A Modern Girl's Musings

My earliest political memory is of my parents laughing at me when I asked if we were voting for Ronald Reagan. Even I could tell poor Carter wasn't looking so good. I was about five. I think the laughter was accompanied by something along the lines of "for crying out loud!"

Nevertheless I consider myself a Reagan Baby. Those eight years of my childhood were spent realizing that there was still a lot of work to be done, despite Dr. King, in addition to the Kennedys (a lot of them were still alive then), and hopefully including me (if my Quaker education by the hippies was teaching me anything at all).

So after Reagan, after Clinton, after hiding in those Bushes, I am still hopeful, I am still working on my addition, I'm still on my way to a new way of living in this world.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Swing It, Glass Lady


Every August we try to go to the Italian Feast Days in the North End.

Almost every August, we fail.

One year we made it twice.  KK was an infant and we were really trying to do family things.  I projected so much onto little KK as a baby, that I swore she was in tune with her Italian heritage as I pushed her up and down the tiny narrow streets in her Graco Metrolite.  Looking back she may have felt some kinship, but most likely she was just content cause she is a nosy being, and festivals like that used to amuse her immensely.

They do not anymore.

KK is a bit on the anxious side.

So it was with delight that today, when we finally made it to the North End for the celebration of the Madonna Della Cava, she became enamored by the kooky lady playing the glass harmonica at the mouth of Hanover Street.

Before this fascination, KK had fallen a little in love with the Madonna Della Cava, the saint whose feast it was this weekend.  When I looked up to see whose festival it was, up came a small little picture of the Madonna Della Cava, causing KK to declare "It's so BEAUTIFUL!"  The story of the little mute boy, hundreds of years ago, dreaming of uncovering the Madonna and then telling his mother he must help find the Madonna-- how, I am not sure, him being mute and all and it kinda being an intricate story-- and then making his whole village go and do just that, struck a cord with my flair-for-the-dramatic daughter.  You mean no one listened but he was RIGHT?  And then they built a TOWN because of him?  And now we can go "celebrate" with her?  This is for me!

But before the Madonna, there was kooky lady.

The glass harmonica sounds spooky.  It’s long and looks like someone has glued together a bunch of champagne glass tops, stuck cork through the entire thing, and then placed it on a spit.  Ben Franklin thought it up.  I do not think it ever caught on.

When we approached, the kooky lady was playing the theme from Harry Potter.  Perfect for the glass harmonica (“doesn’t it just sound like that was MADE for this thing?” kooky lady exclaimed at one point), and also fitting for the very old and tiny streets of Boston.

H, who was asleep when we walked up to kooky and her glass harmonica, immediately woke up, music lover that he is.  Katia stood transfixed.

“Where are you from originally!” She asked as she dipped her finger tips in little glass bowls and played, as a tourist kid wound the harmonica’s wheel.

“Arlington, Massachusetts!”  I am proud of this.  And it’s colonial, so I thought fitting.

I was wrong.

“Okay, so how about I play Twinkle, Twinkle Little…Twinkle twinkle little star, how I wonder…” and off she went.

I racked my concussed brain (that story is deserving of its own post, for sure) to try to remember if the author of Twinkle, Twinkle is from Arlington.  Then I remembered it was Mozart who worked on variations of it and my head almost imploded and she was on to someone else.

“Where are you from originally!”

“New York.”

“No.  ORIGINALLY.”

“Ehhh.  Columbia.”

“Oh, oh!  Okay!  Want me to play the national anthem of Columbia?”

I don’t think this guy really did.  I am pretty sure this guy felt he is an American.

“…Okay.”

She got out a huge book of sheet music and searched for Columbia. 

“Can you hold my book?” She asked another tourist kid.

She began to play.

The man and his relatives, who had by now joined him, listened with respect. They kept mentioning  something about hats, and laughing, but other than that were not too miffed she did not just play the American anthem for them.

When she finished she said something in very bad Spanish.

They gave her a dollar.

“Where are you from originally!” She moved on to a woman in the small crowd.

“Quebec City, Montreal.”

Kooky lady said something in even worse French, then said “How about Oh Canada!”

The woman groaned.  No no, she said, not that.  At first Kooky lady agreed “okay, not that” but then Kooky lady realized she had not other song for someone from Quebec City, Montreal. 

“Then how about Harry Potter!”

The woman looked horrified.  So Oh Canada it was.  Accompanied in French, by Kooky.

When she finished, she got a dollar.

“Where are you from originally!” She asked someone else.
“Can you play Rocky Mountain High?”

“John Denver!  But does that have a melody?”

“I dunno.  Maybe.  Try it.”

Kooky wet her finger tips and the tourist kid wound er up.

“How about Harry Potter!”  She said just as her fingers touched the glass.

“Doesn’t it sound like it was made for this?”

The crowd began to break up.  For most people, even those of us who are enamored with Harry Potter,  the mention of him three times in five minutes makes an impression.

The crowd dispersed except for KK.  And me and H with her.

