My daughter Summer, is upset.
She says, “I am not normal! Tell them I’m not normal!”
I just told her that someone who listens to us on the radio and reads my blog, wrote to me very affectionately, “Your Mom, your granddaughter Lexi and you are so weird but Summer is right there in the middle and she is the only normal one.”
Summer almost has tears in her eyes.
“I’m not normal, Mother.”
This surprises me. She has always been the serious counterbalance to my extravagant nature. I have learned to step with care around her with all my high excitement and outrageous opinions and actions.
She has never liked me to talk about her or her life, to others, so I am cautious.
I think Lexi has wrought a desire in Summer to be more like us. Lexi is five and as Summer says, because of her brilliance and her fiery, passionate, dramatic and emotional nature, 90 percent of her time has to be given to Lexi.
As my mother says, ‘Lexi is just like you, Venus. Only more so.’
I believe that Lexi has finally worn Summer down and battered her up so much that Summer has decided to give up and join us. Why not? It’s hard being in the middle.
As Summer says, “With Lexi, I feel like I am raising my mother! And, you are on one side of me and Lexi is on the other.”
Today, Summer is at my house with Lexi and her two year old brother, Loch ‘the perfect child, the boy with the curly, wild and white blonde hair, the botticelli angel with the beautiful smile.
He’s the two year old who thinks before he acts, who listens when we say ‘no,’ the child who is balanced and calm and in love with beauty and people. He’s the boy who naps for 2-3 hours a day, goes to bed at 7PM and plays happily in his crib for an hour in the morning after he wakes up.’
Totally, the opposite in almost every way to his sister who races full-on all day and goes to bed at midnight; if her folks are lucky. Lexi is the girl who plays with the boys at pre-school because the girls can’t match her speed and frenetic energy.
Today, Lexi has been a dog for the past hour or two. She is racing around the floor on all fours, coming over to occasionally lick our legs and beg for attention.
I have fixed her a plate of scrambled eggs, catsup and mixed fruit. Lexi doesn’t like to eat until 8:30 at night when she becomes ravenous, so we wheedle and deedle with her all day, trying to get protein into her. We have given up any pretense of pretending that she is a normal child who can sit at the table with us for a regular meal. We have given up on silverware, too. Her fingers work better except when she is a dog and must be fed by hand.
Every time she wings by us, barking and yapping, her mother or I shove some egg into her mouth or a piece of fruit.
Eventually, I get up from the table and wander off to my bedroom. I open and step into my closet. I’m changing my shirt, calling out something to Summer when she finds me and comes into the closet with me. We’re chatting earnestly about something when I notice that Summer is trying to shove a large chunk of pineapple into my mouth. I open obediently, then come to my senses, and shout, “What are you doing?”
Summer blinks, comes out of some kind of trance and says, “….Oh! Oh! I was on a mission, looking for Lexi, I was going to put this pineapple in her mouth when I heard you chatting from the closet and came in and I guess…I guess, well you know how it is when you’re on autopilot? I was just following through!”
This is so ridiculous that we start laughing madly and of course, I drop to my knees where I can laugh even more.
“This proves you aren’t exactly normal, Summer!”
I think she feels better when she hears that.
I’m now sufficiently dressed and we’re all in the car, zipping across town to visit the semi-feral kitties at my friend Carol’s house. This is our second visit. Summer and the kids are getting to know he kitties so they can take two home when the cats are old enough.
Let me amend the semi-feral cat statement. They are more feral then we thought, even though they live half in Carol’s garage and half in her laundry room. How do I know this?
Because of a piercing scream that comes from Summer after we have been with the kitties for about ten minutes.
“It bit me! It bit me! The little, beige cat bit me!”
I saunter over to take a look. Ummm. Summer’s bleeding like Red Rose in the fairy tale who was stuck by thorns. She’s holding up a middle finger which gushes with blood like a small fountain. Summer’s mouth has formed an ‘0’ shape and her eyes are rolling like pin balls in a tin cup.
This is where I am going to tell you that Summer is not normal. She has a phobia. She got it from me, who got it from my father who got it from his mother. We are nervous. But, only about certain diseases. We’ve had to specialize, otherwise there wouldn’t be time to have other things in our lives.
Summer is afraid of Lexi being sick. She is afraid of Lexi’s high fevers and mysterious rashes.
She is afraid of cat bites and rabies and cat scratch fever and stepping on rusty nails.
“I think it’s time to go home, Summer,” I say.
We’ve washed the finger up with soap and peroxide and bound the middle finger in a big wad of white kleenex. She holds it straight up in the air with blood melting through it.
I think I may have to carry her to the car but she makes it and we even remember to take the kids.
Summer is driving, but not so well. She has a glaze over her eyes and I know she is thinking, ‘The cat has rabies, I’m going to die or maybe get a horrible, horrible infection and this has ruined my day.’
She stares ahead at the country road we are on and creeps the car along.
“You will be fine,” I say.
No response. She drives with the tissued, bloody finger held straight up off the steering wheel.
What can I say? I know what phobias are like. They take you over. They ruin your life. They turn you into a ball of stupid terror.
We inch along. Finally, we come to the turn off to my street. A dark, dusty car roars past us on my side and the man gives Summer The Finger.
“That man just gave you The Finger!” I say.
“I don’t care,” Summer says. “He’s been following me all the way home.”
Ah. No wonder.
We’re in the house now and I’ve got Summer sitting on my beautiful blue, very hip and very uncomfortable new couch.
I have given her a special medicine for all occasions, a glass of dark red wine.
“You’ll feel better, soon,” I say.
“I won’t,” Summer says. “This has ruined my day. Why would this happen!? What could possibly be the reason for this?”
She holds up her middle finger twisted with kleenex, for me to see.
She is giving me The Finger!
Suddenly, it all comes clear.
“I know why it happened!” I shout. “I know why! I know why! You’re giving me The Finger! You got your middle finger bit. The man in the old car gave you The Finger! It’s the Universe saying…”F… IT! F… IT!
All this stuff is just not worth worrying about! Give up all your worries and your fears. Give it all The Finger! Oh Wow! How Cool!”
Damn. I’m a genius. Or, maybe the Universe is and I’m a good interpreter.
Summer is so shocked, that she bursts out laughing.
“Do you really think that’s it?” she says.
“Of course it is! How much more clear could this Sign From The Universe Be?!”
We go hysterical with laughter.
“You’re right,” Summer says. “I’m not going to worry about this cat bite anymore. I think the Universe is right. I got the message twice, bang, bang. I think it’s time for me to say that about a lot of things in my life. Just F… It.”
And, the Universe,” I say, choking with glee, “found a shocking way to tell you!”
Har Har Har Har.
And we take that red wine and we toast the Universe and thank It for showing Summer what to do and with such clarity and in a way that she could see it!
addendum: Summer went to the doctor and he says she’s fine and she won’t get rabies. And, she didn’t get an infection, either, so let’s hear it for the Universe, Hip, Hip, Hooray. Give All Your Annoyances ‘The Finger!’
*THE WINNER OF THE RANDOM DRAWING FOR A FREE 15 MINUTE PHONE SESSION WITH VENUS IS: Len Roberts (Offer valid through May 24th, 2008)