If I Were a Remote…

The Remote Control Was Missing!

Our remote control had been missing for over a week. Yup. It’s not an easy thing to live without I must admit (yes, yes, first world problems, but those are the problems I have to learn from) and it was gone. Like totally gone. It was not where we normally put it, it wasn’t where it often fell into, and it wasn’t even in places like the fridge or dish washer…

In our family, when someone can’t find something, we get into a bit of a frenzy, which drives me batty. I just see no use in getting upset and frazzled and insistent that the whole household gets up to look for the one thing that someone (usually NOT ME) misplaced. So I would often get grumpy and start yelling or being passive aggressive that people should just take care of their own things. I get caught up in the emotional dysregulation… 

Recently lost items: brand new earbuds (missing for 3 months, status: found on the computer just innocently charging itself), special stuffie (missing for one night: status: under the bed), slippers (missing for 3 weeks, status: found, but can’t remember where), sunglasses (who knows what pair he’s on now?!?!), key fob for the recyclables (missing for a week, status: let’s just say someone was sheepish about it when they remembered where they put it)… the list goes on!

This one, though, was really annoying because the workaround is super 麻煩 (mah fan, troublesome) and it’s sort of an every-day-three-times-a-day-kind-of-thing. Cue the internal eyerolling and the heavy sighing… the-here-I-go-again, why does everything have to be Mommy’s problem? It’s like a Hero/Victim syndrome that has been the bane of my motherhood!

My Usual MO

I have a “PULEEZ STOP MAKING EVERYTHING MY PROBLEM!” reaction that comes out of no where. (Yes, but Mommy, you’re magical, you always know where things are. NO I DON’T, I just actually USE MY EYES!) ((But I digress, sorry.))

I’m not too proud of my usual MO, so I’m not going into more details. But suffice to say, the result (stressed out kids who panic when we can’t find keys) is not exactly what I want for our family. Me taking everything personally does not help us solve problems!

New Approach

Now that I’m Doing the Work, I realize that my reactions to annoying behaviours are more important that the annoying behaviours themselves. That is to say, after years of being annoyed that they aren’t working hard at their system-so-that-they-don’t-lose-things-in-the-damn-first-place, the situation hasn’t improved that much. I’m also learning where I learned that from and how it’s actually wired in my brain. I’m not a bad person, just someone who learned this behaviour and it doesn’t serve us anymore, if ever.

So over the past year, I’ve been shifting into being totally cool with anything as if I knew that it was normal and not a bad thing, like: “Well, we know it (earbuds) is in the house somewhere, so it’s not the end of the world…” or “Yeah, you must be pretty frustrated with this. It’s totally not convenient to have to get up and change the channel!” or “So, what can we do in the meantime if we just don’t know where your sunglasses are right now?”

The Right Thing Will Eventually Happen

We have been looking for that stupid remote for a week… and we are reminded of our utter failures as human beings each day at least three times a day… and today, A2 just had it. “We cannot just not find it Mommy. I don’t know how to change the source without the remote.”

That’s true. It’s the one thing I don’t think any of us know how to do with that that golden tool of a remote.

So I tried something without thinking. “So, if I were a remote and I didn’t want to be found, where would I be? We know I’m not where I’m supposed to be, where everyone puts me after they are done with me. Ahem, where people are SUPPOSED to put me after they are done with me. And I’m not even where I’m not supposed to be, like under the sofa, behind the credenza, on the bookshelf, or next to the microwave… I wonder if I would be hiding in the medicine cubby? Nope. What about in the stationary drawer? Not there either. How about in the battery basket? … WHA..?!?! I’m in the battery basket!” 

By just playing with the moment and letting the absurd be possible, we got to the less absurd answer! And now I think I know what happened. I’m sure someone was replacing the batteries in the remote control and accidentally left it there. I’m not going to name any names. (Who am I kidding? I am absolutely going after whoever did this!)

Moral of the Story

The right thing can eventually happen, but it won’t if we are running around like 4 chickens with our heads cut off and worried about Daddy or Mommy getting upset. Or the right thing can happen, but so will many other bad things (like stressed out kids), if we let anger and frustration be our go to response for unexpected annoying situations. So the moral of the story for me is that doing the work is worth it.

It’s hard; some days I feel like an idiot with a forced patient/cheerful tone in my voice and some days I just give into my frustrations. But no matter what, we get back to connecting and supporting each other through whatever challenge is in front of us.

For anyone suffering from complex trauma, these funny incidences aren’t that funny. They can actually be quite traumatizing for a kid, which can turn into mental health issues when they grow up. So, if you find that you are over-reacting to things or that your children are behaving in maladaptive ways, you might need to heal from past trauma. It’s hard to be a calm parent when our nervous system is on high alert and ready for fight-or-flight.

That’s why so many of us have turned to respectful parenting, peaceful parenting, conscious parenting, or empowered parenting.

Thanks for what you do to make the world a better place. Keep up the great work!. Each person healed from trauma impacts generations of descendants in the future.

Published by Sherry Yuan Hunter

Sherry Yuan Hunter is a certified trauma recovery coach and certified parenting coach. Taiwan-born American-Canadian Chinese, married, working mother of two, Sherry identifies as a Sandwich Parent, Third Culture Kid, an untigering Mom, and Recovering Shouldaholic. Based in Toronto, Canada, Sherry has been working in student success programs at University of Toronto for 20 years, supporting students, young professionals, new managers, working moms, and new immigrants to success.

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