I need to work on that

It has become apparent that I need to work on the way I respond to people when I'm a slight bit agitated. It seems I have pissed off (and hurt feelings of) a few people that I love recently with the way I reacted to a seemingly infinitesimal event. Some details, if you please.

This afternoon I went to pick up sandwiches for lunch. When I returned my mom was in the dining room using using her computer. The kids were upstairs and Chris was working with something in the kitchen. The TV was on in the (currently deserted) living room. I set the bag of sammys on the dining room table and Chris came in and started sorting out the wrapped-up goodies. I grabbed mine and headed to the living room. As I sat down I reached for the remote control and quickly changed the station away from some modeling reality show on MTV that I have never seen before and, as far as I know, it's a show that nobody in my household watches. 5 seconds after I changed the channel, it became abundantly clear that my mom and wife had been watching the show. It's at this point in the story where things are up for interpretation. I clicked a button on the remote to take us back to the previous station and said something to the effect of, “there was nobody watching the show.” My exact words and tone were likely a bit harsher than that, stemming from the manor in which I was informed of my wrongdoing.

See, in my mind, I felt as if I was jumped on for changing the channel. In their minds, I snapped back unkindly and in a bit of a pouting fashion. The end result being, my mom left the room upset and my wife and I sat and ate lunch silently while watching a TV show that neither of us had any interest in watching.

Now, like I said, this whole scene should have been a complete non-event. Honestly, going back and watching the modeling show was certainly not going to kill me. But what does bother me is that both my mom and wife were upset with me over something so ridiculously insignificant.

This isn't about assessing blame. Quite the contrary. It's about figuring out what I could have done differently in order to avoid the situation in the future. I believe the proper course of action would have been to say, “Oops, sorry about that. Here, let me change the channel back” while at the same time keeping all hints of sarcasm and bitterness out of my voice.

It would be all to easy for me to just say, “Yeah, well if they hadn't jumped on me for changing the channel, I wouldn't have snapped back at them.” But really, what will that solve? Or, I could this, “If I had asked if anybody were watching the show before turning the channel, none of this would have happened.” Hey, that sounds better. Unfortunately, I'm more likely to have the former go through my head than the latter. Yeah, I know, I need to work on that.

Consider this post part of my “working on it”.

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  1. David on March 17, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    I think that you were not in any “wrong” doing – normally you may have done this same exact thing before on many occassions. This might be a situation for…Gender Man!

    You share the power in the house, being co-owner, co-parent, and general extrovert in a pair of “verts.” The power of a gender can multiply by 100 in a room with only 1 addition of a gender, because the balance is tilted toward favor of one gender. In this case, the matriarchal figure is “times 2,” taking 1/3 of your total gender clout away in your normal home experience.

    Also, your immense respect for your wife and for your mother (simultaneously) just shows your senses were prone to becoming over-wrought, in which case most average guys with immense respect would, without thinking twice, be a little abrasive as a response of the super-ego, in order to keep the pressure (of expectation and command) “off.”

    Perhaps the ladies were sharing a sacred bonding moment (without words or actions, just being) that was interrupted, no matter by you or a air-raid siren – they would have reacted the same to either.

    Normal ways of handling the stress of expectation go out the window when the power balance shift as dramatically as having your wife and your mother bonding in the same space you are trying to do your normal routine in.

    Let’s just hope you don’t get hooked on Season 9 of America’s Next Top Model.

    BTW, a great way to relieve the stress of expectations made by other people is to meditate and concentrate on recreating your inner being – while getting a massage! 🙂

  2. 4th Place on March 22, 2008 at 11:32 pm

    You're married so the first question when you want to change the channel for ANY reason is: "Is anyone watching this?". Just like if you want to switch the radio "Is anyone listening to this?". I know that this may sound sarcastic but it's not. You are no longer solo-man your actions almost always affect someone in your house and you are the one looked at for being the "Man". You ask first, solves all problems and isn't really that big of a change (we don't want to rebuild Rome here).