Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Ms. Iceberg Meets Mr. Titanic


I can see the inevitability of the coming collision, but i am helpless to stop it.

Are you ever with two other people whom you know and love and you can see the conversation heading right off into a fight? And if you say anything, you will become the deer in the headlight instead of the other two?

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Em has just returned from a 5 day tour of east coast colleges. She is tired and quite nervous thinking about college and all that it implies; applications, SAT scores, moving away, roommates. We are at a restaurant awaiting our pizza, the night before she gets her braces (another worry).

The Mister is all excited for her and wants to talk about colleges. He has missed her. I also think that he wishes he had had all the support and encouragement that Em is getting, and wants to make sure that she really feels his support.

She chatters about colleges for a little bit and then heaves a weary sigh and says she is tired of talking about it. She rests her head on my shoulder in the restaurant.

The Mister lets it go for a minute, and then says, "You know, you really should think about applying to ABC and XYZ colleges too."

Em: Ummm.

Meno, (thinking "DANGER WILL ROBINSON, DANGER!") Oh look, i think that's our pizza.

The Mister: I mean, you'll never know unless you try. And depending on your SAT scores...yadda, yadda...

Meno: (OH SHIT! I need some semifore flags to indicate that the danger alert level is RED.)

Em, (exploding) LEAVE ME ALONE! I don't want to TALK ABOUT COLLEGE RIGHT NOW.

The Mister: ???? (angry and puzzled.)

Meno: Sigh.

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This is just an example. And i know that the Mister can see Em and i doing this same thing at times. It's much easier to see from the outside.

39 comments:

Lynn said...

Oh man! It's also bad when you are the one saying something that you just know will blow up in your face, and yet you just can't stop yourself...(sigh)

mrschili said...

This is one of the things in life that really SUCKS - it IS always easier to see shit like that from the outside. Moreover, if one is mindful and considerate, one beats oneself about the head when one looks back on a conversation/situation that one was personally involved in and says to oneself, "If I had just kept my frickin' mouth shut at THAT particular moment, none of this suffering would be happening right now." So yes; outside vision is a bitch; right up there with hindsight.

Wishes for peace and treaty in your home....

Joan said...

I keep telling every woman I know that the best way to avoid this kind of incident is to carry a red flag with them at all times. Then when they no longer want to talk about something OR they just want every man around them to get the hell away, they scream "RED FLAG, RED FLAG" while waving the red flag wildly and every man in close proximity will go running for their lives.

Maggie said...

Poor mister. Trying so hard to reach out, but not reading signals. Poor Em, a lot I'm sure on her mind. But given that they are both reasonable people and were intelligent enough to have you as a wife and mother (I know Em didn't really choose this, but hey), they will come around and most likely be able to talk about it later...right?

Now that I'm thinking about this, your little robin must be overwhelmed. I know I would have been.

Lucia said...

I like Joan's idea, especially since many people seem to be immune to the subtle signals we try to send!

Toni said...

Ugh! I know where you are coming from. It usually me and the boy. Kenny can see it coming from a mile away.

QT said...

Sorry, I had to stifle a laugh. When I don't want to talk about something, I now make a almost cartoonish frown face at the BF. We both usually end up laughing our asses off about the face, but he gets the point.

Oh Em - I remember that hectic time. Why do life decision have to be made when you are so young?

Thailand Gal said...

I have a habit of telling people that I appreciate their concern about (blah blah) topic and I'll be sure to say more when I'm ready.

If that doesn't shut them up, nothing will.

Joan's idea is definitely a good one. Perhaps if we had a little symbol that would communicate the meaning for us.

:)

Em was probably tired and just wanted to relax and eat pizza. I can certainly understand it! LOL


Peace,

~Chani

patches said...

Sigh...I watched this train pull into the station last night. If the Mister isn't looking at subtle signs, he's not going to be enlightened by a red flag, flashing lights and a siren. At the risk of misreading the situation, I feel compelled to mention men and women communicate differently. Women are constantly looking for signs and things that might be beneath the surface. Men are direct, and tend to take others at face value. Both methods of communication have strengths, but if used exclusively are liabilities. Maybe both parties need a gentle reminder of the differences between the sexes.

