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Monday, January 2, 2012

The Signs We Carry

The Signs We Carry

Driving to work the other day, a radio segment came on about "car sign kits." The kits are intended to be used by drivers to communicate with other drivers...for those moments when flipping the bird doesn't do justice to what you really want to say to the person who won't let you over or who is driving 25 mph in a 55 mph zone. The more I drove, the more intently I listened, and the more I listened, the more I decided that while I will never want a car sign kit, I would love to have an everyday life sign kit. Signs that I could pull out and hold up when talking to someone would just be a hassle. Communicating across a crowded room would no longer be an obstacle...just hold up the sign. Initiating a conversation with a new person would not have to be awkward for the introvert...not when you have a sign to do the work for you. As I went about my day, I thought about the type of signs I would have to have in my kit, and I decided on three: I'm a mom, Seriously?!, and Get Over Yourself.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am prone to be overly apologetic. The first sign does the apologizing for me. Instead of walking into the hair place, doctor's office, place of employment or any other public building and saying, "Sorry I look like a hot mess, but I was up all night with my daughter and once she went to sleep, I had to grade papers, and once I went to sleep, she was up, and once she was up she put lotion all in my hair..." I could just walk into the joint and hold up my "I'm a mom" sign. Not once do I have to utter a word, because most women in there would automatically understand that this sign explains the bags under my eyes, the frizzy hair, and my disheveled appearance.

The Seriously?! sign is a must. It's for when my students ask me if they have to turn in their homework, when my husband asks me if I am want to learn to mow the grass, and when my well meaning mother tells me how to mother. This sign takes place of the raising of my eyebrows and possibly prevents me from being forced to get Botox in a few years as a means to minimize my "Seriously?!" forehead lines.

The last sign is for those people who take themselves too seriously, who think they are the center of the world - people who just need to get over themselves. Instead of being cornered by one of them and listening to them rave about how wonderful they are, I could just hold up my "Get Over Yourself" sign when I see them coming or when the conversation starts to revolve solely around them.

Then, there are days like yesterday, when I wish I had all three cards in my kit. Laila is big into religion right now. She loves to sing church songs and talk about God and Mary, etc. While walking into school, she tells me that she is Jesus. Of course, I'm not sure what to say. There is a part of me (the Catholic part) that wonders how severe of a sin it is to say you are Jesus, and then there is another part of me (the sane part) that knows this is just a child with a good imagination. I smile at Laila, and say "Okay, Jesus." I walk Laila into her classroom, kiss her goodbye, and smile at the creative little being that she is. As I walk out the door, I hear her teacher say, "Hello, Laila," and Laila responds, "I'm not Laila, I'm Jesus." I look at the teacher through the classroom window...her eyes are wide, her mouth open, a look of confusion at Laila and a hint of disgust on her face towards me. At that moment...a moment when walking back into the room would have been odd, and shouting through the window would have been silly...I wished I could have held up all three signs: Seriously?! I'm a mom. Get Over Yourself.

What signs would you carry?

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