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Annie Fox, M.Ed., is an internationally respected parenting expert, award-winning author, and a trusted online adviser for tweens and teens.

Days 12-16: Now I get it

June 24, 2009

V is for victory

V is for victory

OK, folks, I’m officially ending the Annoyance Challenge. Tell you the truth there were aspects of this assignment that really bugged me. I know, I brought it on myself. But still, it’s a pain to have to blog every day, not that I did it every single day, as evidenced in the title of today’s post. But even so, it was annoying not to blog every day knowing that I really should. All that left me battling against my own commitment which resulted in guilt for not keeping my word to thousands of readers.

Which brings me to another aspect of this project… I have no idea if anyone was following any of this. It’s one thing to knock yourself out daily, looking for annoying situations and people, just so you can deconstruct and write about your feelings for the self-improvement of all. But to do it for an empty house!

“Really,” I say to myself, “What’s the point of that?”

“The point, Annie,” I reply with as much patience and compassion as I can muster, “Is that you wanted (and needed) to learn more about your own response to annoyance.”

Annie: “Why did I need two weeks of lessons on that? I don’t even get annoyed all that often.”

Annie: “Yeah, right.”

Of course I was right and I finally admitted it, but not until I got rather annoyed with myself for being so…  well, you know.

Anyway, here’s what I learned from this challenge. (Cue the Big Take Away drum roll, please)

I feel annoyed with others when I’ve got some unexpressed emotion right below the surface. The hidden emotion is usually anger, hurt, or fear.  Funny thing… while the annoyance seems to be very directed at whomever is in my vicinity… the more authentic emotion that’s being covered up may have nothing to do with anyone else.

Case in point, the other day in the kitchen David was emptying the dishwasher and I was snapping in response to his random questions about what we should make for breakfast. Because he’s been on the Challenge with me (Did he really have a choice?) it didn’t take him long to point out my mood.

David: Hon, you seem annoyed. What’s going on?

In the past, I would have resented the insinuation and possibly swatted at him with a spatula. But in the past 16 days I’ve learned that when someone cares enough about you to point out the undeniable fact that you’re being a bitch, it makes good sense to pause, peek inside, and examine what’s what.

I took a deep breath, had a look and discovered that underneath the cheap plastic veneer of annoyance lay a rich layer of frustration and anger … not directed at David, but at myself. So I told him.

“I’m really frustrated that Chapter 5 (of the book I’m writing)… the one on annoyance,  is taking me so damn long to figure out. And I’m angry with myself for the amount of procrastinating I’ve done for the past 2 weeks… including the Annoyance Challenge… when I should have been working on the book!”

David looked at me and nodded sagely. He’s got that sage nod down to an art form. Then he handed me a bunch of clean silverware. “Here.” 

I grinned at him and started sorting spoons. A place for everything and everything in its place… again.

Filed under: Annoyance Challenge,Parenting,Teens,Tips,Yoga — Annie @ 9:51 am

Happy Dad’s Day

June 21, 2009

Don't worry. I've got you.

Don't worry. I've got you.

Any fool with sperm can be a father, but it takes a real man to be a dad.

Yesterday in Golden Gate Park, the place was swarming with them. From an outsider’s perspective the park dads were just hanging out with their daughters and sons. Nothing special. But what do outsiders know? Bupkis. Except for this blogger, who could plainly see that those dads were transmitting powerful messages to their kids:

You are good.

You are capable.

You are fun to be with.

You are worthy of love.

You have my heart and I’ve  got your back… always in all ways.

Obviously having a dad like that benefits a human being’s development. Multiply it by millions of dads and kids and we’re also looking at a tidy payoff for society.  Way to go, Dad!

Twenty years down the road, those messages will have infused themselves into the DNA of a new crop of parents. Think I’ll come back and take some more pictures.

Happy Dad’s Day to you and to the kids lucky enough to know you.

Boy and Dad

Girl and dad.

On our own... together


Young super hero and his dad

Surfer dudes

Filed under: Holidays,Parenting — Tags: , , — Annie @ 9:24 am

Day 11: Those annoying people at school

June 19, 2009

Does this water make me look fat?

Does this water make me look fat?

The responses to my teen annoyance survey keep coming in, but I’ve got enough now to see a trend. Apparently, school is the most annoying place in the world. Why? Because so many of the other students are sooooo annoying. Here are a few of the choicest descriptions I received in answer to the first question: “What things at school annoy you?”

“I was on my way to class and a bunch of ignorant stuck-up girls had the nerve to just walk right into me without so much as using their manners to excuse themselves but only to keep on babbling their heads off.”

“When people leave the faucet on and water goes drip drip.”

“This girl insults people as if it’s just a big joke to her, but then when they lash out at her, she starts to cry or gets upset and insulted. But no matter how hurt she gets when people respond to her annoying not to mention retarded and immature teasing, she just goes on and does it again the next day.”

