Help Me With My Scattered Brain

Scatter brain scatter brain – where are you now?  If there was a traffic cop that gave tickets to people whose minds are zooming, my license would be suspended.

“I’m sorry sir, but you need to step out of your mind.”

“But officer..”

“You’re doing 90 thoughts a minute in a 20 thoughts per minute zone.”

My wife has been out of town on business the last couple of days. So, my mom took the 90 mile trip up Route 95 and has been staying with the children and me. She is incredibly helpful though she often doesn’t think so.  A typical conversation:

“Don’t do the dishes.”

“I got it mom. Don’t worry.”

“Just let them sit. I’ll take care of it.”

“It’s okay mom. Thanks.”

“I don’t know why you don’t let me do anything.”

Meanwhile, her day has consisted of getting the kids ready and off to school, picking up a couple of things at the store, making the beds, taking the kids off the bus, and preparing dinner. A real slacker she is.

Despite my mother’s great help, the house runs differently when my wife is not home.  She has a system for everything – “that Thomas train does not belong there.”

“Uhh sorry.”

My wife is an organizational dynamo.  Doctors appointments, school meetings, after school activities – she knows the kids schedules backwards and forwards.  I am filled in on this information on a need to know basis. Actually, I remember the information on a need to know basis.

“Don’t you remember?  I told there’s a birthday party Sunday, karate on Tuesday, a school meeting on Wednesday, and Friday is a half day.”

“Yes dear.  Of course I remember. Well, I forgot about the half day, and I thought the party was next week. But, I got it now. We’ll handle it.”

The look of exasperation on her face and frustration during these conversations is palpable. She’ll rail about how we both have to be on top of things. She’s right, and I am on top of things – somewhat.

Well, this week with her out of town, I really did have to be on top of things. Uggh.  I miss her. I want to tag her, say you’re it, and hand off these worries.  I’m good at sharing.  Anyway, maybe then I can focus, and put the pieces back together of my scattered brain.

The Aliens Have Landed

Aliens landed at my house this weekend. No my family and I did not let out any blood curdling shrieks of terror, no one ran for cover, and no one saw their life flash before their eyes. These aliens were invited to our home.  In fact, guests were welcomed to celebrate the landing of these aliens.  
My 8 year-old son, to put it mildly, is a Lego Freak. I love him dearly but he is off his rocker for Lego and if asked, I am nearly certain he would say he loves Lego more than my wife or me. How to compare to this durable piece of plastic that can allow him to build anything his brain can imagine? I can’t, and I am okay with that.
Last year, my son had a Lego party. At the party, his classmates and friends built something out of Lego, partook in some Lego games, and got Lego candy as part of their goody bag.  The other kids seemed to have a good time at our version of Lego Land.  When my wife asked our son about a birthday party this year, he answered clearly and without a hesitation that he wanted a Lego party. “But,” she tried to reason “you had a Lego Party last year.  Don’t you want something different?” When he did not change his mind, she tried another track – “but your friends are going to be bored. You can’t have the same exact thing as last year.”  This caused him nearly two seconds of consternation and with that time passed, he blurted out, “This year we can make it a Lego Alien Conquest Party.” He was clear and did not want to consider any of our ideas. So, my wife accepted his decision and determined that if this is the party he wanted, this is what she would give him.
Now, this turns into a men are from Mars and women are from Venus sort of story (kind of fits well with the alien theme too – how convenient).  My wife is a closet party planner. She immersed herself into all that is Lego Alien Conquest and ultimately did the same for our house.  She decorate our house from the front door to the playroom with pictures of Lego aliens.  She made a cake with a Lego alien on it, wrapped Hershey bars (for the goody bag) with a Lego alien minifigure, set the table with Lego Alien Conquest colors, and bought Lego (set 7049) for each attendee.  I assisted in cleaning and shopping and occasionally told her she was nuts and to relax. I can be helpful like that.
So aliens really did land at our house this weekend.  My son and his friends enjoyed the landing.  He should thank the Alien from Venus who doubles as his mom.

