My Mom Does Not Smoke Pot: Following The Golden Rule

My Mom does not smoke pot. At her request, I’m making that clear from the beginning of this post. So, with her honor intact, I’m starting this entry with a story she shared with me.  

My father is rarely seen without a guitar in his hands. He plays in my parent’s living room, church, bars (church happy hour – they’re a wild bunch), and pretty much everywhere else.  

My Dad serenading Molly.

 

 He is also hearing impaired. There’s nothing funny about not being able to hear. However, when the hearing aids are out (which is most of the time), conversations with my dad go something like this:  

Me: So, Shrek the Musical is coming to Kansas City.  

Mom: Oh, I think the kids would love that.  

Me: Maybe we can take them during Christmas break.  

Dad: I know the microwave broke. What does that have to do with a rake?  

So, it was not a huge surprise when my mom called and told me about their recent trip to the guitar store. My dad was going in to buy an electric guitar, something he’s always wanted to do. While my parents were browsing, the salesman was repairing an instrument. My mom asked him, “Are you self-taught?” My father heard, “Do you sell pot?”  

What does my dad do when he thinks my mom is asking a salesman about illicit drug deals? He walks over to pick a color for the new guitar. My Dad’s version of the conversation:  

Mom: Do you smoke pot?  

(Slight pause. For the record, I’m not entirely sure this pause happened – I just feel better thinking he at least hesitated before walking away.)  

 Dad: (walking to the other side of the store.) Awesome guitar. Does it come in red?  

On their way home, a full half hour later, my dad asked, “Why did you ask that guy if he sells pot!?” My mom immediately called me to let me know that my father had finally lost it.  

My father lives in a different world than I do. His world is one where people say things that don’t make sense. He has to guess what the waitress just asked him. (“Would you like ketchup?” “Yes, with extra ice please.”) He doesn’t hear people in stores say “excuse me” when he’s in their paths. He doesn’t hear instructions so he asks repetitive questions. He doesn’t always hear what his grandkids ask him so he ends up saying yes to ice cream for breakfast. He doesn’t always hear the nuances in people’s voices so he misinterprets tone.  

In my family, we are so used to his hearing that we almost forget it’s an issue. Out in the world, it’s a different story. Otherwise polite strangers roll their eyes at him because they assume he’s ignoring their excuse me’s. The person behind the counter at a deli visibly shows irritation with him because they think he’s not paying attention. Clerks in stores show frustration when they’re asked to repeat their quiet, fast, and mumbled statements, so they repeat themselves just as mumbled, just as quickly, just as quietly.  

People mistake his disability for rudeness and they act accordingly.  

The Golden Rule says treat people the way you’d like to be treated. It does not say treat people the way they are treating you. Following The Golden Rule is not always easy – if you think it is you may need to examine how you’re applying it! Sure it’s easy to be nice to people who are nice to you but to truly be a follower of this truth, you need to treat everyone – even people you find rude, dismissive, or oblivious – the way you want to be treated.  

Kindness should not be a responsive behavior; it should be your default behavior.  

 Not only is this important on a deeper, spiritual level but, as my dad would be the first to tell you, we aren’t always spot-on when we interpret people’s behaviors. We don’t know the stories of strangers. The lady who is curt to you in line could be deaf, grieving, worried about medical lab results, overwhelmed by her day, or she could be rude and inconsiderate. The child who is too old for the tantrum he’s having in the store could be a badly behaved, over-indulged child or he could be autistic, reeling from loss, or just having a one-of-a-kind bad day.  

Don’t miss an opportunity to be kind to the people who perhaps need our kindness most of all. Never underestimate the power of unsolicited, undeserved consideration.  

(When my mom is not busy arranging illicit drug deals, she is an active member of her church, quilt guild, master gardener (literally, she’s in the class), and frequent community volunteer. My open-minded father is a retired Army officer, church vestry member, and also often volunteering. Neither has ever appeared on an episode of Cops.)

16 thoughts on “My Mom Does Not Smoke Pot: Following The Golden Rule

  1. As always, I start out laughing out loud! Your posts are hysterical. Until of course, I get to the 4th paragraph and start reading about how everyone really does need to be more sensitive to one another. And obey the Golden Rule.

  2. Like how you preface that hearing loss is not funny, but then relay some humorous anecdotes with your dad. Based on the tone of your writing, I’m guessing he has a pretty good sense of humor.

    As always, excellent. I’m leaving smiling and thinking, and that’s a pretty good way to go through life.

    Take care,

    Chase

    1. Chase,
      Thanks for reading! Fortunately, he has a great sense of humor. I have so much respect for people who live daily with hearing loss AND I think my dad is funny – hopefully I relayed both!

      He also plays a mean harmonica and ukulele – it’s never dull.

      Amy

  3. Amy, my mom loves this (me too). All of us can certainly relate. The real question is “what did our grandparents do to our parents?” 🙂 Susan

  4. I’m catching up on this a bit late. You make some very good points. As someone who has had a significant hearing loss for years, and a father-in-law who is quite hard of hearing, I’d like to comment.

    Most of the people I meet think I’m “intense.” Even in casual settings. When I partake in conversation, I’ll lean slightly toward the speaker and stare intently at their face. Why? I’m trying to shorten the distance between us and read the speaker’s lips. That helps me “hear” what is being said. I can’t hear what people say when they talk to me from around a corner, from another room or if they talk with music or TV in the background. My ear is not capable of hearing voices over background “competition.” Given that, I’ll usually talk very little when I’m out in a social setting, and if I do engage in a conversation I will fall back on the method I’ve described. So apparently I come off as either shy and aloof or intense. *Sigh*

    I’ve noticed many people quickly give up trying to talk to my Father-in-law. It’s work to have a conversation with him, and the results (like you’ve so humorously described) are often varied and unrewarding. Sadly, this excludes him from even the most simple banter. Then, the lid is usually sealed when he abruptly gets up and walks away mid-conversation.

    I don’t know what the answer is. I often find myself explaining that I don’t hear well. Sometimes that helps slightly. But even I find myself avoiding conversation with my Father-in-law. It’s tedious to have to hammer out every syllable, only to have him come back with a totally unrelated remark, or walk away mid-sentence because he doesn’t realize I’m talking. I try, I really do, but it’s hard. A sense of humor helps, but often people will simply stop trying. Sadly, I’m guilty of this myself sometimes.

    Nice post! Thanks for it.

    1. I can’t thank you enough for your comments. Both my father and aunt suffered significant hearing loss as children. My father actually went for years without hearing aids. I really appreciate hearing your perspective — quite obviously my father uses humor and we’ve all followed suite. Frankly, I think my father is funny completely separate from his hearing loss. I have great empathy for him, my aunt, you and your father-in-law.
      People can’t see hearing loss so they make faulty assumptions like the ones you mentioned. Hopefully, in my attempt to use humor I didn’t mock what truly isn’t funny. This post was born out of my desire for people to stop making those faulty assumptions and treating him like he’s rude, aloof, or not intelligent.
      I looked at your blog and your pictures are truly beautiful! I look forward to seeing more.

      Thanks so much,
      Amy

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