Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Stairs

You guys are all so "my people." Not knowing the details of anything that even vaguely smacks of gossip bugs the hell out of me, too. But, really. You're going to be sorry you asked. Because it's boring, and a little stupid. That said...there's a bunch of info I have to give up front, and then I'll get into my rant.

Like at every school in the nation, practically, there are real safety concerns regarding drop-off in the morning. (Pick-up in the afternoon is staggered, with half the school getting out at 2:12 and the other half at 2:36, so while it's still an issue, it's almost literally half the problem that mornings are.) There is a drop-off lane on the south side of the school, where a paid employee will open car doors and help kids out of the car if needed, etc. That dropoff is right in front of a narrow staircase with 35 steps, which leads up to the main playground. (We live in the foothills, and this school is set into a very steep hill, hence the need for the steps if you enter on the south side of the school.)

There are also three entrances on the west side of the school. The one furthest south, nearest the drive-through lane, is a ramp up into the playground through a very wide gate; you have to walk up a bit of a hill already to get there, so no need for stairs. The one above that southwest ramp goes past the office; that one is forbidden to students. The one that's furthest north on the west side of the school leads to the kindergarten classrooms and is for the kindergarten students only; that plays no part in this discussion. (It's WAY up the hill, though, and when you're a kindy parent, you almost literally count down the days until you don't have to try to leg it up that hill. It's a killer...)

So. The world being what it is, a good number of parents who drop off at school in the morning refuse to use the drive-through lane because it might inconvenience them to have to wait for THREE FUCKING SECONDS to drop their kids, and instead pull around and park in front of the southwest gate/ramp and let their kids out, creating a HUGE traffic mess and often blocking one or both of the crosswalks at that southwest corner. One of the parents at the school, who lives nearby and has watched little kids nearly get run over on a daily basis by these overprivileged, self-absorbed bastards, decided to take the problem on. She talked to the principal and several other involved parties, and they came up with this plan in which they are now putting out cones that make it virtually impossible for you to pass the drop-off lane and then make a right to drop your kid by the southwest ramp. They also put cones up all along the curb near the ramp, preventing people who do get by from pulling their cars over to let their kids out. Our little world is much safer for that. I deem all of the above to be A Good Thing. (Big of me, huh?)

But then they went one step further, and this is where they unleashed The Wrath of TC: They decided to make SURE nobody would even WANT to pull over by the southwest ramp, and so they locked the gate there. All children, they said, now have to enter the school via the south entrance...the entrance that involves going up 35 narrow concrete steps.

To me, this is nothing more than an accident waiting to happen. Four hundred and something kids, holding backpacks and lunchboxes and dioramas and jackets and umbrellas and...all trying to shove up those stairs at the same time and most not having a free hand to hold onto the rail so they don't trip or fall. Add to that the overprotective parents who want to see their kids onto the playground safely (which you can't do from the bottom of those stairs) who will walk up with their kids and then try to get back down while other kids are going up. Add to THAT the kids like Em, whose backpack was so heavy that our doctor actually ORDERED me to get her a rolling backpack...but who can't get that backpack up the stairs without someone helping her.

It doesn't take much of an imagination to see what will happen the first time Em or someone else loses control of their backpack. I'm betting she could take out ten or twenty kids with one slip of the handle. Not to mention what will happen the first time some kid innocently stops short or bends over to tie a shoe or pick up the pencil box he just dropped, and knocks over the kid behind him (especially a short kid like N) with the pack on his back. I can't say why, but every time I think about it, it makes my stomach turn over. I just know that somebody is going to break something on those stairs. I just know it.

In fact, I've hated those stairs for so long that even when it wasn't required for all kids to go up it at once I still worried about their safety, and have always insisted that we walk around to the southwest ramp rather than go up the south stairs, which are closer to our house. And then here was the school telling me, "Nope, sorry. You're going to send your kids up those steps every morning, because we're CONCERNED ABOUT THEIR SAFETY." Talk about not seeing the forest for the trees.

