Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Chief Complaint’ Category

I am skipping today’s Dinners This Week post. I mean, there’s no need to plan dinners when you’ll be eating dinner on an airplane, right? Let’s have some randomosity. Join me, won’t you?

First, let’s have some medicinal nachos:

Nachos 1

Chips. Top with cheese. Melt for 30 seconds in the microwave. Top with black beans and frozen corn. Microwave for another 20 seconds. Top with copious amounts of my favorite hot sauce. Add avocado, diced onion, and sour cream. Cilantro if you have it/don’t hate it. Tomatoes if you swing that way. Squeeze a wedge of lime over everything. Add copious amounts of sriracha for good measure. DEVOUR.

  • A lot of my fretting about Leaving My Bayyyyyybeeeeee has been channeled into Shoe Panic. As in, how am I going to walk around Europe for ten days without reducing my delicate feet to bloody shreds? So I have purchased and returned approximately 90,000 pairs of shoes in the past week. Nothing like leaving an important aspect of your planning to the very last minute!

 

  • These are the shoes I have ended up with: Skechers Go Walk Evolution Ultra sneakers (why do all athletic shoes have such ridiculous names?) and Vionic Minna ballet flats (in color “sand”) because I wanted to have walk-friendly shoes that were dressy enough for a nice-ish dinner.

 

  • Building on some of your great ideas for making the trip easier on Carla, I have bought her some books and other little fun surprises to open while we’re gone. There is a real dearth of fun, story-based children’s books about the very specific locations we are traveling to, which is DISAPPOINTING, but I did find this book about one of the cities on our itinerary:

Munich

  • You know that one of my big panics is Death By Airplane, right? So I have been desperately trying to get our life insurance upgraded just in case. Of course, the process takes waaaaayyyyy longer than I thought it would, so we just squeaked our medical exams in at the last minute and there is no way the underwriting will be complete before we leave. (I use these terms like I have any idea whatsoever how any of this works, which I do NOT.) HOWEVER. Did you know that you can get provisional coverage, based on the assumption that you will get approved? So that’s what we’re doing. We can pay a premium as though we’ve been approved, and then, when we come back home, ALIVE, we can pay any additional amount as needed. And if we perish while overseas, we’re covered. (I mean, as long as we are approved and have paid the correct amount; I’m assuming my parents could pay any difference after the fact.) Cool, right!?! Okay, maybe my calibration of “cool” has shifted in odd ways.

 

  • In other morbid planning, I tried to record myself singing to Carla. There are two songs I have been singing to her at bedtime all her life – one I made up while pregnant with her and the other is “Moon River” – and I have this desperate feeling that I MUST record myself singing them so she can listen to the songs (but will she?) to comfort her (but will they?) after my fiery death. But I can’t record myself! It’s so ridiculous! In every recording, I keep SWALLOWING in the middle of sentences. Like, “Mooooooon river, wider than a mile, I’m crossing [gulp] you in style someday…. [gulp] Dream maker, you heart [gulp] breaker….” It’s really distracting and annoying and I cannot NOT do it. I mean, have you ever tried to NOT SWALLOW when your body is telling you to swallow? And then try to SING while not swallowing? It’s absurd and obviously some sort of weird self-conscious reaction to recording myself. Do not suggest that I ask my husband to record me actually singing to Carla, because then I would die of embarrassment and also we are out of time. I am going to choose the least gulpy of the options and THAT’S JUST HOW CARLA WILL HAVE TO REMEMBER ME.

 

  • Abrupt subject change: Our Amazon Echo (Alexa) has begun telling me to enjoy my day. “Have a nice day,” she’ll say after I ask for the weather in the morning. “Have a good afternoon,” she’ll say sometimes after I’ve asked for the news briefing. It’s creepy but nice? And she only says it to me. She has never once used any sort of pleasantry with my husband. Also creepy? But it makes me feel vindicated in using “please” and “thank you” when making requests of her. My husband may not be on the good side of the AI after the uprising, but hopefully Alexa will put in a good word for me.

 

  • While I’m worrying about wholly unimportant things (recap: dying on my totally voluntary trip overseas; the state of my footwear for said trip; singing lullabies without swallowing; the inevitable AI uprising; will I have enough nachos to last until we leave for Europe?), let’s add in some panic about Carla’s birthday party. I think we have the venue down. And Carla has shifted from Tiger Theme to Seahorse Theme to Mommy, You Choose A Theme From These Five Cat-Related Categories Plus Foxes. So I am leaning toward Rainbow Leopard Theme, mainly because I have found the perfect party favor:

Rainbow Leopard

  • And the perfect cake to torture myself with making. (My husband heaved a great world-weary sigh when I told him about it and asked if I might consider just BUYING a cake.) (No.) (Does he know me?)

