Others apparently see us more clearly than we see ourselves, which is why we are often the recipients of free advice.
When our oldest daughter was living at home before she got married, she had so much advice for us that she designated herself our life coach. Because our life coach was engaged and about to marry, she was reading book after book on marriage and relationships. She had not yet been in a marriage, but she was a near-expert on the subject.
The husband was often the subject of insights and tips offered by our life coach. He took it well, meaning he would look up, acknowledge her, shake his head and go back to what he had been doing before being interrupted.
Our life coach is now married and extremely busy coaching a family of her own. She doesn’t have much time for coaching us, but one of her daughters recently assumed that responsibility. The mantle has been passed, a very small mantle to a child who still sleeps with a stuffed bunny rabbit.
The child is concerned that her grandpa sleeps late many days. She is too young to have read any books on flexible schedules being one of the great perks of retirement and believes my husband and I need to keep the same schedule.
I explain that her grandpa and I have different circadian rhythms. She asks what cicadas have to do with sleep. I explain that a cicada is a locust, while circadian refers to patterns of sleep and wakefulness in relationship to light and darkness.
He has always been a night owl, and I have always been an early morning person. If the day comes that I am not up by 5, I am probably seriously ill. Or — as I recently read in someone’s obituary — “not able to do lunch.”
Mini-coach also has it in her head that I should get her grandpa on the same schedule I am on. I did not tell her there are some who believe slightly different schedules may be the key to a happy marriage for fear she would report me to her mother, our former life coach.
Mini-coach has advised me to set every clock in the house ahead by one minute so Grandpa will think it is later than it is and get up earlier.
“Then each week, you should set every clock ahead by another minute,” she says.
Mini-coach has not done the math, because using that method, it could take four years to bring his schedule into sync with mine.
“What do I do when the clocks say it is nighttime, but it is still daylight outside?” I ask.
“Pull all the shades and keep them pulled!” She says this with the same exasperation her mother exhibited years ago, frustrated that I am unable to reach the obvious solution to the problem.
We take our coaching under consideration; happy someone takes an interest in us and even happier that we don’t have to pay for free advice.
Lori Borgman is a columnist, author and speaker. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.