Now, there were things I hadn't really thought about and have only learned now that I've started this little brouhaha: For instance, we are apparently the only school that has more than one entrance, and the problem is (and has been) that the southwest ramp, which leads directly onto school grounds, has never had any staff standing in front of it. So anyone could walk on, take a kid, walk off. This, supposedly, is why they glommed onto the idea of closing off this extra, problem entrance. It wasn't until I started making a stink that it occurred to them that maybe the entrance they should close is the SOUTH one, the one with all the stairs. Duh.

(To be fair, it isn't that simple. Because it's so close to the corner, putting the drop-off lane by the southwest ramp is going to back traffic into the intersection and across the crosswalks that were the original impetus for these changes. This is going to take a little ingenuity, but I think it can be fixed.)

So that was what the whole oh-woe-is-me-I-need-a-beer thing was about. I got a call from my friend last night about the meeting they'd had to address my concerns; she wanted me to know that they were definitely going to do SOMEthing about it, but that this week starts standardized testing, and they don't want to start messing with the morning traffic patterns when testing starts the minute the late bell rings, and would it be OK with me if they waited two weeks? If it really worried me that much, it would be OK for MY kids to enter the school via the office entrance until the new pattern can be decided upon and tried out.

I can only imagine the amount of eye-rolling and snide commenting that went on in association with my name in that meeting.

I should have just said, "That's fine. Thanks." And, I did. Except I also felt compelled to add, "Well, it's fine so long as no one gets hurt on those stairs in the next two weeks. But, I guess if they do, I'll just get to say 'I told you so,' huh?" God, I'm sanctimonious. Someone hit me, please.

That, then, is the story of TC Takes On The Stairs. Aren't you sorry you asked?

Mock away, Jane.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Soul Searching

N came with me this afternoon when I dropped Em off at a sleepover; she’s staying the night with a friend from Hebrew school, and N likes the friend’s mom a lot. So we hung out for a few, and N splashed around in the pool of the girl’s apartment complex—it was 97 degrees there in the valley, at 4:30 in the afternoon.

On the way home, he asked me to turn off the CD that was playing. “I have a question,” he announced.

“Yes?” I answered.

“Where in your body is your soul?”

Where did THAT come from? Where did he hear about the soul? And what is it about moving vehicles that shakes forth these kinds of questions from my kids?

“Well, that’s hard to answer, N. Your soul isn’t something you can see on an x-ray, like your heart or your lungs.”

“Or your bones.”


“So where is it?”

“I’m not sure. It’s not an actual ‘thing,’ so I’m not sure it has a place in the body. There are people who aren’t even sure there is such a thing as a soul, and that’s mostly because nobody can point to it and see it.”

Silence. Kids hate when you give them answers like that, that have no meaning to them.

“You know who might be able to answer that question for you? Your friend, Rabbi. Souls are really about having a little piece of God in you, so maybe he could help you figure out where you soul is.”

“Weeeeelllllll....” That didn’t seem to help much; he wanted an answer then and there. “Doesn’t God know where my soul is?”

“I would guess God would know if anyone does.”

“Good.” Finally, he seemed satisfied. “Then I’m just going to ask God, then. Maybe he’ll tell me.”

And he closed his eyes for a second, then popped them open again. “You can turn the music back on Mama. I can talk to God with the music on.”

When Em has a sleepover at a friend's, leaving N behind, we let N sleep up in our room if he wants. He always wants. He starts the night on Baroy's side of the bed, where we read books and cuddle until he falls asleep; when Baroy comes up for the night, he shifts N into his sleeping bag.

Because my social butterfly of a daughter has so many sleepovers, this has become quite the oft-played-out ritual.

Tonight, I was putting laundry away in my room when I realized it was already past nine, so I told N to go get his stuffed animals and his special pillow and his sleeping bag. "Don't try to bring them all up at once," I cautioned. "It's OK if you need to make a few trips."

