A Change ... Will Do You Good

I had a rather interesting conversation with my teenage daughter recently. We were playing corn hole, and while my little bean bag's corner was tilting wildly close to the edge of the board's circular hole, it wasn't tipping in -- or scoring me points. Unacceptable. I expressed my frustration eloquently, I think something along the lines of "ARGGGHhhhhhhh," to which my daughter replied:

"Change something."

"But it's so close!" I said. "Every single time it is almost hitting the mark!"

"Almost, but it's not going in," she said. "So you need to change something."

This advice, while wise and useful, wasn't the clincher for me. That comes next, but here's what you need to know: I'm a planner. A strategist, a brainstormer, a maker of to-do lists. Give me a plan with a sound strategy to back it up and get out of my way, cause I'm about to make something happen. It may get messy, but it WILL get done. 

I also respect persistence, an ability to stay the course when the going gets tough and doubt sets in, making you question whether it's worth the trouble. Let's just say that if I played slot machines, which I do not because ewwww the germs on those coins and probably casinos in general, I would be one of those people who would hunker down at one machine and stay there all night, refusing to move lest some greasy, toothless n'er-do-well reap the rewards of my persistence. Or stubbornness. Whatever. Stay the course, I say.

So on to the part about this conversation that has stuck with me for more than a year. For a moment, my teen child and I traded roles, I becoming the somewhat sassy and argumentative teen, she the sage -- calm, sensible and comfortable in the wisdom she was to impart.

"This should be going in! I should be winning!" I said. "My stance is perfect, my toss sublime, the follow through supreme! What do I need to change?!"

I may have stamped my foot in frustration.

"I don't know what you need to change, but what you're doing right now is definitely not working, so try different things until you figure it out," she said. 

Record scratch and what the what?!

So you don't need an 12-point plan with spreadsheets, pie charts and market research to change course? Particularly if the consequences won't set you back any further than your current status?

Huh. Ha. Interesting.

I don't know about you, but lots of times if I don't know exactly what to change, I change nothing. I file lots of things under the "I'll eventually figure out what to do differently, but until then I shall continue to do exactly the same things that I know are not working, mostly out of habit. Please do not disturb." 

At least that was the case until that lovely autumn day when the child took her Mom back to school. And her Mom is still grateful, because now whenever I'm feeling stuck I ask myself "what have I been doing, and what's something different -- anything different -- I can try?"

I swear these words are magic, their magician a teenage girl.


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Amy Blair said...

Such a good post! I can't wait til my own daughter is a teenager so she can teach me stuff about life. Wait...no! I do not look forward to that! But good job with your wise kid, and thanks for passing on her wisdom.

Amy Mac said...

Amy — it is quite a humbling thing, your children teaching you things. And things other than "even if I tell her 'DO NOT STUFF BEADS AND SUCH UP YOUR NOSTRILS. NO,' does not mean she will listen and obey. That time I learned not removing everything smaller than a toddler's nostril from their reach ends with a visit to the ENT. I like learning these life lessons much better ... especially since they do not require peering up anyone's nose with a flashlight. And as the mother of two teen girls I can say with certainty: enjoy their younger days, but DO look forward to their teen years ... it's not as bad as they say (especially when they're lucky enough to have parents like you and John!) :-) xoxo