Unsympathetic. That’s me. When one of my kids chooses a stupid action which results in an injury, after checking for blood and consciousness, I tend to roll my eyes and say, “Well, you should be more careful.” I rarely swoop in with a flurry of hugs and concern. In the old days when I blamed myself for being imperfect and measured myself against Ma Ingalls of “Little House on the Prairie,” I would have considered this proof of my failure as a mother.
Now, I just view this as a personal quirk, an endearing quality, one of those weird things about me that make me myself and which also makes me rational during emergencies. I regret that I’m not all sweetness and light, in the same way I regret that my right pinkie toe insists on rolling to the right, but what can you do, really? I’m pragmatic. (Once, I observed out loud to a friend of mine, “You’re so pragmatic!” and I think she felt insulted, but I meant that as a sort of compliment. Isn’t it better to be realistic than bubbling over with pointless emotion?)
This afternoon, thunder rumbled and lightning flashed. Here in the Pacific Northwest our rain is usually delivered without drama. We just tolerate day after day of drizzle and gloom, no fuss, just muss. No light shows, no audio.
The kids (only three here at the moment, age 9, 9 and 5) were dazzled, and one of them (a visitor), said, “I’m shaking. I’m terrified of thunder. Once, when I was four, I was getting into my pajamas and the thunder hit and I fell over.” And I, Miss Sympathetic, said, “Oh, well, you’re fine. Go play. It’s just a storm.”
And a little later, I followed that comment with, “Hey, look! Stop speaking your phobias aloud because she is borrowing that from you!” I finally told my daughter that storms don’t kill anyone. (At least not here in the Northwest, at least not often, at least not in the house, not while I am in charge, so there.)
My tolerance for fear is low. Either something terrible will happen or it won’t. No need to freak out. Save that emotion for something that matters like wondering whether your children will ever really grow up and and leave the house. Also, will someone please tell me why everyone who lives in this house except for the teenagers is capable of putting their dirty laundry in the laundry receptacle I put in the bathroom? They must be blind; how else to explain the dirty clothes discarded next to the basket?
And in conclusion, I’d like to mention that my family room ceiling still has a hole in it because the leaky shower drain has yet to be fixed. (I think our friend, Mr. Fix-It, has forgotten us.)