Friday, May 28, 2010

14 Minutes...

...is all I have until I have to tuck Kiddo in. If you think that announcing how precious little time I have is silly, think again. It makes a difference. It makes you feel important. For years we had a Lothario friend who used to cringe when we'd tease him with a phrase I had conjured up as an apropos reflection of his romantic life. "I only have one night in town....but I really want to spend it with you." The joke is that he was such a commitmentphobe that he very likely lived in the same town as the woman he was seducing. But I digress...

did you ever have your old life leak into the new one? I wonder about this sometimes, how life is not so compartmentalized and neat, but rather messy. Middle-Aged Lothario is no longer someone we hang out with, and he's now married with a child. So something changed along the way.

Change is so crazy, so untrackable. Today we started out on a great little bus ride to the store sort of field trip. I bought way to much stuff (or at least spent far more than I'd expected) but came home with a happy kid--credit two string cheeses in the cart for that-- makings for a delicious pesto pasta salad and a copy of Bell, Book and Candle on dvd. To keep. If you've never checked out this Kim Novak/Jimmy Stewart masterpiece, you are missing out. Jack Lemmon, Ernie Kovacs and Hermione Gingold only add to the coolness. And as tv sucks tonight, we'll likely be watching this and I'm glad.

After the field trip followed a tupsy-turvy afternoon. Happy, upset, needy, independent. From 1-nearly 4, I was seriously debating putting Mr. I Don't Want To Eat That Sort Of Lunch YOU'VE Made For ME down for a nap. Thank Heavens for teatime! A good cuppa changes everything! By 4 pm, we were busy painting, playing and having fun together. Dinner already made, I took the 4-6 witching hours to relax and play with Kiddo.

"It's going to be a two-martini evening" said Joe as he handed me my favorite glass. It's very me, very sharp and rich-looking. We've made it through the first week with Joe being gone. And Now It's Time For Bed. So off I go to read a long story and look at this little boy I share more and more with each day.

Forgive me if it's not edited, but life rarely is.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Stupid Television

Some days are just exhausting. Drained down to your toes exhausting. Like today. I should be heading out to chat and raise a pint with some nice lady friends and frankly, I'm just too tuckered out to talk. What this mama needs is some good, stupid tv.

This evening the show of choice will likely be American Idol. It's the final two and who's going to make it? I think the bigger question (and the reason this qualifies as stupid tv for me) is "do I care? Am I going to buy their CD?" No, and no. I live in a world that is dialed in far away from the current pop music, so half of what I hear on that show leaves me scratching my head. But it's still gratuitous and I seriously (heart) Simon Cowell.

So what if it's not a Tuesday night, but another night in question. Well, here's my list of favorite stupid tv shows and why~

Monday night: Has to be House, hands down. Another British attraction, Hugh Laurie, but he's why we started watching. We are dorky Jeeves and Wooster fans, and while I would love to see Stephen Frye on this show too, I'll settle for the silly, contrived and always dramatic medical cases handled by a team of somewhat troubled and self-absorbed diagnostic doctors. I don't even care whether the patient makes it or not sometimes...it's all good, stupid TV to me.

Tuesday night, part 2: Okay, I'm a Gleek. I'll totally admit it. I loved choir in school, musical theater to boot, and I think Jane Lynch is one of a small group of amazing and hilarious actors, male or female, on tv. Some of her scenes pretty much trump any musical numbers, although I do enjoy the pure earnestness of Lea Michele. I'm not sure about the new Rachel storyline...but still, once again, nice for a no-brainer.

Wednesday night: I hate the Idol results show, so I'm at a loss here. Usually it's on Nova or something less dumb. And then I fall asleep early. Too much thinking?

Thursday night: I can't truly call it stupid tv, as much as I'd like to. I'm hooked on the smart/funny NBC comedy stampede, from Community all the way to The Marriage Rep. Thursday night, the Ladies have it: Amy Poehler and Tina Fey both rock my world. Parks and Rec is by far one of the best comedies on television (the character of Ron Swanson slays me every time) and 30 Rock continues to shine.