He was gone for a while, but then came bumping up the stairs, carrying a stuffed-to-the-brim tie-dye sack over his shoulder, like some midget Jewish hippie version of Santa. (How he found that sack, I have no idea; it originally contained a flannel sheet set. I thought we'd gotten rid of it ages ago.)

He dumped about two dozen stuffed animals onto the floor, naming them all for me as he went: "That's Spotty, and that's Blackster, and that's Shut-the-Door, and that's Charlie, and that's...I don't remember his name...and nope, can’t remember that one, either." When the bag was empty, he slung it back over his shoulder.

The next two trips were to get the pillow and sleeping bag, but on the fourth and final trip, the sack reappeared. This time, it was too heavy for him to lift. "I have billions of books in here!" he announced.

By then, I had finished with the laundry and had already queued up a movie to watch on my computer while he fell asleep. "Oh, honey," I said, coming down the stairs. "We can't read all those books tonight. I don't even know if we'll get a chance to read any."

He ignored that last bit. "OK. I'll just bring a couple of books, don't worry, Mama."

He returned to his room for a bit, then eventually came upstairs with the sack still over his shoulder, but only his two current favorite library books were in it, books with easy-to-read riddles in them, books we've read a ridiculous number of time. (What time is it when an elephant sits on your fence?)

While he finished setting up his sleeping bag, I went into the bathroom to brush my teeth and do all those before-bed things; when I came out, he’d fallen asleep in the middle of his stuffed animals, but popped up the second I came into the room.

“OK,” he announced. “Let’s read the Halloween riddle book first.”

“No,” I said. “I’m going to watch my movie. It’s late, and I want you to get into bed here and go back to sleep.”

“But, but...” he protested.

“NO,” I repeated. “Not tonight. We’ll read them tomorrow.”

“No we won’t,” he said, beginning to pout. “You’ll sleep all the time and then you’ll have to do work or something and you won’t read them with me.”

“I will, I promise,” I said. “Even if I sleep in a bit, when I get up, I’ll read to you.”

“But they’re my favorite books,” he said, slightly teary. “And I want to read with you before I go to sleep.”

“No,” I said, not really looking at him, because I was too busy playing with the volume on the movie and fast-forwarding past commercials, and because I was getting annoyed. “Now go to bed, or I really WON’T read them with you in the morning.”

And so he got into the bed next to me, and I turned on my movie, and within three minutes, he was fast asleep, breathing steadily. I looked over at him, and suddenly my heart was in my throat. My beautiful little boy, left behind yet again. All he wanted was ten minutes from me, just a few scraps of my attention, and I couldn’t find it in my heart—I couldn’t find it in my soul—to give them to him. It took everything I had at that point to stop myself from interrupting his sweet sleep and saying, “Let’s read some riddles now. I want to read riddles now. I’m so sorry I said no, again. I’m sorry I put you off. I’m sorry I do it so often.”

But that would have been selfish. That would have been about making me feel better, not him.

Maybe if I knew where my soul was, I wouldn’t keep failing him all the time.

Friday, April 25, 2008

God is Mean

Bread is one thing. Bread I can deal with. But I am thigh-deep in PMS-y hormones, and I don't just want a beer...I NEED a beer. And I may not have a beer. Because it has yeast. And yeast makes bread rise. And therefore, that yeasty hop-ish goodness is forbidden to me for another 48 hours, almost to the second. Not that I'm counting or anything. (Make that 47 hours, 57 minutes.)

I've been up in arms these last few weeks about a possibly too silly and definitely too complicated to write out safety issue at my kids' school. Oddly, I seem to be the only one who finds this safety issue upsetting; or, at least, I'm the only one who has been letting it gnaw at her for weeks.

Which is not to say that I've kept quiet about it. When I first heard about the changes that would introduce this safety issue, I wrote a note to the principal and the parent who was spearheading the pilot project I was objecting to, expressing my concerns. I got nothing from the principal, and only a condescending "Well, if you're concerned, then come help us institute the changes!" note from the parent. (Um, no. I think what you're doing is stupid. Why would I HELP YOU do it?)

