Whenever my husband and I would go out to dinner with my mother in law, she would never send food back – even if it were wrong. She didn’t want to put anyone out or be considered a problem. Me, on the other hand, if I ordered a steak medium and it came to the table bloody, I sent it back. I did this on several occasions, and I think it annoyed my mother in law a bit because she would say, “Why do you order steak if you always send it back?” The answer was simple. I love steak and I especially love it when it is cooked the way I want it.
I’m not rude about it. Hey, I used to wait tables too, and there’s nothing worse than a rude customer. But if you want something a certain way, and you ask politely, there’s no reason in the world not to ask for it to be made right.
Over Thanksgiving break, we went to a not so great restaurant (which shall remain nameless) and Emily ordered spaghetti and meatballs (not a specialty of the house). It arrived and the meatballs looked weird, but worse, they were frozen solid. Emily ate around them because, like my MIL, she didn’t want to make a fuss. But half way through the meal I let the waitress know that they were frozen and they took it off the bill. Emily was embarrassed and mad at me for drawing attention to her and her food.
She thought it was about the money. That we shouldn’t have to pay for something that isn’t right. Yes, there’s that, but it was more important to me to get the message across that it is more than ok for her to want things a certain way and to be able to ask for it, instead of just taking whatever “they” hand you.
I explained several days later that it is so important for her to be able to speak up. As a woman and her mother, I feel like it is my responsibility to teach her that she doesn’t need to take what is given to her – even if she doesn’t like it. She has the power to ask for what she wants and expect to get it! There is a difference between being assertive and aggressive. As long as you can ask for what you want in a tone that isn’t demeaning or rude to someone else, I think you should!
It may be that people who take what is given to them don’t really care, or it could be that they were never told that they COULD ask, or that no one ever gave them that opportunity. I don’t want that to happen to my girls. This is a lesson that can take Emily through her whole life. I want to give her the tools to be confident, assertive, kind so she is prepared for whatever life throws at her – even an undercooked steak or a frozen meatball!
What life lessons are you sharing with your kids? Tell me in the comments!
Sarah is a native Los Angeleno with the heart of a Chicagoan. She loves A Cappella music, cooking, and swing dancing. When she’s not helping raise money for schools, sports teams and clubs, she is hanging out with and loving life with her husband and girls. For more information about what she does professionally, check out www.amomsguidetoschoolfundraising.com