And I remembered all of have a little glass harmonica player in us.  That shy sliver that sometimes makes others back away.  But sometimes it can make one person stand there, in awe, of what you are, which is unique, which in this case is a sixty year old lady who, okay, most likely has many cats, and spent money to have a glass blower make her this crazy ass thing Ben Franklin thought up when he wasn’t creating a new country or sleeping with lots of ladies and impregnating them or running around with a kite and that mouse who was his kindred friend.

Our shy slivers enjoyed your groove, Kooky.  And I have had to accept KK is shy.  Which is kind of a dirty behavior:  you mean your kid is not that outgoing precocious kid who talks to anyone like she is a long lost relative, easing adults around that they are good and true?  Shy kids tend to make adults feel really awkward, I've found.  They talk and act goofy and get no response and blame the kid: oh, she's shy! they exclaim.  To which I want to say "that, or she just has no idea how to process a grown up in her face staring at her hair, asking if she is a pretty girl, if she is an older sister, if she loves her mummy and wants you to get OUT of her FACE!"  And, after the glass groove, we spent the rest of our time negotiating the festival.  All the doggies, there with their human parents, terrified both kids, even the tiny toy ones, causing me to carry KK on my hip and push the stroller, diaper bag, and H with my free hand. It's natural and American for kids to love dogs, so no one seems to realize the grimaces on my kids' faces are signs of acute anxiety.  The owners smiles bag as my kids point and screech "doggie! doggie!" and then try to shimmy back into my womb as the pet gets closer.  "He loves kids!  He won't bite!"  Can you imagine meeting, someone at a party like that?  "You're a teacher?  My husband loves teachers! Oh, he won't--Okay honey, stop that! Stop now.  Sit.  He usually loves teachers, I don't know why he did that.  Bad Boy!"  

When it wasn't the dogs freaking my KK out, it was other animals. We bought fries and fresh lemonade and took them to a park to eat.  Because I could not put KK down.  Because of the dogs.  And the sounds of the sound system being tested which she could not see so could not identify so felt scared by....We entered the park and KK looked furtively around.  "But there's pigeons!" Which is H's cue to try to climb away to try to chase the pigeons down. I can't turn off the teacher in me, so I decided to use the moment:  "KK, do you want to like animals sometimes, but just get a little nervous?"  "YES!" she said.  "Like those pigeons.  They just might peck peck peck me.  You just don't know."  So we ate our fries away from all dogs and all pigeons.

And then slinked back to the festival.

I knew enough not to ask if anyone had to pee.  I had used the porta potty, but KK is also terrified of public restrooms.  With good reason.  They stink.  The vast majority flush on their own and get her butt wet and make this horrible whooshing noise that sends mortal fear rushing through her body.  Once, in a Mobil station in Connecticut, I swore to her the toilet was safe.  It was "manual" I explained.  No motors.  It would not, under any circumstance, splash water on her butt or make any noises.  This violates one golden rule all should follow, no matter what color state you prefer to live within, when dealing with kids:  never promise anything you can not fulfill.  If you don't know the answer, tread lightly over that delicate ground.  Or you will slip into quicksand and the last thing you hear will be screams and wails as you go under.  But I forgot that rule.  "It's manual!"  Our ritual is I go first.  To show all is okay.  So I did.  The only thing I noticed is my bare skin felt a little colder than it should.  Indoors.  On a sunny day, even in fall.  I pulled up, she pulled down, and I put her on the toilet.  And I was ill prepared for what happened next, as the water in the bowl began to whirl and whip around and a very loud whooshing sound ripped up and through the pipes and into the bowl, splashing ice cold water all over my poor KK. It was a humiliating moment for her and she was terrified.  And never again would she trust me that public toilets were "okay, see?  like mommy does?"  So I barely ask anymore.  Instead I try to soothe anxieties as she looks wide eyed at strange toilet bowls, wondering how they might betray us.

Despite her worry about the music (it's too loud!  I don't like those drums!!!), she was enthralled as the Madonna Della Cava Society carried the Madonna relic through the streets.  I was the very darkest person following the procession, I can tell you that.  And forty years ago in Boston I am sure this would not have gone that well for me, despite my kids being part Italian themselves.

But for a little bit, we were not so shy, standing there listening to Ben Franklin's invention.

And Harry Potter does sound good on that thing.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Our Sunny Adventure


Our family is on an adventure.

I must call it this or else it becomes in name what it is in spirit: a rather challenging week  and a half where I churn out twenty to forty pages of revised work a night while my children behave like, well, children.

Our adventure coincides with several things.  One of them is the rearranging of our apartment back home.  Every room except the bathroom got switched all up.  My kids have a larger bedroom, my husband and I can now walk all the way AROUND our bed like adults, and we have an office.  We also have, when all added up, a couple hundred dollars worth of new shelving in the kitchen, making this mama lady feel like slight family organization is within reach.  But the whole thing was disorienting.  The kids go into our bedroom looking for their toys, which had been living in that room for two years.  I keep trying to throw things out where the trash cans were, only to have to turn on my heels and search around for their new place. And the back porch I cleaned and was proud of last weekend is now the receptacle for all the things my husband brought home from his mother’s move, which we’ve been assisting as well.

