Chloe’s Brain is Like a Salt Mine

Many parents bemoan their teenagers’ moody personalities and ungrateful, complainer-puss attitudes.  I am no different – I joined that club years ago, long before Chloe was even officially a teen (she’s always been precocious in that way). Chloe drives me batty sometimes. It’s the job of these half-children half-beasts, isn’t it, to drive their parents batty?

Lately, however, Chloe has been less exasperating than funny. Not always intentionally funny, mind you, but funny to me. Sometimes her brand of funny is of the laugh-out-loud variety and sometimes…it’s just weird.

Chloe’s brain is in constant motion. When I try to imagine what a physical representation of her mind would resemble, I think of something like the Maras Salt Mines in Peru:

Maras Salt Mines
Maras Salt Mines in Peru

A brain partitioned into hundreds of small compartments, where Chloe’s thoughts and ideas, once cultivated, are immediately replaced by more thoughts and ideas that are seemingly random, but are actually sort of connected if you think hard enough about them. Just like the hundreds of individual salt ponds that comprise the  Peruvian mine, which are interconnected by channels carrying saltwater. The water eventually evaporates, leaving tons upon tons of salt ripe for collection.

Chloe’s ideas spew out of her mouth in floods of funny, astute and strange ideas.  She let loose two such floods over the past couple of days, which I have reproduced, almost word-for-word, below.

The first flood took place during a 10-minute car ride last week, when we were returning home from buying several different kinds of moisturizing lotion (stick with me here, there’s a point to that detail – see #2 below). For purposes of categorization, we’ll baptize this first stream of consciousness monologue “Personal Hygiene.”

Chloe on Personal Hygiene

(1) The Celery and Water Experiment. “I think it would be really cool to eat nothing but celery and water for a week,” Chloe announced. I don’t think Chloe has ever even tasted celery, but when she mentioned her idea on the school bus the other day, a boy validated it by confessing that he had attempted the same feat last summer and survived.  When I responded that she was apt to go nuts eating only celery, she mused, “I could always add peanut butter. But I guess that would kind of defeat the purpose. Besides, how bad could celery be? It’s a useless vegetable. It has no taste. It’s like crunchy water.” She paused. Thought some more. “Ok. Maybe not an entire week, but three days would be good.”

Wildflowers in Arches National Park
Wildflowers in Arches National Park

(2) Moisturizing regimen.  During the dog days of winter, Chloe’s hands were very dry and more worrisome, a disturbing shade of purple. Literally. I asked her doctor whether she was getting enough circulation to her extremities. The kid is fine, but was told she needed to wear gloves and use lotion during the cold months. “I can’t wait to use the new cremes I bought. My hands are better now that it’s warmer, which is great because I hate hand creme. It makes my hands all greasy and you know, yuck. But my legs and arms need work. Our Disney trip is coming up and I need to be bathing suit-ready.”  When I remarked that her her new regimen might require her to get up even earlier for school every morning, she scoffed. “It’ll be fine, mom. How long can it take? Oh, and my elbows really need creme. They look like an old man’s skin.”

(3) Brushing Teeth. “I think I’m also going to start brushing my teeth more. They’re too yellow for my liking. Every time I go to the bathroom, I’m just going to brush them for 30 seconds.”

That’s Chloe for you. Random ideas and observations. Occasionally logical, sometimes silly and often amusing.

Chloe’s second flood of bizarre and funny ideas erupted on Saturday morning and lasted for about five minutes. I’ve named it “Creative Life.”

Chloe’s Creative Life

(1) Philosophy. Chloe bought “Introducing Philosophy: A Graphic Guide” at the bookstore the other day, just because.  The tome  is full of fun facts about eccentric and erudite men (the women supposedly appear in a different volume about feminism – whatever) with hard-to-pronounce names. “Mom! Pythagoras was one crazy guy.  He treated numbers like a religion. Did you know he killed one of his students because the student told other people about his discovery of pi? But Pythagoras didn’t want anyone to know about pi because it messed up everything he thought he knew about numbers!”

