Sunday, May 27, 2012

Things People Just Can't Help Doing

My friend Debbie has a notebook which she has titled, "Dumb Things People Said To Make Me Feel Better, But Which Actually Made Me Feel Worse." Her journal is the result of several tremendous challenges she has faced over the years. She said that while many people offered heartfelt words of compassion, others said some really dumb things in an effort to help her feel better. Because said comments actually made Debbie feel worse, she opted to unload them into a notebook, and ease her burden of carrying them around. I won't repeat what some of the comments are, but I'll just say this: they are really dumb.

The point of this post is not to trash people who say dumb things, because we're all guilty of it at one time or another. But as the words in Debbie's notebook attest, sometimes folks just can't help but say some negatively noteworthy things. And Debbie can't help but get them off her back and away from her psyche by writing them down. This post is simply a list of a handful of quirks I've noticed over the past few days. And, likewise, I just can't help myself from writing about them.

1) The woman sitting next to me at The Avengers last night couldn't help but carry on a running commentary of everything in the movie. Her monologue loudly noted her disappointment anytime a likeable character met with any trouble ("But I liked him...," she repeatedly whined). She also uttered a loud "UH OH," whenever disaster loomed. During the previews, I watched with eagerness a trailer for Tim Burton's next darkly imaginative film for children. When the woman in the seat next to mine opined that she thought the movie looked stupid, I had a violent urge to turn to her and say, "You're stupid!" But I didn't.

2) Every night at 10:00 P.M. when we send one son off to bed, he can't help but ask if we will make him a plate of nachos. The answer in always no, but he just has to ask anyway.

3) Jack just can't help himself from rifling through albums and bins to locate family photographs, which he carries around lovingly for a few hours before shredding them into tiny bits in some corner of the house. I used to be really touched when Jack selected, to tote around, a photo which included me. But now I know that it will inevitably meet it's demise shortly. He's doing a real number on my Gospel Art Kit, as well. We use that thing a lot, and I would really like to keep it sort-of intact. I keep hiding it, and yet somehow I still keep finding shredded bits of paintings depicting well-known scripture tales, to which I can't help myself from responding, "Curses!"

4) The young woman at the big box store who was training another young woman to be a cashier couldn't help herself from looking at Jeff's head of hair this weekend and loudly asking, "Going gray already???" I stood there aghast and a tad slack-jawed after hearing this. Jeff was entering his debit card pin at the moment and didn't register it, but he told me later that he would've probably quipped a response along the lines of, "Young lady, you have no idea just how very ANCIENT I am," possibly accompanied by lots of nodding and deep chuckling.

5) If there are SpongeBob GoGurts in the house, one son just can't help himself from eating them all day long. This is a case for never again having SpongeBob GoGurts in the house.

6) If there are Lindt 70% Dark Chocolate Squares in the house, I just can't stop myself from some daily indulgence. This is not a case for never again having Lindt 70% Dark Chocolate Squares in the house.

7) Teachers and school administrators can't help themselves from planning a raggedly exhausting schedule of end-of-year parties, picnics, parades, field trips, field days, performances, dinners, and dances. It's killing me, folks, and the crucible known as "my summer" has yet to begin.

What can't you help doing?


  1. So funny! I cringed as I read your #1 about the woman talking in the movie. I really do NOT understand why it is so hard to realize people come to WATCH a movie, not socialize. Drives me crazy. Miss you guys!

  2. I hate when people talk during a movie- if they chat during the trailers, I move away. Seriously rude. I hate the "these kids all yours?" Which I NEVER got when I had my 3 but now with 4 it happens often. It is usually followed with a "and you look so young," which I am sure they think is flattering but to me I hear, "are you even mature enough to handle them all?" in which I often rely in my mind "no, but my kids don't know." Thanks for letting me blow off some steam! :) Glad you were able to also.

  3. Fun post! I definitely feel the same on #7--Enough already!

  4. Really hate the last week of school. I ditto you on that one. Glad I only have one in the system and I'm scared for two. Can't imagine how busy the last week is for some families. I almost kept Mac home on Thursday because I thought an hour and a half was so stupid and that we all needed that extra hour of sleep more than he needed to go to school. But he wanted to go, so up I got and off he went.

    I have never had the misfortune to experience someone talking throughout a whole movie, except when I see one with Dillon and he has questions about EVERYTHING.

    I have to say though, being one that sometimes makes stupid comments, that the comments usually do not come from a place of meanness. People are usually just trying to be empathetic or trying to be flattering, but maybe not pulling it off so well. I think that sometimes as parents we are over tired and tend to be a bit more sensitive to comments than we otherwise would.

    Matt also made a good point that manners in this generation are near non existent. People are saying a lot more of what they're thinking nowadays than they did say, 20 years ago. What steams me more than anything is how kids refer to me like one of their buddies. I don't like that at all. It's Mrs. Call or like they do in the south, at least tack on a Ms. (or Mister for men) before calling me by name. I came from a time that you don't come out and speak unless spoken to. And when it was my turn to speak, I'd better be respectful...or else. I still have a difficult time referring to my child hood "mothers" by first name. Because I grew up in the church I am not as annoyed by being referred to as Sister, but still, I think that older children can be taught that outside of church, it's Mr. or Mrs. Not everyone is LDS. I love the older stories like the Ramona Quimby books because the adults in those stories are referred to by titles of respect and were taught how to be respectful to their teachers and other adults (as well as their own parents). I think that kids are allowed to get away with saying things that I would consider rude and flippant.

    Thanks for presenting an opportunity for release.

  5. I need a notebook for all of the stupid things that I'VE said! I've never been the quickest observer and have had a few unfortunate moments when my mind worked more slowly than my mouth. One from high school weighs particularly heavy when it comes to mind. The silver lining may be that it has helped me to be a bit more duck-like in letting others' stupidity roll off.