I was fairly certain my three year old son had not read the novel nor seen Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh in the movie version of "Gone With the Wind,"--and most likely still has not, twenty years later--but when he boldly declared "Oma think about it," I could not help but throw blame at the classic piece of literature written fifty years prior.
(How many times did Scarlett utter "I won't think about it now, I'll think about it tomorrow," when confronted with a challenging situation?)
My mother--"Oma" to her grandkids--had asked my son a simple question; "Would you like a ham sandwich or peanut butter and jelly?" Apparently my three year old felt it would take too much thinking on his part to reach an acceptable conclusion, so he demanded that "Oma think about it." For the following few years, "Oma (or Daddy, or Pop, or whoever happened to be in the vicinity) think about it" became my son's mantra whenever he did not want to have to think about something to provide an answer.
Although it was cute at the time, we adults failed to recognize that what we were witnessing was the proliferation of a lifelong habit of indecision and procrastination. And, much to my dismay, the same pattern repeated itself with son number two.
As the "Oma think about it" phase morphed into the "I donít know--what do you think?" phase--for everything from going on a sleepover to which program to watch on television--I started to feel like the worst mother in the world. How had I raised two children who acted like thinking and decision-making took too much effort?
I remember standing in the living room pondering my lack of parenting skills while contemplating carpet samples propped against the couch. I liked the lighter, off-white color--it contrasted well with the furniture--but the darker beige was much more practical. Of course, the one with a hint of blue in it was nice, too. I delayed the decision, again, and bought a few more home decorating magazines to see what the experts had to say.
I also recall numerous afternoons confronting thawed ground beef sitting on the kitchen counter. Typically I would develop a headache about that time and therefore could not think about what to prepare for dinner. I usually called my husband to ask for his opinion and, not surprisingly, I routinely received the standard "whatever you want to fix is fine with me...I don't have a thought one way or the other."
Why is it a headache-inducing event to decide on a carpet color or whether to have meatloaf or hamburger helper for dinner? Hmmm...and I wonder why my boys (still) have such a hard time making decisions.
In my defense, I learned this behavior from my mother. I distinctly remember various material swatches, dress patterns, and rickrack pieces spread across our table and floor. Which material went best with which pattern and what rickrack was just right? By the time she made a decision, we had usually outgrown the pattern. And don't even get me started on pink sheets stapled over the windows while fabric samples hung from the drapery rods.
I know I am not the only woman from my generation to struggle with this syndrome. One friend spent two full summers staring at five various swimming pool tile options, while another calls every month to ask what she should take to the Bible study potluck. Clearly, indecisiveness and not wanting to think too much is a national epidemic.
I really do detest finger pointing and all, but I firmly believe that the burden of this societal mishap lies squarely on the shoulders of one Miss Scarlett O'Hara. Or, more precisely, Margaret Mitchell. After all, she is the one responsible for penning Miss O'Hara's infamous words.
Well, thank you very much Ms. Mitchell. From the moment your words hit the pages and then the big screen, America was given permission to not think...or to at least put if off until tomorrow.
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