Wednesday, December 21, 2011

"Niceness" is DEFINITELY underrated

I try to be a nice person all the time, but as I get older, I get crankier. I also think there is a direct correlation to how many times I gave birth and how crabby I am. If I were that Duggar woman, you would have to HIDE from me on a daily basis. Seriously--if I am THIS crazy with THREE, IMAGINE what I would be like with THIRTEEN (I shudder to think of it)--or NINETEEN (I honestly have no idea how many children she has--I'm not sure SHE knows, either--and I don't blame or judge her for it AT ALL-- is it twenty? Twenty-five? Who cares, really--after the tenth or eleventh she MUST have lost her mind, right? Because I lost mine and I only have (I know I told you, but it is pertinent to the story) THREE). I only saw parts of the show (I think it IS nineteen--isn't the show CALLED "Nineteen kids AND COUNTING"?!) YEARS ago, but she appeared to be happy enough--certainly not cranky. I feel like that is the dementia that takes over when you have NINETEEN kids and you are STILL counting, so the lack of crankiness doesn't really count in that case, I guess. So maybe I need to have eleven more children to conquer my crabby...

Oh my goodness--I had to step away for a few minutes so that I could LAUGH and then CRY. N-E-V-E-R GONNA HAPPEN! And not just because I am missing my parts. Last night at dinner, Ryan (my middle daughter) looked at me and said, "I really want a brother."  I need you to remember that we were ALL sitting at dinner TOGETHER--Addison (the youngest SISTER) was on her left and BRAYDEN (the oldest--BROTHER) was on her right. I stared at her for a second, looked at Brayden...looked back at her and she said it again. "WHAT? I want a BROTHER!" I slowly looked at Brayden, then looked back at her. We all started to laugh. She then clarified, "NOOOOO--I mean, I want a LITTLE brother," to which the other two vehemently agreed. Interesting...but probably not going to happen. I mean, DEFINITELY not going to happen (even MARY had her parts--not that I'M ANYTHING like Mary--nothing "immaculate" has gone on in MY life for YEARS. Is this sacreligious? If so, can I be forgiven? Please don't answer these questions--I don't want to know.), but maybe one day...probably NOT, but I DO think about adopting or becoming a foster parent. WHEN  (and IF) I get my brain back. You don't need to worry, though. My husband would NEVER go for it--he won't even let me get a PUPPY!

So back to me being nice...I kind of lost my "niceness" these last few years, but I still try to do random acts of kindness every day--things that don't really FEEL like random acts of kindness because I think that everyone who isn't a big jerk would do them. For example, holding the door for the person behind you at school, the store, church, gas station, get it. ANYWHERE there is a door and you are entering or exiting. This seems like it would be a natural thing to do, right? I mean, you are going in--you simply hold out your hand so the door doesn't slam into the face of the unsuspecting soul behind you, OR you step aside and--yes, I'm gonna say it--ALLOW that person to enter FIRST. Crazy, I know, but it CAN BE DONE. I watch my children and their classmates push each other out of the way (sometimes they even STEP on each other!) to get to the door first and I realize that there are TOO MANY "grown ups" who do the same thing. It always makes me laugh--OUT LOUD--when the person in front of me goes out of his or her way to NOT touch the door when they enter a building and does not even LOOK to see if someone is entering after them. REALLY? REALLY, person who cannot be bothered to take one half of a second to glance back and hold the door for another human being--you are okay with that? You are okay with the door slamming in someone's face because you wanted to be ONE HALF of a SECOND earlier?! 

Of course, I always feel guilty when I hold the door for a person who is several feet away and they feel like they have to hurry because I am holding the door for them. I'm always sure to tell them to take their time, though they usually start running. THEN it is no longer a good deed. I feel compelled to tell them about when I was pregnant with my youngest and I had to waddle with the other two maniacs to hurry to get the door and that isn't really "helpful" at all. I am QUITE certain they LOVE that I tell them my story. Maybe THAT'S why I hold doors for people. Not to be nice, but to FORCE them to listen to my stories.  Hmmm....interesting...

