Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The ice cream truck.

Ever since the last time we were able to catch the ice cream truck ages ago, Raiden has been asking when he'll be coming again. The other night while we were reading before bed, I heard it dinging! After a pause and a second "ding-ding" of confirmation, I dropped the book and told Raiden, "RUN!!", grabbed the husband's bank off his dresser and RAN outside myself... just as the ice cream truck was passing our house. I yelled, "WAIT!! WAAIIIIT!" and Raiden joined in screaming it behind me and the dude, who wasn't even one driveway away, did. not. hear us. I bolted for the next yard over still yelling for him and Raiden followed suit and still, nothing. He immediately started crying, out of sheer disappointment. I heard the ice cream truck turning down the street behind us and told Raiden, "Run to the back yard! Quick!" and we did, and again as he passed by on the opposite street we yelled and again, nothing, and again, Raiden started crying.

It's not a spoiled cry because he didn't get his way. He was really looking forward to the ice cream truck coming back, for weeks, and it finally came and we almost got it but missed it! Total disheartening, especially for a four year old when catching the ice cream truck is the adult equivalent of winning the lottery.

In about a split second, my Mommy brain weighed the options of going back in the house with a disappointed, crying child and dropping the boring old "we'll try next time" crap that wouldn't do any good, or... running for it. I chose running for it. Reaching for Raiden's hand I told him, "Let's run. Let's try to catch him," and we took off down the street, hoping that I could cut him off while he was weaving through, catching him at the end of one of the roads as he was turning.

I didn't realize until we were three houses away that I was barefoot, and it dawned on me, too, that the white on Raiden's feet I had registered as shoes, were actually socks.

Oh well.

We kept running.

Raiden was crying all the way down the street, and part of the time after we reached the sidewalk at the corner. Another house or two down that street I told him, "We're trying, bud. We're doing our best." Another half-a-block later, he was laughing and saying, "This is fun!"

We totally lost the ice cream truck. Didn't hear him anywhere, but in my mind, I was thinking, okay, we'll go around the block the other direction to try and cut him off if he went to the next subdivision. I forgot that the way we were going didn't have any other cross streets for a while... they are all "avenue ends" from the other direction. But turning back meant admitting defeat, and my Mommy Brain said we had to at least try.

We didn't hear any more "ding-dings," but halfway through our escapade Raiden started explaining that the rocks we were stepping on were asteroids and started telling me all about asteroids, and that he had bat ears and the ice cream truck's bell would echo into his bat ears and he'd hear it. Around that point I realized that 1) it was very dark outside, and 2) the husband was due home any time. I could just see him getting to the house with the door left open, us gone, my phone on the counter...

Luckily, we made it home before he did. And when Daddy got home from Kung Fu shortly after, Raiden, instead of being disappointed, was excited to tell Daddy all about his adventure in chasing the ice cream truck, and that "We lost him, but we tried our best!"

And really, that was my goal.

(We also promised him that from now on, we'll leave a window open in the evening so we will hear the ice cream truck sooner, and be able to make it out in time. I also plan on keeping shoes by the front door.)

I'm so glad to see my son having experiences like this, at this age. How many adults get so attached to a specific outcome that they totally miss the fun along the way? In my mind, being barefoot and walking on asteroids is way better than getting ice cream.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Feelings as habits.

I remember reading something, or watching something, or in some other way learning something from somewhere (perhaps various somewheres; I am obviously vague on details here), about how feelings, and the chemicals your brain produces because of these feelings, can be addictive. Basically, the more you feel a certain way and then continue to feel a certain way, the more your brain and body get used to the chemicals being produced by those feelings, and wants to produce more of them.

I'm a big proponent of the awareness that you can choose how you want to respond to something, even choose how you want to feel about it, and make that happen. It's a pretty cool awareness thing once you get some practice at it. But what if your brain is so used to you feeling a certain way that once you no longer need to, your brain isn't sure what to do with that?

Let's say you're habitually angry due to stressful or unfair work conditions, and then you get a fabulous new job in a fabulous new place and everything is fabulous... but you're still angry, about nothing in particular, just because that's what you're used to feeling? Or you are habitually depressed, sad, or bored, and then you do a lot of work on personal growth and suddenly feel very good about yourself with plenty of things to do that you enjoy... but if there's the slightest trigger, you're right back into being depressed, sad or bored again, just because that's where your feelings, your mood, your brain, are used to going?

Of course, I also fully believe that both choice and your brain's chemical dependency on itself can work together. Once you realize that you do have the choice, that you do not have to feel any way you don't want to feel just because you do feel that way right now, you can retrain yourself -- your thought habits, your "default mode" as I've heard clients describe it -- to switch gears and feel something you'd rather be feeling. And then guess what happens: over time, you get used to feeling that way, your brain gets used to the new combination of chemicals it's producing, and you have a new "default mode."

So basically, you can teach yourself the habit of happy. How cool is that?

(And, hey, you know something that life, personal growth and empowerment coaches are good for? Helping you gain awareness of your habits, decide what you'd rather be doing instead, and get yourself there. For more information about coaching, you can visit my website, Life Spiraling Forward, and/or Like me on facebook. Because really, empowering yourself to choose who and how you want to be, is pretty awesome.)