Monday, March 24, 2014

On Not Being Able to Take It On

What a week. How to sum up?

Well:  let’s go back to 2nd grade, when Viva first started at the school she currently attends. Pretty much since then we have been hearing about two trips that fifth graders can go on each year:  a week of Science Camp in March, and a week on an historic trip to Washington, DC and colonial Williamsburg during spring break in April.

Considering we have been hearing about both trips since 2nd grade, and rather intensely since 4th grade, and super intensely since the start of 5th grade, it was a no-brainer that we were going somehow to get Viva to attend. The DC trip is super expensive and is actually coordinated by another local school. They invite our students as a courtesy. As we started talking about this in the fall, we held out hope that a miracle would happen and our ship (full of money) would come in and one of us would be able to accompany Viva on this trip. Unfortunately this did not happen. We put down a deposit and began making payments on a ticket just for her. And then in January we discovered that only one other kid from her class was going (due to the huge expense) and that none of the teachers from her school were going, and that they were having trouble booking enough chaperones. We did not feel comfortable sending her 2,600 miles away with complete strangers. So we made the decision to pull out of the trip, losing a $400 deposit, but with the wonderful prospect of Science Camp still in the offing.

Science Camp! A week in the wilderness! No technology! Hiking! Archery! Canoeing! Bunking in a cabin with nine of your girlfriends! Smores! Campfires! Being away from your boring parents and annoying siblings for five whole days! What could be better?!

The weekend before the trip, we were running about getting last minute items – a small flashlight, a disposable camera, extra socks. It was very exciting. On Sunday, we reviewed the packing list and taught Viva how to roll her clothes to pack for camping. On Sunday evening, after we came back from the playground and had dinner, Viva said she didn’t feel well. I touched her head. It was burning. I put her in the shower, from which she had to exit promptly to throw up.


I gave her some ibuprofen and put her to bed. Sweet Dub came home from his Sunday gig and we conferred. We were both heartsick. In the morning, despite our reservations, we decided she should try to go to camp. She said she felt fine. She felt slightly warm to the touch and her energy seemed good. We agreed to let her go.

Which is how I ended up on Interstate 10 at 8 PM on St. Patrick’s Day, with one kid in her pajamas sleeping in her car seat, driving out to pick up the other kid 90-some miles away, all the hell the way out in a cabin in the woods in Riverside County, because she had a fever of 103.5. We didn’t get back home until nearly 11:30 PM, at which point I realized we didn’t have any ibuprofen, since we sent it with her and the camp staff confiscated it.  Sweet Dub had to venture out to find a 24-hour pharmacy and nobody got to bed before midnight (except Ceeya, who slept through it all and was Full Of Beans at 6 AM.)

The next day, when we took her to see the pediatrician, her doctor asked me, “Do you think it’s a virus?” at which point I wanted to punch her in the face, because guess what, I haven’t been to medical school – maybe YOU could tell ME what YOU think it is?

But I didn’t punch her in the face, and for the next couple of days we treated it as the flu until we concluded that it just wasn’t getting better, and due to Sweet Dub’s crazy schedule this week, on Thursday I ended up having to take both kids to Urgent Care after I got home from work and we stayed there for the better part of three hours. And we got a chest X-ray, and my kid had a fever of 100.8, and then they told me they thought she must have walking pneumonia, which doesn’t even make sense since usually with walking pneumonia you barely know you’re sick, and Viva at this point had had a fever since Sunday and had stopped eating and was barely moving. I have never seen her so sick and so depressed.

Over the weekend, after a couple days of antibiotics, she perked up. We are tentatively looking forward to her birthday weekend this coming weekend, during which we are having her best friend over to go to the movies, to Dave & Buster’s and to stay for a sleepover.

But I am still so sad for her. She went back to school today, and all the kids were talking about Science Camp. I had paid for a Science Camp T-shirt, which I forgot about (!) and which she received today. When I called to talk to her after school, she told me it makes her sad to look at it and she wants me to take it away.

There is nothing I can do to make this better. This is one of the worst parts of being a parent, watching your kid have to suffer disappointment – particularly over something that they have been looking forward to for such a long time. Viva was literally X-ing out the days until Science Camp on her calendar all month.

This is just a big sucky thing. My heart hurts for her. I can’t carry this for her, much as I want to. I can only watch, and sit with her, and tell her I’m so sorry for how much it sucks.

