He sat across from me giggling like he was getting away with something. I just watched over the top of my menu. I knew he was up to something, but I wasn’t sure what. And what he didn’t know, is that I decided not to let ANYTHING bother me that day. I just woke up and decided that since their dad had to work and couldn’t go on the outing with us, NOTHING would bother me. Not their messes. Not the 4,332 times Esther-Faith would ask “Why?” Not the giggles. Or the blatant disrespect. Or the oppositional defiance. Hyperactivity. RAD. Or the trying to get away with something. I had fun planned.

So, when he ordered five chicken wings in “blazin'” hot sauce, giggling the whole time, I kept myself from telling the waitress to bring something more mild. I kept myself from asking him any “are you sure” questions. I just sat back for the show.

And it was a show! After the first bite, sweat formed along the top of his brow. By halfway through the second wing, he had already downed two root beer sodas. By the third wing, he had smothered it with catsup and ranch sauce to try to cool it down. In fact, he was begging me to order something else. I didn’t say no. But I didn’t say yes either. I just looked at him as he grudgingly bit the next wing.

As I watched the sweat run down his face, the tears form in his eyes, and–as gross as it sounds–the snot trickle out of his nose, I wondered if that is how I sweat when I’m faced with a situation that seems too hot to handle. When I hear a diagnosis or treatment option or answer that is not what I wanted to hear. When a teacher or other school administrator mistreats or misunderstands one of my children. Or when one of the boys comes home after having been picked on for being adopted. Or when other parents allow their kids to climb all over Esther-Faith’s wheelchair–with her still in it.

I wonder if the sweat and tears that form are visible. Or if I’m able to manage my emotions as I chew and swallow the hotness of the situation. Because really, the basket of “blazin'” wings I eat from is pretty bottomless. There will always be those situations when I could allow myself to whine and complain or holler and scream. Sometimes, those reactions are warranted. But mostly, I could just add some sauce to try to cool things down a bit. Like arm myself with knowledge. Sign a petition (have you seen this?). Help to educate. Change tactics. Or step back and do some self-talk.

How about you? What do you do when you find yourself in a situation that seems out of control or too hot to handle? What do you do when someone says something insensitive? Do you sweat it out or dig in? What have you done recently?

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