As far as circumventing goes......it's hard to prevent a natural disaster from running its course.

jen said...

i always wonder why, in those moments, i don't do something totally bizarre, like start to belt out some weird song or dance on a table.

instead i sit riveted, watching the train crash approach.

meno said...

lynn, that someone is often me too. I just can't stop myself even though i know the result.

mrs.chili, it was over quickly, but this happens often between the two of them, and sometimes between Em and i and rarely between the Mister and i. (But when it is the Mister and i, LOOK OUT!)

joan, The Red Flag Club instead of The Red Hat Club? I like it!!! We need a club T-shirt: "Red Flag out there? Spouse beware!" "Red Flag a-flyin'? Spouse stop tryin'"

maggie, i know. He was really baffled. And my robin is nervous. :)

lucia, you can join the club and get a T-shirt too!! :)

toni, The Mister can see it too when it's Em and i. Sigh.

qt, the BF is a smart man, and so are you. Well, not a smart man, but you know... So this face is your version of the red flag! I know, she is SO young. It doesn't seem right.

chani, what a lovely diplomatic thing to say. I am going to write that on my palm so i can remember it when i need it!

patches, no, it is a man/woman communication thing. He was just all excited in his own mind and missed the "shut the f up" clue. I have tried to intervene before and then they are both mad at me.

jen, "HEY THERE, YOU WITH THE STARS IN YOUR EYES...." It just might have worked. Although i think the Mister would have gotten annoyed with me for interupting him.

Nancy Dancehall said...

Oh, I hate that. It's like standing on a mountaintop and watching a car with busted brakes careen down the road toward a car speeding up the hill. Yarg.
All I can say is that she'll remember that he cared. And he'll remember that she was a pain as a teenager but got better in her 20s.

deb said...

My husband and daughter do that as well. He can't seem to see when she doesn't want to talk. We do need a system though. It might help. How about a t-shirt that says F#@k off!

liv said...

Wow. That sounded so familiar. And I feel just how Em must have felt. Like, honest to God, Dad...I just got all the way back to the western side of the freakin' continent and all I want is a pizza and some gin....oh, wait, that was me---well, the gin part.

meno said...

nancy, we'll see what happens in her 20s. That sense of impending disaster is impossible to look away from.

deb, a great idea for a T-shirt!

liv, just wait until yours get older! Gin? Ummm.

Antonia said...

I understand entirely where you're coming from. I hate confrontations and have always been a light-hearted defuser. It took me years to learn that arguments don't upset everyone the way they upset me, and that sometimes people are okay with having them, but still, I could never live with someone for whom arguments were part of the relationship dynamic. I expect my light-heartedness will annoy the piss out of my daughter when she reaches her stroppy teens.

Lee said...

Alas, I have the temper of a two year old when I'm tired too. Oh, okay...I have it all the time. ;)

AC said...

When I'm all enthusiastic and forward thinking and want to dream and verbalize, thats usually when my daughter starts to feel all anxious and shuts down. I'm always a bit surprized when she doesn't want to talk about the *what could be's* but I'm forgetting the pressure she feels.

We're about to be there again with graduating, jobs and eventual graduate school.

Mona Buonanotte said...

Maybe one of those yellow flags, like in football, that the ref throws on the field when he wants all action to stop and everyone to take a breath and go to opposite sides of the field and drink Gatorade and go pee.

Maybe that would work.

Bob said...

I feel sorry for The Mister. He's all excited, been waiting all week, he gets wound up and then......cut off at the pass. And doesn't understand why. And Em, at her age, probably doesn't have a huge amount of patience.

Fathers frequently feel cut off from their kids lives, especially when their kids' primary relationship is with their mother. Here comes a topic he feels he can share in and gets cut off at the knees. I can just imagine the confusion and hurt he experienced.

Marsha said...

You could have been describing a typical dinner with my family. It is so nice to know that I am not the only one going through this difficulty talking to teenage daughter thing. For me it seems that I am the one who ends up in a big fight with the daughter most and the hubby is the one telling me he saw it coming. But, just the other day I remember telling him he should have know that the moment he had chosen to bring up a particular topic was not appropriate. I have to say the most of the time I feel that the daughter needs to get over herself and learn how to suck it up even when she is not in the best of moods. I am working on being more sympathetic toward her, but not having a ton of success.

Kelly said...

LOL... I think daughters should wear a warning sign, "Warning: Could explode at any time without warning!" Would that help? Probably not.;)

Susanne said...

I'd say to kelly's comment that me aand my son need the same signs for sure. Usually it's me and my son here in our family. And my husband sees it coming and when he says something everybody will explode in his face.

