During one Christmas holiday, I learned a valuable lesson in getting along with my adult children: Keep my ideas to myself. Zip it. Lock my lips and throw away the key. Shut the fuck up.
This lesson, which has served me well, was learned through a misunderstanding. It happened like this.
Primed with wine and a bit of weed, I was happy, happy, happy to have all my family together, so when I heard a sound of discord, I rushed in to set things aright. Losing in a card game that she was playing with her boyfriend, my daughter was grumbling. I merely suggested a change in the rules to make the game less competitive--a win-win. You would have thought that I had asked her to cut off a limb.
Looking back on this from a few years distance, I can see the events rolling out like a slow motion film.
My daughter turns to me and I wither under her brief verbal volley, which strikes me like a slap, and I melt like the wicked witch of the West under a bucket of cold water. I am so numb from the initial attack that I don't recall her exact words.
I should remember. She kept repeating them angrily through dinner to the point that her boyfriend told her that was enough. My daughter-in-law took up for me as well, noting that as an only child I was less comfortable with competition.
Through out the meal, I fought to subdue my stutter breathing. I choked back sobs and as soon as I finished eating, I went directly to my bedroom.
In a few minutes, my daughter and daughter-in-law came to make sure I was OK. But I was still hurt. There was a shadow over the rest of the holiday.
We will all be together for Christmas again this year. And while I am happy about that, I will be cautious. I will not try to fix things. I will not try to make or to expect everyone to be happy. I will keep my mouth shut.