Every Once in a While, Things Get Wonky

>> Thursday, November 19, 2009

Despite the best of plans and intentions, some days things just get a little mixed up.

Take this morning, for example. I was doing my hair, and I sprayed hairspray in my ear. Now, I don't mean a little bit of hairspray in the outer ear. I mean a huge, one in a million shot, straight down the ear canal to my brain. I couldn't do that again if I tried, and believe me I wouldn't want to. It is the weirdest feeling, and I don't think there is any way to get the hairspray back out. I'm wondering how this will play out.

However ... I digress. I was thinking when I had the inspiration for this post something a little more along the lines of something getting a little bit twisted up in childhood and staying permanently twisted for the rest of someone's life. No, no, not in the blaming-everything-on-your-parents-in-your-therapy-session kind of way, more like the everyone-is-looking-at-you-strangely-for-what-you-said/did-that-you-think-is-ordinary kind of way. These are the sorts of things that give OCD parents the heeby-jeebies, so get out your rulers and clorox wipes, because if that describes you, the post will bug you all day.

Let's give some examples. My grandmother apparently, somehow, learned the colors "blue" and "yellow" backwards. For the rest of her life, she had to think really hard about it and still said the wrong word sometimes. Can you imagine asking for the yellow pants and having a store clerk hand you the blue ones? How mixed up would you feel? Heck, it might even screw up your ability to match colors for the rest of your life. (Oh, dear, I just realized that might explain a lot about my grandmother's choice of clothing. Hmmm.)

Another member of my family, who shall remain nameless, cannot tell her left from her right. When she gives directions, I need to be very careful to pay attention to which way she is pointing while she talks rather than the words she uses. Very confusing sometimes.

The foibles I inherited from childhood so far seem to be of a much milder variety than the examples above. I used to think that "English" was a foreign language my sisters were learning in school that I would soon have to learn. (Depending on what part of the country I am visiting, sometimes I still think this.)

Slightly harder for me to overcome was the definition of the words, "couple" and "few". I honestly thought that a "couple of toys" meant a handful or so -- you know, an unspecified small number. I didn't think it meant two. So, for the longest time, when someone asked me to grab "a couple of" something, I always showed up with three or four. A "few" was just a few more than a "couple". Boy was I disappointed to finally learn that a couple really just meant "two" and no more. It really cramped my ability to take toys with me in the car, or to Show and Tell, or to buy in a store on my birthday ....

This morning, I was trying to teach Toddler to say, "Surprise" in anticipation of my mother's surprise retirement party. He was pretty good at that part. When I tried to get him to say, "Happy Retirement," well ... that came out pretty garbled. I gave up after a few tries and said, "Why don't you just say, 'Happy Birthday."

At that moment I wondered if perhaps I was creating one of those childhood confusions that would stay with him for a long time ... possibly forever. I couldn't figure out what it might be, but I still wondered. Maybe he would think he was only allowed to retire on his birthday? Or that when you retire, you forever have to celebrate your birthday on that day? I guess I'll find out in about 10 or more years when he tells me whether or not he still believes that the internet lives in the basement.


ASK November 19, 2009 at 9:41 PM  

As a person who has his own issues with 'left and right', I resenmble this post. I believe that you may be onto something here. I think the root of the problem is that when we are young, the world is whatever our parents tell/show/teach us it is and we have a very hard time reconciling this if reality is different.

Karin December 8, 2009 at 5:58 PM  

Um ... no pressure, right?

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