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Archive for the ‘Chief Complaint’ Category

I am really worked up about shampoo right now.

You might call me a Shampoo Loyalist. I used Pantene for pretty much my entire life (I mean, except for the portion during which my mother, presumably, washed my hair. I have no memory of this.) but then in the early aughts my hair stylist went on some rant about how Pantene was the WORST thing you could put on your hair and said some things about animal testing and I did zero research or fact checking but immediately stopped using it. (I loved him. Loved. Him. I miss him to this day.)

But then I went through a Dark Time during which no shampoo seemed to really cut it for me. I don’t have too many requirements of a shampoo: I want it to clean my hair, smell pleasant, and make me look like Kate Middleton, which doesn’t seem like I’m asking too much. The Herbal Essences and Garnier Fructises of the world all ticked the “pleasant smell” box, but I think over time I’d get bored with them, or my hair would seem flat, or whatever, I sense you inching closer to the edge of your seat, in anticipation of what juicy detail I might share next, certainly not to leave the room. But I was sick of dating around. What I wanted was shampoo marriage material.

At some point, my mother-in-law left some of her fancy shampoo in the guest bathroom, and around the same time, my new hair stylist started trying to upsell me (in a non-annoying way, I swear) to a keratin treatment, which sounds MAGICAL and yet is way too expensive for my taste. And I discovered that lo! my mother-in-law’s hand-me-down shampoo leavings had the word “keratin” on the bottle. So I tried it out.

It was OGX Brazilian Keratin Therapy. And it had a pleasant suntan-lotiony smell and it did seem to make my hair less frizzy. And while it was more expensive than my previous dalliances, Target seemed to have good Buy-One-Get-One deals that made it less so.

OGX keratin

Photo from ogxbeauty.com

And THEN one magical day Target was out of the keratin therapy flavor? scent? type? of OGX, so I started looking at the other OGX offerings for an understudy. I read each bottle carefully, to determine whether I needed something for color-treated hair or dry hair or whatever and then – do you do this? – I sort of unobtrusively started unscrewing the caps and then sniffing each different color? blend? mixture? and trying not to get any wayward shampoo on my nose.

The one I fell in love with was Bamboo Fiber-Full (huh, I have been using this for possibly years and only just now realized it was FULL and not FILL). I love the way it smells. It leaves my hair feeling clean and light and fresh. Less Kate Middletonny than I would like, but no shampoo is perfect.

OGX bamboo

Photo from ogxbeauty.com

We had a happy relationship for a long time, Internet. And then Target stopped carrying it. Why, Target? WHY? Instead, my Target is all about this orchid varietal. Bah.

I started the shampoo search anew. The one shampoo I liked best was Garnier Fructis Full & Plush. But literally every time I used it – or even if I wasn’t washing my hair, and I just saw it, or glimpsed it from the corner of my eye – I would get so annoyed by the word “plush” that I would mutter and stew for… at least minutes. I mean, PLUSH? I feel like plush is a word that should apply only to velvet. Or maybe lips. Or, and I feel like this is a stretch, but I’m trying to be generous, a nice thick lawn. NOT HAIR. I don’t want to be reminded of a tufted velvet davenport every time I lather up. I just don’t.

Garnier Plush

Photo from garnierusa.com

At one point, I figured that the fixation I had on the word plush was probably a waste of time and energy and brain cells (why didn’t you figure this out a paragraph ago, you ask), so I cut it off at the source and went back to the Brazilian Keratin Therapy. Which I like. It’s fine. I could see us moving in together, buying a car, maybe getting a dog. But I’m not passionate about it, you know? Like, when I picture us together in our old age, I feel sort of resigned, rather than excited about all the trips we’ll take to Europe.

What I really want is the Bamboo Fiber-Full. Why are you keeping us apart, Target? WHY?

This story is not over!

I got the big, “value size” bottles of the Keratin shampoo some months ago. And at a certain point, the conditioner was really giving me trouble. The bottles are shaped in such a way that you can really only squeeze them from the middle, and the squeezed area was staying squeezed and I could not un-squeeze it. It was forming a tight little girdle in the middle of the bottle, which improved its Marilyn Monroe curves, but prevented me from getting all the conditioner from the bottom of the bottle into the top and out of the bottle. AND, because the OGX packaging people have never used shampoo in their lives, the tops of the bottles are ROUND, so you can’t stand them on their heads to use gravity as your buddy. (And you can’t remove the tops anyway; at least, I can’t. They are affixed to the bottles with superglue and manic rage.)

I can’t tell you what an ORDEAL it became, to shampoo my hair. I tried to force the bottle to stand on its head by surrounding it with other things – a bottle of body wash, the shampoo bottle, my husband’s shampoo – but that was only occasionally successful, and more often than not resulted in all of the aforementioned toiletries collapsing onto the floor and all over my stunned toesies.