The thing is, common courtesy and random acts of kindness are melding into one. I always thought that random acts of kindness needed to be big gestures--things that people wouldn't normally do--perhaps because they hadn't THOUGHT of doing them. Like paying the toll for the car behind you (which I tried to do a few times a month when I lived in Buffalo (I would hit the toll pretty frequently commuting from home, to school, to work, to work...and it was only like fifteen cents..something even I could afford!), though once I moved, I was rarely on toll roads), or bringing a homeless person lunch (though a few years ago when we lived in Virginia, I was driving with my friend's daughter and my oldest two. We came upon a homeless guy and I wanted to give him food, but I thought it wouldn't be appropriate with someone else's child in my car (I wasn't sure how her parents would feel about me pulling up to some strange man with their daughter in my car). I decided to slow down (not stop) and crack my window enough to throw a juice box and a cheese stick AT him. Yes...AT him. So now, instead of thinking, "Wow--it is so nice to give food to those who need it, she is thinking, "Wow--Mrs. Corwin THROWS FOOD at homeless people!" Great.

Bringing your cart back at the grocery store (though when my kids were little, I LIKED to find a parking spot with a cart next to it!) or helping someone to carry something awkward or heavy are just things that EVERYONE does, right?  Or helping someone who is short a dollar at the register (or when we were at the airport last year and this younger (I KNOW--EVERYONE is younger than me--he was about twenty) guy didn't know he would need to pay for his bag (because it was like a half of an inch bigger than the box. STUPID DELTA). He tried to pay with a credit card, but Delta evidently does not accept credit cards for baggage--NICE. I know there were people who were far wealthier than us who simply looked annoyed with this guy instead of feeling compassion for him. I know that the Delta personnell COULD have thought of SOMETHING to do to help this guy so that he could make his flight, but they chose to give that blank "I'm through with you--thereisnothingIcandoforyou...NEEEEXXXT" look that I HATE. At least PRETEND to want to help me, ya know?! We didn't necessarily have an extra twenty to spend, but I have BEEN that guy before, and even if I hadn't--how could I NOT help him?  We paid for his bag, which embarrassed him to the point of discomfort--maybe because everyone was GAWKING at him. He went on about how he would get the money at the first ATM and we both told him not to and not to give it a second thought. When things like that happen, I KNOW I married the right person. I cannot even IMAGINE what some of my ex-boyfriends would have said about THAT behavior--especially if we were hurting financially, but my husband and I were BOTH on the same page and we didn't even have to discuss it); or letting someone go in front of you either A. because you are being nice or 2. because they have ONE thing and YOU have ONE HUNDRED...everyone does THAT, right? WRONG.  This is another case of me thinking that everyone thinks like I do--I know, scary, but some of it is good...

So  on December 13, I decided to officially join this facebook 12 Days of Giving challenge. Although I try to do nice things on a regular basis (I swear I do--I'm not crabby ALL the time), this was going that extra step. Instead of dropping extra money in a toll, I drove through drive-thru simply to buy food for the next car. I bought coffee/cocoa for the construction workers down the road. I bought lunch for a few people at Wawa. The problem is, my "random" acts of kindness are NOT kind to our wallet, which is NOT kind to my husband! It does feel great, though. I always want to be the person who could pay the $200 bill for the person in front of me whose credit card is declined. Even when we HAD money, I don't remember ever doing THAT and it disappoints me. 

