Saturday, July 2, 2011

Why I don't always have to be right, do you?

About seven years ago, I traded bedrooms with my daughter. The exchange gave me the quiet room on the back of the house, the one that overlooks the (mostly) well-kept expanse of backyard.

The room I vacated had a super abundance of what I call 'old-lady' wallpaper. I remember questioning my then grade school-aged daughter whether she would like the wallpaper changed. At the time it didn't bother her.

I was fine with that.

I did not relish the thought of tearing it down.

Now, several years later, the room your friends hang out in seems to carry a greater value. Personally, I would have complained far sooner, and campaigned quite diligently for a disruption of the flowery bonanza. My daughter seemed content.

Until now.

It's a holiday. We have an extra day off. It's time to attack the wall paper.

I agreed.

After all, I would have done it sooner, but it was a lovely pattern once to someone, and I could tell the paper had come from the expensive end of the wallpaper book. I wasn't looking for extra work way back then. Today, that postponed chore caught up with me.

When I start a project, I plan, gather supplies, get an early start, and quit when am I one arm's length past exhaustion. Which is to say, I don't loll around in bed and crawl out all sleepy-eyed, meandering across the hall, chat and spend some time deciding what to eat for breakfast.

When I finally saw the whites of my daughter's eyes, I'd already been to the store, purchased a wallpaper perforating tool, chemical remover, a high pressure sprayer, set up the purchased equipment and tested it.

I organized my gear in the kitchen and gave her instructions to protect the carpet and furniture, then took my trappings to her room. I realized she had lined everything up to begin work on the wall with the most wallpaper. I sucked air through my teeth and rolled my lips in and considered. "Here's my recommendation," I said. I pointed to the wall with the least amount of flower-ganza. "I'd start with that wall. You can probably finish it in one day. You'll learn a lot, and by the end of the day one wall will be completed."

She sighed, as if I always have to change things, as if I need to be right.

"If you start on this big wall and tucker out, it won't be finished, it will look like a mess. If you can get the other wall done, you'll feel like you accomplished something," I encouraged.

She agreed to my recommendation. I'm not one to usually back down. She's generally willing to learn.

I helped her get started and turned the tools over to her. About an hour later, I checked in. "Are you tired?"

Vigorous head nod.

"Aren't you glad I suggested the smaller wall?"

She smiled and said, "Mommy's always right."

I didn't like that assessment. It felt self-righteous. Argumentative. Not genuine. I arched a brow and said, "I don't have to be right. It would be better to say, 'Mommy has great ideas.'"

Those words sounded way more satisfactory slipping past my daughter's smile.

How about you? When's the last time you were right, and how did it feel when someone else realized it?


Anonymous said...

Once upon a time Little_Carol was over heard commenting on The "Magic Mother". For those of you who do not know who The "Magic Mother" was I'll try and explain. She was the mystical, magical mother that was never wrong and always knew what you were doing and thinking. In this part of the universe nothing was kept from The "Magic Mother" because she was the closest thing to an omniscient being they knew. The universe was in balance and all things were right. This is how things are and things rarely change.

One day Little_Brother came along. Now Little_Sister thought that Little_Brother was the most annoying creature in the world, this unbeknown to her is called the little brother effect. The little brother annoyance factor is higher and louder when is traveling towards him or him towards you. Simply stated the little brother effect is directly proportional to the proximity of you to the little brother.

Now where was I, o yes the day that Little_Brother came along. The universe shifted that day as the balance had been upset. Little_Brother came to believe in the things his Big_Sisters told him of the omniscient being they knew and called The "Magic Mother". She was always right and had never been proved otherwise. Things in the universe began to settle back in and once again the universe was in balance and all things were right. This is how things are and things rarely change.

One day as Little_Brother was walking through a room he over heard The "Magic Mother" talking and he was stunned. He actually thought he heard The "Magic Mother" say she was wrong. This.....could it be.. but how could he prove it. You see like the boy that called wolf Little_Brother had been known to pull a prank or 2 or 3 or eleven-teen. He knew Big_Sisters would never believe him and think it was just another prank. His mind went rushing how to prove it. Since he was a well read boy for his age, he loved Hardy boys and Sherlock Holmes, a thought came into his mind. Why not put it on paper and see if The "Magic Mother" would sign it. Proof positive that no one could deny. Yes and it was a god example of Occam's razor, well at least he thought it was.

Decision made he quickly searches for something to write on and write with. He quickly pens the important things (On this date at this time The "Magic Mother" admitted to being wrong. ) he left a line for her signature. He approached The "Magic Mother" and presented her his writing. She quickly read it. This always puzzled him he thought she would have known what he was up to and would have no need to read it. That was just a passing thought and was as easily forgotten as the answer "yes" to the question of can I go out and play.

She signed it, after a little laugh. O on that day the universe once again shifted and once again it was not balanced. He had to find Big_Sisters and show them his proof. Big_Sisters could hardly believe their eyes, and the universe shifted again as things became more and more out of balance. They ran to The "Magic Mother" and asked if it was true. They could not believe that Little_Brother could be right and The "Magic Mother" was not. O how their universes were turned upside down that day.

As the years went by that piece of paper was swallowed up in the portable hole that existed in his room, although he could never find it. This did not matter as it was always remember there was a piece of paper and even to this day The "Magic Mother" is still The "Magic Mother".

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