We have a saying in our house when someone appears to be a little crankier than normal. It started when the kids were really little and were acting out. I would ask if they were wearing their cranky pants today. When they would reply to the negative, but still with that ‘tone’ I would continue on, “Are you sure??”. I would even offer to help them change out of their cranky pants and put better ones on. Usually by this point, the offender was giggling and it served as a helpful distraction. At the very least, it put them in a better frame of mind to be able to address the cause of their frustration.
Despite our children being much older now, I will still declare when I notice someone is choosing to wear their ‘cranky pants’. Some times now, however, it can be me wearing the cranky pants, and I have had that pointed out to me as well. I can get cranky over the silliest things.
My cranky pants come on when there are drivers in front of me that can’t seem to work out when to enter a roundabout. They come on when I see other people not abiding by the instructions offered by pretty clear and noticeable warning signs. They come on when I see parents allowing their children to indulge in behaviour without consequences, especially when they say, “Stop doing xxx or else!” They come on when smokers blow their nicotine loaded breath in my direction.
They come on when tradespeople do not turn up in the time frame they say they will. They come on when I see the same laborious ad for 50th time promoting the reality tv show I am never going to watch. They come on when parents get out of their cars in the drop and drive off area at school. They come on when I have to avoid people walking towards me who can’t be off their phones for 1 minute to navigate the footpath safely.
I get frustrated when I witness basic human decency and common sense not being abided by, according to my standards. I see the behaviour of others as quite selfish and foolish. They do not seem to consider the flow on effect of their choices, especially as it impacts me.
And then I stop and realise that I am cranky because of my selfishness. What does it matter if people are not abiding by the rules? Because it impacts me. It wastes my time. It stops me doing what I want, achieving what I am hoping to. And how very dare they.
It is all too easy to survey the world around me and witness the multiple infractions others are making me suffer through, and not give a moment’s thought to the times when I justify my behaviours as necessary despite the inconveniences it may cause another. I am not always on time to appointments I make with others. I sometimes cut across traffic because I have just remembered I need to go a different way. I have bent the rules to suit me and my situation because that particular rule doesn’t take into consideration my very important task.
When I find myself wearing a particularly cranky pair of pants I have found it helpful to reflect upon the words written in Colossians chapter 3 which say, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (verse 12). This can help me realise that cranky is not an article of clothing that God calls me, His chosen child, to wear. When I replace my cranky pants with any one of the other traits listed I find my frustration levels reduce and life is generally a more pleasant experience for me, and those around me also.
What pants are you wearing today?