Saturday, June 7, 2008

Reading and Nursing

Lahdeedah, Sanya and I do a lot of instant messaging during the day which led to my most recent embarrassing moment (I say "most recent" because there are a LOT).

Lahdeedah was just chattering up a storm and I was reading, but not really responding because I was trying to nurse the baby and he was being a handful. I reached over and picked out a short message to her to let her know I was listening.

im reading n nursing

I looked up and realized I'd just typed that into my WORK chatgroup! A group of single guys and one single girl who were horrified, I'm sure, considering the hush that fell over the chat room. I didn't even get teased for a mis-message like I usually would. Just awkward silence. I squirmed and wanted to start prattling nonsense to make my mistake scroll away, but I figured that would just make it worse. It seemed like years before someone started talking about work stuff again. And of course Sanya and Lahdeedah had a field day over it.

On the days I'm at work I usually pump in my office which doesn't have a lock. I'm waiting for the day that someone ignores the sign on my door and walks in on me.

With my history, it's inevitable.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Speed Limit

You know how the cops rarely write you a ticket for going ten miles over the limit on the freeway, but they nail you for twenty? My body has a speed limit. It used to be that whenever I saw a certain number, I'd just stop having seconds. Okay, I'd have seconds, but not thirds. I'd use smaller plates. I'd drink more water. And I'd drop down, still speeding mind you, but the cop would roll his eyes and let me go, waiting for a real scofflaw.

Then came my offspring, and the whirling lights, and the cop said, "Did you know you were going 52 miles over the limit?"


Everyone lies about how much they gain during pregnancy unless they are among very old friends. R. and L. know about my 52... miles... but it took me ten minutes to decide it was okay to just say it here. I don't know why. My mom gained sixty, her mom gained 55, maybe this is just how much weight my body needed to gain to make a good baby. Maybe 25 pounds is only doable for annoying stick people. Why does it matter so much? Whose body is this, anyway?

I wrote that last night. This morning the scale said I was only going 21 over. Immediately my brain went into justification mode. "Wow, that's only 12 miles faster than my previous top speed, I'm doing fine! Let's have us a little snacky snack to celebrate. And none of this yogurt or fruit nonsense. Let's have a quesadilla! With sour cream! Ugh, not that light stuff, REAL sour cream. And guacamole!"

Thank goodness the siren went off when I opened the fridge.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Yeah well, my daughter plays the Cello

My daughter plays the cello.

Yes, she does. Has been for…. days now. Almost a full week.

I’m obsessing slightly about her cello, but not in her presence. I don’t want my desire for her to take stunningly to the cello to rub off on her. I'm not asking for a prodigy here. I have enough pressure as it is. No, I just want her to do decently well, to enjoy it, to have some talent for it, and most of all, I want her to want to continue doing it. Why?

Because she’s a fringe kid. Fringe kids are rare, and just... a few beats off, a bit too quirky for even the quirky. The world isn’t seen through the same lens, and they may be a little too loud, or a little too quiet. They exist and the world exists and sometimes the two, them and the world, collide, and mom gets a phone call from the school.

Fringe kids. Outside the system. Beyond reach of parental logic. Flying up somewhere in the clouds til they crash. It was probably a group of Fringes that settled the Old West. Or colonized America for that matter. Fringe has its place. Just not in organized society.

And she’s so very fringe.

She’s beautiful and clever and bright and artistic, but she doesn’t have the formula for popular, nor the mom who can help her be popular. (Another topic in itself).

She doesn’t have a sport. A gal-pal club. A hobby. She just has her quirky, off-beat, often misunderstood, and usually miscued behaviors. She has her temper. Her rages. Her internal frustration pounding against her skin until it explodes in a cacophony of words that have passed her lips before she can bring them back in. She has her sweetness, her need for hugs and the need to be reassured that Mom still loves her despite the rages, the temper, the poor grades, the missed homework and lost notes. And yes while all kids go through this occasionally, Fringe kids live it daily.

And fringe kids don’t have fringe parents as a rule. The quintessential soccer mom may have to turn in the mini van and give up serving kool-aid at the games if she has a fringe kid. They just don’t run with the crowd and simply break down into piles of mushy messy goo if you force them. Not that I ever tried... okay, maybe a few times...

Fringe kids work on a more complicated, frustrating level. Fringe kids are not destined for brilliance. They are destined to walk the finer line between brilliance and insanity. To forever be on the cusp of genius and insanity, lingering for maddeningly long periods of time in chaos and confusion, and despair, the thing we hope our children never know, is just another familiar hang-out where Fringe kids seem to spend their adolescent years.

She sings, well. So well that she’ll be in choir, and if she loves it enough, sure, I’ll do voice lessons. She writes her own songs, and they are GOOD. She sang one catchy country tune to me and I asked who’s it was. “Mine.” See? But they don’t teach that in 6th grade and the other kids aren’t ‘into’ the girl who sits by the tree and sings songs all alone (doubt me? My parent teacher conference in kindergarten was about her habit of running to the bathroom to belt out tunes.) And it’s not for lack of exposure, we’ve done the full gamut: ballet, martial arts, gymnastics… none of them took.

