A couple of weeks ago, I received a letter from the Stephen Lewis Foundation thanking me for the contributions I’ve raised through the sale of my photography. The letter detailed some of its funded projects and associated costs, which I thought would be good to share here.
I am positively giddy. Tomorrow and Friday I'm taking off of work while Swee'pea goes to daycare and Sugar D goes to work. I get to be all alone in my house. That NEVER happens!
My original plan was to spend a bit of time shooting and/or editing photos and/or blogging and a lot of time throwing out more photos and putting the keepers into albums, but last week I had an epiphany. I could go to the gym and have a leisurely workout followed by a leisurely swim in the saltwater pool! I could get a haircut! I could get a massage! (My shoulder has been REALLY sore and stiff for more than a month.) I could hang out in the peace and quiet of my very own house and then leave whenever I want! On the drop of a hat!
So it will be interesting to see whether I actually achieve anything or if I just flit around like a humingbird in a garden FULL of red tubular flowers, never settling to a single one. I do have some papers to find and sign, and phone calls to make regarding our new house sale (less than a month till we move!), but I've also scheduled a massage AND a haircut for Friday.
And hey - I think tomorrow is my two-year blogiversary. To celebrate, I've updated my blogroll, which hasn't been updated in probably 18 months or more. I used blogger's new Blog List feature to import my feeds from google reader and look at it! It orders them according to the most recent post and even shows the title of the first post. Fancy, eh?
******** I edited this photo from Havana yesterday and I don't know what I think of it. What do you think?
Swee'pea had a fever for the better part of this weekend, but I figured he was just teething. He had his hands in his mouth near constantly and his cheeks went red, which contributed to my diagnosis. This morning, his fever had broken so I figured he was fine, but we had a doctor's appointment already scheduled for a follow-up check-up on his ears. So I mentioned the fever and the rash even though I figured if it was anything, he was mostly over it. And it's scarlet fever. Poor kid's had a sore throat all weekend. I did ask him if he hurt anywhere, because scarlet fever flitted through my mind, but he kept saying no.
Bottom line is we had to stay home today and he's getting banana antibiotics twice a day. Apart from a misdiagnosis, this is the first time he's ever been on antibiotics. We've been so lucky to get this far.
So we had a nice day, just the two of us. He watched obscene amounts of Ni Hao Kai Lan and we baked banana bread. We hung out in the backyard and just took it easy.
Yesterday was the first weekend day in months and months that we haven't had a single thing scheduled. It was kind of a nice day for Swee'pea to be sick, a nice excuse to take it easy. We hung out in the backyard, which is something we don't do very much. Instead, we always go for walks to the park or the library but I figured those wouldn't be very good options. And since part of the reason we got a new house was for its gorgeous backyard and easy access to it, I want to get into spending time in the backyard before we move.
Anyhoo... here are some pics from yesterday afternoon. You can see the scarlet fever rash on his cheeks, especially his left one.
Yesterday at the drop-in centre, a card was being circulated for signings. In my eternally nosy-parker way, I had to find out who it was for, so I asked. And lo and behold, it's for my friend and his brand new wife - apparently they just got married yesterday. How wonderful is that! Pretty wonderful, I have to say, and now when I think about his story, I get an even bigger balloon of good feelings pushing my rib cage up and my shoulders back, like this world really IS ok.
* * *
In other sunshine and honey news, we're having my new favourite meal tonight. We're not really vegetarian: I eat chicken and fish and Sugar D eats seafood and Swee'pea eats whatever he feels like. But it's simpler just to describe ourselves as vegetarian. So tonight we're having creamy dijon potato salad and fresh rainbow trout panfried with butter and fresh dill. Yum.