Friday night: Time for a dvd. Some television is just too stupid.

Saturday night: Ah, we are going to miss thee, Legend of the Seeker. A Sam Raimi Zena-esque production, complete with ridiculously good-looking people kicking ass in a fantasy land (but shot in New Zealand. Yo! Hobbits!). No one ever really dies, because there's about a gajillion ways to come back to life--Magic spells! The Kiss of Life! or you can choose to Become the Walking Undead!-- and they seem to always look fantastic and more importantly, unscarred. I found this by accident last summer when Joe was in England for a week and had forgotten to leave my sanity with me stateside. The show may yet be renewed, but for now, with the tidy wrap-up, I'll be surprised. Too bad, because I was hoping to see more of Darkan Ral. It's always the bad guys that really look so good...

and Sunday night, it's the Simpsons, the most intelligent stupid tv ever.

So now that you have some great reasons to look down on me, do me a favor--chime in with your favorite stupid television shows. Grey's Anatomy? Hardball with Chris Matthews? I've just pulled down my intellectual trousers, now it's your turn. Show us what you've got.

And no, my son doesn't watch this stuff. Just so's you know!;)

Monday, May 24, 2010

If I Had a Twitter Feed...

...this is why no one wants me to twitter. Here would have been today's tweets:

9:00 a.m.--"Just heading out into what might be a beautiful day. Going to see the ladies at playgroup. Yay."

10:30 a.m.--"Oh, hell. Kiddo falling apart because of a fake vacuum with a real vacuum noise."

10:45 a.m.--"Kiddo bites it coming out of sandbox. Dark ominous clouds. Damn."

11-something--"At New Deal for lunch; left playgroup before actual melting occurred."

11-something 15 minutes later--"Who the heck takes 20 minutes to make a pbj? Get real."

1 p.m.-- "Standing on an overpass, watching trucks. Kiddo just playing with a piece of dirty old gum. Should wash his hands in spit and prayers."

1:05 p.m.--"Never mind. Just grabbed dried bird poo."

2:35 p.m.--"Home in the garden. Just got the lettuce in. Kiddo watering plants and self." (this will become a theme later)

3:00 p.m.--"A cup of tea at three never tasted so good."

4:00 p.m.--"Watching it start to go downhill.

5:30 p.m.--"Mad dash to clean clean clean for preschool tomorrow."

6:00 p.m.--"Kiddo spills water all over floor. Mama unhappy."

6:15 p.m.--"Joe home. Downstairs, escaping on computer."

And now dinner's done, and you know why I think those Status reports are nonsense. Let me know if you ever want a play-by-play. Off to eat and torment child with the vacuum once more!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Downshifting

Joe starts a new job tomorrow.We found out on Wednesday, just as preschool started. Joe opened the basement door, peeked out at me and gave me a thumbs up. It was good. I think a couple of the parents I do school for had a chance to talk to him--I was too busy with kids to notice. But I was elated. Not only would I not have to sweat trying to find work for summer, but I would have the time I needed to do the curriculum planning for next year. I've been counting on the summertime to create a flexible template for the upcoming school years and this sort of planning takes hours of time to realize a curriculum from the brainstorming stage to fruition.

Do I have to say that it's a lot to consider, Joe being gone? I've had to double-think my plans...my built-in childcare is gone. Is this what guys feel like when their wives go to work? I know most women are the ones who consider the childcare, but it's nice when the guys are enlightened and worry about this stuff too. I can't do tours on weekday afternoons now, because Kiddo will be home and wants my attention. My Monday prep day is now narrowly defined to a few hours of prep time. I know I'm going to have to feel this out, so this week I chose to keep projects easy. Messier, but less prep. They'll be engaged with the experiences (seed collages, print painting, stamping) and I'll be able to begin to navigate the changes ahead with a clear head on my shoulders. I don't believe in borrowing trouble, and when I see that things need to simplify, I go with the flow.

