Monday, May 27, 2013

A Love Letter to Iris's Preschool Teachers

I am not usually sentimental.  Well, not publicly.  Which might be because I’m shitty at it.  Every time I try to write something sentimental it comes out sounding trite and saccharine and makes me want to fucking throw up.  Which is a long way of saying I mostly do not write sentimental bullshit because it ends up sounding…well, like sentimental bullshit. 
That said, I have some sentimental bullshit to say.  I’ll suck it up and deal if you will.

(There, did I swear enough to retain my street cred?)
(Did ever really have street cred?)
(Seriously, if I never had any street cred, please tell me.)
(Because if I never had street cred, I can just be a nerd and stop worrying about it.)
(That would be the biggest relief.)
(I’m stalling?)
(Okay, okay.  FINE.  I’ll stop stalling and get to the sentimental bullshit now.)
(*deep breath*)
My daughter, Iris, is amazing.  She is creative and bright and funny and she walks around taking my whole heart with her every day.  Sure, sometimes I find her frustrating.  Sometimes, I wish she would stop climbing all over me and interrupting my phone calls and I really wish she would stop watching My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic on a continuous loop.  I also wish she understood that asking me the same question over and over and over and over and over again will only get her the same answer, just louder and more annoyed.  There are occasions when I would like to have a morning to sleep in rather than “up time” always being so damned early.  However, I gladly give up all those things because I love this little creature so hard and so fiercely that I surprise even me. 

I would give up even more to keep having the wonderful, silly conversations I have with her in the car on the way to preschool.

Iris:  Mommy? 
Me:  Yes, Iris?
Iris:  Can my bee sleep in my room?
Me:  Your what?
Iris:  My bee!
Me:  You have a bee?  Like a honey bee?
Iris:  No.  A pink bee.
Me:  A pink bee?  Does it have a name?
Iris:  Ummmm….(long pause) her name is…..(long pause)…Sluffier!
Me:  Sluffier the bee?
Iris:  Yes. Can she sleep with me?
Me:  You want her to spend the night in your room?  Where would she sleep?
Iris:  She has a bed.
Me:  Where is her bed?
Iris:  Outside.
Me:  If her bed’s outside, how can she sleep in your room?
Iris:  Well, her bed’s inside now!
Me:  Really?  How?
Iris:  I moved it inside!
Me:  Where is it?
Iris:  In my bed!
Me:  So, you want Sluffier the pink bee to spend the night in her bed, which is in your bed, in your room?
Iris:  Yes!
Me:  Will she sting us?  I don’t want her to sting you or me or Daddy. 
Iris:  She won’t sting us!  She will only sting the Parkers.
Me:  (taken aback) Who? 
Iris:  The Parkers.
Me:  Who are the Parkers?
Iris:  (matter-of-factly) They are the Parkers.
Me:  Ooookay, but why will Sluffier sting the Parkers?  What if they’re nice?  I don’t want Sluffier to sting nice people.
Iris:  (long pause while she thinks about this) She will only sting the mean ones.

I take it back – Iris doesn’t just walk around with my whole heart.  Iris IS my heart.

And do you know what I do with that heart of mine?  For three days a week, I drop her off at preschool.  For three days a week, I drop her off and trust that someone else will take care of my heart for me. 

Which is….terrifying.

I could give you a list of the what-ifs that ran through my head when I started taking her to school starting with what if she misses me and ending with something so completely over the top and maudlin that I am too embarrassed to repeat it here.  But I won’t.  Because, if you’re a parent, you already know.  And, also, did I mention the part about being embarrassed?

But, Iris’s teachers?  Are amazing. 

When I drop Iris off, these women are always there with a smile and a hug.  And, at the end of the morning, when I get Iris back from them?  She is brighter and happier and more excited than when I dropped her off. 

They’ve seen us through drop-off tears (and let me know that they were clearly for my benefit as they only lasted as long as I was still in sight), three-year old best friend drama, potty training (oh God, the potty training!), and a thousand other things, big and small.  There aren’t enough words in the world to thank them for what they do.  But, I’m going to try, anyway:

Thank you for always greeting Iris with a hug and a smile.  You make her feel welcomed and safe and loved even on days when I am low on cope.  And patience.  And energy. 

Also, thank you for making me feel okay about being low on cope and patience and energy.

When I was in the throes of potty training, thank you for letting me know that, whatever struggles I was having, that they weren’t that bad, she would eventually get it, and that she wouldn’t be wearing Depends to high school.  Also, thank you for reminding me that, sometimes, other parents exaggerate. 

Thank you for giving Iris a little extra love and attention on the days she was weepy for no apparent reason.  And, also, thank you for letting me know when she’d had a bad day so I could give her a little extra love and attention, too.