So I would bang the bottle on my hand and bang it on the shower bench, then bend the entire bottle in half, trying to lever the conditioner to the exit point (I was surprised it didn’t split in half, but that would have made the conditioner too easily accessible). At the end, I had to do all of the above and then ALSO use both my hands to squeeze out a meager amount of conditioner onto my thigh, and then transfer the conditioner to my hair.

One should not have to endure such humiliations!

The shampoo held up much better, but as I reached the “value” section of the bottle, it too transformed into a torture device.

So, fine, when I had finally extracted as much shampoo and conditioner as was humanly possible from the bottles, I vowed never again to fall prey to the siren song of “value size” and I replenished my shower with regular-size bottles of Keratin shampoo.

Alas! I am halfway through those bottles and the conditioner is already doing the waist-cinch thing!

My husband, bless him, forcibly un-cinched the conditioner by using his body weight to press the bottle short-side against the granite counter (he tried the wall first and the bottle dented the wall).

But!

I was at the supermarket the other day – one I don’t normally shop – and I happened across the shampoo aisle, and lo and behold! My beloved Bamboo Fiber-Full was there on the shelf! I scooped it right up, for $6.29 a bottle (Target, you are costing me money and losing yourself money!) and brought it home and made a Discovery.

Both bottles contain 385 ml of shampoo/conditioner. But the Bamboo bottle is slightly thinner, but deeper while the Keratin bottle is slightly wider but shallower. Does that make ANY sense? The Keratin takes up less space back-to-front and more space side-to-side; the Bamboo takes up less space side-to-side and more space back-to-front.

Because the Keratin bottle is less deep (from front to back, not top to bottom, I am doing such a terrific job of explaining this, good thing you bailed back up at “this is about shampoo”), it’s harder to squeeze. And the cinching thing happens more easily. And showering becomes an episode of MacGuyver.

Worst of all? It looks like OGX is moving toward this style of bottle. Because alllllll the other bottles seem to be the impossible to use terrible flatter/shallower version.

In my shampoo cynicism, I am certain that OGX is going to transition to this type of bottle and then start putting less of the product inside. As in, it may be 385 ml now, but next thing you know it will be 300 ml.

I think I need to start scooping up all the Bamboo Fiber-Full I can find in the old bottle shape.

Or – whimper – I need to begin a new search for my next great shampoo.

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You would think that Target would be a little more lenient, considering that I cannot walk out of it without spending $100. I once spent $75, and felt TRIUMPHANT.

Anyway, I am annoyed. And it is such a LITTLE annoyance that I feel annoyed that I am annoyed. It’s like the “I’m rubber and you’re glue” of annoyances. Does that even make sense? Possibly not; chardonnay.

We had a coupon – FROM Target, which helpfully sends out little booklets of all the things you need and don’t with 25% off here, 15% off there – that was something off bananas. It was something like 20% off bananas. Which already is nothing, because Target bananas are something like $0.18 per. But we eat a lot of bananas around here, and by “we” I mean my daughter and husband because I will not touch a banana with a ten-foot pole. Unless I’m buying one at Target, apparently.

But we had the coupon; we needed bananas. Why not save a few cents, right? The coupon, if I remember correctly, said something like “20% off bananas.”

Wouldn’t you think that means ALL the bananas you choose to buy? If you buy ten bananas, that would be 20% off all ten. This was my assumption.

But no.

The computer – it wasn’t the checker; he rang up all my items and then fed my coupons into the system in a big batch at the end – chose ONE banana – a $0.19 banana – and took $0.04 off that banana. Resulting in a savings of – yes, math fans! — $0.04. Four. Cents.

Okay! So the FULL batch of bananas I purchased was $0.38. Total. For three bananas. I am aware that the math in this post may not be “accurate” per se. But! If the coupon had applied to ALL the bananas, as it should have, we would have saved EIGHT CENTS. That is double the amount we actually saved!

I recognize that I am annoyed by four cents! It is stupid! But it is NONETHELESS ALSO STUPID for Target to have prevented me from saving those four cents!

I think what’s really chapping my lips is that my LAST trip to Target was so awful. It was one of those afternoons where Carla was Losing It and yet I had a bunch of Must Haves on my list (toilet paper, for one; and half-n-half, which may not strike you as a staple but IS). And I was already irritated because Target has stopped carrying my favorite shampoo. And because the layout of the toiletries is so weird that I had to walk sixteen aisles with an older woman who was SCOURING the shampoo and soap aisles for body wash and Could Not Find It because the body wash section is sixteen aisles away. And because, as usual, my Target didn’t have enough cashiers to handle the number of shoppers ready to check out.

At the holidays, my Target was a CHAMP at dealing with this. They know how to do it. They had a point person sending shoppers to the appropriate checkout station. They had billions of checkers ready to check out the shoppers. They were On Top Of It.

