Jam it, jerk it, slam it, ram it.
It a small thing in the grand scheme, no doubt. The door sticks, the keys are missing, the car won’t start, my mom won’t take her pills. Whatever it is and however small, it just needs to work, and when it doesn’t, we reflexively respond by trying harder and harder until we either break the thing or give up and walk away in sheer frustration.
Scene: My kitchen table, this morning.
“Here’s your pills, Ma. Put them in your mouth. Now take a drink of water and swallow them. Swallow the pills, Ma. SWALLOW them. Drink a little more water and swallow them. Swallow them! Swallow the pills! No, don’t spit them out! Swallow them! Swallow the pills, please. Swallow! Just swallow the pills. Swallow. Please swallow. Swallow. SWALLOW THE BLASTED PILLS!”
Result: Ma 2, Diane 0. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make her take her pills.
It’s frustrating, mostly because I want to sit down and eat, but I usually do so only after Ma has taken her pills and is caught up in the glories of oatmeal. Getting those pills down is just one little step on my way to breakfast.
“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?” (James 4:1).
My goal this morning was my own satisfaction, not what was best at that point for my mom. She takes her pills without fuss most mornings and balks at it only every so often. Letting her missing a dose of her Alzheimer’s pills now and then makes little difference in her behavior. Had I taken a step back instead of striving full speed ahead, had I put her needs above my wants, I might have made better use of an opportunity to minister grace to my mom.
And really, this kind of quarrel merely signals that it’s time to find a new approach. Time to deploy the old applesauce cloaking device, known by nurses the world over: Crush her pills and put them in
applesauce her oatmeal.
That was easy.