In the interest of public service and for documentary purposes, I give you the recipe for the potato salad, which I sort of made up from a bunch of different sources:
5-6 medium sized cooked chopped potatoes - I use red ones about 2-3 cups fresh (cooked) peas - I throw them on top of the boiling potatoes for a few minutes 1/3 raw red pepper, thinly sliced 1/3 raw yellow pepper, thinly sliced 10-20 capers, to taste
dressing: 2 enormous tablespoons of mayo - probably more like 1/4 cup 2 not heaping tablespoons of dijon mustard 1 teaspoon of caper brine 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill freshly ground black pepper to taste (mix it all together)
And that's it. It's pretty salty, which I love, but if you're not keen on salt, you might want to leave the caper brine out.
Well, I dragged my ass to belly dancing last night, and I feel much better now. Shakira came on the radio on my way home from work yesterday, and "My hips don't lie" - or whatever it's called - got me back into the groove.
Later, after Swee'pea had gone to sleep, and Sugar D was washing dishes, I snuck up behind him. He was listening to his ipod, as he always does when he washes dishes. I pressed up against his back suggestively and let my hands roam his body. It seemed like maybe things were heating up.
Suddenly, he fumbled in his front jeans pocket, and I wondered why. He pulled his earphone out and grabbed for the ipod in his back pocket, "I have to turn this Chinese lesson off!"
* * *
I've gotten really sick of the meals I cooked all winter and need some inspiration. I can already do a good potato salad and a pasta salad. We usually have veggie burgers at least one night a week. Got any suggestions for vegetarian summer dishes? We usually prefer one-pot cooking.
I'm tired and bummed out. I've lost momentum with my photography and have succumbed to discouragement. I have belly dance tonight, and I always feel good after I go to class and it's so good for me, but I feel like it just takes my limited time away from photography. I can't keep up with the editing of everything I shoot, and I haven't even been shooting much. But every time I sit down to edit some photos I just feel drained and uninspired. I've gotten some rejections sort of recently, and sales have pretty much disappeared (except yours, Bea!) and I'm finally giving in to the "What's the point anyways" feeling I've managed to keep pushing away for the last six months.
I think I'm also a bit confused, visually. I've been looking at lots of other people's photos online and I just don't know anymore whether to continue in the highly post-processed look that seems kind of shunned by "serious" "art" photographers or to go with the clear, crisp, straight shots that seem to carry more status. I hate to be driven by status but I'm finding myself increasingly drawn to those kind of photos. Ugh.
I'm also a bit lonely I think. The last two weekends have been so busy that at the end of it, I don't feel like I've had a weekend. And I'd love to get out for a beer or two on a warm summer night. I miss that thrill of warm air on bare arms.
It's not really as bad as all that. I'm pretty sure I was feeling great just a few days or a week ago. But my tiredness has caught up, and not even the fact that SYTYCD is on tonight is very exciting. I found last week's dancing decidedly unthrilling (well, ok, that MIGHT have had something to do with the fact that I *thought* my vcr was recording the last half-hour so I let myself be distracted only to discover that the vcr ran out of tape. Bring on the PVR!), except for Gev's solo on elimination night, and then he got eliminated! As much as I love Mark, I really thought Gev should have stayed another week. Boo.
And what's up with all the radio silence on off-stage relationships? A couple of years ago there was lots of gossip about off-stage romances but there's nothing this year. Anyone got any dirt?
Anyways, can you tell me a joke or something good that's going on with you?
My first thought about Myers Briggs and Lost was that the whole faith vs. logic conflict is really a conflict between NFs and NTs. The faith side is led by Ben and Locke and the rational side is led by Jack. Wouldn't it be tidy if that's how the Myers Briggs worked out. But it doesn't.
First off, I think Ben is a cold, hard rationalist, maybe ENTP. He understands and manipulates people's motivations so well that I think he really must be an extravert. I don't think introverts have as much curiosity about people's motives as extraverts and therefore they have less insight. He always has a plan, but he's quick to revise it on the fly, which makes me think he's a P but I could be persuaded to ENTJ.
Locke is definitely an NF, only an NF would be conned out of a kidney by his evil father. Maybe INFJ. He's always looking for (and finding) meaning, and he's obsessed with figuring out his destiny and that of the island.
