I know of no one who likes having nightmares. Mine, personally, can be quite disturbing; a few nights ago I dreamed I was a Kardashian. I woke up with palpitations and breaking into a cold sweat. The following night I had a dream involving Jerry Seinfeld, Kathy Griffin, and Alyson Hannigan…and we were driving around looking for a ditch in which to throw a cowboy boot-wearing Ms. Griffin. I woke up with acid reflux. Night before last, my husband dreamed he was about to get eaten by a shark and defended himself by elbowing “it” hard on the nose…except it was my upper arm he ended up elbowing. He’s been so apologetic, poor man! I’ve asked him to make sure he wakes himself up if he dreams he’s the Boston Strangler. He wasn’t amused.
I mention all this because it seems J had a nightmare and was very anxious all morning. I was being followed around as if he alone had the ability to defend me from whatever doom it is he imagines will befall me. At one point I was about to explain that nothing bad could happen to me while sitting on the toilet or taking a shower, and then I thought of Elvis and Psycho. He waited at the foot of my bed while I showered this morning. He came looking for me every time I had to leave the room to pee. Is this what having a bodyguard is like?
Thank goodness, his anxiety has abated and we’re now back to “yeah, yeah, lady…I see you,” and back he goes to whatever it is he’s doing. This morning he pressed his face against the window panes and sliding-glass door so often that I’ve made a note to remind myself to teach him how to properly clean glass.
It is things like this one that give me pause when I think of the upcoming med reduction. Are we ready? Is J’s newfound maturity enough to carry him through that change? Am I now better equipped to sail through choppy waters with him? Since we last saw the psychiatrist, there have been six or seven incidents that might warrant mentioning, but I can explain all of them quite easily. The doctor might not see them as harmless incidents, though; he might -as he has in the past- done the inscrutable psychiatrist thing and go hmmm a lot while looking at us through slightly-squinted eyes. Would a little feedback kill anyone? Would giving parental observation some credit harm the man’s medically-trained ego????
The turning point in J’s overprotection of me came at lunchtime. We had saved for him some home-made macaroni and cheese and grilled, boneless, skinless chicken. He waved away the mac and cheese, asking instead for Ramen noodles. These he likes boiled and drained, served as a side dish. I decided to eat the left-over mac and cheese. Into the microwave it went, whirr, whirr, whirr, beep beep beep. J was happily eating his chicken (he LOVES grilled chicken!!!) and waiting for the noodles to boil. I put my mac and cheese aside as I drained the noodles, with J intently supervising my movements. I served the noodles and J was ready to eat when he realized I was having the mac and cheese.
I nearly dropped my fork, he startled me so. “What’s wrong?!,” I asked. His hand shot towards mine, grabbed the fork and looked at what was on it. NOODLES. “You’re joking, right? You didn’t want this ten minutes ago, dude!,” I said, quite miffed. Mouth full of mac and cheese and looking like Yul Brynner in The King and I, J said BYE! “Excuse me???,” I said, with the emphasis on the “cu.” Deborah Kerr, eat your heart out.
J was taken aback, but not deterred. The mac and cheese smelled quite wonderful. So we ended up negotiating. Ramen noodle, by the way, does NOT taste anything like I remember from my college years. With this exchange, though, ended the portion of the day when J was going to look after me with more enthusiasm and attention than normal. Nothing like stealing your mother’s lunch to make you realize she is expendable, right?
When I recounted this episode for my husband, he started laughing. I told him that, from where I was standing, it was not a particularly humorous thing. “I beg to differ,” he said. “Your son,” he told me in the lilting voice he reserves for when I’m about to be put firmly in my place, “was informed this morning that there were chicken and macaroni left overs for his lunch, but that he should eat the chicken first and then he could have the macaroni if he wasn’t feeling too full.” Oh. I see. “Then why did he pick the Ramen noodle?,” I whined into the phone. “Because you gave him the option, didn’t you?,” I could hear the smile.
Darn it! I had. I had, like the pleasant mom that I try to be, I’d tried to calm his anxiety by thrusting a package of noodles at him. My husband reminded me of the Great Speech of Sunday Morning when I expounded at length on how anxiety eating is one of the biggest crutches known to mankind. “Anxiety eating,” I said, “is something we need to not resort to with J. We have to say NO and stick to NO.” I didn’t even wait for NO. I figured it was NO, I DON’T WANT THAT SO YOU HAVE TO OFFER ME SOMETHING ELSE. It was NO, NOT NOW. In the immortal words of Sergeant Schultz: “who do you think I am, a dummkopf or something?” Um, yeah, mom…you kind of are.
Mothers will do that. Mothers will say that anxiety eating is bad, but then they will anxiety feed. Go figure! When J does it, it’s bad; when I do it, it’s worse. Lesson learned. Lesson accepted.
And that’s today’s little life lesson…that and cleaning glass properly.