...for a different kind of girl

silent surburban girl releasing her voice, not yet knowing what all she wants to say about her life and the things that make it spin. do you have to be 18 to be here? you'll know when i know.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

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.



Blogger Insane Mama said...

I so get it, I am such a push over too! I really DO NOT know how to say NO

Wednesday, October 08, 2008 10:05:00 AM  
Blogger Lipstick Jungle said...

Would you please give birth to my next child (since I cant) for me? And please make sure it is a boy with brown eyes. I seem to do better with boys than girls, and I have always wanted a brown eyed baby. And while you are at it, can you make sure he is coordinated, has brown hair that doesnt act like ducks feathers when wet (unlike my current son who you have to douse [how do you spell that?] with water to make his hair wet), and make him a hugger - I love little boy hugs (not that way!).

Oh wait, thats too much to ask? Well! That really puts me out, so suck it up and get with the program!

Matt's mom needs a little valium and a slap of "Im asking a favor, so I should work with Fad's plans" common sense!

YIKES Matt's mom. I have a clue to sell you really cheap.

Oh and Fad, my dear friend, I am push over too.

Yes woman all the way.

Well most of the time. Unless I say no.


Wednesday, October 08, 2008 10:34:00 AM  
Blogger Bijoux said...

I think I would have been honest and said, "Lady, I have no idea who you are or who your kid is, so I'll have to say NO) and hung up.

My kids have enough friends.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008 10:39:00 AM  
Blogger Wonderful World of Weiners said...

I really need a PRADA bag. Really. Are you on your way to the store? Well, are you? Get going!

Hallie :)

Wednesday, October 08, 2008 10:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Matt is not going to like this post one bit, but I guess you've left me no other choice.

Matt's Mom

(Wow, what a piece of work!)

Wednesday, October 08, 2008 10:44:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

My wife is like that too. I usually try to get the phone from her and re-negotiate if I notice her put on her 'pleading' look.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008 10:53:00 AM  
Blogger PAPATV said...

People pleasing combined with guilt makes a great combo, too. i used to date girls becuase i felt sorry for them. then when they found out the'd say "Do you want to break up with me?" And I'd say "Not if you don't want me to."
What the hell? But I've grown up since then. Well, a little.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008 11:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh dear god, you made my people pleasign self for one brief moment think, "Well, I could always help out and watch Matt."

I feel ya. I'm a nutjob.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008 11:26:00 AM  
Blogger Chasity said...

I'm the exact same way. I say yes while the rest of me is screaming no NO! NO! Anything to please.

I once got stuck watching a coworkers kids for an entire evening back before I had kids of my own. Her hitting, scratching, loogie spitting two year old almost ruined kids for me, period.

And yet, the next time she asked, I said yes again. And again.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008 11:29:00 AM  
Blogger Brian o vretanos said...

And I bet you didn't even ask about his toilet habits...

Wednesday, October 08, 2008 11:59:00 AM  
Blogger Desmond Jones said...

I am so lookin' forward to the Savage's comment on this post. . . ;)

But hey, Molly is the same way (I think you're right - it's an 'oldest-daughter' thing). 'Course, when we've already got 8 kids, another one is no particular big deal. And yeah, if older sister is gonna be in charge (older sister might be all of 10 years old), hey, that's what there is, if you want your kid to stay here. . . And she's only gotten chewed out a few times for not doing someone a favor in quite the way they wanted it done. . .

Wednesday, October 08, 2008 11:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thankfully we're Mexican and my kids have more than enough cousins so they never need friends! lol

Wednesday, October 08, 2008 12:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've always believed that being the nice guy and helping people out earns you good karma points, which can then be redeemed in times of need.

Then again, I'm generally wrong about these things.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008 12:26:00 PM  
Blogger Ali said...

i want to know what you finally gave the tool man ;)


we are the same. i'm a total people pleaser too.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008 12:47:00 PM  
Blogger Christina Lee said...

I have this same problem with dog sitting. We really never get asked to kid sit-hmmm, I wonder why??? Waht's wrong with us?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008 12:50:00 PM  
Blogger steenky bee said...

Oh dear. Sounds like you've got it bad. I'm not sure what you exactly agreed to here. You're way too nice, girl! I would have faked a foreign accent (not saying which one, I'm equal opportunity here) and hung up the phone.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008 1:13:00 PM  
Blogger Leslie said...