No Need to Yell

We all have different ways of handling anger.  At least part of the way we handle our anger is dependent upon how we are feeling at the moment. I am generally a calm person. However, if I am in an annoyed – kids kept me up, train was late, students were rude – mood, I can be cranky.

The other day, my children and I were in a parking lot as my older son had just completed a Karate lesson. The boys and I walked back to the parking lot, got in the car, and began sorting out snacks (they are ravenous at that hour). As they were finally content, I checked the mirrors and readied to back up and go home. All of a sudden, someone started banging on the front passenger door. “What the heck?” I wondered to myself. I looked up and saw an older gentlemen flailing his arms. He along with his wife were clearly angry at something. He was blabbering on in what I perceived to be Russian (there is a large Russian population in my town). In a moment, I realized he was not pontificating about the pros and cons of another Putin presidency but instead there was a scratch on his car. Clearly, he felt that the scratch was caused by my or my children’s negligence.

While I was not sure that my boys or I had caused the scratch, I apologized. He mimicked, “Sorry, sorry.” What did this man want? I asked him and at some point he told me to pull my car up. What? There was a brick wall in front of us and besides, what was the point of that request? I refused. He continued yelling and went and stood behind my car. Was he going to scratch up my car with his key, hold me there? I had no idea. I asked him, “What are you doing?” After a minute or so, he moved away. As I left, I apologized again and he was still yelling.

On the ride home, I asked the children if they remembered hitting the door by accident. While they said no, I reminded them to be very careful when getting out of the car. Even if they had hit the car, by that point, they probably would have been afraid to admit it. I tried to explain that the man was acting crazy because he was upset. When we are upset, we do not act reasonable. If you want something, you have to talk in a reasonable manner. My younger son brought up the incident throughout the rest of the day; as we were reading together at night, he said once more, “You shouldn’t yell, right daddy? You shouldn’t act crazy.” “Yes, that’s right,” I assured him. “We get angry but yelling does not accomplish anything.” Ironically, yelling makes the words louder but not more clear.

We try and teach our children the right way to handle things. Sometimes, those messages come through more clearly than others.




Trying to Make it a Habit

We all go through phases or trends. I’m sure some of us look at pictures and wonder “What the hell was I thinking?” as they examine their clothes, hairstyles, or girl/boy friends. We all have gone through “my parents are dumb” phases, “love is all you need” phase, “I can really make it as a clown” phase (or something like that).  Anyway, the question that is on my mind is when does a phase or trend become a habit?

Exercise. Hearing that word for some brings a smile and thoughts of invigoration, firm figures, and endorphins clicking. Then, there are the rest of us. I think of a Doctor in his/her white coat – maybe a finger wagging – and telling the patient “Now, remember Mr./Mrs. Normal, you have to exercise. I know we talked about this last year. You have to exercise at least 20 minutes a day five times a week or you will get further out of shape, contract a horrific disease, and die young.  Any questions? Have a nice day and see the receptionist on the way out.” Mr./Mrs. Normal exits, determined to change, and wondering about their life insurance.

In terms of exercise, well, I always take the steps and walk to and from the train or bus. I love to play basketball when I get a chance. I’ve always reasoned to myself that that was enough. After all, I am pretty good shape and my weight is good. Then there is my wife and kids – no they are not truly related. While family responsibilities keep me busy, in this case, it’s just an excuse. No more!  I am proud to say I have made some changes. Since just before New Year’s, I have been working out – really. My 25-minute workout includes the stationary bike, sit-ups, stretches, and curls. While I am still 5 1/4 short of a 6 pack, I feel good. No, not like one of those commercial testimonials that come on during the middle of the day. I feel stronger and a sense of accomplishment.

Have I made the workout a habit? I don’t know. I also don’t know what the doctor will say at the end of my visit. I’m curious. The more motivation the better.