what have I done for YOU lately?
Hurdling the stairs, my oldest son met me at the top to pass the baton - the cordless phone - off to me. "It's Matt's mom," he said, semi-breathless from the gazelle-like leaps he'd taken from the basement to the second floor. "She wants to talk to you."
Eyeing both the phone and my son suspiciously, I quickly flipped the Rolodex in my brain through the list of people he's friends with and who, at least by proxy, I should also know. Nowhere in that tally was there a "Matt" or a "Matt's mom." Knowing it's never safe to go into a fight or a phone call unprepared, I clamped my thumb over the phone's tiny mouthpiece, and asked my son who Matt's mom is. "It's his mom!" he answered. Big help that one, but he's scrappy, so I'll keep him around for future throw downs with strangers. Then I turned my attention to the stranger on the other end of the phone. With my curious "Hello?", Matt's mom was off.
"Hi! I'm Matt's mom. I'm having surgery on my shoulder on Thursday and Matt needs a place to stay after school that afternoon, and since he sometimes plays with your son, I figured it would be OK for Matt to come over....more talking, more talking, lots of talking, you think I write a lot but my written words are nothing compared to her spoken ones, talking, talking, talking...."
Before I could even process what was happening, I slipped into a hypnotic state administered by her words, and I SAID YES! Let me repeat that. I SAID YES! Had this woman I don't know with a son I'm not sure I've ever really met asked me to also cluck like a chicken, I would have, because I was officially under her spell.
"Fantastic!" she crowed. "My surgery is scheduled for noon downtown, so I figure we'll get home sometime after 7 p.m., and then at some point Matt's dad (whom I've also never met, btw), will come over and get him. Sometimes Matt rides his bike to school, so I'm not sure what we'll do about that. Maybe he can drop his bike off at home and walk the rest of the way with your son, and then he can stay there until, like I said 7 or so...lots more talking here, (seriously, she never took a breath, so afraid, perhaps, that I'd come to my senses, but no, no, that never fully happened and instead, I may have asked if she needed her house cleaned or her groceries purchased before her surgery, but I'm not sure. I'll find out Thursday)...so he'll have to eat a snack, oh, and dinner. He'll need dinner. I'll assume you can take care of that. Oh, and he'll need to take his meds at 4:30 p.m., on the dot..."
Don't think the ironic fact I was bent over the end of my bed while on the phone with Matt's mom was lost on me because I was taking it hardcore from this woman. On and on she went, driving home her needs and what she'd have me do for her, and over and over again I kept saying yes. Twenty minutes in, close to asking her if I could donate my shoulder to her (even though I don't think medical science has, to date, perfected this surgery; however, I'm a bit behind on my Discovery Health channel viewing, so I could be wrong), I started to feel dirty about what was happening. However, I was incapable of stopping it, because by then, I was afraid of hurting her feelings.
Why? Because I'm a people pleaser, and Matt's mom was pushing every one of my people pleaser buttons. They're right there next to the ones marked "first born's need for approval.'" They're the reason I'll stay up late baking for the PTO, volunteer to run games at a school carnival, sit any form of animal, and agree to marry you. Ladies and gentlemen, I'm a raging pushover! I'll say yes to anything - anything - because I want you to like me. To quote the great Bryan Adams, everything I do, I do it for you. Even if I didn't realize I wanted to do it for you, but you sounded a little desperate, put out, and/or demanding when you asked, so of course I'll do it anyway. For you. BECAUSE YOU MUST LIKE ME!!
I ALWAYS agree to requests made of me. Granted, not all of them get an automatic "yes." Some might take awhile. Just ask my Tool Man, who spent more than a decade of our marriage requesting one particular thing from me before I acquiesced , proving that Tool Man is (A) persistent, (B) patient, and (C) a little bit obsessed, and that I am (D) a pleaser.
Need an additional example of how far I'll go to make you happy? Look below. Rather than face the demon and tell it it can't come in today, I'll willingly cower in a corner of my kitchen and hide until the demon goes away. Yeah. I'm a grown up. And yeah, I'll go that far.
Several more minutes into Matt's mom's rambling request - "They're going to put a tube in my shoulder to administer pain medication for several hours. Matt can be a bit of a handful. Have you ever had surgery, yada, yada, yada..." - I briefly came out of my stupor. "Did you say Thursday? Oh, well, Tool Man and I have plans for that night. See, our anniversary is in about a week, and well, Thursday night we have tickets for something I've been really looking forward to, and I was able to get Tool Man to say yes to going. Well, not so much say yes as it was more just resigning himself to the fact I was going to get tickets anyway, so, see, this is kind of a special night, and we'll need to probably leave our house around 5:30 p.m., to get downtown, and we've arranged childcare for our kids, so..."
I figured matching my chatter with Matt's mom's would prompt her to pause, retract her request, thank me for offering, then wishing me a great night out with my husband. Alas, that didn't happen. Instead, she muttered something about my sitter (OK, it's just my dad, but still, it's one more person in the mix who doesn't know Matt or Matt's mom) watching her son, too, and calling Matt's uncle to see if he'd be able to pick Matt up from my house when he got off work around 5:30 p.m.
"Matt's not going to like that one bit, but I guess you've given me no other choice," she said.
Wha?! I didn't give her any choice? Um, I agreed to watch her son, even though I'll be getting ready to go out that evening. Even though I barely know either of them OR Matt's uncle.
And even though I was still saying "yes" to everything.
So yes. Yes, yes, yes. Matt will be here after school Thursday, and in the meantime, if you have anything you need and want me to do it for you, just push me over and let me know. I'm here for you. And Matt's mom.
And sometimes Tool Man, but it depends on what he's asking for.