Jack's a bit harder for me, because my inclination always seems to be to divide people into either NT or NF. So first I figure he's an NT (and that fits better with the faith vs logic dichotomy) but then I think about his sense of right and wrong, his desire to protect people, to fix broken people, and I think maybe he's an SJ. And then I realize I may have just described an NF with that romantic need to fix. All in all, though, I'm thinking INTJ, especially because he goes crazy as soon as he goes near emotion territory, like he just doesn't have a clue what to do with feelings or how to integrate them into his world. (I'm not saying all NTs do this, just the really badly damaged ones.)
I think Sayid must be another rationalist, and I have to go with ENTP. I'm guessing that extracting information from people with torture requires considerable insight into people's motivations AND an ability to distance yourself emotionally from your victim.
Kate was also tough for me at first but then I come down to ESTP. She's a human chameleon and mostly seems to go for the quick fix rather than the long-term strategy. The way she can go on the run for long periods and improvise her movements, the way she's adopted personas... sounds pretty ESTP to me.
Sawyer - pretty sure he's another ESTP. I don't think you can be a con artist unless you're extraverted. But he reads a lot on the island and doesn't get too involved in all the group shenanigans, so then maybe he's an I? Nah, I think he's just the sort of worst-case manifestation of ESTP. (Again, not saying all ESTPs are con artists and criminals -- just the ones who as children watched their father kill their mother after being swindled by a con artist.)
Charlie - my first thought was ESFP because of the whole rock star thing. But with his heroin addiction and moodiness, I wondered if maybe he was a tortured NF. I'm quite curious to see if certain MB types are prone to certain mental illnesses and addictions... somewhere online I saw that heroin's for NFs and cocaine's for SPs - or was it NTs? Whatever... I still fall back on ESFP for Charlie.
Desmond. Oh, Desmond. I just love Desmond. I'm not sure I'm capable of the emotional distance required to type him, but I'll try. The tricky thing with him is it's hard to tell which circumstances he's created and which ones just happen to him randomly (as if anything on Lost is random but you get my drift). He seemed pretty sane after a very long time by himself in the Swan, which makes me think he's an introvert. He's done so many different things in his life that I think he may be an SP but his undying loyalty to Penny, and his fondness for work in hardcore hierarchies (the army and the monestary) swings me back to SJ. Maybe ISFJ? No, ISFP. I have a hard time putting Desmond into SJ.
Juliet - I'm thinking INFP. She's got a pretty cool, calculating streak, but I think at heart she's an idealist who believes the best of people until they are proven absolutely guilty.
So far there aren't a lot of SJs on the island. I'd think SJs would be extremely useful if a plane crashed on a (not really) deserted South Pacific island. It's reasonably clear that everyone on the island was destined to be there, that the island pretty much hand-picked them. Does the island not want SJs? Or is the absence of SJ's the result of my own personal handicap-slash-bias? I think I just can't put myself in the shoes of SJs... I just don't quite get what makes them tick.
So bring on the SJs:
Sun: She's developing quite the streak of cold, hard logic so first I think INTJ. But then, she didn't leave Jin when she had the chance in the airport, so that loyalty makes me think SJ. ISTJ?
Jin - he's very concerned with class and propriety, and he follows Sun's dad's authority pretty unquestioningly, so I'm thinking ISTJ for him too. Not sure if it makes sense for people of the same type to get married, but it does explain a lot of their problems with no E and no F to draw the other one out.
Claire - Oh jeez. This is getting hard. Some characters' personalities just aren't as evident. ESFJ? I'm not sure that sits quite right though because she's awfully gullible and flaky. Now I'm thinking NF. ENFJ?
Hurley - I give up. All afternoon he's been preying on my mind and I just can't get my head around his type. My gut says SP but would be SPs be prone to depression? Maybe with an F tendency... let's say ESFP.
So. Still here? What do you think?
And if you don't watch Lost, you should... the space channel is starting it from season one in the fall or you can catch up by dvd, so there's no excuse.
