I hate small talk for the most part. I hate the fact that people feel the need to fill an empty silence with mindless blather about the weather, some sports event, or “didja hear”s (usually followed by recounting of some death somewhere in the world). Just once, I'd like to say to someone I have just met, “Y'know, just before I got here, I had one of those life-altering dumps that feels like you've performed an exorcism so I'm not really in the mood to speak at the moment. Certainly not about the intricacies of why it's two degrees warmer today than it was yesterday, anyway.”
A maid comes in every morning where I work and we invariably have the same conversation EVERY SINGLE DAY:
She: “How you doin'?”
Me: “Fine and you”
She: “Oh I'm fine. How's your baby?”
Me: “She ran off with gypsies.”
She: “Oh that's good.”
Well, I don't tell her Syd took off with gypsies but the conversation is so automatic, I can't even remember what I actually say anymore. (Side note: I'm pretty sure I've mentioned Syd's five and not technically a baby but one of the corollaries of small talk is that after a certain period of time, you aren't allowed to correct a past mistake lest you make the other party feel foolish).
Anyway, that's not what I came here to talk about.
It occurred to me yesterday that I've forgotten what it's like to be a child. Very dangerous given my motto at the top of the screen. Two events triggered this revelation. The first was suppertime. I was working on something on the computer and Liza was preparing Syd's food. Shortly after she and Syd sat down, the phone rang in the office and she got up to answer it. After a couple of minutes with her on the phone, I got up and went to the kitchen. Syd was munching away slowly with a strange look on her face. It was kind of a sad look and for some reason, I felt guilty all of a sudden.
Do you remember ever eating alone as a child? It's not a fun feeling usually. Essentially, we dumped Syd at the table, told her to eat, then left her there. “Not such a big deal”, you say, “I do it all the time.” That's true, it's not that big a deal. Teach the kid that alone time is a fact of life and I'm not suggesting we need to coddle her every time she decides to ingest. It just struck me that I had forgotten the feeling of eating alone as a child.
Second incident isn't really an incident but an awareness of my answers to Syd's questions after I got to thinking of the dinner episode. She will often ask my permission to do something or if we can do something together. Like doing a puzzle. Sometimes I'll say yes and we'll do the puzzle and go on our merry way bonding like Super Glue. Other times, I'm tired or have something else to do so I'll say no. The thing is, I don't put any thought into my decision for things like that. Most of the time it's automatic. So what if I can't work on the puzzle with Syd? It's just a puzzle, she'll find something else to do. And she usually does.
But I remember asking if I could do something mundane and being so disappointed when I wasn't allowed. And on the flipside, there's that feeling of elation when Mom or Dad say, “Sure, go ahead, knock yourself out.” As parents, it's just a game or a puzzle or something little like that. But to a child, being allowed or disallowed to do anything fun is perceived as a life-altering event and most of the time, I ignore the weight Syd puts into my answers.
Again, I don't intend to spend any more time agonizing over whether Syd can play Xbox or ride her bike. Just that I had forgotten.