In 1974 the group Steely Dan put out an album called “Pretzel Logic”. Of course I was only a little girl then, but just a few years later I made it to junior high, where I became a huge fan of the group. The term pretzel logic has always held a fascination for me. It’s both funny sounding and intriguing. It’s also something that some of us engage in from time to time: convoluted thinking, complicated, strange or twisted logic. The kind of reasoning that leads you to a bad place.
Popsicle logic is a term I coined based on the experiences of my daughter, M. It’s much sweeter than pretzel logic. It’s when something not so nice ends up working out in the end. Here’s how it all came about.
M. is what doctor’s call “hypermobile.” In layman’s terms, she’s double-jointed. While this ability has become a fascination and M.’s calling card of sorts (double-jointed kids really know how to show off at a party– even her eyes can move independently!), it can be very painful because joints have a tendency to pop out of place (ouch!).
When M. was younger, her hypermobility combined with her natural defiance gave her a predisposition to Nursemaid’s elbow. Nursemaid’s elbow is a dislocation of the elbow joint, usually caused by a sudden pull on the extended forearm. A certain type of child seems to be more prone to Nursemaid’s elbow. You know them, you’ve seen them, the ones that say “no” to everything their parents say, the ones that pull away every time an adult takes their hand. Well, M. was one of those children. And it wasn’t pretty! Sometimes I wonder how I survived that time…Anyway, our family spent many hours at the emergency room (her elbow dislocated 4 times from the age of 2 to 5) because of Nursemaid’s elbow. M. would be in pain, whiny, but not particularly teary until the attending physician would abruptly put her elbow back in place– YIKES!! Can you imagine? Then the tears would fall, and I would forget all the drama that preceded this trauma. I would attempt to console, and so would said attending physician, who, much to M.’s delight, would whip out a….POPSICLE!
This was ALWAYS the routine. Elbow would dislocate, I’d drive to E.R., we’d wait for a few hours, doctor would reposition elbow (Sometimes we wouldn’t even get an exam room…he/she would fix the elbow in the hallway! Room or not, it would still be a $300.00 visit.), M. would get a popsicle. So there was definitely a silver lining to this craziness. At least for M. So for all the grinding and gnashing of teeth, before and after the dislocation, M. would get her popsicle.
When M. got a little older she would tell stories of her E.R. escapades and would always end it with, “and then you get a popsicle!” Her stories amused all she told because even though each ordeal was pretty traumatic, her main memory of the event was the sugary treat she was gifted at the end. When I think back to that time I remember crying, my child helplessly holding her forearm, and much mommy-guilt that I may have pulled her little arm just a little too hard (when in fact she was the one pulling away from me…really!). M. just remembers the popsicle. It was almost a positive experience for the child! In her mind, everything ended as it should, it all worked out okay, because she got a popsicle in the end.
So you know, the doctors weren’t just being nice when they handed my kiddo that frozen treat on a stick. They were making sure that her elbow was actually back in place. They didn’t place the popsicle in her hand, they held it out and made her retrieve it. Once M. reached for the popsicle , they knew her arm was again fully functional and that she could be sent home– mission accomplished.
So popsicle logic is my name for M.’s ability to put a positive spin on a negative situation. She has, she uses, she revels in her popsicle logic. I’ve seen her use it time and time again, and I try to use it, too. It’s not being Pollyannaish, in other words, unrealistically optimistic, but it is looking at the glass as half-full, instead of half-empty. We can almost always do that.
Things do have a way of working out in the end. And sometimes you end up with a popsicle in your hand.