So there is that.  There is flux.  I know I am a neurotic writer. And so I know flux makes me edgy and in need of some fancy drinks and gossip.  My releases.  I am just a teenage girl at heart, really.

Then there is this trip.  To work on my new play.  Here inidyllic La Jolla.  I am from Boston.  Most things are old.  And narrow.  I am astounded by how new everything looks here, even when it isn’t.  I’m perplexed by all these apartment complexes.  With pools.  And manicured grass and flowers and palm trees.

Our days go like this: 

4 AM  I try to peel out of bed to pee but since the kids and I are sharing a bed here, I am usually unable to pee alone at night, since they are worried I am going to go to rehearsal on the sly.

4 AM to 6 AM ish  Small people ask me if it is morning and if there are owls in the palm trees and if there are, are they hungry? Will they find us?  There ARE owls in Medford.  But they won’t eat us there. Will they eat us here?  No?  Okay. 

6 AM to 7 AM  All attempts at breakfast for H are mocked, while KK requests option after option.

8 AM ish  There is always some sort of “miscommunication” about when I was to leave to go write. 

Until 10:30 AM ish  I write, buy what seems like 500 dollars with of food and apple juice, and realize that everyone here reminds me of the people in Somerville’s Porter Davis area…friendly and spacey.

12:30-7 I am in rehearsal.  I am astounded by the actors, my director, the stage managers, the dramaturg.  These are some kick ass artists.  Come see the show!

7 PM  I usually around this time get a text saying the kids are crazy and not tired.  I night they fell asleep at 5 but that was once.  That is over.   During this time R takes his leave.

Til 11 PM  I do more rewrites. 

So I am very tired.  This post is not even that interesting because I am so tired.  But it has been so long since I have written.

For various reasons.

Among them is four.  I know every age has its challenges.  I know I have probably said this about three.  And two.  I know my mother has heard me rant.  I know my friends have, too.  But four is grating on me.  I also understand that if someone has a child who is delayed in anyway, my complaints sound ungrateful and annoying.

But four.  Is.  Frustrating.  To be kind about it.

The talking, the questions, the demands, the ruminations, are INCESSANT.  Maybe she is just the typical overindulged twentyfirst century preschooler.  But I am not so sure.  We do have boundaries and limits and she does not really throw tantrums and is usually so sweet and kind.  But four. Is. demanding and constant and in need all.the.time.  I don’t know how people do this with more.  Someone is always falling or destroying something.  People remark “you’ve lost all the baby weight!  You’re thin!” And I say: um, this is stress?  And, you lose your appetite when you spend meals asking people to sit, to eat, to stop hitting, to chew, and then someone says “I have to go to the bathroom” and insists you watch her, and then help her, and really, I am not sure who is still hungry if that is the pattern your meals and days take. 

I have also been thinking of the following.  Years ago on Phil Donohue, Audrey Hepburn was asked if she’d even write an autobiography.  She said no.  The audience specifically wanted to know about her dad who left them family around the time of the war.  She said no.  She said “A life involves too many other lives”.  It’s okay I invoke her.  She must be smart if Target sells her posters, right?  College dorm art corners the market on insight, right?  Anyway, it is not an untrue statement.  I am wary of plastering my kids’ lives on the internet.  Or my husband’s.  Or even my own, when so many can have access to it.  So I’ve been in the weeds, thinking of these things…my bladder full, the little fingers digging into my side.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Dear Mommy


I would just like to nurse off one and touch the other to make sure it is not going to be taken away from me, is that okay?  Good!  Sorry about the nails, I know they are sharp since I will not let you cut them unless you have an assist from Dad, who has been working almost non stop for the past few weeks, so is never here (LOL, mommy!) so I know that you probably don't like me digging them into your boobs like I do. OH, and, I'll just be here every five minutes til dinner making time, then I will need to be here every two minutes, okay?  Good!  
Signed,
H!

PS
And do not even think of weaning me.  That is a bad idea.  A definite No No, in my opinion.  And my vote counts.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Me and Junie C., or, Where Was I Going?, Where Have I Been?


I have not posted in oh so long.

I dream up many posts in my head.

But they never make it through my fingers and onto my computer screen.

I will be honest.  My kids have stepped it up a notch in terms of their kidness.  This is what I have been telling people lately when they ask me how I am.  This is a safe and coy answer, as the real answer might lead one to believe I feel more as though I am held captive by my kids, than that I am happily and effortlessly engaging in some post modern June Cleaver fantasy life.

