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Friday
Nov042011

Karen strikes again

Karen says if you eat too much you get flat,” Kaylee said to me the other day.

I really wonder what’s going on in Kaylee’s head when she hears a statement like that.  Is she imagining eating a bunch of food and magically flattening into a Kaylee-shaped piece of paper, capable of sliding under doors?  In that case, maybe she thinks becoming flat sounds pretty awesome.

Amusing preschooler translation mistakes aside, it hurt my heart a little bit to hear Kaylee say that she’s already receiving the message not to eat too much.

Fine, ok, obesity is an epidemic and blah blah fucking blah.

But Kaylee is four years old.

Can we wait a little longer before I have to worry about other people promoting an unrealistic body image for my child?  Can we wait a little longer before she starts thinking she needs to be stick-thin to be accepted?  Can we wait a little longer before my underweight child starts watching her figure?

I kind of want to rant now about the society we live in that values beauty over substance, and about the indoctrination of children into a cult of superficial bullshit that turns them into judgmental little bullies.

But I just … I just can’t today.  I don’t have the energy to pull all that frustration into a coherent blog post.

Instead I’ll take a deep breath and remind Kaylee that she’s beautiful, no matter what. And then I’ll try to get her to eat another chicken nugget.  (And some vegetables.  Sheesh, calm down.)

Friday
Oct282011

Ginny Weasley has a urinary tract infection, and other events

I have no coherent topic for this post, so I’m going to give you some bullet points of things I would have elaborated on if I were being an actual blogger lately.

 

1.  Ginny Weasley probably doesn’t wash her hands often enough.  I know, right?  Who would have thought?  I mean, she seems like a tough girl, but she looks like she practices good hygiene.

No, I have not gone crazy. We did mock urinalysis testing in my microbiology lab this week, and all of the samples were given names of Harry Potter characters.  My partner and I got Ginny Weasley, and she has a UTI from Streptococcus pyogenes, which indicates poor personal hygiene.

Next week we’re doing stool samples from Lord of the Rings characters.

I love school.

 

2.  My baby boy has been so, so sick this week.  Monday night through Wednesday night, Robbie had temperatures ranging from 99 degrees to 103.3.  He was … not happy.  He was also diagnosed with Herpangina – a disease name that might have freaked me out if I weren’t smack in the middle of my microbiology class.

His fever is gone, but his misery is still around and he hasn’t been able to be in daycare, which means a lot of missed work, shuttling kids to grandparents’ houses and the like.  I finally took him back to daycare this morning and he clung to my legs, screaming.  My parents picked him up early.

So here’s the no-duh statement of the day: Having a sick kid sucks ass.  They’re miserable, they don’t understand why and you can’t explain it to them.  You just have to snuggle them and buy a lot of Tylenol.

 

3.  I’ve made myself feel like a little bit of a badass.  Last week I had four tests, all fairly major parts of my grades in those classes, and I was feeling a little fried.  Without getting into too much detail, I’ll just say that I did pretty well and I’m kind of proud of myself.

 

4.  Rob and I are reminding ourselves that we have to be parents.  You know that thing with kids, where you give them their way a couple of times and then they push and push and push to always get their way forever and ever?  Yeah.  That’s been happening with Kaylee’s sleep habits, and she’s been sleeping in our bed a lot.  When you have to study for four tests and all you want your daughter to do is sleeeeeeeeep, it’s really easy to give her her way so you can go back to memorizing the Gram stain on thirty species of bacteria.

So as of yesterday, that’s ended.  We’re forcing her to sleep in her room and refusing to stay in there until she falls asleep, no matter how many tears are shed.  We will perform monster checks, arm her with monster spray, kiss away the bad dreams and whatever else needs to be done as long as she sleeps in her own damn room.

She wasn’t thrilled with the idea.

This morning, as Robbie was wailing because I wouldn’t let him watch Thomas the Train in the 30 seconds we had left to leave the house so I could be on time to class, Kaylee looked at me and said, in all seriousness, “Mommy, you need to learn to stop saying ‘no’ to us.”

Ha.

Ha.

Ha.

