This afternoon I'm washing dishes when Kiddo asks me: "Mom, what's a laser?" I give him my simplest answer first, reminding him of Venus the Cat, the kitty who lives next door and who loves to pounce on a little red dot of laser light. When we take care of Venus, this is Kiddo's favorite way to play with her; he's figured out how to point the laser right at the end of a rag rug, so whenever Venus runs to catch the light, she skids quite hilariously a few inches. One of those 'real life is truly better than tv' moments.
This explanation isn't enough. "Is that all lasers do?" I am remembering a conversation he's mentioned from a day or so ago, where a couple fellow preschoolers invited him to play the way preschoolers usually do: "We are robot police and you're the bad guy and we will shoot lasers out of our eyes and kill you." Naturally, he declined the opportunity to be exterminated by the sci-fi killer cops and found another buddy to go play with. However, hitting on this memory, I expanded the laser conversation, mentioning that sometimes doctors use lasers to help people correct their eyesight or as a tool when they are doing their work. Then I added (thinking of Dr. No all the while) "And sometimes, in movies or on tv, there are stories where people use lasers to shoot or kill, but that's just pretend. Those stories aren't real and real people don't do that."
Then, I decided to teach him a secret it took me until the ripe old age of eight or so to learn. "You know, if someone is playing that they are going to hurt you with lasers, just tell them you have a force field." I said force field like it was the coolest, most awesome amazing thing ever. Like it was something everyone would want--that is, once their older brothers told them about it. Don't have an older brother to tell ya? Awww, ain't that a shame. Too bad your mom isn't cool like me and doesn't know about force fields....
Seriously, though, this post isn't about Kiddo being invited (so often, these days!) for dungeon duty or being given the chance to be the bad guy... this is really about me.
I want a force field. A freakin' huge force field.
I want one that can shield me, first and foremost, from complaints. An optimal force field, set on maximum strength, would make it so I'd be seeing lips move, but no sound. Nothing. No griping. If it worked for the radio, even better! Can you imagine how much better NPR would be without all the cranks? Tales of plight and woe from a war torn country--I can tolerate that. That's not griping--that's just another reason to be thankful for how good I've got it. But some of the rest of what I hear these days, even out of the mouth of my own babe: Force Field!
I'd also like some Responsibility Rebounding Capability, please. Such as: "oh, no, don't put that off on me, that is not my responsibility, that's yours, now take it and make it so." All the little jobs that people I love somehow want to place in my lap.... right back in yours!
How about a simple setting for "Quiet, Please" which could put the entire world on mute, no matter what the content? This morning I was getting the eye--and lots of talk--from a rather, ahem, unusual woman at the bus stop. It was bordering on very strange and all I could think was "if it wasn't raining, I would so walk home with this big bag of groceries because this is not worth it". I like a little quiet when I'm out and about; I like the anonymity of no one needing me Right This Minute or wanting me to focus on them or fix their dinosaur house or wipe their nose or bottom. Understand--I am an introvert for the most part, and that includes most of the minutes my kid is in preschool. Extroverts see social opportunities as a wonderful thing. I do not. It's worse than just social anxiety ("I want to talk to people but feel so awful") , it's anti-social anxiety: "unhhhh-- I'm gonna hafta talk to people--gawwsh"* in the same way one would talk about other unpleasantness. Like, say, swallowing a box of thumbtacks or a plateful of snakes. I'm out of my Mom Domain, so if you don't know me, Quiet, Please.
If it worked for the olfactory system, that would be great too. How about a "I Can't Smell Your Funky Stink" setting? I'd pay big bucks for a force field with that capability, especially when I visit the library these days. Last weekend the entire dvd section in the Fiction Library smelled like a locker room... a very stanky locker room with week-old cigarette smell. Instead of having to breathe through my mouth, the Force Field activates and a bubble of pleasantly nothing-smelling oxygenated air is supplied.
I could go on, but I believe my Force Field is reaching comic-book proportions, so enough already. But just remember, when your little one comes to you with complaints of playmates trying to invite them to play, but only if they'll be the vilified 'bad guy' who comes to pretend harm-- Force Field! If that doesn't work, or the trash talk gets too tough, then there's always that other standby to fall back on: "I am rubber, you are glue...."
*And just in case you were wondering, no, I do not despise talking to everybody. If you are my friend, don't get paranoid now. I'm not talking about you-- it's just those horrible Small Talk/Large Groups of Strangers gatherings that make me want to fake cramps and run on home, and those forced conversations borne of circumstance or a crowded bus shelter... can't we all just get along, silently?