I will continue to be honest.  Before I actually had my kids I often engaged in a post modern June Cleaver fantasy life.  I think in many ways all of us have to, on some level, or else how could we ever take a gander at this having kids thing in the first place.  When you picture your family, whether you are twenty or thirty five or forty two, you picture the ideal, whatever that ideal is for you.  Maybe your ideal is that white picket fence and two story colonial.  Or maybe it is that you will have kids and still be able to use the bathroom without people watching you; or that you will still go to movies so you get the jokes on the Oscars; or  that you manage to clean the toilet on the regular; or buy magazines, or send greetings cards to people.  Whatever it was, here, with the actual kids running about, it ain’t.  Which leads me to what I have been up to as of late.

Which is.

That I have been in a strange and mystical place where unless I am sleeping (and I only do that for about two hours in a row these days.  They either wake up and are needing or I wake up anyway, wondering if they are needing, and once I get to sleep, they do indeed wake up, needing) I do not sit in one place with out doing something for more than five minutes.  I manage to shower, while inhabiting this mysterious space, but I do it while being watched and answering questions.  Or, if I manage to run in there and shut the door—cause let me tell ya, I have, I admit, resorted to setting up Legos or the play food in the playroom, getting people jazzed about playing with that stuff, and then shedding my ubiquitous bathrobe and other clothing while running through the apartment to the bathroom, where I take a shower until my lovelies have figured out I am gone—I usually end up making the shower pretty snappy as my son has learned to use his body as a battering ram and slam his nineteen month old self against the bathroom door until I come out and he can get a good look at me and make it known I had no right to wash myself when he needed some nursey.  Nursey days are drawing to a close, but I am pretty sure he realized weaning is going to require a store of energy I just do not have right now.  Huzzah, mommy, Hu-fucking-ZAH!

Because did I mention my kids have stepped it the f up?

They have.

My husband and I are exhausted. 

It’s almost like they are newborns, only, they are not.  They follow us from room to room and are eating us out of house and home.

They also have the sass.

If your baby hasn’t learned to speak yet, you are lucky, the sass has not come to visit yet.  But it will.  And when it does, you will realize parenting books are crap, parenting sites are crap, the only comforting truth is that there is whiskey and ice cream in this world and that one day they will have their own children and I can laugh at them the way I am pretty sure my mother laughs at me with her coworkers.

It began in January.

We had the fevers, and the snotty noses, and the snow.  And our balance had never been quite the same since the holidays, which threw us off child, Oh My goodness.

And around the end of this January, both kiddos kinda emerged.  H started becoming more of this world.  And less easily placated.  He is in to everything in a way that all my women’s studies courses would disagree may be because of all the testosterone he’s got compared to KK.  He is interested in many things but in particular drumming, dancing, falling off things, running into corners, and swiping knives from drawers and the dishwasher.  I got him a play sword for Valentines thinking, Well, it is not a gun and yay, he has an interest, maybe he will be a competitive fencer and it will pay for college.  I regret this choice because now I am worried he is a budding weirdo.  My mom says “no, he is just a BOY!” But. That does not make the title of weirdo inapplicable. Which I really would like it to be.  (I have hidden said Valentines sword, by the by).

Not to be outdone, KK has perhaps gone from preschool three to preteen “what did you just say to Me? Go to your room please right now”  She has taken up “humming”, which is really moaning just a pitch too high to be easy on the ears and just a pitch too low to be using her real voice.  She does it all the time.  It makes you want to pitch yourself out the window and hope you miss the shrubs and land right on the pavement.  She also whines.  It’s delightful.  The books say ignore it but the books must not have experienced this particular brand of vocal styling.   They are crap, see? And ignoring, I have learned, is either an invitation to keep going indefinitely or, to our sensitive soul, a sign you are not listening, don’t love her only H, and hope she would go away.  Yes.   She has said this.  In so many words.

She is also very upset she cannot read and write.  Very upset.  But she is also stubborn so attempts to actually teach her to do so end in her telling me—and, I am a writer, you know.  I have agents.  Not to get all uppity about it but people have given me awards, okay?—that I am wrong and don’t know what I am talking about.  She is three.  This feels like arguing about homework.  Or Kant after she’s been away at college one semester and comes back thinking she knows everything.  She goes to preschool, not Exeter.  OYE!

I suppose I could abide this raising of the bar, if it were not affecting my mind.

Things came to a head when I missed a telephone meeting last week.  I thought I had written down the details of this meeting, but after I had missed it—and I realized it as I was walking out the door to go to the play space after a week of keeping them in from the extreme cold and tried calling all those at the meeting whom I had stood up while in  the play space surrounded by screaming kids and just as sleepy as me moms.  So yes, that went badly, trying to um make up those calls like that and sound professional and not like the resident soap flake—I looked at my three family/mom calendars where I write such details down.  One is covered now in scribbles, or, excuse me, CURSIVE!.  The dry erase has been slid down the fridge and well dry ERASED.  The magnetic one is covered with magnetic squares of holidays that have nothing to do with February (we sing a weather song every morning after breakfast but H is not satisfied until he has added holidays and activities on his own) And my electronic one has no record—no fucking record!!!!!—of anything on the 24th.