On those mornings when, after engaging in interminable negotiations with Iris over which spinning dress she would deign to wear for school, I just couldn’t get it together to take a shower and get myself dressed in anything other than questionably clean workout gear, thank you for never mentioning that I looked like a hobo.

Thank you for crafting with Iris.  Seriously.  I suck at crafting.  I hate glitter.  Sometimes, I just want the house to stay clean.  Because you have provided her with a safe and contained place to play with paint, glitter, and glue, most of the time, I don’t have to.

When Iris said to you “My Mommy was SOOO mad at me this morning!” thank you for thinking it was funny.  I was mortified and little afraid that you’d think I was that mom who screams at her kid all the time.

Thank you for looking at me like I’d suddenly sprouted horns when I suggested that I was the worst mother in the world when I accidentally closed the car window on Iris’s fingers.

But, mostly, and most importantly, thank you for taking care of my heart and for loving her between the hours of 9am and noon.  Because it gives me time to recharge so I can love her a little better the rest of the day.

I’m going to miss you all over the summer.  So will Iris.

A lot.

No, seriously.  When does school start again? 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Pudding Saga or Why I'm Like This

It started innocently enough.  My daughter, Iris, and I had already eaten our lunches and were settled in for an afternoon of activities and, suddenly, I wanted a snack.  I didn’t need a snack, but I really a lot wanted one.  We do not keep snack foods in the house for precisely this reason.  If you are trying to keep a healthy diet and your willpower cannot be depended on, then it’s best to just not have snack food on hand. 

Which didn’t make me not want a snack.  It just made it impossible for me to have one.  In my snack-less despair I, of course, went to my twitter account and started tweeting... 

Me: Can we agree that someone needs to bring me a chocolate pudding?  Thanks.

Thirty minutes later…

Me:  I’ll leave the room for exactly 3 minutes.  When I get back, whoever has my pudding should leave it on the table.  I won’t be mad. I promise.

Ten minutes after that (and partly because I think I am hilarious when I am on twitter)….

Me: Seriously.  I want a pudding.
Me:  Preferably chocolate.  Vanilla pudding is wrong.
Me:  But, let’s be clear, I WILL eat vanilla pudding.  It’s just not as good as the chocolate.
Me:  If all you have is vanilla, that’s okay.  But don’t go hoarding the chocolate or I will find you and put you in time out.
Me:  And, while you’re in time out, I will eat the chocolate pudding.

My husband, Quinten, is one of the only people who actually reads my twitter feed.  I mostly tweet when I think it will amuse him.  So, when Quinten got home from work that day, he offered me leftover cake he’d brought home from the office.  This was my response (also on twitter):

Me: I should not have to keep discussing this with you – CAKE IS NOT PUDDING!!
Me:  Cookies are also not pudding.
Me:  Also ice cream is not pudding.
Me:  Yogurt is REALLY not pudding.
Me:  Only pudding is pudding.  Stop trying to make me think other things are pudding.  You’re not fooling anyone.

By the next day, it was too funny to stop.  And then Quinten got into the act.

Me:  Day two of no chocolate pudding.  *sigh*
Quinten: I have failed in delivering chocolate pudding to my wife. I am a horrible husband.
Me:  I am glad you recognize your shortcomings.  It’s the first step to addressing them. 

But that night, when Quinten got home do you know what he had with him?  NOTHING.  He had nothing with him.  No chocolate pudding.  In fact, no pudding of any kind.  He apologized.

Me:  Quinten has seen the error of his ways.  He intends to bring me pudding tomorrow. (If he knows what’s good for him, that is.)
Quinten:  You just need a box of pudding mix, right? 
Me: Sheesh! Have you learned NOTHING from being married to me??? Already-made pudding, thank you.  I do not work for my treats.

I would like to tell you that the next morning I had let this go, but, c’mon, it was too funny not to keep going.  Even though, by that time, I didn’t even want pudding anymore.

Me:  I’d like to point out that Quinten promised that he’d bring me chocolate pudding today.  He didn’t.  Day 3 of no pudding. #whereisthelove
Me: For the record, I’d also be happy with strawberries and whipped cream.  Seems to me, though, that a pudding cup would be less work.

And then I was reminded of something important.  Twitter feeds are public.  And Quinten is not, strictly speaking, the only one who reads mine.  My older brother, Brent, started responding to our tweets:

Brent: Betsy, I think you need pudding and, failing that, ice cream. 
Brent: We have some pudding here, but it’s a bit of a hike from NC.
Me: Well, you better get started if you want to bring it to me before this craving ends in tears.

