Last night we were driving home from our ritual of gaping at Christmas lights in a nearby neighborhood. I straddled Fruit Bat and Kitty Cat's car seats because our vehicle is too small to hold three adults and two children comfortably. It was unsafe, sure. But we all laughed hysterically and had a better time for it.
As I was contorted there, my six-foot-two-inch frame bending in ways it should not, I explained to Fruit Bat and Kitty Cat that when we got home we would scramble upstairs and into bed before Santa came. I had hoped to encourage hasty pajama donning and teeth brushing. What I hadn't counted on was my phrase "scramble upstairs" becoming Fruit Bat's mantra. He repeated it various times throughout the rest of the evening until he was a frazzled mess, afraid that Santa would come crashing down our nonexistent chimney before the household's children were nestled snug in their beds.
His anxiety evolved into fear not just that Santa would come too soon, but that he was coming at all. And I can't say I blame him. The idea of an elephantine man tiptoeing around the living room in black, steel-toed boots is a bit worrisome, even to me.
Fruit Bat was so worked up I was tempted to confess Santa's true identity. In the end, I kept mum and we agreed to leave milk and cookies just outside the front door for the Big Bad Man, who would telepathically and expertly position the presents under the tree.
Santa came and went without incident (besides the fact that he left 505 toys for the kids and an ipod nano for me) and all was fairly festive throughout the morning. I spent the entire afternoon downloading music to my new, shiny saltine cracker and succumbed to a deep but fleeting depression when I noticed the waste of this:
A few months ago, as J. and I were preparing late in the night for a flight to Michigan the next morning, he sighed and said, "It's so weird that we're the parents now". That we were the ones arranging it all, anticipating the worst that could happen, readying the supplies. Because we were (and still are) totally unqualified, just kids ourselves, right?
On Christmas Eve as we filled stockings and dispersed wrapped gifts, trying not to rustle too loudly or approximate in any way the sound of big boots clomping across wooden floors, that quote flickered through my head over and over.
Sorry for getting all melancholy on you yesterday. I try to avoid that, but sometimes...sometimes it creeps up on me.
A few bright spots in my birthday jubilee were watching my children and husband sing to me through the glow of six tall candles, having dinner with my lovely and cherished friend Tricia last night and receiving an encouraging rejection letter on my novel.
An acceptance would've been, of course, supernova dazzling, but the agent jettisoning my little story did say, and I quote, "you have strong characters and a fascinating subject matter. You have a nice voice and writing style that comes across well in your manuscript."
She suggested I develop my protagonist more, which is an idea other agents never passed on to me. And the best part? She asked to see it again! She's the first to request another look. A v. nice New Yorker she is.
I'm majorly overhauling this story anyway, so, when it's fresh and sparkly and ready to go (at least in my mind), I'll send it on to her.
And hope. And try to start the next thing so I don't preoccupy myself with her response.
Thanks for all the birthday wishes, you. It's been a bit of an odd one. I'm not quite sure why. Perhaps it's because I awoke at 2:30 am and laid in bed worrying. Concerns of a hypochondriac, mostly.
I was preoccupied with my heartbeat and wondering why it fluttered so. I puzzled why I've felt so tired and nauseated and slightly off the last few days. Then Fruit Bat came thundering down to our room whimpering that he'd just had a dream about losing a finger (my fault for relaying a story about my grandfather's abbreviated digit--lawn mower accident).
Anyway, it was a weird early morning.
I let Fruit Bat sleep in. We were 20 minutes late for preschool and guilt taunted me for letting him rest, but hindering his social integration into class.
Then, J.'s mom, who is here for two weeks, Kitty Cat and I went for breakfast. That was fun. That was normal.
I have a glorious, glorious sitter right now for four hours. I decided to do a little shopping at Pier One because one of my fondest birthday memories, oddly, is of leaving work early on a December 19th about 12 years ago, shopping at Pier One and then lounging around my apartment until party time that night (Back before party time meant toppling into bed and losing myself to a book).
This day though, at Pier One, the sparkle and music and magnitude of stuff made me dizzy. I did buy a few small things. Afterward, I came to Cupcake Royale, about which I've mentioned my admiration before, thinking: dim lights, hushed voices, lots of people on laptops.
But Dear Schnauzer, it is sensory overload. Loud U2ish tunes, thousands of people, voices rising like a helix into the frosting-scented air.
After this post I think I might leave early. Perhaps meditate in my car.
I sometimes wish my birthday fell in sunny July and not so close to the coldest, darkest day of the year. But it is only two days away from the Winter Solstice. And in it, I have to find some cheer. While suppressing thoughts of serious sickness that want to revolve around my brain like little moons.
I slept four hours last night. Four measly hours. My sporadic and enraging insomnia kept me up until 2 am. My heating pad betrayed me by not lulling me in to a peaceful sleep. My cat didn't work. Neither did getting up and trying to read websites onto which I was too exhausted to focus my gritty eyeballs.
I attempted to eat but was too nauseated by fatigue. I took two Benadryl. I concentrated on deep breathing. It was all futile.
To further aggravate matters, I've been reading The Queen's Fool before bed, which is a total guilty pleasure, not even the sort of thing I usually take to, and all the thoughts running through my mind came in a British, 1500s tongue.
Fie! Pray I am able to rest before it is time to break my fast.
If only my lord would stop snoring...methinks I should rise and drink a tankard of mead to help my slumber.
It was not a merry eventide.
And I'll leave you with this. It sits on a roadside near our house. Any guesses as to the significance of its placement? Because I have none.
I did some things right yesterday. I brushed my teeth. I Christmas shopped (a little). I refrained from screaming my head off the 45th time Fruit Bat announced he wanted to hit me. And Kitty Cat too. His frequent grumblings about how he hoped to pummel someone became such a mantra that I almost wished he would haul off and belt me one so I could punish him. As it was, I was trying to be democratic. I reminded myself that he was using his words and not his hands. Blah, blah, blah.
Yes, hello. Nice to meet you. I'm Pansy Ass Violet.
Or so infers my husband. "Fruit Bat needs swift and firm discipline", he declared last night.
Well, yes, he does, Dr. Phil. But I don't think it's that easy.
There are so many variables that makes cut and dried discipline hard for me to pull off. First of all, there's the fatigue and hunger factors. If Fruit Bat is tired or hasn't had protein in, oh, the last twenty minutes (especially if it's because I've been dragging him around to various stores buying pretty things, or even necessary things), it seems unfair to come down hard on him for whining or kicking a toy across the room.
If Kitty Cat has infringed on his space, which he sometimes desperately needs and which she often does not respect and he swats at her (his "hitting" usually amounts to this--soft whap-whap-whaps--not that I'm excusing the whaps, just sayin') I don't think stashing him in time out without also punishing her is right. And I frankly believe two-and-a-half is too young for much that's punitive.
There are also the mishaps that occur when my back is turned and I have to take Fruit Bat's word that he didn't mean to crush Kitty Cat's fingers in the salad spinner, that it was an accident, or call him a liar. Which I already do too much of.
I try. I really try. He had a time-out this afternoon. After-dinner dessert was retracted. And he suffered much hissing and snapping of my weary tongue. I really attempt to weigh all the variables, give him the benefit of the doubt when I can, choose my battles and allow him to save face in small ways, while I control the larger issues.
Apparently, I did a lot of things wrong today.
Before my sweet, first baby grew into a willful preschooler (always before) I thought yes, of course: Firm and swift. Firm and swift.
I never, in my most vivid and demented daydreams, thought consistency would be this hard to achieve.