Sunday, June 12, 2011


1 : emptied of or lacking content
2 : marked by lack of ideas or intelligence : stupid, inane

Do you have any irrational fears about your children?  Anything that you know to be highly improbable, yet worry about anyway?  Or am I the only one?  I recently shared with some friends my fear that my girls will turn into vacuous blondes if we get a summer membership at the YMCA.  Rational?  Not by a long shot.  Still a fear?  Yes.  I bought the membership anyway, letting logic reign over fear.  Our first two visits have gone well and I can see even now that it was better for me to go ahead and join this summer, rather than wait another year.  They are ready for regular swim time, more frequent routine, a way to build their confidence in the water.

Most of my friends laughed at me when I said I worry about my daughters turning vacuous (one said that was about as likely as them turning blonde without numerous hair treatments), but one said, "Where does that fear come from?"  I wasn't sure, so I've tried thinking about what I'm seeing in my mind when I'm feeling that fear.  I often find this a good technique for me when I'm feeling something, but not quite sure of its origin.  I'm a pretty visual person, so when I'm feeling something strongly, there's generally a mental picture to go along with it.

I spent a lot of time at the pool, especially when I was the ages of my daughters.  Was I vacuous?  Is it myself I'm remembering?  I'm not sure.  I can't call up a mental picture of me at age 7, 9 or 11.  But I'll say straight out that I'm fairly certain I was never vacuous.

Today J and I were joking around about vacuous daughters when one such daughter asked what the word meant.  I told her empty-headed, like a vacuum had sucked out her brain.  She looked at me like I was crazy and said, "That's never going to happen, Mom."  When I saw the actual definition of "lack of ideas or intelligence," I knew how right she was.  Will my daughters ever be void of ideas?  I hope not.  I certainly can't envision it.

I think perhaps it's the shift from girlhood to adolescence that has triggered these particular irrational fears.  Will adolescence change my daughters, emphasizing some less desirable traits, minimizing others I value?  Probably. Will it change the very core of who they are, emptying their brains, removing their interests, making them dull shadows of who they really are?  Probably not.  Certainly not if I have anything to say about it.  I love their complex selves just as they are right now.  I love the books scattered around our house, the art projects that go on constantly, the imaginative play that transcends age gaps.  I love how varied they are from each other.  How decidedly full of personality they are.  The very opposite of vacuous.

I can't stop myself from feeling irrational fears.  What I can do is remind myself of who my daughters are - and, if a time comes when they forget who they are, gently remind them of who they are.


Anonymous said...

Boy was I in a different dimension when I read this post. I began it wondering what 'vacuous' had to do with irrational fears, then I left your dimension and was thinking about all the irrational fears I had during my son's recent hospital admission. It does not help anyone to be an RN when your child is the patient. I spent my time wondering if his meds would cause an electrolyte imbalance and send him into a fatal arrhythmia, if someone would give him the wrong dose and kill him, if he would have a sudden cardiac arrest from increased vagal stimulation, if he would go into anaphylaxis from a drug allergy.... talk about irrational. Then I read the rest of the post. OH, ok. I get it now. -Christine

EJN said...

I have never used the word vacuous, that being stated, I like new words. Hmmm, I hear you, the tweenage years are perplexing, to say the least, but it is a great time for them to take ownership of their core beliefs and worldview. I had to chuckle, at the thought of your girls being even close to vacuous - unimaginable!
Have a great day Word Girl and hope you and the girls relish your time at the Y to relax and recreate. =o]