Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Do as I Mean, Not as I Say

In preparation for my trip to Tulsa, I spent many hours running around looking for snake boots or snake chaps. Before the ice hit in Tulsa, which is when I was scheduled to go, my contact was worried about the possibility of snakes and recommended I bring something to protect myself from them.

Well, in Missouri in December we don’t really have to worry about snakes. After several visits to many sporting goods and hunting stores I was beginning to lose hope. One of the workers at a hunting store recommended a boot store that was not too far of a drive. Having learned my lesson and identified a pattern of no snake boots for women in Missouri in December, I called ahead before I made the drive.

Me: “Hi. I’m looking for women’s snake boots or snake gators. Do you have any in stock?”
Store clerk: “I’ve never heard of boots with both snake and gator, but we have snake boots, I think python, and gator boots.”
Me: “Great. I’ll be right over.”

There were several things in her answer that should have triggered doubt. First, no boots with both snake and gator? I wasn’t looking for gator boots; I was looking for snake gators. Next, pythons don’t bite so why would I care if they had python boots? And, if a gator wanted to bite you, some little boot wasn’t going to stop him. None of these things deterred me, so I headed to the store.

When I got there the woman I spoke to walked me to the women’s boot aisle and showed me the snake boots. I’m sure you’ve figured out by now what I was not able to – the woman pointed me to boots made out of snake skin and not boots that were snake proof. I had a little laugh at myself and left the store to continue on my frenetic search.

This whole adventure got me thinking about myself and the way I communicate. My boys often misunderstand my requests to them. I’m ignored a lot, which could be a product of my confusing way of communicating. What I want to say makes perfect sense to me in my head, but may be less clear when the request or statement leaves my mouth. I may only communicate a portion of my request, thinking that the rest of my intent will be evident or known to my boys sense it is perfectly obvious to me. Examples:

What I said: Spit out your gum.
Do as I mean: Spit your gum out in the trash can
Not as I say: Luke spit his gum out. Right there on the ground in the middle of the parking lot.

What I said: Don’t stand like that on the back of the couch.
Do as I mean: Get down off of the back of the couch and don’t stand on the furniture.
Not as I say: Jack changed his position from both feet on the back of the couch with his hands on the nearby brick column to one foot on the back of the couch with his hands pressed against the ceiling.

What I said: Will you find a place for this?
Do as I mean: Find a permanent home for this where we will be able to remember its location and find it, but I won’t have to look at it everyday.
Not as I say: The paper is still sitting in a stack on John’s desk, which is his place for it.

This just goes to show you that you can learn something productive about yourself in doing the most mundane and frustrating of tasks. What I learned while looking for snake boots is that I need to be clearer in my requests and explanations and I will save myself a whole lot of time and frustration.


Loth said...

You should have got the boots made out of snake skin - any snakes in Tulsa would have taken one look at what happened to the LAST snakes to mess with you and slithered off in the other direction. (And I'm glad we don't have snakes here you have to have special equipment to deter!)

Angie @ KEEP BELIEVING said...

I love when kids hear the LITERAL part of the sentence. Cracks me up. Sometimes I throw in cliches, like "hold your horses" just to see what reaction comes from them. Once Brian said a few years ago that he was 'throwing down the hammer on this matter.' Well, to two little boys - 2 and 3 at the time - you can imagine how excited they were at THAT prospect. They were scrambling around getting out their play tools to help. Brian was so defeated and I was CRACKING UP!

Amy said...

Pretty funny I must say!

Unknown said...

LOL! I'm still chuckling... I can't seem to stop. :) *I* understood what you meant with every statement, but then again, I am told I have communication problems as well.

Unknown said...

Then again, I'm usually told this by my husband...

Unknown said...

LOL!! My problem is I always ask my kids if they would please stop doing something instead of telling them to do something. I usually get the response "No Mom I don't want to stop hitting my sister, climbing on the furniture, etc...


Mrs. G. said...

Could you take these same principles and write a parenting handbook please? So perfect and so funny.

Carrie and Troy Keiser said...

Hi, I found you through Mom to the Fey. This was a funny post! :)

Damama T said...

Welcome to Parenting 102. You have just passed the pretest and are well on your way to acing the final!

Hey girl! Great post! I'm still grinning over the memories of my boys that you've stirred up!

Thanks for the chuckle.


Kathy said...

That is too funny, I do those things too. I think most moms do. When I was looking to buy a pocket rocket for my son, I called ahead, but when I got there all they had was a pink scooter! Guess I don't communicate clearly either!


Anonymous said...

Kids and husbands: masters of getting off on technicalities. I'm a husband, and often a kid, so yeah, I get in trouble ALL the time.

Unknown said...

LOL You sound like me with my kids. Do as I mean..I love it :-)

As for snakes, I have never heard of snake proof boots. We have ratters out here and have had to remove them 3 times from our backyard. Ugh.

Have a great holiday!