Friday, August 29, 2008
Re-Direct Me, Please
Re-Direct Me, Please
by Barb McKone
Way back before college bills, before cell phones and I-Pods and hot flashes, we parents learned a very basic parenting skill. Those who didn't learn it were washed away in the swift and horrible tide of endless dealing with every single question and problem our children posed instead of just a manageable fraction of them. That skill is called re-direction.
One of the greatest things about re-direction, or distraction, is just how darned often it can be used. And, if used properly, it has nearly a one hundred percent success rate. When the child is very young, crying over a stubbed toe, the mom, while rubbing said toe and consoling, says to crying child, "Guess what?! I bought some bubbles at the grocery store today!" or even just, "Ooh, what a pretty cloud. Have you ever seen a cloud that looked like a pony before?" Sore toe forgotten. But, that mom had better have those bubbles. Re-direction is the art of replacing one situation with a new, more acceptable situation or just diverting attention long enough to direct that attention to another subject. When the child is in middle school, anxiety over some terrible assignment or grade on a test may be replaced by: "Hey, don't you think that new boy in your class looks like a Jonas brother? " or perhaps just, "All right! New episode of Lost tonight! Do you have time to watch?" It may not be quite as successful, but, temporary distraction is better than none at all.
Life has been busy lately. I believe I've fully given in to the mid-life crisis. Between fretting about jobs and sending kids off to college and late-night calls from the emergency room by that new college freshmen and inexplicable wakeful moments in the middle of a perfectly good night's sleep, I've been feeling a little overwhelmed. Isolated. Exhausted. Bogged down and just, well, down. Self-absorbed, perhaps, without realizing it. And until tonight, I didn't realize what I needed.
I needed to be re-directed. And I was, tonight, by one historical televised moment.
Even though it's been understood for months, I almost couldn't believe what I was watching. It was surreal. I'm sure many in the generations ahead of me were shaking their heads in disbelief, but my generation always knew it was possible. We knew it would happen some day, but wondered if it would occur in our lifetimes. There were times it seemed less probable than a man walking on the moon must have seemed fifty years ago. We have an African American Presidential nominee. And what a nominee he is.
Regardless of political party or background, any American has to admit that tonight was truly historical. I watched the acceptance speech with tears in my eyes and a combination of awe, joy and fear in my heart. It was awesome, wasn't it, to see that diverse crowd, cheering their unified support? To hear the words of promise and change? To think that we might, just maybe, really be less dependent on foreign oil in ten years? And it is terrifying, isn't it, to think of the danger posed to this man and his family? And what about the pressure, should he win, of being the first person of color to lead our country? Just the thought of it makes me quake in my slippers.
So, I've got something else to think about tonight. Something new. I'll sleep better, knowing that we are a country willing to shake things up a bit. I think I might even go to bed smiling instead of worrying. My thoughts have been re-directed to a world of optimistic possibility. I may get that wonderful new career! I may get through an entire week without a parenting crisis! I may even, at long last, not wake up before sunrise and end up cleaning instead of sleeping. After all, anything is possible! If you don't believe me, just ask Barack Obama.