But on a normal Wednesday afternoon? They had two checkers and the shoppers were backed up ten to fifteen deep I AM NOT EXAGGERATING and so Carla and I had to wait in a line forever. So by the time we got to the actual checker, Carla was dee oh enn ee DONE and I was right there with her.

Of course, I’d brought a pile of coupons with me, in the ever hopeful quest to spend under $100. And of course, I was super self-conscious of my coupons, because of the ninety people (okay, THAT is an exaggeration; it was maybe five) lined up behind me. And the coupons were being finicky. Like, even though the Target coupons usually say “one Target coupon and one manufacturer’s coupon per customer,” only the one was ringing up per item. And the checker was doing them in the order of the pile, not in order of amount saved. So if I had a manufacturer’s coupon for $1.50 off body wash, plus a $0.75 Target coupon, and she rang up the Target coupon first, I would miss out on the biggest savings. Oh GOURD this is the boringest post ever. I think I corrected her the one time I noticed it, but she could have done it more times because did I mention I was trying to prevent a WILD RACCOON from leaping out of the shopping cart? It’s difficult to keep an eye on the raccoon AND on the register simultaneously. Then there was a Target coupon for $1.00 off “three packs of Trident.” Well, I grabbed the very same three-pack of Trident pictured on the coupon, and the coupon didn’t ring up, and the checker said, “You needed to buy THREE” and threw the Trident that I bought ONLY BECAUSE I HAD THE COUPON into my bag. And I didn’t argue (raccoon).

This is where things went fuzzy. The raccoon went into overdrive on the Flinging Herself From the Cart activity. And the checker had to call someone else over to consult with her on one of my coupons — a coupon, if I am not misremembering, for contact lens solution that was so good it (the coupon) was the sole reason I was buying the contact lens solution, and would NOT buy it if the coupon didn’t work. (It was something like $8 off.) It wasn’t ringing up for some reason, and instead of just saying “SCRAP THE SOLUTION!” I said something that made the checker call for coupon reinforcements.

So there I was, sweaty from preventing my child’s self-inflicted diving-to-the-Target-floor death, and feeling more and more frantic as the line behind me piled up, the other shoppers doing that blank-faced weight-shifting that shows barely-concealed impatience and rage. And the checkers needed to for some reason give me a Target gift card (which seemed reasonable; they always have these promotions where if you buy three of something you get a $5 gift card), but then they were taking it back, and then giving it back, and the whole ordeal was taking SO LONG that I wanted to shove my cart into the rack of US Weeklys as a diversion and get the hell out of there.

And when I got home, my husband reviewed the receipt and found out that the checker had CHARGED ME for the $5 gift card.

So. Target. You are on my list.

Barney Stinson

Photo from EntertainmentWeekly.com

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Here it is, Friday, and I’m tired and cranky because my husband and I STILL have not adjusted to the time change, and I’m playing the age-old game of Should I Take Carla to the Doctor?

She seems FINE. She’s happy and energetic and eating in quantities that make me fear bare wrists and ankles are in our near future. But she is also… warm. Not feverish, but warm. (Not that I’d be able to tell if she were feverish; we have owned no fewer than SIX thermometers in her short life and not one of them has ever been accurate. We now have the instant-read kind that you stick in the ear and press a little button, and it’s always – ALWAYS – at least a degree or two high.) And she is also a little more snuggly than normal. And she woke up with some crust in her eyes. “Symptoms” which make me wonder whether she has an ear infection.

Carla has had many ear infections in her not-quite-four years. Not so many that she requires tubes. But enough that I think we may have been to her pediatrician once or twice for other things. Ever. (Not counting well visits, I guess.)

Her brand of ear infections doesn’t come with pain, though. I mean, thank GOODNESS, right? But it does make it a little difficult to evaluate. Sometimes – rarely – she’ll have a brief fever. Usually, she wakes up with crusty eyes. When she was really young, I would have to take her to the doctor just for that, since no respectable daycare was going to let her in looking like she had a severe case of pink eye. But it was always, always an ear infection.

Now that she’s older, the eye crust looks more like what my mom used to call “sleepy dirt” than Crazy Case of Conjunctivitis. So sometimes the only way we know she’s got an ear infection is that she cries out in the middle of the night. That has happened… twice, I think. And, now that she’s older, it seems that the doctors prefer not to medicate her. We used to get antibiotics every time; now the doctor shrugs and says, it’ll probably go away in a few days. Come back if not.

So if I have a not-in-pain child, who may or may not have an ear infection, and who will likely not even get antibiotics if she does have an ear infection, what’s the point in taking her in, right?

WELL LET ME TELL YOU.

I am deathly afraid of missing something. And having her pediatrician scold me. (And also, you know, having her be sick. That’s really the most important thing, of course.)

