Her response surprised me. She confided that no, she's not on medication ... instead, she has a fantastic pair of noise canceling headphones and every afternoon when the kids start getting rowdy, she'd put the children downstairs (or in some location where they would neither inflict nor receive any bodily harm) and then she'd slip on her headphones and listen to music, or a book on tape, while she painted in her art room. She said it was like she was in her own little peacefully quiet world.
I thought she was pulling my leg until she showed them to me and let me try them on while she stood next to me and hit a pot with a spoon.
So I immediately thought of Charlie - who was home the majority of the day with the kids - and I thought about how my husband might really appreciate the ability to tune out the noise for a little while. My homeschooling mama friend told me that the headphones weren't inexpensive - I think she'd paid nearly $300.00 for her pair. But since my husband's birthday was coming up, I thought it would be the perfect gift. However, given the value of the purchase, I thought it would be wise to at least first ask him what he thought of owning such a gadget.
When I asked him, he looked surprised, and I mistakenly assumed that he was thinking, "WHAT KIND OF PARENT would wear noise canceling headphones when they are supposed to be dutifully watching their children?" But after a few minutes, Charlie confessed that he already owned a pair but he uses them when he travels by air so he can get some work (or sleep) done on the plane. He then had a twinkle in his eye as he pondered listening to books on tape during the day.
"Hmmm, I never thought of that!" he said.
Anyway, since I've been doing so much traveling, Charlie has loaned me his noise canceling Bose headphones which I think is extremely generous of him because if there's ever a time he needs some quiet during the day, it's probably when I'm out of town and he's going on day five of single-parent duty. Nonetheless, I'll put them on as soon as the pilot allows the passengers to use electronic devices and they certainly do help filter out the noise of the engines and other noises on the plane. Like, say, people who think it's acceptable to have a boisterously loud conversation with their row mate at 2AM when flying to Washington DC from California.
The headphones also come equipped with a plug, so you can tap in to the onboard entertainment and watch movies, or listen to music in better sound than (what I think) traditional headphones offer.
But what I've realized is that while these headphones are great, they don't entirely block out the aeronautical noise and for my particular form of psychosis, that would be incredibly useful. For as much traveling as I've done lately, I'd expect that my nervousness with flying would have subdued. It hasn't though. Not at all.
My thought is that if planes would only take off smoothly and fly in a perfectly straight line with no big banking turns or sudden jolts that make everyone on the plane gasp loudly = I'd be perfectly fine. What's not perfectly fine is when two other planes appear to be racing your plane to the runway for landing - like this one that is visible off our left wing on descent in to Chicago last week. Seconds later, another plane appeared off the end of our wing and I nearly passed out.
Also, I'm not a fan of the big turbulence when I'm on a little plane.
What's with all the crazy weather this past month, North American continent?
On my most recent plane trip home this past Wednesday night, on a commuter jet out of Raleigh, with engines that couldn't maintain a constant RPM and sounded like my electric toothbrush that desperately needs a recharge, I closed my laptop, clasped my hands tightly and tried to imagine that I was on nothing more than a big bus traveling down a road with a few potholes. 22,000 miles above the earth's surface. VRRRRRROOOOM .... vrooom, spluter, splutter, cough, cough, vroom. VROOOMM!!
Now that I look back, I'm certain that it was my prayers that kept us aloft. Whenever I'd stop praying and would try to take my mind off things by looking out the window, or reading a magazine, the faltering engine noises would kick in and the plane would resume its jolty violent seizure across the stormy sky.
My next flight is in two weeks.
I've already started praying.