(As soon as those children were in bed that night I had a new, pristine, date book overnighted to me.  Its home is my desk and if I see even one jam fingerprint on it, heads are gonna roll!).

Oh, and this raising of the bar has also affected my living quarters.  I try to clean and my kids whip stuff out after me.

“They are like the Little Rascals” I said to my mom as she watched them in action.  “Yes!” she said.  But.  I could not tell if she thought it was funny or just sad.  That my panty hose from work that had been in my hamper was peeking out from behind my bedroom door.  Which is off the living room.  Which means when people come over they can, well, see my underclothes in plain sight.  Aces!

And as my kids get more kid like, the world is churning and chugging and actual revolution is knocking through streets and back alleys and capital buildings.  Revolution is the namesake of my blog and I am being clobbered by the laundry and the shopping and the cooking.  Shameful. 

So this is where I have been:  in the weeds.  Fighting like all get out to sit down and take showers without an audience and remember my professional obligations cause um, I have wanted this career for almost twenty years and that is not cursive and those parenting books suck and did I mention my deadlines? And I owe several friends emails and IMs and I have given up being able to call anyone except my mother and sisters ever again.

The weeds, my friends.  Where, luckily, me and June Cleaver get wi fi.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Daddy Went Skiing

Today Daddy went skiing.

This is how our day went.

And for those of you who do not think you would ever call your partner the title that explains his or her position in your nuclear family, you just aren’t there yet.  Maybe it takes a month, when you have realized doing it passive aggressively helps you to get him, or her, to take out the trash while you are stuck on the couch nursing while also smelling dinner from two nights ago rot in your rubbish bin.  Or maybe it takes five years because the first bit of parenthood was so blissful that you looked up one day and realized you are just so happy you can’t even remember this partner’s name you are so blinded by love and adoration.  But it happens. Eventually.  Trust me.  Wait for it.

Anyway, Daddy went skiing and our day went a little something like this:

12:30 AM  Daddy gets home from work and begins to open the only two closets in your apartment that also happen to be in you alls’ room, looking for goggles, ski pants, and ski boots.

1 AM  The baby we are sleep training wakes up.  Daddy is on it.

3 ish AM  I wake up with a hacking piercing cough.  Because I am not being sleep trained, no one looks after me to see if I have not coughed up a lung.

5:15 AM  The baby we are sleep training wakes up, and forlornly talks to himself in his crib.

5:20 AM  Big girl wakes up and climbs into our bed.

5:40 AM  Daddy’s alarm clock goes off.

5:43 AM  I try to pee alone, but am followed.

5:45 AM  I get up, start turning on lights, and Dad  and Big girl give me WTF looks.  I turn them off and go back to bed, reminding everyone this is often when we do get up and we may as well get up now anyway and when was the ski ride supposed be here? and maybe I am just still asleep.

6 AM  Daddy gets dressed.  Baby girl looks up confused as he walks away, dressed in full ski regalia.  A sight she has never seen, because we don’t have personal activities anymore, we have family outings now.

6:45 AM  A miracle!  The little people have fallen back to sleep so mommy can fall back asleep and this is the time we wake up for good.  A miracle, I say!

6:50 AM  Big girl races me to her bedroom, where, since she got there first, she is trying to pull the baby out of the crib.  By his arms.

7:00 AM  I try to lay out crackers (the good, buttery, not really very good for you kind) so people will not ask for breakfast yet because despite the sleeping in I am still sleepy. 

7:01 AM  The crackers are rejected.  Juice is requested.

7:05 AM  The crackers are accepted.  We all three sit on the couch.

7:15 AM  The crackers are sprinkled on the couch.  Then rejected.  Cereal is offered.

7:16 AM  Pancakes are requested.  Which is sweet, as they were only introduced to pancakes yesterday during a snowstorm.  Although wary at first, they decided they were very good.  Sadly, there are no more pancakes for today.

7:20 AM  Cereal is mentioned.  Again. 

7:21 AM  The KIND of cereal I offer is rejected.  So I counter offer with another offer of cereal.  I say another offer of cereal because it is the same KIND as was offered previously, just in an unopened box. 

7:25 AM  Cereal is offered to one in a green bowl and to the other in a blue bowl.  Big girl rejects her bowl, and when I say she will not get another kind of breakfast and will have to go to her room if she continues to cry about it, Big girl stays in a corner, the corner near her brother’s green bowl, and is very quiet.

7:26 AM I ask “are you waiting for that green bowl?”  and Big girl laughs and says yes! 

7:27 AM Baby abandons green bowl to run wild around the kitchen, and Big girl gets the rest of his cereal.

7:28 AM We sing the "what's the weather" song and do "the weather" on our magnetic calendar.  We do this every morning.  It's nice.

7:30 AM  I clean up.  While cleaning up, my kids run past me, pants me, and one yells “we’re sea monsters!”

7:30 AM  I pull up my pants.

7:31 AM I update my Facebook status, explaining my kids just pantsed me.  Sometimes, you keep your dignity by sharing, and hope the six hundred people you friended understand you are not crazy, just with kids all day.  All.  Day.

