Henry is a huge advocate of asking for clarification, as in, when someone says something that sounds disrespectful or hurtful, before you take offense, ask, "Did you mean that the way it sounded?" I'll admit that I rarely do that. I usually figure I can read people pretty well and I tend to give people (okay, people I care about) the benefit of the doubt. The others I don't really pay much attention to anyway.
Last week, though, I remembered his wisdom. I was putting on makeup and talking to Therese about...something. As often happens, our conversation was deteriorating. She was getting irritated with me and I was getting irritated with her. I was putting on a foundation I have worn many times (Tarte's Amazonian Clay in Fair Sand #makeupnerddetails). For some reason it looked *very pale*. I'm used to looking pretty pale, but I looked DEAD. I looked at myself in the mirror and said, "I look like crap on toast!" Therese, standing behind me, said in a kind of bored/bothered way, "Is that new?"
Truly, I was so flabbergasted that I couldn't even speak. I could feel tears filling my eyes (but we don't cry when we are wearing designer mascara!). I didn't know what she could be thinking. Therese is many things, but she's not usually *mean*. Her attitude usually comes across more as cold and dismissive. After a minute she started frantically saying, "The foundation! I meant is the foundation new? I mean is it the first time you've ever worn it?!" I was so relieved I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Now *that* comment made sense!
Therese told me that she couldn't figure out why I looked the way I did after she asked if that was new. She was initially annoyed by the look on my face, wondering if she had been supposed to know every detail of my makeup situation (no, that would be Mary-Catherine!). Then, when she realized what I must have thought she said, she was so chagrined. In retrospect, it's really, really funny. There is definitely a lesson in this story, though! Henry's policy of seeking clarification is a very good one! And I should have known that Therese would never imply that I have a history of looking like crap on toast...past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. My kids are many things, but nasty isn't one of them.