BLASE

Do you think this is where the blahs come from?
Anyway for once I’m not speaking of myself. Oh no! The temperature has risen, the last cataclysmic snowstorm they predicted fell woefully below the expectations of the doomsayers, the birds trill from every tree and squirrels race around with bits of dried grass stuffed in their mouths. I am spinning on my heel with my arms thrown out, I am day-dreaming on the lawn with a glass of something cool, I am tapping away on my laptop under the dappled shade of our big maple.
Not quite yet of course. There may be rain. There may be freezing rain. There may even by wintry mix, and once that blows away there’s still mud and that awful mix of road salt and grit which is left in mucky drifts when the snow melts. But it smells like spring and that’s good enough for me.
I’m wondering about our children. Our lucky, lucky children who get everything they could ever dream of. And often without even having to ask for it. Each generation spoils its kids and that’s ok if the majority of the spoiling is love and care. But somehow without even trying to and definitely with the intention of not falling prey to rabid consumerism (I mean, we are aware) my kids still have piles of stuff. How did this happen? And under my very nose. Is it just that there’s more stuff and that we have more money? Or is that we spend our money on frivolities rather than save it like our parents did? Are there just more birthday parties where you invite the whole class (and sometimes the entire grade) rather than your kid’s special friends? Who knows. When I was little there was a limited supply of things. Not at FAO Schwartz or Hamley’s (the nirvana of my childhood) but in general you had one teddy, one other stuffed animal and a doll or a truck. I eventually had a Barbie which lasted about two days before she was altered drastically with a pair of scissors, and before that I had a lovely brown-skinned dollie because when my parents went to buy one with brown hair and brown eyes she was the only choice. And this was in the late 20th century, mind.
The Lucy Factor has oodles of toys and dolls already and she doesn’t even like to play with them yet. I feel a purge coming and it will make me feel so good.
But back to the blase part. I watch my 6-year old son carefully. He has definitely become more proprietary this year. Peer Pressure, you know. He is suddenly very interested in money and credit cards. He has to get things and he has get them immediately! It’s a matter of life and death, Mom! He’s actually informed that the wotchmacallit he wanted so desperately would die if he doesn’t spend a certain amount by a certain date. And then, he does love his toys. They get equal shares of his attention and affection. And he is grateful which is of the ultimate importance. He also takes ‘no’ with good grace for the most part and understands that birthday and Christmas are the times he receives presents. But still, I watch and I worry what he is picking up from his friends. Earlier they had a club which you could only join if you owned a particularly banal stuffed toy which was only available in the sort of cutesy store that you would have to knock me over the head and drag me into. And the ring-leaders of this club weren’t thrilled about letting in kids who only owned one of these toys. No, they had legions (one can’t sleep on his bed because the toys take up too much room) and they demanded the same of their followers. Luckily his doting granny stepped in for his birthday, but I had to talk to him about how mean it is to leave people out of things and luckily he agreed with me. So far he is still full of curiosity and a rapturous wonder, but I worry that it is only a matter of time.
What directly inspired this blog is that on our morning walk, a small herd of young deer crossed right in front of me and the Lucy Factor. Six of them, probably veterans of not more than two winters (and the last 2 have been brutal), and I was pleased because I saw them frequently in the fall and they have managed to survive the cold, starvation and getting hit by cars. Yay! However, did the LF clap her little hands together? Did she squeal with delight? Did she wriggle and coo? No, she said nothing. Her gaze passed over them with complete boredom. She may have yawned. This is the girl who was recently enamored of a goldfish that lay on the bottom of its tank barely swishing a fin. This is the girl who passionately kisses the dog while holding tightly onto his ears so he cannot avoid the wet lips.
When I was not much older than she is I would become terribly excited if I found a pile of rabbit poo. Why? Because it meant that a rabbit had been around. I spent hours looking for owl pellets (the small bundles of fur and bones owls sick up after they swallow their prey whole- incidentally you can buy owl pellet kits now, completely sterilized and guaranteed to contain at least a mouse skeleton. Owl Puke, I think it’s called), and searching for bits of fossilized amber along the sea shore, and hiding in prickly bushes waiting for a hoopoe or a golden eagle or a badger.
Maybe we should move to the city where the most exotic animal she is likely to see is a hairless cat on a leash. The first time my son went to the city he was completely enthralled with pigeons and the rats that came out at dusk in the playgrounds. Cool in their own way, sure, but not as much fun as bats, foxes and the very fat wood-chuck who lives in our woodshed.
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