Monthly Archives: September 2008

Because I said so

Because I'm the boss. Because I said so. I thought these such churlish answers when I was a child. Even after I had my first few children. I said to myself, and anyone else who would listen, does it really take any longer to say, "Because it's hot!" or "It will make you sick!" ?

And even if it does take a bit longer to explain why, aren't these precious little children worth the effort of explaining why?

Short answer?

No.

I have decided that "Because I said so" is the best answer in some situations, and for some children, in just about every situation.

First he wants a book at nap time. Reasonable, right? He's older, it takes him longer to fall asleep. Okay. So I give him a book. Pretty soon he wants another book. I give him a whole box. He's bored. Can he color? Boredom is terrible, I agree. I say fine. As long as you are quiet you may color. Soon everyone else who is still awake wants to color. Fine. Then he wants a piece of tape, another piece of paper, a pair of scissors. He wakes up one of the kids by stepping on them. Kimber, do you have any pipe cleaners? Pretty soon everyone wants everything. Instead of a book to read, we have full fledged art projects going on, and they are fighting over who has what, and those who have gone to sleep on time get woken up and are grouchy.

This is the child who could not stay on his mat at naptime, so I thought I'd give him an entire 8'x5' rug. With a box of books and puzzles and crayons. You can do whatever you want during naptime, as long as you stay on this rug and are reasonably quiet. He was off that rug in less than a minute, slapping the tile, kicking the wall, pulling the blankets off the other kids.

This is the child who takes ten chances, and after you've had it, really had it up to here, and you tell him he can't play outside anymore, this is the kid who cries and begs and weeps so you give him ONE MORE CHANCE, and he blows it, every time. Within minutes he's hitting, throwing toys, something. Whatever it is you told him not to do.

He wants a straw at lunchtime. Okay, why not? He blows bubbles in his milk. They all blow so many bubbles there is milk dripping off the table, and the baby slips and hits her head. All the milk dries all over the table and chair legs. They step in it, track it all over the house, where it dries, gets sticky, and attracts dirt. By five pm, it looks like I haven't mopped in a week. They poke each other in the eye, and jam straws up their noses. I have to clean up blood–which in this State is a huge process because I don't know if your child has AIDS or not. I'm not allowed to ask.

And the next day, when I explain why he can't have a straw, and he promises no bubbles, really promises, no kidding this time, and I cave; he does it again. Or more likely, tells someone else to do it–and then does it, too.

So no. You can't have books at naptime even if you promise not to ask for more. You can't have a straw at lunch time, even if I have six hundred in the cupboard. You can't both be in the bathroom at the same time. You can't pour your own syrup, cereal, or milk. You can't open any doors anywhere in my house, even just to see what's there.  

Because I know where it leads. I know, you promise, you promise, you promise, you reeeeeeeally promise whatever it is you are promising this time around. I understand that you want whatever it is you want.

But no.

Because I said so.

 

 

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Forget Waldo, where’s Tarzan?

I have this video you need to watch. Okay, so maybe you don't need to–but it might tell you something interesting about yourself. It did for me. I was completely stunned. I'll paste it here so that you can watch it if you want. The email I received included another clip before this one where the presenter told you the video was about six students playing basketball. Three wearing white t-shirts, and three wearing black. The idea is that you are to count the number of passes made by the white team. He said there was a marked gender difference in how people perceive the number of passes. Was he ever right! I counted sixteen, Marty swears there are only thirteen. See what you get:

http://viscog.beckman.uiuc.edu/grafs/demos/15.html 

I hope it works–I wish I could figure out how to paste a copy of the video that was sent to me, but I can't get it right.

Just so I don't give the answer away, let me write on another topic for a few moments.

If I were a member of congress, elected by my constituents to represent their wishes in Washington DC–am I morally obligated to vote to reflect their wishes? What if my own morals suggest I vote against them? I was reading today about the failed bailout vote (which I know nothing about either way) and the members of congress were heard in many instances to say that they personally believed in the measure, but that they had to vote for their constituents wishes. One congressman put it this way: "My job's on the line here–elections are in five weeks. It's too bad that it didn't pass, but what can you do?"