My obsession with Myers Briggs continues, only now it's intersecting with a renewed interest in Lost, thanks to my recent discovery of Lost and Gone Forever. That blogger can THINK!
So I really want to do an MBTI analysis of the main Lost characters, sort of along the lines of what Bea did for Harry Potter. I can barely focus on work. And I keep finding myself caught up in loopholes and exceptions and roadblocks.
I think Bea is either INFJ or ENFJ, and she has a great ability to see patterns and group things within a structure. As an ENFP, I think I'm a bit more concerned with the individual and I tend to jump into things without a plan or a structure. So when I attempt an analysis of Lost characters, I see a sea of individuals and I can't seem to group them together.
I'm also discovering a few assumptions that I'd like (you) to validate.
I suspect that extraverts might have more insight into people's motivations and consequently a bigger capacity for manipulation. Does that mean anyone who manipulates people, for whatever reason, cannot be introverted?
I also think NT's have way more capacity for deception than NF's. Does that mean anyone who willfully deceives people cannot be an F?
What do you think?
In the meantime, I'll keep working on my unstructured analysis...
Um, yeah. Apparently a woman breastfeeding her baby at a pool -- a pool right down the street from me! -- was asked to leave the poolside area. Apparently "The lifeguard said that the pool is meant to have a family atmosphere and breastfeeding isn't allowed." The lifeguard ended up calling the police, and when they arrived someone came to their senses and confirmed that it IS legal to breastfeed in public. The city says it was "an unfortunate error."
The woman who was asked to leave said the lifeguard said other women had left without a problem. She's thinking about making a human rights complaint to the city.
I can't believe this happened in my very own city. I mean, I live in the city where Gwen Jacobs walked topless and (after being arrested for indecency) ended up setting a precedent that it's legal for women to go topless. So how can it be that using those breasts for their most important purpose could be illegal???
Of course I've heard stories like this before but more often than not the stories were in the States and I thought perhaps Canada, with its year-long, breastfeeding-ennabling mat leave, was more enlightened. Guess I need to think again.
If only I could split the space-time continuum for the afternoon and make everything *think* I'm at my desk but really I'm in my backyard consuming the two cold Mooseheads currently residing in my fridge.
I had a long day at work and Swee'pea and I got home late. The last few hours of work were especially stressful and I was still keyed up. I was too tired and wired to cook and I didn't want to wait for Sugar D to cook, so I suggested dinner out. Sugar D was unsure... Swee'pea was clearly cranky and tired, not always the best combination in a restaurant.
So I asked Swee'pea, "Do you want to go our for dinner?"
He replied, "Noni dow nono djussss mommy, daddy day da mome!"
[translation: I want to go out with JUST mommy, daddy stay at HOME!"
(He tolerated Sugar D just fine -- except for insisting that "just mommy" help him wash his hands -- and we had a very nice meal out and I feel MUCH more myself now.)
Later, fresh out of the bath, Swee'pea announced he had to pee.
"Pee mommy dow!" [Pee coming out!]
Not long ago he said that and it was shockingly true. Lately, though, he says it when he WANTS pee to come out.
Tonight, I whispered to Sugar D that I don't really believe Swee'pea anymore when he says that. Except that the expression on his face looks kind of like he actually is peeing.
Then I noticed a little fountain rising out of the potty and onto the floor.
I guess now is the time to introduce the penis down rule.
This morning is GORGEOUS. Fresh and cool but sunny, with a gentle breeze like mint in a mojito. It makes me want to take today off. That temptation could also have something to do with the fact that I don't feel like I actually had a weekend. Yesterday I went to a full-day photography workshop, which I enjoyed but I didn't get as much out of it as I would have liked. It went over time and then I got stuck in traffic so it ended up being an 11-hour day that ended with a big headache.
Because of the workshop, I had to switch my drop-in shift to Saturday afternoon, which I quite enjoyed despite all the other people's drama (OPD), but ultimately I didn't have a full day to just hang out with my fam the way I usually do.
