Isn't it strange how we can be so very patient with our friends but extremely short-fused with those closest to us, in particular, our other half? I'm now under close scrutiny by Brian not to quarrel with Eddie at the slightest trigger.
The other night, Brian, Eddie and I had headed to a mall so I could log on to the internet. Now Eddie likes to shop AND window-shop, I don't. Therein lies the problem. I'm perfectly happy to wait for him while he browses IF I had a place to sit and surf. Unfortunately, on the last day of 2009, internet was down at the entire mall. I enquired at 3 different restaurants and they all said there was free wifi, unfortunately, it was 'rosak' (spoilt).
So Brian and I sat at a fast-food restaurant and waited for Eddie while he shopped at Guardian. After what to me was a long time, he came to us and said he wanted to buy ice-cream at Tesco's. I said we could easily buy ice-cream on our drive home at a 7-11 near my place. He insisted on going into Tesco's. In fact, he wanted us to shop with him. We said we'll wait for him at the restaurant.
Many, many, minutes later, I was starting to get frustrated when there was still no sign of his return. Grrr...by that time I had gone without internet for about 18 hours...going cold turkey was taking its toll on my sanity. I wanted to get home as quickly as I could and hoped to surf through my neighbouring kopitiam's wifi (they're closed for the day but they had given me the password).
So I grumbled to Brian, "Seelah, your daddy, always taking so long, so darn inconsiderate..." Brian grimaced and said, "You're not gonna quarrel with Daddy again, are you?" I turned to him and asked, "Are you saying it's my fault if we quarrel?" He answered, "No, but do you have to quarrel?"
I sat back and thought it through. A minute before, if Eddie had returned, he would have been met with a face darker than a thunderstorm's cloud, and I'd be grumbling and huffing about how long I'd been waiting. I can't predict what his reaction could be, depending on the mood, it could be a laugh and a "sorry" which I would have brushed off, or it could be a scowl and "WHAT! I told you to come along what..." and then the argument starts.
Instead, I retraced my line of thinking. I was assuming that if we went back home quickly, I would have access to the internet, even though I knew chances of that was miniscule, cos I had tried accessing the kopitiam's wifi before we went out and I couldn't. Chances are internet was down for most places. So I was huffing and impatient to go home for nothing. Instead of getting angry, I could just relax and enjoy the mall's airconditioning. After all, I was in a comfortable sofa, and could still play some games on my computer.
I explained my thoughts to Brian and told him I was choosing not to get angry, cos really, there was nothing to be upset about. And I told Brian he should do the same exercise too whenever he feels the urge to argue with me! I'm setting good example mah...it was a 'teaching moment'. He said he would.
Right after we spoke, Eddie returned, smiling and laughing and apologising for being late as he had to go to the toilet. So he wasn't being (that) inconsiderate or taking too long with shopping, he was taking a dump :) There could easily have been an argument...for nothing. I'm always telling Brian and Sean how we can't control what others do, we can only control our reactions. So it was very much 'practising what I preach' in how I treat those closest to me.
And I hope Brian learns from what I'm trying to practise too. Today, we (mother and son) had an argument over something so trivial, it's unbelievable. It's extremely hard to practise patience when faced with the warped logic of a teenager/preteen. Even my mum said he's so argumentative these days. And he is arguing in the most calm voice too, which gets my goat, cos I always argue with a raised voice, and there's a Japanese proverb that goes something like, "The one who shouts first loses the argument."
I don't know if I'll really be able to practise taking a step back and trying to be logical every time I feel like strangling someone, but if I don't, I know I have a hawk watching over me. But remember, I'm watching you too, Brian!
* Eddie never got the ice-cream that day, I don't remember why.
** Indeed, when we got back home, I couldn't log on to the internet, so I went cold turkey for a total of almost 30 hours! Unbelievable!
*** Besides the restaurants at Tesco's, almost everywhere else in Malacca's malls has free wifi, I later discovered. In Tesco's there's Marrybrown, Secret Recipe, Kenny Rogers etc. At Melaka Mall, there's Marrybrown (different password from the one at Tesco's, I know them both so if ever anyone needs it :)). At Jusco, there's wifi at KFC and McD, no password needed. I only tried these few places, and I'm sure there's free wifi in the town centre's malls too (Mahkota Parade and Dataran Pahlawan).