I’m all for change. But I hate it when I think something is decided, then someone shifts the goal posts…
We have been lucky enough in York to have an Ice Trail to follow the past few winters. Companies around the city sponsor a sculpture, and visitors can follow the map to see if they can find them all. This year we decided to go as a family, and to visit in the morning before it got too busy. Even though this was agreed by all, it still seemed to take considerably longer to leave the house than it should. Hey ho, that’s kids for you.
We didn’t manage the whole trail. There were 50 sculptures to see, and we also had a few chores to do. However, we felt we had seen enough to be satisfied. My little boy had a party to go to in the afternoon, so the boys went back home first. Time was running quite tight by that point. (Let it be noted that if we’d left home a LITTLE earlier, we’d have been fine…) Unfortunately, when we discovered that the photo my son wanted of him wearing a viking helmet hadn’t come out, we didn’t have time to go back and re-take it.
Making an agreement
I promised him we could go back the next day and take the photo again. He was content with that, so we were able to move forward with our plans. The problem was that I discovered that the festival was only on for one day this year. When he discovered this after his party, he was distraught. I agreed to take him, there and then, back to his favourite sculpture. It was on the edge of town, and we were able to drive right up to it and park on the corner. A helpful lady agreed to take the shot while I held him up. Bish bash bosh – that had only taken 15 minutes.
But of course, this was when the goal posts were shifted. He’d heard from a friend about the block of ice that you could chip at to try and recover a chocolate bar. He was absolutely determined that this was where we needed to go now. I tried to hide my fury at having done EXACTLY what we had agreed while the little boy in him needed to try and chip away to get the chocolate. Buying a bar from the shop just wasn’t good enough. And it wasn’t practical to get to the other sculpture. It was in the middle of town, and we wouldn’t be able to park anywhere near it. We were not going.
I like to know where I am with things. If I’ve agreed on the shape of a shared piece of work, I find it very frustrating for someone to come back to me much later with a “better” idea. This is especially so if I have already completed most of the work I have agreed to! I don’t want to have to change it all afterwards.
At university I also found it discouraging that marks for my course were subjective. It felt like if you agreed with the lecturer’s point of view, you got a high mark. If not, well, you might as well give up now. We had one lecturer that liked the word “juxtaposition” so much that if we included it in an essay, we went up a classification. People doing maths and science subjects were either right or wrong. You knew where you were in those degrees.
Coming to an agreement
I have found that coming to an agreement before embarking on a task with others is essential. Without a doubt, agreeing on the end result at the beginning makes a difference. As does acknowledging that all parties need to be consulted if the goal posts may shift. This way we can avoid disharmony, and it makes for a happier end result.
I MUST remember this when dealing with the little people in my life. I need to go through my expectations, and check that we are on the same page. Then hopefully the rows can be diffused before they start!
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