Funnily enough, that boy's mother was at the Drop-In Centre this weekend. First person I saw upon my arrival was the boy and immediately I thought his face looked different somehow, smooth and unpinched - medicated? Maybe I read him wrong and he's mentally ill, not addicted. Or maybe he's self-medicated? I have no idea why, but his face looked smoother.
Then I noticed the woman beside him and wondered if she was his mother. It soon became clear that she was and they were arguing. I tried not to be too obvious about eavesdropping but they were RIGHT in front of me and I was dead curious and I'm big enough to know that I don't camouflage easily so if they didn't want me to hear they could move away. I got the impression that she'd lent him money on the expectation that he would pay her back today but he didn't have it. She had to borrow $10 from her landlord just to get through the next two days and she didn't even have any cigarettes.
Their argument got quite heated and I started to get really uncomfortable. The look on her face was one that I don't believe parents should direct at their children. At times she looked downright hateful. He fought back a little bit, but then he became totally impassive, closed-off I guess, hunkered down. Eventually he walked away, and she looked at me for sympathy. I tried really hard to muster it, producing a weak, neutral half-smile. I think she wanted to engage me in a debrief, but I couldn't really understand her words and I didn't really want to.
I've been struggling about whether to write about this, because I try to make a policy of not judging other mothers, especially mothers of children who are older than Swee'pea, because you can never know what you'll do when the time comes. So far, my mothering is all about survival, and survival requires different things at different ages. It must be VERY difficult to parent such a badass. On top of that, this is not my story. Many times I write about folks at the drop-in centre, but it's as much about my interactions with them and my feelings about those interactions as it is about them. This is different. This is a story that I have no involvement in.
Throughout the afternoon, the mother was a bit erratic: she kept asking for coffee and forgetting it. She'd get caught up in ranting about her son's wrongdoing, to whomever would listen, and her coffee would go cold without so much as a sip taken - again. Some of the people she spoke to, people who are recovering addicts I think, told her she has to stop giving him money, that she's ennabling him. That she has to stop expecting him to change.
Later, she told me that he'd just taken the money without asking, that it wasn't her fault, and how pissed she was that people think it's her fault.
"Honey," said the staff worker, who looks like Lucille Ball, complete with thin, dark, surprised-looking eyebrows like upside down smiles, full red lips, big false eyelashes, blue eyeshadow, leopard-print shirt, tight black jeans and stiletto boots. "It's always gonna be your fault until he takes his head out of his ass." I fell a little bit in love with Lucille (not her real name - although her real name is awesome: think Canadian province that starts and ends with the same vowel and isn't Ontario), with her 50s glamour look, her ability to tell it like it is and boss us volunteers around. She even directed me to take a break, which no one ever has before.
I can't seem to stop siding with the boy no matter how many times I try to wear the mother's shoes. It may have something to do with the fact that he's cute and young (I say this from a maternal perspective not from any other perspective) and so very thin that his shoulder blades poke through his shirt like fragile wings from his hunched, bird-like posture. He stands like an apology.
There were times in their various exchanges that I really felt the mother was going below the belt, maybe not so much with her words but with her tone of voice and expression. If we're not supposed to go below the belt in arguments with our spouses, who are our peers (and we're not!), then it must be doubly important to never go below the belt with our children. No matter how angry and hurt and confused and scared we are, sometimes we just have to step up and be the parent. Children shouldn't be made to morph themselves into armour, certainly not against a parent's tirade.
After my shift, Sugar D, Swee'pea and I went to the library. Funnily enough, given the OPD of the previous few hours, I discovered Come Back: A Mother and Daughter's Journey Through Hell and Back by Claire and Mia Fontaine. The inside cover asks something about how can a 15-year-old honours student suddenly become a junkie living in the underbelly of drug culture and what does a parent do about it - or something like that. I cracked it as soon as we got home, hoping to feel more kindness and understanding for that mother, and I could not. put. it. down until my eyes were closing against my will. It's harrowing but beautiful and the thing that keeps me going is the "and Back" in the book's title. Otherwise it might be too difficult.
