We are now in week whatever with the stay at home orders and families are all stuck together twenty four hours a day in quarantine. So, this is what I like to compare our current situation to:
Imagine that the family is going on a long vacation to Disney World, and they are all stuck together packed in the mini-van. At least, they are going on the vacation they were all looking forward to, and when the kids are cranking out "are we there yet?", the grown-ups in the car actually have some idea when they plan to arrive at the Magic Kingdom.
But, with the "stay at home" orders, there is no Magic Kingdom that they will all arrive at some point, and instead of just the kids asking "are we there yet?, everyone in the family is asking the same question, and nobody in the family has even a clue on what the answer can be.
So, with all the big unknowns, and with nobody knowing exactly the answer to "are we there yet", there is fear, frustration, and of course, crankiness. Because of fear of the unknown, and the frustration of being prisoners in our own home, now is the perfect time to have all the family members work on their "effective" crankiness.
If you think about "effective crankiness," think of something that you are creating that can be described as home grown, hand crafted, artisanal, all natural, no artificial ingredients added, and most importantly, pesticide free because we all can be pests once in a while. During this time, the only thing we are not, unfortunately is cage free.
So, "effective crankiness" is developing our inner "crankatsuris."
I coined the word "crankatsuris" because I wanted to make the concept of crankiness have a physical three dimensional feel to it. When we are feeling cranky, and we don't make it physical, it becomes the invisible enemy that takes us by surprise. Invisible enemies, it turns out, happen to be scarier than the enemies we can see. Think of "ineffective crankiness" like a tea kettle with boiling water. One second, the tea kettle looks like a tea kettle, and the next second, the top explodes off.
The crankiness explosion creates this feeling of one person feeling really bad, and the other person not feeling very safe. The perfect example is the explosions towards a loved one on something that person does or says with a good amount of frequency. Partner A does X, and for nine times, it does not bother Partner B a bit. One time, it even made Partner B laugh. Then, the tenth time comes around, and Partner B explodes at what Partner A did.
Look what Partner B did. Partner A is looking at Partner B being very hurt because not only did Partner B attack Partner A verbally. Partner B did two other things. Partner B attacked Partner A without warning. It was a surprise attack. And second, the first nine times did not bother Partner B a bit, so when Partner B went on the attack the tenth time around, it was such a shock that causes Partner A not to feel safe in this situation, or any other situation.
Partner B also feels terrible because Partner B also understands that the first nine times did not cause a stir. Partner B hurt this person he or she loves, and Partner B caused damage to the trust we had between them.
So, if we think about this "crankiness" as a physical three dimensional object inside us, we can think a bit on how to control it. Do I really want to do a projectile vomit all over the brand new couch that someone I love happens to be sitting on? I really do not. Also, when I know it has a physicality to it, I can warn somebody that I happen to have a "crankatsuris" in me. "I am feeling tired and depleted and I have to warn everyone I have a crankatsuris coming!" Or, once everyone embraces the concept of a "crankatsuris", even if one person who has it can't stop it, the partner can recognize that it was a crankatsuris. It was something that everyone gets.
Because of this, what happens? Well, if Partner B lets out a crankatsuris, and both partners get good practice at it, Partner B's crankatsuris has nothing to do with and is not about Partner A. It is just about Partner B being cranky. And, it is okay to be cranky and embrace our crankiness. It also is not about making Partner A feel bad for what Partner A said or did, and it is not about Partner A feeling less safe and less trusting of Partner B. You can have something very special when everybody feels safe and trusting even when things get a little hard.
Well, in these quarantined time, we need to practice on our organized crankatsuris. Who gets to perform their crankatsuris? Does the family get to embrace it? Do the kids get to play the scary TyrantoCrankaTsuris monster, and the grownups run away all scared while the kids are in hysterics? Do we allow for quiet moments when that is needed for our crankiness? Create a Crankatsuris Family Schedule, or even a Family Crankatsuris checklist.
"So, we learned to be careful not to express our inner TyrantoCrankaTsuris or TyrantoKvetchaTsuris too often. Just the right amount to keep the planet happy, and not too cranky."
....But if we do, let's have some fun with it!