I served in the U.S. Army during the Cold War. I believe it was called that because we sat around being cold a lot in what used to be West Germany.
I was in the Field Artillery, in what was called a “Special Weapons” section. There were four of us and we were somewhat unpopular. We handled “classified government high explosives,” and this gave us all kinds of breaks from duties endured by others. For instance, we had a restricted access work room, which led the rest of our unit to believe that we were kicking back being warm while they were outside working in the cold. Which was often the case.
But even in our relative privacy and comfort, we still did what soldiers do, trying to fend off boredom during long stretches of “hurry up and wait.” Lots of banter, lots of complaining, and occasional outbreaks of laugh-’til-it-hurts humor.
One slow day, one of my section mates found this thick roll of paper, unrolled it, and taped it to the wall of our hideout, from ceiling to floor. He marked horizontal lines on it, making it look like a giant thermometer.
Then he took a sheet of notebook paper and drew a critter that was like a giant dragonfly, except with sunglasses. “This is the Winged Electro S**t Worm,” he explained with no lack of creative pride.
Then he took a piece of masking tape and affixed the Worm to the thermometer. “The Winged Electro S**t Worm will render our attitude check as needed.”
And so it did. S**t Worm high up the thermometer, near the ceiling? That meant our spirits were high. Like when we avoided going out to work in the cold, or we passed one of our constant readiness inspections, or we found girls in town who hadn’t sworn off of dumb GIs.
But sometimes the worm moved down toward the floor. S**t Worm low on the scale meant our attitude was dropping. Long cold walk to town, struck out with the girls, long cold walk back = S**t Worm descending. Sergeant ordered us to go to the motor pool and work on our truck? Worm dropped down some more.
One day I walked in to find the Winged Electro S**t Worm taped to the floor in the middle of the room. Can’t remember why our section was in such a bad mood but the worm expressed that we were about as low as we could go.
One day a Lieutenant happened in unexpectedly, took offense and made us get rid of the attitude thermometer and the S**t Worm. The End.
What’s this have to do with care giving? Well, here we are in the holidays, with plenty of extra stuff on top of the regular routines. High hopes and big let downs can alternate quickly. Attitude can ride the waves.
We took our son to a couple of seasonal music programs. Taking him to public events can be risky, but he actually listened and enjoyed them, and our holiday spirits rose.
On the other hand, we’ve been getting the house ready for a Christmas Eve party. Company! Human contact! But the kid (and the dog and the cat) have countered our tidy-up efforts with some formidably disgusting messes. Attitude sinking… sinking…
Holidays make the roller coaster ride of care giving more intense, I think. Laughter, even the grim kind, can be good medicine for attitude fluctuations.
So don’t be ashamed to represent with a Winged Electro S**t Worm.