Thoughtful Thursday: Fright

October 31, 2013

Thoughtful ThursdayI’m glad to see Halloween end. I adore little children in costumes, and I’m often amused by big kids and adults in costumes. I’m fine with pumpkins and candy. But I do not like all of the scary stuff. I don’t like the scary movies on TV and in theaters all month, I don’t like the death-themed decorations, I really don’t like the horrifying costumes. Last year, two different trick-or-treaters who came to our door were so scary that they made Burrito cry (out of more than a hundred, so the odds were small, but still). I abhor haunted houses. Few things in life sound less appealing than someone jumping out at me or, worse, grabbing me in a dark room.

Burrito and Tamale are consistently confused by all of the scary Halloween stuff. Why would someone make their lawn into a graveyard? Why do so many big kids choose to dress in scary costumes? Why does our neighbor’s door have a ghost that makes scary noises when you walk by? Why would people want to be scared?

Beyond Halloween, they both don’t understand the drive for being scared. One of their favorite activities is adjacent to an amusement park, and they can hear the people on the roller coasters screaming. They are so perplexed by people voluntarily putting themselves in a situation where they would be so afraid. Burrito in particular has no plans to ever, ever go on a roller coaster. Tamale at this point wouldn’t particularly seek it out, but she’s game for pretty much anything, so I predict that in a few years I’ll be sitting next to her on roller coasters while Burrito and his dad watch from the ground. I’m fine with roller coasters, not because I like to be scared but because they don’t particularly scare me. I’m not seeking thrills because I don’t experience a thrill. Sometimes they’re whatever, and sometimes I enjoy the weightless feeling of coasting and flying, but it’s not exciting for me. Based on the number of people lining up for roller coasters and haunted houses, I am clearly in the minority.

Do you enjoy being frightened?

Thoughtful Thursday

Welcome to the September Intelligentsia.

#45: Elana from Elana’s Musings
#37: Strongblonde from Strong Blonde
#27: St. Elsewhere
#25: Lori from Write Mind Open Heart
#20: Sara from Aryanhwy

Thoughtful ThursdayFollowing up from the last post, I caved. Burrito made a reasoned argument and I couldn’t refuse. “Abel is my friend and he is nice and he is gentle and he is funny and he is good at sweeping.”

So, I added Abel and Tamale’s 2nd best friend (Lilith?) but not Cain or Seth or anyone else. Additional personalized trains are currently en route to my house. 4 guests, plus their parents — in line with the rule that Sara mentioned her mother using of the number of guests equaling the age of the child.

Anyway, on to TT.

In the past two days, Burrito and Tamale have independently discovered the little box in the back of the silverware drawer. I had the same conversation with both of them, almost verbatim.

“What’s in this box?!?”
Chopsticks. They are my chopsticks.
“May I please use them?”
No, they are my chopsticks.
“I want to try them.”
I bought them in Japan. They are only for me.

There aren’t many things in this house that are just for me — quite the opposite. Burrito and Tamale literally eat the food off my plate, on a daily basis. My office serves mainly as the room that has the swivel chair in which they spin each other around. My hairbrush has taken up permanent residence in the playroom. They clomp around the house wearing my shoes.

But, there are a few items that are off limits. B&T are allowed to use almost every dish, bowl, or cup that I have made myself, except for a couple — and there’s one plate that even DH isn’t allowed to use.

I have a few pens that I wouldn’t let the children use; my husband can use them if he’d like, but the pens can’t leave the house, and I wouldn’t recommend that he mess with the fountain pens.

Sometimes I like to buy myself fancy soaps. Even though DH shares my shower, he’s not allowed to use my soap, because what lasts two months for me will last a week if he goes near it. The children don’t use the shower and they don’t use bar soap, so they’re not a threat to my fancy soaps, yet.

And, there are my chopsticks. Though after he kept asking, I told Burrito that if he keeps practicing with the kid chopsticks (they are attached at the top to make them easier to use) that I might let him use them. If he breaks them, I guess we’ll have to go buy replacements… in Japan.

Is there anything in your house that’s just for you?

Thoughtful ThursdayClosing out the series of questions that I ask Burrito and Tamale about their preschool classmates…

So far, we’ve asked:
“Is she energetic or calm?”
“Is he loud or quiet?”
“Is she friendly or unfriendly?”

Finally, I like to ask, “Is he happy or sad?”

This question is even more relevant for preschoolers than it is for the rest of us.

There’s a girl in their class who, I’m not exaggerating, almost every time I’ve seen her — that is, daily for almost a year — has been crying. It’s not just that I see her at dropoff times, either: she’s cried whenever I’ve seen her randomly at other times of day, and she’s crying in almost all of the photos of the class activities. Best case scenario, she occasionally looks sad without crying. I have no idea what’s up with her.

