Thursday, January 21, 2010

Just you wait.....

When I saw that the topic for this week's Spin Cycle is opinions, I knew it wouldn't be hard to come up with a spin. The problem would be narrowing it down. I could write about how difficult I often find it to give my opinions on certain subjects, because I worry if I disagree with someone, I might offend them. Or I could write about how much it bugs me when people develop opinions they won't ever reconsider despite the fact that they are based on misinformation (don't even get me started on all the crazy emails these kinds of opinions generate, especially on the topic of politics).

Any of these topics could have gotten me writing, but instead I am choosing to blog about one of my biggest pet peeves, what I like to call Maleficent Prophecies of Doom (or MPoD for short). Despite its pompous title, these sorts of opinions are ubiquitous. You have probably been the recipient of an MPoD without even realizing it. Very often they start with the phrase "Just you wait," as in these examples:

"Just you wait. When you have teenagers they will never talk to you and you will know the misery I feel."


"Just wait. You'll see, as soon as your son enters elementary school you'll have to fight tooth and nail to get him services and it will be a complete nightmare."


"When you hit 40, your body will totally fall apart and you will age 20 years in one day and your life will forever be miserable. Just you wait."

I hate MPoDs for so many reasons. The person who bestows such pronouncements seems to find glee in the prospect that you will soon be joining her in the Hell in which she currently resides. These people tend to take delight in other people's misfortunes, and that makes me feel uncomfortable.

Don't get me wrong. I have been known to indulge in a certain amount of schadenfreude. I have on occasion wished that a Smug Mother of Girls would have a seriously rambunctious boy after she gave me a witheringly judgmental glare on the playground. I have also been known to take some satisfaction when people who have been mean to me or to my kids have gotten their comeuppance. But I am not proud of those feelings. I tend to reveal them only to my closest friend because I don't want people to know about my mean streak.

But those who regularly make MPods don't hide their selfish desire for everyone to be as miserable as them. And for some reason when this mean-spiritedness is flanked by a "Just you wait" and an "You'll see" all of a sudden it is socially acceptable to be an ill-tempered shrew.

Let me highlight an example of a particular Maleficent Prophecy of Doom that Bil and I still talk about. One New Year's Eve, right after our first anniversary, Bil and I attended a small party at my brother and sister-in-law's house. While we were playing Taboo with various family members, we noticed major tension between my sister-in-law's brother and his wife, M. It was obvious they were fighting, about what I am not sure, but M was constantly biting her husband's head off. She yelled at him for missing her Taboo clues, for not giving better clues when it was his turn, and she was making everyone feel uncomfortable.

Bil and I sat on the couch minding our own business. We happened to be holding hands, which apparently really ticked off M, because she turned on us suddenly and declared with great vehemence, "Just you wait. When you have been married for 10 years, you won't be holding hands! You'll see."

It shocked me, her absolute antipathy towards Bil and I, two people who did nothing other than appear happily married. Why, I wondered would anyone hope for another to have marital problems?

What is sad about these predictions is that when we use them, we become victims. Victims of fate. We are saying that we have no control over our lives or anything that happens in them, that everyone suffers this way so why bother changing? And that saddens me. I know we don't have complete control over many aspects of our lives, so to relinquish the control we do have (ie: the ability to not fight over a game of Taboo) is so wasteful, in my opinion.

More than that, when we predict another's problems, we are bringing them down with us. We are stealing their hope. We are wishing hard times on them.

Interestingly, for whatever reason, when an acquaintance begins to predict some doom and gloom in my life, I feel determination begin to swell in my chest. I am overcome with a desire to prove them wrong. Maybe that's a good thing.

All I know is that Bil and I have been married for 8+ years and we are still holding hands.

And we never fight over Taboo.

Take that, M.


Jan said...

*hangs head in shame, and raises hand*

I am guilty - oh, so woefully guilty.

I taunt the parents of Small Children with their fate as parents of Teenagers. My only excuse is that it was done to me.

Bad Jan.

Sprite's Keeper said...

My mother takes a certain glee in every single time that Sprite throws me for a loop. It's annoying, but tolerable. But, I hsve had to stop myself from bringing out my own MPoD when another mother seems like she has it so good with her child and flicks a smug look in my direction while I'm trying to keep Sprite from licking the shopping cart.
You're linked!

a Tonggu Momma said...

*a standing ovation*

(That's what it looks like in the blogging world. I mean, in case you didn't know.)

