Several years back there was a scene on one of my favorite television shows, Will & Grace, where Grace asks Will, her best friend, to walk her down the aisle for her wedding.
“I don’t wanna,” he replied.
“You don’t wanna?” she asked, incredulously.
I have adopted this as one of my favorite mantras.
Most everybody has experienced this feeling of wanting to avoid something hard or painful, or just plain inconvenient. Like most people, I’ve got lots of balls in the air that I’m juggling, and most days I keep those balls in the air. Occasionally they come crashing down. When that happens, what I want to do most is simply stick my head in the sand. Because of the excellent writers of a hit sitcom, I now have the words to apply to these feelings.
Sometimes it’s less serious situations when the “I Don’t Wanna” comes into play. For instance, a social obligation, a work function, or a school activity…ring any bells?
Usually it’s the big matzah balls of life that trigger my I don’t wannas. For instance, last summer the sleep-away camp doctor called about my daughter.
“Have you noticed a goiter on your daughter’s neck?” she asked.
Anyone who’s watched Seinfeld knows that I imagined a goiter the size of a second head. I hadn’t seen my child for three weeks, but I had never noticed a goiter before she left. Time for a maternal gut-check—Did I not notice a goiter? What kind of mother could have missed a goiter? Fortunately, her goiter was in reality very subtle and unnoticeable to the untrained eye. It turned out she has Hashimoto’s Disease, an autoimmune disease that attacks the thyroid, is easily treatable and for which you see an endocrinologist. Seriously? This is my fourth kid and I have to deal with new and exotic illnesses? I really don’t wanna.
On a bigger scale, it seems that I have to begin contemplating how the rest of my disabled son’s high school career will play out. I met with a “transition” counselor at his school recently. She gave me a notebook with a lot of information and advice on applying for services with various agencies and scenarios of the different options available to my son.
First of all, the notebook made me chuckle. Through various projects and committees over the years, I have categorized people into “notebook” people or “folder” people. Notebook people are extremely organized, with papers neatly arranged by tabs. Folder people are those who have all of their papers shoved into a folder. I fall into the latter category. I think of myself as a relatively organized person and can put my hands on the papers I need – I’m just not motivated to put them into notebook form.
But I digress.
I don’t wanna think about the next few years of my son’s life. I want a typical fifteen-year-old with typical fifteen-year-old problems. The thought of applications, forms, evaluations, assessments, meetings and decision-making makes my chest tighten. I have put the notebook away for a while but I know I will open it one of these days and do the things I need to do.
I realize that “I Don’t Wanna” is essentially a manifestation of denial. I suspect it is a universal feeling that people use to cope with stressful situations. Denial often gets a bad rap, but I find it can be healthy in small doses. A petulant child lives within me and sometimes pays me a visit in trying times. Instead of crossing my arms and stomping my feet, I just enjoy a few quiet days of “I don’t wanna” and my semi-ignorant bliss before doing what needs to be done.
You could try it sometime, if you wanna.