Maybe you could just accidentally forget Matt at school that afternoon? Cuz you KNOW he's gonna clog your toilets.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008 1:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can never say "no", and I've found myself in many interesting circumstances because of it. When we moved I was thrilled and did a little dance in the driveway because it meant I wouldn't be suckered into babysitting all the time. I even told the kids not to be telling their new friends parents that I don't work. How horrible is that?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008 1:48:00 PM  
Blogger Seriously Brenda said...

Just do what I do and refuse to talk on the phone. If someone wants to email me, fine. But know that if you call me, I am not going to pick up. I have been suckered into way too many situations by answering that damn phone!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008 2:22:00 PM  
Blogger FTN said...

Iowa people are crazy.

I'd also like to note that advertising the fact that you are a pushover and will do anything - anything - because you want people to like you? Yeah, not a good idea. I'm just sayin', it's a recipe for some bad things to happen. I'm amazed a higher percentage of guys haven't commented on this post yet. Or maybe they've been so vulgar you've had to delete them all.

Or maybe I'm just slightly bitter that I didn't marry someone who is quite so, uh, intensely eager to please. If you know what I mean. And I think you do.

As for the "donate-a-shoulder" thing on Discovery Health, I'll ask my wife. If it's been on Discovery Health, she'd know about it.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008 2:44:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Wow! You sound just like me girl! PUSHOVER with a capital P! I am so in the same boat as Seriously Mama. I don't like to talk on the phone since I get roped into too many things so my friends and family know to email me, IM me, or text me if they wanna ask something. lol I have a much stiffer spine when it's not on the phone or in person.

I'll be sure to drop off my kid Friday nite since you'll be busy with Matt Thursday k? :P

Wednesday, October 08, 2008 3:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just had surgery. Boy, do I wish you lived closer. I have a list, so if you could just...

Wednesday, October 08, 2008 3:22:00 PM  
Blogger Zip n Tizzy said...

You may have to flatten yourself out on the couch and hide. If matt's anything like his mom, you're going to have your hands full on Thursday!
Good Luck... let us know how it goes!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008 4:11:00 PM  
Blogger Alison said...

Unbelievable. That she would act like that, not that you are a pushover. That, I can believe--because I am one too. I have learned to say no to people I know will respect it. Others, I make excuses to.

My therapist told me to put a sticky note by the phone that said what I was supposed to say, "I will check my calendar and get back to you."

Wednesday, October 08, 2008 4:28:00 PM  
Blogger Alice said...

That's BS. I hate when you do a favor like that and the get a handful of qualifications like your a teen babysitter.

I once watched someone's kids for the evening and they actually left these directions: "They brush their teeth, then you brush their teeth and then they brush them again." WTF? If someone is watching my kids I throw money at them and say - "Send them to bed whenever and eat what you like."

Cheers babe! Good luck on Thursday.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008 4:35:00 PM  
Blogger Alice said...

ps. My typos and grammar are really bad in the previous comment.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008 4:35:00 PM  
Blogger Kori said...

I really want you to like ME because you have so many comments and all, you are obviously really cool and popular and I bet you were cheerleader and I think I KNOW what you finally gave the tool man so, you know, I could come over there and watch matt for you. Because it isn't really that far out of my way, and I LIKE screamers! I will plunge the toilet for you, too. Hm. I think I might have the slightest prob with people pleasing as well. All I can say is good luck.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008 5:10:00 PM  
Blogger The Savage said...

I have learned that saying no isn't always a bad thing. So if you want to please me you have to say no....

But then I lust you....

Wednesday, October 08, 2008 5:28:00 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

Ooh, ooh... I know! I want you to... no wait. Umm, oh how about... no, not that either.

Damn, I don't want to waste this opportunity! Can I get back to you?!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008 5:40:00 PM  
Blogger Kevin McKeever said...

I'm already looking after one neighbor kid Thursday, so send the Matt brat over. With a ham sandwich. Mustard, no pickles. Slice it diagonally.

And I'll need his Mom's Social Security number. Just in case.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008 7:22:00 PM  
Blogger kimmyk said...

you tell matt that in true Frances McDormand style, that his mom is freakin' me out.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008 7:42:00 PM  
Blogger Meg said...

Just think of all that good Karma you're building!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008 9:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would have said yes, too. Then I would have spent all day wondering why I did that and coming up with bizarre excuses to get out of it. Then I would deliver whatever lame excuse I finally came up with by e-mail. Or I'd have the kid do it.

