Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Once Was Enough

Not one of us hasn't wished that we could relive something from our youth. Still believing in Santa; getting excited by the "ice cream man" coming down the street; the adrenaline rush of that first crush; staying up all night being silly at a sleep-over...There's a ton of childhood memories we'd all love to redo or enjoy again. But as I sit here slathered in ointment, cursing the wicked three-leafed plant that somehow came into contact with my eyes/ear/neck/legs, I can think of a few rights of passage that I would take a "pass" on repeating!

Chicken Pox: Everyone over 30 has probably suffered through this one. We've got the tiny little pits here and there that our mothers warned us we'd get if we didn't stop scratching. I personally have a lovely one dead center in my forehead. In the right light, I look like a very boring Hindu. Sometimes, our parents would intentionally expose us to siblings or neighborhood kids who had it so that they could just "get it over with." When my brother got it at age 6, my folks made my 5 year old sister sleep next to him so she'd catch it. Bastards! (Speaking on your behalf, Beth!). We all got through it as adolescents: missing 8-10 days of school, soaking in oatmeal and pawing away at ourselves as soon as we were left alone. It was like an itchy precursor to masturbation. (Not that I ever did that). But getting the pox, or worse yet, Shingles, as an adult is a whole other ballgame. I know several peers who've suffered through Shingles, and they've described it as "worse than childbirth" and "absolute hell." So thanks, but I'll pass on reliving this one.

Poison Ivy: the step-sister of chicken pox. It doesn't stay around as long, but bares a family resemblance. Had it a dozen times as a kid. It's evil. It's proof that if there IS a God, he's got a warped sense of humor: Inventing an attractive plant, spreading it everywhere, and then torturing you if you come in contact with it. My siblings and I got it so bad as kids that sometimes our eyes swelled completely shut. I'm going through a "mild" case of it right now, which serves as inspiration for this blog entry. When you're a kid with poison ivy, you get some slack and some pitiful glances if you walk out in public slathered in the pinkish and mostly ineffective Calamine lotion. Try going to Target as a 40-something with that crap all over your face. Snickers. Nothing but stares and snickers.

Public Periods: OK men, you can skip this paragraph. You bastards! Sure, you occasionally took a basketball to the balls on the playground and had to pretend you weren't in agony to save face with your friends. That's a cakewalk, boys! Imagine being a girl age 11-13 in 1978...the year of the disco White Pants craze. Now imagine getting a surprise in the middle of class. In white pants! Being an early, pre-white-pants, bloomer, I was the designated "go to gal" for these poor 7th grade saps. "Go see Suzanne, she'll know what to do!" They all thought I was a genius who invented the "tie your sweater around your waist" look. If I were really a genius, I would have always carried a box of pads and charged $5 a pop. Again, public menstrual outings are something we (girls) all went through at least once. As some women approach the age when schedules once again become unpredictable, public outings are getting fairly common place once more. Just like Calamine lotion, you get a lot more sympathy suffering through it in Target when you're in your teens than you do in your 40s! (Not that I ever had this happen!)

Well I'm sure I lost most of you with that last anecdote, especially the men! But do your own reflecting and remember things you rather easily muddled through as a kid that would be torturous to you now, as an adult. Being berated at work. Getting dumped. Losing a job. Having a relative pass away...All rights of passage that are much easier to bear as a child than as an adult. So let them enjoy chasing the ice cream truck, being surprised on Christmas morning and the rush of their first kiss. They've got a lot to look forward to. Let's not tell them about the rest...just yet!

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