Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Push a Button!

We are all off our game tonight. It is four degrees outside and we've had to be out in it some this evening. We are late getting the girls to bed since the youngest had a school concert this evening (which we had all forgotten about). Our dinner was a really crappy pizza we ordered. I'm deleting Sabastino's number from my phone after I write this. Prior to that we forgot to pickup our eldest at dance and had to scramble. Now the youngest is hyper and singing at the top of her lungs in a falsetto rather than getting into pajamas. The eldest is cranky and has been short with us all evening but says there is absolutely nothing wrong and we're reading the signs incorrectly. My wife is scattered, flustered, and at the end of her patience. And me, I'm ready for a really stiff drink so I made decaf coffee instead.

There's a song titled "Mama Said There'd Be Days Like These" and while I'm not sure my mother ever told me that exactly, I think I've always known. These are the days and this is the life. Sometimes the temperature doesn't get above ten degrees and we bite at each other. What can you do but make a cup of coffee and try to shut the world out?

Well, lots of things actually.

The first thing is to engage. I talked with my eldest daughter, asking her if she was feeling tense about something. She said that she wasn't. I told her that it seemed as though she was very tense. "I'm not." Then how come it seems as though you are. "I'm not," she said again. So, rather than try to win that point, I said to her that she was giving off the signs of being tense and that if she wasn't feeling it, "why do you think you're sending those signals?" She said, as you can guess, "I'm not." I smiled. "It's okay, that you're not feeling tense or angry, but both your mom and I are feeling it coming out of you. We don't need you to change. I just want you to know what's going on for us, how we're perceiving you." She shrugged. "Okay."

Another thing for me to do is to take some responsibility for what's going on. Even if my daughter isn't tense or tired or out of the ordinary in any way, I sure am. I'm tired, I'm cold, and I'm cranky. I could pour that stiff drink, but I don't think that it would really take me to the places I need to be. Where do I need to be? In bed and asleep. So, after this, even though it's not even 8:30, I'm heading for bed. I'm tired and I might as well obey my body. Listening to that might make me a happier guy. And who knows, maybe my daughter isn't feeling tense. She might be mirroring me.

As for my youngest singing at the top of her lungs, I haven't found much to do about that except smile and enjoy it. The kid is funny and her manic moments are better than most comedy shows. What is there to complain about with that? Other than the volume. I can probably get her to take that down a notch.

With my wife, well, that's another question. I don't know how to help her feel much more at ease. I'm trying to help her around the house a lot more, but that doesn't seem to be doing much good. We go see our therapist together, and that helps in the long run but right now it's not changing the immediate situation. I'm used to walking away from her at this point in the interest of giving her space which is code for me getting space from her. Tonight, instead, I told her that she needs to do something to take care of herself. I think I said, gently and with a smile, "get it together, woman."

I also put on some good music (Jose Gonzalez's album _In Our Nature_) which is making me calm and peaceful.

So the thing I need to keep in mind when evenings like this come upon me is that there are lots of things I can do. None of it solves any one problem and none of it makes it clear to me what caused this situation, but that's not important. Doing something (almost anything) makes everything better.

It's like one of my favorite scenes from Airplane! when Stryker is trying to land the plane. Down on the ground Robert Stack is calling off direction after direction until finally he screams in Stryker's headphones, "Push a button!" Just do something. Anything. Get the plane on the ground and move on to the next thing n life.

Write on.