That's what kids are for, right?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008 9:48:00 PM  
Blogger Bee said...

I once got a phone call from someone very close to me asking if I may be the parent helper at my niece's Pre-K. Me. The person who freezes when faced with children that do not share my blood. I said "No, think of the children!"

Wednesday, October 08, 2008 10:30:00 PM  
Blogger Bee said...

Where is the FADKOG wearing baseball hat at Starbucks picture?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008 10:31:00 PM  
Blogger The Stiletto Mom said...

God, I'm sorry. How did my neighbors escape into your neighborhood? I have five that I like but it seems the other 450 moved to the Midwest? Strange. Hmmm...you can keep 'em. Enjoy bending over that bed some more...which btw, made me laugh my ass off!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008 11:03:00 PM  
Blogger Digger Jones said...

Bending over the bed, eh? What were you wearing?


Where were all the people-pleasing girls when *I* was in school?

Oh, I forgot. Nerds like me weren't considered people. And that experience successfully liposuctioned all the people-pleasingness out of me.

I TOTALLY like girls who are bent over beds, tho. Totally. You keep doing that, and you'll be well-liked and very popular.

As if you weren't idolized enough already.

Thursday, October 09, 2008 2:12:00 AM  
Blogger MereCat said...

Oh I am such a people pleaser too. Once someone said to me, "You know what's wrong with you? You are a people pleaser." Oh? To that I wanted to say, "And you know what's wrong with you?" But, well, I'm a people pleaser so I just smiled and tried to think of something polite to mutter.

Thursday, October 09, 2008 6:41:00 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

I hate people like that. You shouldn't feel bad about saying NO to someone who doesn't feel bad about asking you to watch a kid you don't know, and then trying to guilt you into ruining your own plans or asking your own sitter to babysit a strange kid. And I would love to know if Matt's uncle actually shows up or if Matt's still rubbing his grubby fingers all over over your kids' video game system when you walk out the door for your show.

For all you people pleasers out there, they've got self help books for that very thing. The things you do for other people don't make them like you more, they just make you a target for the next time they have shit work to do and need some one to do it for them. I used to be a victim too, but I got over it, and you can too!

Thursday, October 09, 2008 7:28:00 AM  
Blogger Nature Girl said...

Ok, this is the honest to God truth: I used to be EXACTLY like this! EXACTLY! One day I was in a conversation with my (then just second to best friend, now very toxic friend but we had some good times so keep in mind this was when she was second best friend) lamenting how awful I felt about being everyone's doormat and never being able to say no to anyone and always being such a people pleaser but no one ever worried about pleasing me or saying no to me and she said: I want you to say no to me. "WHAT?" I want you to say no to me. right now, say it! "no" which I really said more to please her and because she asked me to than for the reason she was asking me to do it because I was that much of a people pleaser and not to mention I didn't want to tell her no if you can understand the double meaning of that and somehow I think you can. I told her no I didnt' want to tell her no because I was afraid it would hurt her feelings. Misunderstanding me, she said "Great! Now do it again" NO! I said because I wanted her to understand I was saying no to saying no because I didn't want to tell her no. You following me? so she says again! and I say NO! and then we kinda get into this game both of us kind of having fun with it. We got a bit louder and soon our manager came in to see if we were fighting and we both turned to him and yelled NO! and he backed outof the room kinda all scared like and we collapsed into a fit of giggles. Then she says to me. "I want you to call my house any time day or night and just practice saying NO!"
and so I did. At first I kinda of just did it as a joke, I called her up, Yelled NO into the phone and hung up. We laughed about it at work the next day but eventually over the course of a couple days it got easier and easier to say no and this was someone I liked so I was saying no to someone I liked which was a great progress ya know? so one day I called and her husband answered and before I could even think, I shouted NO into the phone and hung up. I bet their dinner conversation was fun that night. (actually I know it was, because we talked about it, it was hilarious) So anyway, after much practice I was able to say no to other people..oh it started out slowly at first, but now? Heh...now I don't even blink. (Ok, so I blink, and sometimes even make excuses to avoid hurt feelings) BUT! I DO say NO! and so what I'm saying is,
Do you want my phone number? Cuz I'd totally give it to you just to hear you tell me NO!

wow...did that sound dirty just now?