The book is not really helping with my judgment of that mother, though, because the program that leads to the daughter's recovery also includes a lot of work for the parents to recognize their own role in the behaviour of their kids and to change their own ways of being that aren't working.
This is a very uncomfortable post for me. I'm all about self-acceptance and not holding ourselves to a standard of perfection, especially with our parenting. I tell myself that kids are resilient and it takes a lot to fuck them up, which I still believe, but parents were kids too once, and some parents are more fucked up than others. Judgment doesn't help anyone.
Yesterday you turned 29 months old. This month, I've noticed you're becoming more fearful. You've always been pretty cautious, physically, but now you're afraid of some things, mostly bugs. First it was ants, at the cottage, then the other day a big fly near your potty (and you LOVE to sit on your potty!). You refuse to go anywhere near them and even if the bug goes away or we take it away, still you refuse to go back to that spot. It's strange because you're not afraid of mosquitoes and they're the ones whose bites you react so badly to. And you're not afraid of bumblebees either.
The other day when I picked you up from daycare, your friend Neemum and his mom were leaving at just the same moment. All the riding toys were still scattered around the play area so you and Neemum took advantage. He got on a little scooter; you hopped in a toy pick-up truck. He race as around in circles as fast as his little legs could push him, just missing crashes; you pushed yourself forward with a few slow steps then sat there and watched Neemum. His mom kept calling for him to watch out and stood there scared; I watched Neemum careen around and felt relief that you are so cautious. I almost never fear for your safety.
(This, of course, is the exception that proves the rule. The other night you climbed up on a bench behind a baseball diamond, and your mother of the year on the wrong side of the fence took a picture instead of running to ensure your safety. I'm not as cavalier as that makes me sound: your dad was there and I could see him running for you from the corner of my eye.)
We laughed about the differences between you two, and how you're really quite boring at the playground. You like to climb steps, mostly. Sometimes you pretend you're making a snack and you share nibbles with people. Your teacher laughed too and said that when they ask what you're doing when you're just sitting in your car, you yell, "I need gas!"
It's often hard to drag you away from daycare and the other day was no exception, especially with all those toys sitting out. The teachers were putting them away, and you immediately helped. You LOVE to help. I must confess to just a bit of parental pride when Neemum's mum cooed over you while you put things away, "Oh, you are SUCH a lovely boy! (And I like your speed.)"
You've been speaking in full sentences and coming out with some funny and interesting stuff. One day at a restaurant you pointed to a little girl, probably younger than you, maybe 18 months? And you said, "My noni day dat beebee mome!" (I want to take that baby home.) Your dad's response was not until you're 18. At another restaurant (um, yeah, we eat out once or twice a week) for lunch, I ordered you a kid's meal with egg, toast and potatoes. "No meat?" the server asked, and I said, "No, no meat." You eat meat at daycare and fish at home, but we don't eat red meat so I never order it.
"My DA mee!" you said. (I like meat!)
Oh. Well, ok then. So we ordered you some ham and you gobbled it up first. I love that you're getting more sophisticated in stating your preferences, and I like that you're able to have some control over some aspects of your life.
A few times you've announced either right before or right after your bath that you need to pee. You've said this before but rarely actually peed, so I just figured that to you, peeing just means sitting on the potty. But when you sat on the potty, you said, "Bee mummy dow! Bee mummy dow!" (Pee coming out!) And sure enough, when you stood, you'd peed. You were most pleased with yourself.
I think I'm going to stop these monthly letters. I keep seeing things I want to write about in the middle of the month but when the time comes around to write this letter, I've forgotten. And then I struggle to think of what to write to you about and I procrastinate and miss the 'deadline' and the letter I write never quite does justice to life with you. It feels like work, and I have enough of that in my life. Today, a friend showed me a quote in passing, and it really struck me, especially with this letter hanging over my head. It's by Annie Dillard from Write Till You Drop:
"One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water."
Don't worry, I'm still committed to writing you letters, but I will do it whenever the wish strikes me and not try to schedule it for a certain day of the month. I'm hoping that spontaneity will make for better, more authentic (and, ok, let's face it - easier!) letters.
