“What did you just say?” Dad replied.
This blog article is not an episode from a pastime T.V. show, Kids Say the Darndest Things. This is a story about my reaction to something my child said to me. Now at the surface level, it may not seem like a big deal but let me tell you, it really had me perplexed and thinking for days.
Usually, my blog’s end with a family value that is at the heart of the conflict, but this time, I do not have one yet. I am hoping that by the time I finish writing this blog, a value will come to light.
It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon, and I had just gotten home with a truckload of ‘stuff’ that needed unpacking and brought down to the basement. When I say ‘truckload,’ I’m saying the back of the truck was jammed packed. And quite frankly, I did not want to spend more of my Saturday afternoon emptying out the truck. So, like any logical person, I solicited help. Now perhaps, solicit is not the correct terminology. While I did ask for help from one of my children, I was not really asking. It was more like a command but in the form of an ask. First mental note to self, be more clear next time.
As I eagerly entered the house, I called up to one of my children and asked for help. Of course, my call went unanswered. But at this point in my parenting, I was expecting nothing more on my first attempt. I purposefully closed the distance gap between us and called out again. This time from the bottom of the stairs. It worked. “What?” I heard bellow back down at me.
“I need help unloading the truck.” I replied.
“Why can’t someone else help?”
“Because I am asking you.” And for the record, I did provide a more concrete reason.
As I walked away, I heard heavy footsteps coming down the stairs accompanied with a few moans and groans. Again, as an experienced parent, I have learned to ignore those sound effects as we finally made our way to the truck.
Assisting my reluctant helper, I pulled an item from the truck. “Take this and bring it to the basement,” I offered.
I, too, grabbed an item and was about twenty seconds behind my partner. As I made it to the basement; my child was already walking up from the basement.
Let’s fast forward to when I am heading back upstairs. I was truly expecting to crisscross my child again which did not occur. Ok. No problem, I thought. They could be waiting for me at the truck. Afterall, it’s extremely hard for a teen to discern what item to grab next from a packed truck.
Still, I had not encountered another soul on my way to the truck nor at the truck. I was perplexed. I headed back to the bottom of the stairs and called out, “Where did you go? There is a ton of stuff that needs to go to the basement.”
“Why me? I don’t feel like it!”
“What did you just say?” I yelled back.
It was said again, this time louder. Upset, I made my way back to the truck. Seconds later, my reluctant partner and I were face-to-face, ten paces apart with our arms at our waist. My child walked past me and grabbed another item from the truck while the rest of his body and tone screamed in protest.
“Forget it! Don’t help!” I blurted back. (As a second mental note to self, I probably should have just let things be as my only goal was to unload the truck after all). Per my order, my child put the item back in the truck and returned upstairs, this time just I had asked with no fuss, no hassle and certainly no moans and groans.
I was fuming. Of course, I had one more comment: “You know how many times I do stuff for you guys when I don’t feel like doing it either?” I shouted.
For the next two days, my mind was consumed with many thoughts. I consistently replayed the entire event in my mind, only fueling my anger each time. I landed in a juvenile position. Two can play at that game, I thought. The next time they needed to be picked up, I would simply text back, I’m sorry. I just simply don’t feel like it. Find your own ride home. Yes, of course I would be more polite about it. I’m still the adult in the equation.
Three days later, my mind had shifted, a bit. I would take a more mature step and use the ‘I’ statement approach.
So, while we were driving home from practice together in the car, I took the plunge. I blurted out, “I felt very hurt when you said, you didn’t feel like helping.” Last mental note to self, I should have stuck to my original plan of two can play at that game.
Rather unusual for my blog series, “school of hard knocks” should have been my family value.
Add a comment below what might have been your family value? Describe it with your family and place it on your Family Values worksheet, downloadable as a free PDF on my website for when you subscribe to All Dads on Deck.
Share my story with friends and ask them what their family value connection would be!