Last fall, my family was sick pretty much straight through from mid November, but by early January my husband was finally on the upswing of his lengthy cold, and Carla was still sniffly and coughing but otherwise seemed fine. I was the only one who seemed to be getting actively worse, so I finally decided to go to the doctor. It was just after Christmas and I still had a house full of guests and I just Couldn’t Handle Things anymore, so off I went. I got my diagnosis and my antibiotics and went home.

The next week, Carla had the telltale eye crust that means she had an ear infection, so I took her to HER doctor. And while there, I told him that we’d all been sick a long time, blah de blah, she’d been coughing and having a runny nose for a while, and now I think she has an ear infection. Normal stuff, right?

Defensive Interlude: I mean, we’ve ALL had a cold right? And we ALL know that a doctor can do NOTHING for a cold, right? So we wait it out. Eventually, it gets better, and we congratulate ourselves on knowing that it was a cold and on not wasting a copay or our own time. OR it gets worse, in which case we DO go to the doctor and hopefully s/he can do something about it.

Well, Carla had a cold! Cough, runny nose! No fever! No pain! No loss of appetite! No personality changes! Nothing! The only way we even realized she had an ear infection is that she woke up one morning and her eyes were all pink and goopy. She’d also spent the previous day saying, “What?” a lot, which she does a lot normally, but it was an extra lot. So I was pretty confident: ear infection.

So: to recap: I didn’t take her to the doctor when I thought it was a cold, even though it was a lengthy cold, because I was pretty sure he would shrug and say, wait it out. But when she showed symptoms of an ear infection, which can be treated by antibiotics if necessary (although, as I mentioned earlier, as she’s gotten older, the antibiotics have been replaced by a prescription for wait it out), I took her to the doctor.

But he chided me! He said, “Six weeks is way too long for a child of this age to have a cough like that.” And he said her ear infection was SEVERE and BILATERAL and that she probably couldn’t hear a damn thing (the memory of his chiding may be more strongly worded than it was in real time) and wrote me a prescription and sent us on our way.

Well, I felt TERRIBLE. Really. I mean, what mother wants to put her child’s health at risk? What mother wants to misjudge a situation so badly that the doctor scolds you? NO MOTHER, is the answer.

Poor Carla. She had an ear infection for a whole month after that, because the first course of antibiotics didn’t work. (And even though I could TELL it wasn’t working, we still had to finish the entire ten days before the pediatrician could see me again. That is another huff-fest entirely.) She was having SUCH a hard time hearing, and I was panicking about her somehow suffering longterm hearing loss.

So I think it is perfectly reasonable that now I am feeling a little jumpy about missing something.

And yet I’m dithering.

I really, really dislike going to the doctor for nothing. And the two visits since the Great Ear Infection of 2017 have both been false alarms. (One: Her preschool had me pick her up because she was complaining of a stiff neck, which is code for We Think Your Child Has Meningitis; she did not have meningitis. Two: She and I both had a stomach bug a few weeks ago, and hers presented as belly pain and complete loss of appetite. I tried to give the child a bowl of ice cream for dinner, just to get SOME calories in her, and she refused it. So I took her to the doctor. There was nothing he could do; just wait it out.)

Okay, I am still glad I took her in, both false alarm times, a) because you don’t want to mess around with meningitis. And b) because my husband and I were both googling “toddler belly pain” and had become convinced that Carla had appendicitis. Sometimes it is totally worth a trip to the doctor and a copay to find out that your fears are unfounded. (With the latter, though, the pediatrician seemed a little… miffed as to why I’d brought her in. I DID call the nurse advice line in advance! The nurse was who clinched my decision to come in!)

And of course, to add to the whole issue is that it’s FRIDAY. She wasn’t sick enough to keep home from school, but that means I will have to do a quick eval when she gets home, and then hope there’s a spot at the pediatrician… OR wait and see whether she wakes up crying in the middle of the night, and then take her to urgent care.

But none of the above makes me DITHER any less. Especially when the illness in question is just another ear infection.

SIGH.

Hey, at least the urgent care doc is unlikely to chide me, right?

 

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I am sitting here embroiled in all the humiliation and frustration of an Unsatisfying Interaction… Only the Unsatisfying Interaction took places EONS ago, so all my eloquent speeches and clear, reasonable explanations are useless.

Why does the brain insist on doing this? There are DOZENS of times when I have a thousand other things to do/concentrate on/worry about/binge-watch on Netflix, but CANNOT FOCUS because I am busy replaying the events of the Unsatisfying Interaction on repeat.

I would list a few of them, just as examples, but I don’t want to because they will earworm their way back into my brain and next thing you know I’ll be calmly explaining myself or making the perfect (heretofore unsaid) retort or reacting in a totally uncharacteristic c’est la vie way that will erase the Interaction from my memory for good and I’ll have just replaced The Useless Mind Churn of the Moment for another.

