Yesterday, I asked the Big Girl to bring some dishes into the kitchen. She hopped to it without protest, but on her way back, dropped a mug full of black coffee which splattered on the carpet, wall, and wooden floor.
I smugly congratulated myself for holding my temper. In a tight but calm voice, I told her and the Big Man to get towels, and they both helped clean up. But did I leave it at that? Nope. I couldn’t resist some kind of remonstrance.
“The lesson is that you shouldn’t load yourself up too much,” I instructed. “It’s better to make two trips and not risk dropping something. It just makes more work, in the end.”
“Don’t blame me!” she wailed. “You always say it’s my fault.”
Of course I’d said nothing like that, and I don’t always say things are her fault. But she was right that I was feeling annoyed. We all had to leave, just then, so we didn’t continue the conversation. But after we left, I had to go back for my sunglasses, and I had a minute to think about the incident from her perspective.
She was asked to do a pesky, if appropriate, chore, and she did it willingly. Just as she was about to finish, something went wrong. I know that feeling so well—the disappointment and frustration that comes when a good deed is thwarted.
How do I rate my reaction? I didn’t get angry—good. I didn’t praise her willingness—optional, but would have been nice. I didn’t say in a jovial way, “Accidents happen! Quick, everyone grab towels, and let’s mop up”—which would have been a much pleasanter response, happier both for them and for me.
The Happiness Project may have me over-thinking my every move, but I do believe it’s slowly making a difference. Last year, I think I would have found some way to yell. Next year, maybe I’ll be able to handle something like that with sincere good cheer.