blueberry bursh.

We were driving to see The Forbidden Caverns in my sister's minivan. Her kids were all in the back in their special kid seats. Seems like it was kind of a long drive, because we'd all fallen silent into our own thoughts. The kids were making noises, but that's just what they do. I had woken up that morning to what sounded like an entire herd of children playing, but when I came out of the bedroom, it was just three, running in a tight circle and chanting "Otter otter otter otter." No, I don't know why.

I call it chanting, which isn't exactly the right word. It's somewhere between talking and singing, and it's repetitive. Her kids seem to do it a lot, and I don't know if that's something in common with most kids or if it's something about her family. Maybe it's something about my family. My dad does it, and he doesn't have the excuse of being four years old. He'll just get a word or phrase in his head and repeat it randomly, the way that some people hum or whistle. It's just absent-minded noise-making. During the Albertville Olympics in 1992, he would periodically say "Yamaguchi Yamaguchi" for no reason at all.

Meanwhile, back in the van, I was sitting in the passenger seat, looking at the scenery, thinking about whatever. I don't know how long it had been going on before I noticed that my niece Claire was chanting again. I tuned out again to return to my thoughts (about something important, no doubt), but a minute or two later, I realized she was still doing it.

"Blueberry bursh! Blueberry bursh! Blueberry bursh!"

Why was she saying that? Had we been talking about blueberries? I didn't think so. Is this one of those darnedest things that kids say? Over and over?

"Blueberry bursh! Blueberry bursh! Blueberry bursh!"

It was incessant. It wasn't too loud or screeching, but it just kept going. When does a person run out of impetus to keep saying the same thing?

Now, I don't have kids. So when I spend an extended amount of time with some, I am usually struck by something about their behavior. Usually, it's something that I already "knew," meaning that I'd heard about it from parents or seen limited evidence of it. But not until I hang out for a couple of days do I really start to get the idea about what kids are like. For example, did you know that children ask questions constantly? No, I mean it. ALL THE TIME. Also, when you have kids, you don't get to ever eat your own food again. You have to share. ALL THE TIME. Plus, kids can't go anywhere on their own. You can't just kick them out and tell them to get out of the house for a few hours so you can take a nap. No, they are there, underfoot and making noise, asking questions and wanting a bite of your donut.


While I'm all agog at the ins and outs of living in the same house as a child (or several children), the parents don't even seem to notice. Either they are used to it, or they know better than to ponder these things. More likely, they don't have time to ponder these things. It is only in my child-free state that I have the time for luxuries like pondering. Sometimes I do it in my pajamas in the middle of the day while eating a donut.

"Blueberry bursh! Blueberry bursh! Blueberry bursh!"

How long had she been doing this? Five minutes? Ten? The weird thing was that no one had said anything about it, as if it were completely normal. If a random person did that in public, no one would say anything, but that's because everyone would be too polite to point out that there was a crazy person in the room. Are children actually just small crazy persons?

"Blueberry bursh! Blueberry bursh! Blueberry bursh!"

The thing about a repetitive sound is that once you do notice it, it's hard to tune it out again. I'd sat there for several minutes, not being annoyed at all, but now I couldn't think anymore, because of

"Blueberry bursh! Blueberry bursh! Blueberry bursh!"

I was just a teensy bit annoyed. I didn't want to be, because my niece is very sweet and cute. Not all children are, but she is. So maybe her chanting wasn't annoying at all, but actually cute. If I decided to think that it was cute, would I stop feeling irritated?

"Blueberry bursh! Blueberry bursh! Blueberry bursh!"

Okay, you know, now that I think about it, it's kinda cute. It's pretty funny, really, particularly with her little speech impediment.

"Blueberry bursh! Blueberry bursh! Blueberry bursh!"

I giggled. My sister, in the seat next to me, giggled. Soon we were just laughing outright, because I suppose our other option was to be pissed off, and this was more fun. Claire picked up on our amusement, and she hammed it up, getting louder and saying the words with more gusto.

"BLUEberry bursh! BLUEberry bursh! BLUEberry bursh!"

It's a cute little story, but hearing about the incident secondhand is probably like looking at pictures of other people's cats. Everyone thinks what their kid does is incredibly adorable or smart or interesting, but really it's how you feel about the kid. I can tell you that Claire is very cute and sweet, particularly with her little purple glasses and long hair, but you don't care. She's just another kid, saying another darnedest thing. Yup, kids do that. There are a million blogs out there with people telling stories about how their kid did just the cutest/funniest/most precocious thing the other day.

So this story is not really about Claire and her affinity for alliterative phrases. It's actually about a particular moment in the story, the one right before I giggled. The one where I made a conscious decision to be amused instead of annoyed. I remember actually making that decision, partly for the sake of my sister and niece, but also for my own sanity. Perhaps it's not so surprising that I made the decision, but what blows my mind is that it worked. And that implies that I could do it all the time. I could just choose to enjoy myself, even when my first inclination is be grumpy.

Are all your minds blown?

I am a lucky person. I have absolutely nothing in my life to complain about. That does not mean that I am not sometimes whiny or bitchy or just in a bad, bad mood. Sometimes there are legitimate things to be momentarily unhappy about, though more often there are things that I am unhappy about, but don't necessarily need to be. These are the times that I need decide to be happy anyway, because I freakin' can.

It's weird. You would think that now that I have made this incredible, momentous discovery - happiness is a CHOICE, holy cow! - I would be happy all the time. But that's not true at all. For some reason, even when I know that the only thing keeping me from enjoying myself is myself, I have a hard time making that first step, having that first giggle. Is it laziness? Am I working undeveloped happiness muscles? Do I want to be miserable on some level? I don't know. More likely, I'm so busy going with that first instinct to be grumpy that I forget about the incredible epiphany I had while in a minivan on the way to the Forbidden Caverns. If only I had a reminder.

"Blueberry bursh! Blueberry bursh! Blueberry bursh!"

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