Saturday, December 18, 2010

Words: When They're Cheap and When They Matter

X-man and I read the book Library Mouse last night. I picked it up for him down at the Tolono Public Library this week. It's apparently a series of picture books we're going to have to keep reading. The first one was all about a little mouse named Sam, who lives in the library and decides one day after reading and reading and reading books that he's going to write one of his own. So he does. He puts it in the biography section and a child finds it. Then he writes another one. Pretty soon the library is in constant surprise and excitement about these wee little books that show up everywhere. So, the library leaves a note out for Sam the mystery writer to come to a "Meet the Author" event so the children can get to know him. But he's a mouse. And that idea scares him. Instead, he ends up leaving a surprise for the children so they too can become authors.

X-man was very excited about the book. It was a great representation of how words can encourage and support other people.

But words can also infuriate you. Yesterday, MacTroll and I were at our financial planning office. We had just switched planners because ours took a full-time job closer to her home in Mahomet. I liked our last one. She was a Mom. She got how things worked. The new one hadn't met me before. And -- um -- he made a giant mistake in the first 10 minutes of meeting me. He started going over our portfolio of investments and various ways we should move money around and think of protecting ourselves through various insurance policies.

We were looking at life insurance policies. Recently in open enrollment at the Fruit company, we upped my life insurance coverage on the suggestion of our old financial planner. Because to replace me, if I died, would be expensive if MacTroll kept his current job. It would require someone like a live in Alice from the Brady Bunch or Mrs. Livingston from the Courtship of Eddie's Father. Maybe MacTroll would have to move closer to family in Balitmore, etc. These are thoughts no one likes to have, but she had a point.

New guy, I'm going to guess because he's a guy... basically said that I was financially unimportant. Nice, huh? But MacTroll, he's worth blah, blah, blah, blah. It's not like I didn't spend years in therapy when we made the choice to move here trying to weigh out and get comfortable that I pretty much gave up my career to focus on my marriage because our careers were totally ripping us apart from the inside out. I sucked it up. I thought I'd only suck it up for a couple of years, MacTroll would get tired of traveling and that would be that. But that never happened. Then we had X-man, and I saw a great need for me to be at home more to offer him a certain amount of stability. So, when I can, I've had temporary part-time jobs pretty much everywhere: The Champaign Public Library, teaching at Millikin University, working at Curves, and substitute teaching at Mother's Morning Out.

You don't have to tell me I don't make a lot of money. I get my Social Security update every year, and have slowly watched my financial contributions to the household go down, down, down, down each year. And the more MacTroll travels, the more our family likes to have its freedom to pick up and vacation to get in some quality time. Because sometimes being in this house drives me mad, and X-man is a traveling dream.

I shouldn't have gotten so bent out of shape about it. And clearly the guy noticed my reaction to his words, because instead of withdrawing and glaring, I became more involved. I leaned forward. I engaged, and I didn't take my eyes off the guy. In response, his hands were shaky, but not nearly as shaky as his speech. He had trouble finishing sentences, operating his computer, etc. Yeah, I know he's used to dealing with people nearing retirement not people in their 30s. But I made him nervous -- and all I had to do was be me. I never thought of myself as intimidating, but apparently, according to MacTroll, I can be. But really, he just should have said, "Loosey's life insurance is looking great." And then gone on to talk about increasing MacTroll's.

When words don't matter is when I'm sitting on the couch watching my child make transformers out of his Legos. He's never seen the show, but he gets enough info from other kids in his life. The Decepticons are currently taking out a hotel and the Autobots are coming to save the people in it. Of course, he had to take apart all of his advent Legos to make the Autobots. Why he couldn't use his giant bin of legos, I don't know. I'm watching him build, create and engage. He looks up and notices me staring at him. I smile. He smiles. Then he puts down his Legos and comes over to get a hug, and back to Legos he goes. In Toddler studies, we referred to this as the check-in.

Words also don't matter when you're sitting at a Holiday Pre-school show with your husband and your child is so totally into his dance moves that he jumps up and SHOUTS THE WORDS while he does one of the moves, realizes he's been really noisy, looks embarrassed, but then notices his parents staring at him in delight and gets back to his dance -- because we're clearly proud. Then there's the silent hand from your husband that immediately slides over your knee and squeezes.

The people you can interact with wordlessly are few and far between. When the quality of the relationship transcends needing to be verbal most of the time, there's a definite connection, even if your conversations are extraordinarily verbose. As it is, this blog entry is far too long... Next time, I'll just put up a single photo. :-)

1 comment:

the sandwich life said...

no, no, no, this blog post isn't too's perfect!