Posts Tagged ‘tantrum’

New Year

31 December 2010

Dear J-

Yesterday I picked up figgy from daycare for the week, meaning that we take home laundry and completed art projects. Part of the activities yesterday was some sort of New Year’s Parade where the kids must have marched around the playground in the finery they got to take home — in figgy’s case, a glitter tiara and tinsel necklace. That was waiting in easy reach when I got there, and she grabbed them for immediate showing off, but she then continued to point at what they call the Parent Pocket, where important letters and other things to keep out of the reach of children are stashed. I pulled a party horn out and immediately grasped the significance: no other kid had a horn, and no other horns were in the Pockets. As we’re walking out another kid says to us “Wow, you got one that makes noise,” which figgy promptly demonstrated, sounding a note halfway between vuvuzela and dead cat.

Man they hate us. We heard that horn at random intervals last night and periodically throughout the day today.

theVet told me a story yesterday too, where she went shopping at our local mall with Calcifer, having to duck into the Nordstrom’s for a quick feeding and running into other moms-with-small-fry. Said kids were misbehaving and so when privileges were revoked, protested with reproachful looks and quiet words: “But I want to go to the bounce house/to have some candy/to look for toys/etc.” The moms were firm, the children relented, and benefits were restored. Are we therefore doing something wrong, to have grand mal tantrums for the slightest offense or contradiction to figgy’s ways? theVet related these stories in a wondering tone, as though this was the norm for the rest of the world and what we’ve gotten accustomed to — volume carrying the weight of authority and truth — the aberration.

I know that you’re supposed to spend the last week of the year cruising and looking back, reflecting on all the events of the year past — just a few minutes left to run in 2010, who could have anticipated this — but it’s a bit of a conceit that any events would be worthy of celebration anyway. Instead what else is going on right now? Like the past few nights I’m strapped to Calcifer as he settles in for the night (the Baby Björn is by far his third most favorite thing in the world, after mom and milk), looking forward to lying down and knowing I’m not there quite yet, but soon the change in shift will happen and theVet will get up to feed him while I lie down gratefully, exhausted.  Every day is a full day lately, some more than others.

They say that you can’t pick your family but they’re wrong; sure, you can’t pick the family you’re born into, but when it comes time to choose who you’re going to be spending time with — and really, isn’t that a truer definition of family — by the time you’re out of your parents’ house you’re hanging out with people you like and want to hang out with*.  For how prone I am to fits of anger and impatience theVet is there to step in and make us keep our distance, figgy and I, wary cats eying each other for weaknesses in will and stubborn fight until we’re over it.  And though the storms are passing showers, not prolonged monsoons, their brief intensity is enough to spoil hours of quiet togetherness were it not for theVet’s moderating influence.

What we take for granted is often what we miss first if it goes away.  In the dark, with this occasionally screaming demon** I know that it’s not forever.  Yet the crying is enough to drive rational thought away unless cooler heads prevail.  It’s still 2010, and I know how incredibly lucky I am, I’ve been this year — this now is all I need to know, all that needs to happen in 2011 for me to be just as rich and fortunate.

Mike

* This does not apply to junior high school, unfortunately.

** Not his fault:  Calcifer’s hitting the six-week growth spurt right on time, which is leading to impossibly small clothes (which he was just swimming in a few weeks ago, wasn’t he?) and short tempers from all.

Advertisement

Indecision Paralysis

11 August 2008

Dear J-

It always happens this way with home repairs:  cruise a little based on the good work you did with the latest project, believe that you can actually get something accomplished, and feel good for now.  I’ve also learned how nice it feels to have oiled hinges on the garage door hinges; everything’s working pretty smoothly now, despite the circa 1963 hardware.  But in the end that’s all it really takes; little things here and there — no one’s seriously expecting a total rebuild on the scale of Extreme Makeover, but you’d be surprised how little details will accrete over time.

It’s not that trying something new is that difficult; the possibility of having to admit that you might have been (gasp) wrong about something is intimidating, isn’t it?  So you invent stories and listen to half-truth rumors as your grown-up tantrum in lieu of dragging your feet and pounding the carpet with your fists (figgy is nothing but honest about being tired and ready for bed); you look for evidence to the contrary just to disagree with what you don’t want to admit.  It’s almost admirable.

I hate being wrong.  I’ve made a life out of careful measurement and verification; it makes for good grades and reasonable research skills, but doesn’t allow much room — or time — for much else.  Like, well, life.  What’s the point of always being right if no one can stand it?  I stop to think and don’t bother to start back up, sometimes.  The paralysis of indecision roots in that fear of failure.  And yet the consequences of failure are often overblown or trivial; so what if we order the wrong appetizer, who cares if I have to return the larger size I bought just in case the smaller one didn’t work out, why can’t we just try again?  The things we believe are forever usually aren’t; the opportunity to learn generally outweighs the risks.  Face up to your pride — dare to exceed.

Mike