XX.

PMS (mine, obvs) is not a good mix with a 4-year-old. I couldn’t help but laugh, really, as I was quietly (not so quietly) seething. He’s got this allergic, like, I don’t know. Ball of mucous? Just sitting in his gullet. And I can’t blame him because, I mean, right? But he does this half-throat-clearing thing. On repeat. Every four seconds. (Yes, I timed it. What of it?)

And then there’s Curious Goddamned George. (I think that must be his official given name.) With his monkey noises and crap behavior. Getting into bullshit messes that could have been avoided with a little common sense. Squawking and chirping and bouncing around like a friggen monkey. For a half hour. I had to draw the line at one episode. Even Strawberry Annoying Shortcake is better than that monkey.

And then there’s the hair in my face, the way my shirt keeps riding up, the butter that got everywhere as he attempted to spread it on his toast, the skin on my body that I want to crawl right out of — it’s just not a good scene.

We played a rousing game of “I Spy” in the car on the way to school and it took the edge off, believe it or not. And thankfully I remembered my ear buds for my day of cafe-working. At least there’s Pandora. And Adele. And multiple renditions of “Hallelujah.”

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Toys.

Is it weird that The Who doesn’t have any toys in his room? When I think about my room growing up, I always had toys in it. It was a tiny bedroom, but it was loaded. Shelves mounted on the wall, stacked with games; a plastic bookshelf, filled; a doll carriage with dolls in it; a big wooden dollhouse taking up one whole side of my dresser; a “pet net” suspended in the corner; and a multitude of stuffed animals on the bed. If I was sent to my room (which, if memory serves, happened regularly) I rarely minded because I had so much to do in there. My brother’s room was the same. We had a pretty small house and most of our toys were contained to our bedroom. We had no playroom or basement and I don’t recall many toys taking up residence in our living room or kitchen.

Train Table. Dining Room.

Train Table. Dining Room.

It’s quite the opposite in our house now. We also don’t have a dedicated toy room (though we are working to rectify that) but his toys have taken over our house. We try to weed through them and thin the collection out semi-regularly, but that doesn’t change the fact that we have pushed our dining room table against the wall to make more space for him to play and have filled an entire dresser in the living room full of toys. (This doesn’t include the bin organizer in the dining room, the Thomas train table with two under-table rolling bins (also in the dining room), the little art table (dining room), the filled-with-kid-books-and-playdoh-and-games built-in bookshelves (dining room), Lego table (living room) bike with training wheels (living room), bin of blocks (living room), and lineup of fire trucks (living room.) His bedroom houses only his bed, his dresser, a small bookshelf (in the closet), and a small box of Duplo blocks.

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Cars on the ottoman, blue-topped block bin, dresser full of toys. Lego table just out of frame. Living Room.

I once read, in regards to having a television in an adult bedroom, that a bedroom should only be for sleeping. Is that true for kids as well or are we doing him a disservice by not giving him a private, dedicated place to play? We often complain that he doesn’t play by himself enough and now I’m wondering if it’s because there is no place for him to do that. Because, actually, when he is alone downstairs (if I am showering or otherwise occupied upstairs) he plays alone beautifully. Hopefully, finishing our basement and relocating many of his toys into that new space will give him some of the autonomy our current space lacks. But should his bedroom be full of toys, too?

BiBi.

This is the story of a picture.

 

We were playing “Daddy and Baby,” which is one of his most favorite things to play lately. Mostly, this play takes the form of him putting me to bed. I put up a mild fuss and he is compassionate, yet firm.

So, tonight, when he told me it was time for bed, I responded with my usual, “But Daddy! I don’t want to go to bed!” And he responded with his usual, “Aw, sorry Baby. I know. But I have to work and go to a meeting and it is time for bed.” I begged for two songs and he offered me just one. I counter-offered that I could sing one and he could sing one, to which he agreed, but only if we sang the same song. When he was getting ready to turn out the light (and he really went all out tonight, turning out every light in the house and carrying his turtle down from his room to the living room, where we always play this game) I fussed a little more.

