I looked at the little kid who was obviously about to lose it and enter full-on-tantrum-no turning-back-mode. Arms pulled back, knees bent, about to jump down the metaphorical downward spiral of a child’s meltdown.
I held both of this kid’s hands in mine, got directly on eye-level with them, and told them that they had a choice to make. They could end the play time positively and let it go, or they could choose to scream and yell and throw a fit.
“I’m going to scream.”
My mind stopped for a split second as I realized that they in fact had control over their responses. Days upon days had me questioning if they could even control their reactions had led to this moment where I realized THEY COULD.
Sometimes I say questionable things, and perhaps this was one of those times. I told them that actively choosing to scream when they could totally control that decision was not okay and that if that was the case, they would not be allowed to enter back into the group until they were calm.
They said they wouldn’t scream.
And they didn’t.
This reminds me of a moment right before our wedding ceremony. We were all lined up ready to enter. Grandparents and parents had been seated and my arm was linked up in my dad’s. As my first bridesmaid walked in, there was a glitch in the sound and the music stopped as the natural laughter of the crowd filled the room and lingered into the entry way where I waited.
My sister and I locked eyes and I felt mine begin to bulge out of their sockets. What. Is. Happening. The music started again. And, just as quickly stopped then started once more. I was in a moment of decision as my mind flashed quickly back to all of the steps we took to prevent this mishap. In this moment, her eyes bailed me out as if making the decision for me.
She shrugged her shoulders, smiled, and said, “Oh well! Too late now!” I smirked and laughed to myself as the rest of us waiting outside of the entrance laughed too.
“Oh well!” were the exact words that I needed in that precise moment. This was the moment where I had the choice of letting something bother me or embracing it for what it was; a good story that we continue to laugh at months later and I’m sure for years to come. Why that music kept stopping, I guess I’ll never know.
“Oh well!” are the words of truth that I probably need to repeat to myself time and time again. When things out of my control surface, I have a split second decision (or in many cases, longer) to make. Do I allow this uncontrollable, unpreventable mistake or mishap to ruin my attitude and rob me of my joy? Or, do I shrug my shoulders and smile to myself with a quiet and steady knowing that life is not supposed to be perfect?
There is a choice to make. And, so often I find myself saying, “I’m going to scream.” I know that this is no big deal and I can easily choose to move on with it, but I am going to scream anyway.*
But, on the days where I fall out of my chair in front of a class full of seven year olds, forget to send those papers home that I promised I would, or scratch my car up against a pillar, I have a distinct choice to make that I certainly have control over even as small pangs of panic set in; these circumstances certainly do not have control over me.
So, here’s to laughing at the days to come. And, here’s to taking a deep breath, locking eye contact with someone who will steer you in the right direction, and smiling with peace when the uncontrollable and unpredictable come, knowing that at least it might make a good story one day.
*Obviously, many things in life may require a scream or something equal to that. I write of this concept in regards to the true small things in life that I find myself often taking too seriously or harshly. Obviously, there are many things that I can’t and won’t say “Oh well!” about, but that is the beauty in making the choice in any given circumstance and not letting the circumstance make the choice for me.