After the project had been running for a week, it was discussed at a PTA meeting. I stood up and made a rather impassioned speech about my concerns, and it was met with enough head-bobbing that I thought I'd gotten through to them.

Then we went on spring break, and when we came back to school this week...the pilot project had become a permanent policy. Oh, HELL no. I was just NOT taking that lying down.

And so, yesterday, I sent a note to the PTA president--who is a friend of mine, a woman I truly adore--telling her that I was resigning from the PTA Executive Board effective immediately, due to the fact that I was going to have to fight this new policy, starting with the principal, and moving on to the school board and the newspapers, if necessary. And I felt that since the PTA board was a co-sponsor of this program, it would be wrong for me to actively act against the board while being ON it.

Long story short: There is a meeting scheduled for Monday to discuss altering the new program to deal with my concerns, and I've been asked to withdraw my resignation pending the outcome of those discussions.

I am thrilled on one hand...and feeling horribly guilty on the other. Because I think I was a bit of a bully. I mean, I was perfectly ready to follow up on my resignation and wage a one-woman war over this issue; I feel it's that important. But at the same time, I was sort of hoping that by threatening to resign, I'd get some action. And, in fact, my friend told me that she immediately called the principal and said, "We can't afford to lose TC; please do something." And that is what led to the scheduling of the Monday meeting.

So, if in the end I win, then really, any means necessary, right? But there's still guilt in knowing that if I were most any other mother, nobody would have paid me any attention here. Actually, the guilt is in knowing that half the reason I do the things I do at the school is so that I'm NOT any other mother, and that when I need a favor, people are more inclined to do it for me. Or, in this case, when I need to push my weight around, I have enough weight to do it. But is that fair? Does that tarnish the things I do for the school, if they're not really selfless, if I'm sort of saving up chits that I will later call in?

Hey, God, did I mention that I really NEED that beer?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I Hate You

I keep hearing from parents of kids of various ages and sizes that their kids, while in tantrum mode, will declare, "I hate you," or "You never loved me" or things of that ilk. Just hearing that makes my heart hurt. And it's not even coming from my kids. Because my kids don't do that.

I'm not saying this to brag. I'm not even sure what, if anything, it signifies. Sometimes, it even worries me. Does the fact that they never tell me they hate me mean that I've actually succeeded in teaching them about how words have the power to hurt? Or does it mean that I've instilled such fear in them that they don't feel they can say 'anything' to me and know that it will still be OK, that words may hurt but they don't kill love? Are they so aware of my love that they simply don't question it? Or are they afraid that if they question it, they may not get the answer they're looking for?

My kids are (or, in Em's case, have been...and will likely be again) world-class tantrum-throwers. N cries and screams at us on a daily basis. But the words are so much less...strong. They're things like, "FINE!" accompanied by a slamming door. Or "That hurts my feelings!" Or "WhatEVER!" (Yes, that comes from a 7-year-old boy. Yes, it's almost impossible not to laugh at it.) And, of course, I do get called names. But they're names like "Meanie." I can live with that.

Maybe it's just that kids know what their parents are capable of handling? Maybe they just know, intuitively, whether their parent is the type who can take being told, "I hate you," and come back with a cuddle and an "I understand how you feel right now," or whether their parent is the type who would respond to such a statement by bursting into tears (or into a rage). Do you think it's possible that kids actually instinctively tailor their early year rebellions to they type of parent they have?

I have a sort of mantra I used to use all the time whenever I'd get white-hot angry at the kids: As soon as I could pull myself together, I'd make sure to add to whatever tirade I was spewing at them, "Of course, no matter how angry I am at you right now [or...no matter how much I don't like your behavior right now...] I always love you." And nowadays, if I forget to say that when I'm screaming at N to go to his room, he will often look back at me with an anxious face and say, "But you still love me, right?" And even at my angriest, I will be able to manage to say, "I'm not very happy with you, but yes, I still love you." And that seems to make a difference. But if he's all sulky and angry with me and I ask the same thing, he will deny that he still loves me. Or he will say, "I love you, but I really don't love you now." That's as bad as it gets. I'm just not sure if that's a good thing.

