the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Featured community question with accompanying fear of Gorbachev

Today’s featured question comes from user tam4797:

Well, definitely this one. I can’t sit with my legs dangling over the side of the bed because surely there is a demon underneath who is going to grab me and drag me to some horrible dark place. Like Chuckarama. Or Reno.

Oh no. I’ve upset Reno. Listen, Reno, I’m sure you’re lovely. Or maybe you could be if you started whitening your teeth and cutting back on the chocolate gravy.

Most of the fears that have carried over from childhood are more anxieties than they are actual fears. Like, I still can’t leave water running unnecessarily when brushing my teeth or washing dishes. This is good for the environment, yes, but that’s secondary to why I have to turn the faucet off. What if America runs out of water AND IT’S ALL MY FAULT. Then the communists will take over, and we’ll all have to learn Russian.

That thought actually takes up room in my brain. That and the fact that I can tell you the name of almost every child born to a celebrity in the last five years. Shiloh, Honor, Seraphina, Levi—dammit, I want that space back!

It’s no surprise that Leta is as anxious as I was as a kid, but sometimes her fixations are so maddening that I have had to pull the car over and regain my composure. Because the fixations always seem to explode when we’re driving somewhere, and I’m concentrating on a traffic light while she’s in the back seat screaming PROMISE ME I DON’T HAVE TO GO TO BYU!

Ok. Back up a second. Don’t for a second think that I have put any boogeymen in her head over BYU, although I TOTALLY COULD. When she grows up she can go to whatever college she wants to go to, but before she chooses I will chime in and say that at BYU they take your brain out and replace it with jello.

Here’s what happened: my niece Mariah who helps take care of Marlo — she who is such an enormous fan of BYU that she won’t even drink out of a container that is the color of their rival — she told Leta that at BYU you don’t get a spring break. And this is true. Spring break is for letting loose and enjoying life, something the BYU honor code strictly forbids.

So Leta gets it into her head that if she grows up and goes to BYU, she won’t get a spring break ever, not ever, and she will go to her grave having never had a spring break. Ever. She says all of this to me one morning on the drive to school. Out of nowhere. There. In the back seat. Worried that when she dies she will have no memories of waking up with a hangover in the bathroom of an iHop in Daytona.

“Leta, ” I say. “You don’t have to go to BYU. Most other colleges have spring break.”

“BUT WHAT IF I HAVE TO GO TO BYU!” she screams back, on the verge of tears at this point. I would be, too.

“You don’t!” I yell as positively and gleefully as I can. “Hopefully, you can get into Harvard! I bet Harvard has a spring break!”

She sits back a little more reassured then asks, “Does Harvard have a playground?”

“OOOOH YES!” I say. “The best playground ever! In fact, it has many, many playgrounds.” Of course, I’m referring to restaurants and pubs in the greater Cambridge area. And I bet there are plenty of slides and monkey bars nearby in case she remembers this exact conversation, gets into Harvard, and realizes OMG SHE WAS LYING.

Twenty minutes later as I’m kissing her goodbye for the day, she pulls my head down so that she can whisper something no one else can hear. “So I don’t have to go to BYU?”

I tell her no, of course not, and as I walk out the door I mumble, “And the communists are not going to win, either.”

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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