Neuroses for Dummies
Q: How do you spot a neurotic?
A: Come to my house.
I'm doing a good deed. One of the fathers at Colin's SDC (special day class) needs someone to transport his little girl, S, from class to the babysitter so that he and his wife can finish their respective work days. He approached me on the playground before school on Friday and brought the subject up. Okay...he flat-out asked me if I could do it.
I was happy to. While he has to rush back to meetings and power coffee-klatches, all I have to rush back to is a dumpsterload of laundry that I didn't create.*
We set everything up, exchanged phone numbers (he had six...I had, well, one--my brief foray into the new millennium ended this spring when Colin threw my cell phone into a sink full of soapy water). We were good to go for today, and each day of the week for at least the next several months. The sitter was local. He'd even driven me there on Friday so I'd have a dry run and wouldn't get lost. Nothing to it. Right?
So why was I TERRIFIED of doing this?
It seemed like a good idea last Friday, but this weekend, the more I thought of it the more my stomach clenched. I was, well, nervous. Nervous of driving a little kid three miles. Things escalated until last night I suffered insomnia over the thought and woke up with a killer stress headache. Come on. What gave?
And then, suddenly, as I was driving to pick up Colin and (gulp) big, scary, 28-pound S, it hit me: She talks.
This is a child who talks.
I'm used to driving around one kid who doesn't speak at three months, and another who doesn't speak at three years. I babble at them incessantly, but none of it matters. It's all for me. It's all just time-filler, sort of a verbal masturbation, if you will. I ask how Colin's day was, but I never expect an answer, so I'm able to buzz right on to the next subject, which might be the weather, bad fellow freeway drivers or Barney--take your pick. It really doesn't matter. I could be discussing the 9/11 conspiracy theory and its relative points for all either of my boys care.
It's not like I've never had a talking three-year-old. I did. But that was (counting on my fingers) 17 years ago. I'm out of practice. What did I used to say to him? Did I talk to him in a high-pitched baby voice, like I still do with my now-preschool middle son? Or did that offend him? Oh, I don't remember, I don't remember! What sort of jokes did he like? Or did he like jokes at that age?
Sweat running down my brow, I reluctantly got out of my car and collected Colin and S while juggling Evan over one shoulder. I settled them all down, buckled them all in, and started driving...
...and this Incredible Talking Kid LAUGHED the whole ride.
Yep, laughed. Why? Christ only really knows. It was adorable, I'll give it that. Every few minutes she'd scream out "COLIN!" to make him turn around. They'd look at eachother. She'd laugh some more and so would he. You'd never know one had mastered grammar and syntax while the other still says "me me me me me me" when he wants juice.
Whenever there was a silence, I'd say, "Why were you laughing?" and they'd start all over again.
And as an aside....it was kind of neat how her verbal skills and his lack thereof didn't figure at all into their in-the-car-communication.
Well, if THAT'S all it takes to keep an Incredible Talking Preschooler happy, then what the hell have I been worrying about?
Ah, well, don't worry...when you're a professional neurotic, there's always an obsessive fear just around the corner. I'll think of something.
*Just so's ya know: that was a little bit of literary license. I actually do more than scutwork. Currently I'm working on a month-long writing project. So THERE.