Discounting blessings

Dear Dave,

It was Marie's birthday last week. She's now nine. Someone was wanting to know what to get her as a present and asked me what she likes. Without hesitation, I replied, 'Things to complain about... Pretty much anything will do.'

Honestly, it’s like living with Goldilocks. Everything is too hot or too cold, too soft or too yellow, too short or too bright. Unless it’s too green and too hard. Or sore. Or horrible. Or might require a tiny bit of effort. Sigh. The only time anything is right is when I think it’s definitely wrong. Old socks that are too small become the only ones she’ll wear. New ones are too big, too fluffy and every kind of ‘yucky’. This is usually explained to me in words so loud that the neighbours can hear but in a tone so screechy only their dog can understand.

It’s all rather tiring.

I don't know where she gets it from. Of course, it does remind me a little of listening to my mum when she comes home from holiday. I ask her how the trip went and she usually says something along the lines of, 'It was very good... apart from the weather on the third day.’ She then launches into a list of all the events of the fortnight which didn’t go entirely to plan. ‘The plane was delayed for half an hour... We got sunburn... Abroad was full of foreigners...’

There’s seldom anything remarkable on the list, although it is worth listening carefully just in case. 'The lasagne was burnt... We got wet... A goat threw up on your dad... There was... Yes, a goat. He was trying to get his pyjamas back... No, not the goat - your dad. Anyway, as I saying, there wasn’t enough soap...' Nothing ever really goes badly enough to warrant front page news. It’s never a case of, 'We lost our shoes in a game of poker and then Vladimir Putin mistook us for bears...' Still, the fun parts of the holiday get summed up in four words and the rest is a string of minor set backs.

Maybe the one thunderstorm is more memorable than the two weeks of blazing sunshine or maybe my mum thinks I’ll find it more interesting. Who knows? At least she starts on a positive note. I can only dream of Marie leading off with, 'It was very good'. She normally just cuts straight to what went wrong. If I ask her to do something, she’ll also add in all the stuff that hasn't gone wrong yet but is about to. Or why the whole concept is wrong. Or why the world is wrong. Or why I’m wrong.

Then her legs will mysteriously stop working, her head will hurt and she’ll need a cuddle.

She’s normally very good but sometimes, oh sometimes, she’s too stubborn and too loud, too grumpy and too picky, too ungrateful and too emotional, too miserable and too maddening. I really don’t know where she gets this negative streak from...

Oh, hang on.

Maybe fixing this situation starts with me. I tell you what, why don’t I take the plank out of my own eye and try to be more positive myself?

Marie’s a great kid. I’m glad I’ve got her.

Yours in a woman’s world,


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