Parental Kryptonite

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Yesterday, Em had Teacher Workshop day.

I decided we would do errands and shopping first thing in the morning.

The errands usually become some kind of mental death match between me just trying to get THROUGH it without becoming the "Crazy mom beating her child in the Wal-Mart parking Lot" and my just handing over my Debit card and whimpering for quiet.

Not yesterday. Yesterday I unveiled the strength of my "L'il Jon" impression to my astounded daughter.

By answering "What?!", "Bring it Back", "I ain't Scarrred" and "OK!" to just about every utterance out of my daughters mouth, I was able to render her fairly quiet.

This is not something I shared with Terrance. He has to find his own way with her. I can't be giving away all my secrets, and he can probably do a Much better "L'il Jon" than know cause of the dreads and blackness and maleness and all.

As I lay my sad and sorry achey, period starting self in the bed this morning, I hear his secret weapon unveiled.

"Emily wants to party all the time,party all the time, party alll the Tiiiiimmmmmmmeeee."
He does a pitch perfect Eddie Murphy in red leather Rick James pants impression.

Emily groans. "Stop it, Daddy!".

He does it again.

I smile.

We have found a chink in her armor. Parental singing.

A love I dare to name

Monday, March 22, 2010

After sleeping on the same pillows for over 15 years, no strike that....I had at least one of those pillows in College which was 1988-1992 for the undergrad...So let's generously say say 20 Years.

The same pillows that I am not entirely sure Where they came from, but I am certain that if I DID buy them, they didn't cost over ten bucks. Some I am sure I stole from various lodging establishments that really couldn't be called "Hotels".

All of them have been copiously drooled on, by me. (see example below, taken by my husband who thought it was super funny to document his wifes droolery, not to mention that all of our pillow cases have rabbit bites from when they fall off the bed and the rabbits attack them)

Place this mess of motley pillows on a pillowtop mattress that Terrance bought when I was pregnant with Emily. A Mattress that came mysteriously one day while I was at work. A Mattress which, at best, was most likely a "Factory second". A Mattress with no box spring, but was a step up from the futon we were sleeping on in 1997. A Mattress which, 13 years later, has craters indented into my side of the bed...which, after flipping, turning and changing means there are 4 craters, Two per side.

Place this mattress on a couple pieces of particle board that has been improvised as a "frame" for 13 years.

Now, mix in a person who LOVES to be in Bed. I mean really, really LOVES it. As in, to quote my best friend, "If you could rule the world from your bed, you would be the happiest person in the world".

I write in bed, I quilt in bed, I watch TV and movies in Bed. It is my nest of comfort and security. Most recently, I wrote the theory comp for my dissertation in this bed:

Do you see that nest? This was at the end of the writing....the stacks of books, the unseen stacks of paper coffee cups overflowing in the trash. I am a human Crow, stealing shiny bits and string to decorate my environs.

Add in the two free roam rabbits and frankly Terrance doesn't even try to live in this part of the house. He "visits" with me...then heads to his bed in the other room for the night. We think this has helped to extend our marriage, this giving up of space, since he isn't breathing loudly in my ear and I am not flopping all over, bumping him.

It with all of this in mind, I introduce my new beloved:

Two hours spent in the store, testing different models. Then pillows. Testing pillows on the chosen bed.

The 4 pillows I bought ( why Yes, I do need FOUR pillows ) are heaven. Yes, at 200 bucks for the four, they were the most expensive pillows I have ever bought in my life. I could hardly look at the receipt for shame. But Oh. The difference already!

The bed gets delivered on Wednesday, and I can hardly wait. I may have to write an ode to my new bed to express my joy at its wonderfulness.

And to you I say, Spend the money on yourself. Sure, it will make you sweat as you consider that this money could be paying bills, or sending your kid to camp for the summer, or a million other things - like your tuition. However, the money I will save on seeing the chiropractor because my mattress is killing me combined with the sheer happiness I will experience by laying on these pillows in that bed is worth it.

I'm worth it, dammit.

