I Am The Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog

What? I don't look like a killer rabbit to you?
What? I don’t look like a killer rabbit to you?

Tonight I am celebrating because today I did something way out of my comfort zone. And I survived!

A few weeks ago, the boys’ school hired a company to make a promotional video that would be used on its website. The company planned to interview teachers, administrators, and students. They also wanted to interview some parents. Anyone who knows me knows that I cannot stand to be on video. I hate it. Emphasis on the word hate. Did I mention hate? It makes me so uncomfortable I want to puke. I loathe video chat. I wholeheartedly believe Facetime was invented solely as a torture device. If someone brings a video camera within 20 feet of me, I disappear faster than a case of cheap beer in a college freshman dorm room. I would honestly rather have a full on Brazilian bikini wax by an aesthetician student than appear in front of a camera. When I first saw the email asking for parent volunteers, I immediately resigned it to the Trash folder. There are plenty of volunteer opportunities at the school, I reasoned. There’s no need for you to jump in on this one. I was not going to do this. No way. No how.

But as the week wore on, that email vexed me because I knew I was exactly the kind of person that should be talking about that school. With not one but two sons with learning disabilities there, with our six years’ worth of struggles as we tried to discern how best to help our boys, with the exponential growth we’ve witnessed in them over the past eight months, I was a poster-child parent for this project. I was being a coward and I knew, that like Emmett in The Lego Movie, the self-doubt that plagued me was keeping me from reaching my true potential. I opened the Trash folder, found the email, and responded that I would be happy to help with it. I clicked send knowing that I was doing the right thing. The minute I heard the whoosh sound, I felt the bile rising.

I put the whole thing out of my mind because I figured there was no point stressing about it for weeks. Deep down I knew it would all be fine and that I was doing my usually brilliant job of making mountains out of mole hills. Over the weekend, with the video date rapidly approaching, I made a conscious decision not to think about it. I would not pick out an outfit or practice speeches. I was going into this with the most laissez-faire attitude I could muster. I’ve been working on this skill lately…trying not to borrow trouble. It would all be fine, even if my hair wasn’t perfectly coiffed and I stumbled over some words.

Today was video day, and I went in more or less off the cuff. I had an inkling of things the interviewer might ask. I prepared myself for those questions. I was feeling fairly confident…right up to the point when I walked into the room with the big video camera, boom mike, and lighting set up, and saw a single wooden stool in front of it all. I did my best to give useful answers, but found it challenging to be articulate while I was simultaneously reminding myself not to slouch, touch my hair, or look anywhere but at the interviewer. I’m not sure how long I was on that stool, but it felt like forever. As the minutes wore on, I felt my cheeks turning pinker and rounding the corner to full-tilt-embarrassed red. Finally I gave an answer that seemed to satisfy everyone, and my time in hell was over.

As I was walking to my car afterward, I found myself somewhere between needing a drink to relax and needing a drink to celebrate. I’d done it. And, despite the fact that I was now rethinking every single comment I’d made (on camera about my children in front of school staff, nonetheless), I was proud of myself. I had gone out of my comfort zone and faced a dirty, rotten fear. On the drive home from school, I quizzed the boys about their fifteen minutes of fame and then I talked about mine. I told them how good it felt to do something I really didn’t want to do but knew I should. They asked me if I was glad I did it. At the next stoplight I grabbed the Bunny Buddhism book (I carry it everywhere these days) and shared this:

Bunniness is not learned in safety. One must seek unfamiliar ground and hop without fear.

Like the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog in Monty Python and The Holy Grail, I go forward prepared to leap upon any challenge that darkens my path. There are no fluffy bunnies here. Bring it!





Doing The Oblivious Backfloat While Swimming In Denial

You know how you know something is happening, but you don’t really see it until you have photographic proof? This happens to me a lot with weight gain. I feel okay about putting on that extra ten pounds until someone catches a shot of me at the dinner table at Christmas and suddenly I’m thinking, “Whoa…wait a minute. What happened here?” as if I am shocked and hadn’t actually noticed that my pants haven’t been fitting lately. Well, today, my sister took a family photo for us at the corn maze we were at with our boys. As I was going over the photos again just a few minutes ago, I was shocked to find that my oldest son is now tall enough that the top of his head reaches my shoulders. I looked at the photo a few times to verify this. Then I called for a second opinion.

“Steve…I think Joe has grown. He’s almost up to my shoulders,” I told him.

“Yep. He sure is,” was all he said. I’m sure he was thinking I was a complete numbskull for not having noticed this before.

“When did this happen?” I asked.

“It’s been happening,” he said. “You haven’t noticed?”

“Well, yeah. I mean, I knew he was getting bigger but I guess I hadn’t realized how much bigger. Someday he might actually be taller than me,” I said.

“Let’s hope so,” he replied.

“Do you think he’ll get facial hair too,” I asked.

“If he’s lucky, he’ll even get more of it than me,” he quipped.

“You know…when I said I was okay that they were growing up, I wasn’t really focusing on this part of the actual growth process. I’m not prepared for them to go through puberty, start shaving, and lock themselves in their bedroom for private time. I don’t want their cute little voices to change. How will I know they’re still my babies when that happens?”

My darling husband looked at me as if I’m a loon which, let’s face it, I am.

“Let me see the photo,” he said. Then he peered at my laptop. “Huh. I don’t think I’m that much taller than you either,” he continued, clearly thinking something was amiss with the photo.

“You’re six inches taller than me,” I informed him. How can he not know this stuff?

“Are you sure you’re not standing in a hole?” he asked.

“What kind of crater-like hole I would I be standing in while in a flat corn maze? Maybe it wasn’t me at all? Maybe you were standing on a hill?” I shot back.

“I’m just saying that maybe he’s not really quite as tall as he looks in the photo,” he continued while ignoring my snarky attitude.

Me and the boys in 2009

Joe’s in bed right now, and he’s actually sleeping and not just watching My Little Pony on his iPad. (Oops. Wasn’t supposed to mention that my 11 year old son is currently enjoying watching that show on Netflix because that tidbit might embarrass him. Oh, paybacks. How I love thee.) It would be counter-productive to wake him up and ask him to stand next to me so we could measure his height. At his last physical, though, he was measured at just over 54″ tall. I like to say I’m 65″ tall, but I fudge that number by at least half an inch, maybe more. All of this means that it’s completely possible that he is shoulder height to me. When did this happen? Just three years ago, he was teeny.

It’s funny how sometimes it takes photographic evidence to convince us that time is marching on and our children are growing up despite our best wishes. We go from day to day in such a dizzying rush, trapped in the now of running here and there, and we truly can’t see the forest for the trees. My boys are growing up. And, although I know that as they inch higher and higher in grade school, it’s not the same as seeing them standing up to my shoulder in a photo. It’s not real until I try to pick up Joe and find it to be an incredible struggle now that he’s finally 70 pounds. I guess it’s easier to float along as a parent, just swimming in denial. Damn you, George Eastmann for pioneering celluloid film and the Brownie camera that led us down this slippery slope into a world where our images are continually being captured. It’s a lot more difficult to live in oblivion when you’re staring at the proof.