Thursday, June 16, 2011
My grandmother has Alzheimer's disease. She's living in a nursing home right now. And while Alzheimer's is a sad disease, it has brought some funny moments. It seems that Grandma's filter is gone now. You know, that filter that stops you from saying things that might be inappropriate or at least better left unsaid.
Last weekend a nurse offered Grandma a chocolate milkshake. She took it, sucked it right down, and declared, "That was better than sex!"
To which the nurse responded, "It would be pretty hard for you to say that, considering you had 13 kids!"
We've laughed and said Grandma has probably been thinking these things her whole life and is only know actually saying them out loud. Whether it's a result of her disease or she figures at 87 years old, she's earned it, only Grandma knows.
Little kids have to be taught to use their filters. I remember once when Annie was about 3 or 4 years old. I was holding a friend's new baby. Annie came over and I said, "Look Annie. Isn't she cute?"
Annie matter-of-factly replied, "Eh. Kind of cute. Kind of ugly" and ran off to play, leaving me mortified and stammering for an appropriate apology.
Has your kid ever asked someone, regardless of gender, when the baby was going to come out of their belly? And the person. was. not. pregnant.
There are days I really wish my filter was broken. When I would like to just let loose whatever sentiment comes to mind, regardless of to whom it is directed and how it might affect them. Facebook seems to be the corner coffee shop of those with broken filters. Like the inability to see the reaction on someone's face somehow absolves the "speaker" from the consequences of what they've just put out there.
Sometimes I think a filter leak is a good thing. It gets people's attention, maybe wakes them up to something they've not been able to see before. But mostly, I trust my filter to keep me in the "treat others as I want to be treated" mode.
Remember "You've Got Mail?" Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) had no filter and often regretted it. Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) had a broad filter and often felt frustrated by it. I suppose the secret to these filters is, like everything else in life, balance.
So how's your filter? Do you say what you want when you want to? Or do you bite your tongue as a matter of etiquette and good will?