Brodie and Teddy’s report cards came home in the backpacks recently. Their school is stingy with high marks and grandiose praises, but my boys still had stellar reports. They weren’t surprised. Self-confidence seems to be a Stockton trait that is inherited in dominant fashion. (Grandma Mid was funny, kind, and awesome, and we all believe we carry a bit of her around.) However, even at the young ages of 7 and 8, the boys have already learned to focus on and lament those few areas where the “grades” weren’t perfect: a skill they’ll take into their adult lives just like the rest of us.
I freely brag about the many, unimportant things I do well (container gardening, holding a handstand, buying gifts). I also readily admit to those things lacking from my skill set (finer taste in television programming, saving money, various un-learnable computer mysteries). But this Cancer thing I need to approach like the over-achieving straight A student I once was. And so far, I’m doing a bang up job in spite of my occasional dips into shameless vanity.
After getting the “good” news regarding my lessened chemo load, I tried on wigs. This was no fun. They’re scratchy, and the best of the lot makes me look like an odd anchorwoman version of Britt. I don’t want to focus so much on the hair, which is just so very reversible. But everyone is urging me to focus on the hair so that I’ll be “prepared.” I thought the devastating Cancer diagnosis, body-disfiguring surgery, and forced consumption of poison could be the hard part. Maybe unavoidable hair loss is just a final insult that comes too late to do further damage to my ego? Probably not. But after five days of squirming discomfort and sleeplessness, I’m more concerned with getting through chemo without scaring my children than if I’m properly preparing myself for something I cannot control.
Now that I’ve been to the oncology floor a few times, I’m quite aware of how other people react when I push the 9th floor button. I’m too young and healthy for the 9th floor button. Although I know the day will come when fellow passengers on the elevator take one look at me in my scarves and hats and press “9” on my behalf, I’ll do my damndest to fool them for as long as possible. I realize my Cancer report card lists “needs improvement” in selfish conceit and wig aversion, but it’s still passable. I might even have earned a B in round one of chemo. It’s just really unfair that even the best of us who soldier through it with A plusses, still have to do it wearing “The Tatum” in Saucy Beige.