Yesterday I volunteered in my son's class. Every time I go to his (or his sister's) class, I try to bring coffee/cocoa and a treat to the teachers (mostly because I remember how excited I got when parents would do nice things for ME when I taught--it would make my whole week (sometimes MONTH) so much brighter! While I was paying for the coffee/cocoa, their Spanish and PE teachers got in line behind me. I said hello to them and chatted for a minute before I decided to pay for their lunches. At first they were surprised, then both couldn't stop thanking me as if I did something far more than pay for their meals--at WAWA. Both gave me a hug and I couldn't help but think, 'This really isn't a "RANDOM" act of kindness because they KNOW me and now feel in debted to me. I told them to NEVER mention it again. The thing is, I was going to pay for the person behind me anyway, so isn't it great that the two people behind me do things to directly help my children every day? Two birds, one stone. So to speak...

ANYWAY...I spilled a little coffee when I was trying to get into my car. THEN the coffee did a triple flip as I pulled out of the parking lot. I almost died (quite literally) pulling over to try to pick it up so it wouldn't spill anymore. When I parked at the school, the cups tipped AGAIN and when I went to catch ONE, the other lost its top and spilled all over the driver's seat. Most people would have given up on the coffee by now, but NOT ME. I'm P-R-E-T-T-Y tenacious when I want to be. I DID NOT go through all of THAT to simply THROW OUT the coffee. I entered the school soaked with coffee/cocoa mixture and proudly delivered (what I can only assume was tossed into the garbage) each coffee with the Reader's Digest version of the previous events. I'm a dropper. I'm a dropper and a spiller. AND a faller (refer to These are the things I do ALL the time and I've learned to live with it. I don't ACCEPT it--I live with it. But at least I can be a NICE dropper/spiller/faller, right?


  1. OMG, the last paragraph made me snort coffee out my nose and cry. Haven't laughed that hard in a long time. Sorry it was at your expense, but grateful for you making my day. Heck, my week! Seriously it took me ten minutes to finish reading it because I'd break out in laughter again every time I started to read. Love you!!!! :)

  2. we love you just the way you are.
    and quit feeling guilty. guilt is for wimps. bahaha! xoxo

  3. Katie J.--So we BOTH spilled coffee! I am so happy it made you laugh--I always wonder if I even make ANYONE laugh (anyone but ME!), so it makes me happy to know that I can do that for you! Oh--and it took you so long to read it because it is FIFTEEN PAGES LONG!
    Melissa--I just love you, too--mostly because you embrace my flaws! The guilt is limited--not just because I don't want to be a wimp, but because I am just--SO--tired! By the way--I LOVED your post on guilt and I would post the link now, but it will take me five hours to find it...YOU could post it...!

  4. lol the coffee spilling thing was hilarious- glad it wasn't me, tho! LOL

    got you back from the hop :)

  5. you are NOT right!!!!!! poor David. to think we sat in the garage and looked out to no where.

  6. Yeah...poor DAVID...! It's funny how things change, isn't it?! Who would have thought I would have a five, six AND seven-year-old DRIVING ME OUT OF MY MIND?! They are lucky they're cute!

  7. Look! You have paragraphs! YAY!!!

    You are very thoughtful. I am not. I'm officially declaring my New Year's resolution to be "Do more, I mean, Start doing random acts of kindness."

  8. Can you BELIEVE it?! My friend who made my blog look pretty insists she has NOTHING to do with it, but SOMEONE did SOMETHING to make these paragraphs happen!

    Oh--and thank you so much for the (undeserved) compliment! I'm not as much thoughtful as I am thoughtful ABOUT being thoughtful. I INTEND to do a lot of things that don't ever get done and my patience with the state of (hu)mankind is always the first to go! I'm more Seinfeldian than I care to admit--I justify NOT doing nice things because of one reason or another and when I do finally decide to do something nice, I want Karma to reward me. The problem is, Karma holds a grudge and was evidently NEVER a parent! That said, it WAS fun to do nice things for people at the expense (so to speak!) of our savings and (at times) my marriage! My husband is a bit baffled as to why I need to continue to spend money we don't have on random strangers, so I need to work on more...frugal... ways to show kindness throughout the year. Wish me luck...


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