Saturday, May 24, 2014

Constructive Criticism

Why does one (very thoughtfully worded and said with the utmost respect) negative comment hold so much power? It wasn't even a negative comment. It was simply a truth that had to be spoken. Because we are not mind readers. Sometimes you really and truly have to say things out loud in order to be heard.

The comment was said in such an apologetic fashion that I should not have taken offence to it. But I did. I could feel my defence mechanisms kicking into high gear and my conscious mind knew that there was no reason to feel this way.

But it was the truth. That is the long and short of it. When someone tells me something that I already know and already feel guilty about, it stings.

I set high standards for myself. I am nowhere near the person that I aspire to be. I keep reaching but I never quite get there.

The inner dialogue that runs through my mind is so critical. I would never speak to another living soul the way that I speak to myself.

"That was good ... but this could be better"
"You should be more, do more and put yourself out there more"
"You should listen more, talk less"
"Focus! One thing at a time!!"
"Why can't you just finish what you started?!"
"You are lazy and unmotivated"
"You should be a better mom, babysitter, writer, friend, sister, daughter, friend....."
"You can't cook You don't even want to cook! What is wrong with you?"
"You should eat better, move more, sleep less, read more ..."
... and the list goes on and on and on.

Add this list to the expectations that I have within my Daycare Provider role and I am a bit of a time bomb, waiting to go off, if anyone says anything about the way that I do things.

Tending little people all day is a little bit tedious at times. So I do what is within my power to shake things up. Not only for the kids ... but (here is the selfish part) for ME.

We spent the better part of six months sequestered to the house and yard. So when spring finally arrived and the snow melted it opened up a whole new realm of possibilities. We have been going on little adventures whenever the opportunity arises.

A great part of these mini-adventures require my little 2-1/2 year old to be a willing participant and walk wherever the sidewalk takes us. So I have offered the reward of lunch at McDonald's to make it worth her while. And it has worked like a charm.

This was all good and fine when the McDonald outings were few and far between (we have done many things that have not resulted in a McDonald's treat at the end). But in the past two weeks, we have been able to go twice.

I must admit (and I am quite certain that this is where my guilt is rooted) that McDonald's is the biggest treat for ME. I don't have to come up with a menu. I don't have to cook or clean up. And I get to order what I want to eat! It is my way of giving myself a break.

Our daycare world has been shaken up just a little bit with the addition of a family that were pretty energetic and challenging to manage. And though that family has come and gone, we are now 'adopting' an new little 2-1/2 year old into our family. Our out-of-the-neighborhood outings may become a little bit more obsolete as life gets busier with our larger daycare family.

So yes, I did take the kids to McDonald's twice in two weeks.

And one of my parents (very carefully and with great remorse as she said the words) told me that they just don't approve of the McDonald's adventures. Once every few months? They could live with. But with an entire summer looming in our future and not knowing what my agenda may be for the months ahead ... she just had to say something.

I was utterly deflated.

McDonald's is the 'pot of gold' within the middle of a long daycare day sometimes. It is my gift to ME for doing 'good' and creating a diversity within the sameness of our days.

I told her that I appreciated her telling me. I would much rather her say something, than to quietly seethe and stew over it. Biting one's tongue seems to highlight all other areas of discontentment, so it is better to deal with one small thing at a time than to come back at me with a whole litany of complaints. This was the adult and right thing to do.

But it still stung.

Perhaps it is because it came at the tail end of our first +30 degree day. Despite all efforts to keep the kids in the shade and properly hydrated, I could tell that she was concerned about taking home an overheated child yesterday.

This is probably the deeper bone of contention.

Summer has not yet begun and already I am starting to feel new restraints being placed upon me. Absolutely nothing that I have not yet experienced and dealt with. Heat. Creating mini-adventures (that may or may not include a take-out meal) and new diversions to break up our weeks and months and help us to appreciate the simplicity of simply 'being home'.

My cabin fever is extending out of the winter season. This wasn't on my agenda. It isn't comfortable. And it all started by one person telling me a truth that I already knew.

The truth hurts. I recognize this. I acknowledge that it is my guilt that is playing havoc with my coping mechanisms. My personal motto is "Constructive criticism is welcome here". And it is the truth. It is welcome but it is a hard guest to entertain...

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