Kiddo, on his part, has probably been eavesdropping on this change. Today we pulled out the pennies that Daddy had stashed in the car, then came inside and dumped out the turquoise blue art pottery the change was in. It looks like a 6th grade art project, but I loved it when I saw it at the Goodwill years ago. Out cascaded pennies, dimes; silver and copper coin raining onto the floor. We picked through it--sorting coins is a fun thing for a 3 year old--and put all the silver coins into a dish to take out to the car. "This way, Daddy will always have money to park," I told him. Kiddo seemed happy to play with the coins, examining them, covering the dish sometimes, and then peering at the coins within.

We've had a lot of change over the last few months. Regular readers will know that Joe has been sans employment since near Christmas. (Scrooged!)Kiddo started sleeping in the little bed around February, stopped nursing around the beginning of March (the milk was long gone, and so was my desire to do it) and he turned 3 in April. We've had this new business, the nursery school, since the beginning of January, and amazingly, instead of turning upside down, we are right-side up. I'm just floored at how good life can be.

So we are downshifting on our Life Ride. We are starting to bust out the schedules again, starting to be less off-the-cuff, and more wise as to using our time. And Joe's job is downtown, so I'm starting to have some nice ideas as to meeting him after work. Taking the bus downtown to spend an afternoon at the Central Library and then meeting Daddy at a fountain for a summer picnic dinner sounds pretty attractive to me. I'm just in the mood for it these days, and knowing our family, I think Joe's new locale will be a nice change for us. I used to live downtown at The Brown (on 14th and Yamhill) and truth be told, I loved it. It's not always kid friendly, and so I don't have any weird dreams of moving to the Pearl, but I do love getting moments down there, and we have many friends who like folks to stop in for a visit.

So this is me trying to keep my head on and keep my cool. Maybe it's going to be different come 8 pm tomorrow night, but I don't think so. We try not to over-predict or overplan, and things generally work out better. I think I like this moment, even if it means a colossal "my husband will be gone for 50 hours a week change", will be fine. I will have even more empathy with some of my Working-In-Home-Mom friends, most especially those ladies whose husbands travel for work. I know so many great moms, and feel so blessed by the universe to have met them. From my moms groups to my sisters to the women I provide care for...all moms have a lot on their plate, and I'm always astonished at how well our children turn out.

We are lucky. We are slated for a huge-ass earthquake and it hasn't happened yet. We live in an area that has been less decimated by the economic times than others. Our weather may be cold and dreary, and may make some people feel like taking an all-day nap (my family calls it "The Gray"...most of us are sensitive to this), but it's not doing anything extreme in our area. We are living under an umbrella and again?!--Joe's job came just as his first round of unemployment was ending. We are blessed. We know it. Don't think we don't.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

"Cuts Mama With Scissors"

Some things are not what they seem.

Gathered around the big school table, the children and I were involved in a fairly benign activity: making treasure boxes from old Peet's tea tins. I'd covered them with construction paper and the children were using markers, stickers and pictures to decorate them to their liking. One child asked for scissors and so I brought them down. We've always had scissors available and there's never been any trouble.

Until this day.

Kiddo had a pair of the great-fitting kid scissors I'd picked up at the art supply store. I'd loved the small fit for little hands and just assumed that, since they were packaged and sold as "Children's Scissors" that they were indeed safety scissors.

Some things are not what they seem.

Kiddo had the scissors up by his mouth, near his upper lip. I asked them to put them down, and he seemed to ignore me. Truthfully, I don't know what was going through his head, but those scissors were still up by his mouth, so I did what any unthinking parent would do: I grabbed the scissors by the blades while he was still holding onto them.

And Kiddo did what any peeved kid would do. He held on tight to the scissors and squeezed, not wanting me to take them.