WHY does the brain do this? I could try, I suppose, to make an argument FOR this functionality: perhaps the brain thinks that if I turn The Past over and around enough times, I can prevent the same thing from happening in The Future. Which makes some sense! But… in this case, I highly HIGHLY doubt that this Unsatisfying Interaction will repeat – or even come close to happening again. And it’s not like all this internal practice has helped me to now; I still have Unsatisfying Interactions; I still fumble and say the wrong thing and am obtuse when I mean to be clear and am gauche when I mean to be funny and am tearful when I mean to be strong; I still come away flustered and wanting a re-do. And I am STILL spending countless hours thinking and fretting and stressing over things that have already happened and therefore CANNOT CHANGE.

So I’m coming down firmly on the side of USELESS.

It’s like a hysterical jaw, just gnawing and gnawing and gnawing away at the past. But instead of easily crumbling like a cookie, or even gradually giving way like a rawhide bone or a piece of wood, The Past is a many faceted diamond, and at best (at BEST!) the jaw is chipping off microscopic shards of the memory, which, instead of disappearing, simply lodge themselves more deeply in the humiliation centers of my mind.

Anyway, if you spot me having a very earnest conversation with the air later, this is why.

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Let’s just put it out there: I am not adjusting well to Carla being in preschool.

This is not, as everyone assumes, because I miss her horribly and it’s hard to spend time without her. Don’t get me wrong, I DO miss her horribly and it IS hard to spend time without her, but those things aren’t any worse than they used to be – in fact, they are much BETTER. After all, she was in daycare from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm pretty much every day from four months old on. She spends LESS time at preschool which means we get much more time together.

What I am adjusting to, in descending order of Level of Stressiness, are 1) Dealing with Teachers, 2) Dealing with the School Schedule (otherwise known as Trying to Find Time to Get Anything Done During the Day), and 3) Helping Carla Adjust to Preschool.

Let’s take them in reverse order, shall we?

3) Helping Carla Adjust to Preschool

Carla is an adaptable, easy-going kiddo. But that doesn’t mean that change is EASY for her. Like, she happily goes to this new school with its new schedule and its whole new set of rules and dozens of brand-new people… but it’s not like her being HAPPY and ENJOYING HERSELF erase the stress that accompanies adjusting to all those things, you know? And, even though we are eight weeks in or so, I think she IS still adjusting. There were more obvious (to me) stress signs in the first few weeks, and those have largely lessened or disappeared. But I still think she’s in a transition period, rather than having fully settled into the new environment and routine.

Aside from the energy is takes to fret about whether your child is stressed, just the normal practice of preschool is new and exhausting. It takes a surprising amount of energy to preview the school day each night before bed and each morning before school, to keep track of whether she’s having gym or music on which day, to remind her to bring her library book back to school and to help her keep her excitement and energy under control when she’s at school, which is – wonderfully – exciting and stimulating and fun.

So trying to help her deal with new expectations and rules and schedules is occupying a big chunk of time, and I spend many hours feeling the normal fears that I am a horrible parent for putting her in this new situation and wondering if this is the RIGHT place for her, and did we make a mistake by moving her out of the previous school, and would she have done better if we’d held off until kindergarten blah blah yada yada second guessing blech.

We have Carla enrolled in a great school. My husband and I really believe that this will be a good learning environment for Carla. (Although we are open to changing that mindset if it turns out that it is NOT a good fit.) Nonetheless, it has been A Whole New Experience and we are all still a bit unsettled.

I think that PART of what feeds this lengthy adjustment period is that we still haven’t developed a RHYTHM. And part of the reason for that is the school schedule. Which brings me right to…

2) Dealing with the School Schedule (otherwise known as Trying to Find Time to Get Anything Done During the Day)

In particular, I am having a hard time adjusting to our new schedule. It feels like School Related Stuff takes up ENORMOUS amounts of time.

I imagine every seasoned mom who is reading this right now is wearing that head-tilted expression of bemused sympathy. Because one of my (our?) biggest struggles is the school schedule. We’ve already had three days off from school just this month… and next week the school is closed for a day and a half. She’s OFF for 20% of the school month! Okay, so it doesn’t sound like THAT much time not in class, but it FEELS like it.And it’s very hard to feel settled in a routine when you might have only three or four days of school in a week, you know?

On top of the no-school days, we are all adjusting to the overall new schedule – which is very different from her five-days-a-week, seven-to-eight-hours-a-day daycare schedule. Now, Carla goes to school “full-time” (about six hours a day) four days a week, and for two hours one day a week.

There are also optional but important (I think?) things that eat up time, like meetings with Carla’s teachers (obviously important) or phone calls from her teachers with various updates (head bonk, sad morning, proud words, etc.) and parent association events and coffees with other parents. I really and truly want to make some new friends and to build a nice network of people who have kids Carla’s age in Carla’s school… but it takes TIME.

Side note: I know that it no longer applies, and that I’m very FORTUNATE that it no longer applies, and I’m GRATEFUL, but man: how would I be managing this if I still worked full time?

