Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Dewey Decimal Hater...

Today we packed up all of our school stuff and went to the library. It's good to switch it up a bit. To round off the day, we did a Dewey Decimal Scavenger Hunt. I know it sounds really boring, but it really is so much fun. The kids were begging all day to do the scavenger hunt, so I used it as leverage all day to get them through their assignments. Let's call it their dewey reward.

We were in the 000 section, which contains unexplained phenomena, computer science, general information. We were learning to research and were looking for things such as: how many players there are on a hockey team, who was the 12th president, what is the capital of Syria, when did Pablo Picasso die?...

We were doing it and we were learning.

We were being quiet.

I noticed there was a man about 15 feet away from us on his computer. He began sighing heavily. At first I thought perhaps he was having trouble getting connected to the free library internet. But the sighing was SO exaggerated, I was worried that he was having some sort of asthma attack.

But we continued on with our learning. Because that's what we do. And that's what the PUBLIC library is for. That's what I pay my taxes for... so that I can go to the public library to teach my children if I so choose.

Then this 50ish kind of greasy mullet having, jean jacket wearing, troll, jumps up, slams his computer shut, yanks his power cord out of the wall, walks by, still SIGHING heavily, and stops to glare at me as we are sitting around a small table by the 000 section in the library.

As he walks off, I ask rather sing songily, "were we disturbing you?" Seriously, I wasn't meaning to be confrontational or rude. I really wondered. I can't imagine that talking quietly in the corner of a library 15 feet away from someone would elicit that type of response.

He walks back and gets in my face and screams, "Why yes, yes you were..."

Then he stomps off to the other side of the library, continuing to SIGH heavily.

This man had a serious SIGHING problem.

Really. Really? Really. How old are you?

My kids are looking at me for direction. Their mouths are agape. We are all silent.

Now feeling confrontational, I call out, still sing songily, "I'm sorry. I hope you don't find any children on that side of the library trying to learn. It's so annoying."

He said something else, which I'm glad I couldn't hear.

So now, we load up our stuff because I have allowed this a**hole to ruin our wonderful day. Excuse my language, but at the time, that's the nicest thing I could have called this man.

I seriously had to fight the urge to not jump on this man's back like a spider monkey. I don't consider myself to be confrontational, aggressive or argumentative, but it took every ounce of self-control I had to NOT get in this man's face and tell him exactly what I thought of him.

I know that there will be readers who think that's a horrible thing to say. It's a horrible thing to admit. I seriously don't consider myself to be agressive or confrontational, but I guess I'm also not afraid of my shadow or afraid to stand up for myself either. I credit where I work for developing this personality trait, and I usually consider it a good thing. Today, I was cursing it.

We drove home in silence. I was silent and imagining what it would have been like to have jumped on his back, pulling out his greasy mullet like my inner spider monkey wanted to...

Once we got home, I shared my story with a friend who had a similar anger control issue today, and I started to laugh. And laugh. And laugh. And laugh.

The kids and I started thinking and talking about what was going on in his man's life that would make him so very, very angry. We came up with several different scenarios one of which involved him losing his job at the manure factory...

And we considered the fact that we really don't know what's going on in his life. Just like we don't know what's going on in the personal life of that person who just cut you off in traffic, or the lady in the check out line who was rude, or that quiet kid on the soccer team... we just don't know what struggles other people have.

Justine puts her two cents worth in by saying, "I just don't think he likes your dewey decimal thing..."

We started talking about how important it is to not let your inner monkey out.

I told them.

I'm not going to pretend to be perfect, not to you and not to my kids.

I told them how angry I was. I told them how I wanted to lash out at that man. Ok, let's be honest, I basically wanted to assault him.

So then we talked about what I did to keep from doing that.

I prayed.

I counted to ten.

I prayed again.

I counted to twenty.

I prayed.

And I turned around and walked away.

We also talked about how important it is to have self-control. Even if you're a 50ish troll at the library irriated by 5 cute kids. It's not OK to treat people like that. It's not OK to behave like a 2 year old throwing a fit in public. It's not OK to do to anyone what that man did to us.

It really brought home the idea that the way we behave on our worst days tells the world who we are on our best days. It really gave credit to my ongoing lecture that learning to control your anger is one of the most important things you can learn.

I went through several different scenarios with the kids about how to "turn the other cheek." I gave them situations and they gave me the answers.

Finally, I said, "What if someone makes you made at soccer?"

Jack's response, "I'd slide tackle them..."

So... obviously we're still learning this very difficult, very frustrating lesson. And I have to admit, as we drove back by the library for soccer practice about 30 minutes later, I still wanted to stop and find that guy and tell him what I thought of him.

But I didn't. And that's the important thing.

And if I were to see that man tomorrow at the library, I will thank him for opening up that conversation.

We all learned so much at the library today... and some things weren't even on our assignment lists.

"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well."

Matthew 5:38-40



Laurel said...

Great post!

Can you homeschool my kids? You do fun stuff.

We are camping at a KOA in TX right now, and the man at the front desk is a very grumpy man ... not someone who should be in charge of customer service. But, today, I too thought about what things might be happening in his life to make him so grumpy.

Today, I quietly walked my kids into an air-conditioned room to play cards for awhile while I was doing laundry next door. A lady was in there watching t.v. When our kids came in and sat down, talking quietly, she walked right up to the big screen t.v. ... turned in on LOUD ... and did the "sigh" thing also. Then, she walked out 5 minutes later, taking the remote control with her so that we couldn't turn the tv. down. An hour later I had to go get grumpy pants to turn it down for us.

An hour or so later, we went to the pool to go swimming, and there was our dear lady friend. As soon as our kids got in the pool, she did the "sigh" thing again, and got right out to sit in the adults-only hot tub. I guess we were disturbing her peace, just like you were the guy in the library.

Keep up the good work with your kids!

mama of 13

Renee said...

It is HARD to remember to have compassion on the greasy dude all up in your face! And what is with grumpy guys in the library, anyway? We have had issues with that too.
The best display I can remember wasn't directed at us, though. One year when Veteran's Day was on a Tues. all the state offices closed to observe it on Mon., so the library did as well. So we're there on the Tues, and this old man in a navy hat came in and ripped the librarian up one side and down the other, LOUDLY, for being open on Veteran's Day. She explained that they closed the day before for observance, but he continued to scream at her that they should be closed today too. Then he proceeded to stay in the open library and read the newspaper. ROFL.

Nichole said...

First of all, I would like to note that public school has only partially failed me, as I am proud to report I immediately knew the capital of Syria was Damascus, but couldn't tell you the 12th president if my life depended on it. Secondly, you are a better woman that I am. I would have let my temper get the better of me in .5 seconds and gave the bitter old man a piece of my mind. Next time some bitter old fart gets sassy because my kid is being a kid, I"m going to try and remember to take a deep breath and let it pass, instead of my usual haul off and verbally bitch smacking them.

chrissylynn said...

Wow!! Gina what a great post. You took one of those moments of frustration and turned into a teachable time. That is so awesome... I hope to follow your example. Your children are blessed to have you.
Christine Vaughan