Emboldened by your comments, I have bravely begun knitting with the blue.

Craftymomma asked if this sweater is hard. As with so many things, the answer is a firm, “It depends.” If you are accustomed to color knitting and comfortable with charts, then no it isn’t that hard, because there are only two colors in every row. If your normal knitting is garter stitch scarves at 3 stitches to the inch, then yeah, it is a lot harder than that.

I’m enjoying it quite a bit, but the progress is slow, so I guess for me it is neither hard nor easy.

It is raining here this morning, for which we are all very grateful. We are one of those states where the governor asked everyone to pray for rain. Your local news probably made fun of us for it.

I stayed in bed for a while this morning, reading and drinking tea and listening to the rain. As the sky lightened, I could see the rain dripping off the trees outside the window. Lovely.

One of my kids got chewed out by a teacher yesterday. It made me think about how we respond to criticism.

Not kind, constructive suggestion-type criticism. We all know how to respond to that. The mean, attack-type criticism is something else. The natural reaction, I think, is to defend oneself. Aloud, if that is possible, or to others later if, as in this case, there is a big power imbalance. At the very least, internally.

But I think that, as in so many other cases, the natural reaction is not the most useful one. I try to put off the initial response. Be quiet, listen to what they have to say, and apologize profusely: this is the response I have trained myself to. Then I complain about it and how wrong they were to some non-gossipy person, or here in my blog (I was going to say whine, but Sighkey has pointed out that whining is longer than I allow myself :-)).

Then I make a sincere effort to find the element of truth in what was said. After all, even the most unreasonable complaint is not a random string of words like Tourette’s syndrome. Something made that person say it. It is possible that it was that person’s nasty jealous nature, or a bad mismatch in style, but it is also possible that there is some change that I could make in my behavior that would improve things for me or for that person. Or there may be an aspect of this situation that can allow me to improve my skills in some area, or help me to further my spiritual journey, or even allow me to help the person who has been mean to me, not because they deserve it but because it is good for me to provide unmerited kindness to others.

Having done this serious thinking and made those difficult changes, I then ensure that I will never again have to interact with that nasty person.

Sometimes that is not possible. Sometimes we are stuck with them. And then I think we see a male/female difference.

Of course, such differences are only statistical. When we say “Men do this and woman do that,” what we really mean is something like “65% of men do this and 72% of women do that.” But I have noticed that men, at least in movies and books, sometimes have a fight and find that it clears the air and they are then able to become good friends. This may just be a myth, since I can only seem to think of fictional examples.

Women do not do this, in fiction or in life. I am reminded of The Princess’s friend, who remarked offhandedly that all she wanted for Christmas was a hit man. Or The Poster Queen, the sweetest and kindest woman you would ever hope to meet, who holds permanent grudges. My mother, who writes people who make her angry into her books as really creepy characters. The movie “9 to 5,” which I suddenly think I ought to watch again one of these days.

Me, I just write them out. Note to self: never speak to this person again. This does sort of echo agoraphobic aversions, I guess, but I bet that it is not that uncommon a reaction.

Still, I do not smack them, so it could be worse.