For this blog, the definition of family is different from the one that I normally employ. Here it is in-laws and relatives. Normally I extend that to include those friends with whom I choose to have real contact.
There are many facets that make the family paradigm interesting. But let’s just focus on expectations, respect, and courtesy. Much of this I am learning as I go from my wife Catalina, who often does better with family than I do.
A few weeks ago my wife gets a call from our niece Ilinca. The conversation conducted in Romanian. It loosely translates, “Hi Cata. Are you going to church today?” “No, I’m not planning to.” “Could you please go for me? I don’t want to sing alone in the choir and no one else will be there.” “Okay. I’ll go.” Cata changes her morning plans, subsequently my plans. Off to church. When she gets back, she’s angry. She calls Ilinca. “Where were you? I went to church and you weren’t there.” “Oh, some friends called and I ended up going to church with them.” “Why didn’t you call me?” “I forgot.” Now I get angry.
A month or so ago, I have guitar lessons that I’m giving for free to my nephew Stefi. Of course it’s for free. I’m going to charge family? Not very likely! But understand that I am a very good musician and give very good lessons that aren’t just about the guitar, but about the structures of music. We’ve arranged that Stefi will come at 5:30 on that Thursday. I have an hour meeting at 4:00. So I work from home so that I will be there in time for Stefi’s lesson. 5:30 comes and goes. No Stefi, no phone call, no nothing. Now I’m angry.
This happens a few more times. Subsequently, I’ve stopped giving him lessons, which is a bit sad as he always asking when he can have lessons again.
So here is the first part of the paradigm. We expect more of family, consider that our right. We expect more courtesy and respect. And we expect to give more courtesy and respect.
You can see that when it doesn’t happen, I get angry. Hmmmmm.
Last Sunday there is no call to let Catalina know if there is going to be Romanian church at 5:00. Not knowing is a common problem. It pretty much dominates our Sunday’s meaning that we can’t go off and do things because we don’t know the requirements for the 4:00 timeframe. 3:30 comes with no call. I head off to the movies assuming that Catalina has Romanian church. Catalina calls her brother-in-law Petrica. No answer. She calls her sister, no answer. She calls her niece Ilinca, no response. She texts her other niece Catri. Catri texts her back. “I am at friends. I don’t know if we have church. I’ll get ahold of them and have them call you.” Ilinca calls her back. “No, we aren’t having church.”
I get home around seven and hear the whole story. I get angry. How can they treat Cata this way. They are family. I tell Cata that I get more upset at these things than she does. She agrees. And then she speaks wisdom, provides the second half of the paradigm.
You have to cut family slack and not expect so much of them!
I have to laugh at myself. I am so black and white. The two halves of the paradigm are so contradictory unless you connect them with the word “yet”. So….
We expect more of family, consider that our right. We expect more courtesy and respect. And we expect to give more courtesy and respect. Yet, when that doesn’t happen, we have to cut family slack, not expect so much of them!
Wow! I can be such an idiot. If I follow the full paradigm, I don’t get angry. That is much better.