Auntie pulled into the driveway, excited to have time with her nephew’s family.
‘So, where are we going?’ she asked her nephew, happy to spend time with them.
‘Not sure. The kids can’t decide on a movie.’
Auntie cocked her head to the right, slightly forward, and looked over her glasses before saying, ‘Do you mind… if I… take care of this?’
‘Nope! Go ahead!’ her nephew quickly said with a smile.
Due to the family size, they were taking two cars and Auntie asked the little one—a tween—in the parent’s car to get in her car.
‘I want to stay in here,’ the tween said.
‘Please get in Auntie’s car. There is something we need to take care of before we go. Thank you, ’ she said before the child even moved. And her parents didn’t say a word. One wonders if they were secretly looking forward to the entertainment value of what the kids were about to encounter. It is believed the parents laughed.
Auntie got into her car. All the children were now in the car with her.
‘Soooo, I understand there is a problem,’ Auntie announced. ‘We can’t agree on a movie?’
Auntie let the children express their desires and frustrations.
‘I wanted to see A. We never get to do anything I want, ’ one whined.
‘Well, I was asleep,’ another said.
‘I want to see B,’ answered another rear passenger.
One child was silent.
Then they started to challenge what one another said. Auntie didn’t say anything and listened carefully. They bickered a bit. She gave it a minute or two before chiding in. ‘Well, let me explain it this way. I came over to have fun and enjoy the company of your family. Your parents are excited to go out to a movie too. And because you all can’t decide we are sitting in the driveway INSTEAD of on our way to the movies. I’ll give a minute to decide. Begin.’ Auntie began to look at the car’s clock. They noticed. The car was silent for a few seconds before the blaming and the ‘I …’ started. One minute lapsed. No answer, just more of the same.
‘Time’s up,’ Auntie said while wearing a smile.
Then Auntie turned and addressed the group, looking at each youngster. ‘ We are sitting in this car instead of going to the movies because YOU keep saying you want to see A, YOU keep reiterating that you were asleep and that you were left out of the original decision making, and now at first YOU wanted to see B but now you say that you too were asleep, and… YOU haven’t said anything at all.’
Auntie’s words were sweet like honey, but it appeared that truth stung like a little bee. And then she continued.
‘Let me help you understand something: today is a great example of what will happen the rest of your life. Someone will give YOU the chance to make a decision and an ENTIRE GROUP will depend on YOU making a decision. It might be your classmates, your family, or a job you have in your future. Sometimes you’ll feel very strongly about your choice, sometimes you will not. And I am not saying you can’t stand your ground when you feel strongly, but others will depend on YOU to COME TOGETHER with other people and MAKE a decision for the GROUP. You might have to give a little. And if it isn’t a big deal to you, you might have to just decide it is about the end result—in our case that would be movie fun. Silence won’t be an option. PEOPLE WILL DEPEND ON YOU.’
Auntie nodded her head as she said, ‘And, you WILL disagree with others. And, you may or may not have a strong feeling one way or the other. But a decision will be necessary. You WILL HAVE TO LEARN to find a COMMON GROUND, a common thing you all can agree upon. And right now, you haven’t been able to decide and we are ALL sitting in cars instead of on our way to the movies. Question. Is it fair that ALL OF US are missing out on the movies because you are fussing with one another and can’t come together on a decision?’
The silent child softly said, ‘Noooo’. Some thought about the question and then began to shake their head in agreement to the spoken No.
Auntie went on speaking, ‘Okay. So that is something you will have to learn. Now, I came to have fun with everyone, your parents want to have fun, and I thought you all wanted to have fun and enjoy our time together. But now because you can’t decide I WILL DECIDE on a movie. And, here are the rules to that: No grumbling. No complaining. We go and have a great time together as a family as we planned. But…,’ Auntie paused, ‘if you don’t like the rules… there is a still another decision you can make. You… can… stay… home.’ Auntie let the words linger for fairness of time to make a choice. Then she smiled and asked, ‘So, who is in?’
Not a child got out of the car. No one cried or complained. The busy parents had rare alone time in their car on the way to the movies, and the family and Auntie had a great time together! And… the whole crew still loves Auntie time.
Do you know of any group that needs honey talk, truth, and tough love? You know! People who’ve shutdown something because they don’t know how to find common ground? Auntie is available to visit them, but let them know in advance: Auntie moves things forward, and is pretty good at calling out nonsense. Auntie doesn’t play that!