I know that a full moon doesn’t actually bring out the craziness in people. Probably. Yet, when I see a full moon, I often think to myself, “That explains everything.” Would that I were so lucky that a glance into the sky could actually explain everything. Well, everything that cannot be answered by “42”.
Even though it is not rational to attribute bad luck to a date on the calendar, when I saw today was Friday the 13th I had a knee-jerk reaction: “Oh no!” I exclaimed in my own head, “It’s Friday the 13th!”
I’m not alone in my superstitions, according to HowStuffWorks.com:
In the Western world, a significant chunk of the population suspects bad things will happen whenever the 13th day of a month occurs on the day of the week called Friday.
Like many human beliefs, the fear of Friday the 13th (known as paraskevidekatriaphobia) isn’t exactly grounded in scientific logic. But the really strange thing is that most of the people who believe the day is unlucky offer no explanation at all, logical or illogical. As with most superstitions, people fear Friday the 13th for its own sake, without any need for background information.
Or like Stevie Wonder sang it:
When you believe in things that you don’t understand,
Then you suffer,
Superstition ain’t the way
When I was reading a recent post on Emotional Chaos Builds Character??? , I chuckled knowingly at the opening lines. The author is describing how she and her spouse are reacting to progress in their teenager with autism:
We talk in whispers. Those who don’t know better would assume we’re gossiping, but we’re really trying not to jinx things.
I know the feeling. I might remark to Peter, “Philip has slept through the night for a whole week!” Or brag, “Philip just ate yogurt from a spoon.” Or proclaim that Philip has just learned some other cool new something, is acquiring a good habit, is making progress. Yet, by stating it aloud, I feel like I jinx it. As Peter might remark to me, “Big mouth.”
Such irrational thinking is to be expected since I’m only human. Unfortunately, it can be dangerous. It is dangerous because if I attribute setbacks to talking about successes, I might be ignoring the actual causes. Plus, I would be wasting time and mental energy on things outside of my control.
I could say that it was bad luck to come home from work this evening to discover Philip had just fallen asleep for a nap. Why? Because this usually means he wakes up cranky, often in tears. The late nap will probably mean a late night and a struggle to fall, too.
Even though I might call this “bad luck” due to its consequences, it didn’t happen because of an unlucky date on the calendar. Not exactly. The fact that it is Friday, a day that Philip doesn’t have preschool, may be a contributing factor. Not only that, it is the first Friday after his spring break, and he only had school for three days this week instead of the usual four. Add these disruptions to a couple of night wakings this week caused by leaky diapers, toss in the excitement of family celebrations on Easter and the result is a slightly fussy toddler with an inconsistent sleep schedule.
As I read in Outrunning the Storm last week, rather than chalking up Philip’s behaviors to bad luck, a date on a calendar or even blaming autism, I must be a detective and ask, “What is he trying to tell me?”
So, instead of “believing in things I don’t understand,” a better use of my time was to deal with the consequences of that late nap. So, I didn’t let Philip sleep for very long. I took him outside to wake him up since I know that the fresh air, sights and sounds are soothing to him. The result was that he didn’t cry, but immediately went to play in the dirt. After enjoying time in the yard chasing bubbles, drawing in the dirt with sticks and pulling weeds, we’ve gone about our evening with our usual routines. In addition, I added in some extra deep pressure and other sensory input.
Bad luck and superstitions? I don’t have time for that. I’m busy being a mom.