And you laugh. Which is never a bad thing.
I was quite honored when Jamie asked me to guest post on her blog. However, having never guest-posted before, I wasn’t exactly sure which direction to go in. Do I write about blogging? Writing? Storytelling? Humor or lack thereof? The many crazy thoughts that run through my brain between the time I write something and the time it goes live on the web?
Not coming to a suitable conclusion, I decided to do what I normally do – write something down and see what happens.
I was a born worrier. Maybe it’s an oldest child thing. Maybe it’s a chemical reaction in my brain. Maybe it’s because I grew up in what I affectionately call “the house that caution built.” (If you think I’m a worrier, you should meet my dad. He taught me how to do everything from ride a bike without training wheels to improving my chances of escaping of a hostage situation alive.)
When I was little, I remember having two recurring nightmares. One involved the Incredible Hulk coming to my house for me and my mom.
“We have to empty out the cabinets,” my mother would say in the dream. “We’re going to hide there so he won’t find us.”
I could squash the fear from that dream as soon as I woke up because I did realize that a cartoon character couldn’t really hurt me. (I always dreamed about the cartoon character, not Bill Bixby.)
The other nightmare was about being captured by a giant ant who built a huge ant hill in our front yard. Since I remember being far more afraid of bees than ants, I’m not sure about that one, but I’m not one who can explain a five-year-old’s brain.
I was forced to conquer my fear of ants and bees by a nanny who didn’t consider bugs a big problem.
“If there’s a bee on the porch, you walk right by it like you don’t care,” she’d say. “It won’t bother you if you don’t bother it.”
She was right, but I took some very rigid walks across our back deck to my sandbox.
“And if there’s an ant hill, you just don’t touch it.”
Again, practical and true.
I was also a very curious child. I liked all sorts of topics from looking up dog breeds to constellations and presidents, and I was not one to hold back with the questions.
(Sometimes I think my nanny encouraged me to watch soap operas just because keeping up with all of the love triangles and switched-at-birth babies kept my mind busy.)
For my exhausted mother (“can we talk about why giraffes are the way they are after dinner?"), I’m sure the Little Thinker series of tapes seemed like a great idea. After all, give me a tape deck and I can listen to information on all sorts of topics in the privacy of my own room without having to ask anyone question after question after question. Plus, every tape ended with a time to draw and color about what you had learned.
Unfortunately, the tape I was most fascinated by covered the topics of quicksand and earthquakes. (Why something on natural disasters and oddities was cleared for my age group still strikes me as a bit off.)
With that tape came two new fears. The softball field across from my house was now a potential mine field of sucking, suffocating hidden sand traps. And the earthquakes? Well, those came without warning, so constant vigilance and being closest to the doorway of any room seemed like the only way to prepare.
My world of looking both ways before crossing the street, stranger danger and not eating plants in my yard even if they did look like little strawberries now had quicksand and earthquakes. I wasn’t sure I wanted to know what else was out there or get a quick rundown on every lurking danger.
Luckily, my parents did always find time to answer questions eventually (and some of those drawings might have been a little disturbing), so they soon explained to me that quicksand was incredibly uncommon and mostly in other countries, and earthquakes only happened in California.
Check that state off a young Laurel’s list of dream vacations – Disneyland or not.
Now I know that the answers to those questions are slightly more involved than what I got, but it was certainly enough to take those two big concerns off my plate for awhile. I was calm again. There were no more Little Thinker tapes, and I could go back to my never-ending quest for information.
“Why do eggs always come in dozens? What if you just wanted to buy one egg? Would they let you do that …”