Posts Tagged ‘problems’

Calibrated Eye

29 December 2009

Dear J-

Tonight has been fairly calm on the figgy front; she is a clever girl, after all, and knowing that getting out of bed brings on the closing of the door (here we are employing the Ferber method; it turns out the ways that work best for us are those that are ruthless and abrupt), which is just about the worst thing imaginable makes for a relatively easy night. Meanwhile you feel like the worst parents in the world as you hold the door fast against a crying screaming demon begging you to open the door, just open the door okay?

I suppose that if you break it down what we’re really doing could be construed as teaching her that we can be strict too; though you are being mean (MEAN!) in comparison, the relationship can’t just be friends quite yet — we’re still as parent-child even if she keeps pushing the boundaries of that particular definition. It’s easy to push too far into one extreme or the other; it’s finding the balance that’s the tricky part, that and getting her to understand we do these things not for the sake of being mean, for everyone’s sake.

It’s funny to think that she’s already earned a role in this family, one that involves being cute and amusing, but also stretching those limits. We’ll decide whether to reset those boundaries, depending on where we are; sooner or later we’ll end up eating dinners together and staying up late nights, but for now I’m glad that we’re back to where we were two weeks ago: a couple of hours at night to relearn being a pair after tag-teaming on care every other waking moment. There’s a conflict between needing time for yourself and feeling guilty for doing so; perhaps it’s inevitable if you can’t afford to put your life on hold, but that may be the very root of the issue. Why should spending time with children be perceived as not doing what you want? We always need to recalibrate our expectations.



Work Strong

28 December 2009

Dear J-

Part of what I write here are the hundreds of little diatribes that go through my head every day, like being annoyed with work or an un-sleepy figgy or the way that traffic seems to conspire singly against me; upon reading a few of those theVet pronounced me generally preachy. Some of the easiest extemporaneous topics revolve around pounding the pulpit, at least for me, and I’ve been seeking low-hanging fruit for the longest time lately. There’s been a bumper crop of peeves this December without me needing to seek them out, and the lack of sleep isn’t helping them out much.

It’s not fun, and I’m not much fun to be around; the last thing anyone wants is to hear folks complain, and it jumps from commiseration to fruitless carping without any effort at all. Tell me that it’s okay or it’s not — either way, and that’s been the wrong answer for me lately. Part of getting better is letting go; holding on to anger is like swallowing poison to spite your enemies. I think that I look forward to time off because I can’t spend the best part of my day at home otherwise; it’s easy to complain, as usual, but as hours stretch into days and weeks spent scrambling for things that aren’t helping my family, I keep thinking that I’ve bet on the wrong horse.

After dreaming of better days we’re left in the reality of the moment, remember that Pandora closed the box before Hope could escape and we’ve been carrying that forever since. The darkness passes ever-quicker; now that we’re past the solstice, you realize that the days are getting longer (I spent the drive home marveling at the colors of the sunset, then marveling that I saw the sun in San Diego at all). Pride suffers in public, but there’s no reason not to preen in private.


Poor Technique

22 December 2009

Dear J-

We continue to fight the battles of the ideal versus reality; though everything we do has the noblest of intentions (let’s let figgy nap for a couple of hours in the middle of the day, say) it has all kinds of unintended consequences when you’re stuck with a sleepy yet not sleepy enough kid at the same time that you’re already dragging and ready for some shuteye yourself. This whole week has been an exercise in the last running bounds towards actually closing out the year on (with any luck) a high note; I hesitate to keep pointing at work, but work has been life, and that’s no life for anyone.

There’s a couple of emails that I keep meaning to reply to at work; one of them is from a friend who asked how things were going; it’s the sort of thing that would take all of thirty seconds to reply to — and should have, by now — but I keep turning different replies over in my head, instead of just sticking with one answer that makes sense. The other one is not precisely an offer but let’s say an opportunity in another division. I think I can say without a notable sense of arrogance (aside from the movie playing in my head, starring Mike, written by Mike, directed by … you get the picture) that I have risen to the challenge of this outage, that there’s nothing left to demonstrate for this particular job.

