Hello and thanks for coming by! I’m home from camp and so glad to be back. The summer has gone by quickly, hasn’t it?
My big sister, Jill (she’s fifteen, so three-and-a-half years older than me) and I had an amazing time away. We had gotten along so well at camp that I thought maybe things would continue like that once we got home. But we’ve been home from camp for a little over two weeks now and my sister went back to “Regular Jill” versus “Camp Jill.” (“Camp Jill” is a much nicer, and more pleasant version of my sister.)
Even though we’re back to our usual up-and-down sister relationship, I learned a valuable lesson when Jill accidentally did something silly the other day: sometimes it’s better to leave mistakes unspoken than to remind people when they’ve done something wrong.
Here’s the story…
S(n)ack dab in the middle
Ever since she came back from camp, Jill has loved eating an apple with peanut butter for an afternoon snack. Jill has this whole preparation process that she follows. First, she cuts the apple into eight pieces, then puts a dollop of peanut butter on each piece, and then she puts an extra glob of “dipping peanut butter” on the side. Jill takes her time in preparing this snack so that it comes out almost exactly the same each time.
Now, my mom is a stickler when it comes to cleaning up when you make a mess. If you leave a dish or silverware in the sink, it’s your job to clean it up. It’s a fair rule, right? The only one who isn’t that great about following it is my dad. (Sorry, dad!)
Anyway, a few days ago, Jill made her usual apple with peanut butter afternoon snack. But she must’ve been in sort of a rush because Jill accidentally put the peanut butter jar in the sink and the dirty plate in the refrigerator. (We usually keep the peanut butter in the cabinet, so she really must not have been thinking.) It was a complete snack mix-up.
Don’t dish it out
When my dad came home from work, he went to wash his hands in the sink. He immediately spied the peanut butter jar.
“Who ate the peanut butter?” he asked. “And why is the jar in the sink?”
“It wasn’t me,” I said. I knew it was Jill. She had been rushing around all afternoon so that she wouldn’t miss a call from her camp friends.
As my dad went to get a cold drink, I heard him shout, “who left a dirty plate in the refrigerator?” His shouting attracted my mom’s attention.
“What’s going on?”
“Someone left a jar of peanut butter in the sink, and a dirty plate in the refrigerator,” my dad said.
“It was probably Jill.” I said loudly. I was hoping Jill would hear the commotion from her room. She didn’t. “You should yell at her.” Before anyone could stop me, I ran to Jill’s door and knocked loudly. She needed to know about her snack mix-up ASAP.
“Hey Jill! You put the peanut butter jar in the sink and left a dirty dish in the refrigerator. No one wants your wet peanut butter and a used, refrigerated dish. Hope you don’t get in trouble. Ha ha!”
Jill burst out of her room. Her face was all red. I wasn’t sure if it was red with embarrassment or red with anger from me teasing her.
“What are you talking about?” Jill went over to the sink to take a look.
“I know it was you, Jill. You’re the only one who eats apples with peanut butter every day. Not me. Not Mom. And Dad just got home.” I really wanted to rub in Jill’s mistake with her snack mix-up. She always makes fun of me for stupid things. Now it was my turn.
I could tell Jill was getting more upset. I should’ve stopped making fun of her. But I didn’t.
“At least the peanut butter will be clean,” I joked. “And good thing that dirty plate is nice and cold.” I made a shivering gesture for added measure.
“I’m sorry, OK?” Jill sputtered. “I’m sorry” she added one more time.
And then Jill started crying.
Peanut butter ‘n’ jealousy
“Noodle, enough!” my mom said.
“Simmer down, young lady,” my dad added. I thought he would take my side about telling Jil about her snack mix-up. (Especially since he’s usually the one my mom gets annoyed with for messiness.)
Guess I was wrong.
“But she made a mess. And Mom always says, if you make a mess—”
“—Mistakes happen. And as far as mistakes go, this definitely is not a big one,” my mother said. “There’s no need to blow this out of proportion.”
By then, Jill had stormed off. I noticed she was careful not to slam the door to her bedroom. (She already got in trouble for that before.)
My mom and dad looked at me. They didn’t look happy. Even though I spoke the truth, somehow, I was the one in the wrong.
“Noodle, that wasn’t nice,” my mother said.
Now I was the one who felt badly about teasing Jill about her snack mix-up.
Apple-lauding my efforts
Even though Jill had upset me a gazillion times, I knew I should go apologize to her.
Even though I didn’t want to, I went to speak with Jill. Otherwise, I’d probably be in bigger trouble. Before I knocked on the door to her room, I could hear Jill sniffling quietly.
“Jill,” I called through the door. “I’m sorry I upset you.” Jill didn’t say anything other than to tell me to go away. It was probably best to just leave her alone.
Without saying a word, I decided I’d put the peanut butter jar away and wash Jill’s dirty dish for her.
When Jill finally came out of her room an hour later (I guess she was hungry for dinner), she saw her apple plate drying in the dish rack.
“I washed your dish and put the peanut butter back,” I said quietly.
Jill didn’t say anything, but she nodded as if to say, “thank you.” My mom and dad smiled before my mom quickly changed the subject.
By the time dinner was over, everything was back to normal.
But Jill’s snack mix-up taught me a valuable lesson: sometimes it’s better to keep negative comments to yourself. Even if you’re completely in the right, you might make the situation worse—not better—by calling out someone’s mistake.
Particularly in this instance, where Jill’s snack mix-up wasn’t a big deal, I realized that nobody wins when feelings get hurt unnecessarily.
I guess you could say once Jill accepted my “apple”-ology, we, of “core-se” all lived “apple-y” ever after. At least for a little while.
That’s it for now.
Until next time, be your best you.
Have you ever been in a situation where it was better to spare someone’s feelings than make them feel worse? Were you glad you did it? Please share your stories with me in the comments section.