Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Cactus Rolling

As soon as I heard CrazyMom’s scream coming from the bathroom, I knew I had done a very stupid thing. In fact, the scream carried with it certain unique tones that instantly conveyed to me that this was clearly the stupidest thing I had ever done in my life.

It was not until many years later that I learned the name of my folly. It is called cactus rolling. A psychologist that spoke at a training seminar that I was attending told a fictional story about a group that was on tour of a botanical garden. When they were in the desert section, a man from the group suddenly threw himself headlong into the cacti and started immediately yelping in agony. A few minutes later when the medics had him on the gurney and were about to roll him away, another guy from the group asked the question that was on everybody’s mind – “What were you thinking?”

“I don’t know,” replied the man. “It seemed like a good idea at the moment.”

We have all gone cactus rolling before. We have what seems like a good thought, we act on it, and in the briefest of moments we realize that it was a really, really bad idea.

CrazyMom’s scream was the brief moment where I realized my folly. This happened back when we only had Miss Bookworm who was two years old and Ed who was five months old. While CrazyMom’s parents were visiting us, she was beginning to think that the unlikely had happened – that she might be pregnant again. Now we loved children even back then, but it was a little soon for us to be cranking out child number three.

CrazyMom did not want to take a pregnancy test while her parents were there knowing that I always liked for us to have some time before we went public with a pregnancy. After a few days the morning came for CrazyMom’s folks to go home. When they pulled out of the driveway, CrazyMom promptly went upstairs to take her pregnancy test and a shower.

When I heard the shower come on, I knew it must have been negative. I also knew that while the first line for the test shows up right away, it sometimes takes a little while for the second line, which indicates a positive result, to show up. So, an idea came to my poor little noggin. I picked up a trusty blue pen, slipped into the bathroom, added a blue line to the little window on the pregnancy tester changing the “-“ to a “+”, and slipped out again.

I was standing outside of the door grinning from ear to ear when I heard the water shut off, the curtain being drawn back . . . and then the scream. My grin turned to terror as I realized my folly. I burst into the bathroom to start undoing the shock that I had induced and I found CrazyMom still standing in the shower with her face buried in her towel.

Lucky for me, she was unarmed.

As you already know, our marriage has survived this and some of my other cactus rolling episodes. One of the great lessons I have gotten from this is that if a mature adult like me still goes cactus rolling, then obviously my children will too. When a child does something that is so utterly senseless and injures another child in the process to boot, I am tempted to yell at them WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!?! Rather, I should make it a teachable moment and say, “I bet it seemed like a good idea at the moment, didn’t it? That is what we call cactus rolling. Did I ever tell you about the time I had this trusty blue pen . . .”


Anonymous said...

Oh my word! It's truly astounding that you're still alive!

: )

Anna M.

Kelly said...

This is sooo funny-you definitely have my sense of humor!!!Although, saying that, I would freak if my hubby did that to me.
Your family is beautiful! Im jealous you have more than me. I have five and thought we were busy!

Diane said...

Just think, now, we ALL know!

Are These Kids All Yours? said...

Sounds like all of us at times! Oh yeah!

JK said...

Mark, I'm surprised you are still alive! =P