Sunday, December 04, 2005

The Empathy Factor

When I was about four or five, I went and watched Disney's Pinnochio on the big screen. When the whale swallowed the wooden boy and his friends, I threw up all over my dad and his (now ruined) leather jacket. When I was in high school, I went and saw Edward Scissorhands with my sister. Towards the end, when Johnny Scissorhands Depp was flaying on the ground, trying to help someone or other, but couldn't because of his, well, scissor hands, I got up, went to the bathroom and blew chunks of resses pieces. I haven't had that candy since- you can ask April (my sister). She'll confirm. About five or six years ago, Ed & I went to see The Sixth Sense at the theater. A little over one-fourth of the way into the movie, Ed leaned over to me and (stop reading if you are one of the five people left who've never seen this movie) and said, "I think he's dead and doesn't know it." I promptly got up, ran to the bathroom, and hurled my dinner. We left, and I didn't see the rest of the movie until about two years ago.

Granted, I had a terrible day at work the night we went to see The Sixth Sense, but I'm not sure that would have made a difference. I've come to realize that I have a profound dose of empathy in my temperment. This may sound like I'm bragging- that I'm some really caring, thoughtful person. Honestly, I'm not any more loving than the average person who cares deeply for their family and friends (most days, the evidence is hard to find). My emphathetic nature gets me into more trouble than it is worth; it is the major contributor in my pessmistic mind set. I will usually imagine the worst case scenario and then when thinks work out better than that, everything is fine. I was sure I end up in labor for 72 hours and leave the hospital with a C-section scar; I was preparing for bankruptcy the month after we moved to Boston; and recently, I've been picturing Ed frozen on the side of the road.

You see, whenever there's the potential for "bad" things to occur, I ALWAYS put myself in the shoes of the people that I don't want those things to happen to - and that's mostly Ed & Jack. The problem is, I imagine that they feel much more worse than they probably would. For example, for the last three weeks, I've been *dreading* the inevitable New England Winter. I've purchased about six pairs of gloves and mittens for Jack, bought him a space-snow suit, and told Ed to get whatever he needed to stay warm. The idea of either of them being cold for a second makes me want to turn the basement into a bunker with enough supplies to last the winter as a hermit. I HATE being cold, and so, in a twisted self-centered way, I imagine that my boys hate it just as much - and their misery, like my misery, is something I just don't want to tolerate.

I woke up with Jack this morning at 7:00 a.m. Outside the snow had begun to fall (it's not like in the Northwest when the weather men say they'll be snow and you're lucky to get a trace that might melt away in a few hours- here when they say snow, they mean it. It's like predicting rain in Washington state). It's now noon and the snow is still falling. Immediately, my mind started thinking about how we'd get Ed to school Monday since he usually rides his bike. We could take him to the T-stop in the morning, but Jack's in bed by the time he'd be back in town. And, what about daycare and me getting to work? Just how many days can you call in sick (disguising your fear of driving in the weather) before they yank your latest freelancing gig?

Ed, giddy with snow fever, thought he should go grocery shopping to stock up (we're supposed to get a handful of inches through Tuesday). He really just wanted an excuse to be out in the weather. We are complete opposites when it comes to snow. He came home not five minutes before I realized I needed some more vicks rub to put on the radiator to help Jack breath through layers of his current snot festival. And, because I'd rather crash in the snow and walk 2 miles before letting Jack have an uncomfortable sleep (again, because I hate that and imagine he does, too, because if I hate something, doesn't everyone?), I drove out in the Boston snow after to get it. And guess what? It ain't that bad. By 10:00 a.m. (on a Sunday!), the sand had already been scattered on the back roads. AND - I think they do something to the roads, maybe a built in heater or something, because all the main roads (and not-so-main roads) were mearly wet, no slick or snowy at all. Suddenly giddy myself at NOT sliding and crashing into a Massachussets native ready to pound me for my "out-of-town driving" skills, I treated myself to my first Egg Nog latte of the season. Yum.

So, ONCE AGAIN I've been shown one of two things: one, that things are NEVER as bad as the seem or, they are never bad ONLY IF you devote a chunk of your thoughts imagining just how bad they could be - thus, reality by comparison, rocks. Whatever works, I guess.


  1. The places that it snows the most in are always better prepared for it then the places that it hardly snows at. They probably put down salt and sand. Salt will melt the snow and ice. We have it in kansas too. The plows are usually ready to go as soon as they can to sand/salt and plow the streets. You shouldnt have anything to worry about. Hope you enjoy your snow!!
    Love April

  2. Anonymous10:58 AM

    Enjoying these blogs. It is so so true about Ed's snow fever. It must be a Kingston trait for their all that way. Won't be long now till your all here. Love ya Nana Kingston. PS Leave the snow in Boston