Thursday, December 16, 2010

Some Do's, Some Don'ts

My nephew Jacob used to stay with me a lot when he was about 4. I was living by myself when he and his family moved to Georgia from the decomposing center of Louisiana and were staying with my dad and Janice. With a house full of people telling him what to do, Jacob sometimes just needed to get the hell out, so he'd come spend the weekend with me.

Jacob and I got along really well, partly because I suspect we're both ENFPs. (Yes--if I know you, I have probably secretly judged you via the Meyer's Briggs Type Indicator. Sorry.) Even when he was really little, we used to have these long discussions about People--all kinds of people and their habits.

Sample conversation:

Jacob: Jessie, my dad says girls don't drive good. Why don't girls drive good?
Me: Well, Jacob--some girls can drive really well, and other girls drive like idiots. It all depends.
Jacob: Why? Why do some girls drive bad?
Me: Well, just as many boys are bad drivers. But people who don't drive well probably just didn't learn the right way, or they don't take it seriously enough or they're distracted. Or it's not a priority for them. I don't know.
Jacob: But some girls DO drive good?
Me: Yep. Your mom and Grandma and I are all girls and we're pretty good drivers, huh?

This was the part where he nodded knowingly--his suspicions validated. And then he closed it down with his trademark catchphrase:

"Some do's, some don'ts."
"Yep," I said. "Some do's, some don'ts."

I've been thinking about "Some Do's, Some Don'ts" lately because for the past few months, our household affairs have been almost laughably horrible. To wit: our dog died, my bike got stolen, Bryan has been working on an ulcer studying for a series of grueling tests, Odessa's been eschewing a good night's sleep with a firm hand, I've been unreasonably busy at work, we've had to get many, many thousands of dollars of work done on our cars, ET cetera.

And because things are shitty, I have had to remind myself every day to be gentle with Bryan and Odessa and the people at work and the grocery clerk and the person in the Mitsubishi in front of me at the red light, and myself--maybe especially myself. Because one thing I believe to be true is what Jacob picked up on when he was four years old: some people are going to behave one way, other people are going to behave another way--they just ARE. It's a law. Fighting the Some Do's, Some Don'ts Principle is what many, many people spend all the days of their lives doing, which is just plain unproductive and sad when you think about it. For instance, I pity people who devote their life's work to preventing gay people from being together. Because I got news: Some do's, Some don'ts.

So, my work for this autumn and winter has been a) trying to predict what some people are going to do's and don'ts, and b) formulating my strategy for dealing with their dos-ing and don'ts-ing before they do something that runs me crazy. As long as my strategy isn't asking them "WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU!?"

Because you know what? Some do's, Some don'ts. It's mystifying, but true.

1 comment:

  1. I still have many a conversations with Jacob that sound a lot like this one. You should spend a day with him. As long as you catch him on a good non pre-teen day he's a blast :)