Therapists are not supposed to tell their patients what to do; rather their role is to help the patient figure it out on their own (with, some gentle nudging from said therapist.) That is all well and good, but every so often it pisses me off and I push back a little. Just the other day I was talking with Jessie’s shrink and, finally, when I felt like my head was going to pop off said, “will you just tell me what the [expletive] to do?!” Much to my surprise, he did.
As with his simple advise of a few weeks ago to understand that we can only walk with our children (http://georgejessielove.wordpress.com/2012/05/12/walk-this-way/), he suggested that the next time Jessie (or anyone else I come into contact with, for that matter) behaves in a manner that makes me want to either bop them in the face or open a vein of my own with a butter knife I should simply, calmly and sternly say: “when you (fill in the blank) I (fill in the blank). Example: “When you stomp your foot and refuse to clean up your room, I want to throttle you, er, I mean, it makes me angry that you are being disrespectful.” He (the shrink) further stated that it is important that everyone in the family toe the same line so that, if nothing else, the sheer repetition will force her (or whomever you are using this tactic against, I mean, with) to be a little less narcissistic and a little more aware of how their behavior is driving everyone else to the brink of insanity. In theory, you hear something enough and you are bound to start to take it to heart, right?
I immediately shared the new plan with Rich and Harrison and quietly sat and observed as they each dutifully stated their position to the current irritant in the house. First out the gate was Jessie insisting (read: Demanding. Loudly.) that the channel on the television be changed from “Pawn Stars” (which both kids enjoy) to “SpongeBob” which has lost some of its allure due to the fact that it seems to have been on a never-ending loop for the past three years. Harrison, calm, cool and with an unmistakable air of sarcasm and drama responded by saying, “When you act like a brat over something like a TV. show, I want to leave the room.” I held my breath awaiting Jessie’s response as I fully realized that Harrison leaving the room might be the very goal of her insistence in the first place, but, to my great surprise, she responded by agreeing, without fanfare, to watch “Pawn Stars”. Well, I’ll be damned.
It was not long after that when the opportunity arose for Rich to try things out. His encounter had something to do with a computer issue, the specifics of which have already escaped my memory. I do recall, however, that the “when you/I” trickery, er, tactic worked. We were already three for three and it hadn’t even been an hour. WTF?
While it has been a scant twenty-four hours, I personally have not only successfully engaged in this new methodology several times but have even shared it with a few friends as a suggestion in dealing with the pain in the ass, um, I mean challenging person in their lives. I now anxiously await news of their success stories. I also want to know why no one taught me that little gem in parenting school.
So, the next time you find yourself in a situation in which you are concocting detailed scenes of choking, slapping or sticking someone’s head in the nearest toilet give the “when you/I” game a try. You can thank me later. (Unless it doesn’t work, in which case, disregard this post entirely.)