Wednesday, October 6, 2010

an upside down look at today

Ok, let's try that again. After a few hours geeking out over the data bases in my university library (they've connected it to google scholar!!! I can find scholarly articles on ANYTHING!!) during grad class, a bowl of cookie dough ice cream, a nice glass of wine and a very cheesy dinner (in that order), I'm ready to approach today from a new angle. At least to give it a go, right?

I was four when my mother came home from the doctors crying because she'd found out she was having twins. I, of course, thought she was crying because they were both boys, but she assured me that no, she was happy they were boys. This made me cry-if she was happy they were boys then we couldn't give them back.

After getting over the shock the baby sister I'd dreamed of was actually two boys I quickly accepted the fact that God had clearly given my mom one baby for her and one for me. Why else would she have two at once?  As a four year old I was learning to share, and here was the perfect example- my mother was about to share with me. I was about to have my own live baby doll.

A baby doll that spit up, screamed, needed to be fed all the time, never went to sleep, and that caused me to get in trouble if I decided to use his overall straps to carry him around the house. By that time I was five and thought I was being clever. Cats carry their kittens by the skin on their necks. I'd tried to carry my baby brother that way but there wasn't enough skin (sorry Robert, you always were used for my parenting experiments), so I used his overalls instead. I still don't understand what my father was so angry about.

Regardless, I forced my way into a lot of parenting responsibilities at a young age. As my brothers' second mother I needed to be there for all major behavior discussions- needed to monitor their bad behavior, observe how they were punished, follow my mother's lead and ignore/reprimand when needed. Since I was always there being nosy my mom did a great job of teaching me about child development and what was and was not ok. (It was not ok to make my two year old brother curl up in my baby cradle, but it was ok that he wanted to run around outside naked).

 I became very accustomed to the noisy atmosphere of young boys- and became somewhat of a child-developmentalist, watching my brothers very closely to see if my mother's explanations about how two year olds act were correct. This was brilliant on my mother's part- instead of being very angry at my brothers I spent a lot of time wondering what they'd do next, and then wondering how my mother would react to it.

And as anyone who has two younger siblings I became very, very accustomed to how to react when someone touches or throws your stuff. You watch carefully, chuckle along with the adult in the room, and plot revenge. Or at least, make them clean up every last piece of doll house furniture they broke, with lots of "look at my face, I am SO SAD when you broke my toys", which I learned from my mother.

So today, when I stood at the door of the classroom watching the items on my desk fly across the room I was momentarily taken back to my childhood, watching my twin brothers go through the terrible 2s. I wasn't so upset that my stuff was taking flying lessons, as I was curious- what's going to happen next, where are we going from here, and how on earth am I going to make him clean all of this up? Because I certainly was not picking up each one of those paper scraps and putting them back in the note paper box.

Either my childhood motherhood prepared me for my career, or sentenced me to it- but that's just chicken or egg squabble.

When I walked in my house today I was met by a card from my childhood best friend, who'd been equally fascinated by my two baby brothers. (Ironically she was obsessed with them as babies, while I was far more interested in them as they became capable of doing things. She became a NICU nurse and I became a special education teacher. What does this say about my brothers and their normalness?)

The card is one of those curly girl design cards and on the outside read "I am fairly certain that given a cape and a nice tiara I could save the world". On the inside she wrote, "Somehow this card made me think of you. Maybe you're saving the world one child at a time." I looked at it for a long time, thinking about how it came today of all days. I certainly don't feel like I was saving anyone today, but the card itself reminded me of the bigger picture. Today was just a day. Things were thrown but they were picked up. Tomorrow will be another day. Baby steps toward something bigger.
However, if anyone wants to give me a tiara I'd happily wear it. Maybe that would improve my mood these days...

If all else fails, in the famous words of Kevin Henke through Mr. Slinger, "Today was a difficult day. Tomorrow will be better."

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