Saturday January 28, 2006

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.


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10 responses to “Saturday January 28, 2006”

  1. ozarque Avatar

    When you get old — really old, and regardless of your biological gender — you’ll find that you’re no longer to remember who is on (or off) your list of people that you’re never going to speak to again.

    Hurrah for that gorgeous sweater, and hurrah for the rain!

  2. chanthaboune Avatar

    I think speeches about how great you are and how much respect you deserve only serve to make you look absolutely self-obsessed. It’s like those movies where the pretty women are thrown in jail and, the whole time they are in the shot, they are screaming like banshees.

    “Do you know who I am?” they screech.

    I doubt there is one situation in real life in which the response to that question is great respect and immediate deference.

  3. fibermom Avatar

    Hey, you are right about that. Like when Alice Walton got arrested for DWI.

  4. craftymommavt Avatar

    Thanks for the insight about the challenge level of the sweater….as a beginner knitter, I am at this point past the big needle/bulky yarn scarf stage, but I have not tried color charts yet…actually, I haven’t even done stripes yet! I’ll have to find something more basic to try with.  Perhaps I can find something worthy of doing with some nice wool yarn instead of my Walmart acrylics! As to the Erin…I can’t wait to see how the blue integrates into the sweater.

  5. sighkey Avatar

    Either I have a very selective memory or I have been extraordinary lucky as an adult – I cannot recall many instances of the nasty attack-type criticism being directed against me once I left school. I did hate school because I always felt that my female friends seemed to take a great deal of enjoyment out critisizing me in such a way that left the impression that I was somehow inferior to themselves – I never actually worked out how to effectively deal with this – I usually pretended to ignore it and became very good at totally not-reacting when this happened. (As a pre-teen my natural response would have been to hit them but as my brother, sister and I were energetic and relatively strong children we could hurt others if we did this – we did however settle arguments among ourselves by fighting. The fight always stopped when one of us, usually my little sister, started crying.) I admit that as an adult, criticism aimed at me personally rather than at something I have done or not done has no effect at all if it comes from anyone whose opinion I don’t care about (I am perhaps  just a tad arrogant 🙂 ) so I just ignore it. If it comes from a friend, I take a deep breath, and try to walk away and think about it in a more dispassionate manner. Unless I’m in a bad mood of course – then I either retaliate with a criticism of my own (not something I’m proud of doing – but I cannot be diplomatic and dispassionate when I’m angry) or if I’m really angry and know that I will say something really devastating and hurtful I storm out and don’t have anything to do with the other person until I’ve cooled down – which can sometimes take weeks. I don’t take it personally if my work is criticized but that may be the result of writing stories from a fairly young age and giving them to friends and family to read who would always tell me the reasons why they did or did not like my stories.

  6. Leonidas Avatar

    criticism is hard to swallow. Is that book any good?…

  7. simplespirit Avatar

    I love to stay in bed on rainy (and snowy, for that matter!) mornings!  I am just learning how to knit in the round, using four double points.  I took a sock class and did the cuff there and tonight, as I sat on the couch, I finished the leg.  Now I am ready to “turn the heel” but now that the class is over and I have no instruction; I am totally lost!  I am such a novice with anything that isn’t flat (i.e. afghans…:) so I need to take my tube to the yarn store and see if someone will take pity on me!  Your sweater is an inspiration!

  8. sighkey Avatar

    ‘no self-esteem problems’, I like that. I have noticed among friends who perhaps are not so fortunate self-esteem wise that they are inclined to use the word ‘arrogant’ to describe those who have ‘no self-esteem problems’. (They probably think me ‘arrogant’ but are too polite to say so to my face.)  When I meet these ‘arrogant’ people I usually find I like them and it’s a huge relief not to have to watch everything I say in case I inadvertently hurt someone. Tip toeing around with words can get exhausting after a while.

  9. sighkey Avatar

    Oops, replace ‘no self esteem problems’ with ‘no self esteem issues’. ‘Issues’ actually sounds funnier than ‘problems’ even in kiwi-a-go-go land..

  10. glazyj Avatar

    I’m trying to find a blogring to join and stumbled onto yours.  My sister is a spinner,  She has llama and goats, cards and cleans, then spins her wool to knit, weave, or crochet.  I think she even has an Angora rabbit.  Forgive me if I misspelled.  I’m interested in beading, painting, sewing, and my children!!!  I have five children, ranging in age from 5-15, one boy and four girls.  I’m a nurse and my husband is a truck driver.       

    Maybe I’ll visit again.  

    Nice to find adults here.   Though-sometimes we all need to act like children. 

    God bless and have a wonderful day.