When I left my job this past spring, my husband and I were very clear that I was going to make WRITING my full-time occupation. Which went swimmingly for many months, enough so that I developed a schedule and wrote a big chunk of a novel and then discovered it wasn’t working and then began (and now have a bigger chunk of!) another completely separate novel. This has been my literal lifelong dream, and we are in a rare pocket of time wherein it is feasible for me to undertake this don’t-get-me-wrong-I-know-it’s-the-height-of-self-indulgence-and-luxury project, and so I am damned if I am going to squander this opportunity.

But now that Carla is in preschool, I am now trying to squeeze what once fit neatly into about 37 hours into 26 hours. I constantly feel rushed and frantic, is what I’m saying.

Part of the stress, I think, is related to my transition from Working Mom to Stay at Home Mom. Which is really like switching careers, you know? It’s a whole different set of tasks and priorities and concerns. It requires a whole different mindset and skill set. I now have the wonderful luxury of handling those things that I couldn’t easily handle while working: having the plumber over to look at a leaky faucet, or running my husband’s new watch back to the store to exchange it, or taking Carla to the doctor for a flu shot, or running to the store mid-week to pick up more bananas. I am at home, and so doing laundry is more convenient; cleaning the oven; scrubbing the grout. But all of those things also take time. And yes, while it’s great to be able to do them, it still feels like I’m stealing from the time I should be devoting to writing. This career shift has not been simple, is what I’m saying. And the accompanying new expectations and challenges result in stress.

But all of it pales, I think, in comparison to my number one major school stress, which is Dealing with Teachers.

Let me be VERY CLEAR that Carla’s teachers are amazing and I adore them. They are kind and relaxed and friendly and accommodating. They are EXCELLENT at communicating. They clearly love Carla and see her for all of her wonderful unique assets. If they weren’t my child’s teachers, I would totally want to be friends with them.

But man, they would never want to be friends with ME because I have somehow become this high maintenance, flaky, ridiculous mom! Okay, truth time: maybe I was all those things before, and just didn’t really notice. Now, I feel like Carla and I are ALWAYS late. And I completely forgot her “homework” assignment recently, even though her teachers are super up front about what she needs to do and when, AND they give plenty of advance notice. The other day I was late to pick up Carla from school – I just somehow FORGOT what time I was supposed to get her, despite having to pick her up At The Same Time Every Day (except that one day each week when it’s different). I mean, what the hell?

Also, and I feel kind of dumb saying this, but: Carla’s teachers are so clearly experts at dealing with kids. They have all this special positive, simple, clear language and terminology that they use to talk to their students. And it really highlights, for me, that I say, “Don’t do that” a LOT and that I’m doing way more correcting than redirecting. It’s a good lesson, but a hard one for my ego, you know?

There are also all the new uncertainties that come with new situations. For instance, for a while there, I was really unsure about what to do when a teacher and I were both interacting with Carla simultaneously. Do I defer to the teacher? I mean, we’re on her turf. I don’t want to say or do or suggest something that wouldn’t be appropriate in terms of classroom rules/style/tradition. I resolved this by asking what the protocol was (am genius), so there’s one teeny little point in my favor. But the answer was that the teacher defers to ME, and that makes me uncomfortable: all my “don’t do that” crap parenting techniques that get nary a twitch out of my child are on display for the teachers to judge or pity.

Plus, there seem to be School Expectations that I’m just not aware of, or clear on. Like, I came a few minutes early (literally FIFTEEN minutes early) to get Carla for an appointment, and the receptionist yelled at me! For not signing her out! Which I didn’t know was a thing I had to do! (Don’t get me wrong, I’m GLAD it’s a thing, and that the receptionist is so eagle-eyed.) But it’s just an example of these invisible rules that are spiderwebbed all over everything. And there’s no obvious way for me to ask for clarity. I really want a MANUAL, you know? One that spells out, this is exactly what we the teachers expect you to do and say every step of the way on every occasion. I am good at following rules! (Unless it’s about being on time to school or remembering my child’s day for show and share GAH.) I just need to know what they ARE!

It’s the old desperation to please authority figures, I guess. I just want to be the easy parent, but instead I’m frazzled and forgetful. I send them emails that I read, later, that say NOTHING REMOTELY CLOSE to what I was trying to say. And then when they misunderstand my INTENDED COMMUNICATION (read: not what I actually communicated), I have to ask for changes and they must think I am CRAZY. Or an idiot. Or a crazy idiot.

And I get so nervous and wound up when we have parent/teacher meetings – I feel like I’ve been called to the principal’s office. So when I should be advocating for Carla, I am instead worried that I’m doing the wrong thing or inconveniencing them or making a bad impression. I EVEN STARTED TO CRY ONCE, FOR PETE’S SAKE. So now I am the crazy idiot flaky hysterical mom.