Thursday, October 09, 2008 8:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

She talks more than you write? Jesus! :P

Thursday, October 09, 2008 8:47:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Here's where being a bit of a liar could have come into it's own.

a) the Rottweiler not having its rabies shot til Friday

b) my anti-psychotics don't kick in til 8pm ... he might be dead by then

c) Well, so long as he doesn't mind being nude like the rest of us

d) Cool! I could get ten grand for hi - I mean sure

e) The Great Lord Lucifer accepts offerings in all forms

Simple really.

Thursday, October 09, 2008 9:14:00 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

I could use about $20,000 for an addition on the house.

I'm probably too good at saying no. There is something to be said for being nice once in a while.

Thursday, October 09, 2008 9:22:00 AM  
Blogger Eternal Sunshine said...

I'm horrible at saying no, too.


You left her NO CHOICE???? That would have been the final straw for me.

We have a neighbor, whose friend sends her little boy over to play (NOTE: she doesn't live next door, she just visits) and one night, she threw her kid over the fence (not literally), and asked if he could come over and play, and oh by the way, I have a date, and will be back in about two hours. This was a Saturday night at 9:00PM. (My kids go to bed at 9:30 on weekends) Thankfully, the kid got tired of us making him behave and asked to go back over sooner, and good thing that woman didn't bring him around for a while, 'cause I totally would have spoken up!!

I would have - Shut up, you don't know!!

Thursday, October 09, 2008 11:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So the takeaway from this is that you'll do the really filthy stuff in exchange for approval, right?

Thursday, October 09, 2008 11:54:00 AM  
Blogger Chat Blanc said...

my gawd woman! you MUST start adopting my mantra, which in the words of Janet Jackson is, "What have you done for ME lately" I suggest that you download the song immediately and listen to hundreds of times each day. :)

Thursday, October 09, 2008 7:35:00 PM  
Blogger Marinka said...

Hey, would you mind picking up my kids tomorrow and also getting dinner ready for me? Thanks, you're a doll!

Thursday, October 09, 2008 8:25:00 PM  
Blogger Backpacking Dad said...


Thursday, October 09, 2008 11:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

She did NOT! She totally did not.

I hope they give her a damn placebo shoulder that goes all soft and blubbery when she showers.

Ungrateful bint.

I had something similar happen the other night. Some kid that Too knows mother called and asked if I could watch her OTHER DAUGHTER!?! WTF? AND the 'child' is 17!

Friday, October 10, 2008 6:33:00 AM  
Blogger DKC said...

You know you have to tell us what happened now!

I am also a people pleaser. It sucks. Just once I'd like to really tell someone off when they deserve it. But I just smile and nod like a moron.


Friday, October 10, 2008 7:10:00 AM  
Blogger for a different kind of girl said...

Gah! Gotta go to work! I'm coming back to these ASAP! You all are awesome!

Friday, October 10, 2008 9:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What kind of a parent calls up another parent that they do not know, has never even spoken to, and asks them to watch their child for hours? Or alternately wants the unknown babysitter of the people that they've never met to watch their child? That's not exactly responsible. They have NO ONE ELSE that can watch the kid? Seriously?

Wow. I don't know how I would handle something like that. In the shock and disbelief of the moment I probably would have done the same thing that you did. Or maybe I would have made up a story and kept my kids home from school that day.


Friday, October 10, 2008 1:44:00 PM  
Blogger Aunt Becky said...

As someone who is shockingly non-pushover-y, my hackles are up. And I want to cut a bitch for you. Like Matt's damn mother.

Friday, October 10, 2008 3:42:00 PM  
Blogger Sherendipity said...

I'm pretty sure Matt's Mom is really his Dad because that woman has some set of balls.

Friday, October 10, 2008 9:17:00 PM  
Blogger Momma Trish said...

I'm really hoping it was a wrong number. She actually lives in a different city ... she thinks she's confirmed with the parents of some kid from Matt's school, and she has no idea who you are. Really, she's going to go in for shoulder surgery with no confirmed child care plans in place. And Matt will just show up at someone's house after school, completely unannounced. Sweet!

Saturday, October 11, 2008 3:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you could go ahead and deliver some brains, that would be great. M'kay? Thanks.

Saturday, October 11, 2008 4:52:00 PM  
Blogger Mandy said...

I'm terrible at saying no. But let me tell you, since you give me no choice... ;)

Saturday, October 11, 2008 9:20:00 PM  

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