Friday, April 18, 2008

How I Know She Wasn't Switched At Birth

While making salmon patties for dinner, Em suddenly looks up from mashing ingredients and says, "Mama, isn’t it amazing that the human body is complex enough to reproduce? I mean, reproduction is so complex itself, and yet, without reproduction, there would be nothing on the earth!"

Yup. DEFinitely my child.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A Poem, by N

We had a long wait in an orthopedist's office (turns out, long story shortened out of concern for your boredom levels, that N has a 10 degree curvature at the very top of his spine, which qualifies him as having the very mildest case of scoliosis you can possibly have and will only require watching every six months or so). After we'd finished watching cranes lifting a total of 16 portapotties from the roof of the new hospital tower being built right outside the office window (which is still bugging me, even now...what WERE all those portapotties doing up there in the first place?), I pulled out a paper and pen and suggested he draw or write something. And so he set to it, stopping only to ask me to spell "pretty" and "cuddly."

This is what he handed to me when he was done:
Oh Mommy Oh Mommy You are so pretty so much. You are so so pretty so so much and you are so so cuddly. Oh Mommy Oh Mommy. Love N Middlename Lastname
Could you not just DIE from the sweetness? (Also: Hello, Oedipus. Nice to see you again.)

When the doctor arrived, N insisted that he read the poem. The doctor looked at me. "You MUST keep this," he said.

"Keep it?" I replied. "I'm blogging it."

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Missing the Entitlement Gene

We're on spring break this week, and we signed Em up for a UK Soccer Camp thingy at a local park at her request. When I went to pick her up yesterday after her first three-hour session, she looked gloomy and annoyed. Turns out, she's in a group of 7, 8, 9, and 10 year olds, and found much of the instruction to be well under her ability level. Plus, she complained that during the scrimmage they did, the older kids on the other team wouldn't pass to the little kids, whereas her team played "fair" and, consequently, got trounced.

I suggested that she could talk to her dad about it, and that he would probably be happy to ask the counselors/coaches tomorrow if she might be moved up into the 11-16 group. When we got home, I brought it up with Baroy, who said he'd certainly be willing to do that. But Em looked distinctly uncomfortable, and suddenly began talking about all the things she'd enjoyed that morning. Finally, she just said, "I don't think it's a good idea for you to talk to the coaches, Daddy. It wouldn't be fair to all the other 10-year-olds. They probably feel the same way I do, and they won't get to move up."

When she left the room, I looked at Baroy, my mouth agape. "What was THAT all about?" I asked, in wonderment. "Is it possible that our child does NOT believe the world revolves around her and only her? Is it possible that she believes that rules apply to her as well as to others? Is it possible that she doesn't feel entitled to special treatment, just by being who she is?"

"I know!" Baroy returned. "Where have we gone wrong?"

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Needless to say, he didn't sleep in her bed

We were on our way to have dinner with friends, after which Em was going to remain behind to have a sleepover.

N (age 7): Emmy, I think maybe I'll sleep in your bed tonight.
Em (age 10): Why?
Me: Sometimes during the summer, when you're in New York, N sleeps in your bed so that he doesn't miss you so much.
Em: Awww. Are you going to miss me tonight?
N: Yep. I think I'll want to sleep in your bed so that I don't miss you so much. I'll feel like you're here with me.
Em: That's so sweet! Of COURSE you can sleep in my bed if you want.
N: So I will. But I'm not going to wear any underwear.


Em: Um.....Mom?
Me: Amazing how quickly that conversation went from sweet to creepy, isn't it?
Em: You're tellin' me!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

If I Tried To Tell You

If I tried to tell you about our weekend--really tell you about it--you might not understand. That's what's been keeping me quiet these past few days. Telling you about it and having you not understand would be worse than not telling you at all. Because it meant so much to me, that would hurt too much.

