I have really malleable morals. I assume that people are imperfect, and try not to let their faults ruin my faith in humanity. It takes a whole lot to alienate me as a friend. I think that lying, cheating, betraying, jealousy, pettiness, vindictiveness… are all part of human relationships – and we have to be forgiving in those moments when we experience them. Of course everyone has their limit, but I am not going to abandon someone if they fool me once. Maybe I am little like George Bush Jr. in that way.
I have relatively low expectations because I think we are all flawed creatures who are doing the best we can amidst the commotion of our own dysfunction. As long as someone is willing to sit down with me and analyze their motives of why they did what they did, I am pretty quick to forgive. Yet within all my flexibility, there is one thing that I hold sacred – promises.
If you make a fucking promise to me, you better keep that shit.
The thing about promises is that you don’t have to make them. You can easily say to someone “I can’t promise I will make it, but I will try.” That way if you flake, you always made it known it were a possibility. Yet when you promise to do something for someone, or be somewhere, you have to follow through. Otherwise there is no reliability.
Trust is an interesting phenomenon. We like to think that we trust each other completely, but that is asking a lot of someone. I may trust you with my secret about having a crush on Justin Bieber, but that doesn’t mean I trust you to tell me I have a poppy seed in my teeth. The only true expectation I have of anyone is I want to be able to trust their promises, which is why I have committed to teaching The Munch the sanctity of them.
The Munch and I spend a good portion of our day negotiating. She wants something from me, like 20 chocolates, I say no, and we debate from there. My logic is that she shouldn’t eat too much sugar; hers is that chocolate is fucking delicious. We usually come to a conclusion when she has more reasonable request.
Munch: Okay Mamma, how about two chocolates and I promise I wont ask for any more treats for the rest of the day…
Toni: If you promise that is it, and you won’t ask for any more, you can have two chocolates.
It then becomes my civic duty to hold Munch to her promise; because of course she is still learning of their severity. So when she asks for more treats an hour later I have to remind her.
Toni: Munch, you made a promise you wouldn’t ask for more, and it is really important to keep your promises.
Munch: But I really want a lollipop.
Toni: If you keep asking, Mamma is going to feel like she can’t trust you. You made a promise Munch and you have to keep it. It is really important that Mamma knows she can trust your promises.
Sometimes she lets it drop there, and sometimes her insatiable need for lollipops overrides. It is a process right?
So last night I was putting The Munch to bed and she really wanted to watch The Mickey Mouse Club House, but I really wanted her to go to bed. Our current bedtime ritual is that I tell her a story and then we have a cuddle. But it was past 8 o’clock and there would be no time for watching her cartoon, and the story, and the cuddle.
Toni: Munch, I really don’t think it is a good idea to watch something tonight. It is too late.
Munch: Please Mamma!!! Please!! I really really want to watch something! PLEASE! For a special occasion!!
Toni: We just don’t have the time. If you watch something then you get no story tonight. You can’t have both.
Munch: But we ALWAYS do story! I really want a story! Wahhhhhaaaahhhhhhhhaaaaa!
Toni: You can’t have both. You have to make a decision. What is more important to you? Story? Or watching something?
Munch: But I can’t make a decision! Wahhhhaaaaaahhhhhaaaa! I really can’t Mamma I just can’t!
Toni: Well what is the solution?
Munch: How about I watch a really short movie, and you tell me a really short story?
Toni: Ummmmm… well that is a little like having your cake and eating it too…
Munch: I like cake. Can I have some?
Toni: That is not what I meant.
Munch: Mamma, I promise. One short movie and when you turn it off I won’t whine. Then one short story and I won’t ask for another.
I could have made this a lesson about decisions and sacrifice, but I was too busy focusing on the promises. I mean, you can only instill so many values on a Monday nights.
So I let The Munch watch 10 minutes of Mickey Mouse, and even though she wanted to watch more, she listened and didn’t whine. Then we went upstairs, I told my short story, we had our cuddle, and I got up to leave.
Munch: Mamma, can you tell me one more story?
Toni: Munch, that is not fair. You made a promise and it makes me really upset when you don’t take your promises seriously.
Munch: Oh whoops. I forgot. Sorry Mamma. I broke my promise but I put it back together.