Have you ever noticed that sometimes, when people are trying to reassure you, they just end up making you feel worse? Like when your dentist is working on your mouth and says “uh-oh.” The fact that he follows that up by saying, “Don’t worry: we can fix that,” is, in all actuality, not that reassuring. Or when your pilot comes on over the intercom and says, “The good news is that we are almost definitely going to be able to clear the first set of trees.” Or when you’ve been involved in a terrible accident and the first person on the scene looks at you and says, “Well, at least your right leg is still attached.” I’m positive that each of the above statements were meant to be reassuring, and yet, in reality, they were most decidedly anything but.
When it comes to truly anxiety-provoking statements, though, nothing beats the seemingly innocuous phrase my teenage daughter, Clementine, has begun to use constantly. I’m referring, of course, to the dreaded, “It’s all good.”
Consider the following true story of a recent “it’s all good” conversation. It happened the other week, when she and her friends borrowed our car—our only car, I might add—and, after being gone with it longer than anticipated, called me to say, “Um, yeah, we had a little car trouble, but it’s all good.”
“What happened?” I asked.
“Don’t worry. It’s all good. There were so many people in it that we were able to push it out of the road no problem. It’s all good.”
Every time the phrase “it’s all good” came out of her mouth my stomach dropped a little bit further. And yet, she kept saying it. Like it was soothing or something. “Where are you now?” I managed to choke out.
“Don’t worry. It’s all—”
“Please, please stop saying that,” I begged, my stomach somewhere in the vicinity of my feet. “It’s not helping.”
“Because I’m starting to doubt whether or not you have a real firm grip on what ‘good’ means. Or ‘all’. And maybe, even, for that matter, ‘it.’ All I know is that you cannot simultaneously describe something as both ‘trouble’—as in ‘car trouble’—and ‘all good.’ If it was all good you wouldn’t have needed to call me in the first place.”
“Chill. We’re taking care of it. It’s all—”
“Okay, just tell me one thing: is ‘good’ the new slang for ‘screwed up beyond all repair’? Because when I was a teenager we thought it was cool to say ‘bad’ for ‘good.’ Like ‘that car is bad.’ Meaning ‘good.’”
I could hear her eyes rolling over the phone. “Mom. People still say that. And no, I mean ‘good’ like in ‘good.’”
“Really? Because the time you dropped your iPhone you said it was ‘all good,’ too.”
“It was. It still works. Sort of.”
“Yeah. That’s what I was afraid of. Just bring the car back home, okay?”
Silence, followed by a much more subdued, “Are you mad?”
I smiled grimly at that. “Don’t worry about it,” I said. It’s all good.” And then I hung up.
Let her enjoy the “all good” anxiety for a while.