Yesterday, both kids had a well-baby exam at the local pediatric center. As our luck would have it ( though I try to avoid him like the plague), we once again got stuck with Dr. Smartass (DS).
I usually feel like crying after meeting with DS due to his incessant criticism of my parenting skills and crudely-worded assessments of my children (“I wouldn’t say he’s grossly abnormal.”) This time, however, he actually offered some sage advice that seems worth sharing.
At the end of the visit, DS bent down to offer Blake a sticker for being “good” (-ish) during the exam. When Blake (who is actually super shy around people he doesn’t know) didn’t immediately take it, DS stood up and coolly tossed it into the garbage. I stood, wide-eyed, and gasped. It seemed harsh not to give Blake a few seconds to warm up to his offer. Didn’t he understand that my son is shy and might need a little coaxing? Seeing my response, he said simply:
“I don’t beg.”
I immediately felt a tremendous weight lift off my shoulders, realizing how much of my own life is built around begging. I swear at least half of my to-do list each day consists of reminding people to do things they should have already done anyway on their own.
“Please eat this. Please? Do you want a time out? On the count of three, if you don’t eat this… Please?”
“Please get back to me. Please? I really need an answer … I’m going to keep calling you … Please?
“Please pay my invoice on time. Please? I really need to pay my bills. Do you need me to send another reminder? Please?”
“Please answer your phone. I really need to talk to you. I guess I’ll call back later. Please?
“Please be my brother. I think you’re so awesome. Please don’t stop talking to me again. Please?”
If nothing else, I’m very polite. But I’m also very Pisces. And it’s nearly impossible for me to let something go. I need closure. I need an ending. I need completion. I need to know you aren’t mad at me. I need to know I’ll hear from you again. I need to know – like really know – that you love me. I hate leaving things open-ended. I am literally the queen of follow-up. I spend much of my life begging … and begging … for answers that will probably never come. For people to remember that I’m alive.
I guess I’m getting to a point when I’m burning out on pushing people to do things they clearly have no interest in doing. Imagine the freedom in saying simply, “Fuck it.” If you don’t want to wear shoes, don’t wear shoes. You’ll learn that stepping on rocks isn’t fun. If you don’t want to go to bed, don’t. You’ll learn that staying up all night makes you tired. If you don’t want to keep in touch, don’t. I have other things in my life that need to take priority.
There are a few pieces of advice I’ve gotten from people over the years that I’ll never forget – ever – and this is going to be one of them. I’m not saying I’ll always be able to live by it. But it definitely seems like it’s worth giving it a try. Or not. I won’t beg you