Oct 1, 2010

Like Eeyore, Like Son

I had a nickname for a long time.  I didn't like it.  Eeyore.  That's right the mopey donkey from Winnie the Pooh.  Everything was always negative with him.  He always saw the dark side of life.  And that was what people called me.

I'm not oblivious to the fact that I am a melancholy person.  I have taken enough personality tests to know this by now.  I've taken just about every variation of Myers-Briggs known to man.  One of them called me an owl.  Another one said the Bible character I was most like was Moses - a good leader with an angry streak that burned him.  I am aware of this.  I once had a youth pastor tell me that I was the most negative person he knew.  (Doubtful)  In ninth grade, my mom used to get upset at me when she had to watch me mope and walk across the school lawn to come to the car.  I've fought this forever.

I make excuses.  "It's just the way my mouth is."  This is true, my face is not built in a natural smile.  If I let all my facial muscles go, my mouth turns down at the edges - just like my mom's does.  But, that isn't the real reason.  "I'm not overly critical, I'm overly analytical."  Again, a true statement.  But there is a difference and I am not dumb enough to realize it.

I have tried hard to change my outlook - to be more joyful.  And, largely, I have been successful.  (For those of you snickering, just imagine how bad I USED to be.)  But I still wildly vary between being TOO joyful (singing dumb songs and irritating the kids) and being TOO grumpy (scowling and irritating the kids).  I know that I influence others with my behavior, and that it is a bad example.  I guess I never knew how bad...

This morning, we had to change our schedule.  Gabe is starting preschool three days a week.  So we all have to get up earlier so I can drop him off before the big kids.  We went through our routine and got to the preschool with no problems.  Gabe went right in his class, we went back to the car.  Everything was running well.  I would drop them off, go home and shower, get some work done, pick Gabe up, head over to FSU to find out where we will be assigned for years three and four of Heather's schooling.  No biggie.  But then the car wouldn't start in the preschool parking lot.

I have had my share of bad batteries and such.  This sounded different.  Honestly, it sounded like the starter motor was gone.  I had been having trouble with the car starting for a couple days.  Everything I read on The Google while sitting there led me to believe it was the starter.  I waved off a couple of parents who wanted to help jump the car - knowing it was the starter.  So I called my friend, Greg, and waited for him to get there.

Josiah sat in the back and started griping.  He was complaining about how long we would have to sit there.  About being late to school.  About being stuck there forever.  He said today was worse than yesterday, which yesterday he told me was the worst day ever.  [Kids were naughty at school, he couldn't get a smoothie at Boston Market, they messed up his sandwiches, he thought he was going to be able to do something special on Saturday which then looked doubtful.  Worst day ever.]  It was non stop.  I tried to talk to him, and then I realized.  He sounded just like me.  It was like a recording of how I handle situations.

It turns out it was the battery.  It was under warranty at Sears and cost me $1.62 to replace.  I got home in time to get ready to get to FSU.  The kids only were 40 minutes late.  And even last night, Boston Market gave us half our meal free because of the error.  Things worked out.  But he couldn't see it because of all the negativity.  I feel bad for him.  I hated living like that.  And it makes me ill that I have trained my boy to respond to life that way.

Last night I sat with him and tried to teach him about perspective.  Things have been worst (when grandpa died, when we were sick).  Things are worse for other people (earthquakes in Haiti, flooding in Pakistan).  Things are not that bad and usually get fixed quickly.  It is a tough lesson, and obviously he didn't learn it overnight.  It is very apparent that I have some work to do - both with him and myself.  They mimic me.  My initial negative response trains them to think that way.

I guess it is time to retire Eeyore for good.  He can go die with Darth Fatso.  I don't want an Eeyore Jr.  Not even Eeyore wants to be that way.

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