I am always amazed at how easily I can get ticked off. I think of myself as a normally level-headed individual with a great deal of common sense and rational thinking. I pride myself on my ability to keep an open mind (and ear) when someone has an opposing point of view. I try to make sure I entertain all possibilities and not close my eyes to something I hadn't previously thought of. And I do whatever I can to remind myself to give other people the benefit of the doubt.
But, sometimes there are those insidious moments when it is all I can do not to fly off the handle and explode. Sometimes it is at the driver in front of me who is going 30 mph in a 45 mph zone, ultimately making me late to my dentist appointment. Sometimes it is at the committee of volunteers helping me at an event, but who are really just interested in bossing people around. Sometimes it is at the drugstore cashier who doesn't seem to understand why I gave her $20.01 when the total charge is $7.26.
Thesedays, it is often at my four-and-a-half-year-old daughter who has suddenly decided that she is old enough to do everything for and by herself. And if she can't, she whines and argues with me. This is the hardest situation for me to hold it together. How do I rationally explain why she can't wash her hair in the shower on her own yet? Or why she can't climb on a chair with an uneven leg to reach the milk on the top shelf of the side-by-side refrigerator? Or why it's not a great idea to try on 16 different shirts less than 10 minutes before we have to leave for school? Or why we need to go home at 5 pm after being out of the house since 8:55 in the morning?
Now, don't get me wrong -- she is usually a really good kid. She says "please" and "thank you" on a more-often-than-not basis. She gets into her PJ's and brushes her teeth in a somewhat reasonable amount of time at night. And she is pretty easily bribe-able when it comes to eating green vegetables at dinner. So what is it that ticks me off? Maybe it's the fourteen-year-old attitude that comes out of her four-year-old mouth every so often. Or maybe it's the way she tries to play me against Daddy. Or maybe it's just the fact that she is growing up and I don't feel like I have a handle on it yet.
No matter why it happens, I can always feel it coming on. It's as if my brain involuntarily signals my eyebrows to furrow, my blood pressure to go up, and my voice to get louder. I try to squash the feeling before it comes out, but every so often, I miss the window of opportunity. Moments later, after I have exploded and am now huffing my way back down the hall, I hear my daughter behind me say, "Mommy, can we still read a book tonight?" A book? Does she deserve a book after that attitude she just gave me? Does she even know what an "attitude" is??? She's four!!! I have to keep reminding myself that there is very little in this world that is rational, logical or reasonable when you are four. Maybe I should try to apply that to other groups of people, like slow drivers or under-paid drugstore clerks.