Positive always beats negative

Farm Forum

Since parenting teenagers is a daily battle (that I seem to be losing), positive reinforcement is my latest tactic. In my experience nagging requires a lot of effort for little reward. It’s even been said that you use fewer muscles when smiling than frowning.

Although it takes some effort, traveling is one positive thing that we’ve always enjoyed. And winter is a great time for us to get away with the kids. I would tell you what I think about South Dakota in the winter, but I’m trying to stop complaining. So I’ll just say this: it’s so beautiful here in the summer that I don’t like to go anywhere! (Okay, it’s also impossible to leave work then.)

We had a wonderful time in the Bahamas the end of December. We missed a cold snap here and had great weather at our destination (usually the opposite happens!). The only downside is that the airports are crazier than usual that time of year.

Trying to stay upbeat, I passed out a lot of thank you’s and I’m sorry’s (when I was the idiot holding things up), which were met with smiles and extra patience. Not that I didn’t want to complain. I just knew that it would only make things worse if I did.

On our flight home there was a particularly unhappy woman nagging her teenaged grandchildren. At one point she even snapped (literally, she snapped her fingers) and hollered at the flight attendant. I’m sure she had her reasons. They did seem to neglectfully skip by her row with the soda and water tray. My boys took notice and gave me a knowing look whenever she acted up in the row in front of us. Although it’s probably wrong to feel this way: I enjoyed it. Next to the example in front of us, I looked like one of those

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airbrushed moms in a magazine ad.

At the end of the flight Mrs. Grumpy exited the airplane and tripped, backwards, over her rolling carry-on. Thankfully she sprung up quickly and didn’t seem hurt. And when she chided her grandchildren for openly laughing at her misfortune, it was playful, even (kind-of) nice. My boys waited until she was out of earshot before laughing about the tumble down the jet way and telling their dad (he was sitting in a different row) about her disgruntled behavior during the flight.

Speaking of carry-on bags, now that airlines charge extra for checked bags, it seems people bring everything they own onto the plane. With no room in the overhead bins, I had to put my bag on the floor by my feet. All those ‘free’ check on bags actually cost everyone else what was left of their leg room. By the looks of some of those backpacks and bags, people were going extreme camping in the Andes Mountains rather than lounging in swimsuits and shorts in the Caribbean. But, I’m not complaining.

Instead, I plan to write a letter to Delta suggesting they give a free snack box, with some real food inside, to travelers who pay to check a bag. Maybe that would encourage more folks to check their luggage, freeing up some of that precious under seat leg room. They will likely ignore my suggestion, but at least I won’t give myself extra frown lines.

And I do have something positive to share about winter in South Dakota. Upon our Saturday-evening return from vacation, our vehicle wouldn’t start from the bitter cold. A helpful gentleman gave my husband a boost. I waited indoors and watched the lobby air fill with frost as a woman entered from outside. She offered, for the second time, to give a ride to the lone young man without a ride. He shook his head; he’d already called someone else. The scene was a poignant contrast from the open-air hotel lobby in paradise where we’d just been. There, half a dozen cab drivers lounged outside, hustling one another over the first pick of the evening’s tourists.

Don’t misunderstand; the local people in the Bahamas were great! It’s just hard to know if helpfulness is real, or added on, when tipping is involved. Which is understandable; it’s part of their job.

South Dakotans, at least those at the Aberdeen airport, are different than any we met traveling.

The woman made one final offer to the young man before leaving, “Are you absolutely sure you don’t need a ride? I can certainly give you one!” Meanwhile the stranger in the farmer-hat seemed offended when my husband tried to pay him for his trouble. “We all live around here,” he said, a bit gruffly, as he waved his hands at the offer.

The cold weather really brings out the warmth in the people.

Andrea Beyers lives in Roscoe. Contact her at rocktuff@venturecomm.net