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Conflict Resolution Skills Holding at a Solid B+

parenting, storytelling

I was driving around town in the babe-mobile, listening to little girl chatter and taking small sips of my Wendy’s drive-thru Diet Coke, when a Honda Accord nearly barreled into the side of me. I hit the brakes and turned my steering wheel just in time.

The light had been green, but the other driver read it as a green arrow (I’m hypothesizing), so while I was cool to turn right, she was *not* cool to turn left. She was wrong; I was right. (I like typing that sentence.) She was shouting and gesturing and her face was turning red.

“Mommy. Why is she screaming?”

I’m ultra-sensitive. So sensitive that a friend casually said “I have no idea how you’ve survived the internet for so long” and I joked that I usually don’t. Confrontation turns my blood cold, so when I feel compelled to write about refugees or corruption in the Church or misogyny or racism, I hit publish and lie down on the floor and wait for it all to blow over.

But I never want to avoid confrontation so much that I end up throwing my kids under the bus. It’s something that I realized I had been prone to in the past (this daycare is fine, probably! — it wasn’t fine, but the amount of sweat my body produced over ending that contract is unparalleled) and something I realized I needed to work on in order to be the best kind of mom I can be — the kind that protects, the kind that gives, the kind that leads by example.

Whether it’s talking to a doctor and trusting my gut when one of my girls landed in the ER or firmly telling an obnoxious old man — not the sweet, endearing type, but the kind that loudly shares archaic opinions, like interracial marriage shouldn’t be a thing and women should only wear skirts — to stop hovering over my three-year-old and making angry faces at her.

These may seem like small things, but frankly, they’re the moments that have always sort of terrified me.

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It’s clear that at least one of my girls has inherited my sensitivity trait. We’re the ones crying together during movies, books, re-telling of stories. We’re the ones that feel bruised when others can shake it off. Being sensitive is a good thing, but also a tough thing, I’ve told her. We’re able to empathize easily, but sometimes big feelings are crippling.

I catch her eyes in the rearview mirror, and she’s obviously shaken by the woman screaming.

“Rem, she’s wrong. I’m not. She can scream all she wants, and honestly, if she were to get out of her car right now, I’d happily let her know that.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, babe. Sometimes you have to stand up for yourself. But … you know … this probably isn’t one of those times. We’re both moving along. In fact, I think she yelled because she’s embarrassed. This is one of those times where you channel your inner Elsa and let it go.”

::regrettable song interlude::

A few nights ago my online bank was giving me a hard time with my account. After a twenty minute phone call, their fix for my situation was for me to mail in every check I receive. No other solution. We’re very sorry, ma’am. Our systems won’t let us override this.

I ask to speak to a supervisor. I push a little more than I would have three years ago.

“You’re an online bank; the entire appeal is the ability to do everything via website and app. The fact that you’re asking me to mail and fax documentation feels archaic and eliminates all of the benefits of even banking with you. At this point, I might as well be standing in front of the blue-haired woman at my local brick & mortar.”

Within ten minutes, everything was settled, and I walk into the kitchen with both arms in the air.

“FIXED! Everything deposited! FAX something in, can you believe it?” I’m humming and dropping it low in the kitchen in victory while the girls eat their dinner at the table and my husband is leaning against the counter, unfazed.

“I heard you talking, Mommy. Were you in an argument?”

“Not an argument, exactly, Rem. Maybe a dispute. It was important to have and it got resolved in the end. Because sometimes you have to let things go but sometimes you have to what?” I quiz her.

“Stand up for yourself.”

“Say it louder for the folks in the back.”

“Stand up for yourself!” She breaks into a grin. I do, too. Sometimes the learning and the teaching happen concurrently. Parenting, you wild, unpredictable beast; the things you do to me.

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19 Comments

  • Reply Em March 23, 2016 at 9:24 pm

    As usual, killing the parenting game.
    (adopt me.)

    • Reply Roo March 24, 2016 at 9:58 am

      You can live in my creepy basement.

  • Reply Tiffany March 23, 2016 at 9:28 pm

    High five–I’m so proud of you! Can you teach me more of that?

    • Reply Roo March 24, 2016 at 9:59 am

      I need to teach me more of that! ????