 

  • But I can’t find any great theme-appropriate invitations; some decent ones, but nothing I LOVE. And, WORSE, because I will panic about LITERALLY ANYTHING meaningless in the grand scheme of things, I cannot find any theme-appropriate paper plates and napkins. I can order them via Zazzle for around $60 for 40 to 50 plates-or-napkins, but can we all agree that spending $60 on 40 paper plates for a single party is excessive? I’m not saying it can’t be DONE; I wouldn’t judge anyone for spending $60 on 40 plates if that’s how they chose to spend their hard-earned money. But I think $1.70 cheetah-print paper plate — PAPER, not even hard plastic — is excessive and I really want to avoid it if at all possible.

 

  • So maybe foxes? I haven’t looked it up, but foxes could be a good alternative, right? It’s just that they are so Off Brand for my particular child, who wears leopard print probably three days a week (today she is wearing a faux fur cheetah print vest over a green dress and black leggings with faux leather patches; she has a very particular sense of style, this kid) and has leopard print boots and pretends to be a rotating cast of leopards/cheetahs/panthers on a daily basis. I am already exhausted by planning this party and I haven’t really even begun.

 

  • Please keep in mind that I KNOW that none of this is important, it’s a birthday party, not the Oscars or some other party that actually matters/has wide visibility, and really ALL parties pale in comparison to, like, climate change and gun control and matters of REAL IMPORT. I am not overlooking the absolute absurdity of wasting brainpower on this frivolity.

 

  • Frivolity continues: And what are we going to get Carla for her actual gift? She is fresh out of ideas, unless you count “more Barbies!” as an idea which I do not. The only things I can come up with are a) a new bike (although she has a perfectly good hand-me-down bike that will probably last her at least another year, in terms of being the right height, not to mention she staunchly refuses to let us remove the training wheels) and b) a doll, because she seems to finally be more interested in dolls than in stuffed animals. She has repeatedly asked for a basket for her bike, so she can collect things (acorns, pinecones, rocks) when she goes for bike rides… but I don’t think “needs a basket” is enough of a reason to buy a whole new bike… I don’t know. I am on the fence. What is the six-year-old set into these days?

 

  • I LOVED dolls as a child, and my mom got me a couple of Corelle (?) dolls that I cherished and played with for many years. (Oh wait, it turns out they are COROLLE dolls – Corelle is a type of dishware, it seems. My bad.) Is Corolle still a good way to go, doll-wise? American Girl dolls seem to be popular around here… although they are SO expensive I don’t think I am ready to travel down that road. I also used to love Cabbage Patch Dolls, are those still A Thing? (Ugh, I am cringing thinking about how the “preemie” Cabbage Patch Dolls were so coveted when I was a little girl. I guess March of Dimes used them to raise awareness about premature birth, but that went right over my head at the time. I can imagine it being a hurtful thing for lots of parents.) What is the current Doll Trend, is what I want to know? I thought, being a parent, this knowledge would sort of magically manifest in my brain but I WAS WRONG.

 

  • Speaking of brains: does your brain do that thing where, when overtired, it fixates on one word or phrase or song lyric to the exclusion of all other thoughts? Mine has been choosing “It’s raining tacos,” itself an agonizingly repetitive song, to replay ad nauseum in my head, at 2:30 am and beyond. Fun.  (No.)

 

  • My Inevitable Death Panic (which is both panic about my inevitable death and an inevitable panic about death) is manifesting in lots of cleaning, which is good, I suppose. But I have failed to take any Before photos, which makes it poor blog fodder. I just want you to know that I have done a LOT of work and gotten rid of a LOT of crap. I am kind of hoping my mom will open some drawers and marvel at how spare and tidy they are. “Maybe she died in a plane crash taking a totally unnecessary trip abroad, but, man, are her drawers neat and clean!” they’ll say at my funeral.

 

  • Let’s have one more photograph of medicinal nachos. These were yesterday’s, so I need to see if I have enough ingredients for another heaping dose before I make my way to The Land of Sausages and Schnitzel. DOCTOR’S ORDERS.

Nachos 2

Okay. Enough. What’s up with you, Internet? Lord knows we have enough Big Serious Issues at hand to ensure we never sleep again. But what utterly frivolous things are keeping you up at night?

By the way, my husband and I decided to limit ourselves to one phone while overseas, and it is his phone, so blog posting/reading is likely to be light/nonexistent while we’re gone. I promise photos of castles if when we return.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

It is bad enough that I am a very light sleeper. So light that the sound of my niece turning on the lightswitch in the bathroom down the hall jolts me into heart-pounding alertness.

What’s worse is that I cannot fall back to sleep. I am now awake, even though it is not yet four in the morning and even though I only went to bed three hours ago and even though the house is completely dark and no one else – not even my niece – is awake.

Instead, my brain is bouncing around from toe to toe like a boxer psyching herself up for a fight, except that the boxer has just downed an entire crate of 5-hour energy and her opponent is my desire to sleep.