So why obsess about the cello? Why am I so keen for her to play it, and like it enough to last through high school?

It’s a selfish reason. Fringe parents are by nature solitary, wary creatures. We know how parent-talk goes, and frankly, we can’t compete with our fringe kid. The only way we can respond to other childrens’ resumes is with a defensive posture and ‘she’s doing well….’ or ‘she wasn’t late to school once this week’ or 'she made a dress from paper clips.'

But the Cello! Well! That's the sort of instrument a Fringe kid could take to. It's musical. It's artsy. It's nifty looking. It's hard to play badly. What's more, she likes the look of it. She likes to hold it. She likes how shiny it is. It's a REAL interest! And I hone in on every one her interests. I have to. She's fringe. Interests are far and few between, but once found, are obsessively pursued.

So, I want her to like the cello. And when we’re sitting at some school function, and you turn to me, the parent not talking to any of the other parents – it doesn’t take long before the other parents figure out your child is Fringe – and you tell me your daughter has been doing soccer since the womb, and your son is Track All Star and valedictorian, and your sensitive preschooler is delicately being introduced to the harsh realities of other children because he’s too brilliant to be touched, and your friend’s quadruplets have their own dance team, I have one weapon to wield, one pleasant thing to say that will shut down all further discussion.

I can say, with a polite smile, that my daughter plays the cello. And isn’t that just great?

Unfair. And Whining About It In IM Didn't Make Me Feel Better. Maybe Blogging It Will.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a really brilliant design document/mission statement for my employer. It was concise, witty, fresh, and intriguing. I delivered it before the deadline. It will affect how my company does business for months, maybe even years to come. I am incredibly proud of this work.

While I was writing it, my infant was having what I call an "impacted fart day." He needed to fart, he wanted to fart, but being very new to the whole farting thing, he could not fart. And after thirty minutes of folding him like a baby taco, bicycling his legs, bouncing him, and administering the previously undefeated Magic Berries, I couldn't help him any more. That deadline was looming. The only thing that seemed to comfort him was pushing his belly against mine. Well, not the ONLY thing. Dangling off of me until what had once been cute, porn-worthy nipples looked like something out of National Geographic, THAT made him feel better too.

The point is I didn't just do some of my best professional work to date. I did it with a squirming baby on my lap.

The thing that pisses me off is that if other people knew it, they wouldn't think more of me... they'd think less of the work.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

I have a couple of regular, wonderful babysitters, and although some of our opinions on child-rearing differ they're too nice to really say anything. Instead they give me looks which I've been learning to interpret. There are looks that say, "When's the last time she had a bath?" or "Those sippy cups have BPA in them." The most recent is, "You can't still be swaddling a 5-month-old."

I am perfecting my own, "You better believe it," look. If I have my way I'll still be swaddling my son when he reaches middle-school age. The sleep results I get from swaddling are nothing short of Miraculous. My baby takes three naps during the day, and I don't have to rock, nurse or walk him to sleep at all. I swaddle him and put him in bed awake, sometimes with a pacifier, and within ten minutes he's usually asleep.

One time I decided to solve all of Sanya's overtired baby problems with my miniature lavender straitjacket. I know she was skeptical when I wrapped up her baby but she got quiet almost as fast as he did when he went to sleep within a couple of minutes and stayed that way for at least an hour. Her little guy was still sleeping peacefully when I left, but I've always wondered if she let him continue sleeping or if she rescued him from his confines.

I have my suspicions.

That's fine though. Swaddling isn't for everyone. (Whatever.) I'll just keep bragging about my baby's daytime sleep habits in her general vicinity.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Now Accepting Nominations

I win the Worst Housekeeper award for today, but I will accept other nominations.

We recycle in this house because... um, I'm not sure, it's a jumble of images ranging from a crying Native American to an owl to a cheery pamphlet I got from my local government. I also have this idea that landfills are bad, even though Penn and Teller told me not to sweat it.

Side note: What kind of bizarre People's Republic have I moved to where the local government is in charge of picking up my trash? I'm as flaming liberal as they come without actually setting things on fire, but Big Brother deciding who will haul away my empty couscous boxes just seems weird.

Another side note: I live near a landfill now. The north half of the county-owned plot of land is a park. The south half is the dump. I have this urge to go to the park and dig straight down.

So anyway. We not only recycle, but we recycle PROPERLY. No yogurt cups sully our plastics. No unwashed soup cans impart their foul beefiness to my blue bin. No soda backwash ever trickles onto our bundled cardboard. We read the numbers, we rinse, we empty.

And that means a can will sit in my white sink and rust for two weeks, leaving a permanent ring on the space age material, because by george, we will not put it in the bin without rinsing... but we're way too lazy to haul it all the way outside.