Friday, February 27, 2009

The Jerk

Last week, I was feeling like I spent most of my time in negotiations. I thought far in advance about how I could convince my son to wear socks each day. I talked up the thrills and delights of his tractor plate at dinnertime. I offered to race him upstairs when the bathtub beckoned. But, most of the time, he was having none of it. He whined and flailed and threw his cars. I despaired, wondering where my easygoing kid had disappeared to. I thought (hoped) it was his molars. I didn't want to resign myself to the idea that he was just kind of a jerk, but the thought crossed my mind. He'd just turned two. This is how they act for a couple of years, I thought. Maybe I should hire a live-in massage therapist to reduce my stress, I thought.

I was ramping up to a business trip, and I was hosting my book group. I had a lot to do and plan and think about. And the more I had to do, the crankier Theo became. He spent the weekend alternating between angelic glee and freaked-out screeching. He'd even stopped sleeping well. He demanded attention at 3am, and then wanted books read and balls tossed and games played. All three of us were delightful to behold when it was time to get up.

Tuesday night, he woke up crying (again) and screaming. OUCHY OUCHY OUCHY he said. EAR he cried.

"That's a pretty clear signal," the doctor snorted when I told her the story the next morning. We gathered up our Amoxycillin and went on our merry way. He's not a jerk, you see, he just has an ear infection.

All this made me feel a little bad that he'd obviously felt miserable for a while but I'm not embarrassed to tell you I was relieved. Because he's gone through cranky periods before and I hoped and thought it was teething or illness and in the end he was just cranky. So this time, when the doctor handed me the prescription, it was good to have a solution that didn't involve trying to have patience, trying to listen and talk and convince a toddler that screaming should be confined to emergency situations and the playground (and possibly those evenings when his mother just can't take it any more).

(To those of you anticipating the Oscar pool results, I apologize for the delay. I promise to post the big news later this week. Thanks for your patience.)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Today was better.

I had one of those low-point parenting days yesterday. It wasn’t even an entirely bad day, it was just a really horrible thirty minutes, when I was trying to feed him dinner and he wanted to eat dinner but then he didn’t, and he was shrieking and I was shrieking and one of us swore at the other one and finally I just angrily unloaded the dishwasher while he wailed in the next room. And when I finally went in to make sure he was still as mad at me as I was at him, he was standing sadly in the dark dining room next to the wall, trying to wipe his nose with the Kleenex I’d stuffed in his jeans pocket earlier in the day. So of course that made me feel like someone should probably just take him away from me because who does that? Yells back at their toddler, and even swears in his general direction? But before I was declared an unfit mother I snuggled him in the rocking chair for a while, and whispered apologies into his hair, and then we read some library books.

There’s more to the story than that, of course. There’s me making an entirely-from-scratch chicken pot pie. There’s him spending the whole of his life up to now eating absolutely everything placed in front of him and then asking for more. There’s both of us hungry and just wanting to eat our freaking food. There’s him trying to tell me he wants MORE CHICKEN but then throwing the chicken across the room when I put it on the table. There’s me wondering when Jeff is going to come home, why can’t he come home sooner, the dinner will be burnt or cold and if I hadn’t tried to wait dinner for him then no one would be shrieking. And there’s me, wondering when I became a 1950’s housewife making dinner from scratch and then resenting everyone to whom I’m serving it.

I realize this is just the beginning of the toddler control freak era. I realize that he woke up yesterday morning and thought, whoa, let’s go to Burger King where I can have it MY WAY. I realize that I’m not the first person who ever lost her temper with her two-year-old. But even though it’s normal and I’m not the only one, it was a bad thirty minutes in a not-so-great day. Today was better.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Public Service Announcement

The Oscar pool deadline is fast approaching. Don't forget to enter.

