Yes. That was me.
I was the kid who rigged eeny-meeny-miney-moe.
If I knew we were about to do it, I would recite the little rhyme in my head, mentally jumping from person to person to figure out where the last word would land…then I would strategically place myself in the optimum position based on my objectives. And when I “won,” I would act surprised.
Maybe all kids act like that. I don’t know. All I know is that I’ve always looked out for number 1, first and foremost. From the beginning, if there was a way for me to win, “come out on top” or get my way, I’d do pretty much everything in my power to make that happen.
It never really occurred to me to think of you.
It never crossed my mind that perhaps I should yield a bit for the benefit of others, even sometimes.
I figured “well, if I’m able to get what I want, why not do it? If you really wanted what you want, you’d try harder.”
I was not mean. In fact, I used to give all my toys away to my friends. I was deeply sensitive and loved hard. It’s just that I thought I knew the best way to do everything. Always. And I never questioned myself. I had a terminal case of Captain Justice syndrome – I knew the right, fair, smartest way to do it, damnit, and IT MUST BE DONE THE RIGHT WAY.
The consequence? I was bossy. Really, really bossy. Not a bully physically, but a verbal bully. I was a yeller. I was a shithead. I simply had to have my way.
This behavior pretty much continued until, well, I’d rather not talk about it. But I’ll give you a hint: I was over 29 and under 31. Yeah. I’m a slow learner.
As a result, I never had too many friends growing up. I had my one best friend in the whole wide world, Claire, who I met in 2nd grade and have loved like a sister ever since. We also moved a lot, which made longstanding relationships difficult. But mainly it was my personality. I probably wouldn’t have liked me either.
And the other day my little Ava was talking about her new school and she said something like “This is the year I’m going to make some real, close friends. This is the year when I’m going to get a BEST friend like you and Claire.”
And I realized the child is just.like.her.mother.
She’s bossy. She wants her way. She gets pissed when others don’t comply and just can’t figure out why they won’t just do it her way because her way is obviously the smartest and the best and the brightest and the quickest. Isn’t it clear to you people? This is the ONLY WAY. It’s right damnit. Justice must be done!!
Unlike The Seal Incident, which rendered me speechless, I feel semi-confident in my ability to give a little guidance on this particular situation, since I lived the exact same thing and have learned some very tough lessons in the department of extreme self-centeredness.
So I suggest she take it easy on others – that even if she sees her solution as the only plausible one, perhaps she use her friend’s idea just for the hell of it, to give her some room, some respect. Some space to just be.
And maybe her way is indeed the right way and the smartest, but does it really matter?
In 20 years are you going to care what happens right now on the playground? Is the friendship more important than who gets to be the queen or the princess?
I tell her that just because she has a stronger personality than the other kids, just because she’s outgoing and quick and super confident, that doesn’t mean she has to USE her power ALL THE TIME, just because she can.
Maybe she can CHILL sometimes, let the other girl win.
I wish I could just implant in her what took me 30 years to learn…that I am not the center of the entire fucking universe…that my identity is not wrapped up in the outcome of every single situation that comes my way…that it ain’t all my problem and it ain’t all my concern…and that most of the time (and this is a big one folks), when I think I am dead-on, 100% totally and completely RIGHT, I’m 100% dead-on totally and completely wrong.
I want to teach her that there’s freedom in forgiving. In letting shit slide. In letting something else or somebody else or even nothing at all handle some of the big shit. Captain Justice can take a nap.
What a tough gig, huh? Trying to protect another human from themselves. Trying to shield another from walking down the EXACT SAME ROAD that nearly killed you. Trying to help her be somebody, anybody other than me.
Or perhaps I should just forgive. Myself. For being me.
And her. For being me.
Chill. Let it slide. Let us both just be.
Cause I’ve never really been equipped to handle the big shit anyway.