Learning to ask

I’m asking you to view and ‘like’ my animation on YouTube, to help me win a scholarship. Asking is humbling, but man, what a skill

Pretty please 'like' my animation on YouTube http://youtu.be/rd6o937Eyao Laura Eades 2014

Pretty please ‘like’ my animation on YouTube http://youtu.be/rd6o937Eyao Laura Eades 2014

Children know how to ask

How to depend. My nearly-three-year-old daughter asks me for all kinds of surprising things. This last week I’ve helped her open up a pea pod, sprinkle water on a stone, and colour her leg orange. Don’t ask me why she needed these things doing – but I was glad to be of assistance.

When I’m not available, like when I’m sitting on a bench breastfeeding in the playground, she goes up to strangers: “Can you swing me round and round?”

We’re wired for independence

But the phrase that she also yells at me, more than anything else probably, is: “I want to do it MYSELF!”. I know that feeling better. I want to be the one who made it happen.

Being incapable is hard to bear

Mothering a baby is a kind of torture if you don’t like the look of jobs that need doing. You just sit around breastfeeding pointing at things with your free hand and barking orders. But you can’t demonstrate anything, you have to describe it: “Can you get me the hand cream? It’s on the you know the white thing by the sink about five shelves up it has a green lid. No in the bathroom not in the kitchen”.

Sometimes I’ve felt victimised by clutter and wanted to irrationally shout “Can somebody PLEASE unstack the dishdrainer??”. And I’m not even known as a tidy individual (just a controlling one, sadly! You’d think they’d go together now wouldn’t you?).

Some of the things I feel an urgent desire to make happen aren’t that much more important than watering a stone – Why is an empty dishdrainer so vital all of a sudden?

The host with the least

When we have visitors, I’d like to ask them to do things, but I hold back. I should make a rota. But ‘m too polite (they are my guests, I’m supposed to be the host, no?), or too proud, or think it would take too long to explain what I’d like done and how I’d like it done that it’s not worth it.

That’s it. 

  • We don’t ask for help because
  • We’re proud (We’re uncomfortable depending) – Here’s a TED talk about that called The Art of Asking!
  • We think nobody can do it as well as us (Get used to alternative ways of stacking the dishwasher, people)
  • We don’t know how to say it. We’re conditioned that’s it’s impolite to ask (perhaps we should learn the perfect way of asking … and not leave it until we’re fed up before we ask)
  • We’re afraid of someone saying ‘no’ – but that’s got to be OK
  • We don’t know who to ask (but when it’s something only a certain skill can help with, it’s a an act of gratitude for that skill to use it to help others, right?)

Could this work? 

Communicating about chores is one of the most relationship-sapping phenomena. It’s really easy to irritate, or at best, deaden our connection. Yet it must be done. We need a system.

One solution I’m gonna try is to have a blackboard where we all write the little house things we’d like the fairies to do, and then anyone who sees an opportunity to be an angel for someone. I met a couple who are using a list-sharing app.

Hint: Asking your husband for loads of trivial shit one thing at a time is overwhelming and never-ending apparently. Point taken. (He’s asked that I say everything at once so he can get the measure of the tasklist, not tag on the next thing as soon as he’s completed one thing)

Actually, it’s nice to be asked (nicely)

When I can meet my daughter’s call for help, it makes me feel soooo needed. It’s an honour.

We should ask. And we should make ourselves available to being asked. And if we are asked and we don’t want to do it, we should have the self-compassion to say no. And if we are asked, and we do it, we should feel good about it and really take that in. There’s commerce between us all, it’s connection, the trade of caretaking.

Don’t let favours bestowed on you go unsavoured

Don’t take for granted, in other words. Asking is difficult, but so is thanking. So is taking in the help into your heart, humbling yourself to have been helped and really acknowledging that you needed it. It’s easy to put up your defences and be tough about it. Can you feel wonderful about all the help you’re getting today? Not guilty, not needy, but wonderful?

Am I askable?

I’ll never resent opening a pea pod for my daughter. It was deeply fulfilling and I know I’ll go back to that day and grasp at it. Because one day soon she’ll be able to do that herself. I hope she’ll still be able to ask me to help her out with the bigger stuff, though.

Have you watched my animation yet?

Please watch it. It’s short, hopefully entertaining and beautiful! Make sure the sound is turned up – I’d love to hear your response.

Have you ‘liked’ my animation yet?

How to ‘like’ on youtube

You need to sign in to your YouTube, Gmail, or Google+ account to ‘like’ a video on Youtube. You click on the button below left under the video on the Youtube page. Like this:

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