I have to confess.  Today I had time out.  

I gave it to myself.  

Not for bad behavior.  Just because I wanted to … and because my friend invited a few of us over for lunch … to her house!  I didn’t get to spend as much time with them as I would have liked since I had not managed my calendar well.  (Did I forget to introduce myself?  Hi.  My name is Kay.  I’m a recovering enabler, procrastinator, disorganizer, grammar hacker and I’m calendar challenged.)  It might help if I wrote things down.  Which, if I had, I would have noticed that I signed the girls up for a typing camp (not the jazziest sounding camp, but they had fun) and that the two events slightly overlapped.  Oh, well.

So I only had an abbreviated time to enjoy:

tea, mint, and lemon

lemon AND mint in my ice tea (the extra touch that made it so special)

the salad

simple, yet delicious salad … on china! 
(a slight step above our paper dinnerware)

a real fork and an amazing tea spoon

A real fork and the neatest tea-spoon I’ve ever seen (it functions as a straw, too!)


and Tweety (yes, “Tweety”) enhancing the ambiance with song in the background.

mmmm… if only it could have lasted all day.

Reality came crashing in as I raced home to grab the girls and, by the grace of green lights, made it to their camp only five minutes late.Something happened at home, though, that is worth sharing … and considering.  Earlier, while standing over a full sink I opened a full (but clean) dishwasher.  I just couldn’t force myself to empty and fill it again.  So, I grabbed the closest able body (knowing that after their month of meals, they have complete ability to rinse, load and empty this dishwasher).  Slow Walker got the call.

“Hey.  Come empty the dishwasher.”
“What??!!  It’s not my turn.  I did it yesterday.”  Actually he did it a couple days ago, but when chores are involved, it seems like only minutes, not days, have passed since jobs were done.
“Well, do it again.”  Better to not engage in details.

He did.  And he did it well.  Drying off each cup and every plate.  Methodically stacking and sorting before putting it all away.  I was genuinely impressed.  

Later that afternoon, I stopped his play and asked him to look me in the eyes.  He thought he was in trouble (poor kid).   But all I wanted to do was thank him for the terrific job he had done.  We shook hands and I once more told him how proud I was of his effort and a job well done.

When dinner time hit, the dishwasher was done and the sink was full.  I needed another “volunteer”.  As I began to divvy out the job to the girl cooking dinner, a voice from the other room piped in, “I’ll do it!!  Please let me do it.”  

doing the dishes

Round 2!

He even went to bed asking what he could do tomorrow.
There have been studies done on the power of a positive (and negative) word.  The results that seem obvious are compelling in their intensity.  A positive word can actually change an average Joe into a person who strives for excellence.  The same is true of the negative word.  It takes excellence and spirals it down to mediocrity. Indications of the former warm your heart, give us hope.  Proof of the latter sickens the soul.  The positive word must be truth based.  No lip service allowed.  

Interestingly, It takes around 10 positives to do the same amount of work as 1 negative.  In fact, the negative word could be 100% fluff and still zing home an esteem buster.  Mostly because our human nature tricks us into believing the worst about ourselves – even if it has no basis.  Negative words work to prove that our deepest insecurities about ourselves are true.

I’ve witnessed more than once the transformation power of positive reinforcement.  It’s not as easy as dishing out a quick, seemingly effective (in that I might get the desired behavior by force) negative swipe, but it inspires like nothing else. 

Sticking to the positive in a house full of strong personalities, whining, stubbornness, moods, (…. oh, how I could go on) can be a challenge – and probably unrealistic.  But I got to witness today, in case I forgot, just how wonderfully inspiring a positive word can be.  Oh that I would spend a lot more time on that side of the fence.  Especially with my teen.

Thanks for walking the road with me.

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