My Dad is a slob. He can’t eat anything without dropping crumbs in his entire radius. It’s a wonder any food makes it into his mouth.
So furniture - like our brand new couch - doesn’t stand a chance.
Before my parents’ arrival this week, Sam and I discussed it. It was my responsibility to tell both my parents - no eating in the living room.
Instead of bringing it up as a house rule from the beginning, I waited until I saw my Dad migrate to the kitchen and grab a handful of barbecue chips so big there was zero chance of him not dropping some on the floor. He meandered over to the living room, getting closer to the couch.
I pointed at him. “Don’t even think about it.”
He laughed. I said, “I’m not kidding.” So he stopped in his tracks and ate the chips in the kitchen.
The next morning Mom and Dad were sitting on the couch. Mom had a paper towel with a bagel and cream cheese on it. I felt myself getting angry. But instead of asking her to go in the kitchen, I said, “Don’t get any bagel on that couch!”
She said she wouldn’t. I continued past the couch and noticed Dad also with a bagel in his hand. Now I was pissed. “Dad! Don’t you dare get bagel on that couch.”
I said, “I’m serious! I’d prefer you guys not eat on the couch at all.” And then I stormed into the bedroom.
This is where I stewed and fumed and decided my parents were disrespectful and rude.
But then I checked in with myself. What was I so mad about?
I realized I was more angry with myself than with them. I didn’t make it crystal clear that no food should be eaten in the living room. I wasn’t explicit about the house rule. And then I yelled at them.
I felt the familiar dread when I don’t want to have a hard conversation. But because I wrote about hard conversations last week, I had the awareness to recognize the dread and immediately wanted to have the conversation as soon as possible.
I walked back into the living room and sat down in a chair opposite them.
“I’m sorry I got so mad about the food on the couch.”
They said it was okay. I went on. “I thought I made it clear but maybe you thought I was joking. And I know that’s what you're used to doing at home, but it is a rule for us here. We only eat food in the kitchen.”
They both smiled and were pleasant and said okay.
And while it was a little uncomfortable for me to address something head on, and while I had a little anxiety as I sat down across from them, I felt relieved more than anything else when I finished.
It was a small thing. But when small things aren’t addressed they can fester and turn into big things.
I’m getting better at these hard conversations.
This week’s essay was inspired by a tweet:
It made me laugh. I agreed with Stew. But I disagreed with this response:
Note-taking and reading DO go in hand in hand. Maybe there’s too much of a heightened focus on systemization, but systemization doesn’t take the magic out of creating. Systemization is what makes creating magical.
I started meditating again last week after a very long hiatus.
After four days Sam told me I need to keep meditating. Apparently I was very patient with him when he was freaking out about something.
I didn’t even notice. That’s the thing about meditating. Sometimes you don’t notice the changes. But other people do.
I’m still not sure if it was the meditating or if I was just in a good mood, but I’ll keep meditating.
Until next week,