How distress can lead to inappropriate behaviour

I had a distressing weekend. It has been bitterly cold, and my body, though it has lived in frigid climes for decades, works much better when in balmy conditions. Days and nights of temperatures below freezing point are not enjoyable, unless you are in a ski lodge with lots of fondue, and schnapps, or Aquavit.

My elder daughter and I gave each other a good amount of solace after we had spent Saturday afternoon at the funeral for Will Stephenson. She had shared a wonderful memory of  how peanut M&Ms were always at the Stephenson’s home and how Will never balked at her taking a second handful: he was willing to give up something for someone else’s happiness. We got back to my house in the early evening, just before some neighbours were due for dinner. I poured a glass of sparkling wine for us all and toasted Will’s memory and his spirit. We cheered and tried to be cheery. But, within seconds were totally sad. We had to explain to the first guests what had happened and beg their indulgence. The rest of the evening did not have any repeat of such displays of personal grief, though I had very sad feelings all night. We tried to be full of glee and laughter over a wonderful yet simple meal. The small children were showing how 3 is an awkward number for a play date, and girls have no problem shutting out boys even if he is older and the sister of one of them.

On Sunday, my big daughter called me and invited me to use the bright sunshine on a bitterly cold day as a good enough reason to go for a long walk with her aging black Labra-d-almatian. We talked about lots of happy things and seeing a dog content to nuzzle leaves and the noses of other dogs is often good for regaining perspective.

My distress really came from the fact that some temporary crowns placed by my dentist on Tuesday were lasting much less than I expected and during Friday evening, I was startled to find parts of them falling off as I chewed gently on some bread. I called my dentist to explain the problem and she suggested to see me on Monday. By Sunday night, more fallout was happening and I was not thrilled. I hated calling her at home but she was understanding. We agreed to try to deal with the problem on Monday, with her admitting that she had been unhappy with what she had done so was not surprised. That cheered me 🙂 The safety recall work that had been scheduled for Monday morning, to correct an in-tank fuel pump that could cause my not so SAV-vy car to stall and lose power, would have to wait.

The relief that I felt after another hour in the dentist’s chair was immense. My mouth felt whole again, better than before. I was so elated that when I went past my daughter’s school on my way back home and saw her having recess I had to go over and give her a hug. “Daddy!” never sounded so sweet. But, wait. I had to offer Dad-hugs to the others with whom she was playing. That’s the decent thing to do, right? The girls ran for theirs, bar one, who decided after that she had better not miss out. I offered the boys hugs too, and up they ran. I hope that none of them goes home and mistells the story. Anyway, their teacher was there and I hope would vouch for my very proper conduct.

Now that today is even colder (14 degrees F) and reports of more snow coming within 48 hours, I have to polish up my happy face. I wont worry too much about the torrent of water running past my house, from a burst water main somewhere. I will be cheered by the arrival half an hour ago of a truck load of water workers who “hoped to locate where the water is coming from”. You and me, both.

They say that pain is relative and so too are personal problems. In the big scheme of things, all of my distress is minor. It quickly goes away if you can find a reason to be cheerful.


About The Grasshopper

Professional international economist, recently retired from an international organization. I use blogging as a way of organizing my ideas and thoughts about a range of topics. I was born in Jamaica, and spent many years being educated, living, and working in the UK. I lived in the USA for a few decades, and worked and travelled abroad extensively. My views have a wide international perspective. Father of girls. Also, married to an economist.
This entry was posted in Blogging, Children, Human relationships, Service economy, Weather and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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