Quinten lamented the sorry state in which he found himself…

Quinten:  Boy if I don’t come home with pudding soon.  I’m fucked.
Brent: Quinten, I think the point is you won’t be fucked… #duh #notfucked
Me:  Brent, I prefer to punish with embarrassment and sarcasm.  #notfucked hurts both Quinten and me.  I’ve already been hurt by lack of pudding.

The next day, things just got worse…

 Quinten: Had a nose bleed this morning.  Good day to be me.
Me: You’re going to complain about a nosebleed when I have gone without pudding for 3 and a half days?

Then, when I got no response to that…

Me: I was going to tweet something funny, but I’m too weak from lack of chocolate pudding.  I’m sorry.

Which is when Quinten got personal.  He rolled out this low blow:

Quinten: Considering you have to get a cavity filled, is eating a sugary pudding treat smart #teamnocavity

Which just demonstrates that Quinten sometimes forgets that I have low blows of my own.  I save them up for just such an occasion…

Me: You should always remember that I am sneaky, my love. #teamyouwontseeitcoming #teamfuckyou
Me:  Also, I have hair. #teamhairbrush

Apparently, that’s all it took to get pudding delivered.  Right to my kitchen. 

Me:  Quinten brought me chocolate pudding tonight!!! (Although it should be said that it does not make up for the whole cavity comment.)

After I actually ate the pudding, I felt better…

Me:  Having finally eaten a pudding, I’ve decided to forgive Quinten for making the earlier cavity remark.  Blame the chocolate.

And I thought that was the end of it.  I thought the saga of the pudding was over.  Frankly, I was a little disappointed because, well, it kind of ended with a sigh instead of a bang.  And what was I going to tweet about now that I’d gotten everything that I’d asked for?

Yesterday, though, the Federal Express truck stopped at my house.  Quite unexpectedly.  There was a gift-wrapped package on my front porch.  The gift tag read “Tweet tweet from your favorite brother.”

An entire case of chocolate pudding cups.  Courtesy of my brother.  Who later called me to laugh and laugh and laugh.

This is how my family operates.  
Now you know why I’m like this.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

How to Live with a Three-Year-Old Child and a Three-Month-Old Puppy At the Same Time

Wake up to the dulcet tones of your child screeching from her bedroom that it’s “UP TIME!!!!” and she needs to pee in the potty “right now, Right Now, RIGHT NOW!!!”  Look at the clock.  Look again because it can’t be only 5:57am.  It can’t.  Sigh.  Get out of bed and shuffle to your child’s room while she switches from screeching to singing an unrecognizable song very, very loudly and out of tune.

Open the door and get hit full force in the chest by the child, who has, joyfully, launched herself off her bed and at you in some misguided tackle-hug that you were not at all prepared for.  Good thing you have quick reflexes.  And who needs to breathe, really?

Take the child to the potty down the hall.  Listen to her talk incessantly about nothing that makes sense.  Or, maybe it does make sense to someone who got to sleep past 5:57am.  Make noises that you think might seem positive and responsive.  Wish that your husband did not need to leave for work so damned early.  Try not to doze off while sitting on the edge of the tub listening to your child pee and then exclaim, “That’s a lot of pee!”  Remind the child to wipe.  Answer her blank stare by ripping off a strip of toilet paper, wadding it up, and handing it to her.  Remind the child to wipe again.  Answer her blank stare by enunciating every word like you are an elocution teacher: “You. Need. To. Wipe.”

After the child finally wipes, take her back to her room.  Where she starts jumping on her bed and talking about which panties she wants to wear that day.  Attempt to convince the child that it’s not actually up time, yet.  When the child points out that the sun is already shining, curse daylight savings time.  Offer the child a deal: she can lie down with Mommy in Mommy’s bed!  Regret that deal almost immediately when the child won’t lie down and, instead, wants to jump on Mommy’s bed.  Ask her what about “lie down” did she not understand. 

Don’t get an answer because you can hear the puppy downstairs whining in her crate.  Know that, if you don’t get up right now and get that puppy outside, you will be cleaning dog shit out of the crate before 7am.  No one wants that.

Take the child downstairs.  Get the puppy out of her crate.  Take the puppy out into the backyard.  Where you discover that it rained overnight and the yard is muddy and it is unseasonably cold.  Praise the dog like a demented cheerleader for peeing in the yard.  Notice that the child is slowly opening up the back door and stepping out onto the deck, barefoot and in only a nightgown.  Have the following conversation:

You: No!  No!  Get back inside!
The Child: Why?
You: Because you don’t have shoes on, and…
The Child: (interrupting) I’ll go put my shoes on!
You: NO!  Just go back inside!
The Child: (whining) Why?
You: Because it’s too cold for you to be out here.  I will come back inside in just a minute…. (to the puppy, who has just squatted) Good girl!  Goooood girrlll!!!!
The Child:  What did she do??
You:  She pooped.
The Child: (starting to walk down the stairs to the yard) Can I see?
The Child: (starting to cry) Why?
You:  JUST GO!!!

