Peaceful Parenting: A Primer

20139901_10213944649714098_3852037455228540975_nFirst a disclaimer: I am not always a parent who parents peacefully.

In fact, sometimes I suck at it and absolutely lose it.

But I am trying.  I am trying because I realize that there are a couple of things going on in my sons’ lives and minds at their age (3 and 5).  And I don’t want to romanticize this one bit, but rather just reflect on it.

Ready?

My boys are trying to figure out their world.

-They’re pushing limits because they need to figure out their physical and emotional space.

-They’re trying understand themselves (like, for instance, why they sometimes feel like crying or shouting or are happy or sick).

-They’re trying to understand themselves in relation to other selves.  What does it mean to have and make friends at the playground, even though we’re there for only an hour?  How do we play well with people we don’t know?

All of the above is part of their development and developing worldview, and so when they don’t act in a way that fits with the way I see the world, I have to do a reality check on myself: they’re trying to figure it out.

Stop expecting them to have it all figured out.

And they’re trying to figure us (we parents) out, too. One day they’ll realize we have no idea what we’re doing…hopefully by then they’ll be too old to care and will have some empathy.

But until then, I have to remember that a lot of my anger is about me, not them.

In other words, so much of my anger and frustration with them has to do with the fact that they are not me.

And until I realize that my reactions to them mirror my own reactions to myself when I behave the way they behave (because we all behave like children sometimes…trust me, I work with people 24/7, I see it daily in adults), I won’t ever evolve as a parent.  When they fuss and cry, part of that is on them, and part of that is on me…because in some ways I teach and reinforce that behavior with the way I react to them.

So what does it mean to parent peacefully?

To me it means two things.

First, you identify limits well. 

Peaceful parenting is not permissive parenting.  Certainly you allow them to feel the way they feel, but you can’t allow them to do whatever they want.  Remember: they’re trying to find limits.  Give them what they’re seeking!

I’m a dad who is pretty good at letting my kids try things they want to try.  They can fall, scrape themselves up, and make new friends on their own without my help.

Which means: I don’t follow them around on the playground equipment.  And if you’re a parent who does this, and your child doesn’t specifically need your help (and there are absolutely some children who need assistance playing…I get that), but if they don’t need you to be up there, get off.

The reason my kid isn’t playing with your kid is probably because you’re there. Get the hell outta there.  Seriously.

Peaceful parenting means setting limits, like allowing the kid to have the ability to explore on their own.  In this case you’re the one who follows the limits as much as they do.

But, they can’t wander off.  I talk about physical boundaries all the time with the boys, and they largely respect them.  Finn will always come back home to tell me if he’s going into a neighbor’s home (which is why I can’t see him on the street).

These limits: knowing what is their space, and knowing what is beyond their space, gives them so much freedom and peace.  Give it to them. Give them what they want, in this case.

And limits around their time are important, too.  There is a time for TV, a time for independent play, a time for together play, a time to bathe, and a time to be awake and be asleep.  I’m not suggesting that you parse out their day in such a structured way, but allowing kids the peace of knowing “what time it is” has become an important thing in our house.

Sometimes it is time where we can watch TV, and sometimes it is time where the TV is off, but the record player can be on.  Sometimes it is time where we can be messy, and sometimes it is time to keep clean because we’re going somewhere.

Set good limits, and freedom within those limits. They have choices within whatever time it is: what to play with, where to play, what to watch, etc.

For instance, before bedtime, we’ll sometimes give them a choice after bath (which is never a choice on bath nights): “Do you want to watch a part of a show, or would you rather read two books?”  And when we’ve had enough TV for the day and that’s not one of the options, choosing the books is an option.

And choice brings me to the second hallmark of parenting peacefully.

But first, a quick note about screens: we (my wife and I) are making the decision to limit the kinds of screens the kids have access to. I don’t know if this is right or wrong, it’s just what we’re going with. No iPads (heck, we don’t have the money for that mess), no computer access…they’re young still, and computers are certainly their future, but I want their brains to develop in a way that allows for critical thinking and a sense of chronos, not immediate gratification.