8 AM My mom calls.  She calls every morning, and has since Big girl was one week old.  It is my salvation.  Along with Facebook updates.

8-8:20 AM  I try to talk to my mom, while my kids jump on each other.

8:20 AM I am forced to get off the phone with my mom.

8:20-9 AM  I clean while Big girl and the baby un do what I have just done.  I wonder if famous playwrights spend their days spraying things down with 409 ( I tried organic stuff.  We got mice) and wiping bottoms.  Then I come to my senses. Of course not.  I wipe some bottoms.

9 AM  I get the baby dressed.  I go to get Big girl dressed and realize the cut she told me about on her foot is from a toe nail that is too long. 

9:01 AM  I agree with myself I am the worst mother ever, and explain to her that I must see that toe nail.

9:01 AM  I am rejected.

9:01 AM  I explain this is all mommy’s fault, but I need to see that toe nail.

9:01 AM  I am rejected.

9:02 AM I demonstrate getting toes clipped is no big deal by clipping the Baby's toe nails.  The Baby protests, but is calmed by crackers.

9:03 AM  I realize I must get at that toe nail before we put on tights.  And we must put on tights because Baby girl refuses to wear pants, only skirts and dresses.

9:02 AM -10:30 AM  I think about how I am going to get at that toe, clean, and make a chicken stock.

9:30 AM  We eat our daily popcorn.

Various times during the morning: People on Facebook post about their kids going out in the snow. And I recall my mom telling me to take them out.  And I resolve we will go out! And have fun!  Eventually!

10 AM  The baby comes into the kitchen, asks to be picked up for a cuddle.  I am so happy. I cuddle. 

10:01 AM  I walk into the living room and see that the baby has spread popcorn all over the floor.

10:02 AM  The baby laughs at me.  As I clean up the popcorn.  With him pointing and “yelling” at me in baby babble.

10:30 AM  The baby goes down for a nap, and I realize I must wait until he gets up to deal with that toe because Big girl is gonna scream.  I start in on the laundry.

10:45 AM I reach a new level of horrible mother and try to bribe Baby girl with the sandwich cookies she likes if she will let me clip her toe nails quietly.

10:45 AM  Baby girl negotiates, and it is um agreed? I will clip the nails after she is done with the vanilla side, but not the chocolate.  I go to do dishes.

11:00 AM  I go to the living room, see a teeth-scraped vanilla cookie and no chocolate cookie and realize I knew that was coming and I am an idiot.  I offer to cut Baby girl’s toe nails and am met with a sly smile and a NOPE!

11:30 AM  Mysteriously, the baby is still asleep, putting a dent in my  hard core mommy toe clipping plans.

11:45AM I offer lunch.

12:00 PM  We peek in on the baby.  Still asleep.  Toe clipping still halted.

12:15 PM Despite lunch having just been offered, a snack is requested.

12:20 PM  Someone “breaks into” the bag of baby clothes that is going to a coworker and slips into an 18 month sized Christmas dress from 08.

12:30 PM A snack is requested.

12:45 PM A snack is requested.

1:00 PM  A snack is requested and denied. Paints are offered.

1:05 PM  The baby is uncharacteristically asleep, so I lie on the couch while painting continues because that cough is making me tired.

1:10 PM  Baby girl begins falling asleep while painting.  I offer the couch.  Baby girl lies on couch with mommy.

1:15 PM Baby girl begins kicking mommy in the ribs. Mommy goes to eat cookies.

1:30 PM Nobody’s toes are clipped that weren’t clipped an hour ago.

1:45 PM Young neighbor from upstairs asks to use computer and mommy says yes and explains she is wearing her bathrobe OVER her clothes, so she is not as dead beat as she looks.

1:55 PM The baby wakes up, very happy. 

2:00 PM Lunch is offered to the baby.

2:05 PM Baby won’t stay in seat so lunch for the baby is ended.

2:10 PM  I realize that toe must be clipped before the tights before we venture out in the snow. 

2:15  PM I make coffee, realizing I might fall asleep in a snow drift out there.

2:20 PM  I get tough about the toe nail.  There is screaming.  I hope the neighbor realizes I am not a bad evil mom. 

2:25-2:35 PM  I squeeze people into coats and snow pants and mittens and hats.  The Baby begins screaming.  We leave the house with the baby not wearing a hat or mittens and I hope the rest of the neighbors realize I am not a bad evil mom.

2:35 PM The Baby’s nose begins bleeding the moment we step outdoors.

2:35  PM  I try to do the five minute warning but Baby girl looks at me like WTF!

2:35-3:15 PM  We walk about, the Baby screaming more often than not, still refusing mittens and hat.

3:18 PM We come inside. 

3:20 PM I offer hot chocolate to people I do not trust to drink out of mugs and who won’t drink anything hot anyway.  They do, however, appreciate the chocolate. I could not buy marshmallows cause I shopped with the baby and I could not find that aisle and he was about to have a fit.  So the hot chocolate has no marshmallows but they don't know the difference cause they are new to this world and don't know the customs.

