November 04, 2010

Button Pushing

The other day I called my Dad in Utah.  He is recently widowed so I like to call every few days and check on him.  Now, I love my father, but there are a few things he does to push my buttons.  One of them is talk about politics.  He is so far right he's tipped over.  Also, he's never wrong about anything which adds to the problem.  So I should have known better then to call him on the day before elections.  I let him go on a bit about the falseness of global warming, and Al Gore's plan to take over people's minds, because I think he likes to get those things off his chest.  It makes him feel good, and I am a giver (of sorts).  However, when he told me that Utahns are too smart to recycle I had to ask where do they think all those empty water bottles are going when they put them in the trash can?  His reply was so funny I had to post it here.  "Were making our own new mountains.... mountains of trash!"  Now that's an intelligent response!  Do you think I should email that one to AG?

Next, he pushed that other button about how I am spending too much money on things like music lessons when I could be making more babies instead.  This time he suggested two more.  Have you seen my sidebar?  I have 5 kids!  FIVE!  He seems to think we should all have kids until we're 45 yrs old and the Santa in the mall thinks you are the grandpa instead of the parent.  I don't get it.  I told him that my decisions were my own and that money had nothing to do with it.  I know what I can and cannot handle.  Great job to anyone who wants more, my plate is full.  Then I asked him if he could name all the names of his many grandkids. That was just me, pushing his buttons.  I just wanted to make the point that if you are going to do a job well, you shouldn't overload yourself.  Then, just like when I was a teenager, he told me my mouth was getting me in trouble.  We said our usual "I love you anyway" good-byes and I hung up and thought the same thing about his troublesome mouth.  It gets him into trouble too.

So this has me thinking about my relationships with others and more specifically my own children.  I have a son who likes to push my buttons.  I think I do my fair share of pushing back.  I think I may have learned this behavior from my button-pushing father and I think it's time to make that change.  Starting with the woman in the mirror.  (Thanks Michael).

Here's an example:  The other morning we were on our way to early morning seminary and my eldest son was the last one into the garage.  In his haste to get to the car, he left the door to the garage open.  It's a repeated problem. Since our dog could run out and get hit by the car when you are trying to park, it's a big problem.  I noticed his mistake from the car where I'd been waiting.  I had my mouth full and my window up and needed to get his attention and tell him to close it, so I did a flashy thing with the lights and motioned to the door.  He was highly offended emotionally (and visually) and fussed about it with me in the car.

"How can you be so rude?!"
"How can you be so forgetful about the door?"
"That hurt my eyes!"
"Sorry, remember the door next time"
"You just want the last word always!"
"No I don't, you do"
"Yes you do!"
"Uh UH"
"Uh HUH"

And so on and so forth until I was taking my hand off the steering wheel to zip my mouth shut.  Then when he got out of the car he said his goodbye but I still wasn't talking because the mouth was zipped. I just shrugged and pointed to my mouth.  He rolled his eyes and walked in front of the car to the building.  Then I couldn't help myself... I flashed the lights good-bye at him.

Yes.... I think I have a problem.


Melinda said...

Don't you think we often struggle most with the family members most like ourselves? I think traits in others that bug us are often traits in ourselves we don't like very much. Not always, but sometimes.

And - with the light flashing? You remind me of my mom. NOW I think she's funny.

Kelly said...

I think that is so true Melinda. Although I hate to admit it I am often opinionated and bossy just like my Dad. I am trying to work on humility so that I can be more open minded.

I think you Mom is so funny! Did you fight with her as a teenager? How did you work through it? I am obviously struggling to take the higher road.

Tom said...

Great post. I know what you are talking about. My Dad and I have the same situation when it comes to politics. He is always the button pusher by taking little jabs and bringing things up at family gatherings, but unlike your father, he is coming from a liberal perspective. I know he's just trying to enlighten his ignorant, close minded, conservative kids, but I've learned to ignore any inflammatory comments he makes since I love him too much to get into a debate involving politics.

I also have an 18 year old button pusher who sometimes reduces me to an angry, frustrated, shaking parent. Your post reminded me that I just need to ignore it when he is trying to get me worked up.

Katie said...

Thanks for the congratulations! Since we have always thought we would have around five kids, I kept thinking of you while we were waiting to find out the sex. Three boys and two girls would be perfect. And yes, I am excited, but also a little hard to imagine a girl.

Kelly said...

Just so you know I am somewhere in the middle politically. I think when you swing too far either way then you run into the crazy people : )

Good luck with your 18 yr old.

Just wait until you pull those first pink socks out of the dryer... It's a pretty giddy moment!

Kristina P. said...

On Wednesdays, for our substance abuse program, we do a family group with the teens we work with. And last night's group was all about button pushing. Family members know how to do it the best.

People who know the most about us are able to get to us the most.

Kelly said...

I wish I could come to your class KP.

noyb said...

i LOVE that you flashed your lights to say good bye to him. i laughed out loud. classic.

Jack, Merry & T-Man said...

I try not to talk about politics with anyone we are related to. They are all way left or way right and I like to stay firmly in the middle. But because I don't agree with them on everything they decide that I am a liberal craz-o (if their conservative) or a conservative nut (if they are liberal). It's just not worth the trouble trying to explain.
And I also like to have the last word.

Connie said...

I must admit, with some people ya just gotta push their buttons! I think Utah needs more trash mountains, don't you?
You're a good daughter to call your Dad often. I'm sure he appreciates it.
Love the way you got the last word in with the lights!

The Katzbox said...

Oh...these button pushers in our lives...what would we do without them...I mean, besides having lots of good days and fun times?

What Melinda said is actually very wise. There is a "Mirror" theory that the things we find most irritating about others is actually what we find most challenging about our own personalities. I didn't make that up, that's an actual "theory" (I'm beginnin to dislike that word) in psychotherapy, of which I know a skosh.

Your blog is delightful. I will definitely be back.


Jess, Andrew and Family said...

Reading the story of your dad telling you to have more kids cracked me up- that is SO something my mom would say. Oh, how I love parents.