Liza recently told me something she had learned from the Montessori pedagogy that she strives to incorporate into her life. When you are in conflict with someone and are formulating things to say, ask yourself, "Is what I am going to say, true? Is it kind? Is it necessary that I say it?" I really like this and need to put this into practice because I often say what comes to mind without filtering my comments. I often hurt people.
Yesterday the date with NewPatrick. What amazes me is when two people are experiencing the exact same set of events but experiencing things entirely differently - and they are so into their own reality they assume the other person shares their feelings. I arrived first, found a table, Spider started her set, he arrived. I thoroughly enjoyed the jazz. Spider and Jeremy Kahn were at the top of their game - an all Gershwin night and NewPatrick had said he was a big Gershwin fan. He was a bit shy and reserved which made me try and draw him out. I flirted (it was a date after all), he didn't seem to object. At nine Spider was done and the night was still new. My voice coach, Mark was playing a gig at Myron and Phil's in Lincolnwood. I suggested we drive there in my car and take in his last set and I would sing a bit. NewPatrick seemed to like that idea. We talked lots about his papers, his upcoming trip to Turkey, his Turkish ex-girlfriend - everything about him. At Myron and Phil's I sang really well. NewPatrick seemed a little impressed - I got the first compliment of the evening. Then I asked him if he was having a good time, expecting him to say he was having a fabulous time, great music, good company, etc. He looked at me and said something, "I am extremely uncomfortable and I want to go home...take me back to my car." He then went on to say something like, "I think I am being very rude (he was) and then went on to tell me everything he didn't like about me. I was stunned and of course hurt.
So this is what the dating world is like. I hear the horror stories, hear that you have to kiss a bunch of frogs. I hear the cynicism and I hate the cynicism. I never want to be one of those world weary cynical women who approach love as war. And yet....it was truly traumatic last night. Intellectually I know I did nothing wrong. I was lots of fun, flirty but not overly so, a good listener, and I looked great. Emotionally I feel very diminished and bruised.
When people hurt me I hurt them back....mature, right? Predictably I blasted him on text and told him he was a narcissist and that next time he could try and make believe he found his date interesting. I also pointed out to him that the whole night his stomach was hanging out of his shirt that he failed to button properly. Really unattractive to see a man in a sportcoat with his stomach flapping bare. It made me feel a little bit better to tell him off....a little. And then I remembered the Montessori saying and I knew I could and should do better...just because I was hurt didn't mean I had to respond in a way that was unkind and unnecessary.
Today, a beautiful day at the Botanic Gardens with Pam. We drank in the late summer beauty and talked mostly about people in her life. I am trying to be more circumspect and really let my friends drive the conversational agenda. People have so much to tell me...I want to be a better listener and really honor their stories. I have this blog to blab to. Experiencing NewPatrick's total self absorption last night was a cautionary tale. I too have a tendency to make things all about me....it's what people without solid foundations do. I have to think that, like anything, you can exercise the listening muscle and get better over time in being present for other people. For that reason alone, I will consider the date last night and my brief encounter with NewPatrick a gift. He shared that he had been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and I experienced first hand what it's like to orbit around a person who can only be the center star, who doesn't know how to be a planet.
I'm almost done with The Family Fang. It is the perfect book for me to be reading because it has to do with everything I'm thinking of these days: the art of motion, bad parenting, narcissism. There is much I would do different as a parent and because I'm writing this post on the fly today, I will cheat and add content by way of sharing some of my old writing with you. When my kids were younger I crafted a series of stories I dubbed "The Little Girl Stories". They were cautionary tales about what happens to bad little girls. I never understood at the time what wasn't to love about these tales. My kids were horrified by them. Everyone I've shared them with shakes their heads and worries a bit. Kaveh's response was "Where were the parents?" I think a proper parent would not have written stories like these. So why share them? Dunno..they are funny. They are dark. I'm feeling dark. This is my art. Maybe I'm more like Caleb and Camille in The Family Fang than I care to admit. I'll feed you these stories from time to time when I'm pressed for time like today. Just about to go for tapas with my friend, Karen.
"Mom, tell us about the little girl and the bus" said the children.
"Oh, no, that's way too sad for a bedtime story" replied the mother.
"Please-oh-please!" begged the children.
"Alright", said Mom. "But don't blame me for your bad dreams."
Once there was a little girl named Anne. She lived in
with her Mom and Dad in an apartment over her Grandpa's bakery. Anne was loved and spoiled by her parents and grandparents. Each day before pre-school, Anne visited the bakery. She helped her grandfather by pinching the bread loaves, smearing the honey on the baklava, opening and closing the ovens, spreading flour all over the place, and other helpful stuff. Her grandfather loved her daily visits, but was relieved when she left so he could get his real work done. Chicago
Anne's Mom checked Anne's ears every day. She was sure there must be lots of wax in those ears because every time she asked Anne to do something, Anne seemed not to hear her. Her ears appeared to be very waxy when it was time to clean her room. It did not occur to Anne's Mom that maybe Anne was a naughty girl and only pretending not to hear.
Anne's wax problem continued to get worse. Anne's teacher complained to her parents that Anne ignored her when she asked Anne for help - or when she scolded Anne for playing too rough with the smaller children.
"Anne has a hearing problem" said her mother. "We are taking her to the doctor today". "It is curious though, how she always hears us when we call her to lunch, or if her grandfather calls her in from play when he's made a fresh batch of sticky buns" We can't figure it out.
"Nothing is the matter with Anne's ears" said the doctor, looking through the magnifier into one of Anne's ears.
"You must be mistaken!", said Anne's mom. "Anne is a perfect child and if she says she doesn't hear us, then I'm sure she is telling the truth!" We will find a better doctor - one who can tell us what is wrong with Anne's ears."
Anne and her mother left the doctor's office in a huff. They waited angrily at the bus stop for the 205 bus that would take them home. Finally, they spied the bus rounding the corner.
"Anne, stay put while I get our bus tokens from my purse" said Mother. Anne was cross and cranky and was sure the bus driver was going to drive right past them as he had last week. She pretended not to hear her mother and she stepped out into the street and waved her hands at the approaching bus.
The bus driver did not see Anne. He was changing the station on the radio and had looked away from the road for a few seconds. Anne's mother looked up from her purse in horror. Anne was seconds away from being run down by the bus. Anne's mother threw herself into the street and pushed Anne out of the way of the bus - to the other curb. But Anne's mother did not have time to save herself and the bus ran her over. Ann screamed to see her mother dead under the bus. She knew that she had caused the accident - by not listening to her mother.
Anne, her father and her grandparents were broken-hearted. Their lives were never the same and Anne grew up, a very sad girl, with no mother. Anne's Grandpa closed the bakery. He was too sad to cook.
"So, children, go to bed. And remember, when I tell you to do something, I always have a reason. Sometimes you may think you know better, but I am your mother and I know what's best for you."
The challenge today is to incorporate that Montessori saying into your life. When you are poised to criticize, ask yourself, "Is it true? Is it necessary. Is it kind? If you can't answer yes to all three question, hold your tongue and take the higher ground.
Picture is of the gardens today.