As my children have grown older, I find that the reward system and chore chart I used for so many years to teach them new routines and habits, now works best on me. For those still knee deep in the day to day journey of raising small children, know that you might very well look back on this season as the best of times. When kids are young, your job of raising responsible adults means that you are constantly modeling positive behaviors knowing that you risk your children imitating you at the most embarrassing times. Adulting, without the ever present mini-me doing just as you do, is hard work!
Because my nest is now 33.4% empty and 100% of remaining children are legally able to buy their own beer, I find that my role as a homemaker has changed. Where I used to throw a handful of Cheerios in their cribs to buy me a few minutes of extra sleep in the morning, they now tiptoe around the house trying to let me sleep in as there seems to be a direct correlation between my mood and the number of hours I log. They fear a cranky mommy.
Last week, the reward for finishing the chores on my chart was a visit to the coffee shop. I had a gift card to Starbucks and it was on my route but when I noticed the new coat of paint on the coffee drive through closer to my house and saw the new name, I felt drawn to Cranky B4 Coffee. It had taken a whole week to earn my special prize. When I pulled up, I was reward with a friendly smile AND a coffee therapy session.
I was certain that I wanted something with lots of caffeine and perhaps something sweet but I hadn’t decided with certainty what I’d get. As I looked over the menu, my puzzled and overwhelmed expression seemed to engage the barista in a new way. He gently asked questions then followed up to tease out more precise information. I ended up with an Americano with 4 shots of espresso and a bit of white chocolate flavoring. More questions and a check on the afternoon weather forecast resulted in an iced beverage that rocked my world.
I’ve always been energized by checking things off my list so it could have been that the rest of my Friday was so much fun because I’d finally accomplished all of the things on my “to do” OR it could have been the four shots OR the sugar of the white chocolate OR the filling goodness of heavy cream that made the rest of the day so pleasant. After I reflected on my week and the day, I realized that the barista had been the one person I’d interacted with that really listened. I’d spent more time with the coffee person than I had with my doctor, the mechanic or with the pharmacist as I learned about a new medication.
IF the simple act of listening well can make such a shift in my attitude, what will I take away from this experience as I interact with others? I’m certain that further research is necessary I’m planning my next visit to Cranky B4 Coffee. The fabulous coffee and caring staff are worth a second trip.