Pavlovian Responses from My Mother
We all know about Pavlov right? Ring a bell while a dog’s salivating over meat. Soon enough he salivates when he hears the bell even if the meat’s not there. Fortunately, Mom never did experiments with bells and beef, but she did still leave me with a few quirks. I’m kinda hoping I’m not the only one.
The other day I’m getting ready to leave the house. I’m running late–of course–and I realize how my childhood has impacted my ability to leave the house…
Pavlovian Response #1: If you are leaving the house, you must brush your teeth.
Truly, my day is ruined if I try to go out in public without brushing my teeth. I don’t know why this is. I’d rather show up somewhere with mismatched shoes.
Pavlovian Response #2: You must use the bathroom before you leave the house.
I think this one goes back to the days of going into Henderson. Many local establishments either didn’t have public restrooms or had ancient restrooms that could be described as sketchy at best. Thus, before leaving the house it was a good idea to void your bladder. Now a mother myself, I also understand the pitfalls of traveling with children who constantly have to pee.
Unintentional Pavlovian Response #3: When you brush your teeth, you must use the bathroom.
Okay. This is where it gets weird. The other day, I’d just peed. I went to brush my teeth and Bam! I needed to pee again. Why? Because if I’m leaving the house for any reason, I have to brush my teeth and pee. Thanks, Mom! Now every time I leave–even if I’m running late to get the kids from school–I have to brush my teeth and pee. Even if I don’t have to pee. Sometimes I’m a rebel and try to tell myself, “Self, you’re going to the church. You can pee when you get there.” Sometimes, my self even buys it.
Pavlovian Response #4: You need tennis shoes to clean the house.
So, when Mom gets ready to clean the house, she changes clothes and puts on her tennis shoes. This, unlike the previous rules, is not something she forced me to do but rather something I picked up through observation. The other day I started cleaning, and I couldn’t get anything done. I have this uncontrollable urge to put my tennis shoes on. I guess it makes sense. I *hate* cleaning the house so much that I’m writing a blog post right now instead of doing it. No, seriously. I *hate* cleaning the house so much that I let it get into a horrific state and then need hazmat gear to be able to clean it. Since I don’t have hazmat gear, I have to settle for ratty workout clothes and tennis shoes. It’s like a bizarre Mr. Rogers scenario. Now if I could only turn Lady Elaine Fairchild and that freaky cat into indentured servants.
Pavlovian Response #5: You must have a list and a plan of attack before shopping.
This is also a good idea. Bad things happen if you attempt to grocery shop without a list. From my mother, however, I have picked up the habit of essentially writing a novel before I can go out the door. If I could put as much into my novels as I have put into grocery lists over the years, I think I would’ve already won a Pulitzer. My last list was a masterpiece, folded in half with at least four different sides containing what to by at each store and in what order to visit said stores. On the inside, I had meal plans and even a recipe. If you want to see me paralyzed with inaction, ride with me to the grocery store but hide my list and pretend you saw it on the counter at home. I reach for the list and am helpless, a beetle on its back with its sad legs waving in the air. And then I go into the grocery store and buy too many of the last thing we were out of (ten cans of pork and beans, anyone?) and all the wine.
Okay, I picked up the wine habit on my own. As with most things, Mom gave me all the good habits. I picked up all the bad ones on my own. What about you guys? Anyone “conditioned” by your parents to do some odd things?