Scatterbrain

My thoughts are all over the place. I started a blog post earlier today about Jane’s social life. I kind of meandered around into philosophical ponderings on the nature of being an “outsider” in a small town. I worked my way back toward the story I wanted to tell: her weekend of parties with new friends. On my way there, I stumbled over another point and thought, oh, yeah – that’s where I wanted to go with this.

I didn’t see any easy way to transition to it and suddenly felt that the first 400 words were basically irrelevant. Or maybe another tale. So I started post #2, focusing on the new point as my starting point. But I soon found myself meandering again. It was becoming clear that I was not clear on what I wanted to write about.

I can’t help but feel that all the points could come together in a coherent piece. That they all overlap in such a way that they can fit smoothly with each other. Kind of like this Venn diagram:

venn_1

(I’m not happy with this diagram, by the way. I should have used black lines for the outlines and it really bugs me that they aren’t overlapping by the same amount on each other, even if it is hard with five circles. If I want to get all philosophical with it, I could say that topics never overlap each other in equal amounts so my chart is perhaps more realistic than a well-formed one. Of course, I didn’t consider the percentage overlap for the various topics so my philosophical excuse for a bad diagram is simply that: an excuse.)

Anyway, my story, I think, lies somewhere in that black region where they all overlap. As you can probably see by my senseless rambling about the diagram itself, though, I don’t think I can get there. At least, not right now. My attempts have more closely resembled this diagram:

venn_2

 

I think I want to tell the purple story but red feels like a good place to start but red leads me into green instead of blue and then I realize that green has nothing to do with purple but it sure flows nicely into pink and then I realize the story has gone off the rails and maybe I should have started with blue. But then…

Then… then I get up from my computer. I go to the church to make copies. I come home and take a nap. I think about blogging about the Oklahoma City bombing anniversary instead. I decide that while I was there volunteering and I knew people who were in the building, it’s somehow shallow for me to write about it when so many other people were affected more. I go out to eat. I welcome my husband home. I try to collect my thoughts about Jane. I decide to blog about Venn diagrams instead. And now here we are.

So, yeah, you haven’t heard from me in over a week. This is partly why. I’ve mostly been too busy and then when I’ve tried, the stories haven’t come. I’ll just let you wonder based on the Venn diagram labels what’s going on in Jane’s world.

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Pantomime

One of Jane’s friends asked her to accompany her to the skating rink this evening. The friend had been invited by another friend but didn’t know any of the friend’s friends so was concerned about going without a backup friend. Clear as mud, right?

No matter. It’s not what this tale is about. It just sets the scene. We arrived at the skating rink before the friend arrived. Jane and I were standing at the door while my husband and Hal and Rose, the dog, waited in the car about thirty feet away.

As per her custom, Rose moved up to the front passenger seat – my seat – and sat down, looking out the windows as if she belonged there. I gestured toward the dog and then lifted my arms to the sides with my palms up in a what’s up with that?! gesture.

My husband shrugged back and grinned. I shook my finger at him. He gave the dog a hug and me another grin. I then brushed my backside. He responded by patting the dog vigorously and then bursting out laughing at my shocked indignation.

“Pretty cool that we just pantomimed that entire conversation, huh?” I said to Jane.

“What are you talking about?”

“Daddy and I. The conversation we just had.” She looked at me like I was crazy. “It’s simple,” I said. “I expressed displeasure that the dog was in my seat. He pretended he didn’t know what my problem was. I got onto him for it and he laughed at me. Then I indicated that I didn’t want to get dog hair all over my rear when I got back in the car. He teased me by patting the dog in a way that would cause her to shed more hair onto the seat.”

“I see. It’s a good thing you guys are married to each other because if I was married to either one of you, it wouldn’t work out because I wouldn’t have a clue what you were trying to say.”

“Well, we have been together for quite awhile.”

Daleks and Angels and Grasshoppers, Oh My!

We have a bit of a grasshopper infestation. Well, ok, maybe if there’s been a person or two who has actually contemplated not coming to our house because of them, it might be more than just a bit of an infestation.

When Allison came home with us the other night, the grasshoppers greeted our return with their usual fanfare. Hundreds of grasshoppers began to jump in celebration. Think the big “Be Our Guest” number in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. A fountain of jumping insects all across the yard.

That’s when we learned that Allison is slightly phobic about grasshoppers. She opted to wait in the car while Jane went in to retrieve her clothes. Unfortunately, the backseat was also occupied by a four year old, who bounded out of the car without shutting the door. While Jane called to Allison to come inside and Allison called out that she was fine, a grasshopper decided to join her.

Suddenly, she was not fine. She began to shriek. And then flail. She begged Jane to come retrieve the grasshopper. And then in a final move of desperation, she scrambled out of the car, jumping from foot to foot and shaking her arms.

