Whenever those personality quizzes in women’s magazines or parlor games ask what kind of animal I think of myself as, I have a ready answer, thanks to Gary Smalley’s Personality Profile*, which I discovered about fifteen years ago. My answer will always be either a golden retriever (in certain circumstances) or an otter. But I identify more with the otter, since I’m pretty much always scanning for opportunities to create fun throughout my days. I get jazzed when I find a way to turn an ordinary, mundane experience into a mini adventure and add zest to the routine day-in-day-out happenings that comprise my life. I’ve been criticized for saying “I’m excited!” as often as I do, but that’s how I really feel.
Earlier today, I think I got an insight into just how early this aspect of my temperament and personality began to manifest itself. I was listening to a conversation between a couple of young mommies. Both have children under five and were talking about how this one or that one will react when feeling ill.
“When my oldest starts feeling sick, it always goes to her tummy,” said the first mom.
“Oh, that’s just like my daughter,” the second mom replied.
“On the other hand, her younger sister will generally run a fever. That’s how you know she’s getting sick.”
“Interesting,” murmured Mom Number Two. Their exchange triggered memories of how I showed the first signs of illness when I was a kid. Not long on resisting impulses, I chimed in.
“I was like that — it always went to my stomach when I was a kid.” (…not that the women had asked or particularly wanted to know.)
“Really?” (Feigning interest, unfortunately, encourages me to continue…)
“Yeah.” Memories of how I seemed to barf at the drop of a hat when I was little were surfacing. The upset stomach would frequently occur at inopportune moments. (As if there is ever an opportune moment to heave.)
I had the floor, so I continued. “Like if my family was visiting relatives and my cousins would invite me to spend the night… well, I’d get so excited about it that I’d throw up before my parents left, so I’d end up having to go home with them instead. This happened more than once.”
“Awww, bummer,” Mom Number One commiserated.
Then Mom Number Two piped up. “Wow. That might be why my daughter throws up. I couldn’t figure it out, because she doesn’t really seem sick. It happened again the other day. We were visiting a new church and she did — right on their carpet. I had thought it was because she gets anxious, but she’s a very outgoing child, so maybe she just gets overly excited.”
[Well, there you go. Answer Ma’am strikes again. Always delighted to shed light on a puzzling situation. A little service I render, at no extra charge. Even been known to throw in two for the price of one at times.]
I asked her daughter’s age: five. Well, that’s pretty much the same age I was when I had trouble tossing my cookies. I told the mom I outgrew it within a few years. Hope that encouraged her.
I hadn’t thought about that curious little gastro-intestinal quirk of mine in years. And then, just like that — in a moment — the whole conversation had transported me to an evening long ago in our relatives’ kitchen. I remember pleading to be allowed to stay the night. I assured my parents I was all right. After all, I’d emptied my stomach, so I felt much better. But all four adults shook their heads and calmly told me “Linda, it will just be better if you go home and sleep in your own bed tonight.” Sigh.
It’s intriguing to me that the very tendency toward excitement and enthusiasm that would cause me to get so worked up that I’d lose my lunch and not get to sleep over lives on today. It fills my sails, strums my strings, and puts the cherry on my sundae.
And it’d be way cool if my young mommy friend and her family want to come visit our church. We don’t even have a carpet.