I know I’m supposed to be a grown up. And most days I’m pretty successful at pulling it off. Like so many other Real Women, I run around taking care of people, being a good worker bee, maintaining our home, running countless chores, unsuccessfully dieting, trying to have a style other than wrinkled yoga pants, self-coloring my hair, encouraging my son to do his homework so I don’t have to try to assist with Algebra, being a crazy fur parent, attempting to stay up on current events, and in general being a responsible adult.
Once in a while, though, I’d like to stop adulting. Not because of the work, or the responsibilities, or the taking care of others, or even the dieting. Well, ok, that last one is a lie, I miss being able to eat whatever I want. And I could do with out grocery shopping and having to pay bills. But otherwise I’m fine with most of what we all have to deal with, and enjoy my role in life. What brings me to the point of wanting to go hide in a blanket fort under the dining table is the incessant barrage of bad news and controversy we see and hear every time we turn on our TV, computers, phones, or pick up a magazine. We can’t even escape the craziness by watching our favorite shows or sports – politics, anger, frustrations and worries have seeped their way into what used to be our safe zones.
It’s not like bad news and scary national and world events are new. After all, I was a child during events like Watergate, the Iran hostages, Three Mile Island, Son of Sam, the deaths of Elvis and John Lennon, the Jonestown massacre and the Eruption of Mount St. Helens. The difference was that there was no daily internet connection, no social media, only 4 tv channels, a couple daily newspapers and radio. We got our updates when we could, and carried on. We had other distractions. And, best of all, I was a kid. I had a vague comprehension of what was going on outside my personal world; but I could leave the grown ups to discuss Nixon, Ted Bundy, or the gas shortage and I could go play with friends and pretend to be Wonder Woman or a horse or a dancer. I could go play basketball with my brother in the driveway, or play board games with my BFF. I could close myself in my room and put on my favorite records and dance and sing like I was performing on a stage. I could climb up in my favorite tree with a book until mom called me down for supper.
So on days when I just don’t want to listen anymore to the ugliness, and I miss being able to tune out and go into my childish world, I take a few cues from the old days and find other forms of distraction. After hearing the first round of key news stories in the morning, I turn the channel or turn off the tv. I follow more dogs on social media than humans – I scroll past all of the angst-ridden rants until I find a cute video of a puppy, kitten, or prancing goat. My family and I have even stooped so low as to start watching Family Feud while making dinner. It is ridiculously goofy and downright stupid and mindless. We shout out answers, until I have to remind my husband that the contestants can’t hear us. I don’t climb trees anymore, but I do go for bike rides, or take the dog for a walk. I don’t dance in my bedroom, but I do crank my favorite tunes while cleaning the house or driving, and sing along. I don’t do a BFF sleepover every weekend, but I will get together with other RW’s for supper, or shopping, or just relaxing, and all current events topics are off the table. Instead we talk about girl things, family life, food, and our pets. Eventually, through each of these moments of time, we reach the point that at least briefly we can forget about leaders and dictators trying to out-bully each other, or who said what and who was insulted by it, or what next danger lurks around the corner.
I think as long as we can all take turns between being on watch as the adults we are, and shutting down to play like a child, we’ll preserve our sanity and our energy. We all from time to time need to be able to mentally and emotionally climb into our blanket fort and feel safe, calm and happy. Then when it is time for dinner, we can come back out into the big world, pull up our big girl pants, turn the news back on and go back to being adults.
Just don’t judge me too harshly if I’m still clinging to my teddy bear.