Amy Jane said...

Love it, love it, love it! I also love the term Smug Mother of Girls - SMOG!!

My personal opinion is that and Bil will still be holding hands after 50 years!

Denise said...

I won't tell anyone that you NEVER play taboo...ehehehehe. J/K. And here's my MPoD for you....just you wait, after 35 losing weight is history. Let that determination rise within you, Patty....and then drag my sorry buns with you, PLEASE!

Maureen@IslandRoar said...

Oh, all I could think was how hurt in her marriage at that moment she must have been to say such a thing. Not that that excuses it. Having had my marriage end, I would Never have wished that on Anybody.
I think I am guilty of what you're saying when someone seems to acting overly smug about something. But I agree, some people do this all the time and it does seem mean.

Evenspor said...

"These people tend to take delight in other people's misfortunes, and that makes me feel uncomfortable."


Sarah said...

Yeah, I won't even tell you what I say to people that start a sentence like that---

But here's what you can always take away from a situation from that---you are better because you recognize what they are doing. And that, my friend, is half the battle.

SweetWICK said...

I loved this post. I am a firm believer in being in control of your the extent that you don't just let circumstance determine it for you. When people try to pull you down, it's because they feel inadequate and lonely in their sorrow. It is our right and duty to stand tall in the mids of that and it's okay to swell up in the chest and become determined to prove them wrong...maybe it is a good thing, because without opposition we wouldn't know how good we have it sometimes.

Stacy (the Random Cool Chick) said...

Well said! Loved your spin! :)

Just you wait...I bet you're still holding hands and making kissy faces at each other when you're 80! :)

Lisa @ Boondock Ramblings said...

Or like the lady in the elevator when I was pregnant with Jonathan and said.."Just wait until it grows up..."

Yikes. Guess she didn't like being a mom! But she didn't have to push it onto me!

Mrsbear said...

I think people like to project sometimes.

I know I've been guilty of doling out my own MPoDs, but never really with malice. Usually just to my teen who is pretty convinced she knows everything about everything. Like when she tells me 30 is old and synonymous with death or that she's going to live on her own as soon as she turns 18.

Just wait, I tell her, you'll see.

Hard to believe Taboo could inspire so much anger, huh? ;)

Mama Zen said...

Misery truly does love company, I guess!

Lori at Spinning Yellow said...

Oh, I absolutely HATE when people do that! Not only mean spirited but also condescending. As the youngest of 3 children, I've gotten this all my life. "Just wait until Middle School when the kids are mean." Or, "Just wait until college when the work is so hard."

Also, along the same lines, I dislike when people say, "You'll miss this time when they are older." Spoken, usually, when your kid is having a meltdown or something in the store. Yeah, trying to get me to see the perspective in 10+ years from now is not really helpful in the moment.

Good for you that you still hold hands!

Ginny Marie said...

Oh, this was such a great post! It seemed like I had a lot of people with words of woe when I was pregnant, when they should have been telling me how wonderful having a baby is! And have you ever noticed how the horrible stories of labor always come up during a baby shower? Ugg!

danette said...

Great post, Patty! I totally agree, I get annoyed with people who do this all the time, particularly when it's mean-spirited.

One stands out in particular, when our twin boys were 15 months old and we visited my MIL, she had a friend over who had adult twin sons and she went on and on about how awful it was to raise twins, and how they fought so much, and "just you wait, they may get along now but they'll hate each other by the time they grow up." Her sons apparently do NOT get along (they were in their 40's by then I think), which I was very sad to hear but I couldn't wait for her to leave because she just kept on with those comments, almost like she was hoping that we and our boys ended up miserable. Very sad.

I'm glad to say that despite the occasional typical sibling fights, they still get along great and they are 8 now. :)

btw, it's great that you and Bil still hold hands (and don't fight over Taboo, lol), I bet you still will years from now too!

HarryJack's Mom said...

So eloquently stated - one of my biggest pet peeves, and luckily I don't seem to get it as much now that so many of the milestones have passed. My DH and I used to talk about how going out in public with twin babies was a bit of a personality test - you had the 'glad it's not me' folks and the 'aren't you blessed' folks. The MPoDs also fired me up - a SpEd supervisor saw me walking down the dank hallway one day with a smile on my face and said "just you wait, we'll wipe that smile off your face within the year" I promised her I would quit as soon as that happened, and I did...10 years later, but still :P Thanx for sharing your decidedly non-MPoD views - May you hold hands forever!