“There are these know-it-alls in my class who like licking up to the teacher every minute and not letting anyone get a word in.”

“I have a sorta friend who is always saying ‘I’m so fat.’ when she is not. And I know she does it just to make the rest of us feel fat. It’s really annoying!”

“The most annoying person in my school is The Dolt. He constantly says stupid jokes such as ‘That’s what she said.’ and ‘Your mom.’ And yes, is a junior in high school. In other words, he’s so insecure he feels he has to constantly make people laugh, even if it makes him look like an idiot. And did I mention he’s got a 2.0? He’s a real role model, alright…”

“‘The Everything-You-Say-Means-Sex’ People.  I know a guy and a girl like this. Everything you say when you talk to them has a dirty meaning. From ‘short bus’ to ‘what’s up’ to talking about how you had to water the garden. If a guy has girlish features, he’s a hermaphrodite. If a girl hates guys and kissing, she’s secretly a slut… at least to these two. They use the vulgar terms for everything sexual and only want to talk about sex and things related to it. It’s really annoying!!”

“There’s this girl I’ve known since I started 6th grade (I’m in 8th now). She was OK at the beginning but when we got close she started to become very clingy, annoying and a bit like a stalker. Since we have had an argument she has purposely been talking out loud to other people about me… so I can hear her. Grrrrrrrr.”

Wow! None of those people sound like much fun, but if you saw any of them, they’d probably look like normal. Shows what you know! From the point of view of the kids who sent in these responses, their behavior is sooo annoying that the very thought of them is enough to get under your skin.

If you’re no longer a student maybe you can recall some annoying former classmates of your own. Like the kid in my high school who used to come up behind some unsuspecting girl and wrap his arms around  her. He thought he was being charming. Today we call it sexual harassment. Or the girl in my math class who couldn’t wait until the tests were returned so she (of the 4.5 GPA) could ask everyone “What did you get?” Ah yes… school days, school days, good old golden rule days.

So at summer’s end when you’ve had it up to here with the annoyance of your kids being around all day and you ask them: “Are you excited to start school again?” Don’t be surprised if the answer is an emphatic no. In addition to returning to the joys of homework and sleep deprivation, they may very well be thinking of those annoying people they’ll be dealing with again. But hey, it’s all part of their life skills education, right?

Filed under: Annoyance Challenge,Teens — Tags: , — Annie @ 5:46 pm

Day 10: I don’t want to be here

June 18, 2009

Now that's a safe place to park

Now that's a safe place to park

My Annoyance Challenge continues. (Huff, puff, grrrrrrr, $#@%! ) David’s getting with the program too. The other day while we were driving, I was grumbling about something. What was it? Hmmm. Ah yes!  Well, now that I actually remember, it’s too embarrassing to mention…. too petty and infantile. You say you want to hear it anyway? Allll-riiiiight. Might as well. Otherwise my good standing in Bloggers for Ultimate Truth-Telling (BUTT) might be unseated. (NOTE: This sentence doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but wouldn’t it have made a great image if it had?)

Here’s what happened: We were on our way to meet Ezra and Sarah to check out a possible wedding venue. We were early and had temporarily parked a few miles from the place while David fiddled with his iPhone (yes there’s an iPod app) trying to cue up the book on CD we were listening to. Because it’s got 211 tracks and lost the bookmark where we’d left off in the story we had a problem.

D: “Was this the place?” (narrator reads…)

A: “No, we already heard that part about the decomposed yellow dress.”

D: “How about this? Sound familiar?” (narrator reads…)

A: “Uh… Franks’ ex-wife the manicurist? I don’t think so.  No, wait. We did hear this.”

D: “How about this?” (narrator reads…)

A: “I dunno. Whatever! It’s fine.”

D: “No. No. I remember that part with the old guy’s coughing fit.”

A: “So we’ll hear it again!! Who cares, David?! Let’s just get going!!!”

A bit over the top, I’ll admit it… now. Then, I was just, you know, completely unconscious and irrational, like most of us are too much of the time. But my sweet guy didn’t get sucked into my nastiness. He just calmly looked up from his iPhone and said, “You’re annoyed. Why don’t you do whatever you do when you’re annoyed (so you can drop it)?”

His pointing out the obvious actually woke me up. I took a slow deep breath, then let it out slowly. (That diminishes my embarrassment after I’ve made a fool of myself.)

A: “Honey, I don’t feel safe parked here. I want us to drive to the wedding place… now.”

Telling the truth has a way of getting me back on track. Coincidentally, at that same instant David located the right track. With our story cued up, we pulled away from the curb and moved on into the next chapter.

Filed under: Annoyance Challenge,Parenting — Tags: — Annie @ 12:12 pm
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