I admit that I tend to over react at times. I have to fight my desire to run through each day with my arms flailing in the air while screaming “The sky is falling, the sky is falling!” This past week provided a perfect example of this character flaw. My mom accidentally picked Jack up from daycare on Tuesday rather than Thursday. When he wasn’t at the daycare when I went to pick him up, my mind went from “My silly mother got her days confused.” to “I’m going to have to file a silver alert and Amber alert at the same time!?” Trey did a good job of trying to distract me by needing errands run and assuring me that I was simply being neurotic. All is good. Mom had Jack. The daycare did nothing wrong. Deep breath…deep breath…
I wish I could say this was an isolated scenario but what fun would that be!? I’ve overreacted throughout my entire life. I remember screaming at my parents to put down their beer because D.A.R.E. had taught me what alcohol could do to a body. “YOU ARE KILLING EVERY BRAIN CELL IN YOUR HEAD!” This past year when my dad was dealing with multiple health challenges, I sent a text message that said something like “Are they going to amputate? Have you done a DNR?” His reply of “Sheesh!” clued me in that perhaps I had taken it a step too far.
My overreactions tend to fall into the following categories:
1. Medical overreactions – I don’t get sick any more often than any mom of a toddler. When it does happen though, I immediately assume I have the worst case of [insert condition here] that has ever been. And in my experience, doctors tend to give their patients the entire spectrum of possibilities. I understand that some people prefer to know all of the possibilities. However, when a doctor says “It is probably a muscle strain but could be a compression fracture” guess what I assume I have!? Oh my gosh…my back is broken!? Or “it could be an allergic reaction but it also could be Rocky Mountain Tick Fever” quickly escalates to “I HAVE A TICK DISORDER!?” I need medical professions that minimize everything. I won’t sue if they are wrong, I just need to not to know the worst case scenarios.
2. Finances – I wish I could have a dollar for every time i have assumed we were a day away from bankruptcy. Granted, we have had our moments of financial insecurity and are certainly not Bill and Melinda Gates, but we are ok. I know this. I can see our accounts one moment but the second Trey says “Let’s wait until next paycheck.” or “Lauren, I need you to stop buying crap on zulilly.” my heart begins to pound and I immediately begin inventorying our belongings for an impending trip to the pawn shop. Trey calmly reminds me to disconnect my emotions from our bank account at least once a week.
3. Behavior – I want my boys to be healthy, smart, and happy. Every night I pray over each one “Lord, may he always be healthy, happy, and know that he is loved.” We work to supplement their education through life experiences and at home lessons. We are involved in our church and continue these lessons at home to help them develop in their faith. We feed them healthy food and encourage them to run, jump, and exercise. Above all else, I want my boys to be kind. I have met lots of people who lacked health or intelligence but were kind. I’ve also met people who seemed to have it all but were not able to extend themselves beyond the end of their nose. While the vast majority of the kids I work with in counseling are great kids, there have been a few over the past 11 years who continue to haunt me. I think of these few children who lacked empathy and I double down my efforts to help teach my boys kindness. Sure, all of the above seems sweet and natural but this is about overreacting. My boys are active, physical, kinesthetic learners. They both have needed to engage their world. Objectively I can say that nothing either boy has done has been outside of the realm of “typical” but with each rite of passage, I cringe and immediately assume that my boys are developing antisocial personalities. For example, this morning Jack got into a fist fight with another two-year old in the church nursery. My rational mind tells me “He’s two. The nursery staff were on it. He went to time out and will learn that hands are not for hitting.” My irrational mind thought “Oh my goodness! The other kid’s parents will never speak to me again! Jack is going to end up in prison! He’s a social deviant!” See the constant battles in my mind? I took a deep breath and laughed it off…after reading “Hands are Not For Hitting” (a book I conveniently own) to Jack 3 times this afternoon.
4. Fear of fainting – I have an irrational fear of fainting. I recognize that I can’t die from fainting and that I’ve only fainted a handful of times in my life but I’m still afraid. The fear of fainting causes me to…ahem…faint. Fainting begets fainting. Its biblical, right? For example, in high school I had my eyes dilated during an eye appointment. Once my vision changed slightly, I began to fear I was about to faint and then I did. For the record, eye doctors are not accustomed to fainting and freak out a little. In college I fainted on a float trip after getting really cold and becoming afraid I was entering the unconscious stage of hypothermia and then I fainted. When my mom fell and broke her wrist, my dad called to tell us the news. While describing the unnatural bend of her broken wrist, he said “Well, it was gross. In fact it makes me feel a little light headed, Lauren.” Just hearing my dad say that he was light headed prompted me to sit on the floor with my head between my knees! My poor dad and I were simply not equipped to deal with my mom’s broken wrist. She should have known better!
Trey is not typically a overreacter. This is just another example of how we balance one another out. Does rolling one’s eyes require muscles? if so, his eye rolling muscles are probably the strongest in the region! Jack is too young to be an overreacter and I pray he continues to have Trey’s temperament. Logan, however, is cursed with the gene. This past week, as I was getting ready for work, I heard him scream. We met each other in the hallway and he told me he’d “sliced” his finger on a shard of glass. (we’ll save the story of why he had a shard of glass in his room for another time) I looked at his finger and could BARELY make out the teeniest, tiniest speck of blood on the tip of his finger. As I looked at his face with the words “Seriously!?” resting on my tongue, I recognized a glassy look in his eyes. His lips were gray and he began swaying. I caught him as he started to go down. Yep, he’s a overreacter too. That’s my boy!