There’s also a kid that we knew when Burrito and Tamale were babies to toddlers. She is the daughter of DH’s friend and is a few months older than B&T. I never saw her cry, but I also never saw her smile until she was 1 1/2. As an infant, she was what you’d charitably call “serious.” Her parents and brother are all extremely expressive people, so it was striking that this little girl expressed no positive emotion. She wasn’t actively sad, more just sort of perpetually disgruntled. About a month after Tamale started smiling, we spent time with the girl’s family. I genuinely felt bad when the mother remarked on Tamale’s constant, dazzling smile. It was as if things were okay as long as all babies were perpetually disgruntled, but when Tamale burst that illusion, the mother looked heartbroken.

Most kids, of course, are not as miserable as those two girls. Tamale is shockingly, startlingly happy. Huge, huge smile. Pure sunshine. Until she was 2 1/2, non-stop joy. Then, joy interspersed with age-appropriate dissatisfaction with her wishes being thwarted and, occasionally, tantrums. Even so, every kid in her preschool class would easily identify her as a very happy kid.

Happiness and sadness aren’t the only emotions, of course, as illustrated by Burrito. When he is happy, he is very very happy. When he is not happy, you might see anxiety or sadness or rage. He feels big feelings, in all directions.

I have a clear preference for happy children, but back in my days as a mopey teen, I expressed a preference for brooding, pseudo-depressive, black-wearing, poetry-writing, deep-thinker types. I got over that by 17, because seriously, it gets tiresome. Pollyannas get tiresome too. My real preference is for people who know the score but, despite the crappiness of the world, make a choice to be happy anyway.

Do you prefer to be around people who are happy or sad (or something else)?

Thoughtful ThursdayWe’ve just discussed how we’d summarize our mothers and fathers. During Lori’s Listen to Your Mother show, I thought about not only how I would describe my mother, but how my children might someday describe me.

Right now their descriptions are limited to features like, “Mommy has brown hair like me,” or “Mommy wears sunscreen,” or “Mommy never wears flip-flops.” Someday, though, they’ll presumably have more to say. The version of me that they see at age 3 will not be the same version they see at 13 or 23; I can’t even imagine that far into the future, so all I can speak to is the present. Though they may not be able to recall enough to articulate it later, I’d like to imagine that Burrito and Tamale would describe the 2013 version of me as something like:

Our mommy puts a lot of thought into her parenting. She works really hard at giving us special presents and experiences. She is very patient, most of the time, except when she was on Prednisone. She sings to us every day. She makes the cakes we eat and the dishes we eat them on. We’re not allowed to do a lot of things that most kids do, like watch TV or eat candy, but she always gives us reasons why. She doesn’t approve of toys that make noise or light up, so we don’t have any. She always tells us the truth, even when it conflicts with what most people tell kids. She takes a lot of pictures of us on her phone with the cracked screen that’s held together by electrical tape; we like it because the tape is bright red.

How do you imagine your children might describe the 2013 version of you?

Thoughtful Thursday: Scared

December 6, 2012

Thoughtful Thursday

Welcome to the December Intelligentsia.

#38: Elana from Elana’s Musings
#31: Lost in Translation from We Say IVF, They Say FIV
#30: Strongblonde from Strong Blonde
#20: St. Elsewhere
#18: Lori from Write Mind Open Heart
#16: Photogrl from Not the Path I Chose
#15: Cat
#13: Sara from Aryanhwy
#2: Mina from Kmina’s Blog

Thoughtful ThursdayThe Prompt-ly listserv has been discussing a recent article about Munchausen by Internet and people who make up drama such as severe health problems to receive support online.

I missed out on the discussion because I have been dealing with my own severe health problems. Which I didn’t tell anyone online about (except for one Intelligentsia member whom I saw in person last week). Everyone else in my online life, not even a peep. Whatever those people have that makes them want to make up medical crises, I seem to have the exact opposite.

I won’t get into details now as we’re still not sure exactly what’s going on — for the third time in my life, I am once again a medical mystery — but I am out of the woods and somewhat on the mend.

My life wasn’t actually in danger, but there were a couple of days when the doctors, and therefore I, thought it might be. And, as calm as I always am and as hard as I am to rile up, fucking fuck was I scared. The fear was compounded by the hours spent alone with nothing to do, as the medical issues rendered me unable to sleep, unable to get up, unable to use my hands for the most basic tasks like reading or going online, unable to do anything except sit in a chair all night and worry.

I have felt plenty of other strong emotions in life, but I’m not wired for anxiety. Some people, like DH’s mother, live their lives being worried and scared every day. Not me.

The last time I was truly scared was the almost-worst day of my life.

Aside from those two incidents, I can’t remember a time in my life when I was really, truly frightened. Deep to my core petrified.

I hope I never have cause to feel that afraid again. It fucking sucks.

When was the last time that you were really, truly scared? How often has that happened?

Thoughtful Thursday

Welcome to the November Intelligentsia.

