Bad Habits

I write on my hand.

Well, my palm. Yes, like in 5th grade, I jot things down on my hand. I write down to dos, reminders, notes. In ink. On my hand.

It’s only on my left hand because, really, how would I write on my right hand since I’m right handed? That would be implausible. And illegible. Come on. Think before you ask a silly question like that.

And OK, yes, while we’re admitting things, I do think there are silly questions. I’m not saying the person asking is silly, just the question, so don’t get your non-judgmental knickers in a twist.

(What are those knickers anyway, while we’re talking of it? Nonjudgmental ones. Sensible bum-covering ones? Brazilian thongs? I’m not sure which way non-judgment would go. Comfortable? Impractically sexy?)

Sorry. I’m a little on edge: I can’t read what I wrote on my hand. It’s kind of stressing me out.

As habits go, writing on your hand isn’t that bad. It’s not expensive or hurtful. Juvenile, maybe. But it is called “handwriting,” right?

OK, fine, yes, it is a little irritating for everyone involved. R. shakes his head when he catches a glimpse of my blackened palm. When we’re watching TV and I reach for a pen, he reaches for a piece of paper to insert between pen and palm. I think he thinks it makes me look, if not deranged, then at least a little obsessive. Or disorganized maybe? I should ask him. I think I already have but I’ve forgotten the answer because it didn’t make sense to me, like how I’ve forgotten everything I “learned” in high school physics. It certainly doesn’t make me look elegant, but then an 18-month-old accessory has pretty much taken the legs out from under elegant already.

I have been thinking about breaking the habit though. Not because it makes me just a tiny bit more like Sarah Palin and attracts sidelong glances from dinner companions but because I think it might be making me a little crazy, in itty bitty tiny increments. See, I wash my hands a lot – dishes, showers, toddler life – which leaves me with notes like the ones I’m trying to decipher now:

“Email moms” Fine. I know which moms I mean and why. Good.

“Take A. to lasers.” Less clear. What lasers? We have lasers? For kids? It probably doesn’t say “lasers.” What it does say washed down the drain with the pancake syrup.

This happens a lot. I hold my hand up close to R.’s face and say, “What does that say? That – there – below, “Tape gnomes.” That. See it? Is that an “f”?”

I can see how this would be annoying for him. It’s annoying for me. And stressful. The lasers probably aren’t important, but not knowing is stressful. Probably more stressful than if I’d just not bothered to write it down at all and assumed that the lasers would present themselves when Laser Time rolled around.

Sometimes, to save myself from splaying my palm out yet again in our most brightly lit room trying to decipher, “Not my rabtyz,” into something English (“rabbits”? “raisins”? why aren’t they mine? I like both of those things…), I just wash my hands and call it a day. It’s not satisfying, but it is an unequivocal resolution.

The other reason to quit is for the children. Well, “child,” but “children,” sounds more magnanimous and We Are The World-y. A. learned a while ago how to pull the cap off the black Uniball pens I leave lying around everywhere in case I need to write something down suddenly. Last week she uncapped one of them, spread out her tiny palm until her fingers bent back, made an unintelligible black mark on it and proudly held it up for me to see.

This habit was not at the top of my list of legacies I wanted to leave my daughter. I was hoping it would be more along the lines of “world domination,” or, “Nobel Prize.” Or, “cheese lover.”

So I might try to quit.

Maybe instead of going cold turkey, I could switch to invisible ink. I’m sure that would make the whole illegibility issue go away too. I might even forget I wrote anything on there at all. It would be like it never happened. And isn’t that next best to it actually not happening?

Anyway, until I decide what to do, I’m going to go have another look around for those lasers. I mean they’re lasers – how well can they hide really?

Categories: Baby, Work and Writing


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