The Time-Out Chair

I attended elementary school in an old brick building that, many years later, turned into a church –  I think.  The church was named Saint Some-One-Or-Other, but I can’t remember which saint.  I think it’s now empty, but I’m not sure on that, either.  There was one class for each grade and it seems as though there were only about 20 kids in each grade.

Even though there were only 20 sixth-graders out on the playground, those opinionated kids could get in a ruckus in a real hurry.

That’s what social media is reminding me of – sixth graders blowing off stink, on a playground.

Everyone is yelling.

He yells over them.  She yells over him.  They yell over each other.

No one is listening.

Everyone conveniently forgot the tenet about not speaking if you don’t have anything nice to say.

They’ve forgotten tolerance, and more importantly, they’ve forgotten kindness.

 

I never put my kids in a time-out.  I don’t know why I never liked that form of discipline.  Is the idea that the kid is supposed to sit in a chair, face the corner, and think about how to behave better?  I guess because I’m a natural born over-thinker, I never thought the time-out chair was a good idea.

If – when I was a sixth grader – I’d ever been ordered to a time-out chair, I’m afraid of what I’d have over-thought about.  Back then the subjects could have run the gamut from:  Why do some sixth grade girls have big chests while others haven’t even started their periods?  Why do almost all girls have crushes on sixth grade boys who are so clueless?  Is world domination out of the question or a distinct possibility?  Do I want to even mess with dominating a world inhabited by sixth grade boys?

(I’ve a vague recollection of being sent to my room, which is pretty much the same thing, but for an introvert, that’s like a snow day off from school!)

I knew, when my two were very young, that they had acquired my high-level over-thinking skills.  I wasn’t going to give them an opportunity to over/out think me, so the only time-out chair we ever had was a cute little wooden thing we painted for a school fundraiser.  We ended up buying it to put in the garden.  (Imagine crickets, potato beetles and earthworms assigned to that chair for their time-outs.)

 

Now, however, a time-out chair would be heavenly.  I’m not sure I’d even want the internet in my corner.  I’d have a delicious chunk of time to happily ruminate on the usual subjects – cabernet vs. pinot vs. merlot; techniques for texturing the ceiling after popcorn removal; how to reclaim a neglected garden spot; do I really need AWD when front wheel is less expensive; why is it taking me so long to read the Harry Potter series when I’m enjoying it so much (see aforementioned time-sucking subjects); and what will I do with myself when kids are grown and gone?

I’m not pretending that any of these subjects are even remotely interesting to anyone else, but they aren’t unkind or intolerant or likely to raise my blood pressure.  (That said, the popcorn ceiling removal was a pretty good workout.)

 

Anyhow, the ruckus on both social media and the airwaves has me fantasizing that if I were Queen for a Day, I’d assign everyone to their own time-out chair – especially the sixth graders.

 

 

You Can’t Save Him

I’d left the kids with him at the house.  I wasn’t going to be long.  I’d forgotten something and had to run and get it.  When I returned with the thing (whatever it was) that I’d forgotten, my hands were full.  I was carrying my jacket, a large bag, and the item in one hand, and struggled to open the door with my free hand.  I was fumbling with the doorknob.  Finally, I’d gotten the door to open, but I was concerned about it opening too far. 

I hurried to enter, worried I’d taken too long.  Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a ginormous spider had come in when the door was ajar.  They didn’t see the spider as it scurried along the floor at the base of the wall.  Its two sets of legs were freakishly hairy.  Three large hairy legs ran down each side of its body, and its underside had a cluster of six smaller hairy legs.  It was large enough to make noise as it scampered, yet he didn’t seem to hear it at all.

I yelled to warn them. “You guys!!  RUN!  A spider got in!  It’s huge!  Run!!”  I saw my kids jump.  They didn’t turn to see the spider.  They took my word for it and ran.

 

(Later, when retelling the dream, I described the spider as the size of one of those plastic Melitta coffee filters.  It was “Twilight Zone” disgusting.)

 

Maybe he hadn’t heard me?  Maybe he didn’t believe me?  I yelled again as I ran toward him.  “Really!! That spider is HUGE.  You gotta run!”

As I came up beside him he got on the floor.  He did the crab walk like we used to do in 4th grade gym class.  He deliberately, without any regard for the spider, crab-walked across the room, IN THE DIRECTION OF THE SPIDER.   I couldn’t believe my eyes.  After my warnings and yelling and all the commotion, he actually got down on the spider’s level and moved toward it!

I could see that he was within a foot of the spider now!  He could SEE the spider.  What was he doing?  I turned to run and join the kids.  As I left the house, I looked over my shoulder and saw him pick up the spider, with both hands!

 

The next morning, as I poured a second cup, I told Jen of my wicked dream.  When I described my astonishment at his picking up the spider, she interrupted me to say, “But, mom, you can’t save him.”

 

 

 

On Mixed Messages and Secrets

Her foot was in that temporary boot they apply when someone has broken their leg.  And because I knew her, I said, “Oh my! You’re the one who is always working out and staying in such great shape.  What the heck happened?”

She was in tears as she told the story.

I said, “Do you ever wonder why the Universe can’t deliver messages in a more gentle fashion?  Maybe you’re supposed to slow down?”

She wiped a tear and shook her head.  She’s not the type to slow down.  I probably shouldn’t have mentioned that.

And as I sat in the curtained room waiting for the results of the EKG, the blood work, the urine sample and the foot-long swab that actually fit up my nose, I wondered if the words I’d directed at her were really meant for me.

How many times have I written about stress?  How many signs have I received that clearly tell me to slow the hell down?

I guess I’m not the type to slow down either.

And so after being told that my heart was fine, I stood in the waiting room, watching for Will.  I’d insisted he drop me off, so he could get to school and focus.  But then he insisted on picking me up.  So much for his focus.  As I watched for his truck, it was my turn to cry.

The tears were a mix of relief, embarrassment, frustration, and defeat.

Will dropped me at home and went back to school.  Jen offered to cook me dinner, but I let her clean up instead.  (I can only admit to so much defeat in one day.)  We watched mindless television and waited for Will to get home.  I got sick of them asking me how I felt, but hugged them because they asked.

I slept the night through.

This morning I read a post about secrets, and how unhealthy it is to keep secrets.  I didn’t search out this post, it appeared on my laptop the way some gentler messages from the Universe do appear.

Soon after, my brother called to check in.  He listened.  He asked the right questions.  He re-framed what I told him.  He put a new spin on possible solutions.  He made my secret seem less foreboding.  (I realized that my big secret is feeling like I’m a failure.)  He made different choices sound less like defeat, and more like a new route to success.  His suggestions lightened my load.

Then I did the stretching and the poses and listened to the tapes.  My back feels better.  Of course it helps a lot that I’m not worried about the classic signs of heart disease in women.

But I see the pattern.  It’s what I’ve said so many times.  When I allow myself ease – the ability to slow things down, I feel better.  Duh!!

But admitting I can’t do it all is like some f’d up version of defeat or failure.  ‘Ease’ was not part of Wonder Woman’s vocabulary.  Imagine how much better she’d have felt if she had eased up on that belt a little.

Today’s lesson:  Do as I say, not as I do.  Oh, and get the stress test.