How far does the apple really fall from the tree? Because I’m really worried that the tree that produced me is only about 2 feet off the ground.
It’s funny how I can spend time with my parents, siblings, grandparents, and assorted aunts/uncles/cousins… and then realize how nuts we all are. But when you get right down to it, everyone’s family is a little nuts. Seriously, can you think of any of your relatives as 100% normal ALL THE TIME?
Here’s what scares me: I see patterns that are carried from generation to generation in my family. And I don’t like most of those patterns.
Pattern 1: Short fuses
On one side of my family, there are some really short tempers. I mean, SHOOOORRRTTT! When I was a baby, my grandfather put me into my stroller and was about to take me for a walk. As he placed me in the seat, the stroller started to collapse, and it pinched me. Instead of grabbing me out of the seat and calmly consoling me, he picked me up and then hurled the stroller across the street. I’m also pretty certain this was the occasion where I learned to say my first swear words.
My temper is getting the better of me lately. I spent most of yesterday angry, upset, and frustrated… over pretty minor things, too. The rational side of me just gets disgusted with all of it, but it’s like I just can’t get past the anger. It’s pathetic really… and I don’t want to pass this on to my kids. I already see a lot of it in my oldest. Gah.
Pattern 2: An insatiable need to be RIGHT
That Spin Doctors song—“Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong”-- I always worry that someone wrote that song about me. Here’s the thing, though. I don’t want to be right so that I can say I’m better than everyone else. I just have to know things. And anyone who doesn’t know what I know… I want to share what I know. Unfortunately, that makes for an insufferable bore (and boor!). And that’s the last thing I want to become.
I notice this trait in some of my family members, and then I wonder, “Do I sound like that?” ACK! Which leads to the next pattern…
Pattern 3: Seeing faults in others, but failing to recognize those very things in one’s own self
Okay, I know that this is often just attributed to the “human condition.” It’s always easier to see someone else’s flaws, but not always easy to see your own. But I admit I’m guilty of this a lot. One of my parents is worse than I am. And the grandparent generation? Hoo, boy. Let’s not even go there.
Pattern 4: Overcompensating for insecurities
Out of all the patterns, I think I deal with this one better than most of my family. At least, I think I do. I know my strengths. I know my weaknesses, and I truly attempt to build upon my strengths. Some of my family members come off as complete assholes, because they try to make such good impressions. Instead, people see them as full of themselves. And sometimes, listening to them go on and on and on about what they’re doing and how it’s the greatest thing in the world and nothing on the planet could possibly be better than this… you get the picture. The hard part is that they really don’t have over-inflated egos. They only think they’re hiding behind some armor that is shiny, strong, and makes people go, “WOW.” Again, maybe I’m wearing it, too, but I just can’t see it due to Pattern 3.
The older I get, the more annoyed I get with some of the older family members...because those patterns never go away, and they don’t seem to ease with age. In fact, they just get a lot worse. In trying to be patient with them, that short fuse takes over. Sometimes, it's easier to stay annoyed than to try to understand where people are coming from... and how to help them past whatever issue is causing them to be annoying. But that's not really the high road, nor the right thing to do... is it?
I joke that I’m a Grumpy Frump, but I really don’t want to be that when I grow up. I want to be a nice old lady with a sweet laugh and good memories to share with the grandkids. Oh, and I want a pony, too. :-)