This week I spent seven days visiting TJ again. You remember TJ. He is the one with the Wheat Thins dilemma (blog, September 26, 2011) It was his seventh birthday and when I arrived his gifts were arranged in a neat pile displaying a combination of board games, athletic equipment, and one of my old favorites, a Slinky!
We, of course, positioned Slinky at the top of the stairway and watched it do its thing, all the way down the stairs, over and over again. I love a Slinky—a
simple, affordable, non-electronic toy that has stood the test of time. Somewhere
between the many times we watched Slinky descend the steps and a board game of Sorry, Slinky became all tangled up. A Slinky is only good when it can slink down the steps or slide back and forth from your right palm to your left. A tangled Slinky is useless–It can neither do the steps nor the palm-to-palm thing.
At one point TJ alerted me to his dilemma. “Gram, my Slinky is a little bit tangled. “I can fix it” I quickly assured him. After all, I was very experienced with Slinkys.
I sat down and began to try to unwind what appeared to be a tangled mess. TJs “little bit tangled” assessment was an understatement. I twisted and turned and spent a very long period of time trying to restore Slinky to its former appearance—but with no luck. Finally, I put it down, and announced defeat. TJ picked up the Slinky and observed in an honest, matter-of-fact tone, “Gram, I think you made it worse!”
Did I? Did I make matters worse? And there it was, the message in the moment: Are there other times in my life when I attempt to fix things but end up making matters worse? Unfortunately, I am aware of several examples!
Sometimes I attempt to fix what isn’t broken to start with! Once I read that women should walk 10,000 steps a day. I put on my pedometer and learned that in my normal routine day I walked 12, 500 steps. “Good”, I thought. “Better than average!.” I decided to set a new goal of 20,000 steps. In doing so, I broke three bones under my right foot and was unable to walk for six weeks.
Other times I am given a warning about something and choose to ignore the message, and make matters worse. For example, once when my printer light indicated that I needed a new ink cartridge, I decided that surely there was more ink stuck at the bottom of the cartridge. In my attempt to avoid this marketing propoganda, I removed the cartridge and shook it with all my might. I put the cartridge back in my printer and smiled to myself when the printer printed. I was right, there was more ink at the bottom! However, as I walked away from the printer I saw all the black ink that had emptied onto my coral-colored rug during the shaking process!
I know I cannot fix everything–not the starving children in the world, the failing educational system of our country, nor my scleroderma, and obviously not a tangled slinky. Women with high SUCCESSTROGEN levels know what they can do and can be counted on to do that. And they know what they cannot do, are comfortable saying “I am not good at that”, and can usually recommend a reliable resource.
I know my skill set regarding TJ, so I will stick with that. I will continue to kick a soccer ball, toss a football, and challenge him with word games. And maybe I will send him a new Slinky today!
And how about you? Can you think of times when your involvement is more like interference and you have made matters worse?