One of the skills that I learned from my parents is how to put myself last.
I have a strong memory of being in a fancy European restaurant with my family. I was maybe 12. The main course was over, and the server urged me to order the “bread pudding.” I had no idea what bread pudding was. It certainly didn’t sound good. But I relented and ordered it, because she seemed so eager for me to get it.
Soon after, a soggy lump of bread arrived, sitting in a sickly white puddle. Gross. I pushed it around my plate, taking the tiniest bites I could.
“So, how was it?” the server asked.
“Great!” I lied.
My father laughed at me all the long drive home.
It’s one of those silly little moments in your life that sticks with you, despite I’m sure everyone else involved forgetting it ever happened. But for me, it was about feeling pressured by someone to do something I didn’t want, giving in, and then having to pretend that was what I wanted all along.
What would it have been like if I had said, “No thank you. I’d like some ice cream please”? Or for my dad to say, “Thanks, but that doesn’t sound like something Ricky would like. What do you actually want, son?”
Now, of course, I have the wisdom of years, and know that often servers are pressured to get their patrons to order dessert, ideally the most expensive ones. She may have honestly loved the bread pudding and could not imagine a kid not liking it. Who knows?
But the lesson I learned that day was that sometimes adults want you to do something that you don’t want, and the best way to respond is to give in and pretend you agree with them. Because making the adult happy is more important than you being happy.
Unlearning that nonsense has taken a long ass time. And I have learned that bread pudding is indeed delicious!