UGH. It is the worst. Even though I realize it is unlikely as bad as I think – and even though Carla’s teachers remain kind and friendly and helpful as ever – I feel like I’m being evaluated and coming up short every time.

The worst thing of all, I think, is that I really REALLY don’t want my stress and discomfort to be impacting Carla or her experience at school. She is super perceptive, so I know I can’t fully hide anything from her. But I really hope I’m disguising my Issues enough that it’s not amplifying her own stresses. And I really hope that she is on the last leg of the Transitional Period, and that the new school will start to feel known and comfortable – soon.

UGH. Preschool. Who knew it would be so HARD (for me)?

What I want to have is reassurance: that I’m not the only one who stresses about these ridiculous things. That all these stresses are likely magnified by the horrific political environment. That it’s probably not as bad as I think it is. That it will get better. For me but DEFINITELY for Carla.

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Last night I woke up at 4:00 and then couldn’t fall asleep, my mind was jumping around from fret to fret so vigorously.

Then, of course, once I managed to finally still the thoughts enough that I could sink back into sleep, I had a terrible nightmare that involved someone from my past (that sounds more mysterious than it is; it was a boyfriend from high school) called me under the pretense of asking me to walk his dog (how did he get my number? why was he in my city? why am I thinking about this person I haven’t seen in TWENTY YEARS?) and then told me he’d seen me at a museum recently and couldn’t stop thinking about me (doubtful, on both counts), and then I hung up, all creeped out… but when I went to the grocery store, he was there and tried to shoot me. SO. Not the most restful night.

The thing I am fretting about most energetically is that parents are expected to attend a welcome meeting of some sort during Carla’s first week at the new school. It is a 30-minute meeting. And it is for parents ONLY. Which means that we have to find childcare for that 30-minute window. It sounds like the school is offering childcare during two days of the week. However, my husband is only available on the one day at the one particular time. He had to arrange months ago to clear his schedule for this day. (The only reason he did so was because it was Carla’s first day of school, and we both wanted to take her. We only just yesterday discovered that there was this additional welcome meeting, so he and his assistant scrambled to reschedule the patient that was scheduled for the slot during the meeting time. Which makes him – and me – feel guilty. Why should schooling trump a patient’s health needs? ARRRRGH.)

There is exactly one (1) person I know whose child is attending this school, so I suggested we coordinate times so we could watch each other’s kids. But she is unable to do that. One of my friends kindly offered to do it… but she lives 30 minutes away in either direction and has never met Carla, let alone sat for her. I don’t know ANYONE who babysits during the day. Our two regular sitters and our backup sitter ALL have day jobs. My last resort may be asking our next door neighbor if she’d be willing to come over and sit in our house while Carla watches television for an hour. But THAT makes me feel like I’m imposing or overreaching our very casual neighborly relationship. So I guess really I may have to impose on the friend who offered, which stresses me out for OTHER reasons. (Too much time in the car, logistics issues with Carla’s school day and then getting her to my friend’s house and also finding time to give her lunch in that window and then getting back to the meeting on time. ACK.)

In addition to feeling stressed out by not knowing what to do with Carla, I am feeling really bad about myself. Carla is THREE. Why do I not have a network of friends I can turn to? I don’t even know how to set up a play date because I have never done it before. Why have I not been friendlier with our neighbors, so that I would feel more comfortable turning to them? This is a MAJOR DISADVANTAGE to being my style of introvert (i.e. the style who is a loner). Despite loving our city and having very good reasons to be here, I am having wailing/sob-filled thoughts about why did I ever agree to live so far away from family?!?!

This all makes me feel very cranky and grouchy – which I am directing at the school, which is dumb. It is dumb to expect that two weeks’ notice isn’t perfectly adequate for most people to make or change plans. It is dumb to expect that the school provide childcare beyond the very reasonable accommodations they have made. It is dumb to keep saying, outragedly, to anyone who will listen, “What if I were still working full-time? What would I have done THEN?” because I am NOT and because certainly other parents ARE and yet are no doubt figuring out how to deal with this without being babies about it. It is dumb to expect that my particular situation (self-inflicted, nonetheless!) should be addressed by a school that cannot possibly address the specific, individual needs of each student and parent. And yet, I STILL feel cranky and grouchy and complain and resentful, and in fact if you were here with me now I would complain about it until you felt deeply regretful that you’d come over in the first place.

Let’s recap: I am feeling frustrated at the school for not providing childcare OR allowing kids to join the meeting OR giving us more than two weeks’ notice so that we could have arranged my husband’s schedule differently… and I am feeling anxious and self-pitying about not having developed a network of people to turn to in these types of situations… and I am feeling annoyed at myself for being so completely THROWN by this stuff – surely, surely many of the other parents are feeling the same way and/or are DEALING WITH IT without so much hand wringing… and I am feeling fretful that this bodes poorly for our future with this school – am I going to go through YEARS of feeling resentful and frustrated?… and I am feeling MAD at myself for reacting like a Special Snowflake/whiny, pouty baby who should be catered to individually rather than just Finding A Solution. ARRRRGHHHHH.

