Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Okay, so it’s the week of Halloween and my thoughts have been drifting to all things ghoulish and scary. I’m not a big fan of fear that is induced my lots of blood and guts. You won’t see me anywhere near a slasher movie. But what I do enjoy is a good psychological thriller like Alfred Hitchcock’s classic Psycho. Nearly fifty years old, made in black and white, no special effects and I still can’t watch it when I’m alone in the house.

Another wonderfully frightening story is The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louise Stevenson. This novella has been made into countless movies and theater productions. It’s popularity due in part, I think, to how much many of us can relate to the idea of the split personality. The good and evil that constantly wage war within our own conscience.

In the story, a chemical substances was ingested by Dr. Jekyll that had the side effect of releasing Mr. Hyde, Jekyll’s evil alter ego. As a mother, I have often witnessed this unusual phenomenon in the life of my own children.
Take yesterday for example.

My twelve year old son stayed after school to try out for the school basketball team along with fifty other little boys. I had to sign a couple of papers at the office, but before I left, I took a peek into the gym.

Now those of you who are familiar with twelve and thirteen year old adolescent boys know that there is a huge range of height and weight associated with that age. Boys of every shape and size were running around the gym throwing dozens of basketballs at all the available nets. Scanning the crowd I finally spotted my son a few feet away, blocking a short blond boy who was trying to make a shot.

“Hey,” I yelled at the top of my lungs. “Good luck and don’t be nervous.”

He looked up, made eye contact for ten seconds then turned away without response.

“Whose that?” asked the short blond boy.

“No idea,” answered my son without another glance in my direction.

Evidently Hyde has taken over my sweet son’s body. Fortunately the transition is temporary. On the ride home he was back to Jekyll, responding politely to my questions and begging me to pick him up a combo meal at Wendy’s.

It’s the same with my fourteen-year-old daughter. Ninety-nine percent of the time she is great to get along with. She laughs at my jokes, willingly helps out with dinner and accompanies me to the grocery store (as long as I agree to buy her something.)
And then, it happens.

This afternoon I walked passed her open bedroom door where she and her friends were discussing the pros and cons of the uniforms that are required by their junior high.

“Well,” my daughter said, her voice dripping with distain. “If they made us wear those plaid skirts or navy jumpers, I would just tell my mother that I wouldn’t go. I am not a dress kind of girl.”

I smiled, peeked my head in the door and announced. “That’s right. She’s the only girl I know that will be wearing satin white jeans with beading on the ankles and a white T-shirt on her wedding day.”

I thought I was incredibly funny, but three pairs of eyes stared at me coldly.

Perhaps they hadn’t understood. “You know, she said she wasn’t the dress type,” I tried to explain. “And how everyone always wears dresses when they get married, but she would wear….”

This was a tough crowd. I could see that right away.

“Well, anyway,” I said, trying to save face. “Back to what you were talking about. I have laundry to do or something like that.”

As I slunk away from the door I heard my daughter whisper to her friends. “Just ignore her. I think it’s some menopause thing she’s going through.”

Hmmm, raising teenagers. Talk about a psychological thriller…. Maybe I have the makings for a classic.

Happy Halloween

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