Let’s worry, for awhile, about our security system. Early yesterday, we got a call from our security company to let us know that the power was out in our area. Great, thanks, security company. Allow my blood pressure to drop from Our House Is Being Invaded levels for a moment here. But then, of course, came the worry that our power was out, and we are… not there. My husband looked up the outage and discovered it should be resolved in a couple of hours; sure enough, it was. But then today, we got ANOTHER call from the security company to let us know that the outage had NOT been resolved and our backup battery was running low and we needed to DO SOMETHING. We could not do anything because we aren’t close with our neighbors and our local friends are all also on spring break. So I told them this, fervently hoped that a burglar would not choose this exact moment to break into our house, and said goodbye. But now, at not-quite-four-a.m., I am worrying and worrying and worrying. Maybe the person who said they were from our security company was not, in fact, from our security company… but was trying to scam me? And, yes, their plan was quite elaborate, mirroring the security company’s phone number and all and having two separate people call me, but STILL. It could be a very elaborate burglar. And, even if there is no scammer, what about our poor house, standing empty and unprotected (you know, except by locks and good, observant neighbors)? And what if the power company is WRONG, and our house doesn’t currently have power and our pipes are freezing and our food is all rotting? Of course there is absolutely NOTHING I can do about it, but let’s go over all the nothing options one by one since there is no one awake to entertain me, shall we?

After I finally decide to call the police station tomorrow and ask if they will increase patrols around our neighborhood for the next few days, my mind turns to the much more productive topic of Embarrassing Things I Did and Said During High School.

I turn on my phone and scroll through my news feed.

I turn off my phone and recite poems in my head.

I push my husband because he is snoring.

I go to the bathroom.

I listen very carefully to see if the noise Carla made (she is sleeping on a mat at the foot of our bed) is going to turn into crying; it does not.

I pick up my phone and start scrolling through a favorite blogger’s archives, because they are lovely and soothing, but it turns out I have overused this particular comfort technique because I can’t find any posts I haven’t recently read.

I find a nice long article about the mysterious disappearance of the world’s most famous actress.

Ah, finally. I am starting to drift off to sleep. I close my eyes and… UPPERCUT. My brain pinches me, hard. OMG, I almost fell asleep! Not on my brain’s watch! No way, no how!

Now I am nice and alert to focus on the important work of worrying about an upcoming trip and how hard/awful it will be to leave Carla behind.

Why didn’t I work harder on memorizing more poems???

Oh good. Here are partial lyrics from the Descendants 2 soundtrack to loop through my head instead.

I know! I can fret about the upcoming dinner party! Maybe I should scrap the Tex-Mex theme entirely and go for chicken and salad.

Go to the bathroom.

My husband is doing that thing where he is lying on his back and he has his head resting on his forehead with his elbow up in the air, but it keeps falling over and he keeps jerking it back into position. I push him onto his side.

Is Carla having a nightmare? Is she whimpering?

Are there burglars tiptoeing through my defenseless home right at this very moment?

Dumb Buzzfeed quiz.

Slow slide into sleep… PUNCH TO THE SOLAR PLEXUS. Almost made it there, but my brain swooped in to intervene just in the nick of time!

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

This goes on until seven thirty when my niece wakes up and starts talking with her mom, at which point Carla wakes up, delighted to get to play with her cousin, and I whine to my husband about my sleepless night. Kind man that he is, he takes Carla out into the kitchen and closes the door behind him. But… two minutes later, Carla crashes through the door to get a stuffed animal, and then two minutes after that my husband comes in to get some medicine and I snarl at him to just let me have HALF AN HOUR OF SLEEP FTLOG and lie there fuming at the rapidly-lightening ceiling. And then thirty minutes of no sleep later I angrily get up and start the day.

Read Full Post »

I have some bones to pick with blog commenting lately.

First of all, I think that it has become VERY HARD to comment on blogs. I am not talking about the difficulty of painstakingly typing out a comment on one’s phone, using clumsy fingers that constantly choose X instead of C. Nor am I talking about the attention difficulty, wherein you read a post on your phone and mean to leave a comment, but then your attention is diverted elsewhere by a stray child or a Luke Perry retrospective and you forget about the blog and then days pass and then you feel ridiculous joining a conversation that has long since left you behind.

Instead, I am talking about how blogs themselves seem to care Not One Whit about whether you can leave a comment or not.

BLOGS, not bloggers. The bloggers, I am sure, or perhaps I am projecting too much of my own neediness onto others, are wondering what is the POINT of putting their carefully crafted thoughts out into the universe when no one seems to read or care? The bloggers, as far as I can tell, are blameless.

It’s the BLOGS.