Chloe at Canyonlands
Chloe at Canyonlands

(2) Wordplay.  “I have this idea for a project. There are lots of cool-sounding words I like. I’m going to create postcard-size pictures using those words and hang them on my wall.”  What are some of the words she loves to say out loud?  Wayfarer, efflorescence, beezlebub, fiddlesticks, woebegone, wherewithal, quintessential, effervescent, fetching, celestial, crestfallen, nefarious, diabolical, rendezvous and malevolence. It occurred to me that if she creates enough of these images, perhaps we won’t need to send her to expensive SAT tutoring sessions in a few years.

(3) Fashion. Chloe has been chomping at the bit to go thrifting in New York in order to augment her wardrobe with interesting clothing. “I want to start wearing cooler clothes. My clothes are fine, but some days I’m just not excited about what I have on.  My goal is to get dressed and be all ‘Wow! I’m proud of this outfit!’ Every single day.” I like that she’s doing this for herself and not to impress others.

I have to admit that when Chloe talks, I often can’t keep up with her. She has no brakes. It’s an amazing thing to witness and I’m very grateful for her intellectual curiosity but, shit, it’s exhausting.

What floods of crazy thoughts have your teens shared with you? Do tell!

16 thoughts on “Chloe’s Brain is Like a Salt Mine”

    1. Yes, I am fortunate. Although there are days when she’s extremely taciturn and I start feeling paranoid that there’s something going on in her little head that she doesn’t want me to know…Hope you’re doing well!

      1. I’m well, thanks! Hope you are too!

        My oldest is 19 now, and long gone is the chatty toddler, and affectionate pre-teen! I expect she will return to me at about age 30? Lol

        Thank God I still have the 14yr old…for now!!! 🙂

        Hedgehog Hugs x

  1. My baby will be 20 in July, so it’s been a while since I experienced the flood of thoughts. Like you, I was just happy they were talking to me. Love the Maras Salt flats and Peru in general. Looks like you were there during the rainy season. Great photo.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Shawn, and taking the time to comment! My mother and I went to Peru in May 2013 – it was a spectacular trip. Would love to return with my husband and kids one day.

  2. Wow! But you are so lucky that shares. I can barely get a grunt out of my 20yr old son. I’m like yay – he actually spoke a whole sentence = a day’s conversation and about which I get insanely excited! :))

    1. Hi, Anjali! Yes – I’ve heard that from other parents and I am very grateful for her willingness to talk to me. There are days, however, when she’s a lot quieter than usual and I can’t help but wonder…

  3. My son read a number of books about chakras (The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz being one of them) and used it as a self help guide to get over a girl. He’s continued to “educate” us about our own chakras. It was actually very interesting.

    1. Thanks, Sarah. When I’m feeling a bit of wanderlust, I mine (pun intended) my old travel photos and try to work them into my posts, even if the posts aren’t about voyages to distant lands!

  4. Hey there PMN, Stick with me on this.

    When my DD, now 19+ was around Chloe’s age we got barrages of non-stop, stream of consciousness, often accompanied by requests for validation. It was, by turns, amusing and irritating, depending on a) the stream that was conscious and b) how much validation was involved on that stream that really wasn’t valid. Yes, I am writing the way I heard her speak on more than one occasion, but that worked out fine. Because now, at 19+ she does still talk to me, albeit less stream of consciousness, and asks for validation, albeit more rarely, but she still does talk to me. I think this bodes well for you and Chloe.

    1. Love this, thanks so much for sharing. You’ve perfectly captured how I feel when my 14yo does this – “by turns amusing and irritating” – yes! I must not take her willingness to talk to my husband and me for granted – it’s a gift, even when it may sometimes feel like it’s not. I hope it lasts for a long, long time.

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