Also, and this is something parents need to start taking seriously, screens are increasingly the way that kids get exposed to adults that you don’t know; much more likely than letting them play outside by themselves or even ride their bikes alone around the neighborhood.  Wise-up, parents.

For long car rides, we bring books and toys and stories on the radio. I’m not judging you if you don’t, I’m just saying that we think there are other options that might be better.

Ok, on to that second thing…

Secondly, don’t yell, ask.

Lordy, this is tough.  But it usually works.

51Yb6gvrQIL._SX478_BO1,204,203,200_When the kids aren’t doing what I want, or if they’re crying and throwing a fit, my wife and I will try to first engage using a tactic from one of our favorite books (In My Heart: A Book of Feelings by Jo Witek).  In fact, we use this so often, that we make it a point to read this book pretty regularly so that the kids have some shared vocabulary.

When they’re pitching a fit, we’ll often ask, “Tell me how your heart feels.”

This does two things, I’m finding:

-First, it provides for a shared vocabulary with the kids.  It “touches base” with them, creating a construct for conversation that they can identify with.  It’s like a touchstone, something that provides something that they can grasp in a moment when they feel particularly out of control.  They know that in their response we’ll both understand what they’re saying. So much of fit-throwing is two humans talking over each other.

-Secondly, it makes me lead with my heart instead of my anger.  Even if they’re just upset because they can’t have what they want, I need to remember that they are trying to figure out this world, and they are trying to figure out themselves in relation to their desires and wishes (no matter how trivial they are).

After we discuss their heart, I like to give them choices that acknowledges exactly where they are.  This will sound pedantic to adults, but trust me, it works (and, be honest, when you are pitching your own little fit, having someone acknowledge your feelings is the first step to regaining your own chill, right?).

So, I say, “Dude, I hear you don’t want to go to bed.  When you grow up, you’ll probably stay up all night, right?  But right now, it’s bedtime. Do you want me to carry you up, or do you want to walk up on your own?”  Or I’ll say, “I get that you don’t want to take a bath, but you stink to high heaven, buddy.  So do you want bath paints or a bath pod tonight (which turns the water a color)?”

If they have no choice, give a choice within the choice.

And sometimes it works.  Most times even.

But, let’s say that I’m really ticked off because, let’s face it: kids are jerks sometimes.  They don’t mean to be (usually), and don’t want to be (usually), but they are.

Kind of like you and me.

So instead of yelling and saying, “This is the fifth time I’ve asked you to do this!  Why can’t you listen?! Why can’t you do what you’re told?!” Or the more adult version, “What the hell, guys?! Get it together!”

By the way, let’s analyze that first statement.  Because I’ve said it, but I don’t in the moment always get what they’re hearing.  In that statement, what I really mean is: “I’ve got an agenda, and I need you to get on my agenda, and why the hell can’t you just do that?! You’re not good at that!”

Is that what I mean to say?  No. In asking them to get ready, I’m intending for the benefit to be felt by everyone, them and me.  But my frustrated remarks only identify me as the good party, and them as the bad party.

So, instead of saying that, what I try to say now is: “I’m upset that you’re not ready.  I need you to be ready because you have to get to school and that’s important.  Let’s see who can get dressed first. Go!”

And if that doesn’t even work, I’ll go farther: “Look guys, I’m really upset. I’m stomping my feet kind of upset, because you both are good at following directions, you’re choosing not to right now.  I need you to choose to follow directions so that we can be on time.”

Now parents, let me be frank: yelling and saying what I said above usually take about the same amount of time.  It is difficult to motivate the unmotivated.  So why bother?  Unleashing my anger is easier, right?

Easier. But not better.  For them or me.  I usually just feel frustrated that I’m not a better parent, and sad for them because they had to spend the morning being yelled at by an adult that they coaxed into acting like a baby because they’re still babies.

And if time isn’t a factor, then I want to go with the better option if I can keep it together.

