It was frustrating!
Kneeling down to match her level, my eyes narrowed to mirror her scowl.
At 18 months old, she knows exactly what I was asking. Yet, she stands there.
My voice deepens as I reach for my official dad voice to project seriousness. I give up on starting with “please” as I try for the fifth time.
No back talk. No crying. No tantrum. And for damn sure, no sitting down.
Escalating beyond a verbal confrontation, I grab her by the shoulders and swing sideways a bit to get her chubby little legs out front. Now airborne in the seated position, I plop her down right before the tractor jostles to signal the beginning of the hayride.
That’s when it happened. A moment of clarity that can only be brought on by a whiff of actual shit.
I realized the smell wasn’t from the farm animals, it was from her diaper.
Her insubordination wasn’t a display of trivial defiance. She didn’t want to sit down because she had a fat, saggy load in her pants and didn’t know how to explain her plight.
Focused on my perception of her rebellion and concern for her safety, I didn’t consider that she might have a legitimate reason to not want to sit down.
Kicking up dust, the tractor encircled the barn while I pointed out the pigs and sheep. I was sitting on the hay bales, but my mind was now somewhere else.
How many times have I been frustrated with someone’s decisions without trying to understand where they’re coming from?
To help and understand people, you have to put yourself in their shitty diaper. The ol’ shoe-on-the-other-foot cliché.
If they are acting in a way you think is nonsensical, ask yourself (or ask them) — what is their motivation to act that way?
Once you know the why behind their actions, adjust your approach and save both parties the frustration caused by the gap in understanding.
Your homework this week: Pay attention to how you perceive others actions. When someone acts in a way that you find odd, think about what is going on in their life that may be a contributing factor. Then, adjust your approach.
People want to be liked, and thus want to be agreeable. If someone is being difficult, maybe they’re hungry, tired, going through a divorce, or carrying a warm load of shit that’s smeared between their cheeks.