Monday, November 15, 2010

K is for Kind

Too kind, that is. At least when it comes to my husband.

I trust you've heard of "Minnesota Nice?" It's a term with mixed connotations.

In its purest sense Minnesota Nice is an inherent disposition for genuine hospitality and kindness extended to strangers and neighbors alike. It's a call to observe the Golden Rule and to hold your tongue, remembering that if you don't have anything nice to say it's best to say nothing at all. (Which causes some to be very quiet :)

Unfortunately Minnesota Nice can also be defined as a passive aggressive habit of untruth, manipulation, and back-stabbing conversation. People are nice to your face, but the pleasantries end there.

My husband embodies the term in the former rather than the latter description. As a born and bread Minnesotan of Scandinavian descent, raised in a rural Baptist farm family by hardworking and intelligent folk, Dale, the younger brother of two, doesn't have a mean bone in his body; one of his more endearing traits.

But his kindness has also been a struggle at times. He's not good at disciplining his children. They learned early on to engage in avoidance of chores, confident that their dad would rather do it himself than hound them about doing the dishes or cleaning out the kitty litter.

His kindness has also caused him to be very conflict avoidance. It's easier to give in than to take a stand. He often keeps his opinion to himself. The advantage is that when he chooses to engage or offer an unfavorable opinion, you know he means it, because it takes great efffort for this kind man to give voice to criticism.

And when I make him answer the damn phone to tell the NRA or the DFL or the People for Polygamy who show up on the Caller ID to take us off their list, it's great fun to watch him squirm and listen to their entire spiel before he finally says,

"Thank you. Please take us off your list. Yes, I'm sure. Thank you."

He is too kind. Clearly I am not!

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