Let’s begin with a caveat: I acknowledge that it’s (highly) possible NO ONE wants my long-winded and overly frenetic comments on their blog. (Have you ever read an old comment you left on someone’s blog and wanted to melt into the floor with embarrassment? No. That’s because YOU are an excellent commenter. Me, not so much.) I also acknowledge that people may not even want or need comments on their blogs. The act of writing is probably MORE THAN ENOUGH for many people. And yet in the cases I will describe below, the blog comments are turned ON. Therefore I am going to assume that these bloggers want comments. Or at least are open to receiving them.

The first thing I have noticed is that CAPTCHAs have become increasingly difficult. It made me really frustrated, at first. But then I read this great article at The Verge about why they are so hard to complete these days. (TL;DR: Computers are getting too good at completing them, so they need to be increasingly difficult for human users to solve in order to thwart the machines.) That helped me feel less growly toward the CAPTCHAs, sure, but still, it’s a labor of love, nowadays, to leave a comment on a blog. Because first you have to type up your inane thoughtful response. And then you have to input your name and email address and URL. And THEN you have to solve a series of object identification questions that require superhuman vision and discernment. “Choose all images of a bicycle.” “Choose all boxes that have a traffic light.” Or, my least favorite, “Choose all images of a storefront.” (What counts as a storefront, pray tell? Does it just mean “any building with an awning”? I never get that one right. Good luck, machines.) And sometimes, even if you get it all right, you have to do ANOTHER test, just to be really, doubly, extra sure you’re human.

CAPTCHA

Does the POLE count as part of the traffic light? Or are we supposed to click on only the lights themselves? These are some of the highly important questions I find myself asking.

Fine. I get that this is just a necessary evil in today’s fruitless exercise in delaying the Machines Will Take Over Eventually No Matter What reality.

But that’s not the only issue I’m having.

Even WORSE, some blogs just… eat my comments. I will type out a comment, fill in the Name/URL fields, and hit “done” or “reply,” and the blog seems to react to that in some way, reloading or redirecting me back to the top of the post — but doing SOMETHING that indicates I have input a command and the blog has received a command. But then my comment never shows up. No “comment is awaiting moderation,” just nothing. The blog has straight-out rejected my words. There is a blogger I have been reading FOREVER whose blog does this, and it makes me so mad. She writes interesting, thought-provoking things! I want to respond! Sometimes I have questions! Her blog does not care.

So far, most of my issues are with blogspot blogs. But wordpress is not immune, oh no! I struggle with a particularly mysterious issue with wordpress blogs, where it asks me to sign in to wordpress… but even when I do, nothing happens. It just tells me, in a very condescending way I might add, that I am being asked to log in because I am NOT logged in. Even when I AM logged in. I can log in fifty times and the site never recognizes that I am, in fact, LOGGED IN. And eventually I give up and my comment never posts.

CAPTCHA 2

I AM logged in. I PROMISE.

SIGH.

I don’t want this to become a General Wistful Moan about blog commenting being so different from the halcyon days of yore. No. “Blogging” is a different thing than it was back then, but people DO comment, and I am fine with the way it is. But I do get really frustrated — for myself, as a Person Who Likes to Comment, and for bloggers who (I am projecting again) want to build an online community or desire feedback or simply hope that their writing is making an impact.  It’s hard enough, as a blogger, to compete with Twitter and Instagram and readers’ limited attention spans. These completely unnecessary barriers to commenting are not helping. And I feel so impotent to do anything about it besides whine on my blog!

Anyway, I hope you know that if you ever want to comment here, and you CAN’T, you can always email me at lifeofadoctorswife [at] gmail and I will gladly respond.

In the meantime, I guess I should figure out a way to befriend our computer overlords. Maybe THEY can fix these problems.

Read Full Post »

Windows! Windows! Windows!

I have a sharp pain pulsing just above my right eye and that’s what it’s saying.

Last summer, driving with my parents on a two-lane highway through one of the great forests of the north, we passed a giant sign propped up against the pines at the end of a narrow gravel driveway. You couldn’t see the house, but you could clearly read the sign, which was made of several plywood panels nailed together, and stood probably six-feet by eight-feet, if not even bigger. Someone had scrawled “DON’T BUY BLEEFBLORP WINDOWS” in angry spray paint letters across the wood. On both sides, I noticed when we made the return trip. (I can’t remember the actual window company named.) It made me laugh, at the time. But I am beginning to understand what drives a person to make such a sign.

It feels possible that I have mentioned this before, but I am too lazy/window-fixated to check. We had an energy audit performed on our house a few months ago (which was really, REALLY cool. If you are interested in making your home more energy efficient and have $50 or so to spend, you may want to see if your local utility company provides an energy audit.) which was fascinating and informative. The auditor sealed up our doors, set up a blower, and produced a light vacuum inside the house so we could walk around and find places where air was coming in. Guess what had the most leaks? ALL THE WINDOWS.

