Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Catastrophization and Other Amusements

I wrote yesterday how I tend towards the "on the upside" in many situations.  I find the light at the end of the tunnel, the silver lining, etc. 

What I failed to mention was that "upside-ing" is my brain's attempt to avoid its natural state.
Catastrophization.  Or, as I usually think of it, "worst case scenario-ing."

Example 1:
My infant daughter, my first child, was amazing and lovely.  Wondrous.  But also didn't like to sleep for long stretches.  To say that I was sleep-deprived for her first year of life would be a ridiculous understatement.  My mental functioning was reaching alarmingly low levels. Which leads to:
Upon changing a nastily full diaper one afternoon, I blearily wiped the little bottom and powdered.  Then I glanced at the contents of the diaper --skittishly-- (I was not yet a seasoned mom, and such things grossed me out still).  I saw something.  Something ... fuchsia, perhaps.  Red.  I panicked.  MY BABY IS POOPING ODD-COLORED BLOOD!  SHE'S GONNA DIE!  Upon further (reluctant) inspection, it acquired a peculiarly unexpected form.  A mouse.  A toy stuffed mouse with pink ears.  It was maybe 3 inches long, and had been (pre-poop) rather cute. 
A toy mouse? In the diaper?
My sleep deprivation led me to the obvious conclusion:  Somehow, she had managed to EAT THE MOUSE, and POOP IT OUT. Then I wondered, "How on EARTH had she eaten it and not CHOKED TO DEATH?"  I'm such a neglectful Mommy!  SHE COULD HAVE DIED OF CHOKING ON A MOUSE!  And then, how did said mouse make its way through her entire digestive system without tangling it all up.  OH NO!  What if it HAD tangled it all up and she was GONNA DIE because of the mouse-induced tangle-age?

At this point, I called my brother.  He had no children at the time, and therefore was less sleep-deprived than I was.

He, luckily, had more of his brain active than I did.  He pointed out the obvious.

Child had inserted mouse into diaper PRE-POOPING. 


Then I recalled how I had taken to putting on her onesies backward because she tended to use her diaper as a convenient toy-storage device. (Reversing the onesie put the snaps on the back, rendering the onesie impermeable to her efforts.)


Once I hung up, my adrenaline was still racing through me.  I eyed the poopy mouse, mentally cursing it for exposing me as the lunatic 'worst case scenario' person I was.

I rolled it up into the diaper and shoved it vengefully into the diaper Genie.  Buh-bye, poopymouse. 

Setting: Our first house. Indiana.

I was very concerned with our first house.  It was adorable!  Well-kept.  Nice-looking.  It was home-ownership that had me weirded out.

So the fact that one corner of our previously dry basement kept flooding one summer had me extremely worked up. 
I worried about, oh, foundations cracking.  Previously-unnoticed underground lakes.  Sabotage.  Dogs peeing in floods of water-smelling urine?  I started to panic.  We knew that someday we'd move out of state.  WHAT would we put on the disclosure form?  "WELL, THE BASEMENT FLOODS RANDOMLY.  SORRY."  We'd never be able to sell the house!  We'd be stuck in Indiana FOREVER.  It would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to dig out the house, bash out the basement, and re-pour the foundation! 

But here's the thing.
The mystery.

It only ever flooded on the day after a beautiful day.  A clear day.  No rain. 
How, then, is it flooding?
Where in the hell is the water coming from?

This happened again and again.  All summer.  Gorgeous, dry summer day.  Beautiful night.  WATER EVERYWHERE the next morning.

Then I clued in to another mysterious coincidence.
It was ALWAYS the morning after I had mowed the lawn the afternoon before.

How is this possible?  HOW?

I put my tired-out, freaked-out brain to work.

Then one night, after I'd mowed the lawn, I heard a sound outside.  It was midnight.  A-HA, I thought.  OUR WATER MARAUDER IS HERE.  I shall find out the TRUTH!  Armed with my glasses, a big butcher knife from the kitchen, and my slippers, I slinked out the side door, hearing .... a noise.  A... spraying noise.

There, on the corner of the house (the 'flooding corner') was the bracket that held our garden hose.  Which was looped neatly on the bracket, getting it out of the way when I had mowed the lawn that afternoon.  With the watering timer still on it.  Turning on promptly at midnight.  It only turned on when it was dry outside.  At midnight, for an hour.

I sighed, lowered the butcher knife, and turned off the spigot.  I looked up at the Indiana midnight sky and wondered if this kind of thing happens to everybody.  Then I sighed again, and went back to bed.

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