Thursday, August 11, 2011

Things I Ponder: Confrontation

*Disclaimer: This post is not a finger pointing at ANYONE. It is just my thoughts on an issue that's been on my mind recently for a number of reasons. This is just my way of getting it out, possibly hearing others thoughts on it, and maybe even educating myself.*

I don't really like confrontation, but I do feel there are right ways and wrong ways to handle it. Most of my life I have avoided confrontation in anyway that I could if I really didn't want to be involved or didn't have a big interest in what the whole issue was about. Not to say that I don't get mad, because I do. Just ask my husband. Or anyone whose ever done something mean to my little brothers, my kids, or my friends. Those scenarios are about the only time I can confront somebody and not feel timid about it. Not that I don't shake in my proverbial boots the whole time, but that's usually a mix of anger and nerves.

My mom still loves to tell the story of when I was in around 5th grade and stood up to the two biggest guys on my bus. They had it coming and at that particular moment I still think I could've done damage if they had wanted to try to "put me in my place". Here's what happened:

 We had just moved from town out to the country and hadn't been riding this bus very long and in our small Georgia county all the kids on a particular bus route rode the same bus - there was no "Elementary bus", "Jr. High bus", etc. My youngest brother, who we always called Junior, was in Kindergarten I believe and I was VERY protective of both of my little bros. One morning, maybe the first day of school, we got on the bus and as we were walking further back, my baby bro in front of me, Junior steps on the foot of the big guy in the middle of the bus. I mean BIG, I am pretty sure this dude was a football player and I know he was in High school. So, little bro steps on this dude's foot and next thing I know Big Dude pushes my little brother across the aisle into Big Dude #2! Oh, heck no!! Well, Big Sister (who's not so big. Maybe 50 lbs at 11 years old, for real.) was not standing for that kind of treatment of her little brother for one second! Before I really even knew what I was doing I had snatched my little brother out from between these two huge morons and immediately began to berate them both. It went a little something like this: "what do you think you're doing?! How dare you push him?! He's a little boy!" Big Dude #1 said something to the effect of: "he stepped on my new shoes". And I gave him this incredulous look and blasted him again with: "look at how small he is and look at your foot. you really think he was going to do any damage?!" By this time the bus driver was yelling at all of us and made ME come and sit in the front of the bus. I was mad at her for that, but I understand now that she felt she was protecting me. Looking back I am pretty sure that Big Dude #1 and #2 were laughing at me under their breath, but I didn't care. One thing I do know is that neither I or my two little brothers ever had any more issues on that bus.

So, what's my point? I don't know exactly. This is just an issue I've been thinking on lately. One thing that I've learned through the years is that the best way to deal with an issue when confrontation really needs to take place is to just suck it up and deal with it head to head, so to speak. Maybe not EXACTLY the way I dealt with it when it came to the issue with Big Dudes #1 & #2, although sometimes that's the only way to get through to some folks, but it is best to just deal with it. The opposite of what I mean here is what happened to me at the local library the other day. I'll tell the story and then what I think would've been a better way for it to be handled. 

I'm at the library with my children last week and have put Liza in the van and then started it because the boys were coming right behind me. Then I remembered that I needed to call the main branch about a book that had been lost so, as the boys were walking out, I called and forgot I had already started the van. An older lady who was sitting in her vehicle beside us gets out and begins to putter around her vehicle. Then she begins to fake cough and says, "oh carbon monoxide! turn it off...." and I'm thinking to myself, 'is she talking about me?'. Then I realize that my vehicle is still running. She putters some more and makes a few more comments, all the while I am still on the phone about the "lost" book and trying to figure out why this grown woman in the library parking lot is acting like a child. Eventually she goes inside, right about the time the mystery of the lost book is cleared up and I hang up the phone, put my van in drive and leave. 

My children heard everything that this lady said and when we were leaving they asked me why she did it and what was her point, basically. I used it as a teaching moment on confrontation and how to do it correctly. Well, to be totally honest, first I told them she was a jackass - then I told them how I felt she should've handled the situation. What she really should've done was come over to my side of my vehicle and respectfully asked me to turn my car off. She could've given reasons why she believed it was the right thing to do if she felt like she needed to or not. But, I would've had so much more respect for her if she had just confronted me in a respectful manner rather than the way that she did it. Honestly, I didn't even realize that I had the car running the whole time until she said something. I was just taking care of something I didn't want to forget about and it never crossed my mind that I was "polluting the environment". Plus, the way she handled it made me feel kind of disrespected and that's something I'm still pondering. Ummm, and just so you all know, my car does not put off foul smelling fumes. I know all cars put out some pollution but it's not pouring stinky exhaust out when it's running. Just sayin'....

Two different stories, but both sort of about the same thing. Only two different ways to handle it. Wondering what others think about this whole issue of confrontation and the ways that we handle it. 

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