Monday, February 23, 2009

What would Lincoln do?

On the third of three weekends spent by myself with the kids while Hub worked, I sloshed around this past Sunday with the kids in the Y pool. After a solid hour of making the pool circuit, wherein I held T up front and Dee hung from my shoulders while we scooted around the big mushroom that rains chlorine and avoided the perpetually dumping buckets a few feet over, I finally called it good and we made efforts to get out.

While drying off T, the 18 month old, I had the bright idea to remove his swim shirt and shorts before putting on his baby beach robe, in hopes of warding off hypothermia. Dee took this action as a cue to strip, and promptly had her suit off and was back in the water - naked as a jay bird - before I had opportunity to maneuver the terry cloth over T's little bird arms.

In that same moment, the teenage lifeguard swept over to advise me that disrobing was not allowed "on deck," and that (slimy, open toilet) family changing rooms were available for that purpose. While gripping Dee's arm, my first reaction was not the professional, accommodating, "thank you, it won't happen again," that I aspire to fall upon with Obama-like regularity. Instead, I was instantly defensive, and exclaimed (at least three times), "BUT, he's still wearing his swim diaper...."

Of course T's fig leaf did nothing to assuage Dee's nakedness and our obvious violation of what must be Rule No. 427 of the Y's pool rules. The disappointed lifeguard seized on this weakness in logic, causing me to end the conversation with more defensiveness. Something like, "well, that wasn't intended," and then, finally, "okay."

Wow, I'm smooth. For once in my life, I'd like to avoid turning conversations that do not involve praise for me into something negative, even argumentative. I get that the lawyerly thing courses through my veins, but must I always explain myself? I figured by my mid thirties, humility and the "Serenity Now" principles could help me to keep my mouth shut.

You know, to take the high road, like Abraham Lincoln. While listening to an interview with a Lincoln historian during the "Lincoln's 200!" birthday festivities, I learned that in his day, President Lincoln was often the butt of jokes. Lincoln shook these off with aplomb, however, because he had such a strong sense of self worth. Perhaps that's my problem, then. Self-esteem issues and aggressiveness. No wonder I'm grinding. (:


Jen said...

I take it to a new level by going on the offensive. I yelled at a man from ACROSS the street to put his damn dogs on a leash because one of them was in the middle of said street (and was nearly hit by a car). He said the dogs weren't his. Later, as I returned to my car after dropping my own (leashed) dog at the groomer, I apologized to this man for yelling at him since the dogs weren't his. His reply? "Oh, they're my dogs. I'm training them to be off-leash."
My reply? "And a fine f-ing job you are doing, sir."

I like to think of this, along with your defensive posture, as a little thing called righteous indignation.

anymommy said...

Grace under pressure is way overrated. Besides, you have the automatic three weekends alone with the kids pass.

heytheredearheart said...

Ahh, Jen. This is why we love you. Saving dogs from their owners!!!

Stacey - Thanks for the validation!