Plus, I'm not good with this kind of writing...the kind about emotions that you can't really label or explain in concrete terms. So, if I tried to tell you about our weekend in the earnest and "please understand me" way I'd like to, I would probably fail. And that, too, would hurt.

So, instead, I'm just going to give you the outline of our weekend, without the attempt at the emotional impact. Most of you, I'm betting, will be able to read between at least some of the lines and understand.

The background: Em, N, and I spent the weekend at a 'family camp' in the Malibu mountains, participating with about 60 of our temple friends in what is known as a Shabbaton. (The weekend was expensive enough to make it not worth dragging Baroy--who wasn't especially excited about the whole 'camp' thing in the first place--along and have to worry about boarding Snug and all that.) Although it was sponsored by the synagogue's religious school, of which I am the PTA president, the Shabbaton was planned by a group of women who allowed me to stay almost entirely on the periphery, and thus I was able to simply sit back and enjoy the weekend without feeling the need to 'work it' at all.

Because of the religious school link, the majority of the participants were parents with school-aged children, and the place we gathered treated our gathering somewhat like a traditional summer camp, with separate bunks for the children (who were divided by gender and had counselors who slept with them) and for adults (also divided by gender, but without the obvious need for counselors to keep us on the straight and narrow), as well as motel-style rooms for those adults who didn't want to sleep apart from their partners or en masse in a room full of bunk beds.

The outline:

1. I slept in a bunk with six other of my girlfriends. (Hint for reading between this line: Even though the bunk was cold and some of my roomies snored, there was a remarkable amount of giggling that went on among us all-over-40 ladies.)

2. Em slept in a bunk with her counselors and six of her girlfriends. (Hint for reading between this line: If Em could LIVE in a bunk with six of her girlfriends, she'd totally do it. She was BORN for this kind of weekend.)

3. After initially insisting that he was going to sleep with Mama and absolutely no way would he sleep in a bunk, and did he say no way? because really, no way...and after being told this was FINE, this was what I expected, it was entirely up to him...N slept in a bunk with his counselors and four of his friends. (Hint for reading between this line: Oh, please. If you don't get the ENORMOUS MONUMENTALNESS of that statement, you know nothing about my son. The fact that I just made up a word like monumentalness should give it away. If not, the fact that I told the two 18-year-old counselors who managed to change N's mind about his sleeping arrangements in under two hours that I was going to buy each of them a car might also give you an idea.)

4. During Friday night services, N found himself outside behind the full-wall plate-glass window that faced the congregation, and decided it was the perfect opportunity to do a little tap-dance while the rabbi was leading us in the Shema. (Hint for reading between this line: Although Em and I are still cringing in embarrassment, I'm pretty sure it was that moment that made N the complete and total darling of not only every member of our congregation, but every staff member at the camp. Man, did those college kids eat him up!)

5. During Saturday morning services, Em and her class got up in front of everyone and led several of the prayers, including the v'ahavta, which is the prayer that follows the shema. (Hint for reading between this line: It was Em's voice leading all her classmates'; she sang with power and understanding. She KNOWS this prayer. This is something that makes me melt with pride...and maybe a little jealousy, since I've been trying to learn it for ages, but can't read enough Hebrew yet to do it right.)

6. During the family activities Saturday morning, Em had a full-scale freak-out at the thought of trying the ropes course/zip line, and yet managed to go a little way up the rock wall, even if she was sobbing throughout and for as much as 10 minutes after. When she'd calmed a little, she went with N and I to tie-dye t-shirts and was so cheerful that people kept asking her if she had allergies, never suspecting that her eyes were swollen from crying. (Hint for reading between this line: Em's ability to bounce back in the face of even self-imposed adversity is awesome. She inspires me.)