Because here’s the thing: I need to raise peace-loving kids.  In a culture that is growing increasingly dualistic (bad/good and right/wrong and black/white thinking), we need to raise kids with better and more expansive grounding, who understand themselves not because they’ve been verbally hit and helicopter parented, but because they’ve had good limits and the space to explore their inner-selves.

And anger is not the opposite of peace, but violence is.  I can be angry and not be violent.

They need to know that so that they, too, can be angry and not be violent.  In all ways.  And I think this is where some of that learning starts.

It’s a work in progress, though. And I suck at it much of the time.  But we’re trying.

We all should try.

Advertisements

Running to Soft Rock

imagesI’ve started running again.  It is predictably unpleasant.

I know some people like running.  Some get a “runner’s high.”  I don’t think I’ve ever gotten that.  Mostly I just imagine people who run long distances are already high on something…

Some people put a lot of thought into their running.  They have special shoes, special shorts, and a special playlist to keep them motivated.  It usually takes me so long to get up the energy to actually go run that everything else about it is an afterthought.  I wear mesh shorts. I wear my neon green Nike shoes (and socks if I remember them in my gym bag).  And I put Pandora on my iPhone.

This last week when I walked into the cardio room, I set my eyes on the treadmill without anyone nearby.  If you’ve read any of my posts, you know that I kind of sweat (read: sweat cascades down my arms and chest like Queensland Falls).  The movement of my arms makes the sweat fling off my elbows.  I think it’s gross and it’s my sweat.  I try not to run near people.

But, of course, the moment I step onto the treadmill, the dude who still wears friendship bracelets gets on the treadmill next to me.

Note: he was wearing the friendship bracelet on his ankle.  I am unclear how far down the friendship totem pole you have to be to get the handmade bracelet you made for your friend relegated to the foot, but I digress…

Anyway, I had no other option, so it was going to be me and Friendship Bracelet running in tandem tonight.

I set my iPhone to play my “Classic Rock” Pandora channel.  I love it.  CCR, KISS, the Stones, Hendrix.  They all danced in my ears for the first mile.

Well, sort of.  It always takes a minute or two for my iPhone to find the signal in the gerbil cage that is the cardio room at the gym.  So they danced for about 3/4 of a mile.  That first quarter the only thing that danced was my hand waiving the phone in the air trying to get a signal like I was helping to land a plane.

I looked over at Friendship Bracelet to see if he was paying attention to my waving, but thankfully he was engrossed in untangling his earbuds.  This was the second time I pitied him (the first was for wearing that bracelet)…nothing tangles quite like earbuds.  It’s hard enough to run, but try running while doing a puzzle.  That’s what those first few moments of starting the treadmill before the earbuds are untangled are like.  It’s like Sudoku for your fingers.

Anyway, Classic Rock comes on, I’m jamming, I’m sweating, all is well.

But see, when I get to running I also get to being bored.  Which is generally my biggest issue with running: it’s boring.

So, at about the first mile, I take my phone and go to my Pandora station options.  I won’t be going for George Winston.  I won’t be going for Lady Gaga, either…though that station is always tempting. No; we’re going to test ourselves tonight.

I boldly turn to my “Soft Rock” station.

I know what you’re thinking.  “You have a Soft Rock station on Pandora?”  Frankly, yes.  I have an eclectic taste in music.  And I happen to have a knack for memorizing lyrics. I also tend to like things that are schmaltzy…because I think that’s funny.  And because I like touching things that aren’t too cutesy.  I don’t care for those motivational kitten posters, but that McDonald’s add at Christmastime where Ronald convinces the young kid not to run away from home?  Man…there’s a story there…

See?  Yeah, that’s me.  In that sense I fit the demographic box for the Soft Rock/Easy Listening audience.

I do not fit the Soft Rock/Easy Listening demographic in the sense that I am not my mother.

So at mile 1.3 I start my journey with the sounds of Bertie Higgins and Key Largo, smiling my butt off as I mouth (a little too dramatically) “Here’s lookin’ at you kid…”  And in that moment I didn’t feel my wobbly legs or my taxed lungs, but was whisked away to Key Largo where I nestled my toes in the sand and breathed the easy, salty air of tropical Florida.

