14 Jan 2011

Offend Your Friends

Queen For a Day!
Image Souce: Blurtit.com
It's a total faux pas to do something nice for someone and then announce it and brag about it (and as you'll see - photograph it - good grief, I have no shame!), but I kind of don't care. I don't care because sometimes I wish more people would think to help each other out and if this dumb post inspires someone out there to do just that, it's worth the lapse in manners.

I'm not sure if it's because all the magazines and books I've read from my 50s housewife days (which I still love to read!) presume a person pitches in when her friends, neighbours, community and country could use a hand, but lately I've been feeling like maybe we've become a little too focused on our own bubbles.

I don't think this is the case because people have become uncaring - I think we're just busier now, have more distractions and have become a mind-your-own-business society (which has its pluses and minuses) that is terrified of offending others (except when it comes to the comment section of articles, blogs and YouTube videos - there, some live to offend). We often worry that when we stick our necks out to offer help, the other person will somehow feel judged, and even get angry with us. In a post I wrote a while ago, I linked to this fabulous speech by JK Rowling that speaks to the importance of imagination. In her speech, she mentioned that through imagination, you can gain empathy and use that to help others. The roadblock that many of us face, however, is that we also imagine a backlash to helping. We worry about making that person in a wheelchair feel less capable if we offer to grab something on the grocery shelf for them. We hold back saying something to a mom whose toddler has pulled off his winter hat for fear that she'll think we believe she's a 'bad mother' for not noticing. We don't offer directions to the person who's clearly wandering about looking for landmarks because we don't want them to feel dumb. We often even keep to ourselves when it comes to people we know well. We don't want them to know that we've noticed that they could maybe use a hand or a break.

These fears aren't completely unwarranted, but maybe we should risk the potential backlash more often.

One of my good friends is the mom to a 1.5-year old. Her daughter is gorgeous and funny and smart and will surely grow up to be a brilliant human being I'll be proud to know. But as nearly all moms can attest, you can have the greatest kid in the world and still need a time out for yourself. My friend didn't have to (and didn't) tell me this - I just knew she was due for a break.

So, yesterday, without offering or needing to explain to her why, we swapped homes. I came up to her place to babysit her daughter (and do a bit of a tidy with my new little helper) and she arrived at  my place to discover this:

At the end of the day, she came back to her place where her family's dinner was magically ready and more wine was begging to be had.

It's OK, you can say it: I am pretty awesome. Har.

If there's a new mom or dad in your life, or anyone who could use a little relief, please steal this idea from me. You'll never feel so appreciated!


Chris 4:14 pm, January 14, 2011  

You've just crushed the souls of all pre-teen girls looking to make some extra money through baby-sitting. How are they supposed to compete with that? The Baby-Sitter's Club was annihilated when you posted this. Congratulations!

In all seriousness, that's awesome! :)

Selina,  5:10 pm, January 14, 2011  

Good point on the Babysitters club but I don't know many teens who would be that incredibly thoughtful!! Amazing!! I am going to listen and do that for a friend.

Kim,  6:48 pm, January 14, 2011  

For someone who is not a mom, you sure did your research well....including a razor in the 'use me' basket. Yep, something about the winter months that make it hard to prioritize making one's bare legs presentable with the million other things there are to do in a day!

Capucine 7:20 pm, January 14, 2011  

Totally mind-blowingly awesome!

I can't begin to imagine how thrilled your friend must have been to find such an oasis full of treats for the soul!

You've definitely earned some good karma there (and I don't care about the bragging, I think it's nice to show that people can do nice things for others and perhaps inspire them!)

JJO-SBD 8:45 pm, January 14, 2011  

Oooohhhh, you are an amazing friend! After having two boys, I can tell you that your gift to her was a dream come true. You didn't just tell her to go get pampered; you provided everything she would need to just do it. Anytime you want to swap houses, I live in Florida! hee hee

Anonymous,  8:49 pm, January 14, 2011  

I am said lucky friend.

It should be noted this is not the only time she has swooped in with a note perfect helping hand. Not by a long shot.

All I can say is...the world needs more Jens. She's the awesome. THE AWESOME!

Karen,  1:33 am, January 16, 2011  

Aw ... Jen - I keep coming back to this blog and am impressed and impressed for different reasons. You are really so right that we should just DO what our hearts urge us, even if someone might bite us back.

Di Smith 12:32 pm, January 17, 2011  

Just one more reason to think you rock. And then wonder how far you are willing to drive to help wine and sleep-deprived mothers of toddlers. (I know we're not FRIENDS per say, but you did mention strangers in the grocery store and all ;p )

Seriously though. You have inspired me. Perhaps one of my actual-live-in-person friends is needing this. Snarf, perhaps???

And just a side note - at first I thought the razors were maxi-pads. Then my brain said, "that's just a tad presumptuous, Jenn but never Jen." Glad I squinted a little harder and cleared that up.

Di Smith 12:33 pm, January 17, 2011  

EEEE gads. That's JEN but NEVER JENN....... so terribly sorry. Now you'll NEVER help me. I'm off to wallow in self pity.

Rachael 3:46 pm, January 19, 2011  

What a great thing to do! If I had thought to do this, I totally would have told everyone all about it. And I'm tucking this idea away for the coming months, when two friends and my sister will all have newborns!

Jen 12:06 pm, January 21, 2011  

Thanks, all.

Chris: That's right. The Babysitter's Club can suck it. Especially Kristy.

Selina: Yay! Lemme know how it works out!

Kim: Ha. I always do the best leg shave if I'm having a bath ... so I figured I'd put the option out there! And it's not just moms who don't prioritize leg shaving in the winter ... Trust.

Capucine: Thank you, my dear!

JJO-SBD: Florida, eh? (She says as she stares out the window at the snow) ... ;)

My Friend, Anon: You are welcome and deserving. :)

Karen: Aw, thanks!

Diana: YOU ARE DEAD TO ME. Har. Hahaha - no worries! And thanks for the compliments!

Rachael: Thanks! So happy to possibly inspire!

EmmyJune 11:00 am, May 17, 2011  

Having recently discovered your eccentric, original, quirky, generally awesome corner of the web, I have enjoyed many a cup of coffee while reading back posts. This one calls me to comment as you are now a certified rock star friend, as I with three Lilliputians of my own would love this kind of afternoon right now!!! Keep on keepin' on with the goodness Jen.

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I have no shame

Need words? I'm a Toronto-based freelance writer who injects great ones into blogs, websites, magazines, ads and more. So many services, one lovely Jen (with one 'n').

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