Friday night I dreamed that I had two more boys in such quick succession that I couldn't even blog about them. I was so guilt-ridden that my life had exploded and I hadn't even notified the blog. A few nights before I dreamed someone else I knew was pregnant with three boys.
Yesterday morning at the Farmer's Market, I met a man with two kids. He asked how old Swee'pea was, and I told him, then asked how old his two were. He thought for a moment, then started rhyming off ages: 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, and almost 4 (or something like that. I might have stuck an extra kid in there). He only had his oldest and his youngest with him.
"Wow," I said. "That must have been a BUSY five years."
"It makes me shiver just to think about it... I found that infant year so hard, I can't imagine doing it over and over."
I think this may have been the wrong thing to say. I meant it is as praise and admiration, but I think I offended him.
"Oh really? We didn't find it bad. We had a lot of fun."
The conversation died.
I think I'm getting more and more PTSD about the whole infancy thing as time passes. And this is fucked up but I've drifted away from the friends who had their first baby when I had Swee'pea and who have since had a second child. I feel a little betrayed, to tell the truth, like they've gone to the Dark Side. And I don't know how to relate to the enormity of having a baby AND a toddler. It's stupid I know, but I think my memory of that first year might be getting worse as times goes on. My comment to the man at the market said nothing at all about the joy and love and miraculous expansion of my world.
Swee'pea woke up several times last night, upset and calling for me. The first time I'd just discovered Punk Rock Mommy's blog for the first time (too late) and my eyes were red and sore from crying. So I laid down next to Swee'pea, full of sadness for children who have lost their mothers far too soon, and for mothers not getting to see their children grow. And I did as she said and cuddled Swee'pea. I wrapped myself up in the simple beauty of his eyelashes resting on his soft pale cheek.
I ended up spending the night in his bed, and returned to my bed in daylight. Moments later he was crying for me again, and he came into our bed, where he continued to cry and kick and demand access to my belly. After the whole night at his service, I felt grumpy and claustrophobic and didn't do a very good job of "explaining" to him that I needed a break from his scrabbling hands. I always feel like a lousy mother in these moments, but I rationalize that it's important to learn to respect other people's boundaries.
I fell back to sleep after Sugar D got up with Swee'pea. My dreams were anxious and restless, full of wild dogs snarling and snapping to get at two young children who weren't mine but who I had to protect, burning cars, and angry and alienated people like a Mad Max movie, all in another country that looked remarkably like the landscape of my childhood. I'd become separated from Sugar D and there was no way we'd be able to catch the flight that would take us away from the chaos. I woke up with the realization that I was on my own and unable to get home.
* * *
This morning when I arrived at the Drop-In Centre, a boy was sleeping with his head on the table. The back of the centre with its computers and couches was closed because someone stuck playdough to the ceiling and didn't clean it up. The boy was all elbows and angles and the table couldn't have made a nice pillow. I'm quite certain he was well and truly asleep, not just dozing. I assumed he was sleeping off some excesses of last night. I try not to make assumptions about people here but I can't help my curiosity and eye for details, and some things are just a reality.
When he came up to the counter after he woke up his eyes looked kind of vacant, and occasionally his slow words slurred. It took him a long time to answer my "Do you want sugar in your coffee?" He had scrapes and scars on the backs of his hands and forearms that made me wonder if perhaps he used heroin. Once upon a time I would have thought that was impossible in this small quiet town, but not anymore.
Later, M came in. Last time I saw M he told me that he'd once been very close with the young woman whose dead body police found in a park a month or two ago. Her story had been in the paper: 29 years old, history of psychiatric problems and a conviction for possession of crack. When I read it, I figured at least a few people at the Drop-In Centre must have known her, but I wouldn't have thought it was M.
When he laid eyes on the formerly sleeping boy, M exclaimed and hugged him hard. "I'm just so glad you're still alive!"
