister in Law said to us was ‘Please go sit with Dad cause he’s in a snit.” When we sat in row with him, he started complaining that my Mother in Law got seated in the row in front of him at Temple.  he complained that he had been at Temple for an hour, and he was only in two of the pre event pictures.

At the breakfast that is served immediately after a Mitzvah (I don’t remember what it’s called) my family and I had to run to opposite sides of the room to talk to in laws, because they would not sit at tables adjacent to one another.  We called it bagel on the run…

Then, there is the reception.  If you are my Mother in Law, you spend the cocktail hour in the lackluster outer room, when everyone else is in the bar room with the food and the great view.  You decide to find something wrong with every college her granddaughter (mu daughter) is applying to.  Her professionally made up face does not crack a smile.

The dinner portion saw my FIL and MIL sit at their tables, stone faced.  They barely danced.  They barely got up from the table.  They didn’t smile, they didn’t laugh, they didn’t talk to anyone.  The event that they had spoken so highly of for years was playing in a loop right before their eyes, and they didn’t care.

My MIL was annoyed because my niece and nephew weren’t paying any attention to her.  Gee: you mean at a party with at least 50 of their friends, they weren’t sitting in the back of the room with my MIL?  Shocking I say.

FIL was annoyed that he wasn’t being revered as an elder statesman.  In his mind, the crowd would part as he walked the room, kissing his ring and asking for his sage advice and blessing.  It’s a party with DJ’s and spinning lights and too much food.  And it wasn’t his event.  My niece and nephew, and their parents were the stars of the day.  As they should be.

The problem was, they had an idea in their minds as to how this would play out.  And the actual event did not match their expectations.  Their vision of the event was not realistic: they set themselves up to fail.

So, what’s the take away?

  1. Get a hobby
  2. Realize it’s great to look forward to something.  Looking forward to something actually makes you happy.  But, be realistic as to your expectations.
  3. Don’t expect other people to act the way you want them to act.  You can only control your own actions, not the actions of others.
  4. Don’t drive your children, their partners, and your grandchildren crazy.  It’s not a good look.

 

 

 

A Tale of Two Temperatures: A play in one act

The Setting: Booth in a deli in New York City, 2017

The Players: Mother in Law, Waiter, Son, Daughter in Law

Waiter approaches table, notepad in hand:

Waiter:  Can I get you something to drink?

Mother in Law:  Do you have diet black cherry soda?

Waiter:  Yes.

Mother in Law: In the can?

Waiter: Yes

Mother:  Is the can cold?

Waiter: Yes

Mother in Law: Very cold?  Because I don’t like ice.  I don’t want the soda to be made cold because of ice.  I only want it if its a very cold can.

Waiter:  Yes.  Very cold can.

Waiter begins to walk away

Mother in Law: And make sure you bring me a cup of ice.

Waiter returns with soda, ice, and complimentary bowls of cole slaw and pickles, and quickly leaves.

  Mother in law touches all six pickles in bowl.  Takes one and bites it.

Mother in Law: Blah.  These pickles are warm.  Who serves warm pickles.  Pickles are supposed to be cold.

Son: They always serve them like that.

Mother in law picks up pickle and hands it to son

Mother in law:  That is NOT how a pickle is supposed to feel.

In what seems like 3 hours, but in reality is only 5 minutes, waiter returns with plate of stuffed derma

Mother in law:  Can you bring us a bowl of cold pickles.  Cold.  Like from the refrigerator.  Cold.

Waiter takes bowl of apparently ill tempered pickles.

Mother in Law:  Is the derma hot?  Derma has to be hot.

Son:  Ma, there’s steam coming off it.

Mother in Law:  Fine.  If you’re sure it’s hot enough.

After another eternity seeming 5 minutes, waiter returns with corned beef, pastrami and hopefully cold pickles.  He places food and sprints from table, clearly shattering the table to kitchen speed record

Mother in law touches all the pickles.  But doesn’t take any.

Mother in law: Cold pickles.  But is the pastrami warm?  You know how I like my pastrami warm.

Mother in law rises to use rest room.  Waiter chooses that moment to bus table, taking with him a touched but uneaten bowl of cold pickles.

The End

 

 

 

 

Screwed….

It’s been an eventful 12 hours for me.  The Husband got home from the Dominican Republic last night at about 9.  My daughter got home about the same time from her pre-community service mani/pedi.  Things from husbands trip are literally all over the house.   Daughters things are also in disarray as she finished up packing for her trip.  Her trip which required me to wake up at 2:15.  AM. Because we had to be at the airport at 4.  AM.  And since this is the city that never sleeps, you must give yourself an hour to drive 15 miles.  (FYI- we reached JFK from Manhattan in a record 22 minutes.  Then spent 45 minutes searching for caffeine and tried to bribe retail doughnut establishment into opening early but stale cough drop and forever stamp not enticing enough)  But anyway.  I’m tired and cranky and house is a mess and there is a bag of moldy laundry fresh from Caribbean.

Now look at my featured image.  See that screw?  That lonely screw that looks like its missing its friends?  I found that under the dining room table.  Obviously I looked under the table- but no screws were missing.  I looked under the chairs, turned them over, but alas- everything was intact.   So where does the screw belong?  Who knows.  You see, we share our abode with a cat.  A cat who sees things on the ground and bats them around.  So the screw could literally belong to any piece of furniture in the house.  From any room. I’ve been wandering around my small, sparsely furnished apartment in search of the hole where this screw belongs.  And I can’t find it.

But never fear.  I have a strong premonition that tonight, we will find out where the screw resides.  You see, my Mother in law is coming over tonight- visiting from Florida.  I’m sure she will sit on, or put something on, whatever this screw belongs to.

Please tune in tomorrow for the continuation……

Outlaws: A Cautionary Tale

Yesterday was Father’s Day.  In honor of the day, the husband, the daughter and I went out to dinner with my parents and my Father-in-law.   I then posted a picture of my daughter with her two grandfathers on Facebook, much to the dismay of my divorced mother in-law. Evenings such as this are always thought provoking, and now, blog worthy.  So in the spirit of my recent lists,you will be relieved to know, I now have the honor of adding- how to be a good parent-in-law.

In no particular order:

  1. When your grandchild is born, suggest that you should co-parent, because you know exactly how things should be done
  2. Do  continue to buy your child underwear. Everyone wants Mom to purchase their boxers, briefs and thongs
  3. Ask them how much money they make and how much their mortgage is.  Pout when they say it’s none of your business.
  4. If your child marries someone that is a different religion, make sure you supply them with all the cultural doo-dads your religion uses.  I’m sure your son/daughter in-law wants to learn Yiddish.
  5. Rearrange the things in their home.  They love to see you reorganizing their bathroom cabinets.
  6. If your child and their spouse are going through a rough patch, make sure to ask for a house key, because you will be moving in when the offending spouse moves out.
  7. If you are divorced from your child’s other parent, get mad every time your child sees your ex.  Nothing spells family harmony like Facebook comments.
  8. Talk about all your child’s exes, and how great they were.  This should be accompanied by sighs.
  9. When dining at the home of your son/daughter in-law, make appreciative comments like, “Oh.  This is an interesting way to make steak.”
  10. Give your opinion on literally everything.  Back it up with “But you don’t need to listen to me.  What do I know?”

Families are a wonderful thing.  Cherish these moments.  It can only make you closer. Alas, I don’t think I will have the pleasure of becoming a mother in-law.  For some reason, my daughter doesn’t want in-laws  to be married.