I'm probably one of the local joes who howled loud enough to make them think twice about passing the bill, but I don't know if I can respect an elected official that votes against his conscience just because elections are coming up. Can I? Do I want him to represent his conscience or the people? Should be the people, right? But it still seems cowardly to me. Sorry Congressmen/women, we aren't going to love you, no matter how you vote in this one. In the immortal words of that really old guy whose CD I even own and listened to in the shower this morning, but I can't remember his name–"Any way you look at this you lose." Simon and Garfunkel?

Anyway, back to the video.

Did the link work? If not, let me recap for you. The group of students throw the ball around for I don't know, one minute, maybe only thirty seconds. Like I said, I counted sixteen passes. Then the presenter told us to watch it again, only this time, not to count passes, just sit back and watch the whole scene, all the people. 

That's when I realized that I didn't see the man in the gorilla suit. I kid you not–a man in a gorilla suit walks across the screen–even pauses in the middle of the group of players, and pounds his chest or waves–something ridiculously obvious. And I didn't see him at all, the first time through. Let me here tell you that my father didn't see the gorilla the second time, either; he was still counting passes, trying to figure out if we'd got the right number.  So no gender difference. That's just to make you really focus on pass counting. The point is that we can miss really obvious things if we are primed to look for something else. 

Marty saw the gorilla the first time–but only counted thirteen passes. My daughter saw someone in black walk through, but didn't notice that it was a gorilla. She also counted sixteen passes. Hmmmm.

My question is this. How many men (or was it a woman?) in gorilla suits am I missing in my children's lives? My own life? More importantly, how many times do I lose patience with someone else who isn't seeing the gorilla that seems so very obvious to me? And what are they looking for that makes them miss it? Is there any way to help them step back and look at the whole scenario, or am I doomed to forever stand in the middle of the room pounding on my chest, howling unheard primal screams?

 

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Knots in my Mental Maytag

I know this girl who claims to have bankrupted her family, essentially, because she got a little behind one month on the bills, then more the next, then it just snowballed, and pretty soon she just "didn't think about it". Didn't pay the bills, didn't open the foreclosure notices, whatever. And I thought, "Yeah, right" How do you not think about something like that?

But I think I understand her, if just a little bit. I had some issues I couldn't think through this week, couldn't even think about–because I couldn't see any way out of the mess, so just hunker down, and keep breathing. I know it won't go away, but maybe . . . I will disappear? Who knows.

It's like that load of laundry–you know the one where you attempt to take it out, and there are six bras knotted around the center post and all the rest of the clothes so tight it would almost be easier to dismantle the washer than to untangle them?

That probably doesn't happen to you. You probably handwash your lingerie like it says right there on the tag. Everything I buy goes in the washing machine. If it doesn't make it out in one, recognizable piece, we weren't meant to be together.

ANYWAY

Clearly I'm feeling better about the mess; the tangle of undergarments, pj's socks and blouse strings, as it were, or I wouldn't be sitting here.

My question is.

How much of this stuff do you write about in a public blog?

My cousin could admit to yelling at her daughter in her blog. My sister could admit to blowing up at her innocent inlaws. But how much do you bare your soul, really? And if you don't, if all the really dark, deep secrets stay in there, knotted tightly around the innermost workings of your mental Maytag, are you ever free? My husband commented the other day that he didn't feel like he really even knew me–and I'm thinking, are you kidding me? We work together, we sleep and shop and eat together, every last minute of our lives we spend right here in these rooms together, how do you not know me? 

But then I thought, you know–you don't. You don't know what I'm really thinking–its wound up so tight in here that I can't even make heads or tails of it. And why is that? Because I'm afraid of what people will think. I'm afraid of what you will think. I'm afraid of what I will think if I really dismantle the machinery, unwind the unmentionables and hang them out to dry, one by one for everyone to scrutinize.    

 

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If you give ’em an inch . . .

Thank you, thank you, to all my neighbors who bring me squash. Yeah! I don't have to grown it myself. I just haven't had time for a garden the last few years. Maybe next. For real, next year. Anyhow, I made spaghetti squash last night with a marinara sauce that included peppers and at least three other kinds of squash. It was pretty darn good, and I'm not even a very good cook.

I ate tomatoes, peaches, carrots and peppers all day because they were sitting on my cupboard and easy and I'd sworn not to eat anything off of any child's left behind plate, even my own kid's. Not even one cheerio, or the last half of a broken cracker left in the box–they add up, you know. Twenty pounds worth in the last 13 months, to be exact.  Lost 1.2 pounds from yesterday at 5 am to today at 5am, if you believe that sort of thing. I plan on gaining it all back tonight, as everyone is going to be gone by six, so we're thinking dinner out and the rodeo. How is it possible that my children don't know what a Rodeo is?