It’s not terribly surprising to me, that they are SO LEAKY. They are nearly 30 years old, after all. And it’s clear to me that some of them need replacing anyway, beyond the leaky-around-the-edges stuff; the seal between the panes of several of the windows has begun to fail, which produces unpleasant condensation that you cannot remove. So. We need new windows. Our utility company will give us some money back on each window we replace ($25 a window, I think?), up to $1,500 (we don’t have that many windows), as long as we replace them within a year from doing the audit. So, great, let’s do it.

I have been doing plenty of Window Research, and I feel fairly well-versed in the difference between vinyl and wood and aluminum. I understand U-factor and R-value and I know about double-pane vs. triple pane, and argon vs. krypton in between the panes. My husband read up on sneaky sales tactics to avoid, and so I feel good about spotting and avoiding those, too.

But nonetheless, it is A PROCESS and I am tired and annoyed and I am strongly in favor of just MOVING TO A NEW HOUSE where someone ELSE has made all these ridiculous window choices and let the next owners deal with this window madness themselves.

What’s driving me so crazy, you ask?

1. Sales tactics. Even the companies that SWEAR up and down that they don’t go for sales gimmicks are still trying to sell you on their company and their windows. As they should. So they are still using sales tactics. And sure, some of them are less in-your-face than others. But you still have to meet with someone and go over all these options and hear them pitch their windows and talk about how much better they are than their nameless competitors.

And I kind of think that the less in-your-face tacts are just… more sleazy and manipulative. This one guy from a company that prides itself on being a No-Sales-Pressure, No-Gimmicky-Tactics company was so laid back I thought he was going to fall off the barstool at my counter. Yet, despite his air of “hire us or don’t, we don’t care,” he was also clearly deploying very typical sales tactics. Like, he made this big deal about how, with him, “the price is the price,” and that other companies who offer One Day Only! sales or Act Now! discounts are really only able to offer those prices because they are jacking up the non-sales price from the getgo… But then he also slid in there, “If you’re looking for the lowest price windows, I might as well leave right now. That’s not what you’ll get with us.” We are all conditioned to think that priceyness is representative of quality, right? And, especially combined with his assurance that discounts and sales are representative of sleaziness, he’s clearly Being a Salesman and manipulating me! It just rubbed me the wrong way.

And YES, I know they need to make to money. I know they use sales tactics because they are effective. I know that we make a million choices a day based on overt or invisible manipulation by savvy marketers. I KNOW. I used to write sales copy! But that doesn’t mean that I like it. And I like it even LESS when I’m being assured that I am NOT being Sold To.

2. Choosing an installation company. I am only calling the companies in our area that are rated highly by Angie’s List, with tons of positive reviews… but still. You don’t really KNOW if they are a good company. And I am so irritated with the sales tactics that I find myself suspicious of EVERYONE.

One guy was here in my house for TWO HOURS, pitching his windows. He seemed very nice. But he was so completely focused on building up his credibility that he talked and talked and talked himself right out of my good graces. When he really does seem like a good guy! A person who built his company from scratch and really works hard and knows his stuff and cares about his product. But all I can think about is how the installation will take ten times as long as it should because he won’t be able to stop talking!

But also when I remembered that I hadn’t asked about U-factor, and said something like, “Oh! I almost forgot that I should ask you about the windows’ U value!” he gave me a simpering smile and said, “Did your husband tell you to ask that?” and I said, “No, I researched it.” And then he couldn’t even TELL ME. Well. A) MADDENING and B) Not good, Pete.

3. The windows themselves! Not only do you have to make sure you’re choosing a good company, but you have to make sure the WINDOWS are good. The company who sells the windows is going to make them sound like the world’s best windows, and they’ll have all sorts of awards and stamps and seals of approval to make you think they are super great. But then, you look up the manufacture online, and they are NOT GREAT. Maybe I need to work backwards, and start with the windows… and then find out who installs them?

4. The minutiae. Listen, I just want as close to the same thing we have as possible. Just… new and better quality. While others may care deeply, I do not CARE if my window latches are brushed silver or brass. I do not need internal shades in my sliders. (Especially not for an additional $800.) (Or an additional $450, depending on which company I ask.) I do not care if the latticework is flat or contoured. And when I choose, “white,” please do not then tell me, at length, about the different color options, for an additional $250 a window. If I say I want the standard handle on my slider, please do not tell me how easy the other $60-additional-cost handle is to operate. When I say, very clearly, I just want double paned glass because from what I read it’s FINE for our moderate climate, I do not want to hear how much better the U-factor is with triple-paned glass, and how much of a scam krypton is. I have already made my choice. And there are so very many choices. Latticework or no. Double-hung or picture window. Tempered glass or no (not required except in special cases). Half screen or full. And on and on and on before you are seriously considering boarding everything up and living in darkness for the rest of your life.