Later still, the boy was sleeping at the table again. As I watched his eyelashes flutter lightly on his cheek, it struck me that he was someone's son. He was so young, it couldn't have been that long ago that someone had gazed at his eyelashes resting on chubby, unmarked cheeks like Swee'pea's. Or maybe it was. Maybe nobody's ever done that before... who knows.
I'm glad the boy has someone who's glad he's still alive.
At Swee’pea’s daycare, when children are having trouble saying goodbye to their parents, the teachers suggest that the child push the parent out the door. Swee’pea loves the place so much (he cries when he goes home or on the days he doesn’t go), he’s only pushed me out the door a couple of times and usually only because he saw one of his friends do it. I have to say, I much prefer the hug and the kiss and leaving by myself to having my ass pushed out the door, so I don’t exactly encourage the push.
This morning, as we pulled into the parking lot, Swee’pea immediately noticed his friend Neema’s truck (the boy’s name is not actually Neema, but that’s Swee’pea’s pronunciation). Neema is an inveterate pusher, and I immediately wondered if I would have to get the push. We went in, Swee’pea took his shoes off, we dropped his stuff in his cubby, and I put his indoor shoes on. I moved a bit quicker than usual, hoping I could beat Neema’s dad to the door and avoid the push. I gave Swee’pea a hug, told him to have a good day, and he went to his latest passion: toy tools and the toy workbench. Just as I was about to leave, Swee’pea came running back to me: “Mommy!” he wailed.
I resigned myself to the push. But it seemed like he only wanted to show me his toy drill, then he got sidetracked by the melee at the sign-out table. I stood by the door for a moment, but he was still sidetracked, so I did what all the parenting books say not to. I slipped out. I mean, I’d already said goodbye and I hugged him twice, so it wasn’t *really* like leaving without saying goodbye.
As I got into the car, though, I looked at the daycare’s door. In the shaft of sunlight that pierced the lower window, I saw the back of Swee’pea’s fiery head and an adult hand leading his toddler paw away from the door.
I have no idea if he was upset or merely curious, and, logically, I’m sure that if he was upset he probably got over it reasonably quickly. Nevertheless, for the last few hours, I’ve been feeling a weight in my chest, that sense of something’s just not quite right in the world, and then I remember that sunlit hair and the sturdy little body turning away from my exit.
Ever since we bought our new house (a whole three weeks ago), I’ve been fretting over whether to change Swee’pea’s daycare. I’ve got him on the list for the one right by my work, and apparently working in my building gives him some priority. If he gets in, I’ll be able to walk him in no more than 20 minutes, probably closer to 15, drop him off, and stroll next door to my office. It would allow us to live with only one car quite comfortably. (We have two cars right now, but we'll be giving the second on back to our friends when they return from Malawi.)
The daycare that Swee'pea currently goes to is downtown, about a five-minute walk from our house, but a good 40-minute walk from my work. The bus takes almost as long. And going from work to daycare and back to our (new) home would drive me nuts with all the inefficient doubling back and extra time taken. But he talks about his friends at daycare quite a lot, and he seriously loves the place, and I’m really hesitating about taking him away from that. Also, the new place is more expensive just by its daily rate AND they charge for five days when a kid only goes four days a week.
Last night at the playground, I recognized two sisters who are older than Swee’pea who I’ve seen at his daycare. I jumped on the opportunity to meet a local parent, and struck up a conversation with their mum. She was saying that she lives far away from downtown, much farther out than our new place, and she comes downtown every day. AND they don’t have a car. They either bus it, or on energetic days, they walk. I was flabbergasted. I suspect she left feeling relieved to get away from me and feeling like we had nothing in common. But *I* feel inspired. The city is improving its bus service this summer, next week I think, so I’m thinking seriously about sticking with the daycare we know, and just making the one car work.
And while I’m on the subject of alternative transportation, we also want to get a bike trailer and bike more often from the new place. To anyone with a bike trailer that converts to a stroller, what are your recommendations? What did you consider when you were deciding, and what did you end up getting? Would you get the same trailer again? Help please!