The Small Things

As my 40th birthday rapidly approaches like an oncoming train, I have been reflecting on the things I’ve learned over the years.  While I have a fair amount of institutional knowledge, am good at what I do for a living, it’s the interpersonal relations “lessons” that are the most important.  Some of them are worthy of sharing, thus this post is being written.  I make no claim at all of being an expert on interpersonal relationships.  What I do know for sure is that I have a lot of both good and bad experiences, some of one and a little of the other, and I know what works.

I’m not sure whether I can get everything I want to say in a single post, nor that I will have the time to write it all at once.  I foresee this topic being an ongoing theme, in addition to my other inane rants (which are the things that would keep me out of the White House, thus the blog’s name).  Some of my rants on non interpersonal relationships are worthy of thought as well, and some of you may “feel me” or agree with what I write, so I will not differentiate between the two flavors of post on my blog.  Rather, I will leave it for you to decide whether you agree or not.

Initially, my blog was set so that others couldn’t post on it, nor ask questions.  It is my own sounding board after all.  I’ve revisited that idea, and decided that I’d prefer these writings to be interactive.  That’s not to say I wouldn’t prefer that you “followed me” on here, and if you enjoy one of the ramblings by all means repost it.  It is only when we have differing opinions that we can generate useful dialog.  If everyone agrees, you’ve nothing to talk about.  You can ask questions at:

http://dann71.tumblr.com/ask

So far as posting directly, I’m not sure how you do that.  If you want to say something badly enough, you’ll figure it out.

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It truly is the small things.  Pancakes.

     One day a year or two ago, my daughter had a friend spend the night.  My wife always sleeps in as late as possible and I am always up with the sun, as is my daughter.  The girls, my daughter and her friend, woke up and wanted something to eat.  We decided that I would make us pancakes, and I set about the task.  We ate pancakes until we were full, the kids and I all enjoyed them, and they went off to play and I watched something on TV.

I’m nearly positive the above morning actually occurred, although I cannot be sure as it’s unremarkable from our normal Sunday morning.  My daughter has frequent visitors for the night, I often make them pancakes, and I certainly watch TV once I’m done and my wife and son are still in bed.

     One day a couple of years ago, my daughter had a friend spend the night. As my wife always sleeps in as late as she can and I am always up with the sun, I am charged with breakfast creation.  This one particular Sunday morning, I decided that I would put sprinkles in the pancakes as they cooked.  The sprinkles sort of melted a bit, and the girls enjoyed a rainbow of colors as they ate what are otherwise just pancakes… but the girls loved them, and still talk about “dad’s sprinkle pancakes.” 

The addition of sprinkles in the pancakes turned a mundane meal into a lasting memory for both girls.  Now, whenever that young lady spends the night at the house and I am making breakfast, they want “sprinkle pancakes.”  It’s a memory that none of us will forget.  It was a simple alteration, and the payoff was huge.

Do the small things for those you love, build those lasting memories for both them and yourself.  Upon reflection, I guarantee those memories will put you in a happy place and last for years.

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As you travel through life’s journey with your partner, help.

If your partner is conducting some menial and necessary task such as washing clothes, making a meal or cleaning your home, ask what you can help them with.  If they say something akin to “Nothing, I’ve got it.  Go relax”, then you have more work to do.  That’s not an acceptable answer as it establishes an unhealthy pattern that will undoubtedly lead to feelings of jealousy from the “worker” towards the “relaxer.”   If that’s what you hear, it’s imperative that your counter-response is “No, I really want to help you so we can both relax.”  That’s the hard part… after a long day at work or chasing children around the house, everyone needs a break; however, if one person is sitting on their ass and the other is working, there’s only one “break” occurring.  Get the work done, together, and then relax together.  Doing so will bring you closer to your partner, and make you both much happier in the long run.  There are no “men’s jobs” or “women’s jobs” beyond the physical act of birthing a child; everything else is a joint responsibility and should be conducted as such.

I’ve been guilty of asking if I can help, and accepting “No, I got it” as a response.  It didn’t work, bottom line.

If you find yourself in a relationship with someone who won’t let you help because you “don’t do it right,” a conversation is in order.  How a towel is folded is of absolutely no consequence.  It has no relevance on anything at all.  Towels are folded as an orderly method of storage, and for no other reason.  Floors are cleaned for health reasons, it doesn’t matter if they are cleaned with a mop or scrubbed by hand, clean is clean and that’s the desired end result.  When you can’t make your partner understand this, you’ve selected the wrong person to partner with.  A relationship must be give and take, and more giving than taking.  If you are both giving all the time, a happy medium will be struck and you’ll have far more time to enjoy each other’s company.  You will have the time to become the “best friends” that you should be.

It’s not hard to give of yourself once you’ve committed to doing so, and the payment of a contented sigh or a happy smile is far more valuable than the time “lost” with the completion of the task at hand; however, if the task is being conducted jointly between two partners, is the time really “lost?”

Just fold the towels however you know how and spend time together… and for god’s sake, put some sprinkles in your pancakes!

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