Wow, these kids are crazy today, even at "naptime". Maybe they know it's Friday?

We built this deck/porch/playground thing–I've been taking pictures all summer so I can post a picture time line because it's really changed our house–my own parents drove right past and missed it.

Anyhow. Point being. It was supposed to keep the kids in, off the street, out of the dirt–we even put rubber down in the play area under the slide and climbing toys so there wouldn't be sand, dirt, gravel or slivers to deal with. They beg daily to go out, but they always drift toward the street, no matter what, so I keep saying, when the porch is done, you can go out.

Guess what they did, first day?

Pushed toys out between the railing so they could ask to go get them. (NO)  Or didn't ask, in the case of one old enough to reach the latch, though I'd expressly told him not to touch the gate for any reason. Stuck their hands out under the railing and pulled up the grass, scattered it all over the porch and brought fistfuls into the house. Then when I ignored that–really, it's just mess right? They started digging up the dirt that was under the grass they pulled out and brought in handfuls of that.

Sigh.

That or stood next to the gate and slammed their behinds against it repeatedly to make the latch jingle.

It's not like we built them a cramped little playground. We're talking sixty-five feet by . . . I don't know, thirty?

If I poured a cement strip all the way around the porch to make mowing easier, and prevent the grass/dirt thing, and blocked the gate so it doesn't jingle, will they just find some other mischief? I'm fairly certain they will. One thing's for sure–I'm not hooking up the doorbell any time soon.

 

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And then there are the OTHER kind of parents

I had just two children that stay all night now, and they were really calm, but still, there they are, you know?

Today the mother lost her job/quit. Same place that has had all this craziness going on–I've had four different parents that have cycled through that place and got caught up in the politics to no good end. Including the liar I mentioned last post, who is now hired back on, along with others which occasioned this one quitting. Anyway.

So she came by this morning with a huge bouquet of roses and baby's breath and something else pretty, a bunch of balloons and ribbons and a thank you card. Awww. Sorry to give you such short notice, you are the greatest child care provider, etc. Awwwwww.

Thank you! I needed that.

Now, the question is, what next? At first I got this great feeling about quitting all night timers, even the two new ones I just accepted but haven't come yet. Maybe even all my Saturday people, too. Yeah!

And then I started looking at numbers. We could make it. But we wouldn't have anything to spare. I really wanted to pay off the van sooner than five years. And we just built this fifteen thousand dollar porch/playground area. Not on credit, but didn't pay off the seven grand we owe Sears for appliances, as it isn't due with any interest until May of 2009. Used that money for the roof, cement, etc. Really need to pay that off before I start slacking I guess.

I was reading an article about WAMU, which is our bank. Their stock has lost 95% of its value in the past 52 weeks. Yikes. FDIC insured, but what does that mean really? I feel like taking my money out and paying off Sears as fast as I get more. Do I really want to put more into WAMU's hands right now?

Not that I'm overly concerned, just thoughts that tumble about. It all really comes down to do I trust God or man, you know? Whether or not I accept more kids or ditch the six I've got on the chopping block; where my money is kept or not–has God ever let me down? Let me go without?

Never.

I've always had much and to spare. So much to spare that food spoils in my vegetable bins and at the back of my refrigerator and I'm constantly making trips to Goodwill to drop off bags of unneeded clothing and household items. No matter what I do, I know we'll have enough. I just want to do the right thing, the best thing. For my family, for finances, for other families that I feel a responsibility towards.  

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Incredible audacity. . . or just my own gullibility?

This is how lame I am. Remember the lady that owes me just short of a thousand dollars? Well, the State owes me, but since she didn't get her ducks in a row, papers on file, whatever it was that she was supposed to do, they won't pay me. She disappeared without a word when she lost her job, leaving me with the bill.

I sent her a letter, as she wasn't answering phone calls, but got no response, and I know she's living at that address.

Two months later, I get this call. Caller ID lists her three year old daughter's name, then hangs up after one ring. Hmmm, I think, someone else with the same name, right? Thirty seconds later the phone rings and this time Caller ID says "Private Name, Private Number". So she's hung up, blocked her name, and then called back. Obviously not realizing that now I do have her number, as the first call went through.