7. During the adult activities Saturday afternoon, I went on a hike in the mountains, took a yoga class, was transported through an hour-long meditation that felt like maybe 15 minutes, and then sat at the top of a hill with a small group of my friends as the sun began to set, studying Torah with the rabbi. (Hint for reading between this line: Every single moment of those four-plus hours was sublimely spiritual in a way I don't think I've ever experienced before.)

8. Did I mention that N slept in a bunk? Away from me? With kids his own age? And that he went to every single activity they did, and even participated in some of them? And did I mention that this is absolutely unprecedented? (Once again, no between-the-lines reading needed.)

9. During the Saturday night campfire and sing-along, N--apparently exhausted by the unprecedented monumentalness of the weekend--fell asleep in my arms as I rocked him back and forth. Em, just a few bodies down from me, came over and smoothed the hair away from his forehead and kissed him gently, then kissed me and went back to swaying with her arms around her friends, singing at the top of her lungs. The girls' bunk later went on a late-night flashlight hike, and apparently laid on top of a big rock and studied the stars. (Hint for reading between this line: This is exactly the kind of childhood experience I want for my kids.)

10. Once the kids were settled in with their counselors each night, I realized I was totally and completely off the hook. We kidless grownups were feted with wine and cheese the first night, and martinis and kick-ass guacamole the second in the camp's 'conference center.' We schmoozed and laughed and bonded, and kept marveling over and over at how it was perhaps the first time that we all had been able to really talk without one or more children interrupting for food or water or to have us settle an argument. (Hint for reading between this line: This is exactly the kind of adult experience I want for me. Not every day, and not even every week. But sometimes, being really and truly not-the-mama even for just a few hours is incredibly refreshing.)

11. At the 'closing circle' organized by the camp director, kids and adults were encouraged to share their feelings about the weekend. More than a few voices--including a couple of adult male voices--broke while speaking. (Hint for reading between this line: It's one thing to find a particular experience remarkable. It's another to realize that you're not alone and that, in fact, there are many others who felt exactly as you did, even if you can't really express how you feel. That, I think, is the very definition of gratification.)

Don't get me wrong. I've had wonderful experiences before, and I hope to have many more in the future. This one was different simply in that it was so unexpected. When we do our annual trip to Big Bear, when we travel to visit family, when we went on our cruise a few years back...I have and do look forward to those sorts of events with delicious anticipation. In this case...well, frankly, I looked forward to it with wariness and more than a dose of dread about just how difficult it would be to handle the whole roughing it aspect with N hanging on to my arm for 48 hours and no Baroy around to help me out. So when what came to pass came to pass, when the reality so outstripped what I was anticipating, it almost felt like some kind of cosmic surprise party. ("Really? All for me? Oh, you shouldn't have.")

In other words, this was not the One True Transformative Experience of My Life or anything like that. But still. If I tried to tell you how much it meant to me, how much my mood has lifted and my soul calmed...I'm certain I'd come up short. In fact, I know I have.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Trashing the Fear

Since N was tiny, he's hated Thursdays. Thursdays are garbage day, the day when those VERY LOUD trucks come thundering down our VERY SMALL AND NARROW street. Although he is a classic boy with a love of all things truckish, the garbage trucks are just too up close and personal. Frankly, they're just too bone-crushingly LOUD. And to add insult to injury, there isn't just one truck to contend with; there's the garbage truck and the recycling truck and the yard waste truck. THREE TRUCKS. Every Thursday.

But this Thursday was different. He came rushing into the house after walking home from school with Em and Baroy and Snug, yelling back at his father, "I'm going to tell Mommy all about it, Dad!"

"Tell me about what, sweetie?"

And thus began a much-better-than-it-was-but-still-not-entirely-quotable-if-I-want-you-to-understand-it N speech about the garbage truck that had come down the road as they were walking, and how N had decided to wave at the truck driver, and the truck driver "WAVED BACK, Mommy, because he knew that it means he's my best friend now, it was a signal" and how the driver then smiled at N and N "wasn't scared anymore, except I don't love garbage trucks still, but I wasn't scared at all!"

