Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Toddler 1, Daddy 0

Scene: Cold sunny morning, winter. Interior, Toyota Echo sedan. Mommy drives, Daddy sits in the passenger seat, and in the rear, surrounded by toys and books and doudous, sits Munchkin in her carseat.

Munchkin, darkly and to herself: "And I said, NO! I don't want ANY parents looking at me."


Munchkin: "Do-do-do-do-do-Dora! Super cool esplorador!" Pauses, considers, "NO! I don't' want ANYONE to HOLD my HAND. No! I want YOU to drive, Mommy."

Mommy: "I am driving, sweetiepooper. We're going to bring Daddy to his offic."

Munchkin: "No! Not Daddy's office. Daddy, pick up my pony!"

Daddy: "I can't Munchkin, I've got documents on my lap and I can't turn around. Can you say 'documents'?"

Munchkin: "NO! I can't!"

Daddy, teasing: "Can you say, 'snowplow'?"

Munchkin: "NO! I can't!"

Daddy: "Can you say, 'cranky'?"

Munchkin: "NO! I can't!"

Daddy: "Can you say ... 'no'?"

Munchkin: "N .. ... ... uhh. I don't WANT TO!"

And ... scene. Final score: linguistically precocious Toddler 1, Daddy 0. Mommy explodes in laughter, suddenly happy knowing now for certain that, somehow, the gene for smartassery has successfully been passed down.

Friday, January 23, 2009

And then, sunshine

Yesterday, as Kittenpie celebrated a perfectly ordinary day, I envied her. A little tongue-in-cheek, possibly, she narrated the miracle of her morning: a cooperative child. As I wrote in my overlong, hysterical comment, I was jealous. I asked her to send the vibe my way.

By God, it worked.

This morning, Munchkin woke up sunshine and smiles. She let me remove her diaper and jumped happily up onto her 'special stool' and from there obligingly made a tinkle in the potty. We played for a few minutes and picked out some clothes and then when she wouldn't put them on, diving under her covers in a fit of mad giggles, I calmly told her that I would go downstairs and eat my breakfast until she was ready. And, amazingly, as I measured coffee into the filter, a stark naked toddler wrapped herself around my leg and pronounced herself ready to dress up "like a butterfly in my tights and I will flap my wings, ARF!"

She let me dress her. Let me do her hair. Helped make breakfast. Lavished us with kisses. Put her winter gear on. Left the house in Daddy's arms, waving bye to Mom.

Toddlerhood is a wild ride, not least for the parents, I think. I keep starting this paragraph and erasing it. What am I trying to say? That our girl, having inherited our stubborn disposition and demonstrating strong will from the womb onward, is wearing us out? That Pynchon and I are frantic from never getting to work on time, never getting to the gym, never getting out with our friends because toddler management is such an intense activity this week? That Munchkin is having a hard time and needs all the love her family can give her? That I hate who I see when I step outside of myself and view the scowling woman in earplugs pulling tight on a bedroom door to make sure the screaming toddler can't get out? That my girl's soft curls and tiny belly button melt my heart? That I resent my job and Pynchon's job for ratcheting up the pressure on our mornings and evenings? That Munchkin toilet trained herself and learned to put her own shoes on and can accurately count quantities up to at least five, and I'm proud to bursting?

Wednesday night she told me, "No, Mom, go away. I'm going to find my father. Daddy will come home from the gym and HE will love me and HE will kiss me and HE will brush my hair and tuck me into bed and I will go to sleep with NO whining and NO crying and I will put you in the machine and you will be GONE FOREVER."

Thursday night she patted the couch cushion beside her and said, "Mom, will you sit beside me and watch Dora and I will snuggle you and you can hold my hand? I love you Mom." Absently, she picked up my wrist and dropped a light feathery kiss on the back of my hand, before placing it on her thigh and holding it.

I don't know. We're all overwhelmed. It's a wild ride.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Grace, dignity, and professionalism

My mantra for 2009 was to be 'grace, dignity, and professionalism'--this in contrast to the grump, ignominy, and general buffoonery of the greater part of 2008. I made elaborate plans: I sorted a week's worth of snazzy outfits before school resumed! I dusted off my paper planner, and noted important deadlines! I turned up the volume on the alarm clock and made pinky-swear mutual deals with Pynchon with respect to meal-planning, lunch-packing, and up-getting!

You can see where this is leading, right?

Well, Saturday evening, making dinner, while trying to talk to Pynchon and trying also to discourage Munchkin from whining and pulling on my pants while I chopped vegetables, I cut the end of my thumb off. I howled with pain, saw the wee chunk of former thumb on the cutting board, and promptly collapsed in a corner yelping for a towel and holding my arm high above my head. Munchkin freaked out. Pynchon rescued me, and then noted that the cut was so perfect that there wasn't even any blood on the knife. He picked up a green pepper, and ate it. The next morning, against my protests and mounting nausea and hysteria, he removed my oozing bandaid. I fainted. I went to see the doctor, whose verdict was: "Hey, there's really nothing left there to stitch, so keep it dry and clean." He directed the nurse to build me an impenetrable barrier of gauze the size of a small banana to protect the wound. You've seen that picture in my last post ...

No showers. No handwashing. No dishwashing. No meal prep. No toddler bathing. And no typing because my thumb hurt and when I hit the space bar, I also hit 'b', 'v', and 'g' and sometimes 'h'. Nice.

That was Sunday. Monday, Pynchon went off to work and I had a lovely day home with Munchkin, enjoying my good fortune at having my 4.5 hours of Monday teaching not start until the following week--it was a 'non-teaching' day at daycare and on main campus. After nap, we got ready, my girl and I, to head out to the grocery store at around 3.

The phone rang.

It was the department secretary. "Hi," she said. "Hi," I replied. "Um, I have some of your students here?" she offered. "Yeah?" I replied. "Ah, they are wondering, um, if you're having class today?"


Yup, I skipped the first day of school. And I'm the professor. I told her to tell the students class was cancelled. "Are you going to be here for your night class?" she asked, a little warily. "Yes, yes, yes," I assured her, panicking.

I calculated: I had had no shower. I was wearing ratty jeans. I had no child care. I also had: no syllabus for the night class, no key to the multimedia classroom, no class roster, no lesson plan. No makeup. No hope.


I called Pynchon, tried to calm Munchkin who was picking up on my panic and getting antsy, bundled us both in the car and drove right to my office. Pynchon waited in the drive for us, and jumped into the driver's seat as I jumped out.

I just barely got my act together--with some not insubstantial help from the department support staff--and taught the three hour class night class. God help me, I used the home-amputation excuse to explain my earlier absence to the many, many students from the afternoon class who were also in my evening class. I had a giant, comic bandage on my hand. Students looked at me pityingly.

Grace? No. Dignity? Um, no. Professionalism? People, I skipped the first day of class.

The semester was all of one day old, and I had made a spectacle of myself and a mockery of my professionalism in front of staff, faculty, and students alike.

I've been joking with my colleagues about the old academic nightmare of missing the final exam--"Hey, I've skipped the first day of class! I'm here to tell you that the nightmare is real!" Ha, ha. At least I've still got my sense of humour, right?

Would you trust your education to this woman? Lessee: Dirty? Check. Disheveled? Check. Ridiculous bandage? Check.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

WW: Why I can't blog this week

I cut the top off my space-bar thumb. Yes, it really hurts. No, I don't recommend amateur home amputation. Yes, everything is 10 times more difficult.

I'll tell you the story when typing isn 't excruciatingly slow and error-prone, and randomly painful.