She asks me if I can watch her kids for a few hours while she takes her mom to court.

I kid you not.

But I SAY YES!!!!

I ask her if she got the letter I sent, she says no, all friendly like, what did it say? I explain the whole thing to her, and she claims to have fixed it all just three days before. So I say, alright, bring them over. I call DSHS, and they say they haven't heard from her since June. They read me the list of contacts on this case, and every call I made is on the log, but nothing from her. She brings the kids over, comes back a few hours later, and tries to walk away without paying. I gently reminded her about what was owing and told her what the state told me, she paid for the day, and then off she went, promising to call the state the next day.

Yeah, right. I really don't care–I'd written it off as bad debt in my mind already, and I fully expect to never see any of it, but how amazing, the audacity!

 

 

 

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Hefty Sacks of Accomplishment

Alright folks. I am officially fluent in vowelese. How long has he been here? Six weeks. That's all it takes for vowelese immersion to really stick, and I mean stick. I don't even notice anymore. Never thought I'd say that . . .

Kids are all in school finally. Sent my oldest to highschool my youngest to kindergarten, and now I'm buying car seats, highchairs and stepping stools again. The youngest child in my care is six months old and she's zipping around the floor on her hands and knees and pulling up to standing at everything she can get her fingers into. She's tiny–makes it look very strange. Have another at nighttime, who is seven months, twice the size, and just learning to crawl. Keeps pulling to standing up and gets freaked out because she can't get back down. Dejavu? Yeah. Been here, done all this with six kids. It's interesting though, with other people's kids, how fast they seem to go through these stages, and maybe it's because I'm watching one of every age, so someone is always in one of the stages or just coming out of or into one. Blah blah blah.

I bet you wish I had that delete button, don't you?

This morning at nine I thought, wow, someone really stinks! The first behind I checked was oozing, so down I go with all my paraphernalia and change the kid's diaper. Looks like a bit of a yeast infection starting, and I know she's been on antibiotics, so I break out the Nystatin, then cover it all with zinc oxide, as she's looking pretty red. Wash my hands with a wipe, since now I have an audience of about eight kids at least one other of whom must be stinky too, because this one really didn't smell too bad. I dress the baby, and set her on her knees behind me. She pats at the pool of saliva she's drooling onto the tile and gurgles. Aw, I made you clean and sweet and happy. That does feel good, who's next?

I nab the boy closest to me, and wrestle him down. He thinks it's hilarious to try to escape the process. I hold down his arms with my bare feet. This one reeeeeks. I mean, almost serious man-poop here. We clean him up, no ointments, he must have just gone. Add his diaper to the bag I put the first one in, along with another few wipes on my hands.  

"I poopy," the three year old announces. Okay, set it right here. I lay her down, change her behind, which sure enough is contributing to the stink, and apply some Desonide, as her excema has really flared up in bizarre patches. 

Three down . . . how many more to go? I check the next kid within reach. Yup, definitely a stink producer. This one calls for A&D ointment, I decide.  Mother doesn't like Desitin, and the creases are looking a little pink. Better safe than red and sorry next diaper change.

Number five–just wet. Nothing too drastic. Changer her anyway. A little Desitin in the creases.

Number six. Oh, the stinker of all stinkers. A&D clear almost to her knees. Her little thighs look irritated, but not her behind. I wash my hands for a good long time after that one. Turn off the water, then go back for round two hotter this time, under the nails, up past my wrists. I tie the bag shut.

"D's poopy!" A chorus starts.

No he's not, I tell them, you can just smell these, and I show them the bag. But he's laying down again, next to the shelves of diapers and boxes of wipes. So I check him. Yes he is. By the time I change this one, you might think I'm sick of diapers, but I'm not. Seven little behinds are wandering around, clean and dry and happy, and I have one hefty sack of evidence in my hand. I tie it up and feel like I've actually accomplished something for the day, and it isn't even snacktime yet. I wash my hands again, and in some way most people will never understand, I feel significant in that moment. I have not only cleaned them up, but I have provided them each with a thin pharmaceutical barrier against the next onslaught of caustic refuse that will arrive without warning.

Not bad for a morning's work. And look how happy they are. Awww.   

 

 

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