Tuesday, 30 October 2012
When my daughter was a baby, maybe 18 months old, she and I were doing some grocery shopping in WalMart when the weeping and gnashing of teeth that had been going on since we entered became impossible to ignore any longer. We both looked over to see a woman pushing a cart with a kid in the basket, I'm guessing he was maybe 4 or 5, who was screaming, throwing things on the floor, kicking, yanking at his mother's hair, stomping on vegetables, tearing open bread wrappers, throwing jars of olives at passersby and through all this was attempting to bite his mother. There was milk and orange juice dripping out from around her purchase selections into a large, and growing larger, puddle under the buggy. Mom emitted a steady stream of, "Now, hunny, let's not do that. Hunny, let's...let's...oh, you shouldn't do ...just...just...just. Dylan, Mommy's getting tir...hunny, just...wait...just...just..."
My 18 month-old looked at me and matter-of-factly said, "Spenkin'" with a glance in the kid's direction and a sage nod.
I very rarely resorted to "spenkins" to discipline her (and never before she was 18 months old), so I assume she gathered this was what the child needed from watching others discipline their children, and while I think her suggestion may have been worth a shot if Mom hadn't already tried it, it occurred to me that our tendency as humans to assume we understand the lives and needs of strangers better than they do after a very brief observation begins very early in life.
Now, sometimes there is some value in having an impartial opinion given from someone who isn't in the fray and not consumed with the details and the emotions of the situation...
But mostly when someone says, "All you gotta do is..." Anything that comes after it is utterly worthless, and worse, it's condescending.
For someone to believe that he can understand your child, your marriage, your body, your job, your home, your family, your life better after a cursory, mostly disinterested examination than you understand it after living with it 24/7 for your entire life is profoundly, astoundingly arrogant.
If you listen to nearly anyone with an a**hole, (oh, wait, that's an opinion), insomnia is an easy thing to fix. "All you gotta do is..." avoid caffeine after 4, exercise more, exercise less, eat more, eat less, gain weight, lose weight, take a sleeping pill, avoid sleeping pills, drink a little grapefruit juice before bed, don't watch tv in your bedroom, get up and move to a different bed if you aren't asleep after 15 minutes, get some counseling, stop worrying so much, the "solutions" are literally endless. The truth is, if you've ever even considered the idea that "It's simple, all you gotta do..." , then you have never experienced true, chronic insomnia and have nothing valuable to add to any discussion of it. Maybe you've missed a night or 3 of sleep or had an especially bad time in your life when you couldn't sleep well for a few months because of something stressful going on in your life, but you have no actual experience with chronic insomnia. Or maybe you have, but your body, your situation, your job, your marriage, your family is nothing like what the other person lives with. Do you really think somebody who hasn't slept an entire night in 40 years never thought of exercising a little or changing his diet? Or looking on the internet for some suggestions? Or reading a book about it?
And, oh my goodness, don't ever say you're "depressed" without expecting the parade of "suggestions."
You're too stupid to understand weight loss (or any other health issue) so let me explain it to you. "All you gotta do is..." Avoid ice cream, exercise more, eat less, don't exercise so much, eat more 'cuz yer in starvation mode, exercise differently, use my diet plan, read my dude's book, listen to me because I know your body better than you do because I've lived in my body, which is as unlike your body as it is possible to be and still be the same species, for a while now so clearly I understand how your body works better than you do. Besides, I read an article on yahoo a few years ago over lunch about it.
Also, I invented reading so obviously you never did any of that before I came along.
In fact, I am personally responsible for the entire concept of written language.
You're raising your children wrong. "All you gotta do is..." Spank, don't spank, time out, don't time out, daycare, don't daycare, homeschool, don't homeschool, breast feed, don't breast feed, be in charge, don't squash your kids' expression, because even though I don't have any children (or the ones I had are drug-adled felons) and I've never seen you before in my life and my eyes have never so much as passed over your child, I understand your child better than you do.
I was married for about 48 and a half hours, so let me tell ya, you're doing it wrong. Tell that mother-in-law that blah blah blah. Tell him he can't treat you like that, you need to treat him better, never go to bed angry, "I'd NEVER put up with him bowling every week while I'm at home with the kids", if you were being a better wife he wouldn't even have to think about jacking off when you aren't home, he cheated on you with that woman so you just need to pack up and leave his ass, submit, be assertive, be more permissive, be less permissive, don't be so controlling, you gotta get that nipped in the bud.
And I have to wonder, how do we arrive at the idea that every other person in the world understands nothing about his own life and is just waiting around for our input?