July 1, 2003
I’m having one of those days. Actually, one of those weeks, but since my attention span is limited let’s just focus on today. My brain feels muddled, and I’m thinking it probably has to do with the cold I’m still battling, but geez, what happened to my brain cells? Just moments ago I walked past my stove, saw 3:00 on the digital display, and thought 300? What am I cooking at 300 degrees? Yeah, Sher, that’d be 3 o’clock…and yes, that is the same stove you’ve had for years. I mean seriously? Sometimes I wonder. This was right after I spent ten minutes explaining to my four-year-old that I cannot possibly come in and fix her covers every time she moves, and that I am smart enough to notice that she is intentionally kicking the things off to begin with. Apparently those ten minutes of being superior to a four-year-old mind drained the remaining intelligence I had stored up. And heck, I’ll bet even though she can’t tell time yet she would’ve noticed that the little amber oven light wasn’t on before she blabbed (even to herself) about what was cooking.
I really wanted to talk about soaps this week, but then I read things like Katrina’s Soap Journal at EOS (http://www.eyeonsoaps.com/soapjournal.htm) and Coggie’s FWIW at Soap Town (http://www.soaptownusa.com/fwiw.html) and I think I should probably just shut up and read more often. I really wanted to say something intelligent about the cancellation of Port Charles, but I find I can’t swing it just yet. I have all sorts of thoughts swirling around about it, but they’re intermingled with things like “Why can’t I remember to change the birdbath water…am I begging for West Nile or what?” and “I really wish I could remember where I put the fingernail clippers…I just know it was in a special *never get lost again* kinda place…” I guess I’ll wait for the brain cells to regenerate a bit before I undertake a tribute to a lost soap.
Summer’s here (The season, not the character…have I mentioned that my attention span is weak? Beware non-signaled topic changing!), and I’m feeling rather melancholy. I don’t think I’m having an actual life crisis or anything, but I’ve had childhood on the brain recently. I realized this year, watching my girls (6 and almost 5) run around in the sprinkler and asking repeatedly why they have to wear clothing outside, all while wielding butterfly nets that only seem capable of catching frogs, that I am finally understanding the old “youth is wasted on the young” adage.
It’s sad isn’t it? Kids cannot really appreciate the freedom they have. We went to an outdoor concert this weekend; a couple of 50’s and 60’s groups were playing their two hits apiece along with covers of many popular oldies. As I sat watching this adorable little pink dress clad toddler make her way out into the lawn in front of the bleachers and shake her hips to the music while wagging a finger at her mother in front of who knows how many people, without ever glancing at anyone but her target audience, I wondered if anyone is capable of getting those moments back. I glanced back at my daughter behind me and she was using her empty water bottle as a microphone, trying to lip synch to a song even though she didn’t have a clue what words came next. It didn’t take long before she realized the water bottle made a better saxophone (at least for those that don’t know the words), and it wasn’t long after that before parental control had to rear it’s ugly head since she lost control of what had now become an air guitar and it almost hit someone else as it flew out of her hands. What I wouldn’t give for the opportunity to whack a few people over the head with a plastic bottle and fully expect them to just hand it back to me so I could go another round.
I think back, and I’m almost certain there was a time when I didn’t care what anyone else thought of me. Honestly, if you had asked me a few years ago I might have tried to deny ever feeling that way because I couldn’t really remember the feeling, no matter how hard I tried. Now though, when I watch my girls play their silly games with each other, I get flashes of doing things that I obviously wouldn’t think of doing had I cared what anyone thought. After listening to my girls watch someone they really, really love light up a cigarette and then telling him that he shouldn’t do that because it’s bad for him…and knowing that even if true it probably made him feel badly, I realize that I probably haven’t always weighed every word out of my mouth as carefully as I do now.
The strange thing is that I remember the moments that helped take that freedom away from me more than I remember the freedom itself. I remember when I started feeling silly, self-conscious, inept, or just plain stupid in front of people. I remember having my curiosity curtailed. I was watching my great-grandfather, a couple of great-uncles and my dad play Euchre one night. Euchre was always a great mystery to me…everyone concentrating and playing each card carefully, then suddenly laughter and words like “trump” and “bower” thrown around while everyone threw in the last few cards of their hand in a big pile…I always wondered why they tried so hard to just throw it all in before the hand was over. And why tap the table instead of just saying pass? Was it a special rite of passage or what? Anyway, I’m watching them play, and I notice a couple of cards sitting next to my dad. They weren’t using them; they were obviously just sitting there alone…so I picked them up and proceeded to mess around trying to learn to shuffle (with two cards, lol – gotta start small ya know?). When he noticed that his scoring cards were gone…along with whatever score was showing on them, he wasn’t too happy obviously. Now it makes sense and all, but then I just felt small and stupid for touching something that they all thought I should have known not to touch.
I remember my second grade teacher as the first woman that really seemed to dislike me, just on sight. Until then, I had wonderful teachers that made me feel important and smart. Mrs. Ross made me feel the opposite, and I doubt she even worked at it as hard as those that made me feel good. I really thought that it was obviously *just me*, because I wasn’t doing anything different than I had been doing and I’d not had this problem before. Just being myself was obviously not good enough anymore…not when you’ve made it all the way to seven. Third grade though, third grade brought Mrs. J…and she was the most beautiful creature, inside and out, that I had ever laid eyes on, and she knew how to make a kid feel special with just a glance, and so all was right with the world again. I guess looking back; I can see that I have quite the history of basing the rightness of my world on outsiders. It’s a terrible position to be in.
