Awkward But Thoughtful
My kids go to a school where the students are so nice that it could almost be a curse. Students are polite and well-mannered. Why would I complain about that? Well, when we figured out that my daughter needed to wear deodorant in first grade, I went straight to my homeopath and asked her to give us a remedy that would delay puberty for a couple of years. Fortunately, we were able to slow it down and she didn't have to wear deodorant again for a year and a half. By fourth grade she really needed to wear deodorant because nowadays that is when kids need to wear deodorant. Now my daughter is almost done with 5th grade and it baffles me that she thinks I'm mean because I ask her to wear deodorant every single day. I am positively sure that if my daughter went to any other school, the kids would have had a nickname for her body odor back when she was in first grade let alone fifth grade. However, at our school, no one has ever commented on her body odor, her breath odor or her greasy hair. My complaint is that none of her peers would just say, "I really like hanging out with you because you're funny and smart, but I wish you would smell better because it's hard to sit near you." I have been relying on these peers to help me get the message of personal hygiene across to my daughter but none of them are saying a darn word! When I try to tell her, I drag in my own fifth grade baggage. I was the only one in fifth grade that would hang out with a girl named Marjory at school. She wore thick, black horned-rimmed glasses, she stuttered and most unfortunately, she stunk. Now I'm a mother. I want to protect my kids from mean comments and nicknames - but my daughter won't listen to me because she thinks I don't know much about anything. Ugh! In the end, that is my baggage and so I am VERY grateful that she is growing up in a school that teaches kindness. If only she can just go to this school for the rest of her life.
Recently, I was drinking wine at a concert and in order for my friend and I to hear our conversation we had to get really close. My friend said, as she was grabbing her purse to get a mint, "I like you enough to tell you that your breath smells really bad. I think it's the wine but you may want a mint." She handed me a mint and I popped it into my mouth only to spit it out because I realized that I wanted to drink my wine and the mint was killing the flavor. I was glad she told me but I guess I didn't care enough to stop drinking wine. Lol. To solve this dilemma, I just didn't talk until I was finished drinking and then popped the mint back in. Was it rude for her to tell me that my breath smelled bad? No. Did I appreciate her friendship and care? Hell yes! Thoughtful pinch? You better believe it.
Some people struggle with those situations when body odor, breath odor, something stuck in teeth, toilet paper stuck to your foot or worse, to your shorts (yes, this happened to me in Costa Rica), zipper down, booger in nose, mascara smeared, underwear showing, boobs hanging out. The list is long but the situations are all the same - awkward. No one likes to be the one to break the news when something is off with our friends. However, what we really hate is being the one who wasn't told - discovering hours later that a friend could have spared us the embarrassment.
Case in point. During my daughter's ballet class I got involved in a great conversation with two other ballet moms as we waited outside the classroom. We spoke for an hour and half about great topics that were fun and engaging. When class was finished and the dancers came out, I went to hug my daughter and she said, "Eeew mom, you have something stuck in your teeth." I about died. WTF? Why didn't someone tell me? I understand that it's awkward but people appreciate being told more than you think. Telling someone that something isn't quite right is being thoughtful. Helping another person out is being thoughtful. Now, if you don't like the other person or you just met someone - then fine - go about your business and leave them alone. But I'm talking about my ballet mom friends. We've been thru Nutcracker and Spring recitals together for three ballet seasons! That same evening, I made sure to send a text saying, "Next time, tell me if I have something stuck in my teeth." I'm pretty sure they would appreciate me telling them if the situation was reversed.
Awkward but thoughtful. Those two words don't usually go hand in hand but when these situations test your friendship - please just give a pinch. Have your friend's back and tell them what is wrong. The approach and wording could be kind, sincere and from the heart. "Go, like this." as you run your tongue over your teeth to demonstrate to your friend that she has lipstick on their teeth. It is much better than saying, "Check yourself in the mirror, your teeth are a mess because of your lipstick." That sounds more like - "Moron, you don't know how to put on lipstick." Pointing and laughing while saying, "Your zipper is down." isn't as thoughtful as, "You may want to zip up before you go any further." If you mean well, no one would ever be more bummed that you told them than not.