After exhaustive research on the web, which is to say, several hours, I have been unable to find any reference to what my mother called bonking. Yes, I know it’s a euphemism for sex and that’s not what she meant. People, including me, use it to describe colliding into another object, something my head does when it goes in search of open cupboards. It was also used during World War I to refer to shelling with artillery fire.
But not a single reference to how my mother used it. When I was little, my favorite method of comforting myself was to rock my body back and forth, as if every chair, couch, or car backseat were a rocking chair. I would start with a gentle rocking motion, and slowly build up speed until I reached competition-level rocking. Thud, thud, thud, back and forth, like a manic metronome, I pounded out the rhythm of whatever music was playing in my head. This is what mother called bonking. I broke the springs in one of our couches because I could not sit on the couch to watch TV without bonking the entire time.
I also bonked across state lines. We used to drive from Texas to Arizona to visit my grandma, and I remember asking my mom once when we were going to get there. She said, “If you hadn’t been bonking so hard, we’d have already been there.” I guess the force of me bonking so hard in the backseat cancelled out the force of her foot on the gas pedal. One mile forward, half a mile backward.
Rocking is fairly common in babies. It soothes them. The rhythmic movement is calming, and most stop doing it around the age of three. I obviously needed a lot of self-soothing and comfort because I bonked passionately until I was at least eight years old.
I don’t remember anyone ever talking to me about it or trying to discover what compelled me to do it. My parents just accepted that I was a weird kid and that I’d probably grow out of. I did, kind of. I still love a rocking chair better than other kind of seating arrangement. And I still do some gentle rocking at times when I’m standing and waiting. And who doesn’t rock while listening to the blues?
If I were a child now, I’d probably have to see a shrink once a week, be on medication, have two or three psychological labels sewn to my psyche, and attend special classes for children who bonk.
Sometimes children have behaviors that require intervention, sometimes not. Sometimes kids are just weird. That, after all, is where all the weird adults come from.
This post was written from a rocking recliner.