Grabbing the Bull

Friday, March 19, 2010

So, after my perpetual whining about how I should be more popular as a Blogger and  my infernal waffling on whether I am any good as a writer, I present This:

I thought about nominating myself, but then I got all weirded out about doing that. It just seemed a bit Gauche. And God knows, I swing between not wanting to be Obvious and screaming "LOOK AT MY BOOBS" in any given week.

So I leave it to you, my gentle readers. If something I have written has touched you, or made you laugh, or just made you feel good - or shit, even if it made you feel kind of bad, but you learned something....consider nominating one of my posts. Or all of them. Or none of them. Entirely up to you. Following the link will take you to the page which describes the categories, and a place to submit your nominations.

I'm not the most bubbly blogger on the internets, a lousy team player, and my attitude has never been one which is described as "peppy" BUT I am a damn fine writer. Even I, in my waves of self flagellation and doubt know this deep down.


Management Strike

Thursday, March 18, 2010

There are stories that are scratching to get out.

I woke this morning, a bit disoriented and foggy. The places I have been in my dreams that last few nights are unfamiliar ones. Normally, my dream landscapes are wholly familiar. The last several nights?

In one, I was at my first job out of college. A place I have not dreamed about in easily 18 years. Last night? Summer camp circa 1986...playing four square (badly). Before that? My grandmothers bedroom circa 1975.

Perhaps it is part of my psyche approaching 40, pushing some of these memories to the forefront of my brain, demanding attention like petulant two year olds. Perhaps something is coming out of the fog of my life that will be entirely unexpected.

The lesson on "Not expecting" is one I have yet to master. Shit, I have yet to scratch the surface on that particular beastie. Therefore, when these unsettling dreams filter through my neural passageways, I awake waiting for the big reveal.

"something is coming", shouts the Dawn voice in my head. "Get Ready! Plan! Prepare! Anticipate!"

But, for the first time in a very long time, I don't want to.

There is a comfort in this in-between place that I currently inhabit. Not the willful deafness I have occasionally turned to my life, pretending that if I didn't acknowledge it, it simply wasn't happening. Nor is this the dreamy state of "living in my head", which has been another way for me to disconnect with the world at large and pull the comfort of my thoughts over me.

As a manager of people and situations and occurrences and utterances, a vast chunk of my energy is invested in my ability to predict and anticipate and prepare. It is an inheritance of my parents, this over vigilance, to know where their unorganized and impulsive selves may wander to next required a singular focus.

Perhaps it is the purposeful disconnect from my mother which has allowed me to let go of the tether and float downstream. Making that decision last year was incredibly hard. Coming to terms with the fact that your mother can never love you the way you need to be loved, as a child, is soul shattering. Nearly a year later, the peace in not having to manage her feels guiltily relieving.

She has called me all the names. I have been the bad daughter. I have not sought reconciliation. I require no forgiveness.

On the other side of all that tumult, my life is more peaceful now that in the previous 39 years.

I think I might be growing up.

Nice Try

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

And the best new "Worst excuse to try to get out of doing your homework" goes to:

Emily for this response to her parents telling her to go sit at the kitchen table and finish her $%^$%&#$%# homework:

"I can't! That calendar in the Kitchen Creeps me out!"


Thursday, March 11, 2010

My brother and I have a joke that if any two siblings from our family are within 50 miles of each other...then the 3rd is forced to the outermost edges of North America in order to keep the triangular cosmic balance. This is the reason that my sister, my brother and I have only come together in the same place in 1996, 1997, and 2001. My Wedding, Donnie's College Graduation and Jessie's High School Graduation. We don't tend to congregate much and I sense that we all get wary when forced into family like situations, like rangy low-status wolves anticipating our death match.

I have not untangled my fear of family - My own or others. Some of this fear seems to be a protective measure - my fear based in some infant decision to join or stand apart. I wonder if I observed the infant Dawn if I would note the security of her attachment, as I sometimes think that I fit the reactive profile. The disconnect, the dislike of being touched, the doing better with strangers than family, masked with a great deal of intelligence. A savant who succeeds in spite of her own best efforts because while she is socially inept, the intellect moves her forward.

I once asked my therapist if she thought it was possible I could be a sociopath. This led her - like every therapist in the world - to ask me why I believed I might be a sociopath.