And then I recall doing air drums. Lots of air drums. To Dan Seals and John Ford Coley’s I’d Really Love to See You Tonight.  If you listen to that song (and you should…watch the video for the mustaches alone…) you’ll notice that there aren’t a whole lot of drums.  But the ones that are there…oh the ones that are there…they deserve air drums.  Friendship Bracelet didn’t seem to care.

And I don’t remember which artist was next or how many songs later it happened, but at about mile two old-school Michael Bolton came on.  I’m talking mullet-in-the-back-nothing-on-top-button-up-shirt-with-a-bejeweled-stud-instead-of-a-tie Bolton.  And he started asking this question about how people can be lovers if they can’t be friends.  And I think it’s a really good question.  And although I know he means it as a hypothetical, I think it deserves an answer.  And for about four minutes my mind wandered through the relationship woes of a couple who can’t start over because the fighting never ends.

A fascinating psychological journey through the heart and soul of love.

And I know there were others in the mix, but I want to take you to the end of this run right now because blog posts should be less and not more, and the ending is really the apogee of the post.

Because all of a sudden Rod Stewart’s Forever Young came on. The unplugged version.

And I know you’re thinking to yourself, “Wait, there was a version that was plugged in?”

Yes. The original.  No more questions.

Anyway, we’re waiting on baby number two and have this great little 21 month old at home who cracks me up every day and as Stewart’s words fall like a benediction upon my ears all I can think of is my little guy with cornsilk hair who will not be forever young and this new little one about to be born.

And I know we hit three miles because the treadmill stopped (why ever run more than three miles?).  But that’s the only way I knew we hit that mile marker because by this point I was openly weeping while running and couldn’t even see the treadmill dashboard anymore.

I didn’t wait around for Friendship Bracelet to grab me a tissue.  I wiped off my machine and ran like Napoleon Dynamite to the lockerroom.

And may you, dear reader, be dignified and true and remain ever young.

And may you also never dare to listen to Soft Rock while running.  It’s not worth the (emotional) pain.

You Know That Moment Where the Dude at the Gym Offers You His Water Bottle?

So, you know that moment where the dude at the gym offers you his water bottle?

Yeah, I didn’t either.

Until yesterday.

I’m running on the treadmill.  It’s going terribly…I need to run more.  Lots more.

And faster.

So I’m running and sweating a lot.  Normally I would sweat sitting on a polar ice-cap, so you can imagine what it might mean for me to be running and sweating.

It’s a lot.

It’s like running next to a water fountain no one would want to drink from.

Because of this, I usually try to pick a treadmill with no one on the left or right.  I’d hate to get people wet with sweat flinging from my elbows.

Yes, my elbows sweat.  Don’t yours?

I also try to find the solitary treadmill because I don’t like talking to people at the gym.  I talk to people all the time.  It’s my life.  Hence, I try not to do it at the gym.  To give my inner I a break.

But yesterday there were no lone treadmills, and so I had to squeeze in between a very pleasant looking woman walking her butt off at an incline setting that was probably called “Everest,” and the muscle-bound dude in the black tank-top who had hair like Rick James.

Ok, it wasn’t exactly like Rick James.  It wasn’t very long, but cropped all up on his head as if Rick James’ hair had suddenly retracted into a flop.

And that’s the culprit: the dude with the Rick James flop crop.

After about 17 minutes I’m tired as all get out and sweating badly.  And all of a sudden, in my line of sight, a water bottle appears.

It’s not mine.

It happened so quickly and strangely that I didn’t know what was going on, and therefore didn’t do anything.  It was like a mirage, an oasis in YMCA treadmill Hell.

But then it appeared again after another minute…minute 18.

By minute 20 I was fit to be tied.  That’s so sad, but true.  And the water bottle made another appearance.  And I think I was in some sort of a daze, dehydration or apoplexy, because I reached out and grabbed it.

And then, as I was holding it in my hand, I thought to myself “What kind of a person passes a water bottle to a complete stranger at the YMCA?”

