Monday, January 21, 2008

Stress, Distraction and Resulting Actions

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.


Loth said...

Hilarious Heather. The omelette could be me. My boys still enjoy teasing me about the time I lost the car keys, ranted about it and then found them. In the fridge.

Dragonstar said...

I'm with you on the omelette and the memory. What mother doesn't have these lapses?
And I adore the toothpick story!

JCK said...

This was HYSTERICAL. Mostly because I can relate so well. Especially to the shower thing. Did I take my vitamin? Did I use deodorant? (That answer can become increasingly obvious later in the day. And the funniest thing I heard was of my friend whose husband entered the kitchen and found her trying to put the toaster into the freezer. We, especially as moms, go on automatic pilot. Hopefully not to the endangerment of others, but for the AMUSEMENT of others.

Kellan said...

So funny and sooooo sad! I can relate to all these stories - except the toothpick one - haven't done that yet! Raising children is certainly stressful and definitely kills some of our precious brain cells. I think our kids will survive - we did. Take care. Kellan

Angie @ KEEP BELIEVING said...

I have put leftovers in the tupperware back into the tupperware cabinet. Brian found it 10 days later or so all moldy and stinky when he went to pack his lunch. I can totally relate. I love seeing you in Jack. Too Funny

Anonymous said...

I've had forgetful moments while cooking forgetting to add the sugar to a pumpkin pie once...then serving it to all my inlaws. Tasted worse than chewing on boot leather. LOL.

And I'm so going to try that tooth pick trick! (Well, not swallowing it...but pretending to do so...)

Mrs. G. said...

I believe the medical term for this is MOMNESIA. I have suffered from it for the last seventeen years. I've heard that long vacations with no children can improve the symptoms.

Unknown said...

Glad it is not just me! Maybe we could put together a support group, oh yea that would be reading blogs!!


Jennifer @ Fruit of My Hands said...

"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."

Oh I do this too. Thanks for the laugh, glad I'm not alone in the loony bin. :)

Lucille said...

BOY can I relate! Your story was just perfect and I really enjoyed it b/c it sounds so familiar..wait, what are we talking about? LOL!

I swear I can't complete an adult sentence at dinner most nights.

I will smile each and every time I eat a brownie from now on!

Have a great day!