Its hard to explain, really. Some of this question lies in my understanding that I just don't "get" it in the same way other people may understand humans. My ability to observe the behavior of others is most likely a survival trait. My father was unpredictable and my mother had me highly attuned to her every nuance. As such, I can tell you alot about peoples body language and if they are going to be a threat to me. The "normal" stuff - like how to remember to ask about peoples kids or remember birthdays or show interest in peoples health? I suck ASS at that stuff. That circuit just never got switched on in my hyper attuned brain. Telling you the layout of my elementary school in Jacksonville North Carolina? That I can do.

Seeming interested in personal lives of people with whom I am not intimately involved? I can't even fake it. I used to watch the secretary, Angie, at the child care. She was amazing with people. She remembered all sorts of personal details and would ask people about their lives. I was transfixed. Which is why I was not the best manager of people. Want me to plan out strategy? Implement policies? Move towards a vision of quality through sheer force of will? I'm your gal.

Oddly, the other place in which I excel? Being with children. I always fancied it was my lack of artifice that drew children to me. I was a very safe adult. I said exactly what I felt and thought. I didn't hide behind false words or actions. I told a person who was interviewing me for a job once that I didn't soften myself with my children, and I was sorry if she and other adults found me too abrasive, but if Infants and Toddlers could embrace me, it was really her issue if she couldn't.

I didn't get that job.

And now, I see the same patterns emerging in my daughter. She tells me every other day about someone else she considered a friend who was "mean" to her, or otherwise wounded her sensitive self.

Is she alot like her mother? Um, yeah. She is chatty and loud and opinionated. Where I am physically reserved, however, she is effusive. Her sense of being in other people's personal space has never been good and she just doesn't clue in that it is annoying - even when the person is SAYING that she is annoying.

Do I hold myself accountable? Come on. It's a new way to torture myself, of COURSE I hold myself accountable. I fret that if I were more adept socially, she would be too. If I were a normal adult, she would be a more normal kid.

We lay in bed last night, talking about things. Part of the problem, see, is that my kid is VERY like me. She wants to chat about Monty Python. She wants to discuss the Tiffany exhibit we saw last week. Or the Greek Mythology books.

Her peers? They want to discuss Twilight, or The Simpsons or scary movies I won't let her see, nor does she want to see.... Em has no stomach for the scary, and we aren't just a TV watching family. There are a multitude of pop culture references she has no idea about since she is ensconced in this world of Dawn-ness with a hearty splash of Terrance-ness too. The child never stood a chance.

To reassure her that people will "get" her later in life is really not enough. I remember how badly I wanted to be like other kids at her age. So, I do what I do in all situations that I don't quite understand...I research them. I turn to books. I make a plan of research attack. How and what to observe. what I plan to do with that information once I have amassed it.

This time, however, I am teaching her my method. We started the book "The Unwritten Rules of Friendship" last night. While it was written as an advice book for parents, she and I are reading it together. As we finished "The Different Drummer" section last night, I gave her homework for today. Observe. Figure out what things people seem to like and then we will strategize as to how to find things she likes and intersect the two. The goal isn't to change Emily - I like my quirky sweet girl who still loves her Playmobil at almost 12 and can chat with you about the River Styx.

The goal is for her to figure out how to manage the puzzling world of social interactions, while still fully knowing herself. Maybe I will finally figure it out too.

Same as it ever Was

Sunday, March 07, 2010

So Em and I were laying in bed tonight and we were talking about the past week, which has been her school vacation. She made a comment and I said the very typical "I can't wait until you have a child of your own...You'll call me and I will be all "She won't sleep in her bed? Isn't that I am going to have another glass of wine...Click." mother response.

She laughed. "You make me sound like I am a demon child", she laughs.

"Oh, honey - Why do you think I wrote it all down in a blog? So I can remember EXACTLY what it was like..."

"Like what?", she challenges.

I pull up the blog. I roll to 2005 and I begin to read. She laughs. She laughs until she weeps as I read the adventures of Emily, Dawn and Terrance.

