My headset is broken.
I swear — it’s built-in obsolescence.
At least this time it’s not my phone.
I drop the damn thing at least once a day, whether it needs it or not. I dropped it three times in the sand in front of a friend last Thursday. You would have thought it was a joke. It wasn’t. She was horrified.
My husband says to me, “Remember the gorillas and the Samsonite Luggage?”
“Yeah.” I answered dryly.
“Well, the phone companies should just hire you to drop phones all day, and the ones that can survive you are the ones they put on the market.”
Because of that, I was driving back from the beach when a call came on on my cell and I had to put it on speaker phone. It was from a family member who went from talking about chocolate cake with me, to telling me about another family member who’s not happy with me. It was an abrupt transition. I much preferred the chocolate cake conversation.
I rolled my eyes. Because I’m so over trying to make people like me, even if it’s family.
And I rolled my eyes because it was too late to get off the call. My kids already heard the accusation made about me so, I figured I would teach them something about diplomacy and self-representation all mixed together.
I spoke my piece — and my peace — and told the person I’d call them back. We hung up.
When we got home, my 10 year-old Seth was helping bring in the groceries with me and asked, “Why do people even care?” I was confused because I had about 12,000 different thoughts between the car and the kitchen including, What’s for dinner? and Who’s going to clean up this mess? and Oh my lord, I got sunburned again.
“Care about what, honey?” I looked down to notice my left arm was burned red and my right arm was normal.
He said, “You know — why does that person even care so much about your life? Why are they so focused on you when all you’re trying to do is live your life?”
First of all, I wanted to kiss him about a scrillion times. Second of all, it was a brilliant question.
And, because I usually like his answers better than mine, I asked him a question,
“Seth, you know how Caleb (his big brother) was SO fixated on Martin this past year (a kid in Caleb’s class who makes him CRAZY).”
“Well, Martin does some aggravating things but mostly, he’s just living his life. It’s just that Caleb is really hyper-focused on him. Why do you think that is?”
I had hoped that if I took the focus off of me, Seth wouldn’t have gone into protection mode about me.
I wanted him to find the freeing truth through the story. But little boys want to fight for their moms and he doesn’t need to fight my battles more than he needs to live in freeing truths.
He stopped, leaned his hip on the kitchen table and said, “People focus too much on other people when they’re expecting them to be different than they are.”
I closed my eyes and let that just sink in. And I sighed.
Just like you did right there.
Because truth does that — it makes you sigh.
I think Seth’s on to something: We get fixated on other people when we’re wanting them to be different than they are. Our expectations are so strong in our head that we can’t shake them sometimes. It’s like someone told me about a book they read and the character’s hair was black but in the movie it was bleach blonde. She was so expecting the black hair that she couldn’t take her eyes off the white hair. And as a result she didn’t enjoy the character as much because she was so focused on what didn’t meet her expectation.
We do that all the time and it always makes me think of my friend Darius, who shared with me a saying from AA,
“Expectations are just disappointments waiting to happen.”
So, not only is my family member expecting me to be different, she’s disappointed that I’m not.
Seth went on to grab some food from the fridge while I cleaned the table.
Even though I didn’t say this out loud, my answer would have been, “People who aren’t happy and have too much time on their hands, focus on other people too much.”
It goes with my theory: Unhappy people and crazy people should be busy people. Because unhappy and crazy folks don’t focus on positive things when they have too much free time.
I think Seth and I were both right on.
But I have to say:
I like his answer better.