Unfortunately, my thumb was in the way.

I yelled for him to let go. Keep in mind, I had to keep my composure because it was preschool time and I was very aware of not alarming the other children at the table, so my yell was probably less desperate and scary, more of a serious and loud "Stop! Let go! OUCH!", and I actually remember deciding to mildly whack the hand that held the scissors in order to get his attention. In the midst of all this, I had the presence of mind to consider all the children. I didn't want to scare them by hitting my son hard or screaming at him, but this small pop worked enough to confuse him and he let go of the scissors.

And there was blood. I knew it before I even looked at my thumb. I put away all the scissors I could reach and went to the kitchen to grab a rag before the kids could see the bleeding. Those scissors had cut a variety of materials since they'd been purchased and since I was alone, the best thing I could think to do was to squeeze the wounds- yes, the cut had made an inverted "v" on the pad of my right thumb-- until the blood flowed out, hoping to push out any germs before applying direct pressure with the towel.This worked like a charm. This, by the way, is why I have taken so many first aid classes...because the shock of my little boy actually truly hurting me felt huge, and I operated on automatic for a few minutes. Sent Kiddo to his room while I went into the bathroom and grabbed the Neosporin, slathered it on, covered the mess with two bandages.

In the bathroom for those few minutes, I knew I had to 'do something', because what he'd done was horrible. Time Out wasn't going to be applicable, even if I did use it. What would he learn from sitting on a freaking chair for three minutes? Never letting him use scissors again wasn't an option. He needed some way to learn what he had done. He's never been cut by scissors, so the pain of this was something he honestly didn't understand. The only thing I could think of that would make sense seemed very just. He could not use scissors again until my thumb was healed. I took a deep breath and went back to work.

I think Kiddo knew something was up, because he was very demure until after lunch, when Joe came home. Let me just say that, had any other child cut me, I would've called their parents to pick them up. When Joe came in, I quietly took him aside and told him what had happened. I deeply, truly wanted to cry. My little boy had cut me. Hard. It hurt. I asked Joe to take Kiddo and our little guy was very, very sad. I explained to him that he was all done with school for the day because he'd done a very dangerous thing and hadn't stopped even when I'd asked him to. I told him that he could come and be with his friends the next time we had school and then finished my preschool day as best I could, a little relieved not to have to see him for a while.

Some things are not what they seem.

Let's just say that, for the record, I would never have bought scissors that I knew could cut flesh. How does one test this? I'll be talking to the art supply store about adding some helpful labeling to their display. Something like "Unless you are an adult Little Person with exquisitely tiny hands, you should not be using these." Good grief. Who makes teeny tiny scissors that can almost send someone to the ER for stitches?

And I know that an outsider might have seen something different than what I did. I am really grateful that A. I was the person cut instead of another child and B. I was his teacher during this. I know my son. I know he didn't expect the scissors to cut me and I know in my heart of hearts that hurting me wasn't his intention. He did what any child in my group does when someone tries to take their toy away--he held on tight. I popped his hand because I am not going to teach my son that I'll be a victim. This would have been bad for everyone involved. Some things are not what they seem, and it's easy to make assumptions about other people's children, especially when we don't know them.

As for my decision regarding the scissors: this has actually been very effective in teaching him that some things don't get better just because we forget about them. That night I changed the bandage and showed Kiddo the cut, explaining what happened and that he'd hurt me. He's asked to use the scissors a couple times since then, and I just remind him that we don't have scissors until Mama's thumb in all healed up. So he's learning about safety, about the miracle of self-healing skin, about Neosporin and bandages ("Oh, I'm sorry, I have no bandages for you to play with this time. My finger is going to need a lot of the bandages we have for now."). Hopefully, he will know that we can still be gentle with each other too. That we can come back from these things and still have this love for each other that includes both being wary and forgiving. Teaching one's own child is harder than I would ever have thought, but this day, I was glad it was me. Teaching and being taught.