Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Wherein The Matron Cast the First Stone

As of late, the Matron has been attentive to the fact that her teenage soon, He Who Cannot Be Named (HWCBN) finds no shortage of fault in her fine self, and has no qualm about reporting said fault.

HWCBN: "Mom, do you have to hand me the milk?"

HWCBN: "Why are you carrying the laptop downstairs that way?"

HWCBN: "You should be holding both hands on the steering wheel."

The Matron does not wear Constant Critique well. She's moaned about her plight to her husband and stewed inside. She has steeled herself against emotion only to finally -- after being informed by a certain someone that chewing gum while driving MAY constitute distracted driving -- succumb to pain and fury, even begging the critic himself to just: "leave her alone!"

Of course, there are good days. She's just focusing on the bad right now. Blogs are lucky that way, these depositories.

But a funny thing happened to the Matron on her way to the pity fest. She began to notice how much she herself -- the victim, the hapless bystander, the self-sacrificial all-giving mother -- criticized herself and other people. Sometimes these were big and obvious "Those conservatives don't know WHAT they're talking about" and sometimes sort of small "John, are you sure that you left enough gas in the tank for me to get to XXX -- after all it's on E. How far can I go on that again?"

Said in a nice, passive aggressive, deeply critical way.

She noticed her own raised eyebrow at the untoward dress of a certain student, the way she sighed with exasperation when a student sent her an email addressed to "Hey!," how she queried the sanity of those slow to move when the traffic light turned green.

The Matron noticed: she herself is a bundle of Constant Critique.

For the past couple of days, she's tried something new -- if you can't say something nice about someone, don't say anything at all. Wait! That's really old, isn't it?

Perhaps the Matron is a slow learner. But she is newly aware of the speed with which one can rush to a judgement, and how even the seemingly innocuous add up to a spate of meanness. Constant Critique.

Which, of course, extends to her critique of HWCBN's critique of HER.

See that endless cycle? Here's hoping for a little dip in the chain: less judgement, the kinder word.


Suburban Correspondent said...

Don't be so hard on yourself. I firmly believe that Mother Teresa never would have become a saint if she had had teenagers.

KL Crab said...

I hear you sister, caught myself in the same predicament. Friendly warning: it takes a while for them to unlearn it.

wishing you peace and deep cleansing breaths!

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Oh yeah, you are a good person to step back and allow this experience with a teenager to grow you. And now you've got me thinking--I need to bite back more, too.

Minnesota Matron said...

Suburban -- laughing. Mother Teresa I am not : -)!

Xtreme English said...

That one is from "Bambi," right? I tend to shelve all that advice under "Nice but not applicable to my life." Thumper's mom had it right, though: "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all."

Deb said...

LOL at Suburban Correspondent's comment!

Yes, it never hurts to have a small dose of wake-up medicine. However, it doesn't mean you've really done anything wrong. I mean, let's address the gap in years between you and your son. You've had a lot more time to come to your conclusions. Doesn't mean you are wrong, just that you have certain expectations for things.

As a college professor, the sigh over a student's dress is something of a daily occurrence here. A new male professor to our campus here even commented on it to me...he was completely taken aback by some of the outfits. It's like there is something in the water! Not what he had experienced in the past!

michiganme said...

Boy, do I hear you---I've had to look inward also when living with teenagers.

When I drive here & there, I have a running commentary about every driver on the road, usually having to do with ineptitude or rudeness. I don't gesture or honk or look ticked off, I just critique everything other drivers do---out loud---so that all my passengers have to listen.

Now my kids do the same thing and all of a sudden it doesn't sound so good coming from them. Not to mention, one of them mentioned that they hope other drivers aren't talking about them that way. Oy MIME