Five things I learnt from Coles Boy

Last weekend, I had a small run-in with Coles Boy. Let me fill you in on the back story.

• Husband at the coast for the day

• Teenage daughter with a nasty cold being dragged around to the days activities because of above point

• Smaller not-teenage daughter suffering lack of sleep after a sleep-over party (seriously, those things should be called ‘no-sleep-over’ parties)

• Small portion of work to do (taking photos at a fete)

• Afternoon dance rehearsal for smaller not-teenage-but-sleep-deprived daughter

So, all in all, a full day. On the way home from dance rehearsal, it is revealed by smallest daughter that her toiletry bag has been left at the party ie you need to stop and buy me a toothbrush, mum. (Said with angst and a supreme sense of urgency)

Also, realisation by me that I have not planned tea for that night and need some supplies ie frozen pizza, here we come.

Enter Coles Boy.

When I reached the double glass sliding doors of the Coles supermarket in question, at, I kid you not, three minutes past five, Coles Boy rushes, no, runs, to greet me and inform me that I was not allowed in (his first mistake). I stared at him for a few seconds. Smiled. Just two things I need, I say. Just two. Smile again, believing wholeheartedly in the ‘you catch more flies with honey than vinegar’ approach.

Sorry, ma’am (his second mistake. When did I get ‘upgraded’ to ma’am???). Store policy. I can’t legally (I mean seriously! Legally???) let you in after 5pm.

Next to being allowed in, do you know what would have made me deliriously happy at that point in time?

Smacking him in the face. Shameful. A grown woman, two impressionable offspring in tow and all I could think about was how satisfying it would be to just…smack. him. in. the. face.

So I did the next best thing. Without another word, I turned my back on him and walked away. The last thing I heard him cheerily say was “Have a nice rest of the day! (his third and quite possibly worst mistake). He will never know how close his words came to him having a blood nose. But, I kept walking, ignoring the crazy lady inside me who was on hands and knees begging to be allowed to go back and show him exactly how ‘nice’ his day was about to be.

I then suffered through, with clenched teeth and hands, a lecture from teenage daughter about my rudeness and how she had applied for a job there. How, mum? How are they going to employ me now?? If you have or have had a teenage daughter, this will not be unfamiliar territory for you. All before we had even reached the car.

As I slid into the drivers seat, I briefly considered ramming the building but decided against it as I didn’t really feel like explaining the car damage to my husband.

So what did I learn?

• Don’t try to enter a supermarket after the designated closing time.

• On making it home, don’t then call your son over a small issue and tear shreds off him. (Even though he was once one of those boys telling people they weren’t allowed in – it wasn’t his fault, really.)

• That I have the capacity to feel the level of rage I did, over a toothbrush and a frozen pizza.

• That I also have the capacity to not smack people in the head, even when I really, really, really want to.

And the fifth thing I have learnt?

Always keep spare toothbrushes in the cupboard and emergency pizza in the freezer.

Less chance people will get hurt that way.

It’s my party….or is it?

I recently read a blog post regarding a seven year old girl who was the only girl in the class not invited to a birthday party, according to the mother. Now, the little girl was upset, the mother didn’t like her being upset, so she rang the mother of the birthday girl. What a surprise that the little girl was given a party invitation the very next day, which was accepted and the little girl went to the party.

I was appalled. To me, there are so many lessons here and none of them positive.

• The little girl learnt that if she makes enough fuss, her mother will rush in and ‘fix’ everything.

• The mother discovered that even at this stage of life, she can bully another mother into doing what she wants.

• The birthday girl learnt that you must bow to pressure and be fake just so people don’t get upset.

• All the other little girls learnt not to get on the wrong side of this family or there will be consequences.

In my opinion, there was a big life lesson to be learnt here by the little girl (and her mother it seems). Here is the hard truth, life is not fair and people won’t always do what you want them to.

I have no idea whether the little girl in question is a nice person or whether she is difficult, the blog post didn’t say, written as it was by the mother of said little girl. Even if she is the sweetest, most innocent girl in the world, it makes no difference to me. Her mother had a great opportunity to show her daughter what a strong woman looks like, instead she showed her how to manipulate – or get your mother to manipulate – the situation so you get what you want.

In the real world, life is tough, and full of injustices. How will our children learn to cope with this aspect of life if we don’t teach them? Why are we so surprised there is dishonesty, back-stabbing and gossip in our society when our children are being taught that bowing to social pressure trumps being honest?

If I have a party, I invite the people whose company I enjoy, who enjoy mine and who I can have a great time with. I generally don’t invite those I don’t enjoy being with!

Do I feel sad for the little girl who was left out? Of course. But I feel more sad at how it was handled. Is it unfair to not include just one girl? Yes, absolutely. But this does beg the question of why was she left out in the first place.

So. Am I being harsh given that I have never had this happen to one of my children? Should we, and subsequently our children, invite people to our party whose company we don’t enjoy? What would you have done in this mothers shoes?

How do you achieve simplicity when surrounded by excess?

We have a lot of ‘stuff’. Stuff we use, stuff we don’t use, stuff we like, stuff we hate. Stuff. It’s all around us, all the time.

There is a ‘minimalist’ movement going on. Basically, you get rid of everything bar the absolute essentials. And I mean, everything. People get rid of cars, furniture, clothes – all in an effort to simplify their lives and reap the benefits of ‘minimalist’ living.

I, personally, have too much of this stuff. We have doubles of some things, like coffee machines, mobile phones, couches even. Far too much for a family of four.