“But Daddy!” I complained. “I don’t want to go to bed!”

“Baby,” he murmured, as he patted my head. “I have to go to the other side the Earth.” (We have been talking about the sun and Earth and rotating, etc. so this isn’t quite as jarring as it might seem.)

“I’ll miss you!” I exclaimed!

“Wait here,” he told me, and he turned on the dining room light, sat at his drawing table for a long time, and came back with this.

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“Baby,” he began, by way of explanation. “This is the Earth and the sun and look how pequeño the Earth is. So you don’t have to miss me when I am on the other side because it’s not so far away and I will be right back. And this says “bye-bye” and here’s a happy face because you don’t have to miss me and these eyes have no tears, see?”

How can you argue with that?

“Ok, Daddy,” I said, sated. “I’ll see you when you get back.”

“Goodnight, my sweet Baby.”

“Goodnight, Daddy.”

To Do.

There are three things I want to start doing. Let’s call them New(ish) Year’s Resolutions.

  1. Eliminate food dye from my kid’s diet (at a minimum) and my own. I haven’t done all the reading about this that friends of mine have done, but I know enough to know that food dye is no good, especially red 40. I’m guessing that they have long-term physiological effects, but I am sure they have short-term behavioral effects and why would I want to make it harder for him to control himself and make my parenting job harder? Does he really need chewable vitamins/chocolate syrup/cake from a mix/a thousand other things? Fortunately, he doesn’t regularly consume any of those things and when I did an inventory, there is almost nothing that he regularly eats that has Red 40 in it, but I want to be more diligent about it, even for occasional things. We don’t allow chocolate near bedtime and he knows this. There is no reason not to throw food dye in there, too.
  2. Save money for a specific item. There are things I really want, but don’t need and I think this is a great opportunity to show The Who how putting a little bit of money away every week will eventually yield a significant amount. He doesn’t have a great concept of money yet, but he does understand that you need to pay for things and that we work to make money. He also saves coins to donate to the charity of his choice (library last time; this time, he is saving for the homeless) but I don’t think he has a handle on saving money for things we personally want. On the one hand, it’s nice to be able to get him what he asks for and because he doesn’t ask for much, we can do that. But at the same time, having to work toward something seems to be a valuable lesson. First up: a waffle iron! This is not only something that I’ve been wanting, but that The Who will love, too.
  3. Get The Who to eat some veggies. The kid does not like them. Fortunately, he is not terribly hard to convince to give things a try, but he does not take well to green things. He will often say, “Why did you give me this brussel sprout? You know I don’t like them.” He eats a good deal of fruit and so I haven’t been terrible concerned about his complete lack of veggies (leaning heavily on the notion that “fruits and veggies” can be interchangeable because they share the same spot on the food pyramid) but I want to help round out his palate. Recently, I got him to experiment with raw snap peas (not the pods) because they make a fun pop in his mouth. He doesn’t like the mealiness of the bigger ones, but happily ate at least ten of the smaller ones at dinner. Any ideas on how to introduce veggies to kids (without “sneaking” them into things — I don’t want to deceive him) are appreciated.

2/100. Worst.


See the rest of my 100 things plus the intro post here.

2/100
Worst.

The interview process was long, but not as long as it might have been had I just been a stranger off the street. Lucky for me, I had an “in.” I was a soon-to-be graduate of the Head of School’s alma mater, where a very good friend of mine also taught. Unless I was a raving lunatic, how could I not get this job? Still, the interview process was long.

The job was in New York City and I was prepared to take my suburban self to Manhattan. I knew this one friend and it was exactly what I wanted to be doing: teaching kindergarten. I had just spent four years earning my degree in Elementary Education and I was offered the position of Assistant Kindergarten teacher in a prestigious private school on the Upper West Side.

Just before I moved, though, my friend at the school left her job due to some personal issues and so there I was: 22 years old, having never lived on my own before, in a brand new relationship (my first ever, in fact) moving to New York City — alone. I knew no one, least of all the three random roommates I had found through a roommate-matching service in a time before Craig’s list and Facebook and cell phones.

