Month: June 2013

Kids Do The Darndest Things…

My daughter was creating a masterpiece with play-dough yesterday, when she dropped a rather hefty piece on the floor.  Much to my surprise, the dog devoured it hungrily and almost appeared as if he was savouring the taste by licking his lips.  Screaming in horror, my daughter was in disbelief that he had actually gobbled it up and indicated that the whole thing “was disgusting”.  I began to console her by agreeing with her that, yes, indeed it was disgusting, when I had a flashback to my earlier childhood days.  I, too, had consumed play-dough and could honestly say that I have eaten worse in my life.  Then, I got to thinking.  My childhood was fairly riddled by random acts of thoughtlessness.  Some I could soften by calling them “experiments”, however many were just “what the hell” kind of moments.  Here are some highlights in no particular order:

1.  Deciding on “bath night” that I would make quick work of the washing by getting into a mud puddle in our gravel driveway stark naked.  I felt that if I could get it over quickly, I would have more time to stay outside and play.  Makes sense right?  That’s what I thought.

2.  After hearing my mother (REPEATEDLY) tell me to “be careful with the crayons”, I decided to shove one into my left nostril…you know…just to see if anything bad would happen.  Really, how dangerous could crayons be to cause a parent concern?  And it was a broken one anyway…I hated the broken ones.  Even at a young age, my OCD caused me to discard the crayons with imperfections.  Thank heavens it was the 80’s and my mother had REALLY long fingernails.

3.  An older kid in the neighbourhood told my friend and I that the elderly Catholic priest that lived on the corner gave out candy to kids if they knocked on his door and asked for it.  Throwing caution to the wind (and knowing it was nowhere near October 31st), my friend and I brazenly rang the doorbell to get our goods.  The priest’s housekeeper (who was nearly as old as he was) answered the door, and in her soft little voice said “yes, girls?”  Immediately I spoke up and said “we’re here for some candy…someone told us you give out candy if we knocked on the door”.  In hindsight, I think I knew immediately I may have overstepped my bounds, but I was in too deep to back out.  Low and behold, the little housekeeper rustled us up some hard candies in wrappers and said “thank you for stopping by” before shutting the screen door.  As if this weren’t bad enough, I remember feeling extremely disgruntled that she had given us what I liked to call “old people’s candy”.  The hard, gross, minty candy that your great Aunt Ethel might give you.

4.  In preparation for dismissal, my kindergarten teacher would make the class get dressed in our outdoor clothes about 15 minutes before sending us home.  Since it was the dead of winter (and my mother had dressed me in the usual 5 protective layers), I suited up quickly (as I am an efficient little thing) and took my place at the table to wait to be sent home.  As I began to sweat watching my classmates dress and take their seats, I realized that I had to pee…and badly.  I had drank 3 glasses of Tang at snack time as I was not allowed artificial colors at home.  My overindulgence was rearing it’s ugly head.  I don’t remember whether or not I just did not make it to the bathroom in time, or I was just too exhausted from snowsuit application to care.  I unleashed the floodgates, then trudged the 10 minute walk home in my urine-soaked clothing.

5.  Being gifted a brand new metal swing set for grading, I became particularly mesmerized by the swinging see-saw.  I would put my stuffed animals, rocks and even the neighbourhood cat (OK..maybe not the cat…not that I will ever admit to anyway) to watch the back and forth motion.  Strangely, I was very focused on what made that thing swing back and forth so many times.  One day, I had been watching it for quite awhile, when I decided to see how close I could get to it before it would hit me.  One gigantic push, and one neighbour carrying my lifeless body to my back door as I gushed blood from my forehead later, I found out just how close I could get.

This is by no means an exhaustive list.  Really, it only just touches on my childhood years.  I haven’t even scratched the surface yet.

Thinking…a lost art form…

We have lost the ability to think.  We worry, we react and we perform the motions of our daily activities, yet our capacity to reach down inside of ourselves for answers is fading away.  Instantaneous gratification is the standard of living now.  Need an answer?  Google it. Having a bad day?  Update your status on Facebook and ask your “friends” for advice. Some sort of life dilemma?  Spend some time online shopping…the gnawing feeling of wonder will dissipate after a purchase or two.  These days it seems that we are all just existing in this superficial zone where we simply accept the first answer that comes along. Why has that become the norm?  I am certain it’s because of the two F-words…fear and fatigue.

Fear is crippling. I speak from experience. I was watching a documentary a few months ago and was taken by this statement…”this biggest prison people live in is the fear of what other people think”.  Heavy…and true.  Opposition to the norm is so undesirable now that we would rather ignore the options and just go with the general flow of things. Make it quick…make it easy.  How hard is it to say “I would like to think about that before I give you my answer”.  For some reason, inexplicably hard.  Why do we not want to be alone with our thoughts?  Why do we shy away from doing our own research- investigating things by ourselves?  Although some decisions and answers do have to be made quickly, the bulk of our dilemmas could certainly sit through the passage of some time. What are we afraid of?  Making the wrong choice?  Or the fear of being judged for our choices?  Perhaps we don’t even trust ourselves anymore.

And fatigue…oh man!  Guilty as charged!  I emailed a friend last week to ask advice about a relatively straightforward concern. Although I value her opinion, in hindsight, I could have certainly sought the answer independently. But it’s just so easy to type a quick message and ask!  The easier, the better.  One hundred years ago, there would have been no way I would have hitched up the horse and driven to her farm!  Inner resourcefulness is fading.  Faith in ourselves is a brittle concept. Each day we are inundated with information to the point of sheer chaos!  How can a person make a simple decision these days without being flooded with input from every end!  A few months back I had a question about cooking a turkey…Googled it…3 million hits came up!  Seriously?  How many ways are there to accurately check the inner temperature of baked poultry?

I returned to work today after my maternity leave to brush up on changes that had occurred in my absence. In reviewing some of the equipment, it was explained that “mechanisms” were now in place to make things “easier”. Simple skills like math and troubleshooting techniques have fallen by the wayside. Things have been made stupid-proof in order to avoid “problems” (there is that “fear” word again). Now, to some extent, this is helpful as my job entails the care of people’s health. But when you begin to take away the ability to engage in coping skills and problem solving, you also take away people’s confidence in their ability and their ability to use their allies as resources as well!  We learn from experience…ours and others!

Most of the time, I relish in my ability to think.  I don’t want it to erode over time.  I want to be challenged-to give and receive experience in my relationships with others!  The capacity to think critically is a skill useful in virtually every aspect of life. When this is encouraged, one can see the existence of another “”F” word…flourishing of ideas and thoughts!