Winter said...

You guys should have a code word. That way when he doesn't see it coming you could clue him in.

meno said...

antonia, i don't care to be with people who like to argue as entertainment/communication either. It makes me tense. Esme will love you because you are cool.

lee, yeah, Em can be a little touchy. But not me. I am always calm and reasoned. *snort*

ac, i know, me too. i forget how scary it can all look from the beginning side.

mona, A time out! What a good idea. But if i called one then i would become the focus.

bob, i feel sorry for him too. He tries so hard to connect with Em and she (not all the time) can just blow him off. I had to tell Em the other day that watching her be mean to her dad reminds me of watching my mother be mean to my dad. She didn't like hearing that, but i know she's mulling it over.

marsha, it's not right that we all tip toe around Em's moods. I understand when you say you think she should just get over herself. Think it will happen anytime soon?

kelly, "Contents Under Pressure, do not expose to heat/light/attention of any kind."

suzanne, your poor hubby. I imagine like me he has learned to just sit back and watch the collision.

meno said...

winter, i will mention that to the hubby, but i don't know if he will appreciate my attempts to help or not. Maybe if we tried to work it both ways, so we each used the code word.

Mama P said...

I hope you had beer with the pizza.

sober briquette said...

I'm a shin kicker. Of course, the kickee always says,
"Whaaa? OW!" so it's not very discrete, only about as much so as the red flag or funny face idea.

Anonymous said...

Okay, there's something here I'm not getting. What would be wrong with flat out changing the subject by saying quietly, reflectively, "I think maybe Em's kind of tired of talking about colleges right now. She's had a big trip. How did things go today with [whatever he was working on]?"
No yelling. Call me lazy, but isn't it easier to quietly point out what is to you the obvious, and to get points with Em for understanding her, and gratitude from the Mister for translating her body language into your comment, than to sit there and wait for the train wreck?
And by including the word "maybe" you give Em the option to say, "Oh, no, that's fine," if you in fact have read her wrong.
Anne

gr said...

Everybody should relax and as the good parents that you are you should tell her the truth: college is about socks and drogs and rock and roll, so nothing really matters until graduation, when you go to grad school, and the party goes on....

OH! maybe you don't want to think about your daughter going away from home and...

Marsha said...

I didn't mean that Em needs to get over herself. I think you must be doing a better job of balancing discipline and empathy than I am. I spent the first years doing too little discipline and too much empathy and as a result my teen is not so good at playing with others. I feel guilty that I don't really have a lot of empathy left for her anymore. It is nice to know that the difficult to talk to syndrome isn't entirely the fault of my crabby parenting.

caro said...

This is really going to help me in the future with my girls. I talked about it with my husband and we are thinking about a little code we can use to warn the other when this happens...

Dick said...

I think that is a good example of how hard it is for men to understand women. Kind of reminds me of the story about the guy who found the bottle with a genie inside.

Ortizzle said...

Yes, there is a time to hover and flutter about, and a time to let 'em chill and think about it tomorrow. Getting energy levels to coincide can be a real balancing act. Of course, if expectations are different, and flexibility is in short supply, then you have a whole 'nuther problem. But I assume it was just the right vibes at the wrong time. :-)

meno said...

mamap, red wine! :)

de, oh the trouble i would get into if i kicked a shin!

anne, that, of course, is an excellent idea. But i have found in the past that the Mister is very sensitive about being told, even this gently, to stop. It just gets me in trouble. Gratitude would not be forthcoming. It's a family dynamics thing. Sigh! Em needs to learn to say this herself rather than blowing up.

gary, gee, thanks for that. :)

marsha, but part of you is right, she needs to learn to say what she's thinking rather than immediately yelling.

caro, good idea. I don't think the Mister would go for it, but i will bring it up here.

dick, ha ha, right you are! But the Mister shouldn't have to guess either.

sari said...

Ooh, been there, done that.

It's worse when you see it coming yourself, and still can't shut your mouth.

egan said...

I'm scratching my head at this one. Is he trying to suggest places she thinks are above her level or not? I'm attempting to get inside the noggin of The Mister.

meno said...

ortizzle, it was a confluence of things, tired nervousness meets excited enthusiasm, right there at the dinner table!

sari, i HATE it when i do that. You think after all these years i'd know better too.

egan, no, nothing like that, she was just tired of thinking about a stressful subject and he was all excited to offer more possibilities.

egan said...

Okay.