Monday, November 29, 2010

That person

I'm lucky, right? Look at those faces. I'm really, really lucky. And I have much to be thankful for: two great kids, a nice house, a warm bed, family who babysit for free, friends, a six-day-a-month job, that I'm not bald yet.

Things are good! They're great, in fact. Really, really, really [sob] great.

A couple of weeks ago I went out to drinks with a couple of old friends from high school. One friend is having a particularly hard time--his mom has Alzheimer's and he's working a job he hates--and he said his girlfriend is pressing for marriage and babies.

I leaned toward him, stared him in straight in the eyes, and said, "NEVER get married."

And even as I was explaining how it was a terrible institution, and how only a fortunate few could ever truly be happy being yoked to one person for life, I was flooded with the horror that I have become that person--bitter and jaded, glowing with a smoldering resentment fueled by the carcasses of my dead dreams. All I needed was a cigarette and maybe a limp and the whole picture would have been complete.

I can't say exactly how things got this bad. It's never one thing, just 10 years of things piled up and littering the floor until our home is the emotional equivalent of a cat hoarder's place.
I do love those kids, though. Thank God for them.
On an unrelated note, but still under the category of "Things That Suck," Amelia seems to be suffering from some sort of insomnia. It started with one missed nap on Sunday when we took her to see a play. Then the next day she spent nap time wandering around her room, and the following night she was up for an extra 90 minutes performing stealth excursions to turn up the volume on her lullaby sounds. Since then, she hasn't napped at all, it's taking hours for her to fall asleep, and this morning she was up for the day at 4:30.
Meanwhile, her waking hours are what you might expect from a two-year-old who's missing four to six hours of sleep each day. There's a lot of whining and tears and writhing on the floor.
The poor dear needs sleep. But she won't sleep. So she's overtired. So she can't sleep.
This is not heading in a positive direction AT ALL.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

"I hate you"

I honestly thought things were going well between us.

Last night Amelia and I read two books: The Little Engine That Could and Good Night San Francisco. Except for my insistence that she sit with me on the rocker and not across the room on her stool, we got along swimmingly.

Shortly after going to bed she threw up. Half-digested spaghetti, carrots, and Kit Kat were in her hair, in her ears, down her pajama top. Simon did the heavy lifting, washing and rewashing her hair as she sobbed, "I throwed up!" But I was there, too. I got the pajamas, blanket, and sheets into the washing machine, I put new sheets on the bed, dried her, dressed her, and sat next to her, stroking her hair, until she fell asleep.

This morning at around 7:30 I heard her saying, "Daddy, I want to get up!" which is funny because I'm almost always the one to get her up in the morning, especially given that Simon has been sleeping on the couch lately (which is a subject for a whole separate, bitter, weepy post).

I went in, as usual, and said, "Good morning! How are you feeling?" in my sunniest voice.

She sat up in bed, furrowed her brow, and yelled, "I want DADDY."

"Daddy's downstairs," I told her, still chipper as I opened her curtains. "We'll see him when we go down for breakfast."

Amelia folded her arms. "I don't like you," she said.

But she couldn't mean that, right? Surely she was expressing dissatisfaction at, well, something else. An ongoing stomach ache. Hunger. Congressional infighting.

"Why don't you like Mommy?" I asked.

She looked down at her dolly, then straight into my eyes, "Because I hate you," she said.

And, you know, what?!? Was it because I told her to stop asking me for water when I'm driving? Because I wouldn't let her sit on her stool during story time? Did she blame me for the problems between Simon and I? Or did I damage our relationship irrevocably when I had to stop breastfeeding after a year due to a new medication? Had we ever really bonded at all?

I started to say that it hurt my feelings when she said that, because it did. But then I thought better of it, and, trying to be the best parent I could, I conjured up a smile and said, "That's OK if you hate me right now. I still love you."

Then I helped her pick out an outfit to wear, and called Simon to come upstairs because, really, I just want her to be happy.

And to love me.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Orange and black

I didn't make it to the Giants parade last week. I thought about it. I even asked Henry if he wanted to go.

"Will there be cotton candy?" he asked.

"No," I said. "There will be a lot of people standing together on the sidewalk cheering for the Giants."

"That sounds super boring," Henry said.

My sister went. She said not taking my kids there was the best parenting decision I've ever made. Sadly, she may be right.

But missed parade and deformed "SF" jack-o-lantern aside, I am over the moon about their victory. Yay Giants!


The build-up to Halloween at our house was epic. In length. We bought Henry's Boba Fett costume in early September. So I had been listening to "Is it Halloween yet?" for about six weeks by the time October 31 rolled around.

Henry was firmly aboard the Halloween bandwagon, wearing his Boba Fett jetpack to school and folding his arms in bored condescension at severed heads and zombie babies alike, declaring, “That doesn’t scare me one bit.” Amelia, on the other hand, was having none of it. Outside of her lukewarm approval of her bee costume and her genuine happiness about her Hello Kitty jack-o-lantern, her standard response to all things Halloween was, “Too scary for me!”

And then it was time to trick-or-treat. We approached the first house, a large Victorian with gravestones on its front lawn and a smoke machine in full operation on the porch. Simon and I each took one kid’s hand, and walked slowly into the foyer. A large man wearing a Jason mask sat at a table, surrounded by cobwebs and body parts. Amelia stood beside me, wide-eyed and open-mouthed. Jason silently held out a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup. Amelia immediately let go of my hand and ran toward Jason. “Thanks you!” she cried, happily.

She was hooked. For the rest of the night she wriggled out of my grip and ran toward houses that even Henry refused to enter. “That one!” she yelled, holding her Elmo treat basket proudly before her.

As for Henry, a block into trick-or-treating he stopped going into any house with more than a jack-o-lantern for decoration. Two blocks after that he said he was done, and I walked him home (happily, it being Game 4 of the World Series).

Amelia stayed with Grandma for another block or two. She would have gone longer, but it was her bedtime. As she fell asleep that night, she told me, “That scary guy so nice to give me candy.”

So what did my preschoolers learn this Halloween? Ignore your instincts about what looks dangerous! Take candy from strangers! Commit extortion! At least it makes me feel better about the whole Santa charade.


One last thing: A friend sent me this link to a blog post by the mom of a boy who went as Scooby Doo’s Daphne for Halloween and got flak for it by other moms. I hope she feels supported by all the positive comments. Her son looks awesome, too.

Personally, I am a little sad that Henry has moved on from loving princesses to embracing all things Star Wars. I mean, I like the movies and all, but I am so tired of the pretend shooting and light-sabering.

It's so odd to me that boys playing killer is A-OK, and boys wearing mod purple minidresses with kicky pink boots are bullied by grownups.