 

5.  Speaking of Thomas the Train, I often find myself wondering whether there are hypnotic rays shooting out of the TV screen whenever that train is on it.  Rays that only affect toddlers.  And make them obsessed.  And kind of crazy.

Robbie owns three pairs of Thomas pajamas, two Thomas shirts and a ridiculous number of Thomas toys.  He screams when we try to change him out of any of the clothing, and carries the toys around wherever he’s allowed to. At school, every time I carry him out of his classroom, he points and reminds me that there’s a Thomas pillow sitting high on a shelf in the pre-school class.

He is, of course, going to be Thomas the Train for Halloween.  Except, get this: The little shit refused to put on the costume when I offered.  He was cool with wearing the hat, but the train part?  Big fat no.

That is one Thomas-obsessed, short little enigma.

 

6.  That is all.

Thursday
Oct062011

Thomas the Train tried to kill my family

I am having a bit of a day.

That’s the sort of thing I say about Kaylee whenever she comes home from school and can’t not yell at me for any indiscretion.  You know, like breathing and offering her apple juice when I should know that she’s not in the mood for apple juice right now, Jesus mom, could you just stop talking for a second?

“Kaylee’s having a bit of a day,” I say quietly to Robbie as we crouch under the dining room table and adjust our pith helmets.

But today it’s me.  Today I want to crawl under my desk and whimper and eat chocolate and not be bothered by anyone until I can get my shit together.

It started with Thomas the Train, who up until now I’ve considered a friend. (A mildly annoying friend who’s sort of a dick to his coworkers, but still, the kind of friend who will distract my toddler when he’s being whiny.)

This morning I was in a hurry, trying desperately to herd my cats get my children ready for school and out the door. I was carrying both of them, because when Kaylee’s tired her legs don’t work, and Robbie can’t be trusted to walk from Point A to Point B without getting distracted by a toy car or a piece of lint.  Unfortunately, carrying two children and a bookbag also blocks my view of the floor.

I think Thomas may have intentionally rolled himself in front of me, too.  Because as I mentioned before, he can be a dick sometimes.

It was Robbie’s ride-on Thomas, which is a big toy, and which caught both of my feet and kept me from recovering in a graceful manner, or at all. So all of us fell.  Kaylee hit her head on the couch and floor and I banged the shit out of my shin on Thomas himself.  Robbie was ok.  He just had a look on his face that said, “What just happened?”  I barely managed not to land completely on the kids and crush their little legs.

So that’s how day started.

By the way, that’s less than 24 hours after I cried in my car on the way home from a work/school combo day that didn’t go very well either.

See, I’ve been working.  I’ve been studenting.  I’ve been mommying.  I’ve been wifeing.  I haven’t been blogging (obviously).  I’ve had a couple of tests and quizzes that haven’t gone as well as I wanted, my daughter’s been having little breakdowns every day that make me feel guilty about putting her in daycare all the time, and I feel like I only barely see my husband (Rob?  Who’s that again?).

I’ve been bummed about all of this for a few days, and then I got an e-mail from the BlogHer ad network yesterday letting me know that they’re pulling their ad from my site because I haven’t updated my blog in a month. 

It’s totally fair.  That’s part of the agreement when you sign on with them.

But it was just one more thing. It made me cry, because it was just one more role I wasn’t filling right.

After the Thomas incident this morning, I went to class and spent an hour feeling really, really stupid because the teacher asked a bunch of questions I had no idea how to answer, even though I’d spent last night studying the exact topic she was asking about. 

And also my shin hurts.  (This is one of those moments when I kind of wish I bruised easier, because my shin injury is largely invisible. Any complaints I have can’t be corroborated by physical evidence, so it just seems like I’m whining.)

Anyway, I don’t have anything witty to end with.  I’m tired, I’m frustrated and I feel kind of really dumb.  I could use some tequila.  And also a microchip in my brain that helps me memorize the random, rambling things my microbiology professor says. Does anyone have one of those?  (Preferably unused, but I’m willing to negotiate as long as it’s been well sterilized.)

Wednesday
Aug312011

One year

One of the classes I’m taking this semester runs from 8 a.m. to 10:40 a.m. on Friday mornings – a particularly cruel schedule, I would say, if it weren’t for the fact that this is the one and only time of the week when it’s easy to find parking on campus.