Also: if you're Julia who submitted the very first ballot (gold star for promptness - seriously, I love it), please submit another one as there was a glitch with your entry.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Mixed Up

I unearthed a batch of mix tapes over the weekend. I hung onto them through the CD years when it was all but impossible to create mixes myself, during a time when I didn't even own a tape player. Listening to old music is such a time machine experience, and I feel like I spent my Saturday afternoon as an early twentysomething, just graduated from college and flailing blindly through my life. Thank heaven my friends introduced me to some good music. Here are my mixtape favorites, that I downloaded and compiled into a playlist I named the Cassette Mix.

Heal The Pain by George Michael
This is so much better than "Faith," why don't I ever hear it on the radio?
Come Back Down by Toad the Wet Sprocket
I still don't understand this band name.
Dela by Johnny Clegg & Savuka
I'm a little horrified that this was part of the "George of the Jungle" soundtrack but I swear I was listening to it back in 1992. I'm not sure why that's better than hearing it for the first time over the credits of a Brendan Fraser movie but somehow it seems like it should be.
Occasionally by Melissa Etheridge
I almost always prefer the acoustic version of any song. Ergo, I really miss that MTV "Unplugged" series now that MTV only broadcasts Real World spinoffs.
Longview by Green Day
Theo loves this. I can't wait until he starts shouting the swear words from his car seat.
Let the Day Begin by The Call
Apparently this has become a popular choice as a campaign theme song. However I learned about it via my roommate and she first heard it on from the guys down the hall who played it to start their campus radio show that no one ever listened to. Maybe that's how Al Gore first heard it too?
Waiting for Somebody by Paul Westerberg
Remember "Singles?" Man, Matt Dillon sure looks a lot better without the hair and the soul patch.
Alison by Elvis Costello
I only figured out who Elvis Costello was in my twenties, but it feels like I've always known about this song, and I never get sick of it.
Kayleigh by Marillion
This is one of those awesome eighties videos featuring children in military costumes and a mournful yet indecipherable message.
Hymn to Her by The Pretenders
This is a beautiful song. I can't believe no one (Jessica Simpson? Mandy Moore?) has released an inferior cover version.
All That You Have is Your Soul by Tracy Chapman

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Two Years

Last year I worried that a five-minute video of Theo's first year was too long. But this year I don't care, and I made it over eight minutes long. Mostly because I suck at video editing and the software I was using made me want to cry. But also because my child is eight minutes' worth of fascinating. I thought about ending it with a shot of myself pulling out my hair and hurling my laptop into a ravine in frustration, but then I remembered it's not ALL about me.

Happy birthday, Buddy.




Thanks to B. and Jonna for musical inspiration.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Universe to Blythe

You know those days when it seems like the universe is speaking straight to you? Well, that happened to me recently except it was just my Google Reader, not the whole universe. Which is less intimidating anyway.

Jeff and I watched Iron Man over the weekend, and fifteen minutes in he said, "If I'd known what this movie was actually about, I would have wanted to see it a long time ago. But the previews made it look like it was just a big comic book superhero film." And then I read this on kottke.org, an excerpt from a depressing article about movie marketing. No wonder previews barely resemble the movies they're pitching.

And then I was trying to figure out if I should send out some Valentines, but it would be more fun to make them, but I'm kind of lazy. And this list of free downloadable Valentine cards appeared in my life.

I started subscribing to Penelope Trunk's blog recently and her latest post, Don't Try to Dodge the Recession with Grad School could have been a missive straight to the me of 1993, except I wasn't dodging a recession, I was dodging, well, real life. It's really smart advice.

My Crock Pot has been beckoning. So tonight I'm cooking these shredded beef sandwiches.

Don't even ask me how I found this, but I totally love it, it's an article by Guy Kawasaki about all the stuff that online companies do to drive away business. It's like he read my mind and made a laundry list of the stuff I HATE when I'm trying to get stuff done on the web.

And this list of People Who Are On Twitter just made me laugh. Especially since I am also on Twitter and I recently started following Shaquille O'Neal. (By the way, if you haven't joined Twitter, you totally should. It's like having a blog without really having a blog.)