5. The price. I had steeled myself in advance that our 13 windows and two sliding doors would cost somewhere around $10,000 to replace. But being prepared to see that on a quote is quite a different thing to being prepared to PAY that amount. And! Some of the quotes are for MORE THAN $10,000!

6. The endlessness of it all! At what point and I going to feel like I have enough information to make this decision and actually BUY the windows? How will I ever decide between these window companies and the windows they sell and the pricing? HOW? I feel like I am ALREADY SO TIRED from researching potential vendors and calling these places and scheduling the meetings and listening to sales pitches… How will I know when I’ve done my due diligence? Hopefully before I DEFENESTRATE MYSELF.

I am ready to give up, is what I’m telling you. But I have two more companies coming to give me sales pitches, and we obviously still have all our very leaky windows from the 90s, so I must endure. And take some window-related Advil.

Read Full Post »

The day is not off to a good start.

Part of it is actual, part of it is mental, part of it is diet-al.

Part the first: I have managed to make my child simultaneously hate school and believe that her teachers are going to be mad at her if she isn’t perfect. We had parent teacher conferences last week, and her teachers mentioned a couple of things Carla needed to work on. And I mentioned those things to her, and we talked about some strategies, and she got really cranky and irritable with me and then we moved on. We had a lovely weekend. This morning, she waltzed into my room in one of her signature amazing ensembles (purple pants, pink shirt, faux leopard fur vest, sparkly headband) in a happy mood and snuggled with me until my alarm went off. I reminded her this morning about what we had discussed, and it was like flipping a switch. All of a sudden she was hot and would I take her temperature. No fever. She was really tired and naptime at school is way too far away so she wants to stay home. She doesn’t want to go to school. She’s NOT going to school. I tried to figure out what the deal was – she LOVES school; over the weekend, we drove past her school and the parking lot was full and she said “No fair! Those kids get to be there on the weekend!” – and eventually got out of her that she thinks she won’t be able to do what we discussed and her teachers will be mad at her. So. No school. She’s done.

Well shit.

I tried everything in my Mommy Toolkit to persuade her: Assurance: We don’t expect you to be perfect, we expect you to try your best. Your teachers love you. Here are all the wonderful things they told me about you at the conference. Here are all the things for which your father and I are so proud of you. Bribery: If you go to school today, you get to do X! I will let you bring your horse in the car on the way to school! If you still feel bad at school, you can go to the nurse and she will call me to come get you! Logic: School is your job, you have to go. If Daddy didn’t want to go to work, what would happen? It’s a law that kids your age have to go to school. Mild threats: If you don’t go, here are all the fun things you will miss. If you stay home, you will be bored; no TV, I have work to do so I can’t play with you. And – bringing out the big guns – I will make you go on ERRANDS with me. She was undeterred.

Finally, after assuring her for the ten thousandth time that neither her teachers nor I would be mad at her, that none of us expects her to be PERFECT, that we just want her to TRY… After singing her the Daniel Tiger song about “your best is the best for you”… After coming up with some specific strategies to try with her teachers… FINALLY, I got her out the door. We were thirty-five minutes late.

And then, when I was telling her teacher about the strategies we had discussed and explaining what had happened, I of course burst into tears. Because nothing makes a Bad Parenting Morning worse than leaking it all over your child’s poor teacher. The only saving grace was that we were so late, there weren’t many other parents lingering in the halls to see me blubbering.

Man, I really screwed things up. And I don’t know exactly HOW, or exactly how to fix it, or how to do it differently. And she still needs to work on the things she needs to work on, although obviously they are not DIRE. (Though I managed to get poor Carla to feel that they ARE dire.) And my heart just feels so RAW for her, because she is working so hard at growing up – so, so hard – and she wants to please us and her teachers so badly, and she is so much more sensitive than sometimes even I realize. And of all people in the world, I should be the one who KNOWS what she needs and understands how to get through to her without screwing her up and I DON’T.

So that’s the actual.

The mental is the crushing certainty that I am the absolute worst choice of person to be a parent. And that nonetheless I have to do it anyway. And at stake are my child’s PERMANENT HAPPINESS AND WELL BEING.

There is also the outward spiraling, wherein I begin to feel that everything else in life is terrible too: our house is falling apart, I can’t keep up with the to-do list, I am failing as a writer. You know. One bit of the scaffolding gets knocked in and the whole structure comes tumbling down.

Then there’s the diet-al, which is stupid and I should just QUIT because it’s making me miserable. I have a constant headache. I feel nauseated and my brain seems to be going at half speed. I am not particularly hungry or missing foods all that much, but I do have a rather abnormally intense fixation on Diet Coke.

You can see how this all adds up to a bad morning so far.