Now, this is what I love about Jane’s friends. No, not that this one is afraid of grasshoppers. That’s not what I’m getting at. It has to do with how she chose to describe the nightmare once we were safely back in the car. As she shuddered slightly, she said, “That was horrible. That was the most awful experience ever. That’s worse than Daleks and Weeping Angels combined!”

I’m all for Jane having friends that relate their real-world experiences to Doctor Who. Even if she’s prone to hyperbole.

A Really Good Spice

“Hey, mom! Look! A tobacco store! Can we stop and get some tobacco?!”

Now, this is a phrase that you don’t want to hear from any of your children. Ever. It’s also a phrase that you don’t even expect to hear from your child when he is only nine years old. But more importantly, it’s a phrase that you never, ever want to hear while riding in a car with a church friend, her mother, and her two kids returning from church camp.

That, of course, is exactly when the phrase was uttered by my dear sweet Daryl. The car got very quiet.

“I like tobacco,” he explained.

More silence.

“It’s a really good spice.”

More silence.

“I put tobacco sauce on all my food. It’s so good!”

“Do you perhaps mean Tabasco sauce?” asked my friend.

This time the silence was Daryl’s as he struggled to work out what he had been saying wrong. And then everyone burst out laughing.

“I had them backwards!” he explained. “I thought tobacco was what I put on food and Tabasco was what you put in pipes!”

Well, dear, we are very relieved you had them backwards. Very relieved.

Riding in Cars with… Whomever

I am still trying to teach my husband the proper way to interact with other people in certain social situations. I’ve been trying for quite some time now and so far my teaching skills have proved sorely lacking.

Take today, for example. A friend and former coworker stopped by for a tour of the studio and to say hello. Our plan was to go out to eat lunch afterwards. This friend is still in his twenties, single, no kids – still enjoying a much more carefree life than ours. In fact, he ended up being a bit late because he was slow to get up after some heavy drinking at a party the night before. While he and my husband had met and like each other, he is essentially a stranger to Hal.

This doesn’t particularly bother Hal. You know how some kids have to try every public bathroom they encounter? As soon as you walk into a store or restaurant or someone’s house with such a kid, they immediately express an urgent need to use the facilities? Well, Hal has a similar obsession except his is an unquenchable desire to ride in other people’s cars.

As I walked into the house to get my things, I heard Hal ask the question.

“Daddy, can I ride in his car?”

I held my breath because I knew he would likely not answer appropriately.

“Well, Hal. That’s not up to me. You’ll need to ask him.”

Oh, no! I thought to myself. Wrong answer! See, my husband is of the opinion that everyone should be able to speak their mind and be truthful, no matter how uncomfortable. He’s not into the social niceties and hinting phrases that should be employed in situations like this.

By the time I got back outside, Hal was crawling into his booster seat that had been installed in the back of the other car. The friend was laughing. It sounded to me as if he was a bit in disbelief that he was about to transport our child into town in his car.

When I got into our car, I told my husband what he was supposed to say in a situation like that. “You don’t put people – especially people without kids – in a situation where they have to say no to a four-year-old. You just don’t do it. You should have said, ‘No, sweetheart. Why don’t you just ride with us?’ That way, if they are truly ok with him riding with them, they can say, ‘Oh, that’s ok. I don’t mind.’ But if they don’t want him to ride, you’ve let them off the hook.”

“If they don’t want him to ride with them, they should just say so.”

“Say no to a four-year-old?!”

“Yes. If they don’t want to do it.”

“Honey! You shouldn’t force people to do that.”

“I’m not going to serve as a barrier between my kids and other people.”

“Uggh! This is a tactful way to give them a way out if they don’t have it in them to tell the kid no but really aren’t comfortable taking the kid with them.”

“So what you are saying is that the next time a situation like this comes up, I need to tell him, ‘I don’t know. You need to go ask your mother.'”

“Well, I guess if you want it to go through two layers instead of just one, yes.”

“If that’s what it takes because I’m not going to do what you suggested.”

When they got to the restaurant right after us, I was waiting to open Hal’s door. “Is it everything you thought it would be?” I asked him.

The friend climbed out of the car laughing. “Oh, man, did we have some interesting conversations!”

I’m sure you did, buddy. I’m sure you did. The Facebook posts and blog entries pale in comparison to the real deal.

Annoying People And The People Who Love Them

As we drove home from volleyball practice tonight, Jane told me about a new girl at school.

“She’s like I was when I was in the fourth grade. She reads all the time. I mean, all the time.”

“Someone who reads that much is a good person to be friends with,” I replied.

“Mom, she’s annoying.”

“The smart kids usually are annoying.”

“No, I mean she’s really, really annoying.”

Referencing two of her best friends, I said, “It’s a good thing Allison and Jenny are capable of being friends with really annoying people.”

I glanced at her out of the corner of my eye and was rewarded with a shocked, indignant, and wide-mouth look as my meaning sunk in. Man, I love it when I catch her off-guard like that.