Scream, Worry or Laugh?
When our daughter was just four years old, we left her unattended in our upstairs bedroom (with master bathroom), watching one of the Land Before Time movies, because I had decided that if I had to hear catchphrases from that movie one more time, I was going to turn into a crazed mom... yep, yep, yep. She had been upstairs for a while when we heard a shriek from her that had both my husband and me running up the stairs at full speed. He beat me to the scene, and turned to me with concern and worry in his eyes. Our daughter was sitting on top of the counter and her face was covered in bright red lipstick – perfectly smeared all over every square inch of her face that was currently stretched into a howl. We checked her for being hurt, but that wasn’t what made her scream; she had seen her face in the mirror! My husband, not understanding what this red stuff was, looked to me for help, but I was too busy laughing.
I laughed because I knew it would come off, I was relieved that she wasn’t hurt and because she looked so funny with her face painted all in red! My husband thought it might have been nail polish, so he didn’t see the humor, he was only worried about how to get it off. Our daughter screamed because she was afraid of what her face now looked like and that it would be permanent. We all reacted differently, based on our individual perspectives.
Another time when perspective came into play was during a hockey game that my husband and I attended recently. Near the end of the first period of play, my husband leaned across me and tapped on a man’s shoulder sitting in the row in front of us. I couldn’t hear what my husband said, but when he leaned back, the man turned to him with a scowl on his face. He glared at my husband a while, then said, “Are you f-----g serious?” My husband glared back and said “Yeah, I am.” The man turned back around and I questioned my husband what was going on. My husband saw this man throw an M&M candy into the rows in front of us and it hit a kid on the head. At this point, my heart was racing; this was a very big man and was clearly not happy that he had been called out on his juvenile behavior. He turned back around and said to my husband, “What, are you my f-----g mother?” “No,” my husband calmly replied. “Just don’t throw things at people.” The threats coming from this man became more intense (“Let’s take this outside. Where are you parked, man?”), but my husband just smiled and didn’t answer. I recognized the signs of fight or flight stress response in me: heart racing, mouth dry, tense muscles, etc. The ushers were looking the other way was during all of this, so I started waving my arms to get their attention. When one came over, my husband told him that this man had been throwing things into the audience and it hit someone in the head; the man immediately began shouting that we were the ones bothering him and he did nothing wrong. After the usher left, the man and his date continued to voice their concerns about my husband loudly, until they decided to go get another drink. As he was passing my husband’s seat, he reached down and gave him an aggressive “pat” on the shoulder and said a few more things. My husband just chuckled.
After the game was over, I asked my husband how he remained so calm in the moment, and he told me that the only outcome he saw in his mind was that this guy would be asked to leave the game. I then shared with him how my mind creatively showed me all sorts of other scenarios, including those that would get us hurt. My husband was trained as an usher at Levi stadium and he told me, “No, that wouldn’t ever happen; the ushers are trained really well at these games and they would never let it come to that.”
His perspective let him laugh at a situation I found really worrisome, and the unskilled / immature mind will resort to screaming.
We can only control our response, but if we educate ourselves, we may find there are new responses to be experienced.