Perfect … Not.

1 Sep

I read gossip magazines while waiting in line at the grocery store. I let annoying relatives and friends get under my skin.

I eat the candy out of the basket at work moments after vowing not to touch it.

I’ve become a bit possessed with the Scrabble game on my husband’s iPod. Several times, while cooking dinner, the rice bubbled over the edge and into the burner while I mulled over possibilities for a five-letter word that had the letter “Z” situated over the triple letter block.

I avoid sleeveless shirts because my arms look like Samantha Stosur’s. Sadly, they don’t work like Stosur’s on the tennis court.

I misspelled a word in a cover letter recently. What’s worse, the word was in a sentence where I bragged about my proofreading prowess.

I could go on about my imperfections, but then I’d have to add something about obsessing over my flaws and being too judgmental. If I sound self-critical, don’t worry. According to a stranger I encountered recently, I’m way too lax, at least when it comes to imaginative ways to redirect my child.

A week ago, while waiting to board a plane, I took a step forward only to discover my son was a few feet behind me, immersed in a video game. I reached over, tapped him on the shoulder and said sotto voce, “Could you put your iPod away so you can pay better attention? I don’t want us to get separated.”

The woman in front of me turned around, gave me a slight knowing smirk, and launched into a story about how she and her husband NEVER had to remind their son to pay attention in airports because they had him read the boarding passes, determine the gate for their plane and ensure that the family boarded their flight on time when he was even younger than my son.

“This year he traveled by himself and he had no problems,” she said with a pleased sigh before turning back around.

I stared at the woman for a bit, quelling the urge to say in my best Church Lady voice, “Well, isn’t that special?” or “Blow Me” or something equally pithy. After years of enduring unsolicited advice from relatives, friends and strangers, I learned it is best to stay calm and move away quickly. Like rabid animals and people with mental illness, dispersers of unsolicited advice (DoUA) are not particularly rational. DoUAs believe their wisdom must be heard, even if no one asks for it. DoUAs chalk up advisees’ mumbled replies and hasty retreats to their astonishment of their informed insight.

On the plane, I told my husband about the woman. “But our son already reads the boarding pass, looks for the gate and starts waiting at the gate when they announce boarding,” said my husband. “Did you tell her that?”

How could I? She turned around as soon as she was finished talking. She did not want to exchange ideas, reconsider opinions or acknowledge another person’s expertise. Besides, neither my husband nor I can be credited with my son’s ability to navigate successful around airports. My son simply read the boarding pass over our shoulders, took the initiative to check the departure boards, and listened attentively to announcements. All my husband and I did was stand back, allow him to find his own way, and utter a quick word of gratitude for his initiative.

In short, we let our son be himself. In turn, he’s taught me to let others be themselves too. While a DoUA like that woman sometimes has wise things to say, it goes unnoticed because the DoUA’s audience is too busy silently calling the DoUA a know-it-all busybody. So, if you really want to know my opinion, you have to ask.


One Response to “Perfect … Not.”

  1. Veronica Ohara September 2, 2012 at 10:55 pm #

    Well I woulda popped that wahine one time in the kisser and thanked her for sharing – of course I would have been fast enough before she turned around to cut off any further communication – dumbell press works well for this! Wow you are so patient with idiots and after all these years. I think I have to phone somebody now!!!! How are you Martha?
    It’s Roni in Tokyo!!!

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