More Snapshots: You Is Kind, You Is Smart, You Is Important

1. Recycling

I approach the bin, a huge black plastic garbage can, with trepidation. It's getting too full. I'll never get the mega-sized clear plastic bag to the car. Someone else will have to do it, so I walk away.  But I want that stuff out of my house.

It occurs to me that recycling, although it should be a workable intervention to relieve hoarding, never works. You would think that if someone can't throw out a perfectly good cardboard box, but knows it has to go, that recycling would be solace, a certain consolation, knowing that a perfectly decent box isn't going to landfill.

But OCPD, (Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder) is one of our more intractable disorders. And with all of the presents, all the good boxes coming our way, sufferers are going to feel the stress.

2. Holiday Social Skill

This time of year I usually set you up for a good party. Most people find at least one party to mark the holidays, and cluster around the guac.

Let's say Billy meets Sally approaching the guac, and they can't help but say something to one another while dipping. Sally asks, "So what's going on? How's work treating you?"

Billy has a really good work story to tell and he begins to tell it, starts to really get into it when someone else joins them, jumps in with some kind of declaration, maybe news of a new baby, or a story about Newt, a joke.

Sally turns from Billy to the new arrival because she hasn't got much choice, or doesn't see a choice, and that's the end of Billy's story.

We would call this an interruption, and interruptions are bad, everyone knows this. In the process of interrupting, the interrupter is supposed to catch himself and say, "My bad! I'm so sorry! I interrupted! You first. Finish what you were saying."

But that doesn't usually happen, maybe because people are high in these situations, or nervous. If Sally had finer social skill, she would somehow get the microphone back to Billy, or at least return her personal attention to his story.

She could gently inform the one who has interrupted, "Hold on, Billy's telling a story, let him finish."

Or she could wait out the speaker, then get back to Billy. "You were telling me about something when we were interrupted." Delicious, delightful social skill. Better than the guac.

Why is it so important? Why is this process considered social skill, on par with refraining from interrupting?

Because it puts Billy back in the room.

3. Gave It to You

I walk through the front door after a long day's work singing, belting, "I got chills electrifying. And I'm losing control, . . . ." It's from that song, You're the One That I Want from the musical, Grease.

My kid gets up to greet me. He's a young adult, he should. He says, "Do these songs just run through your head all day long?"

Seems like it. But give it to someone, and you don't have it anymore. No one knows why.

4. You Is Kind, You Is Smart, You Is Important

My mother asks me if I want to see The Help. It's playing in her building and she fell asleep when they took her to the theater to see it a few months ago, channeling my father. This is a second chance. She'll go without me, of course, but it might be fun, seeing it together.

Things are often more fun in twos.

I'm pretty sure I don't want to go. I don't like sitting more than I have to sit. It is an occupational hazard, sitting too much, hard on the back muscles. And there's so much to do. But the book was great, and the movie has to be a feel good movie. Why turn down a free one of those?

Abileen, the "colored" maid, raises the children of her rich white employers. These women tend to abdicate the job of parenting to their maids. Worse, they criticize their children mercilessly for being children, behaving like children, being messy, inappropriate, and honest.

Abileen uses persuasion, positive messaging, as her parenting style. She has her little girl repeat after her, You Is Kind, You Is Smart, You Is Important. (The green You Is Kind. . .etc., links you to this priceless scene.)

I is kind, I is smart, I is important, repeats the little girl.

I think of a thousand patients who didn't have anyone like Abileen in their lives and it makes me want to scream.

5. Less Holy Matrimony

Apparently there's a PEW poll (like Gallup, survey research) that is showing fewer Americans are getting married.
In 1960, 72% of all adults ages 18 and older were married; today just 51% are, a record low.
Sustaining marriage does seem like an impossible goal for many people, and getting married, a risk so many just won't take.

And who can blame them? It's so hard to accept people for who they are, to love them anyway.  Love can be a thankless job.

But I look around my mother's retirement community and the loneliness is palpable. It's like a college residence hall, except that most of the rooms are singles, not doubles.