Now that you feel like Faye Dunaway in Mommie Dearest and the puppy has finished her business, attempt to get the puppy to come inside.  The puppy, who has not yet learned to come when you call, will not follow directions.  Start walking towards the puppy so that you can pick the puppy up and carry her in the house.  The puppy will think this is a game.  A game called Keep Away From The Human.  Chase the puppy across the yard and around some trees.  Get really close to the puppy only to have her hurl herself in the other direction and run like a madman to the other side of the yard.  Chase the puppy some more.  Fail.  Scream at the puppy to COME HERE!!!  Realize that, considering the voice you just used, the last thing the puppy will want to do is come anywhere near you.  Try talking in a high-pitched, uber-happy sounding voice.  Inwardly rejoice as the puppy starts to come closer to you.  Reach out to grab the puppy, who, scoots three feet away, continuing her ridiculous game.  Seethe with anger.  Want to scream.  Stop yourself.  Instead, suddenly sprint directly at the puppy and throw yourself in her direction in an attempt to tackle her, landing front-first in the mud, in your nightgown, grasping one little puppy paw in your hot little hand.

Force yourself to not violently shake the puppy while you carry her back into the house.  It is a good thing she is so cute.

While you get cleaned up (with a washcloth in the kitchen sink instead of the shower you so desperately would like), fend off the breakfast requests of the child.  Advise her that, even if you had cupcakes in the house, she couldn’t have them for breakfast.  Ever.  Same for popsicles.  And cookies.  And ice cream milk (which is what she calls milkshakes).  Begin making her fifth choice, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. 

Drop the spreader full of peanut butter on the floor when you are interrupted mid-sandwich-creation by your child’s unholy scream.  Ask what’s wrong while racing from the kitchen to the family room where your child was, moments ago, happily playing with her My Little Pony toys.  Scan the scene while your child shrieks “SHE TOOK MY PONYYYYYYYY!!!!!” and points at the puppy who does, indeed, have a pony in her mouth.  Try to grab the pony from the puppy.  Fail as the puppy renews her game of Keep Away From The Human.  Fail repeatedly while chasing the puppy around the room as your child howls like the end of the world is nigh.  Try to get your child to help you trap the puppy between the couch and the coffee table.  Fail. 

Finally, scare the puppy into dropping the toy by yelling like a banshee.  Scare your child as well.  Spend fifteen minutes calming your child down while the puppy chews on a rawhide you have given her.

Go back to making breakfast for your child.  Whereupon, the puppy will decide she needs to play with the child.  Which means nipping at the child’s feet and hands.  Repeatedly.  Pause in your breakfast-making to stop the puppy from nipping the child.  Yell “NO!” loudly and repeatedly.  To no avail.  Clap loudly at the puppy while yelling “NO!”  Also to no avail.  The child is now running across the room, holding her hands above her head and screaming “SHE’S TRYING TO BITE ME!  SHE’S TRYING TO BITE ME!” which makes the puppy think she has succeeded in her game and she should play harder.  Haul your child up onto the couch, where she stands, still holding her hands above her head, still screaming, while the puppy tries and fails to jump onto the couch to continue the game. 

Grab at the puppy, who runs away again.  Take two steps toward the puppy, who starts running around the room at full speed, careening around tables and chairs and into the kitchen and back.  Stand there, dumbfounded, and watch this for two and a half minutes until the puppy stops, in front of the couch, and tries to jump up to nip at the child.  This time, actually catch the puppy and put her in her crate and close the door and sit down in the nearest chair, exhausted.  Sit there for exactly one and a half seconds before your child says she “has to pee has to pee has to pee.” 

Take her to the bathroom.  Repeat the earlier conversation about wiping. 

Look at the clock.  It’s only 7:22am.

Wonder where it all went wrong.

Decide that a program of tiring out the puppy (and, possibly, the child) must be undertaken.  Immediately.  Devise an exercise program which consists of taking the puppy on two long walks a day, rain or shine (lately, mostly rain), sometimes with the child, sometimes (when she’s at school or your husband is home) without.  Resign yourself to giving up what little me-time you had to do this. 

When you tell people you have started an exercise program, stop them before they congratulate you on your new wellness plan or your healthy life choices. 

Explain to them that you have no wellness plan and the exercise isn’t a choice.