We have too much as it is to be spending so much time on what’s quickly becoming the chore of putting her to bed. And yet there’s no small amount of guilt that what feels like the small amount of time we have with her waking hours is filled with such acrimony and recriminations: simple defiances become hour-long dramas. Perhaps it signals the start of a new phase in our lives as the days are no longer as neatly divided up into chunks: our time with her, our time with us, my time and your time; those artificial divisions become entangled and inseparable given enough churn and change. We shouldn’t enter this compact thinking that all we get in return is cuteness and delight but some days the balance tilts too far in one direction or another as techniques and bribes keep escalating beyond sustainability.


Pattern Problem

21 December 2009

Dear J-

People like to point out that there’s been an upswing in vampire television shows and movies now that we have a Democratic president: fear and fascination with some undead rapacious being, sucking the very life from their victims. On the other hand, the corresponding Republican monster is the zombie: unthinking and unblinking in its quest to eat your brains. I can’t imagine what would happen if the Libertarians took over — perhaps it would be some werewolf, a lone rogue.

I certainly feel like a zombie today; what with figgy trying to transition into a vampire (a two hour nap at daycare?) and the consequent lack of quality sleep at night we’re both dragging in ways I can’t remember since she was a newborn, outraged at being asleep for more than, say, an hour at a stretch. Trust me, it’s too easy to take sleep for granted; it was everything I could take to restrain myself from finding some dusty, forgotten corner of the warehouse and making a nest out of cardboard boxes and bubble wrap.

I suppose it doesn’t get much better, though; if she’s not sleeping it’s a sure sign that she’s sick, so that’s an extra worry to pile on top. And later, as she grows up and becomes more independent, there’s going to be a million other worries to go along with a closed door or late curfew. The truth is that I’m not getting any better at this — patience snaps shut more readily and we fail to keep moving forward as we vowed, holding instead in an odd stasis of urban legends and midwives’ tales revolving around the same tired problems and patterns.


Sharing Caring

21 November 2009

Dear J-

You can admonish me any way you like later but here you go: Cal 34, Stanford 28; it’s always a big deal when our alma maters play. And this despite the Cardinal running it up against two teams that pounded Cal earlier this year, Oregon and USC. Yes, Stanford had a chance to pull it out in the end and next year, who knows? But for me, I’m curious why I should feel a sense of accomplishment when a team wins or a gnawing sense of disappointment when they lose: it’s not as though I’m personally responsible for them — they are unlikely to hear me yelling at them through the television, and it’s not as though I ever suited up to do battle on the gridiron. All I know is this: after the giant swoon of 2007, all is forgiven (for now), let’s not dwell on the three losses, let’s trumpet the win over a nationally-ranked Stanford team and sing praises for the role of spoiler. By the way, it looks like Oregon’s going bowling for Roses; here’s hoping that the Buckeyes find out how tough the Pac is.

It’s the second day of my weekend, which found me out of sorts early — impatient, crabby, tired (figgy pulled the same early-morning trick on us again — either we need to keep her up later or find some way to graft the sleep habits of a teenager onto her); we revived a bit with breakfast (figgy with her first, voracious taste of egg) and crashed a bit back at the Zoo over little things. It’s always the little things that dismay me: one week she spilled some water, which for some reason brought me to unthinking rage (it’s not as though there aren’t drinking fountains and drink vendors all over the place, so a little spilled water is no big deal in the grand scheme of things); this week, it was her runny nose, perhaps from the flu shots she got yesterday, causing her to completely deplete my stash of napkins. Again, I’m not paying for them, they’re ubiquitous and yet seeing the last one go because she doesn’t like to reuse brought me to some impatient snappiness.

Point is that there’s so much in my life that’s out of my control nowadays; I used to hate my parents hosting parties partly because it meant that I’d be in charge of the other kids, but more, I suspect, because that meant they’d be touching my stuff. MY stuff. It’s not that I never learned to share; I never learned the joy in it, and I find myself going slightly crazy now that there’s a life and a will I can’t control. Guide, yes; control, no — and it’s going to mean that the things I do aren’t necessarily going to have any effect, but somewhere between the futility of cheering at the television and creating a clone is the right mix to raise a child (crazy daughter that she is); it is perhaps the most fascinating experience (experiment?) I know.