I’m sure that many a scientist, doctor, psychologist and PhD candidate have performed studies relating to a person’s level of stress or distraction and how increasing the level of stress or distraction affects resulting actions of that person. If not, I would like to volunteer my life for such a study. It would be a simple study with a simple hypothesis that would be proven by guaranteed results: the higher the level of my stress and/or distraction, the more dim-witted or imprudent my actions, thus causing me more stress or distraction and more dim-witted or imprudent actions. Another conundrum of life as me.
Some examples? I have thousands, but I’ll limit it to a few:
At least once a week and probably more like three times a week, I find that, when in the shower, I can’t remember if I’ve shampooed my hair, conditioned my hair, washed my body, or washed my face. I usually remember doing at least one of these things, so only have to repeat one or two of them. And you thought the instructions “lather, rinse, repeat” were for extra soft and shiny hair. Nope. They are for people like me who can’t remember if they’ve even done it one time or not.
When making an omelet this weekend, I cracked three eggs into the garbage disposal and put the shells in my bowl before I realized what I was doing. I like a little crunch in my omelet, but usually from veggies and not so much from egg shells sans eggs.
One day at a BBQ at my mom’s house, my uncle Kiley was marbling brownies with a toothpick and a piece of the toothpick broke off in the brownies. Rather than throw out a perfectly good batch of brownies, they baked them anyway knowing that the toothpick would be found most likely when cutting the baked brownies. I was the first one to cut into the brownies. The center oozed. I thought nothing of it, assuming they were molten center brownies. Nope. They were raw. Did this phase me? No. I was distracted, or stressed, or both. Then, as I sat eating my raw brownie (no one noticed this, by the way) I actually bit into the toothpick. I thought, “Him, must be a nut.” Hello. Anyone in there? Apparently not, because I swallowed that toothpick. Just as I swallowed it, I light bulb went on causing me to remember that whole conversation about the toothpick in the brownies and whether or not they should be thrown away and that they could be saved because no one in their right mind would swallow a toothpick. That’s exactly right. And no one in her right mind did swallow a toothpick. I said to everyone, “I found the toothpick,” and they knew immediately by the look on my face that I had swallowed it. That provided for some good laughs, and made me feel like a hero for finding the toothpick before anyone else, like my grandma, had a chance to bite into it and swallow it like I did. Kiley felt so bad for not fishing it out of the batter, that what else could I do but make him feel worse? I taped a piece of a toothpick to my neck and put a little bit of BBQ sauce on it so it would appear as if the toothpick had poked through my neck. When he came into the kitchen I said, “I don’t feel so good.” I got him, but only for a second. Eating that toothpick was totally worth it.
And, as some of my worst traits are, this stress and distraction with resulting actions conundrum is projected onto my boys, through no fault of theirs and through every fault of my own. A couple of weeks ago, my husband was out of town and I was trying to get some work done before driving the boys to school. After getting dressed, I was letting them eat breakfast up in my office while watching a show, as I hurriedly tried to finish up a couple of emails. I lost track of time, and before I knew it we had about 5 minutes to brush our teeth, our hair (which involves copious amounts of water to get it to lay flat), get on socks and shoes, gather our things and get ourselves out the door. I know it’s not the end of the world if a 1st grader is late to school, but he doesn’t like to be late and I don’t like him to be late. So what did I do? I went on a tirade. That raised everyone’s stress level to the nth degree. And Jack, being very regimented as I am, had to poop as he always does in the morning. “Do it quick,” I said as I finished getting ready and then turned to the task of getting Luke ready. Luke and I had coats and book bags on and were ready to head out the door, and here comes Jack out of the bathroom. Naked. “Where are your clothes? Why are you naked? We’re late for school!” “I’m sorry. I got confused. I thought it was bath time.” As you can see, my stress and distraction projected itself on to my poor son Jack, who got so stressed and distracted himself that he stripped himself naked. My poor children. At least they'll have something to tell their therapists one day.
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