That question didn’t haunt me as much as the next one that popped into my mind, “And what kind of person accepts it?!”

Turns out Rick James’ crop flop wasn’t offering me his water bottle.  He was, in fact, throwing punches to the left and the right as he ran while holding his water bottle.

You know, as we do when we have muscles.

Still running, I turned to the side and said to him, “Uhm…I think this is yours.”

He looked over at me with this stunned, bewildered look.

I don’t blame him.

He took back his water bottle and said, “I guess you can have a drink if you want one.”

I just shook my head and kept running.

No thanks, man…life is strange enough without that experience.

I lasted another five minutes before jumping off of there.  That was quite enough for one day.

Five Reasons I’m Upset with Matthew McConaughey

Some of you may think this blog is out of place on a forum dedicated to chronicling the misadventures of a want-a-be gym rat, but I assure you it is not.

Remember, this blog is all about health in every form.  That includes ocular health, dental health (note to self: make appointment), physical health, emotional health (note to self: cry tomorrow), audio-visual health.

You get the picture.

Included in all these health denominations is “body image,” or “the health of self-perception.”

To discuss my own body image issues, I’d like to tell you the top 5 reasons I’m upset with Matthew McConaughey.

(Editors note: Matthew McConaughey will now be abbreviated as “MM” because the author cannot accurately spell his name with any consistency)

#5: He makes movies that I’d naturally star in.

Yes, you read that correctly.  You see, MM has this wonderful inability to act.  I liken it to my own inability.  I can play one character: the dumb guy.  Casting me as a physicist would be like casting Denise Richards as a physicist (subtle commentary on Bond Girl choices intentional).

But I’m an idiot.  Ask Rhonda; she’ll agree.  I would have been perfect, PERFECT in Dazed and Confused.  Granted, I’ve never done drugs and wasn’t born in the 70’s, but if you’re looking for someone to come up with perfectly stupid one liners that are slightly misogynistic, I’m your guy.

Usually, though, I don’t say them, I just think them, laugh, and then remind myself that I’m not a misogynist.

However, if you wanted to pay me to say them…

Or, take his character in Failure to Launch.  Now, I’ve never seen this movie.  I refuse to pay good money for crap unless I need to fertilize my lawn (double joke because I don’t have a lawn).  But the idea of someone sticking it out in their parents house simply because they don’t want to pay for the costs of life?  I was made for that role!  I don’t think I’ve bought a sweater myself since…well, never!  My mother is perfectly good at shopping, so while she’s out she picks up her self-sufficient, over 30 son a sweater.

Nothing wrong with that.

The problem, though, is that MM has essentially filled the gap that I would fill were he not in Hollywood.

#4: He can wear turtle necks and not look like a turtle.

Have you seen U-571?

Don’t.  Craptastic movie.

If given the choice between that and Titanic, I’ll take the half-dead whistle girl floating on a piece of door any day.

But one thing I learned about MM from that movie is that he looks good in a turtle neck.

Me?  I look like someone has squeezed a toothpaste tube from the end, causing it bulge in the middle and poke just a little bit out the neck of the tube.

When I wear a turtle neck, it looks as if my face is coming up for a gasp of air, planning to return to its cavernous middle any second.

In short: I look like a turtle.

It’s not fair, really.  I mean, perhaps I need a pair of suspenders.  That really does make the outfit, I guess.  But I’m afraid that if I put on suspenders it’ll just look like I’ve built an elastic cage over my torso to keep in my gut.

It’s clear I cannot win.

If I go another lifetime without seeing him prove his turtleneck wearing abilities, it’ll be too soon.

#3: MM has abs.

I don’t.

Or, if I do, they’re shy.

#2: MM seemingly has no inherent talent, and yet gets paid anyway.

I’m not afraid of hard work.  But, if given the choice between being a talentless chump who gets paid and the most amazing artist that ever lived but never made a cent (I’m looking at you lead singer of Chumbawumba), pass me the McConaughey gene.

I mean, seriously!