And P.S. that is why I didn’t blog last week. Tune in next time, hopefully for something more uplifting…

Friday, March 14, 2014

When Things Are Complicated

The job that I currently have, and which I have had for two years now (!!), has been challenging in a number of ways I could not have anticipated. Middle management, for one thing, is just as bad as it has traditionally sounded to me. I avoided managing people for years for this reason. As a middle manager, you are sandwiched between your boss and your employee(s), and must run interference when there is a problem on either end. Managing people takes an insane amount of time and energy, and quite frankly, I already have children so I don't find managing adults all that fulfilling.

I work with someone who has naturally-occurring high levels of stress, to the extent that every speed bump is a ten on a scale of one to ten. She takes work-related things personally. If someone doesn't respond to an email in a timely fashion, for example, she tells me she hates that person, and from then on, that person has a terrible track record in her eyes. She also then gives attitude to that person, who understandably does not enjoy receiving attitude and thusly, tries to avoid working with her. 

I explain to her how she can't respond to people from a place of hostility, how it will work better if she recognizes everyone has multiple demands on their time and her request is just one of multiple requests that each person has to manage for themselves. I urge her to approach co-workers in a spirit of collegiality rather than as adversaries who have perversely decided to ruin her workflow and her life.

I am turning the tables on myself and for my own sanity, not taking things my boss does personally. I do pretty well with everyone else, but my boss can come across as rather judgmental (she is a bit of a perfectionist). You can see how this might make me a bit nuts between the two.

So today, I give you this:

In case you can't read it, it says: 
The sun is up
The sky is blue
It's beautiful
And so are you

It's a postcard for a business called Lyrical Kids, which offers "music classes for babies, kids, and their grown-ups."

It is a simple message. I keep it by my desk to remind myself when things get complicated. They don't always have to be.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Beyond Caffeine

Sweet Dub has been away from home two nights, dealing with some family issues. I do not sleep well when he is gone. I jolt awake sporadically and hear every little noise and creak around me. Needless to say, that doesn't work well once the sun rises.

Aside from massive doses of caffeine, any tips for staying awake?

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Friday, March 07, 2014


So many things to say, so many things I can't share.

It's a dilemma. So here are some random things.

Can I be boring and tell you how in love I am with Lupita Nyong'o? It just feels like I am jumping on an already over-populated bandwagon. But, oh, hell -- here I am, plopped right in here, trundling along with the mainstream media. I predict a huge uptick in the popularity of the name "Lupita"among babies in the years to come. Yeah? 

Today is National Day of Unplugging! ....Oops. Oh, I guess you are supposed to be unplugged from electronics from sundown tonight until sundown tomorrow. Unfortunately that is not going to work as we have some serious family medical shit going down right now (see above re: can't share). Blah Blah Fail.

In related news, we have undertaken the task of getting Viva a cell phone for her eleventh birthday, which fast approacheth.  She will be graduating from elementary school in May and moving on to middle school in August. I want her to have a way to keep in touch with her old friends since she will be switching school districts and it is highly unlikely any of her friends will be at her new school. I also want to have a way to contact her because I anticipate a variety of after-school activities and needing to pick her up hither and yon. We plan to have a talk with her about our expectations for her usage and care of the phone and to provide her with something along these lines as reinforcement. 

Wow, do people have a lot of opinions on whether YOUR kid should have a phone. Sweet Dub and I are both rather sensible most of the time. I said, most of the time. And Viva is fairly mature and responsible most of the time. I said, most of the time. I am aware that she may abuse her privilege of having a phone. And she will be aware that she will be in Huge Unspeakable Trouble should she abuse the privilege. There will be consequences, and then we will move on. 

Have I mentioned how much I adore Viva? Perhaps not lately. (I mean perhaps I haven't mentioned it lately, not that I don't adore her lately.) I love this age. She is fun to be around, and we have long talks and just enjoy hanging out with each other. I will always love her, but I also really *like* her as a person because she is so thoughtful and funny and insightful. 

Oh, and to head off any friction in the event her sister reads this someday: yes, I also love Ceeya. How can there be any doubt?? 

And finally: I think the laundry hampers in our apartment are being filled by fiendish elves while we are out. Why is there so much laundry, always? What is to be gained?

Happy weekend. Peace out.