At the end of the third blog post, she pauses and says "Well, I guess I was Kind of a demon child."

and this was what I read to her:

My morning has started like countless other mornings. I wake up – the alarm is on and NPR is wafting toward me. I have intentionally put the radio/alarm clock on the OTHER side of the room on a high shelf. I do this because if it were next to me I would turn it off. I know this about myself. I admit it. I have to outwit my reptilian self in the wee minutes of my awakening. And Yes. I also set the alarm clock 20 minutes ahead of the real EST to fool me into thinking I am waking up early….only to lay in bed for 20 minutes coming to conciousness. If you look closely, you can see the faint “L” on my forehead.

That is when I realized that my daughter was kissing me. At first, it was sweet. A little kiss on my arm. A little kiss on my back. Then it became torture. This is for two reasons. I don’t like to be touched in the morning. I want to wake up slow and get myself in the shower. The second reason is that she was doing this to wake me up. And yes…I know it SEEMED sweet, but it wasn’t - it was evil. She knows that she can’t turn on the television until I am awake and having snuck successfully into my room YET again ( for the eight billionth time in her life) she now has the goal of watching some ungodly loud show at 6:30 in the a.m.

As soon as she has determined that I am awake, even if my eyes are closed and I am pretending to be sleeping, she starts the rambling:

“Mama. Daddy said I could come into your bed last night. He said it was Ok. Mama, daddy said it was OK that I come in your bed. Mama? Mama, Daddy said OK.”

Now – let me give you the background on this. Getting into and sleeping in our bed has been Emily’s #1 life goal. We have tried a variety of tactics, which have failed. These include a gate on her door and a gate on our door (she kicked them down) Locking my door at night (until I forgot one night), we ferbered her as a baby and she outlasted us after 4+ hours of SCREAMING. Loss of priviledges, loss of her bitty baby…. you name it. And where does she end up? Next to me in my bed. She is the master. Last night Daddy told her (as she produced a hail of tears) “No Chinese food for dinner tomorrow night if you don’t stay in your bed tonight”
She wants to confirm with me that Daddy gave her permission, so this negates his threat of taking away Chinese food for dinner. This is her first concious thought.

“Mama, Mama, can I turn the TV on? Mama? Can I? Can I turn the TV on? Mama, Mama – can I watch TV? Can we turn the radio off? Mama – can we turn the radio off?

I hate the TV on in my bedroom in the morning. I actually resisted having a TV in the bedroom at all, as I think it is a little funky. I gave in about 8 years ago. BUT no TV when I am sleeping – or falling asleep. I like it quiet and dark. I prefer to read in bed, or play video games.

It is 6:43 a.m. and I am already feeling beaten into submission. I roll over to get away from her. She scoots over like a lamprey and re-attaches on my back. I am now on the very edge of my bed. Finally, I can take it no more. I sit up; take my med’s and wanders to the bathroom.

“Mama, where you going? Mama?”

Our entire house cannot be much more than a thousand feet of space. There are a total of 4 rooms: The Living room/Kitchen, her bedroom, the bathroom and our bedroom. That is it. It is not a palatial estate.

I murmer and move to the bathroom. She bounds out of bed and leaps into her father – who is on the couch. I am now in the relative safety of the bathroom. While this sanctum is occasionally breached now, it’s integrity remains intact today. About a year ago, I threw a fit because as soon as I said I was going to the bathroom, her little ass would dart past me and throw herself on the toilet. Without fail. I would be standing speechless in the door of the bathroom watching my daughter smile at me, on the only toilet in the house. I finally flipped out. I now enjoy a child free bathroom experience.

But today, as she is bouncing off the walls, and my husband is grumbling and I am just trying to get pantyhose on that isn’t ruined and find something I don’t have to iron, and get her clothes laid out on the bed and maybe do her hair if I have time, and pack her a snack, and make sure that all things are in her backpack, and get her medicine in her, and do my hair so that it looks vaguely presentable, and now my husband is in the bathroom with the door shut and my eyeliner is in there, so I either go to work without eyeliner OR wait until he finishes to run in and put eyeliner on, and Emily is asking my about a fruit roll up she mysteriously produced since I don’t allow this level of fake food to be purchased and consumed, and I finally grab my purse and get out the door after blowing kisses at my husband and kissing my still chattering child, and close the door.

I get into the silence of my car and smile. I love going to work.
◄Design by Pocket