But. This year, we have had great opportunities to share our ‘stuff’. When a friend’s whole electrical circuit blew in her house and every single appliance was ruined, we were able to help. We gave her a microwave, a jug, a phone, a TV – all spares that we had lying around from when we shifted our office to home and no longer needed them.

Now, I’m not relaying this to big note ourselves, far from it. There are plenty of people who give in greater capacity than us. My point is that if we hadn’t had those things, we wouldn’t have been able to help out when our friend needed it.

There is no way this friend would have accepted money, or if we had gone and bought new items to replace hers. Having these things in our house, doing nothing, allowed her the freedom to accept our help.

So, for me, it’s not about how much stuff we have at all, it’s about what we do with it.

Do we hold onto our possessions tightly, unable to part with anything? Or do we hold it all loosely, ready to freely give at any given moment?

I think it’s possible to live a minimalist life and aim for simplicity while still having stuff. It’s all about our mindset.

Besides, if we gave up the car, how would I get my coffee each day? 🙂

 

Are you really enough?

Keeping a positive attitude can be hard. Circumstances make it hard. Sometimes the people we are doing life with make it hard. And sometimes, we just make it hard all by ourselves.

So how do we maintain a positive attitude? There are many schools of thought that talk a lot about ‘looking within’. For me, looking within myself for positivity, strength and the desire to keep going, only takes me so far.

More often than not when I look within myself, I find irritability, negativity and weakness. Looking within does not provide me with anything terribly useful most of the time. It just gives me a glimpse of who I am when I am looking only to myself for rescue.

No, I need to look externally, specifically, upward, for my strength and renewal of flagging spirits. I find the ‘look within yourself’ mantra a little egotistical. If we really did have it within ourselves, I think society would look a whole lot different than it does.

Saying we just need to look within ourselves is assigning us greater powers than we possess. We need something bigger than ourselves, something outside of us, to provide us with the strength we need to get through. Simply relying on ourselves is not enough.

Anyone who has read past blog posts would know that I am a big believer in choices and changing things about ourselves that need changing, so I am not saying that we have no control or power in us. I just don’t think we should be our only resource.

I am grateful there is an external foundation I can rely on and draw from when my own strength is diminishing. If drawing on my own internal fortitude was all I had, my life would be sadly lacking in positivity, comfort and strength because, more often than not, it’s just not enough.

Thankfulness

I have written about thankfulness a few times in my monthly column over the last few years but this quote that I came across recently was a new one for me.

What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?

We like to think we are living in a state of thankfulness and with an attitude of gratitude but are we really? Are we really thankful, each and every day for all the things we are blessed with? If I am honest with myself, I would have to answer no to that.

Sure, I try to appreciate the gifts I am given but do I thank God every day for those people, things and circumstances? And do I only thank Him for what I deem good?

Being thankful is more than than just saying the words. It means living in a constant spirit and mindfulness of gratitude. Appreciating all we have, even the ‘bad’ bits. If we are thankful for only the so called ‘blessings’ we are missing half the lessons.

What if I only thanked God for the ‘good’ things? What if I woke up and all the problems were gone? Would I really, truly be happy with that?

It’s the light and shade that makes up life; the light is only light because of the darkness; the highs only high because of the lows. Life without the full complement of experiences isn’t really life at all. It’s only half of it.

I’ll bet that anyone who has lost someone would give anything to have it all back, not just the good bits of that person and relationship. But them, with all their failings, wrongdoings and faults.

In being thankful we shouldn’t be selective. To pick and choose what is worthy of thanks is a little like playing God and thinking we know what’s best for us, when really, we don’t.

So what are you going to thank God for today?

Are you pushing it?

We have just had a fabulous weekend with our now 21 year old son, who we flew up from Canberra because the thought of not seeing him for this occasion was, quite simply, unbearable.

We kept the two girls home from the first day back of school (bad parents!) so we could hit Wet n Wild before putting our boy back on the flight to Canberra.

Now, the Wet n Wild waterpark is full of rides varying in degrees of ‘scariness’. Youngest, Miss 8, was the first to have her courage tested when she was urged by her older siblings to ride the ‘Black Hole’ waterslide. By the time we had waited in line, climbed the stairs, near frozen to death by the wind and lack of sun, she had worked herself up into quite a state, bordering on tears.

But. She did it. And what did she say when we reached the bottom? Yep, you guessed it…”That was AWESOME!”. Like we all knew she would.

Next challenge on the agenda was the 54 metre high (about 17 storey’s) Sky Coaster. Strapped into something that looks terrifyingly like no more than a sleeping bag, you are taken up 54 metres and then you pull the ripcord to freefall to the bottom and then swing back up the other way. At 14, she was understandably hesitant but she has always been a ‘look fear in the face and laugh’ kinda girl, so she climbed into the ‘sleeping bag’ with her brother and did it.

And she loved it. Like we all knew she would.

It really struck me that pushing can be good. Without the pushing from all of us, the girls may not have done what they did. And they would have missed out on that fun.

Pushing those around us may seem mean and uncaring (I’m sure I was judged as a nasty mum in the face of Miss 8’s tears in the line!) but really, we are doing them a disservice if we don’t push them.

We need to push ourselves, too, as well as others. We need to stretch and grow, overreaching our own expectations of ourselves is a liberating and rejuvenating process. Discovering that you can accomplish something, despite your own misgivings and possibly the naysaying of others, opens up a whole new world of opportunities.

My girls inspired me yesterday. There are a few areas in my life where I need to push myself and I needed the reminder.

To quote Miss 8 on the way back from the waterslide – “So the lesson here, Mum, is that you should just try stuff, even if you are scared and no matter how big it looks. You never know until you try it!”

Exactly.