3:30-4:30 PM  I try to do work emails.

4:15 PM  I text Daddy to see um when he might be expected to return.

4:30 PM I start on dinner.

4:31 PM  Everyone feels the kitchen is the only place to be and asking for food is the only way to interact with mommy at the moment.

4:35 PM  The cough comes on and the kids watch me as I cough.  They then cough, too.  We're SICK yells Big girl.

5 PM  I realize soup is silly for people this young.

5:30 PM  Dinner, having taken twenty minutes longer than usual cause I got all Martha Stewart and did this homemade stock thing, is being wiped off the floor.

5:35 PM  I race to set up the bath, making sure the kids do not follow me in there, or they will want to get in there now, and I am not ready for them to be in there now.  The Baby follows me around the house, repeating BAAATH BAAATH in a raspy stalker way which has been known to freak my mom out.

5:55 PM I wrangle wet babies out of the BAAATH.

6:00 PM Baby girl examines her toe nails.  I say SEE?  How smooth?  I am met with a frown. 

6:05 PM  The Your Baby Can Read commercial comes on, freaking Big girl out that she can’t read.  She asks for her dry erase letter board.

6:20 PM  Dad comes home.  But I am pretty sure there was apr├Ęs ski.  And he sits in his chair. 

7:00 PM Baby boy goes to bed.  Mad.

7:15 I read developmentally advanced chapter books to Big girl.  This satisfies her need to one up the babies on that Your Baby Can Read commercial.  It also lulls her to sleep.

7:30 PM Big girl wakes up when I drag her to the potty, and Daddy falls asleep on the couch.

8:00 PM  Big girl asleep.

I am happy Daddy got to ski.  But could Calgon come over for a little while?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

He's Our Second! We Know What We're...Oh Okay Fine, We Don't, or, Sick Baby Visits Are For Suckers

Our kids are healthy.

Last year when our son’s blood work came back wonky at his six month check up, we were reminded just how healthy and blessed our family is, because for a few weeks we weren’t sure we were that healthy and blessed.  We spent all of three hours in the pediatric hematology center at Mass General Hospital and realized just how good we have it, as our (at the time) 96th percentile baby waited for his exam and, thankfully, clean bill of health.

And yet, because we’re parents, we worry.

And sometimes even colds make us worry.

And fevers.

And the now that I really look at it strange way the toes on her foot line up cause what if it’s more?  What if there’s something WRONG.

But since there rarely is, my husband and I have learned not to call the doctor unless our kid is gushing blood and running a fever of 106.

So this time, we played it close to the hip.

Just before Christmas our three year old caught a cold, which spread to our seventeen month old.  So much snot I used large old cloth diapers from their spit up days to chase them around the house, trying to wipe and pick at them.  When the fevers spiked I knew what to do.  When the snot thickened, I took it in stride. I did not even entertain the thought of calling the doctor. 

The only thing this long two week trail of snot seemed to put a damper on was my vow to kick my beautiful but still night nursing son out of our bed.  For good this time.  No more caving. No more oh, I guess you can still this one time.  Knowing my show and the holidays would be over come December 27 (New Years is just no longer a holiday around here and I’ve found I get slightly irritated by even the thought of plans.  Give me my take out lone glass of wine!  Let me do all my laundry on the first!) I deemed that day the start of my brand new mommy life.  A life where I do not sleep in a pretzel shape and can freely go pee without my bed mates crying. 

But the 27th slide right past me on a slimy snotty road called hell.

With the odd exception of Christmas Eve, both kids have been waking up every hour for over a week.  While hippier parents than I see this as a wonderful way to snuggle and enjoy warm winter nights in a cozy family bed, I see this as a cruel reversion back to when I was trying to figure out how to get my mother to adopt my newborn because I didn’t think I could take the lack of sleep.  Foolishly I had spent my last trimester thinking I would be so happy to give birth so I could finally get some sleep because I was going to train my baby to sleep so I could sleep, too.

As the snot began to wane, I began to envision my salvation. 

On the 2nd, I fashioned a plan. 

“I’m really tired,” I told my husband.  I always announce this as a declaration that seems as though it should be a revelation to him.  But it’s been four years.  New info this ain’t.  “If he wakes up,” (I am always foolishly hopeful he will magically sleep) “comfort him and then leave the room, okay?”

“Sure.”

But there was a football game on.

And this is what happened instead:  around one, my son woke up.  I sprang from the bed, went out to where my husband was watching TV, and said “okay, just comfort him and get out of there.”  And off he disappeared.  But around 1:40, I woke up realizing my husband had never come back.  The monitor was silent.  Was he asleep on the floor, out for a beer?

A few minutes when by and then all hell broke loose as my husband came in to the living room, my screaming son in one arm.

Sleep deprivation chips away at your maternal instincts.

My gut reaction was not to cuddle but to yell “I SAID PUT HIM BACK AND GET OUT!!!”

