Feb 11, 2013

Perspective and Laughter

My tension headache was already beginning to throb and it was only 8:45 a.m. I had been at work for one hour. This was day 3 of individual student educational occupational plans. I had met with well over two dozen parents who were insisting their child was going to be a doctor, lawyer, or professional athlete. I'd witnessed children arguing with parents that they changed their minds and they did not want to be a radiologist anymore while the parents insisted they most certainly did. One parent was in tears because she feared her child was not on track to complete A.P. calculus and statistics. Every parent I'd met with wanted to know the exact particulars to scholarship applications.

This, my friend, is 8th grade.

I'd also slept very poorly because I'd dreamed that zombies were chasing me and trying to eat my brain. Given my first paragraph, I don't think it takes a psychology degree to interpret that one.

I used my calm voice and, we might as well add, who knew I had one? I answered their questions as best I could and offered websites that are more regularly updated than my brain. I casually pushed the bucket of chocolate with my foot until it was closer to them and wondered where this person that I was pretending to be had come from.

What I really wanted to do is rig the air system to emit Klonopin mist. I wanted to be blunt and tell the parents they are taking themselves way too seriously. I wanted to ask them if they really wanted to saddle their children with their own garbage when they already had enough to carry them through adulthood.

But I didn't. Give me a medal.

Part of me was rolling my eyes at these overbearing parents who want to know all of the answers to all of their questions RIGHT NOW. Another part of me was laughing at myself. In a lot of ways, I get it. Because when we are in the moment, everything seems so much more critical. With a little bit of hindsight comes clarity. Maybe not complete clarity but enough to see if it really was critical and we have regrets or if we were overreacting.

Day 4 brought more seasoned parents. They sat back in their chairs rather than on the edge, jumping at everything I said. I almost hugged one woman when I asked her if she knew about a certain state sponsored scholarship and she answered with a shrug. "I know about it and my older son jumped through all the hoops and got it but I want my children to enjoy high school and explore the elective classes more." The rest of the following two weeks brought parents who had already done the high strung parenting thing and it just hadn't worked out best for their own mental health. They still care but don't hover. Those interactions made me feel more normal. Tension and anxiety are far too contagious.

On Saturday I met with dance friends for lunch. Kari mentioned she'd wrenched her back during Pilates. It was really giving her grief and she wondered if she needed medical attention. Kristy advised her that her P.T. husband had noticed that 90% of all back injuries heal themselves within 2 weeks. I think that statistic is probably true with most of our problems. I think we invent a lot of our problems, too.

I find that I concentrate on that 10% that doesn't heal itself but has left me irrevocably scarred deep in my heart. I don't doubt that those times were the 10% that wouldn't just work out without my attention and deep, earnest prayer but I do wonder if the amount of tension and anxiety I gave it was merited. Sometimes I think I might be hearing but ignoring that quiet, still voice telling me, "You're taking yourself too seriously. Smile. Laugh. Find something humorous in the situation. Learn something from it. Laugh some more."

I am trying. But I haven't ruled Klonopin or Nitrous Oxide in the ventilation system.


Gina said...

I think you are so right about us inventing problems where they really don't need to be. The idea that time will fix most things is such a good one. I come from a hypochondriac family that raced to the doctor and saw "specialists" whenever anything was wrong. They are still that way and wallow in the misery of many ailments that usually work out after a short while. The best advice I ever heard was from an old lady when I was just a little girl. She saw me fall and graze my knee and made me laugh by saying "It will be all better before you're twice married" I've only been married once and that will have been 17 years ago this June. The grazed knee is long gone but the advice still lives on!

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