Because no one can sit through a two-hour-and-40-minute class without falling asleep, the instructor gives us a couple of breaks to stretch our legs and pee. During one of those breaks last week, I found myself talking to the young woman sitting next to me.

She’s a sophomore, I learned, and plans to study nursing, like me. Throughout our conversation, she wore a carefully arranged, disaffected expression.  This class is so boring, she seemed to be thinking. This professor is so dumb. These classmates are so uninteresting.  I would rather be elsewhere. 

But we were both there, so we talked.

She told me that she was switching from a different major, and I told her I already have a bachelor’s degree in journalism.

“Why aren’t you going to do the accelerated nursing program?” she asked.

And so I told her about the informational meeting I’d attended, where the student panel advised prospective students to say goodbye to their families and friends for 16 months, because they wouldn’t see their loved ones until they’d come out the other side of the program. I told her I have two kids, and I didn’t want to do that.  I didn’t tell her about the one panelist who was almost in tears because she never got to see her three children anymore because she was always at school or studying.  I didn’t tell her how I sobbed on the way home from that meeting, because the thought of rarely seeing Kaylee was too much of a sacrifice. (Robbie wasn’t even in our thoughts yet.)  I didn’t tell her how it threw my head into disarray because this whole nursing school thing was my entire plan after losing my job, and now I didn’t know what to do.  I didn’t tell her that deciding not to apply for that program was a Very Big Deal at the time.

She listened to my abbreviated explanation and said, with her eyebrows raised, “Are you single?”

“No, I’m married,” I answered.

Her eyebrows went higher.

“It’s only a year,” she said, her disdain for my decision hanging like a cloud in the air between us.

I mumbled something about it being a tough decision, but she didn’t hear me because she went back to playing with her cell phone.

It’s only a year.

Sixteen months, actually.

If I’d applied and been accepted to the accelerated nursing program, I’d already be an RN.  I would have started school in 2009 and graduated in 2010, and I’d be doing nursey things as we speak.

It’s only a year.

Nothing important happens in a year, right?

It’s possible probable that this 20-something woman doesn’t have any children, because I can’t imagine a mom being so dismissive of the idea of spending a year away from her children.  I can’t imagine being so dismissive of turning my partner into a single parent for sixteen months, of missing all the tiny details of watching my kids discover who they are.  I already miss some of those things, but at least I get a little bit of time every day to watch them be themselves.  At least I get to have dinner with them every night and get them ready for school in the morning.  At least I’m around.

It was only a year.

But it was a year in which this happened.  And this, this, this, this, this, this, this and this.

If a 20-year-old’s disdain is the price I pay for refusing to miss those things, well, I guess I’m all right with that. Bring it on, kid.

Thursday
Aug252011

Practice

"Karen said I'm ugly."

That's what Kaylee told me today, on the way home from school. Karen, of course, is not the child's real name. No one names their kids Karen anymore.

"What?" I asked, surprised to learn that these things start so young.

"Karen told me I'm ugly."

How do I react to this? I wondered.

I wanted to kick this Karen kid's ass. How dare she make my little girl sad? How dare she tell my beautiful child that she's anything less than perfection incarnate?

Maybe I should talk to Karen's mom about her child's bratty behavior, I thought.

Should I fight this battle for Kaylee? Should I pump her head full of declarations of her beauty? Should I tell her that Karen is an evil little shit who's just jealous of Kaylee's shining awesomeness? Should I make things worse?

"Did that make you feel sad?" I asked. Because you never know with four-year-olds. Sometimes they speak in code. Sometimes "ugly" means "rad," or whatever the kids say these days.

But Kaylee nodded. Yes, she was sad. Damn that Karen.

"Well, it's really not very nice to tell someone they're ugly, is it?"

Kaylee agreed.

"Next time Karen says something like that, you tell her that's a mean thing to say, and you don't play with mean kids."

"Ok," she said.

"She said I was ugly."

"I'm sorry."

"So I said she's ugly."

"Oh. ... But that's not nice, is it?"

"No. Tomorrow I'll tell her I'm sorry."

"Ok."