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4 kittens

I Just 'Plaining.

Posted on 2017.07.09 at 22:34
I'm sort of demoralized as a parent. Why is the energy demand so unsustainable? If I'm demoralized, in my lofty privileged state, then what about the vast majority of parents? That relative luxury itself kicks my legs out from under me sometimes - my lack of standing to complain.  Neverless, I'll persist in complaining.

Banana slug, Muir Woods

Rascal likes to excuse bad behavior by perkily saying, "I just 'tendin!" by which he means, "I'm just pretending!" For example: I'm not really biting you or destroying the living room, I just 'tendin!

My brain has spawned a derivative urge to perkily say, "I just 'plaining!" when people start to take my complaining too seriously and try to fix things. Don't fix anything! I just 'plaining!

I remember when Hawaii was about eighteen months old, and we went to Parents' Night at her daycare. I was struck by seeing Hawaii in the context of all these other 18 month olds. All these emergent parts of her  unique personality turned out to be just what all 18 month olds do. The toddlers were so much more similar to each other than I expected.

Last night, Rascal got out of bed again and again to use the potty. He kept saying that he had to poop. A small part of me wondered if he really was working on something, and that eventually he would come out with a massive turd.

(I hate the word turd. I hate the word poop. I hate the word shit to talk about actual shit. Likewise crap. I suppose I really just don't like talking about bowel movements.) (I never used to care about talking about bowel movements. Is this something about parenting? Too many years spent up to my elbows in actual excrement? Too many years spent listening to the kids gleefully talk about their butts? All the glee and joy of discussing shit has been thoroughly wrung out of me. Also pizza: I would happily never eat pizza again.)

Anyway: I kept taking Rascal to the potty, over and over again, because one of the other kids used to do exactly that: at age 2 or 3 the kid would take three trips to the bathroom, and just when I was getting exasperated and angry, the kid would produce a giant movement.

Here's the point of this tired, twisting story: which kid was it? I couldn't remember! I mapped Hawaii, Pokey, and Ace's faces onto the memory, and they all seemed plausible. The kids have blurred together. Each kid at age 2 resembles the other kids at age 2 far more than they resemble their future or past selves. The horizontal resemblance is much stronger than the vertical resemblance. (I think it was one of the girls.)


My old work building is being torn down. Above is a church in the Mission District in San Francisco - I thought it looked like Early Christian Art with the sun-halo frame.  My building at work is not nearly so pious.

On Facebook, some oldtimers started reminiscing about the building. One retired colleague said:

[I remember] the time two students were found dressing a deer in the showers that they had shot. Blood all over and guns leaning in the corner. Sieden/schwartz was Dean of Students and showed me the letter presented to the disciplinary board some years later. They got put on double secret probation. A different time. Sq/uires didn't even get any deer sausage.


Also not my work building.


I climbed up the ladder to our house for the first time:

I thought it'd be serene and wondrous, surreal to see new portions of trees out our windows. No air-conditioning, but it was a dry heat, because of the DRIZAIR TWELVEMILLION. It was not too unpleasant.

The house was cluttered and messy. There was no grace period of joy. Perhaps because I was in a sour mood when I headed over.

It felt like the same old house.


Was it at least wondrous to look out the window? Yes and no. It was pretty and leafy.  Here's our bedroom window:

But I'm neurotic about appearing not appearing ostentatious, and we are literally looking over everyone else's roofs. It's a snobby effect, or so it felt. On the plus side, the houseplants seem mostly happy.

(I'm having a bit of an AW meltdown, AW being a neurotic friend who makes her family jump through big hoops to avoid being introspective. Maybe this will make me happy! Or this! Elevating the house does not seem to have made a measurable difference. I guess I wasn't that anxious about a flood after all, at least not anxious enough to feel grateful ecstasy at the reprieve.)

If I hate single-parenting so much, does that mean that Jammies is basically single-parenting when I'm around, and I actually just hate parenting? Am I a terrible spouse? Don't answer that.

I single-parented on Saturday, while Jammies had a bachelor party. At the pool, a father asked me several times if I needed help collecting my kids. I suppose I seemed hapless and frazzled. That's not a great look on me.

I spent a lot of the day holding strict disciplinary boundaries, as we're under instruction to do from the therapist. For example, we were trying to get out the door for a movie, and I cancelled the outing due to rudeness and misbehavior.  They spent a lot of time in time out.

When I teach, I am very strict for the first week or two about not providing the answers. I let the silence drag out for several minutes. When you're a student, you don't know how long the teacher is going wait for an answer. If they're only going to wait for 20 seconds, it's not worth it to engage your thinking. So that first day of class, students let 20 seconds go by and just sit there. After a minute, they start to trust that I'm actually allocating enough time. Then I need to fulfill my implicit promise, and actually sit there for several minutes longer, so that they can actually think through the entire problem.

You have to be strict to earn trust, at the beginning. However, there is no beginning to parenting. It's incremental. You don't discipline a baby. I think that makes it harder.

Today I asked Jammies, "What can I buy to make myself happy?" He chuckled and shrugged. It turned out to be a coffee au lait, at the grocery store. I was by myself, grocery shopping, and I started to think fondly of my loved ones while sipping my coffee au lait. Then I saw this:

and I truly felt better, filled with genuine empathy and humanity for poor Hammer. It's a rough gig. I should be so lucky.

I spent too much time analyzing "Do. No Harm."  Are they intending to echo Google? Or just being cutesy with "do no harm"? It's not very cutesy, but it made me stop and stare, which is in fact harmless.