#37: Elana from Elana’s Musings
#32: A from Are You Kidding Me?
#30: Lost in Translation from We Say IVF, They Say FIV
#29: Strongblonde from
Strong Blonde
#19: St. Elsewhere
#17: Lori from Write Mind Open Heart
#14: Ana from Ana Begins
#14: Cat
#14: Mel from Stirrup Queens
#12: Sara from Aryanhwy
and new Intelligentsia member Mina from Kmina’s Blog

Thoughtful Thursday34 years ago yesterday, I dressed up as a ballerina and went trick or treating. I clearly remember being inside the house of my next door neighbors, a kindly elderly dentist and his kindly elderly wife; she told me that she had saved a caramel apple just for me. (Can you believe there was a time when people made treats themselves?) I felt so special. I clearly remember going to the other next door neighbor’s house, tripping and falling on their front walk. I felt embarrassed, even though there was no one there except my mother. I vaguely remember going to the neighbor two doors down, with the teenage daughter who babysat me sometimes.

I also clearly remember going shopping for 3rd birthday presents, though I don’t know if that happened just before or just after Halloween, so I’m not sure which is my very earliest memory.

I have a cluster of other memories from right around that time. Some are mundane, like changing the channel on the TV to Sesame Street. Some say something strange about 3-year-old me, like the time I told my father, “I love you more than I love Mommy,” and then a few minutes later telling my mother, “I love you more than I love Daddy.” I remember that so clearly. I was sitting on the stairs with my mother playing a game where she made sound effects when I touched her nose. In the middle of the game, I professed my love. I remember a lot about that day, but I do not remember why I was being so manipulative.

I remember getting a Mickey Mouse phone for my birthday. I clearly remember playing a game where I kept calling my dad using my brand new Mickey Mouse phone with the second phone line. I’d keep calling him and say hello then hang up and call again. At one point, I must have dialed wrong, because I said, “Daddy?” and the guy on the phone was not my daddy. What’s surprising now about this memory is that a few days after my 3rd birthday I not only knew my numbers but could remember and accurately (most of the time, at least) dial a 7-digit phone number. Burrito and Tamale know some of their letters but don’t know any numbers, and they certainly don’t know any phone numbers. My mother was much more adept than I am at working on rote memorization, and she probably spent hours drilling me on that phone number. I can still recite that phone number and that address (we moved away when I was 4 1/2) more easily than almost any other address or phone number from the rest of my life.

Burrito and Tamale are now exactly a month older than I was on that Halloween. Their memories have become so amazing in the past few weeks; they bring up things that happened months ago, or out of nowhere they say something that I casually mentioned weeks ago. Every day they seem to understand and to remember more and more. At any time, something that they experience may become a permanent memory. It oddly feels like my actions and words matter more now than they did before. I’ve always tried to give them the best possible set of life experiences, but now I also feel an odd pressure to give them the best possible set of memories.

What is your earliest memory?

Thoughtful Thursday: Costume

October 25, 2012

Thoughtful ThursdayNow that I have young children, I spend a lot of time thinking about, and occasionally making, costumes. They have various dress-up costumes, but Halloween is the biggie. Normally Burrito and Tamale’s clothes are totally independent, but for Halloween I like to take advantage of them being twins and give them a fun pair costume. Actually, some years it’s costumes: I develop a backup costume in case they won’t wear the regular costume.

For the first time, their 4th Halloween, my pair idea may be thwarted because one of them wants to wear something else. Oh well, I had 3 good twin Halloweens. Maybe I have a few more years until they insist on vampires or zombies or whatever the next big scary thing is (werewolves? mummies? hunchbacks?).

For myself, costumes have not occupied much thought since I was 17. My freshman year of college was the last time I remember dressing up for Halloween — actually dressing up, not just wearing an orange shirt or something. Oh wait that’s not true, when I was 22 we went to a Halloween party for my husband’s work and wore a group costume: not just him and me, but a visiting friend from out of town too. That is my all-time favorite costume I ever wore, and as far as I know we are the only people who have ever worn that costume. Every other year of my adulthood I have either done nothing or seriously half-assed it, like football jerseys out of DH’s closet or giant bows in my hair. Mostly it’s fine that I don’t wear costumes since most adults don’t, but one year I was in NYC for Halloween and everyone at the party was totally decked out, except for us. It was embarrassing to be at a cooler-than-thou club in the meat packing district and get asked over and over, “Why aren’t you wearing a costume?” or worse, “Is that outfit supposed to be your costume?” We and our friends concocted ideas for the next year — the full Justice League was the frontrunner — but we never had another NYC Halloween.

There is one other group costume I’ve had in mind for several years, but I don’t think it will ever happen. I wanted us to dress as the Kennedy family. Last year I actually bought a Chanel-style blazer for Tamale, but between DH’s reluctance to wear any costumes and the logistic difficulty and, now, Burrito and Tamale having no interest in the Kennedys when they could dress as trains or dinosaurs or something, I think that costume will exist only in my imagination. Too bad; Burrito already has John-John’s haircut, and Tamale would have been a stunning Jackie.

Do you ever wear costumes? What types of costumes do you like for yourself? For children?