Two things I am using to try to pull myself out of this negativity quicksand:

  1. The diet is over as of Thursday morning. I will be celebrating with a big bowl of pasta and a thick slice of cake.
  2. I have a pedicure scheduled with a friend for Friday, which should be relaxing and my friend and I will get to chat and catch up.

And between me, my husband, and Carla’s teachers, we should be able to figure out how to redirect her perfectionism… somehow? Right?

Read Full Post »

Poor Carla is just off  lately. Saturday she ate practically nothing – some bacon and a tomato from her BLT at lunch, a handful of fries; a peanut butter sandwich at our friends’ house that night – and then she ate a great lunch yesterday but literally NOTHING for dinner. Not a single bite. She requested instead to go to bed. But then she woke up at 11:30 and could NOT fall back to sleep. She was up until well past two. Two a.m. in the morning. And if by “she was up” you are assuming that maybe I was sleeping, no. I was reading Harriet the Spy and playing YouTube “spa music” and fetching water and taking her temperature and reading old favorite picture books and giving her Tylenol because her “neck” hurt when she swallowed and making a “nest” in my room beside my bed and lying quietly in the dark and hissing at Carla in my most soothing way to just be STILL and close your EYES.

No surprise that she was dragging this morning. She didn’t eat as much for breakfast as I thought (hoped) she would – most of her smoothie, one French toast stick – and was just kind of slow. Which could be tired slow. Or not-feeling-great slow. Or just plain old Kindergarten Slow. Who knows.

Why is so much of parenting so unknowable? That’s what I’m bemoaning this morning. I mean, I get it. There’s no handbook. No two kids are alike. Yada yada blah. But I have had this particular kid for nearly six whole years so you’d think I’d at least have the hang of dealing with her by now. But you’d have thought incorrectly, I’m sorry to say. (Mainly sorry for me, not so much for you and your misplaced faith in my supposed parenting “ability.”)

There are so many QUESTIONS. And I have answers to SO FEW of them! Sure, some things, like “should she be holding that sharp knife?” and “should I give her a hug?” have simple answers. But so many do NOT.

Some of the questions for which I do not have answers just TODAY:

  • Is “not eating dinner” a totally acceptable thing once in a while, or does it indicate something is WRONG?
  • Does a repeated claim that a child has a headache indicate an actual headache… or is it a bid for attention… or is it a parroting of my own not-infrequent headaches and therefore a cautionary tale against complaining too much about my own minor aches and pains… or is it a way to divert attention away from the not-eating?
  • And if there IS a headache, is it a normal Everyone-Gets-Headaches-Sometimes headache or does it indicate something is WRONG? And how do you know the difference?
  • How in the world do I stopper the effervescent frustration of Slow Child Not Moving Quickly Enough When We Need to Get to School on Time FOR THE LOVE before I burst forth with a Mean Mom snarl of PUT YOUR COAT ON OMG?
  • If there is no fever, and no REAL reason to keep a child home – especially when everyone seems to think that a snow day or two is imminent this week, based on predicted temperatures – is it really okay to send her to school? Even though this guilty feeling keeps nagging me like a staticky sock stuck to a pant leg?

This is not to mention all of the day-to-day questions I have, including but not limited to:

  • How much screen time is REALLY acceptable? And if my kid squeezes it all into the weekends, does that make it better or worse?
  • How am I ever going to get her to tie her shoes? I don’t want to buy shoes with laces until she knows how to tie them; cod knows I’m not going to tie them for her. But how is she going to learn until I buy her shoes with laces? DILEMMA.
  • Should we be FaceTime-ing with relatives more often?
  • Is my kid’s behavior around other adults totally typical of her age, or something I need to be more on top of correcting? (Things like not answering when being spoken to, sticking out her tongue or otherwise being playful, ignoring them totally and wandering off…)
  • Am I preparing her well enough for Real Life? While still allowing her to enjoy the freedom and innocence of childhood?
  • Is she really going to lose ALL her teeth? And how am I going to handle the horror that is a piece of my child’s bone hanging by a slim bloody tether from her gums MORE TIMES?
  • Do I read to her enough?
  • Do I play with her enough?
  • Does she have enough time to play?
  • How many stuffed animals are too many stuffed animals?
  • Are my expectations too high? Not high enough?
  • Am I giving her enough intellectual stimulation? Social? Physical? Creative?
  • Am I teaching her good eating habits?
  • Am I a good enough role model?
  • Is she getting enough sleep?
  • Is she happy?
  • How many ways am I failing her?

I don’t know if you are aware, but this parenting thing is EXHAUSTING. It’s like taking a midterm exam every single DAY and knowing that you haven’t studied enough and you are pretty iffy on big chunks of the material. But you don’t get a grade now  – oh no, you have to take 4,560 more exams just between now and when your kid presumably heads off to college. And they’re really important but there’s no way to know if you’re just squeaking by with a C average or totally bombing. That’s the hardest part, right? I could be TOTALLY SCREWING HER UP and I won’t know until she’s an adult.

