Post XLI

Cheese and a Baby in a Maze.

Here’s a thought for you: when the green man lights up on traffic crossings, why does every single Human who is nowhere near it run to cross the road before the light goes out? You see it all the time – there’s a person 30 yards away or thereabouts, and you see them burst into a run. What are they thinking? “Oh no, it’s the last green man anywhere on Earth – if I don’t make this crossing this very second, I’ll never make the crossing. It’s the last ever chance I’ll get!” I know waiting is an inconvenience, but surely, an extra minute can’t possibly signal the end of your entire existence. If you turn up late to work, for example, I’m sure your boss will understand that the traffic lights weren’t kind to you. He’s not going to fire you for that. And if you’re worried that your boss actually might, you might want to consider another line of work.

You can imagine the look on my face this week when I discovered that I’d be taking a little baby relative of mine into what I believe they call a fun pit. Although that’s definitely not my definition of a fun pit. It’s a cultural thing. For example, don’t take your child into one of those in, say, Amsterdam. I wonder what they call them. I think everything is innuendo over in The Netherlands. I think they invented the word. Yes, when I come to write my own dictionary, under that word I’ll put a picture of a wooden shoe. Not that I stereotype here at TILOM Towers, but I think, statistically speaking, that people are more likely to get ‘Netherlands’ from a picture of a wooden shoe than an actual map of the Netherlands. What was I talking about? Ah yes, cheese. No wait, I deleted that line. Ah yes, a sweet little baby.

He’s actually two years of age and very clever. He can count to 10. And he knows his alphabet. And he can use a knife and fork. And he’s not mesmerized by shiny objects. Yes, he really is the complete opposite of me. However, on the day when it came to take him to the fun pit (oh heck, we really have to come up with a better name), I knew it would be a challenge for me. I’ve always maintained that looking after children is a great career path for ‘the shy one’s’ (also the name of my imaginary band – sadly, all of our gigs are cancelled). Babies don’t judge, they’re friendly, they’re full of joy – why people ever grow into prejudice rather than out of it is anyone’s guess.

The actual room consisted of some tables at one end and two sort of play areas that are self-contained at the other end. Lots of foam objects, slides, nets and tunnels. And then they’re the balls. Hundreds. Most of them are in the ball pits. One almost landed in my tea. Why do children feel the need to throw them? That baby I was looking after had the right idea. He rolled in them and couldn’t stop giggling. Brought back a lot of happy memories from – erm, last week. Oy vey, that was a fun Bar Mitzvah.

I found myself at the top of one of those huge self-contained play area structures. They’re a good eight yards tall. That lad, he’s only two and I had to go in with him to help him over things. I didn’t want to, but I couldn’t say no. He just stood there in the entrance to the structure and looked at me with a really sad look on his face. He couldn’t understand why I was apprehensive. I felt sorry for him. I was struggling to afford him the same decency he afforded me in treating me as he treats everyone else. And he kept saying my name.

There are many aspects of the life of a shy ‘un or an introvert that we struggle with. But after a decade, it never fails to shock me the many different obstacles that life throws at us. It hit me with an almighty clang as I stared into that kid’s big blue eyes. I knew all the mother’s were looking, I knew it would be embarrassing – I just felt like I was being watched and that there was pressure coming at me from all angles. It’s a feeling many can relate to in uncomfortable situations, akin to claustrophobia. I did it, though. I went in that – area – and helped him through and played with him. But I wasn’t comfortable for one second.

I think we all find ourselves in those types of situations. I tried to get on with it, but I don’t think it’s always that easy. Those situations, however, aren’t mistakes – wrong turns in our lives – they’re opportunities to discover how we can improve and perhaps try to defeat the adversity that can plague us. I think the best thing to do is carry on. I fought my anxiety by ignoring it. There’s no wall so high that we cannot climb and conquer it.

Even if you find yourself in a Danish fun pit.

‘Cheese – milk’s leap toward immortality’, said the late American intellectual, author, editor, radio and television personality Clifton Paul Fadiman.

Peace Out :|:

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