But I didn’t.

“He threw up.”

Oh!

“All over the floor.”

But will he still wake up at 5:30 after this? 

“Tonight’s just not the night for this sleep thing.”

Well of course not NOW, NOW he’s AWAKE and out of that CRIB!

So my mommy self sprang into action and temperatures were taken and Tylenol was given and dang if that kid did not end up right where he was angling to be in the first place: in my bed.

The next night I was too tired to fight.  When he woke up yelling MaMa, MaMa, I acquiesced and he spent the next three hours tossing and turning and making creepy faces at shadows like the kid who sees dead people in The Sixth Sense.  Finally I realized he was not babbling to me but repeating CRIB! CRIB! to me and I placed him back and enjoyed a delightful sleep until five, when my daughter crawled in beside me and began moving the mucus around in her nose next to my head.  They are angels, they really are.

So last night I decided this was it.

I am too young to look this old.

And I decided I would not cave.

The night was long and the wails were loud, but I thought we made some real progress.

It was not until the afternoon when things went sour.

While napping my son proceeded to flip the f out.

His crying was frightening, as if he was in pain, and when he would not stop and could not stop and kept indicating his ear was killing him, my husband called in late to work, I decided not to take our daughter to dance, and we were lucky to have my mom be able to meet us at the doctor’s.

I should have had an inkling.

While waiting, I heard a nurse as she looked at the receptionist’s screen: “Crying?”
“Yep”  “What does that even mean?”  “Hunter.”  “Well okay!” 

Ridiculed!

Well we’d show them.

Once in the exam room, however, my son had different plans.  Once in the exam room my son turned on the full charm.  Smiles, sweet baby babbling, knowing looks.  As I gave the doctor the run down of his symptoms, he looked at her and said “yeah yeah yeah yeah” and pointed, which made the doctor smile and my heart sink.

“I don’t see anything,” she said as she washed her hands.

“We always wait to call!”

“It’s the magic of the doctor visit.”

“This always happens.  Nothing’s ever wrong.”

“He’s our second,” my husband added, as if to say: we’re not as stupid as this makes us seem, we know what we’re doing. 

“Even with the long cold, I’m not worried, no fever—“

“We’re never coming back here again, we promise.”

“You did exactly what you should.  We love to see you.”  This struck me as particularly embarrassing because she was not even our regular doctor, she was just looking at out file and how many times we used to call and zoom in before we toughened ourselves up, once, of course, we realized it was much harder to yank two kids into the sick baby visits than one kid, which is what we should have stopped at because clearly we are crazy Munchhausen-by-proxy parents who will next be insisting our kids have Ebola, Typhoid, and leprosy just to get the attention we so clearly crave.

“Maybe he had a nightmare,” she offered.

“Maybe…” I looked down at my son, who was nursing with a huge shit eating grin on his face until our eyes met, and then he laughed at me.

“Maybe he’s going through something,” she offered again.  “Babies go through things, we just don’t know.”

“Through things?”

“Maybe it’s behavioral.”

“Behavioral?”

So our kid, at seventeen months, is a maladjusted hypochondriac.

“He might be working something out.”

Chagrined, we put his shoes and socks back on.

My husband took my mom’s car to go get ready for work and the rest of us drove back home.

“We’re never going back there again.”

My mother is slightly amused by this all.

In the back seat my son babbled and giggled.

“Poor baby,” my mom gushed.

“Poor baby, whatever.  He’s happy. Listen to him.  He is LAUGHING at me."

My mom let out her own laugh.

“What could he be working through?  Everyone else is working through!  He’s the one person whose plans did not change today!”

My mom laughed harder.

“You think he’s mad at the C-I-O?” [Current lingo for cry it out—controversial but oh so effective sleep training.  And until you have been so tired you shake on a continued basis, don’t try to talk me out of it.  My kids are mules.  We’ve tried almost every method out there.  They don’t drift off.  They don’t deeply slumber.  They need 4 hours of wind down time and adults saying get out of my bed if our household is going to sleep for more than two hours in a row.  And that is something I have not done in months.  Literally.  Sleep for more than two hours in a row….].

We both looked back at him.

He laughed back at both of us.

“Will you do it again?”

“Of course I’m going to do it again.   He’s got to get out of my bed. If it doesn’t work, he’s already messed up by it anyway, another week won’t matter we can deal with his psycho issues then. Right now I need sleep.”

This made my mom roar.  She is a therapist and was married to a manic depressive. She gets and likes crazy-pants humor.

“I do feel bad maybe he is just remembering last night over and over maybe.  Maybe he is just really pissed off today.”

And while many would say it is impossible for a seventeen month old to fake it, I am not so sure.

Cause I’ll tell you what: despite hours of screaming and ear holding, once he shined in the light of that sick baby visit, he has not once held that ear or screamed his take me to the ped’s office right now you abusive parents, or I am calling DSS cry.

The little stinker.  Having one over on his sleep deprived mum and dad.  

We are really never taking him to the doctor's again.