  • Reply Leah March 23, 2016 at 9:35 pm

    As someone who doesn’t mind confrontation if the situation calls for it – but pay close attention to how red my ears are….because like a tiny pair of red danger buttons, the redder, the more dangerous. But recently, I’ve been endeavoring to be more zen and less “grrrr!” when I encounter stupid and/or hostile because my daughter has reached an age where she is parroting back things she’s heard from me and my husband. For example –

    Me – Grrr! Stupid bank! Grrr! (With way more descriptive language as to their incompetence)
    Hubby – Don’t worry, they’re regretting their life choices that led them to answer your call
    Me – Grrr……….don’t be cute right now it annoys me.
    Kid – does Daddy regret his life choices now too, Mommy?

    And scene!

    • Reply Roo March 24, 2016 at 10:00 am

      I have a dope forehead vein that I wish would get more visible when angry. Instead it shows up when I’m in the middle of having my photo taken.

  • Reply Lindsey March 23, 2016 at 11:50 pm

    I love you

  • Reply jen p March 24, 2016 at 12:54 am

    great job.i am one of your people,very sensitive.its not easy alot of the time.im still very sensitive,but as i have gotten older i am more able to stand up for myself and not care so much what everyone else thinks.

  • Reply Anna Gonzalez March 24, 2016 at 7:09 am

    Preach, sista! I also have the sensitivity gene. It’s the one that causes me to sometimes shed a few tears in my office (closed door!) after having to call somone out, as well as, be completely incapable of making it through watching “inside out” without destroying a box of tissues

  • Reply Niki March 24, 2016 at 8:45 am

    I’m not very sensitive. Most everything rolls off my back, BUT… con.fron.tation. I was empathizing with you and your daughter while reading this whole post. You did SUCH a good job in both of those situations. As a fellow loather of confrontation, I applaud you! And you are being such a great example for your daughter :) Awesome! And thank you!

  • Reply MissCaron March 24, 2016 at 9:24 am

    EXCELLENT!

  • Reply Courtney W March 24, 2016 at 9:33 am

    I am totally non-confrontational as well, but I let loose on accustomed service rep the other day. I had ordered this MAGIC face cream for the low, low price of $7.99 (suckered, I know.) Within two weeks, I was charged an additional $190.00. The website boasted a 60-day money back guarantee, so I called. The customer service rep flat-out refused to refund my money. I talked to the manager–no dice. Finally, I through out the lawyer threat. I don’t even have a lawyer, but it works. Sometimes, you gotta up your A game.

  • Reply Meg @ Meg Acts Out March 24, 2016 at 3:43 pm

    I. Am. You. Only, I need to grow a bigger pair, because I clearly am earning maaaaaybe a C- at best. The kids deserve it. Thanks for the reminder!

  • Reply KNatGU March 24, 2016 at 3:51 pm

    We have a saying at work that is “if you never ask the answer is always no, so just ask” it is so true. What is the risk in just asking for more from your bank? Nada

  • Reply Casey March 25, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    I so relate to this!! Going to try to emulate you more–including celebrating those victories if I actually get up the courage to push a little more. :)

  • Reply Laura March 26, 2016 at 9:41 pm

    I love you and this. :)

  • Reply Amelinda Hendrickx March 28, 2016 at 12:37 pm

    This is awesome :-D

  • Reply Katie April 25, 2016 at 6:55 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I’ve been coming back to it over & over again to encourage myself over the past couple few weeks. You couldn’t have been more timely in your posting. I’ve been feeling that “lie on the floor and wait for it all to blow over” desire the past month, but your post has given me the boost I need to stay true to what’s right & best and stand up for myself and my team. Thank you.

  • Reply Shannon April 28, 2016 at 9:45 pm

    Roo, you are awesome! I love that Brene Brown said, “don’t shrink back, don’t puff up…just stand your sacred ground”. I freaking love that! It seems like many times when something happens on the fly, I wish I would have stood my ground better. When I practice I do great! Lol. When I think of things related to motherhood and having to stand my ground, I get some strong growly mother bear force that whirls up in me. It feels really good and strong. I can’t even tell you a time when I have used it but I have thought about using it. Lol. And sometimes when I run alone (and this is not funny to some I realize) but, I think….what if there was attacker coming after me….I live in a rather rural place with reeeeally low crime so it’s not like it’s impossible….but still……sorta unlikely. But I imagine myself just kicking ass and using my sons karate throat disabler move…..and then I am sortof like fist pumping and breathing heavy and feel all powerful. It’s super weird that I do that. I think running and doing some weight training has made me feel a little more fierce-ish! Sorry about my grammar, Roo.

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