With the long three-day weekend drawing to a close this past Monday night, I found myself giving into the kids’ demands way too easily. When 7-year old Jack refused my selection for his Black History Month project (Toni Morrison), I surrendered. Jack had already decided on the person he was going to highlight:
Who am I to convince the kid to choose a Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winning novelist instead? Jack felt that the NFL’s all-time leading touchdown returner was far more interesting and worthy of second-grade adulation than “some writer.”
Jack also believes that Devin Hester should run for president, visit his school, and coach him once he makes it into the NFL.
Defeated, I next tried to convince my husband to turn off the television. Joe had spent several rapt hours on Monday night enjoying a marathon special about crocodiles. The footage was grotesquely repetitive:
Crocodiles eating lions.
Crocodiles eating boats.
Crocodiles eating crocodiles.
Joe was astounded that I was not at all interested in how long crocodiles can live, or how the temperature of a crocodiles’ nest determines the sex of its babies.
Sometimes I wonder if Joe remembers that I am a girl.
With my powers of persuasion completely out of whack, I headed upstairs for bed. Joe promised he’d be up as soon as the show finished its next segment on crocodiles eating zebras.
Alone with our bedroom television remote, I flipped through several channels. Nothing captured my attention. I half-heartedly eyed my stack of back issues of People Magazine and US Weekly. They had been given to me by my mom, but I just never seemed to find the time to enjoy them.
I knew immediately the reasons for my funk. With the dismantling of the Christmas tree came a simultaneous dismantling of optimism and hope for a better world. There was nothing truly wrong. There were no villains or tragedies. No added burdens or losses. There was only an overwhelming sense that sunny, happy days were woefully out of reach.
Experts would suggest that I find the nearest happy lamp, eat some red peppers and do some yoga. But seasonal affective disorder zaps one’s desire to get off the couch, take a shower, or comb one’s hair.
So on Monday night, I moped back downstairs to find my husband. Joe smiled and made room for me on the couch while passing a bowl of popcorn. Watching crocodiles attack always gives Joe the munchies.
This fellow I’m married to has seen me through many seasons. I am a boundless pillar of happiness and optimism in the summer. I am also a defeated, pessimistic slug each winter. Joe patiently endures his changing wife and promises that we will move to a warm-weather state once he retires.
Yet before completing this assurance, Joe’s attention turned back to the television as he excitedly explained, “They’re going to have crocodiles eating ANTELOPE next!”
Some days you are the crocodile, and other days you are the antelope. But either way, it is always a good idea to stay close to your happy lamp.