Sometimes it feels like we live in a fishbowl. Okay, most of the time.
Not literally, of course. I mean, there’s no colorful gravel under our feet, and there sure as hell isn’t a castle or a treasure chest. And seriously, thank goodness we’re not goldfish… I mean, we have our issues with poop, but at least it doesn’t follow us around in a long string just hanging from our hinders until it eventually just falls wherever it lands.
Too gross? Sorry… I think about poop more than is probably healthy. It comes with the territory of being Nolan’s mom. But so does this feeling of living in a fishbowl. And by now you’re probably wondering where I’m taking this, but stay with me for a bit here…
A lot of times, it feels like we’re being watched. It’s like we live in a big glass bowl, and everyone can see everything we do-- like they pay attention to the things that, at least for us, are just routine. While a fishbowl isn’t necessarily the focal point of a room, it’s not like the fish inside have any privacy as they go about their daily routine of swimming around, napping, eating mystery flakes and dangling turds from their rears.
So a typical trip to the grocery store might be totally routine for most folks. For us, people watch while we shop. Some might be curious. Some might be bothered by the amount of noise we make or the amount of flailing, squeezing and interpretive dance we seem to generate as we go. Still others like to pretend they’re not watching at all.
But we get it. We’re fish among a shelf of books-- a flash of color and movement among otherwise drab and stationary volumes. Not necessarily what you’d expect to see or where you’d expect to find us…
Yet here we are, buying dozens of cans of soup to get us through the week with a hungry soup-addicted teenager and making a lot of noise about it. Or maybe we’re standing in an endless line somewhere reminding ourselves to be patient and congratulating ourselves on the excellent job we’re doing waiting. You might even find us in a dreaded public bathroom yelling at the wall while we pee (I wish I could explain that one, but after years I still have no clue…)
And let me just say, the glass of the fishbowl can really distort things.
Kirk got a call from school today. It was the health office letting him know that Nolan may come home with a bruise on his face because he had an episode of self-injurious behavior this morning. While we felt bad for what Nolan had been through, we were grateful for the information since he can’t explain what happened. And a part of me breathed a sigh of relief that it happened at school. We wouldn’t have to explain it to school and if, for some reason, anyone should question it, I’m assuming there’s an incident report we could fall back on.
It’s not the first time Nolan has had a large bruise on his face. About 5 years ago, Nolan had oral surgery to repair a tooth that he had broken. Both the dentist who performed the root canal and the anesthesiologist noticed the swelling before the procedure was even finished. It was a super unusual thing (they weren’t even quite sure what caused it), but it led to the entire right half of his face being swollen and deeply bruised as well as his right eye being swollen shut for several days. If It had felt like we lived in a fishbowl before that, this was as if someone had backlit the bowl and put up a flashing neon sign pointing us out...
Even without a bruised face, I always worry about how we’re perceived. People may see bits and pieces of our lives and think they have an idea of what goes on, but they’ll never have the whole picture.
And that can lead to some startling assumptions. People give us dirty looks fairly often. Sometimes, they even make comments about the fidgets he often uses being inappropriate or give us unsolicited medical advice. We’ve had hotel security called on us within 10 minutes of check-in. Heck, we’ve even had the police called on us in a small town (presumably to make sure I wasn’t hurting Nolan? That’s a story for another time).
So maybe what I’m saying is to remember that the glass of the fishbowl tends to distort what we see inside. It was Plato who wrote, “Things are not always as they seem; the first appearance deceives many.” That’s as true now as it was in ancient Greece.
Instead of assuming, ask a question-- I’ll always answer (I’m a polite midwesterner that way). Or instead of being disgruntled about the amount of noise that’s coming from our general direction, stop to realize that the sound is attached to a kid who is ridiculously happy in that moment. Or instead of pointing out that the beads he’s playing with were probably not manufactured in the USA, maybe just appreciate the fact that they’re taking the place of the spit he would otherwise be flinging in the general direction of your newborn... Heck, if you ask nicely, Nolan will even give you a high five. Or two. Or 27…
In general, just be a good person. Treat people-- ALL people-- the way you’d want to be treated. It really is that simple.
And the next time you see a goldfish with a poop string, just remember that the fish probably can’t do anything about it. It might seem weird as hell to us, but to them, it’s just a regular Tuesday.