And of course on top of this I am waiting for the ex-boyfriend of twenty years ago to contact me out of the blue and/or gun me down at the grocery store. YAY.

This is normal, right? Everyone feels grouchy and resentful about school stuff, yes? We will SURVIVE it all, right? RIGHT?

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What with my daughter’s impending third birthday and accompanying Sad Thoughts About Her Birth (which apparently I will never ever ever get over BAH), and the delightful meal pairing of Sleep Issues, I am feeling rather cranky this morning. Here are the current top aggravators:

— Despite producing many many flowers, my tomato plant has only to this point produced one (1) actual tomato. What is the deal?

 

— Today I have to return to the car dealership for a second-in-three-weeks visit that will cost an amount with t0o many zeroes. At least I am prepared for what this session will cost. The last time I was there – for an OIL CHANGE – I ended up sitting in the waiting room for FIVE HOURS.

 

— Due to SOMEONE’S cruel and thoughtless munching on my plants, I have become all too familiar with the smell of Anti-Deer-&-Rabbit spray. I’m sure (I’m not sure; I didn’t look) that the spray is made of something horrendous like badger urine or whatever, so I’m not SURPRISED that it makes me wish my face were pressed up against a sweaty pubescent skunk. But it’s pretty awful, and there’s no way to spray the stuff without smelling it. I’ve tried various methods, like holding my breath (works for maybe 30 seconds which is a sight shorter than the time it takes to circle my yard; induces lightheadedness) or breathing only through my mouth (but then I can TASTE the horrendous smell, which is either worse or just as bad) but nothing works. It just STINKS.

 

And then the spray nozzle DRIPPED and it did so ON MY HAND.

 

And then it turns out that a CARDINAL, and NOT a deer nor a rabbit is picking at my zucchini, so perhaps I didn’t even need the stupid spray in the first place.

AND THEN I spotted THIS, out in the middle of my yard. Sending the finger right back at you, Mother Deer. Sheesh. We are not running a drop-in daycare service for unguents over here, LADY.

Deer.JPG

That white thing the fawns are cozying up to? It’s the remains of a T-ball, broken by an over-zealous at-bat by me or my husband.

 

— Summer, with all its glory, means two things I HATE: 1. flies, in my house, and 2. near-constant STUFF on my floors: grass and dirt and rocks and other detritus of Having Fun Outdoors.

 

 

— I found not one but TWO chips in my favorite blue serving plate. It’s the exact same blue as the ring in my everyday dishes, and it’s perfect for serving grilled zucchini or a pair of pork tenderloins or many other delicious things, and it stands out so nicely among my other serving dishes, which are mostly plain white. But now: two big chips that show the pottery beneath the blue glaze. And, to make matters worse, now I see that TWO of my everyday dinner plates have chips in them. WHO is being so ROUGH with my dishes?! Me, probably, which just makes me feel crankier.

 

 

— Speaking of serving dishes and being cranky: My husband is not as gifted as I am in the realm of Sizing Things Up. So I got out a serving dish the other night for the grilled mushrooms and onions, and – since he was the one grilling them, and watching them shrink – I asked him whether he thought they would fit in the dish. He looked at me like I was utterly CRAZY; I may as well have asked if an ELEPHANT riding a BLUE WHALE would fit into that dish. So I put it away and got a larger dish. Are you surprised to learn that the mushrooms and onions barely filled the bottom third of the larger dish? I was, even though I should know after nearly 15 years of Tupperware containers half-filled with leftovers not to trust him on this subject.

 

 

— Recently I learned that my husband does something COMPLETELY NONSENSICAL. We were seasoning fish fillets for the grill, and I was doing the seasoning and he was doing the turning-of-the-fish, and I oiled the One Side, and then sprinkled salt on each fillet. And then he had me TURN THE FISH OVER so I could salt the other side, BEFORE PEPPERING the first side. How ridiculous is that? You salt and pepper at the SAME TIME. Is our marriage in PERIL?

 

 

— Any time I try to write outside of normal working hours, hours in which my child is at daycare, my child is suddenly and irresistibly attracted to my lap, and her hands are suddenly and irresistibly attracted to my keyboard. She perhaps is less child than cat. Very very adorable and (in this particular instance) very very annoying.

 

 

— There is little more frustrating than asking someone for advice with a problem, and having them make a suggestion that does not work for you, and telling them it doesn’t work for Reasons, and then having them make that suggestion repeatedly. And yet I am having difficulty NOT asking this person, who is having difficulty NOT giving me the advice I reject, so around and around we go in a resentful circle.

 

What’s driving you around Grump Corner this morning?

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