The difference between life and the movies is that a script has to make sense, and life doesn’t.
~ Joseph Mankiewicz
Two nights ago, at the dinner table:
“When I count to three say, everybody say, “Okie Dokie Artichokie!”
“Brooke,” I say, “remember, you can ASK us …”
She doesn’t wait for the rest of my words. She turns to the handy-dandy all-purpose reframe that she’s learned precisely for this situation.
“Hey, everybody, wanna say, ‘Okie Dokie Artichokie!’ with me?”
“Sure,” Luau and I say in unison, “Go ahead.”
Katie doesn’t answer, but instead looks to me.
“Mama, what happened to us not going along with the scripts? I thought we were not supposed to be letting her tell us what to say all the time – teaching her it’s not expected, remember?”
I don’t mean to, but I sigh. Just a little.
“Well, baby,” I say, “we’ve kind of organically decided to let that go.”
She scrunches her face, her expression landing somewhere between tween disdain and Arnold’s “WhatchootalkinboutWillis?”
I do my best to explain.
“Katie, we’ve talked about how hard Brooke works out in the world every day. This is how she relaxes, how she finds comfort.”
I take a breath. I want to choose my words carefully.
“This is how she knows that she’s home.”
“One … Two … ”
I turn to Brooke. “Give us just one second, okay, baby?”
“Okay,” she says. “Now?”
I chuckle. My fault.
“Okay, give me a MINUTE, okay?”
“Okay,” she says. “Now?”
“Almost,” I say. “Just let me finish talking to Katie.”
I turn back to Katie.
The thing is, she knows that there are things that she can do here that she can’t do outside – or at least she’s learning that. But I just can’t take away the things that help her relax at home just because they may not be functional or appropriate outside of home. Does that make sense?”
The look is now decidedly more “WhatchootalkinboutWillis than tween disdain. It’s not registering.
“Give me one second, Katie,” I say. I turn to Brooke.
“Okay, kiddo, ready?” I ask.
Together we begin to count.
“One … Two .. ”
She stops me short.
“No!” she says sharply, “I will count and then YOU will say, “Okie Dokie Artichokie!”
“Okay, I say, got it. You count.”
Katie is not buying this. With good reason.
Programs, strategies, conversations, years of How Do We Stop / Reshape / Redirect / Repurpose The Scripting? And suddenly we’ve gone all in. I believe in tweenspeak the question reads OMG WTH is wrong with these people?
“One … Two … Three!”
We all play along. Even Katie reluctantly mails it in.
“Okie Dokie Artichokie!”
Brooke squeals, then yells, “Again!”
We agree to one more time, then all done.
I turn back to Katie, who’s still not buying this.
“Let me ask you a question,” I say. “What is the first thing that I do when I walk in the door at the end of the day?”
“Kiss us?” she asks.
Damn, she’s good. “Okay, what’s the SECOND thing I do?” I ask.
She crunches her nose to think, then giggles.
“You go upstairs and take off your bra.”
“Yup. That’s exactly what I do. Now, let me ask you a question. Could I walk around outside this house without a bra?”
She giggles again, this time with a hint of mischief.
“Well, you COULD, but I wouldn’t recommend it.”
“Right,” I say, laughing with her. “It would not be advisable. For anyone involved. BUT, as soon as I come home, where I know that I’m safe to do so, I take it off. Because I can’t stand having the damned thing on all day, but I know that I have to because that’s what’s necessary and expected. I also know that here, in my home, with my family who loves me, I DON’T have to. I can just be me. Does that make sense?”
She’s still laughing at the idea of her Mama walking around bra-less.
“Baby,” I ask again, “do you get what I’m trying to say?”
“I do, Mama,” she says.
And then adds, just to be sure we’re clear, “Just don’t go out without a bra, k?”
It’s all I can do not to answer, “Okie dokie, artichokie!”
Ed note: If you are the parent of a child who scripts, or work with people who script, or know or have ever met someone who scripts, I really, like REALLY, highly recommend this post by my awesome Mama friend, Mom-NOS — Dr Strangetalk or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Echolalia. You’re welcome.