1. What I most want for Christmas:
A magical inoculation against perpetuating the parenting mistakes of my parents.
Recently I caught myself saying to Kay, "It makes me sad when you don't listen to me."
"I make you sad?"
"Yes --" D'oh. Oh no. No please. Do not let me be doing this. First do not let me be confirming my toddler's developmentally normal, but if-not-outgrown,-emotionally-stunting, belief that she is responsible for everything that happens, will ever happen, or has happened. Very top of my list of the ways I hope never to repeat my parents' mistakes: I do not want to encourage or allow them (or me) to believe that they are responsible for my emotional state. Wow. I suck. I totally suck. I can't believe I did that. What did I just read about what and when it is appropriate to apologize for your parenting mistakes to your children? I don't remember. Wasn't the gist of the article that the important thing is to be the kind of person you want your children to be -- including responsible for one's errors, yet self-compassionate... Okay, ease up, Phoebe.
" -- um, well, what I mean is..." Wait, how long have I been silently thinking? This brings us to number two on the do-not-repeat list. My father's always explained his mid-sentence disappearing act as having a brain that thinks too fast; if you think of it as similar to how distracting browsing the internet can be, that's apt. Too much information available at any one time. You start out to consider one thing and notice a link to something more or less related and from there to something else and from there to something else, and so on -- and soon you are far away from where you started. This is not a problem when you are daydreaming at a desk all by yourself. In the middle of conversations, it's a hazard, and annoying. How many minutes of my life have I sat waiting for my father to return to complete his sentence? I'm sure it would be startling amount of time. I wonder how one would figure that out? Dear god, how do I get back to where I was, now?
"--- um... hey, are you listening to me?"
Kay looked up at me, wary and thumb-sucking -- a look to break a mother's heart.
"I really love you, you know that?"
She nodded. I sighed. Well, that's what's important, isn't it?
Oh geez, Santa, give a girl a hand...
2. Someone's out-of-town folks are in town
Out for a walk, Dee and I passed an older couple who gave us the giveaway shy smile of strangers in a strange land. I've made that offering myself in countless places: "Hi, I mean to be friendly, but I don't speak your language. Sorry" -- all hopefully conveyed in a smile.
On the shorter side with tanned wrinkled faces, and stooped shoulders, nondescript clothing draping inelegantly from their bodies, they looked like elderly peasants from another time and a very different land. They paused halfway through a crosswalk, which seemingly unbeknownst to them they'd entered during a green light. They wanted to let a car that pulled up to the intersection pass in front of them. The driver looked confused -- his light was red. The couple gave their shy stranger smiles and tried to wave him through, and then, realizing he wasn't going to pass, proceeded slowly across his path just as their light turned red.
I was so grateful the driver didn't honk at them as they stiffly ambled the rest of way, her hand on his forearm. May their visit be a good one.