By: Ann Brown
I need to keep some things to myself. I am beginning to notice the looks people give each other when I start spouting off. For instance, I have two topics that never go over well at dinner parties.
One, is that sometimes when I am in the same room as a man, I fantasize about kicking his ass. Is that twisted? Hear me out. I don’t wantto actually kick his ass; in fact, I know that unless he is dead drunk and tied up (not that I’d ever fantasize about that) I probably couldn’t do it anyway. I honestly don’t want to hurt anyone. I won’t even wear sheepskin. I just wonder ifI am capable of doing it, you know?
This post, however, is not about that little quirk. This is about the other one:
I believe that- given enough time and the right teacher – I can learn to do anything. Yes, anything. Well, no, not anything – not shit I am just physically incapable of doing, like pole vaulting or reconciling my checkbook. But pretty much anything else. Like……learning to do heart surgery……or speaking backwards….or building a rocket…drafting a Senate bill….I believe that is within my grasp. Key to my position, keep in mind, is the caveat of infinite time.
Probably half of what I can’t do is a result of my lack of interest. I possess an embarrassing dearth of curiosity. I think it stems from my fear that if I use up brain cells for shit I don’t care about it, I will be left unprepared when, say, my life depends on learning a secret code word or when I am called upon suddenly to name the Supreme Court Justices or when I have to remember which kid is deathly allergic to bee stings. A decent amount of brain space has to be kept available for that kind of information.
It was hard to be a mom of two curious children who wanted to, I don’t know, learn things. The first years of motherhood filled up my brain with dinosaur songs and I am here to tell you that if you think algebra is useless in later life, try finding a reason to remember this:
My name is Stegosaurus, I’m a funny looking dinosaur,
And on my back are many tiny spikes and on my tail there’s more
My front two legs are very short, my back two legs are long
My body’s big, my head is very small, I’m put together wrong.
By the time my son’s dinosaur phase was over I was alarmingly low on brain space.
The most effort I put into supporting my children’s intellectual curiosity was to buy those laminated place mats with Flags of the World and The Solar System on them. And even then, when they got funky, I threw them out and bought earth tone hemp ones from The Pottery Barn.
Here’s what the books don’t say and what friends won’t tell you when you are pregnant: it is really boring to raise smart kids. They want to talk about the shit they learn. They want you to listen to them. And you have to mute the TV and pretend you care that the rings of Saturn are made of ice and dust. I remember when my kid was about five or six years old, he came home all whipped up about a new dinosaur that had recently been discovered. Or renamed. Or exhumed or quilted or something. As he recounted with wide-eyed excitement the plethora of details of the new dinosaur, I tried – really tried – to pay attention to what he was saying so I would have something to add or ask at the end of the lecture. My head started to explode and finally, I murmured, “excuse me, sweetie” to my precious son, opened the freezer door, stuck my head into a bag of frozen peas and mouthed the words, “shut up, shut up, shut up, shut the fuck up!” until I was able to turn back to him, smiling.
I have always felt bad about doing that. Until a few days ago when I was telling my son all about my new blog and I saw the look in his eyes. The shut up shut up shut up shut the fuck up look. And I knew that, more than twenty years later, I was boring him to death.
I feel better.