I am going to go treat this bout of parenting angst with some melted cheese and maybe consider a nap. How’s that for being a role model, hmm?

Read Full Post »

I have been feeling a little melancholy the past few days. I think I’ve pinpointed some of the sources: It’s that odd time of year, between holidays, where I am sad and exhausted after my full-of-family house emptied out, and the pressure of All Things Christmas is already hot and heavy. I have been rewatching The Closer, which is one of my favorite television shows, but I had forgotten how dreadfully stressful and sad the final season is. I haven’t been writing (paid work and then company/Thanksgiving), which always makes me feel unsettled and off. I read a well-written and deeply sad article in The New Yorker about dementia that hasn’t left me. My husband and I are going to see a lawyer to (FINALLY) do our estate planning. And, of course, the clouds have settled in for what promises to be many months.

It all adds up to feeling extra sensitive to silly things – a probably offhand but seemingly poignant comment from the checker at the grocery store; the way Brenda’s team is so loyal to her on The Closer; having to throw away gobs of carefully, lovingly made Thanksgiving leftovers that no one will eat; that sort of thing – and feeling a little mopey and down.

One of the other sources of my broodiness is a current heightened awareness of the juggernaut of time.

The retail sector is at least partially to blame, I think. All the frenzied emails about Christmas began what feels like months ago and have only increased in intensity. I get anxious just checking my email – all those companies yelling at me to hurry! Going fast! Don’t wait to get in on this! Shop more, save more! Ends tonight! Extended! Don’t miss out! Such a ceaseless cacophony of urgency that I am somehow unable to ignore.

Hanukkah is early this year, which makes me feel like I’m already behind.

My parents were looking at retirement homes when they were here for Thanksgiving. While I am grateful to them for preparing for their old age, and for being so open and frank about the subjects of aging and infirmity and death, it makes me sad and panicky. I may be nearly middle-aged, but I still feel like I’m somewhere in the big swirl of age twenty-to-thirty, and I’m not ready to think seriously about my parents being old.

As I literally just mentioned, I am rapidly approaching middle age, with its attendant anxieties. My skin has frequent eruptions of pique. I vacillate between feeling delighted about my middle-age invisibility and feeling angry about the fact that my husband grows increasingly attractive while I do the opposite and feeling depressed that I am fading into the wallpaper and winding inexorably toward death.

Plus – and, although it may seem like the least important item on my list, it is not– my child has her first loose tooth. As with so many childhood milestones, this feels remarkable and significant. Her little face will change so much once she loses teeth. Teeth she’s had since she was a BABY. And I’m suddenly hyper-aware that she’s five-and-a-half, which is almost six. And while five felt So Big – kindergarten!!!! – six seems practically ancient. This loose tooth has me all in a tizzy of Childhood Is Fleeting and I am simultaneously frantic about making Christmas Special While She Still Gets So Excited About Everything and mooning over all the times I failed to Cherish Every Moment. And now her babyhood is really and truly GONE. She’s practically a GROWN UP.

Of course her growing up is tied inextricably to my own mortality. It all comes down to this: This feeling that I want to keep my baby little – even while I love, LOVE how she is growing. The knowledge that it’s impossible to do so. The desperate need to take in everything – soak up every little bit of her – all the time, and watching as the moment steamrolls past even as I grasp for it.

Last night, I went in to her room to take her to the bathroom before I went to sleep. Usually, she climbs out of bed – she’s really getting too big for me to carry – but this time, I picked her up. She turned her little face up to mine for a kiss, and then draped herself over my shoulder. I stood there for a moment, just holding her. The weight of her in my arms. The warmth of her body, the baking-bread scent of her skin, the gentle sound of her sucking her thumb. Just a minute ago, she was small enough to fit in the curve of my neck. Now, her long legs dangle down to my knees. My big girl. My baby.

Well. Melancholy.

There’s a fresh layer of snow on all the trees, and a steady soft flurry. I got a bright assortment of bell peppers from the grocery store yesterday – the bright green and yellow and orange and red are a nice contrast to the grey. I’ve gotten my meager “fall” décor put away, but am allowing myself a few days before I put out the Christmas stuff; there’s no hurry, and I want to stave off that closed-in feeling I get after too many weeks of Christmas Everything Everywhere I Turn. But because I am a woman of contradictions, I put on a Christmas music station – and Mariah Carey and Tony Bennett and Wham! have done a lot to help chip away at the glum. I have coffee planned with a lovely friend. Just now, I have answered the door to find a beautiful wreath from my mother – it smells like Christmastime and is now hanging proudly on my door. It all helps.

Wreath.jpg

So too does the knowledge that this feeling shall pass, and the hope that maybe someday I will be able to enjoy the present moment without mourning its eventual passage.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »