In an attempt to blog more often and work myself into routine, I may blog shorter and more timely relative to the issue that I encountered.
I have blogged twice about making a scenes. When is it appropriate to make a scene, and when do you zip it and keep going. I also related a scene that was just bad behavior on my part. I share this because it was a clear and appropriate use of a scene. The point was to make my poor kid, who became my first practice victim, stop and think about something; although the exercise was actually about me. DISCLAIMER: I DO NOT RECOMMEND USING ONE’S CHILDREN FOR PRACTICING BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION- A “scene” in my family is any discord what-so-ever. Any question that is not, “Where is the dog?” can be regarded as a challenge, a problem, or someone on your case. Given my propensity for going deep, anything to which I respond can be seen as a “scene” by my 20 year-old son. Sometimes my presence is enough for some to view as an outrage caused by me. Think teenager.
The behavior I wanted to change was my own. I am no longer going to be less than anyone else. At my heart, I am a chicken about conflict. I decided to start with standing up to my kid. Maybe I am fine and the other person needs to chill the hell out (my son).
Or maybe, just maybe… I am not less than someone else at all…maybe to him I am more and I just didn’t know it. Who taught whom?
This is a three-part scene.
First part. Location is a small county court-house in the boon docks in another state. My son and I are sitting on a long bench outside the court room waiting for the next session (I drove 6 hours to go to court with him). A few people are milling about, some we know, some we don’t. It is quiet. This is my third trip to go to court with him and we are fine, there is no drama between us about why he is there.
A woman I did not know was walking down the hall toward us. She appeared haggard and worn. She wore her hair in a pony-tail, no make-up, a men’s shirt, and looked at the floor as she walked. Upon her reaching us and turning slightly to the left to go down another short hall and into another building; my son said to her, “Don’t say hello, then. This is my mom (leaning toward me). What are you doing here?”
The woman looked up toward my son with a sad tired expression and quietly replied, “Why do you think I am here?” Without a pause, a blink, an acknowledgment of me, or anything further; she kept walking and was gone.
I was quietly thinking how ill-mannered people were in that town. My son turned to me and said, “That was Mary’s mom. She must be here about her divorce from Mary’s dad.” (I have changed this girl’s name).
Now I was thinking “What the f***!? Unbelievable! No manners, no courtesy, no social skills! How rude!” What comes out my mouth is, “Well that was rude”.
Mary is my son’s live-in girlfriend. They have dated for 9 months and the girl has stayed in my home in another state. The previous day (Easter) after time with her mother, I took Mary to their big city for an afternoon out and a movie.
I understood the pain Mary’s mother might have felt. I have also experienced a divorce in this court-house. I once sat in that very spot waiting for court to part from my son’s father. I have shed a river of tears in the same building. I understand still, the pain of other people’s eyes upon me. But it doesn’t do to be so rude. I further told my son, “If Mary and her mother were sitting here, and it was me coming down the hall and Mary said ‘Hi, this is my mother’; I would have stopped, shaken her hand, introduced myself and said ‘It’s good to meet you'”.
My son rolled his eyes, gave me the “you are soooooo annoying” sigh, and said, “People are different”.
I said, “I get that. I do. But that was rude. Mary f@#*@*# lives with you!”
He just gave me the “chill out” look. We went into court.
Second part. Location is the town grocery store. My son drives me there after court to get dinner ‘fixins. 🙂 As we walk in, who is the first person I see? His father! I make a beeline for the produce department. While feeling up tomatoes I hear a familiar voice. Upon turning around, I greet Nancy (name change). She is the mother of my college roommate. I like her and her family. We briefly chatted about the holiday, family, grandkids, me, where I live. I was polite but reserved, brisk, and not totally attentive. I kept gathering my vegetables as we conversed but I did meet her eye out of politeness. I smiled and said, “Good to see you” and meandered off.
Whoa Boy!!! The look I got from my off-spring! His eyebrows were under his hat, his slitty eyes were big and round, his head was high, neck arched, back straight, shoulders lifted, chest puffed out. He whipped around on me and said with a shake of his head and a sneer on his face, “You know that was kinda bitchy?!”
“You were rude mom. Nancy is a nice lady. She was glad to see you and tried to talk to you.”
“I talked to her.” (I then repeated almost the whole conversation.) “I was getting my veggies. When I was done I said it was good to see her.”
“No. You were bitchy.”
😦 😦 😦 😦 😦 😦 😦 😦 😦 😦 😦 😦 😦 😦 😦 😦 😦 😦 Both of us. The rest of the shopping trip.
Third scene. Location was my son’s front yard as we parked and unloaded groceries. Yes, the yard, as in lawn in front of the house. (A little bit Redneck).
Me, “So, let me get this straight. It is perfectly acceptable for the mother of your live-in girlfriend, who has been to my home a state away, and who I treat very well; to not even acknowledge my existence when right in front of me and you are making an introduction; yet I was BITCHY when I DID have a conversation, albeit a little distant and brief, with a woman I know and like while gathering produce?”
No “you are soooo annoying” sigh. No eye roll. My son slammed down what he was doing and literally yelled, “Yes!”
Me, “What the F***? I don’t owe anybody up here anything! I love coming to see you, but I hate it here. Yes, I may be less friendly than I used to be. I may be less interested in people up here than I used to be. Nobody knows me now. I’ve been gone a long time. Nobody needs to know my life or even gives a rat’s ass about it. I was polite! Brief, but polite! Weren’t you the one who said, ‘People are different’? AREN’T I PEOPLE?”
I think I saw the very definition of a person sputtering. This would have been a perfect moment for cartoonish animation. You know, where the character turns bright red, then orange, then blue, then their the top of their head blows off, steam shoots out their ears, their eyes bulge, their body whirls like a twister below their neck, and it sounds like the Tasmanian Devil in the background.
Then my son yells, “IT’S DIFFERENT!”
I yell back, “Why is it different?”
My son’s reply will forever burn my soul, “BECAUSE YOU’RE MY MOM!!!”