“When you think you need to rush, slow down.”
My dad tosses advice into conversations so casually, I often miss the wisdom in what he’s trying to tell me. But if he slips the advice in often enough, it sort of gets stuck in my ear like a song I can’t shake.
Eventually, his advice comes to mind at the right moment.
So it was that I found myself employing his principle–Don’t panic when you think you need to panic!–when I took a solo outing to the grocery store with both girls. When it was just Claire, I could play man-to-man defense and make sure my opponent was always contained. With two girls, I’m stuck in a zone defense situation with two very clever opponents playing against me without a rule book or referee in sight.
It all went quite well until the end when Rachel started wailing and Claire ran away and refused to come back as I was trying to leave the store. It was one of those moments when the cashier and the other customers stare at you with a look of what is probably pity but feels a little bit like judgment. Last time we were in this position, I yelled and threatened and had to chase her 3/4 of the way around the store, abandoning my cart in the canned fruit aisle and finding her in the frozen foods.
But this was the moment I realized the power of doing the opposite. Instead of yelling, I spoke calmly. Instead of threatening, I redirected her. Instead of panicking, I presented a calm, unflappable, your-actions-don’t-scare-me persona. She gave up the fight and came with me–no screaming, no kicking, no running. Whew.
It isn’t profound, I guess, just a simple realization that sometimes my instincts are dead wrong. So, for now, I’m just doing the opposite of what my instinct tells me. I can’t say it will apply to all situations every time, but it seems to be working for today.
And sometimes that is all I need…