Men and Women - Understanding the differences by watching kids at your local grade school playground
Friday, March 07, 2014
You have had a CRAZY day!!!! Maybe one of these scenarios is an excellent portrayal of the last several hours of your life:
- Work has gotten so busy and all that management has to offer as a solution is "we have a great webinar on time management to help you learn how to squeeze every once of productivity out of every minute of your day". Of course, you don't have the 30 minutes in your day that it will take to attend the seminar, but it is required for everyone.
- Or you spent the whole day running a bunch of errands that just HAVE to get done - it feels like you have put 10,000 miles on the car and never drove further than 3 miles from home. In fact, you are concerned that your butt has permanently become part of the driver's seat and you may have to start telling all of your friends and family that the car seat attached to your rear-end is actually the newest fashion accessory.
- Maybe you are stuck at home because the weather has you locked in (again) or you are either sick or recovering from a "procedure" of some sort and you envy your friends and family that have the opportunity to be out in the hustle and bustle of things. The walls are closing in and if you see the same stupid daytime commercial for the ambulance-chasing law firm of Screwum, Cheatum, and Howe.... you are going to take a sledgehammer to your television.
Late afternoon is upon you and its constant companion, Chaos, comes with it. School gets out, the kids descend on the house (or the car, if you are the one picking them up today) and the decibel level immediately spikes to that of a full-blown SpeedMetal concert.
The girls are putting on their best performance of the Leading Lady in Days of Our Lives with statements like "Ashley is HORRIBLE!!!! My life is ruined because she told everyone that I like Cody, when I DON'T!!! He is SUCH a snot!!! All he does it bounce that stupid basketball and sit in the back of the classroom with all of his buddies making fun of the teacher! He didn't even notice my pretty butterfly necklace that I wore today just for him! I can't go back there ever again -- I just CAN'T!!!! And I will NEVER talk to Ashley again!"
While this private performance of "The Life and Tragedy Of A Young Girl/Woman" is going on, the boys are busy punching and kicking each other, chasing the dog around the house because they have built a Doggie-Rocket and want to see if it is really going to launch poor Spot onto the roof of the house, or maybe the boys have decided that yes, their skateboard has officially become part of their anatomy and it must go with them EVERYWHERE, including in the house on your freshly finished hardwood floors.
Dinner is looming ahead and you are trying to put together something that is both healthy and tasty enough to actually be eaten by the people at your table instead of fed to the family parakeet. All the while, you are thinking about a discussion (or lack thereof) that you and your hubby had after the kids FINALLY went to bed last night. Sometimes, you just can NOT figure out how his mind works. You were trying to tell him about your worries about getting in enough exercise or eating right and avoiding the ice cream that he keeps INSISTING on picking up for you because he knows its your favorite... all the while, he is so engrossed in the news that all he can do is grunt once in a while to acknowledge your presence.
What you don't realize is that he is also thinking about your conversation last night and wondering "what did I do wrong now? I was listening, I didn't interrupt, I didn't try to "fix" whatever is bugging her this time. In fact, I stopped by the store even though I was running late because I wanted to do something nice for her; but she just glared at me when I handed her the quart of Chunky Monkey! It is her favorite, and I know "THAT time of the month" is right around the corner, so I thought she may want to have it in the house instead of adding one more errand for her to run tomorrow because her plate is already pretty full. All I wanted to do last night was catch the scores on yesterday's game and see if they are actually going to trade my favorite running-back for that dumb-a** that couldn't hang on to the ball if you super-glued it to his hands".
You are both stressed out, burned out, and just want to go back to when things were simple. You think about when you were a kid and things were much less complicated -- but were they really????
Several years ago, I was picking my niece up from school and watching the kids as they came pouring out of the double-doors like a wave crashing on the beach. As I watched this force of nature, I began to notice something -- the girls and the boys were behaving the same way that so many of the men and women I know do. The girls are coming out in groups of at least 3 or 4, giggling, teasing each other, pointing at other girls and whispering to each other. The boys are coming out either individually or in little pockets of two or three max. They are all fixated on something -- either getting their backpacks adjusted, or maneuvering the obstacle course of other kids on their skateboards and bicycles, or pushing each other, punching each other, and just monkeying around.
I have thought about this quite a bit over the years, and I have come to realize that everything we need to know about how adult men and women think, act, and interact, etc. can be understood by watching the antics on the playground of your local grade school at recess. The way we process things and live out our lives doesn't change very much as we mature. What does change is the level of complexity and how we actually express ourselves. In some ways, we have learned what is the "socially acceptable" way to communicate or behave, but what drives those behaviors hasn't changed.
The resentment that is felt because Renee didn't say "hi" to you and stop and chit-chat before the meeting yesterday is not much different than what the 10 year old girl goes through because Marissa didn't come over and play with her at recess. The excitement that you feel at getting a new ATV and being able to take it out this weekend with your buddies is not much different than the rush the 12 year old boy feels when he gets his first dirt bike and wants to take it over to Jeremy's house right away to test it out.
As you go through today and find yourself wishing for a life less complicated, I encourage you to acknowledge this thought, then set it aside and seek out the wonder of the moment that IS instead of wanting a moment that never was. And, if you have been blessed with children and are on the verge of strangling them, think back on your day and the events that took place which are SO similar to the ones your children experienced. Seeing these similarities may help provide you with the patience and understanding you need to connect with your children instead of feeling like you are there purely as their personal assistant.
May you all have a wonderful, joyous day and weekend. :)