September 29, 1999

Curing the "crankies"
___ Marriage counselors should add one more item to their premarital counseling agendas that can help make successful marriages: Never let your bad moods occur at the same time.
___Mark and I are fortunate that we usually don’t come down with the "crankies" at the same time. One of us is able to tease the
other out of the bad mood, or at least balance that mood so we don’t take our crankies out on the kids (even if they are responsible for our contracting the disease in the first place).
___But we do have to watch out, because the crankies are highly contagious. When one person in the family has them bad enough, he (or she) can infect the rest of us.
___Garrett is a case in point. The other day, he woke up cranky. He continued to be cranky through breakfast and school preparation. He was so whiny and unreasonable, he even lost a privilege before he finished breakfast. By that time, Mark was cranky. I managed to stay far enough away from the breakfast table to avoid being infected. But then came the afternoon. I don’t know how school was--Garrett seemed fine when I picked him up. When we got home, it was a different story. He managed to make me cranky too.
___Then I almost passed it on to Luke. But Mark had somehow gotten rid of his crankies at work, and so we were able to maintain balance and harmony.
___I give out fairly obvious warning signs when my crankiness is boiling over. When my family hears the sound of kitchen cabinets shut a bit loudly (try slammed), they know to watch their step.
___What is the cure for the crankies? I’ve found a big hug from one of my children can make my bad mood melt away.
___Nice ending, dear, but let’s get real. If a certain child has created the crankies with frustrating behavior and then attempts to get all lovey-dovey as a means of drawing attention away from the problem, this does not make the parental crankies go away. Good thought, though.
___This really is a delicate area of family life. While it’s
good not to have both parents end up in foul moods at the same time, it’s also true that opposites do not attract at such times.
___Inevitably, the adult who is not infected with the crankies feels obliged to help the adult with the crankies to see the error of his or her way before the whole household explodes. But it’s not an easy thing to tell your spouse and parenting partner that she (or he) ought to go in time out herself.
___"You’re out of control" or "Don’t you think you’re overreacting?" somehow don’t engender a warm and fuzzy response when spoken at these tender moments.
___Of course, it’s easy for me to calmly explain all this right now, because I don’t have the crankies. Which brings us back to where we began this discussion.
___Not to argue with Scripture, but it seems there are times when the other person really does have a plank in his or her eye and must be told. The flip-side is that while I may not have that same plank messing up my vision right now, I have before, and I will again.
___True love (and the kind of love Jesus taught) requires us not only to help those near us keep things in perspective but to be willing to admit gracefully when we’ve lost perspective as well.
___Anything less is a recipe for a really bad case of the crankies.

He Said/She Said is a new regular feature of the Baptist Standard's on-line edition. Mark Wingfield is managing editor of the Standard. Alison Wingfield is a freelance writer. The Wingfields moved to Texas in January from Louisville, Ky., where Mark had been editor of the Western Recorder, in which this column appeared weekly.

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