Aspen Princess: Don’t be a jerk
The Aspen Princess
A few weeks ago, I was late to yoga and in a big, fat hurry even though they leave the doors open and don’t mind if you’re late.
I was carrying on with exaggerated gestures, expletives, making a big fuss in a way that it was obvious to the other driver that I was pissed. I mean, the nerve of this person, driving the speed limit! The speed limit! Through a residential neighborhood! Early in the morning on a weekend! No one was around! No one! I had to follow this person the whole way, my irritation growing by the minute. Then they had the nerve to turn into the same parking lot and … park their car and … get out with a yoga mat tucked under their arm … and that’s when I realized I know this person, and like her very much.
“Good morning!” I hollered good-naturedly, hoping maybe she didn’t notice.
“Road rage much?” she asked, with a smirk that said, “Busted!”
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about self-awareness. Have you ever noticed that when someone is being a total jerk that they’re the last ones to realize it? Furthermore, maybe the other half of the time it’s me who’s the jerk and I’m the one who doesn’t realize it.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about how I often get annoyed by behavior that I myself have displayed habitually. Some of this is just maturity, or maybe a change in perspective.
Now I’m the mom who is freaking out when someone is making an unsafe pass in the other direction and I have a child in the car. A child! Why risk a head-on collision because you don’t have the patience to safely pass a cyclist? A cyclist! Don’t you know that whatever time you make up by speeding is lost at the next traffic light? For just a moment I wish I had one of those signs on the back windshield that says “Baby on Board” but then again, I don’t want to tarnish my MINI with a cheesy bumper sticker like that.
This, from the girl who has always had to have cars that are turbo-charged for more “passing power.” Oh yes, that was me for most of my adult life. Before kids. It’s just how I was raised. You can take the girl out of the East Coast, but you can’t take the East Coast out of the girl. Or something like that.
I guess it’s easy to judge others when you don’t have the perspective to understand them. Jerks.
I’ve spent the last three years apologizing to all my friends with kids for being such a jerk before I had a child of my own and understood what they were going through. I remember thinking, “I would never let my child speak to me that way,” or even, “I would never let my child out of the house without combing the knots out of their hair first.” Now I get it: You can’t control the misfiring neurons in a toddler brain and you sure as hell aren’t going to have a knock-down-drag-out battle to get that little dreadlock out when it will be so much easier to deal with it properly at bath time, when you can get some conditioner on it and comb it out when they’re playing with their water toys and happily distracted.
I remember when my friends would make excuses for their kid’s behavior, going, “Oh, he’s just tired,” or “He’s coming down with something so he’s a little cranky.” And I would think, “Why do you think I care?” Most of the time I didn’t even notice the bad behavior to begin with.
Just yesterday, our Airbnb guest stopped by to ask me some advice for a day trip they were planning to Redstone when Levi decided he didn’t like the fact that this perfectly lovely woman was taking his attention away from me. He decided to snatch her glasses and run off with them, holding them up above his head as if out of our reach.
“Levi Aaron,” I scolded. “Give those glasses back right this minute.”
This only made the game more interesting. He started to run, the glasses now precariously gripped in his little fist, threatening to snap in half. I prayed silently that these were drug store reading glasses and not, say, prescription lenses in designer frames. When I finally caught him (That little stinker is fast!) and pried the glasses from his greasy little paws, he proceeded to knock every single one of our dining room chairs over.
“Good luck with that one,” the woman said, and left.
We are a family of jerks who have now officially given birth to a jerk.
I immediately began composing apology emails to her in my head. “We had a long day and he didn’t get a nap,” I would write. I soon learned no such apology was necessary. Our guest understood. She was a mother, too. “Three-year-olds are just 2-year-olds with a voice,” she said.
The last piece of this little puzzle is when someone is being a jerk, you just never know what’s going on in their lives. Maybe they just got into a huge fight with their spouse. Maybe their dog died. Maybe their 3-year-old accidentally lit the house on fire.
Have you ever noticed how someone who has a reputation for being a jerk is the last person to realizes what a jerk they are? Doesn’t that make you wonder if people say the same about you and you don’t even have a clue?
Maybe I’ve spent too much time with my psycho toddler this week, or maybe I’m thinking about a disagreement I’ve had with a friend and trying to be a better person. Hopefully you can all relate. Don’t be a jerk today. And don’t think I’m a jerk for writing this.
The Princess had a long weekend, and not in a good way. Email your love to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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