Have you ever put your foot in your mouth? Silly question, I know. At some point or another, we have all made the mistake of saying too much, too little or something just plain WRONG!
My last “foot in mouth” situation occurred a few months back and I am still actually reviewing it every now and then in my head. I am a bit of a klutz, both literally and figuratively, so this particular instance was far from being my introduction to needing to eat my words. However, it has stuck with me for a while because of the magnitude of it.
I was at one of TallyBaby’s little toddler playgroup classes in town that, at the time, met weekly. Since we saw each other every week, I had gotten to know a few of the moms and enjoyed chatting with them a bit during the class. One of them was pregnant, which I am still so fascinated with even after two babies of my own, so I was asking the normal set of questions…”How are you feeling”, “Have you been sleeping well”, “Have you thought of any names?” Without rehashing every word, let’s just say, that any idiot could have gathered, based on her answers, that she had unfortunately miscarried and was no longer pregnant.
Well, this idiot did not catch these not so subtle hints, and (like an idiot) kept asking her question after question, smiling away in a state of bliss at the thought of a newborn baby on the way.
I think that my ability to be so good at putting my foot in my mouth comes from my inability to multitask. While I was spewing out ridiculous question after question to this poor lady, the kids were all around us, playing, laughing, interrupting, asking for help, etc. I could only half way focus, if that, on the conversation as I watched TallyBaby keep trying to drink the disgusting outdoor play water from an even more disgusting turkey baster that was floating in it as a toy. Who could concentrate? This is my story and I’m sticking to it!
As soon as I got in the car, gave TallyBaby a snack, turned on some Enya and started driving to pick up TallyKid from school, the pieces of the puzzle started coming together in my mind. Very quickly I realized my mistake and was driving around with my jaw on the floor of my minivan, wondering how I could possibly recover from this blunder.
That got me thinking that there are all ways people could approach this and different personalities would have very different solutions. There’s the quiet, shy and introverted type who might just never show up to the darn class again. There’s the kind and caring type who would feel compelled to send flowers and a note of apology. There’s the blunt and aggressive type who would possibly try to make light of their stupidity next time they saw the person. Hmmm……which one of these people am I?
Well, to the person directly, I ended up basically just apologizing for being oblivious and sort of blaming the chaos of the moment. I gave my genuine, sincere regrets for her misfortune and also complimented her on her strength once I came to know her whole story. To myself, not as an excuse, but just as an exercise of noticing something about myself, I blamed my social awkwardness. Although one may look at me and assume I am an introvert, when I open my mouth I usually tend to overcompensate for your correct assumption by being pretty forceful and even arrogant with my words sometimes. I come across as confident and in charge when I open my mouth, but usually during the conversation, I am working really hard to pick up on the other person’s personality and match it so that I can fit in. Doing all of this in my head really distracts me from the actual conversation I am having with you, which makes things difficult. Not fun to think this about myself, much less type it here and admit it for all the world (there’s that arrogance) to read, but nevertheless, here it is. The whole truth and nothing but it.
I know it’s very cliche to say that the first step to fixing a problem is admitting it, but hey, it’s the truth. For me, at this stage in the game of life, I am actually OK with admitting my faults and even with accepting them. However, as a parent, the thing about your faults, is that they can easily become your kids’ faults too. Sometimes when I see a behavior I am not proud of in my children, I soon come to realize that it’s, in part, something I am not proud of in myself. That’s when I become motivated to make a change. My kids are forever making me want to be a better person.
When’s the last time you put your foot in your mouth?