Growing abs is not a talent.  Making crappy movies says more about the general public than you.

Watching him act is like watching a one legged dog try to pee: sad and hilarious at the same time.

And yet, he’s making huge bucks while I’m typing away at a three year old laptop whose mouse pad is so worn I can almost see the circuits beneath it.

I know God allows the sun to shine on the good and bad alike (Matt 5:45), but why can’t that sunshine illuminate for the rest of the world the hilarity of MM’s acting chops?!

I wouldn’t pay a garbage man who didn’t know what garbage was.  I wouldn’t pay an accountant if she couldn’t add.  Why, oh why, are people lining up to pay MM when a cardboard cut-out with abs and a turtleneck would do?

Am I crazy here?

Finally, #1…He prevented his hair loss.

Years ago MM had a choice.

I know it, because I saw it with my own eyes on a late-night talk show.

MM was losing his hair.  He looked good in a turtleneck, had abs, was getting paid to do nothing, and was filling a huge gap in the Hollywood “dumb-guy” scene.

But he was losing his hair.

When the host questioned him about it, you know what his response was?

“Well, something was happening, so I decided to do something about it.”

What?!  What, pray tell, did you do MM?!

How can you have lovely golden locks now when just years before your scalp looked like the remnants of a leper colony?

Rogaine (TM)? Hair Club for Men? A wig? Transplant?

You know what, I don’t care.  You know why?

Because no matter what you did, I won’t do it.  Not only because I undoubtedly could not afford it (some of us don’t get paid to be talentless…)

Because I don’t really care.

But see, you had a choice.  You could have been a spokesperson for the follicly challenged.  You could have been a standard bearer, albeit a dumb one, for those of us whose heads shine like the top of the Chrysler building (Annie reference).

But, no.  You went the route of vanity.  And now we’re stuck with an aging Bruce Willis whose wife left him for a younger guy with lots of hair who makes stupid camera commercials.

We’re also stuck with Patrick Stewart who, while a nice enough guy, is not a sex symbol unless you use “beam me up” lines to pick up strangers in lonely, lonely bars.

See MM, you coulda been somethin’ great!

Now…now you’ll go to your grave a turtleneck wearing, abs sportin’, dumb-guy playing actor with hair.

I know, that doesn’t sound that bad…

But, I have at least two things on you.

First, I don’t have to pay for shampoo.

Secondly…

OK, I have one thing on you.

Missed Connection-Thursday, January 5th

Wednesday was busy.

One of the great challenges to this whole endeavor is finding time to be active in between meetings and other social appointments.  Last night I had a date for “Beer and Babies,” where a couple of us guys go over to a friend’s house and eat and have a beer…and watch the kids.

It sounds like a case for Child Protective Services, but I assure you it’s not.  Mostly because the kids keep you so active you can only get through half a beer before it gets so warm you have to pitch it.  Children and their wily ways…

This meant, though, that I had to get to the gym and run between 6-7pm.  On the face that doesn’t sound difficult.  But in reality, getting out of the office, heading up the stairs to the apartment, getting gym clothes together, resisting the urge to lay down on the couch and stuff my face with stale Christmas cookies, and then getting over to the gym has been known to take me an hour in and of itself.

It’s not because I don’t want to work out.  It’s because I really don’t want to work out.

Life lesson for the day: it’s easy to put physical health on the back burner in an already full life.  This is one of the reasons Critter and I lift at 6am.  It’s the only time “free” on my schedule (technically “sleep” has marked off the time between 6am-7am, but I’ve had to have the “it’s not you, it’s me” talk with sleep lately).

When I get to the gym its absolutely packed.  So packed, in fact, that all the treadmills were full of tiny butts and swinging ponytails.  And to the guy with the ponytail: Really?

As the stair-climber is really no longer an option until it gets its act together (my thighs shake when I look at it), I was forced to get on the elliptical again.  This time I thought I’d be ambitious and do level 15 (out of 20).  It was a bad idea.  But the guy next to me was on level 4 (no joke) so I made sure to have an audible commentary to myself as I punched it in.

