"She's touching me!"
"She's playing with MY princess ring!"
"She won't give it back!"
"You can't come to my sleepover birthday party!!"
Slap. Pinch. Scream. Cry.
"Aunt Char.. Aunt Char!! She's STILL touching me!"
This would be the sound of the sweet symphony playing in my backseat last week. The conductor is four years old and slightly hopped up on a sprinkled doughnut (my bad) and the only orchestra member is a two and a half going on sixteen, whose instrument of choice is the 'vocal chord'... and, let me tell you, she never misses practice.
As for me? I'm the only one in the audience, and I've got the best seat in the house. Joy.
Eventually I settled the situation by informing the little one that she is, in fact, allowed to go to the sleepover birthday party (they do share a bed for crying out loud) and I tell the older sister that I will buy her a prize at the store if she just lets her little sister play with her rings for a bit.
Don't judge. I'm their aunt, not there mom. It's my job to take fun parental shortcuts.
This, surprisingly, works. Now that the glitter war in the back seat has come to an end, I decide that is definitely time to stop for coffee.
We get in line, grab the largest coffee they will sell to me and two juice boxes (iced not hot, please) and head outside with the other moms who are trying to avoid disturbing the grumpy old people inside the air conditioned coffee shop. 99 degrees at 10 AM? Who wouldn't want to sit on the patio?!
The little one quickly loses interest in sitting with us (mostly because her sister won't speak to her) and waddles over to the nearest kid to be found. He is about four years old and is sitting in the closest thing to a play area that coffee shops allow. Which is a bench, of course. My little one hops up and sits next to the boy with a hopeful smile. He immediately puts his arm out and all but shoves her to the other end of the bench and continues to give her the 'don't even think about it' look.
Looks like someone did not get a sprinkle doughnut for breakfast.
Before I can even begin to step in and try to act like a mom, her big sister, who is also slightly bigger than this boy, is marching her way towards the bench. She quickly plopped her bottom right between the two and returned his look with one that read 'No, you don't even think about it'.
The boy took the hint, got up and ran towards his people. I laugh out loud because, well, I'm really mature like that and he totally started it! I was proud of their sisterly tag team. She had him on the ropes!
The girls got along famously for the rest of the day. Which made for a very happy Aunt Char.
It got me thinking of my own siblings and how we used to do much of the same thing. I could call my sister every name in the book all day long, but the moment someone else did? The gloves were off. It's just an unspoken code for siblings. I can say my little brother is annoying or that my big brother is a butt-head, but you can't. And if you do, we're going to have a problem.
Then a thought struck me-- why can't I do that for myself? Not when it comes to other people (I've become quite good at that one over the years) but when it comes to, well, myself.
The biggest bully in my life is yours truly. You hear it all the time: I am my own worst enemy. Why is that? We assign ourselves the one rival that our siblings cannot fight off for us and then refuse to fight for ourselves. What are we waiting for?
Put up your dukes. It's about time we invite these assholes into the ring.
Now, before you go punching yourself in the face and sending me the doctor bill, hear me out. This part of you needs to get mentally punched, not physically. (Although, I have found kickboxing helps a great deal.) This person is that little voice that creeps into your ears and sings ballads of doubt and recites poems of self-hate and fear. And they are always available to start up a nice round of dialogue centered on how out of shape you are, your lack of worth and generally how much you suck at life.
I don't know about your siblings, but mine would want to beat this person's ass.
So, why don't you?
Think of your mind as a playground. How long are you going to put up with this bully's crap before you get fed up and push them off the monkey bars? The answer should be yesterday!
We have enough people in society telling us how awful we dress, how thin we should be and how much money we don't make. Is it really the best idea to add ourselves to that list? Hell no! Stand up for yourself the way you would stand up for your little brother, your little sister, niece or nephew or anyone who you deem in need of your defense. Be that person for yourself.
Here are a couple ways to start doing it:
1. Stop the negative conversation that is in your mind the minute you recognize it. Is what you're telling yourself constructive or destructive? There is a BIG difference. It's easy to separate the two by asking yourself this: Would I speak to someone I love the way I'm speaking to myself now? Imagine a loved one in the situation you are facing and picture them asking for your honest advice. How would you tell them? If it's not the way you are telling yourself, then cut that shit out. Ain't nobody got time for that.
2. Quit doing things that make you unhappy. Are you more depressed than you started out each time you visit your life-long yet life-sucking friend every humpday for happy hour? Then stop going. You might even need to break-up with that best friend. Or maybe a yoga class would just be a better fit for you and her to catch up. Talking is frowned upon during class so they do the dirty work for you. Besides, there is nothing worse than bringing Debbie Downer to happy hour. Even the bartender wants her out of there. The greatest Sea Breeze in the world isn't cheering that one up.
This includes places, too. It seems like a no-brainer but I see it happen all the time. Does that workout class that your friend lost thirty pounds by sticking to make you feel like an uncoordinated hippo who got lost and ended up in the latest lululemon casting shoot? Then STOP going. Now, don't get me wrong, I am not saying that if it is tough then quit-- it's called a workout. It's meant to suck. But if you do not feel comfortable or at least supported in your environment, then leave. But find a new one. Power walking to your mailbox is not the equivalent of a beef and cheese burrito. Believe me, I've done the math.
3. Have a go-to list of things you like about yourself. If you're about to tell me But I don't like anything about myself! Save the drama for your mama. Seriously. You are not being self-centered by acknowledging a few things you are pretty damn good at. We all have gifts and talents. It can be something like the fact that you are really awesome at shuffleboard or can take a shot of tequila without making the constipated face or that you can wear a red lip better than anyone in town.
The list doesn't have to be incredibly serious but you should throw in a couple of those, too. Are your kids still alive? Sounds like your a pretty good mother! Throw it on the list! Did you cook that one time and no one was hospitalized from food poisoning? You can cook, awesome! Toss that one the list as well.
This list will be what you refer to as soon as you start to get down on yourself. If you are driving home from a terrible day at work and find yourself wanting to dwell, reach into your mind and grab this list. Remember that time you taught everyone at the wedding how to Cha-Cha Slide? Screw work, you're a dancing queen! It's as simple as that.
If you can't see what's great about you, ask someone you trust to tell you what they truly love about you. Anyone who is worth a damn will be happy to help you out here and it never hurts to have someone pump you up a bit.
But do not ask Debbie D. She's kind of a buzz kill... Just ask the bartender.
I encourage you to try one of these defenses out sometime. It helps me and hopefully it will begin the process of helping you, too.
Remember: You are worth rooting for. You are worth loving. You are worth fighting for. Just ask your sister or brother. They might put you in a headlock while they tell you how awesome you are, but that is one of the sweetest gestures out there, really.
And if you don't have that supportive sibling in your life that you have always desired to defend you, then guess what? You've got you. And once you get on your own side, then you officially become a part of a beautiful thing called sisterhood. We meet on the internet, we meet in school, at the coffee shop, in the gym, we meet everywhere, really. But the first meeting has to be within yourself, by yourself. Eventually, through a few rounds with your gloves up, no one will need to be invited to that party to enjoy it all the same.
Do yourself a favor, favor yourself.