Picture a scene... dad and daughter driving home from a school based fall festival event. We had just dropped off two of her friends at their homes and were on our way home!
Daughter says... can I have a McDonald's smoothie? Dad agrees and proceeds to the drive-thru!
McDonald's now has these dual drive-thru stations So I pull up to one of the speakers and sit and wait, prepared to order both of my kids a smoothie! I sit there for a little while and a car pulls up in the next station over... places an order and proceeds... then another car pulls up and places an order... and pulls up...
By now... I am furious! I am ranting in the car about the "injustice" of it all! I hear this little blurb from my daughter (under her breath) "you are being very impatient". (I am normally laid-back and patient... but this just got to me for some reason... late in the day/tired/other life stresses/etc... all excuses for improper behavior in this instance!)
So I engaged her... trying to sell her my side of the story! "WE PULLED UP TO ORDER A SMOOTHIE... AND THEY TOOK THOSE OTHER TWO CARS FIRST! IT IS JUST NOT RIGHT!", I ranted! She did not really engage at all... she just sat there... her eyes were saying a lot... but her mouth, silent!
Finally! The voice on the other end of the loudspeaker exclaimed, "Hi, Welcome to McDonald's... May I take your order?". My fury meter is off the charts by now... so I proceeded to educate the person on the other side of the loudspeaker about how long I have sat there and how many cars she took in front of me! In a rather loud... unforgiving voice/tone!
The voice on the other side says "I'm sorry... what can I get for you?". I order the two smoothies for my kids, get the total and pull up behind the cars whose orders were taken in front of me. I get to the window and pay... in this case... I blew a perfect opportunity to ask for forgiveness... but I was still angry!
So as we are sitting there... the car that placed the order in front of me must have ordered something special! It took 5 minutes... and they did not move him up at all! He just sat at the window! So while we are sitting there... I am getting more angry and also I was processing my daughter's statement about my impatience (I remember hearing my wife tell me this during certain times... but it did not sink in). So I started a conversation with Morgan roughly as follows...
"I don't understand why you think I am impatient... we were there first and they took two orders in front of us!" Her response... "it's no big deal... just 5 minutes" Well... I am already upset... so this answer did not sit well with me! I started getting louder and more angry and explaining my case... and my frustration that she did not see this situation my way! She, all the while with an even tone and a calm voice gave this response. "I don't understand why you yelled at her... it is just an extra 5 minutes... she is waiting on other people and maybe made a mistake... do you like when people yell at you for mistakes?" She then continued, "I hate it when people yell at me and they only see their side of the story and what they perceive as my mistake!" I quickly responded with "I wasn't yelling at her... I was merely telling her about my concerns for her handling of the drive through!" She just looked at me with a calm demeanor... and said, "you did not have to yell at her!". I was frustrated and angry... Why does my daughter not see this the way I see it!
We finally proceeded to collect our smoothies and drive home! I am still roasting inside from the issue at the drive thru! Morgan and I exchange small talk... she knows I am upset and proceeds to switch channels on the radio (something she always does... we have a game we play with songs and artists) and lands on a song that always seems to be on while we are in the car together! So she starts nudging me and smiling trying to change my attitude and make me more happy! But my "old man" grouchy attitude was just not going away! I am always right! I am always in control! I hate when something does not go the way I see it! (as I have discovered, these are all related to insecurities I have dealt with for most of my life!)
In any case... a seed was planted!
I eased up as the night went on... but still a little frustrated! The kids went to bed... I finally went to bed (Keep in mind, Barbara is out of town at her annual scrap-booking retreat).
The seed Morgan planted germinated all night long! I woke up at 2:35 AM... wrestling with my actions... reactions... words... Morgan's reactions and more importantly... her words! I went back to sleep and woke up at 4:30 AM... again... more wrestling! Again at 6:15 AM! Wrestling!
All night long I wrestled with this and it finally dawned on me that my daughter was right in her approach and attitude... and I totally failed as a father and an example in front of her!
I realized that the bulk of my elevated frustration and anger was because Morgan was right... and I... not so much! I wanted my way and I was not getting it! I wanted others to see my side of the story and agree! And it was not happening!
[An excerpt from my wrestling episodes during the night]
How can this be! I am her father, who is supposed to be demonstrating Christ-Like values for my kids in all areas of life... and she has out done me here!
Needless to say... some very important reminders surfaced during this event!
The biggest reminder for me... my kids are ALWAYS watching me and my actions!
If I am not willing to allow them (my kids) to speak up and challenge me on my actions and behaviors, I give up the chance to be a better human being! In this case... my daughter taught me more in a 10 minute event than most others have during my life! (Barbara has this ability as well!)
I am grateful that Morgan had the courage to stand up to me, take the position she took and challenge my thinking... my attitude... my interactions... and ultimately, the way I was treating someone! All things I was blinded from because of my frustration and anger!
There are moments when you feel like a complete failure as a parent... then your kids demonstrate a different story!
Thank you baby girl! You are as beautiful inside as you are outside!