With my drastically improved brain chemistry, I rarely feel any road rage anymore. I wouldn’t say the anger I used to experience while driving ever rose to the level of causing me to do anything reckless, but it was still of fine, blood pressure-raising caliber and always incited a muttered recitation of some of the most creative combinations of nasty words I could summon to mind. This morning, when a woman in a tinny little Honda “Fit” cut me off, I recognized it as a situation where I would in the past have felt my temper flare. Instead, I felt a small, muted “grr” somewhere deep inside, and some idle contempt for her car, but not much else. Wondering if I could summon up some good old fashioned vitriol, and after a quick glance in the rear view mirror reassured me that my kids weren’t in the car, I self-consciously shouted, “Bitch!” just to see how it would feel.
Ugh. First, my lame invocation bounced rather thinly around the interior of the Santa Fe, reminding me that my own car is kind of flimsy. Second, the ensuing bitterness in my mouth was as if the word had squirted straight out of a piece of Freshen Up gum, filling my mouth with a dulling, lukewarm venom instead of with a burst of sweet, minty flavor. So clearly, shouting obscenities is useless when there’s no feeling behind it. It sounds half-assed and silly.
Stranger, though, was the physical reaction in mouth, which quickly spread straight upward into my brain. Is that what non-depressed people always feel when they say something mean, or was it just a quirk because it was contrived ugliness? Either way, it felt bad and decidedly unnecessary, and made me wonder WHO AM I? Having children and popping anti-depressants has made me a big old sap.
Meanwhile, I have yet to report on our Christmas trip. We survived the airplane travel, although man, it is it a pain in the ass to get through security with two small children and all their accoutrements. Once in Charlotte, we had a great time with family, and it was a pleasant change to have other people around who actually wanted to entertain our kids. A couple of highlights from an otherwise fairly typical (although strangely devoid of dysfunction) family holiday were:
1. Our trip to NYC was cancelled. Asshole snowstorm. (OK, just learned, some calling of names still feels familiar and good. Maybe this morning’s existential brain fart was only because I hadn’t yet had breakfast.) The only upside of having our long awaited romantic getaway ruined was that I was sick anyway, so our trip would probably not have been as fun as it should have been. Instead, R. and I booked a room at the Ritz and spent an evening watching a Broncos game at a bar and eating Thai food. That was followed by a bath in the awesome tub (for me; I was sick, after all), a 12-hour sleep in our fabulous bed, and room-service breakfast. All in all, quite a heavenly fallback provision.
2. There is a group of schoolchildren in Charlotte that idolizes Ian. One of R’s sisters is a teacher of 4th graders with special emotional needs, and she has been telling them about her little nephews for months. She asked us to come by her school one day so her students could meet the boys, so we did. We fully expected the kids to ignore us and our children and generally to continue on with their lives, but we could not have been more wrong. When R’s sister introduced Ian to her class, you would have thought a rock star or the Messiah had entered their midst – seriously. A delighted call of “Ian!” lifted the rafters, and many of the kids rushed up to see him and even to touch him. One boy grabbed Ian’s hand and announced that Ian wanted to hold his hand, while others just lightly touched his back and peered at him wondrously as if he were a benign little alien. The kids spent the next 20 minutes showing Ian around the classroom and finding fun entertainment for him, never seeming to realize he was much, much younger than they. One girl asked if she could take his picture with her cell phone.
With all of this adulation, you would have thought our two year old might be scared or at least befuddled – but no. He acted as if such behavior was perfectly natural and verily, his birthright. It was really something to see, and extremely sweet. It made me happy that that there is place for kids whose emotions are a little more fragile than the average to be nurtured and nurturing; where nobody makes fun of them for being kind-hearted and gentle.