But there are a few couples, and they touch one another. Publicly. They may have issues, maybe old issues, but they have one another, and they're grateful for that. When bingo is over, they leave together.

6. Tebowing

I just loved it when I heard that Tim Tebow gets down on one knee after playing football, gives thanks to the Old Mighty. (For those of you who are new here, this is how my grandfather of blessed memory, an immigrant who taught himself to speak and read English at the age of 16, referred to God.)

Tebowing has come to mean praying on one knee, but not just praying, taking the pose in strange places under unusual circumstances.

What's interesting about this is that in Israel you see people praying all of the time, true, not on bended knee, but everywhere, especially on buses and in airports, mumbling while staring into prayer books written in a funny language. So Tim didn't make it up, but he's still pretty marvelous.

The thing that struck me about the Tim Tebow story (Saturday's Wall Street Journal, all about the good deeds he's done, his charity) is that people are really hoping he'll fail, that he'll start to lose games for Denver. They want him to fail, want to see how he behaves when he loses, if he'll lose his faith, starts using drugs, or is caught with his pants down. Clearly unclear on the concept, his detractors.

Happy holidays everyone, no matter what your language.



HubCats said…
why would it be up to Sally to intervene with the interrupter? Maybe Billy doesn't want to tell his story in front of the guy, and would feel like he was being put on the spot. ?
Billy could say, if he wished, Excuse me, I was just saying... or maybe his story wasn't the point, but to be in jolly conversation, and the more, the merrier?
Happy holidays, therapydoc, thanks for a year of thought-provoking posts.
therapydoc said…
Good thought. I guess it would be the empathetic Sally who would figure the answer out to that one. I already assume, by my language, he's really getting into it, that he wants to tell the story. But you're right. Maybe not right then. The skill is in determining that, or just asking him.
your link to "You is..." is broken. Watched it on youtube. Cute. Though I'm sure in the context of the movie it's even better.
Medkid said…
Ha! I had to laugh at your last tidbit. Very clearly unclear on the concept indeed. :) I went to a Christmas party last night and the Sally/Billy thing happened almost exactly like that. I also went through a strange period of 2 weeks recently where I was working in an ER with a lot of high strung female attendings and spending time at church with all people who had this perpetual habit of part interrupting and part not listening. I'm pretty sure I never got through an entire thought for two weeks (presenting patients to the attendings was like playing verbal least I got good at being concise. I just threw out random important words frantically like: Chest pain! Sweating! History of hypertension! and hoped they sort of got the picture :P ). The whole things sort of makes you feel like there are much much more important things people have to be doing. Sometimes you advocate for yourself and sometimes you give up. In the end I got tired I mostly gave up and drank my church coffee or spent time reading about managing atrial fibrillation instead so as not to kill the future patients of America. We live in this frantic world of needing constant stimulation and constant attention do we not? (says the girl who can't clean her room without the radio on :) It's like people's brains couldn't settle down for two whole minutes to listen to someone. The danger of slowing down is we might have to actually hear the other person or FEEL something *gasp*! Don't get me wrong, I have been guilty of the same behavior in my day...something to be mindful of and work on during the holidays eh?? Silent retreat anyone? :)
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abbie said…
I like your thoughts on the Tebow conversations. Of course they want to see him fail. It would be one more reason to have contempt for all things "Christian". I'm glad he's so bold in his faith, and if people can't stand to see good people do well, then shame on them.
Kerro said…
I wish I'd had an Abileen, therapydoc. But then people like you would probably be out of a job ;)
Hiten said…
Excellent post therapydoc. My approach to interruptions is to hear out the intruder and then focus back onto the speaker, so I guess I'm doing something right!

Merry Christmas!
Noel Bell said…
I too like your thoughts on the Tebow conversations.Merry Christmas to you too.
Anonymous said…
From someone in Denver, I'd like to see Tebow fail simply because I'd like to see a real arm in the QB position. And Tebow in the running or full back position, then skill rather than luck (or other teams' lack thereof) would be how we could consistently win! Just my agnostic two cents - he can do whatever he wants on the sideline, but at least play him where his best talents are appreciable!