This is a ridiculous, long winding post. I'm jumping all over the place, chronologically. The idea of re-ordering it is making me want to go to bed.

Stories which I did not tell last week.

Hawaii woke us up near midnight. I made her show me her chigger bite. It was huge, with a pencil-eraser head of pus. It was bright red-purple (angry, as they say), and it hurt her if we even looked at it. It was on her inner thigh, an inch from her crotch. (I was hoping my dad would offer to lance it, but he declined and sent us to the ER.)

Ace's favorite game, to wear all her swimsuits at the same time.

At the ER: One doc said, "Chigger bite? You must be from the south!" which made me wonder if I'd inadvertently said something racist. More likely, Californians just don't have any bugs.

"I'm this many."

First they said he wanted to look at the bite, but it wouldn't hurt. It hurt a lot and Hawaii screamed bloody murder. Then they said they needed to do an ultrasound, but it wouldn't hurt. It hurt a lot and Hawaii screamed bloody murder again. Then they said they would properly numb it before they aspirated it. They had me smear lidocaine cream on it - I was as gentle as possible - but Hawaii screamed bloody murder.

She was quaking with anxiety about the actual lancing. It was a gruesome scene. They told me they'd give her some fentanyl to calm her down before they opened it up. It turned out that the fentanyl was a squirt up each nostril. She hated it.

Hawaii did not calm down. It was not numb whatsoever. It was time to lance the (boil? carbuncle? abcess?) and Hawaii was in a full-blown panic attack. She would not roll over. We only had 15 minutes until the fentanyl stopped working, (although it never seemed to work).

Finally I wrapped her in a bear hug and forcibly rolled her over, and we held her against her will. She screamed bloody murder. I told her to dig her nails into my hand. She complied:

which resolved to this:

I got asked if we had a new puppy.

Then it was lanced, and it was over. Clouds cleared, and Hawaii felt much better. They put her on some heavy duty antibiotics and now she's fit as a fiddle.

Ace with my nephew. I love this photo. "They have the same eyes," my brother observed.

San Francisco was nice. We Muired the redwoods, we paraded the 4th of July. Jammies flew home with all four kids, while I stayed an extra night to visit with imaginary Unfogged friends.

It was kind of hard to return to the cabin. Anticlimactic, homesick, all of that.

On Monday, while we vacationed, the house-lifters lowered our house down onto its pillars. Next, the contractor built a platform for the air conditioner, and the AC guys discovered that we had a cracked evaporator coil. What's another 2K, right folks? Next, they are going to build us some stairs and hook up the plumbing. Optimistically, we can move back in within a week.

View from the front porch:

The photo doesn't really capture the vertigo.

The only thing I'll miss about this cabin is that you can actually see the river sparkle from inside the house. It's beautiful.

View from the cabin:

The river is so sparkly and alive - much more enchanting than this photo would have you believe.

View from our back deck:

Perfectly nice. All I can think is how blazingly hot it is out there. I wish our backyard had some shade.

The key to understanding Rascal is that all his emotions are outsized. All two year olds have outsized emotions; it characterizes the stage. But even among our kids as two year olds, Rascal is the most outsized. He gets amped up like no one else. He sobs his heart out like none of them. He gets angry like...well, all of them can get pretty goddamn angry. What's that about, anyway. Point being: Rascal loves hard, plays hard, does everything the intense way.

I go see another tattoo artist tomorrow. This one is a lady-artist. Hopefully she doesn't shit all over my dreams. I had a dream that my friend had a big torso tattoo done, and I was so jealous.


lacachet at 2017-07-10 04:34 (UTC) (Link)
I love your weekly posts--they utterly entertain me :)
heebie_geebie at 2017-07-19 03:55 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you for reading, and saying so! I have a tiny number of readers, and so I dearly appreciate you.
Kelly Jennings
Kelly Jennings at 2017-07-10 11:49 (UTC) (Link)

Poor Hawaii!

That sounds horrific. Who knew chigger bites could get infected?

Your kids are all so beautiful, BTW. I know you know this, but you're doing such a great job.
heebie_geebie at 2017-07-19 03:56 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Poor Hawaii!

Well, thank you. The chigger bite was something else! It was sort of like the infected tooth, the way Hawaii idly complained one moment, and then shortly thereafter we realized it was medically a disaster and she needed immediate care. I've come to realize she has a rather high pain tolerance, although she's also known to cry wolf.

(Anonymous) at 2017-07-10 14:45 (UTC) (Link)
I love the fact that the side of the book that Ace is holding says that little girls are made of snips and snails, etc., and Rascal's side says boys are sugar and spice!

And Heebie, I think anyone, especially a fantastic, loving mom who is slogging through her fourth potty training rodeo, needs to be able to vent just a wee bit about the challenge sometimes.

heebie_geebie at 2017-07-19 03:57 (UTC) (Link)
I'm super delighted that you noticed that about the Little Girls/Little Boys picture - that's the whole reason I snapped and included the photo, but I didn't think it'd be legible. The nursery ryhme book is traditional, not pushing boundaries, except for that page, which delights me.

And thank you.
(Anonymous) at 2017-07-10 17:12 (UTC) (Link)

I Just 'Plaining.

My daughter used to chew on her paintbrush and when we told her not to she said, "I'm just thinking about owls." It's become a universal excuse in the house whenever someone is doing something they're not supposed to.

heebie_geebie at 2017-07-19 03:58 (UTC) (Link)

Re: I Just 'Plaining.

That is SO CUTE. Also...owls, of course, for your household.
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