The day I moved in was hot. It would have been considered a hot day in Boston, but it was crazy, painfully hot in Manhattan, up on the un-air conditioned 5th-floor, after hauling everything I owned into a tiny railroad apartment with too few outlets. (I had a fan, but nowhere to plug it in.) My dad, I remember, who was helping me move, fell against the wall, nearly passing out.

In the room with a dusty windowsill looking out onto the other interior side of the building, where the crazy man who wore a bucket and shower cap on his head put batteries on the ledge to ward off alien invaders, I felt more alone than I ever had before. In this city. In this place. With these people. And this job. Streets I had never walked. Food I had never tasted. Stores I had never heard of.

I picked up the phone to call my girlfriend, but she didn’t answer, and it felt like the ultimate insult. As my eyes began to fill with tears, I drew in a deep breath and tried to pull it together. I headed down the narrow hall to the kitchen. Flipped on the light and rounded the corner to see a million cockroaches scurry to all the dark corners of the room.

My heart pounding, I flipped off the light and wrapped my body around the kitchen doorframe. And as the overhead light faded into orange and then dusky gunmetal gray, I slid my body to the floor, my legs drawn up against me, and I sobbed.

1/100. Best.

A hundred of anything is a lot. One time, I completed a writing assignment in college that had to include a hundred-word sentence. It had to be grammatically correct and I loved it. (The rest of the assignment was no piece of cake either. The whole piece had to be 26 sentences long, each sentence starting with the next consecutive letter of the alphabet and had to have that hundred-word sentence somewhere in there.

I love a challenge. And so that’s why I am taking on the Livejournal “100 Things” blogging challenge. Since I don’t use LJ very much anymore, I am doing it here. And because I am a memoir blogger, I’m not going to attempt to do book reviews or recipes, although both sound tempting. Instead, I am going to try to write 100 mini-memoirs, each one about a day. A best or a worst day.

And, no time like the present. So, without further ado:

1/100
Best.

I drove to Boston for what was then my annual Spring Break visit back home. I had two weeks, counting finals week because I never give a final and I spent all my vacation time in Boston. I felt a tickle in my throat as I got onto the Mass Pike.

By the time I got to Greenfield to visit an old roommate and friend, I was flat-out sick. I powered through, though, because it was v a c a t i o n! She cooked us dinner (which was awesome) and made homemade chocolate chip cookies, which I scarfed in the middle of the night like I had never seen food before. The rough, crumbling edges of the too-crisp cookies felt like sweet relief against my raw throat and in the morning, she drove me to a convenient store where they still had the spinning-cup Slush Puppy machine. I made myself a huge grape one, letting the ice numb me.

Oh my god. I was so sick. It just got worse from there. I kept trying to power through and it just kept getting worse. I had to cancel a sleepover with my 7-year-old nephew, much to both of our disappointment. I wandered hazily around the Children’s Museum and just kept looking for places to sit and rest. Finally, my mother took me to the ER, where I fully expected to be diagnosed with Strep, but was instead sent home with an info sheet about pseudoephedrine and its relative safety. (For what it’s worth, I was later diagnosed with a double sinus infection and double ear infection, both of which took upwards of four weeks to clear up because I wasn’t allowed to take anything stronger than Amoxicillin.)

None of this is what I am writing about, though. These were the shit days that led up to the best one. March 21, 2008. It was a Friday. 13dpiui, for those to whom that makes any sense. I had no voice whatsoever. It wasn’t just raspy or hoarse. It was gone. And my eyes were, well, stuck shut. I had to pry them open in the morning. It was not pretty. Nevertheless, I called m*, who was back at home in Philly, and with her on the phone, I peed on a stick.

See? Not pretty. I'm sorry I made you look at that.

See? Not pretty. I’m sorry I made you look at that.

As the test line slowly and ever-so-faintly started to pink up, I wheezed, “It’s not nothing! It’s not nothing!” I jumped up and down. Fevery forehead, goopy eyes and all. “It’s not nothing!”

And, of course, it turned out to be the furthest from nothing that ever there was.

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