It translated into my growing up to become one of those people that can’t accept a compliment, is suspicious of those that can, and figures that everyone who intentionally jumps into the spotlight deserves the “who do they think they are” treatment. Some do deserve that, I suppose, but not everyone who decides to get up and enjoy life instead of watching from the sidelines does. It just never occurred to me that someone might be doing something because they enjoy it, or just because they like to have a good time…no, they must be self-gratifying (like that’s a bad thing) and full of themselves. Not me though, I’d rather be full of what everyone else thinks of me than be full of myself…right?
About halfway through the concert, a lady in her early thirties or so, and a lady that was probably her mother, in her fifties, made their way down to the lawn. They went up behind where the last groups were sitting on their blankets and started dancing. They waltzed (or something…I don’t know dances, sorry, lol) to some slow songs; with the younger one teaching the older one some steps along the way. The younger one obviously knew what she was doing and after a while the older one left and a younger man made his way down. The couple danced all sorts of routines and such – he threw her up in the air, etc., they were really good. And mostly I wondered if they were trying to make the front page, or what. And yes, “showoff” probably crossed my mind two or ten times. A short time later, and elderly couple got up off their blanket on the lawn and started dancing as well. They weren’t quite as showy, but they had obviously been dancing together for a good long time. He had these adorably cute, old man moves that charmed me to no end, and I found myself smiling almost as big as I had when the toddler was out there.
Once in awhile, I’m actually fairly intelligent and it didn’t take all that long before I realized that I had mentally put the couple that was closer to my age in an entirely different category than the others. Somehow, to me, it was okay, even sweet, to see the others get up and enjoy themselves but when someone whom I could directly identify with did it, it just felt wrong. I wanted those two to sit back down, stop showing off and behave themselves. I’m ashamed to say I felt that way. Apparently, I think it’s fine for children to let loose and enjoy life, because hey, they don’t know any better. It’s also great to see the older folks loosen up…because they’ve earned the right, right? Youth may be wasted on the young, but maybe life (at least the fun parts) is wasted on me.
Don’t think I haven’t tried to get past the need to wonder what everyone is thinking about me, because I have. Yes, I have also heard the Dr. Philism stating that if I could see how often everyone else thinks about me, I’d see that they don’t. The tough part is realizing that while I try to tell myself that it is about everyone else and how they look at me, it really is just about me...me wondering about everyone else. It all comes back to me. It would really be much easier on me if it were the fault of all of you out there, *sigh*.
Here’s the good part though. I’ve been starting to see it for years, and it’s becoming clearer all the time. Even as a child I worried, but when I think back now I can see a lot of fun. I can remember spending all summer in the pool in the backyard, across the street wading in the creek, in the field behind our yard picking wild strawberries, riding horses bareback all over the woods, spending hours on end doing nothing with my best friend. I’m thankful that children seem unable to let worry completely overtake their lives. I look back now and I realize I wasted way too much time in my late teens and early twenties, worrying about how I looked or if so and so thought I was hot. Truth is, I’ve seen the pictures, and I was hot. I look now and I wonder why on earth I was so worried for all that time…I should’ve enjoyed that time and basked in my hotness. But no, I worried, watched, and wondered what everyone thought. I didn’t enjoy myself nearly as much as I should have and I started down a path of letting myself be guided by my fears.
When my children came, I had a realization that if I didn’t start changing what I set my compass by, I would inevitably raise children that were much too conscious. I’ve worked hard at it, and to an extent I’ve been successful. I try to foster the wildness in my children, I try to never make them feel that they should be embarrassed for who they are. I get down on the floor and play with them, and I delight in their goofiness. It’s difficult to override years of conditioning though, and I’m sure I’ve failed a time or two. I realized while watching the dancers though, that while I’ve changed my outward reactions, I haven’t really changed my inner dialogue much at all. The young couple dancing intrigued my daughter and when she pointed them out to me, I grinned and nodded and acted like I thought it was marvelous, for her benefit anyway. That doesn’t work though, and I should know better than that. All of this explains why my thoughts drift so often toward childhood summers lately though. I feel like if I could just catch a tiny bit of what I felt back then, lying around drip-drying in the sun, maybe I could remember how to not have a care in the world…even for a few minutes.
I know it’s a process, and I feel it working the older I get. I feel my self-conscious worries slipping away sometimes and I keep hoping for that feeling to last for longer and longer periods of time. And now, I feel my need to project my inhibitions on other’s slipping away. Somehow I thought when I got married, I wouldn’t care anymore. Or when I became a mom, I wouldn’t care anymore. So far, those things haven’t been the sudden fix-it I thought they’d be…mostly because I somehow brought myself along to both of those unions. There are no more expected big life-changing events in my life, so it’s time to stop waiting for something outside to just *change me*. I’ve got no desire to wait for an unplanned or catastrophic event to do the deed for me, that’s for sure. So I’ve changed tactics, and while I started small a few years ago, I’ve been working my way up to the big stuff. I’ll get there, and there’s no pressure really since we’ve already established that I’m not into keeping score.
Is it that youth is wasted on the young or is it that we can’t fathom that they live life fully, without worry, concern, or restraint and that IS the highest form of appreciation?
Surprisingly, my brain feels less muddled all of the sudden! Sometimes you just need to get a few things off it, and the mind bounces right back *wink*. Thanks for listening to my rambling, and for wading through what probably amounts to a nightmare for you grammar and punctuation police (I love me some comma’s, that’s for sure, lol). I’ll be back soon with something a bit more sudsy for ya.
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