“Let’s see…last time I did 12 and that was waaaaay too easy.  This time I think I’ll do…15!”  And then I attempted to look at the dude with an ominous face.  He, on the other hand, was looking at People magazine.

I put the machine on the “rolling” level (which, as far as I can tell, just means that the bar graph in front of my face rolls…I couldn’t tell a difference in resistance) and began the long descent into endorphin ecstasy.

As I was chatting with a friend earlier in the day, I was alerted to the fact that people at the gym “cruise” each other a lot.  This apparently means that they check each other out, doing pass after pass.  In fact, I think I witnessed such a cruising earlier in the week, and recorded it in “The Gym is Not for Flirting” post.

But my buddy went on to tell me (I refuse to reveal their name because, really, this whole phenomenon should be embarrassing to even have knowledge of) that when they don’t make contact verbally…or otherwise?…that they post it on Craigslist under the personals column, sub-category: loser.  I mean, sub-category: missed connection.

So, being of a researching mind when it comes to health (even relationship health), I checked out the “missed connections” section of Craigslist to see what this was all about.  After all, with the frequency I’ve been going to the gym, and the rate that people love to hit on slightly overweight, balding, married men, I was sure to have at least five, maybe more, “missed connections.”

I think I did have one.  But I wasn’t sure.

I couldn’t tell because, well, those posts are stupid.  Here is a sample from a real entry:

w4m- (toilet store)  *No joke. The place of the missed connection was identified as the “toilet store.”  I had no idea those were real!*

“Do you want me? One kiss. Could we stop then? What I feel when I’m close to you is unlike anything I have ever felt before, and you haven’t even touched me. Everything is heightened, and I can’t think clearly, except for desire. I wish it would just stop. One kiss”

Is that a “missed connection” or the lyrics to a Wham! ballad?!  C’mon…

Another one:

w4m-(State and Lake Crossing the Street)

” I was with someone else and so were you, but we made eye contact and I knew that I wanted to run into you again. I was the blonde with the ponytail, you had a hat on. This website is super cheesy but thought I’d give it a chance! Hope you felt the same”

Well, a little more description in that one.  But let’s break it down for a second.  Do you know how many people I may eye contact with a day?  True, it’s usually to intimidate them so that they won’t mug me, but I literally see a hundred people I don’t know every day and look them in the eye.  Well, the nose.  I hate eyes.  Can’t tell that story yet…

Oh, and she identifies him as “wearing a hat.”  It’s frickin’ winter in Chicago, lady!  Everybody and their mother’s got a hat, hood, or helmet on!  C’mon…

But the lady is right about one thing: the website is cheesy.  Actually, I’d identify it as banal, useless, and about as informative as Ikea directions.

This got me to thinking, though, as I was ellipticizing away.  What would a “missed connection” for me look like had someone been writing on Wednesday night?

w4m-(gym)

“Hey, been seeing you there a lot lately.  Morning, evening, random hours.  It looks like you’re doing everything you can just to fit it in your day.  You were looking really hot today with your miss-matched socks, mesh shorts, and t-shirt that said “Hi! I’m Mr. Right” on it.  That shirt is funny…in an ironic way.

What color was that shirt?  I couldn’t tell, unless “sweat” is a color.  You seemed to be pumping away at the elliptical at a pretty quick clip.  That’s awesome for level 15!  And what was that sound blaring from your ipod?  I think it was Belinda Carlisle’s “Heaven is a Place on Earth.”  If so, she’s right, now that I’ve found you.

I sometimes see you working out with a younger, taller, stronger guy.  He has tattoos.  And hair.  I know this is a long shot, but could I have his number?  I was the woman walking with the shoes on.  I hope you see this!”

Yup, that’s about right.

I gotta tell ya, if your emotional well-being is wrapped up in how many people look at you and want to jump your bones, come sit on my couch and we’ll talk about it.  Because, really, if that’s the case, the only missed connection is you with yourself.*

*Yes, cheesy line.  But true.  I am not responsible for your keyboard if you just puked on it.