Subourbon Mom


My “Big Girl” Job

Hey? Did you hear that flapping sound? That’s me, flailing around in my new job. Yep, I did it—I stopped teaching 5-year-olds so I can work with much taller 5-year-olds in the grown-up world of business.

I won’t go into all the boring details, but suffice it to say (who says “suffice it to say” anymore?), I am having to re-work some of my mental processes as I make the transition from teaching to having a “big girl job,” as my teacher friends like to call it. One of the things I decided would help me through, is to make a list of things to remember while I’m sitting in my cube:

  1. Do not talk about poop at work….or pee, or green boogers or vomit.
  2. You don’t have to get someone to stand over your cube and make sure nothing happens while you go to the bathroom.
  3. Crayon and markers are not acceptable modes of communication.
  4. Do not display your finished work on the board outside your cube.
  5. People can hear you if you’re whispering on a conference call (found that one out yesterday).
  6. You cannot tell irritating people to take a time out.
  7. Do not send back edits with smiley faces on them.
  8. There is no “Question of the Day;” there hundreds of questions (usually asked by me) every day, and the answer usually involves three emails and trying to figure out how to work the phone that has no labels.
  9. You don’t have to write everything in words of one syllable for the beginner readers…usually.
  10. Don’t expect the supply closet to be very inviting—there are no paints, stickers, glitter or construction paper, even though every office in the working world desperately needs these things.
  11. Sitting on the carpet to sort out your papers just looks…odd. Sit in the chair whenever possible.
  12. Do not spin in the chair just because it’s fun. People will look at you funny.
  13. Relax—no one is going to look under the bathroom stall door to see which teacher is in there with them.
  14. It is now safe to talk about The Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy without the fear of damaging a child’s imagination—but Santa’s still real, right? (In our house the rule is, “If you don’t believe, you don’t receive.”)
  15. Seriously, don’t talk about poop at work…ever.


You Can’t Learn How to Date by Watching The Bachelor

I recently read a book for my job entitled Brain Rules for Baby by John Medina. (Like my kids, I have waited until the last minute read it, and now I’m wishing I had some Cliff’s Notes.)

In this book there was a chapter on the use of electronics by young children–according to research, children spend years learning body language and facial cues, some of which happen in milliseconds–so fast we aren’t even aware that we show them.  For example, the subtle straightening of my mother’s shoulders and slight narrowing of her eyes were tiny clues, a shot over the bow before the non-verbal onslaught began; her pursed lips meant she was really annoyed, and I would be dealt with later. As I got older, I got better at seeing the first body language volleys before we ever got to the pursed lips—it saved a lot of verbal effort for both of us.

One day, there was enough silent tension in the room between me and mother that my brother asked his wife what was going on. She whispered, “Can’t you tell? They’re fighting!”

Reading body language and facial cues was extremely important for our survival as a species. If a person could not read the body language of an enemy or angry tribe member, they had a high likelihood of dying (see pursed lips above).

There are also body language cues that indicate when a potential mate is interested (or not). When the guy in a bar doesn’t know that we are interested when we play with our hair, lean in close and bite our lower lips, he’s going to go home feeling a little…blue. If people had not learned how to read those cues, we would have died off as a species millennia ago.

You can’t learn how to pick up a girl by watching The Bachelor.

The author goes on to say that children must learn these things from interaction with an actual person, not a video or CD.

Which brings me to texting, emails and tv.

I’m a fan.

I love texting and emails because as I’ve gotten older, I like people less and less. Texting and email enable me to simply ask for the information I need without engaging in actual conversation.

I love television for the same reason—I can lose myself in the storylines because I don’t have to respond to them in an involved way. The directors of the shows even help me out by going in for close-up shots when there is an emotion I need to pay particular attention to (HBO’s The Newsroom is great at this—thank you Aaron Sorkin).

Using technology to socialize is so much less tiring—and it’s making me lazier than those people who circle the gym parking lot to find a space (I mean, really? You’re going to the gym! Walk a little–consider it your warm-up).

I used to love sitting around, chatting with my friends, family, and anyone who would hang out.  I loved drawing people out, hearing their stories, and offering advice (often unsolicited and even more often un-used). It’s often how I got ideas for my stories and books. There is a reason Southerners love front porches—we can talk and watch the world go by, and get to know you. It’s also why Southerners are so good at the backhanded compliments. We watch and learn what makes people tick by spending time with them, then jab them a silver, sugar-covered shrimp fork.

These days, I am usually in the car and in a hurry.  I have resorted to texting and emailing in the name of efficiency, and talking in a very distracted way on the phone as I multi-task at home. And so, it seems, does everybody else.

I miss sitting on the porch, solving the world’s problems, or hearing about a friend’s concerns, and even mine. I miss the clink of ice in a glass as the conversation ebbs and flows. I miss the puzzle that is a friend’s face as they try to convey something that happened, or work out a problem. The subliminal cues are the best part—they are what let other people into our inner sanctum, even when we don’t mean for it to happen.

But, don’t worry, I’m not giving up my electronics. I want my Candy Crush fix as bad as the next person.

People still irritate me, and I love my tv shows, but I think I’ll try to make more of an effort to have some meaningful conversations once in a while, just to keep my ability to read people’s social cues up to snuff. You never know when you might need them to survive—I’ve got teenage daughters. If I ever needed to be able to read subliminal cues, it’s now (yes, girls, I can see your eye roll from here!).




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