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Sometimes a Mom's Gotta Read Between the Lines

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I take change personally.

woman looking through magnifying glass

If my neighbor usually looks up from her newspaper and waves to me when I walk by, but one day neglects to look up, I worry that I have offended her somehow. When the dog who usually knocks me over when I come in the house one day only wags his tail, I worry that he is annoyed with me. I learned to be hypersensitive in college, when the boy who usually met me right after Faulkner and Hemingway class showed up much later in the cafeteria. I was right about that one: A few days later, he said we should "see other people."

This signal-reading might make me a narcissist -- or an idiot. My husband says I am both. He read a book a few months ago in which a reputable social scientist made the claim that women ruminate more than men, which accounts for the higher incidence of depression among us. Now, when I begin to tell him about the neighbor or the dog -- or even a coworker -- whose modified behavior has filled me with self-doubt, he comforts me with, "Stop it!"

I think the reputable social scientist is just another rude under-thinker, a sweep-it-under-the-rug type. He is the sort of guy who could llve next to a serial killer and later tell the police, "Oh, he seemed nice." (Duh!) He has not developed the ability to overthink or read into the millions of signals we send each other all day. My husband, who loved his book so much, is in the same boat of oblivion.

For him to think that our daughter left her cell phone -- her lifeline, her world -- home by accident, and not because she had to get some distance from some friend (my theory) shows a lack of imagination. For him to likewise believe that our son left his lunch behind because he was in a hurry, and not because he is trying to find a balance between independence and his desire to keep me -- his loving mother -- in his life (my theory) also shows a lack of imagination.

Life is full of clues, if you know where to look for them and are willing to stay up half the night thinking about them.

next: 'Someone Slipped My Niece the Date-Rape Drug!'
1 comments so far | Post a comment now
friend June 24, 2010, 5:57 PM

some people can be overly sensitive while others are completely ignorant. noticing things and determining their significance are two different tasks as well. there are occasional accidents and forgetfulness, but most of the time, people don’t stray from their habitual routine unless they wanted to change. there’s a reason for everything because for every event, there is a cause. this is also how detectives solve crimes.

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