I was an odd kid. I didn’t think so at the time of course; I don’t know many kids that think they are odd even if they are. Now as an adult, I think about how concerned my parents probably were about me at times in my child hood. How concerned I would be if I had a child like me.
For one, I was a total and complete klutz. If there was one thing on the floor in a football field sized area, I would find it and trip over it. Sometimes, I just tripped over my own feet. I fell down stairs, I fell up stairs, I fell off of stairs. It was bad. At two I fell over the side of our basement staircase. I fell from the top straight to the cement floor below and landed on a five gallon bucket. I caught it with my mouth, which sounds awful but it was probably the only reason I didn’t die or suffer a traumatic brain injury. My teeth were extremely loose for awhile but I was otherwise fine. I didn’t even have permanent tooth damage. I broke my leg in three places at age 7, broke my left arm at age 9, got the cast off and broke it again a week later. I broke my right arm at age 10 and the hospital began interrogating my poor Mom, obviously she must be beating me. I think that was the reason she took me to a specialist. He told me if I broke one more bone, he was doing a bone marrow test. I swear hearing the details of that procedure scared me straight. I had a good long streak of health before I broke my foot at 14. Since there had been four years between broken bones, I didn’t have the test. My parents just accepted the fact that their middle daughter had two left feet and there is no cure for that. Since then, I’ve had broken toes, jammed fingers, had burns, bruises, bumps and various sprains. I’m still pretty klutzy, but thankfully not to the extreme that I was as a child.
As if being a physical mess wasn’t bad enough, I was also a bit of a head case. From the time I was six or seven, I dreaded going to bed. I would lie there, awake and nervous, listening for every tiny noise in the night. Sometimes, I heard ghostly voices coming from my closet or under my bed. I would try to close my eyes, but I just knew if I opened them again, there would be a white misty shape hovering over me waiting to throttle me to death or scare me into a catatonic fit. I stared so hard at my closet door that I convinced myself it moved. I would watch my alarm clock radio and swear the dial turned all by itself. Other times, I would hear something and convince myself that there was an intruder downstairs. I imagined him skulking through the house, stealing all of my parents’ prized possessions before slowly climbing the stairs, entering each of our rooms and murdering us in our beds. I would go over every possible scenario in my head. How to save my sisters, how to alert my parents, how to hide. Eventually, I would be so terrified and my imagination would get so wild, I would just throw up. I needed help throwing up at that age, so of course I always woke up my Mom. She would hold my hair, rub my back and try to figure out why I threw up. She’d take my temperature, go over what I had for dinner that maybe didn’t agree with me, and basically pull her hair out trying to figure out why I was fine all day but got sick every.single.night. She asked if I was scared or nervous or worried and I would always say no. I didn’t want to explain it all to her, to go over all of those dark fears and thoughts because I already knew what she would say: Ghosts don’t exist and no one was going to hurt us. I knew she had no way of really knowing that though, so I wouldn’t have believed her anyway.
As I got older, the worries changed. My Dad worked on the road and was gone from Monday morning until Friday afternoon. I constantly worried his plane would crash. I worried that he’d be in a terrible car accident one dark and frosty morning when he’d pull out of the driveway. What if he had a whole different family in Kokomo Indiana, or Rochester New York, or that one place in Iowa? What if he just left and never came home to us again? My Mom worked during the day and had one social function on her calendar, bowling. Her league bowled on Tuesday nights, and she would stay out late. Nellie was in charge of us from 7:00 or so until Mom got home, usually by 10:00. Sometimes, she’d hang out with the girls a little longer and would get home around 11:00. I was supposed to be in bed by 9:00 but I could not go to sleep unless my Mom was home. I couldn’t. I would go to my room at 9:00, lay in the dark in my bed and worry. What if she got into a horrible accident on the way home? What if she hit a deer? We lived in the middle of woods and fields. Deer run across the road and it is extremely easy to hit one with your car. Generally, it isn’t that big of a deal. In my head though, it was a very big deal. The deer would fly into the air, crash down on her windshield, and smash her to death. No one would know because she took back roads home, so she would be trapped in the car and die all alone. Meanwhile, we would be left motherless. Or, what if our house caught fire before she made it home and my sister couldn’t get us out? She was only fourteen or fifteen, she wasn’t a real adult yet. How would she even know how to make a sheet ladder for us to use to climb out of the windows? My spine would tingle, my stomach would churn and I would feel frozen with fear. Every set of headlights that shone down our road, would make me pray it was her. I begged God to keep us all safe. I still worried. I still threw up. My poor Momma, not knowing what else to do, took me to a gastroenterologist who made me drink liquid chalk and performed an upper GI. Everything looked fine.
I got my worrying under control by the time I was a teen and was occupied by different, less dramatic concerns like boys and friends. After I had children, the irrational crazy-pants worrying came back, and still remains. Right before I fall asleep, the idea that Truman may not be breathing pops into my head and sends me into tailspin. I wake up in the middle of the night grabbing for Grant, sure that he has somehow disappeared from his place along side me in bed. I come up with scenarios that seriously make me question my sanity. My rational, calm inner-peace is constantly battling the dooms-day nut job in my brain. It is exhausting and embarrassing. At least I don’t vomit anymore.
Mostly, I hope that my kids don’t inherit this lunacy. I hope they are carefree and unencumbered by anxiety and stress. I hope they never waste time worrying about things that are out of their control, and I try really hard to not show outward signs of this character flaw to them. I remain calm when Truman falls, even though I want to scream bloody murder, pull him into my arms and cry with him. I try not to panic if Grant gags himself, and instead calmly check to make sure nothing magically fell into his airway as I imagine it did. I am still working on the worry for my own well being. It may be too late for my odd inner child, but I feel like I’m young enough to save myself from being an odd old lady. Well, let’s be honest, I’ll still be a little odd no matter what. The goal is to be an odd relaxed old lady.
Were you an odd kid? What do you worry about?