Why Do You Have to Tell Me Absolutely Everything?
I was trying to remember why I started my “stop-talking-to-Dylan-so-we-can-stop-arguing” revelation.
It happened one night at dinner.
I’d made pasta with a red sauce – except for Shane, who eats his pasta with no sauce. I’d heated up the sauce in the microwave (because that’s just the kind of cook I am), and cleaned the microwave afterward, since a tiny bit of the red sauce splattered on its walls.
Then I prepared the pasta as is the Hawkins custom – sitting in the sink in a colander for a “serve yourself” kind of entree.
As usual, Dylan was late appearing for the family meal, so his dinner was rather cold when he got to the table.
He started walking toward the microwave with his uncovered bowl of pasta with red sauce.
I remembered that I had just cleaned the microwave. It only took a second to do, but if he put that pasta into the microwave without covering it….
Don’t say anything, my brain screamed. If he makes a mess, he can clean it up.
BUT I JUST CLEANED IT! the other part of my brain screamed back.
Choose your battles, said the first part of my brain. If he forgets to cover it, he can clean the microwave.
The words came flying out of my mouth in spite of my ongoing internal dialogue.
“Please cover your plate, Dylan,” I said, almost whining.
“I WAS GOING TO COVER IT!” Dylan screamed viciously. “OF COURSE I WAS GOING TO COVER IT! WHY DO YOU HAVE TO TELL ME ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING? DO YOU THINK I LITERALLY DON’T KNOW ENOUGH TO COVER MY OWN BOWL?!”
His reaction was a bit over the top. So I left the room, and ate my pasta elsewhere.
But I thought, That wasn’t his fault. I knew better. I knew I shouldn’t say anything, and I opened my mouth anyway.
Maybe I’ve had this revelation before. If so, I had forgotten.
But this time, I let it stick – at least for awhile.
I stopped saying anything. I told Dylan the next day that I was going to try very hard – although I was sure I wouldn’t be perfect – to say only things that were positive and encouraging. And that I would no longer tell him what to do.
This came on the heels of Dylan not feeding his crabs the way I thought they should be fed, not keeping his shoes clean the way I thought they should be cleaned, and not spending the appropriate amount of time learning the songs I thought he should sing.
So I shut up. And things are going amazingly smoothly.
At least for now.