And then he stopped, wiped the back of his hand across his forehead, and said, "Whew. That was a close one." And then he went skipping out of the room to turn on Spongebob Squarepants. Because there's nothing like a little Squidward to reward yourself when you've conquered your fear of garbage trucks. For this week, at least.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

I Hate It When That Happens

Saturday was like The Worst Day Ever.

There was an author coming to speak at the temple in the morning who I really wanted to meet, having read all of her books, and I couldn't go, because there was also N's best friend's birthday party, and then Em's friend's birthday party, and I had to go to the store to buy presents, and then I had to wrap the presents and get the kids to make cards, but we didn't have wrapping paper, so I had to go back out to the store to get some. And then I had to drive N and Em to the first party at a gym about 18 miles in one direction from my house, and then take them to the park for the rest of the party after that, and then we had to leave the park early with N all upset at saying goodbye to his beloved WeeyumWise, the birthday boy, and drive Em to a party that was 18 miles in THE OTHER DIRECTION from my house, so it took like 45 minutes to get there, and then N wanted to stay at the other party, but he wasn't invited, so there was a scene. And so then I drove N home, only to have to head back out to pick up Em at the first party because, although Baroy had agreed to pick her up, he was in middle of watching a &*&%^#$ college basketball game and didn't seem ready to go when it was time to go so I loudly sighed and told him he needed to get N some dinner and he replied, "Maybe I'll pick up some El Pollo Loco" (this will be important later...well, important to me and my ranting, maybe not to you), and then I went to get Em by myself, but I was almost out of gas from all that driving, so I had to stop and get gas, and as I got out of the car my back went twaannnggggggg and I knew that wasn't going to be good. And then I realized that it was almost 8 and I hadn't had dinner, so I stopped and picked something up at Wendy's and ate it in the car and got ketchup all over myself so that when I walked into the party, Em kind of pointed at me and whispered, "You're all stained" as if I was embarrassing her, and then when we were in the car on the way home she asked if we'd be getting together with our friends the next day, and I said that I was going to a book club meeting I'd been looking forward to and Baroy was going to a party for a friend of ours that I couldn't go to because I couldn't find a Sunday-night babysitter, so no, and she started to complain and I LOST IT and lectured her about how I had just spent the entire day ferrying her and her brother around to all of their things and if I heard just ONE MORE WORD, she wouldn't be going to another birthday party until she got her own driver's license. And then we got home and Baroy arrived just as we did with a big of food from El Pollo Loco and said, "Oh, great timing, let's eat," and when I looked at him like he was insane and pointed out that Em had just come from a dinner party, and I had picked up something in the car, he got all huffy and said, "Well, I just spent $20 getting dinner for everyone, and you went and just got something for yourself?" and I LOST IT again, yelling about how I'd spent the whole day doing everything for everyone else and how DARE he give me a hard time about fucking FEEDING MYSELF just because he didn't understand what I meant when I said he should feed N, and then I stamped off upstairs and took a veryveryvery long hot bath to try to soak the twang out of my twangy back, only to hear N screaming at the top of his lungs and come down to find out that he had banged his head in the doorway and had a huge knot on the side of his head, at which point Baroy said I should put him to bed and I said I didn't want him going to sleep right after banging his head and Baroy said something like, "Well, that was 15 minutes ago; you weren't here when it happened," and, well, do I really NEED to say that I LOST IT at that point again?

Now, some of you may be thinking to yourself, "Well, yeah, it was an annoying day, but isn't she overreacting?" But you don't have the most crucial piece of information, the piece of information that explains why I hated EVERY SINGLE SECOND of that day, why I wanted to sell my children, why I wanted to not just get a divorce but to somehow go back in time and not even MEET Baroy in the first place.

That piece of information is this: Within 24 hours, I would get my period.

So maybe it wasn't The Worst Day Ever. But it definitely was The Worst PMS Ever.

Menopause, take me away!