Previous month:
September 2003
Next month:
November 2003

Ok, I’m going to have

Ok, I’m going to have to make this quick. The push to get Max sleeping in his own bed is going well. He only came to my room once last night. Pretty good, no? But having Max there in his room in the morning is causing Raphael to wake up far earlier than usual. Max always starts the day with a good twenty minutes or so of stretch and yawn. This is before he even opens his eyes. He rolls over, reaches arms up and legs down, and sighs at the simple joy of it. Then he goes back to sleep for another five minutes. Then another stretch…and so on. Well, I was used to it, but Raphi isn’t and he’s been jumping up at the first movement and announcing in a sleep- croaky voice, “Iss mornin’ time! Hey Mats! Iss mornin’ time! Git me out!” Max, always up for an early morning adventure, promptly hops out of bed and liberates Raphael from his crib.
So all that to say that my nights have been fractured and my mornings have been early, and I’m not firing on all cylinders.
Do you think it’s a bad thing that Max told me tonight he didn’t want to be called Max anymore? He wants to change his name to Luke, and wanted to know how to spell it. At first he said he wanted to be called Carl, but I think my look of horror steered him away. No offense if your kid’s name is Carl. It’s just not a name that fits Max. I mean, Carl. Where does he get this stuff? The other morning he was twirling around in the kitchen, doing his best to make my breakfast preparations impossible, and he announced dreamily, “Last night I dreamed I was in the land of Chicken-Bird.” Then he went on to tell the most outrageous tale of his dream of the land of Chicken-Bird. Somewhere between the horse that could fly and the magic cup that could pour out whatever you wanted, I looked at the sly smile on his face and realized something. He’s making most of this up.
Damn. The kid’s a writer. And he does fiction.
Well, at least he’s got a pen name already.

I’m sooooo tired. Stupid tired.

I’m sooooo tired. Stupid tired. Sit and stare tired. I’m tired.
See, I decided it’s time Max slept in his own bed. All night. A few years ago, Max went through an intense period of nightmares. Nightmares, night terrors, I don’t know what it was, but it was awful. He would thrash and yell and claw at the covers, and weep loudly. The only thing that helped was for me to hold him. I would wrap my arms tightly around him and whisper in his ear, “It’s ok, Mama’s here. You’re ok. Shhhhh.” He would calm down after a few minutes and go back to sleep. But then a few hours later he would be crying again. During the really horrible period he would have five or more nightmares a night.
At first I would go to his bed, pick him up, and sit with him in the rocking chair. But he was sharing a room with both of his brothers at the time, and I didn’t want to wake them up. Plus, I got so tired. As the nights wore on, I got more exhausted. Eventually I gave up and just carried him to my bed, so I could snooze between episodes.
This was when Max was three. Over the past two years these nightmares have slowly dwindled. And now he goes weeks without one. But for so long he was racing for my bed in the middle of the night, terrified, that now he’s used to it. About 1 a.m. or so he comes trotting into my room, clambers up, and snuggles down next to me.
Well, he’s five now. And he’s not having nearly so many nightmares. So I decided it’s time for him to get used to sleeping in his own bed. We talked about it, and he frowned at me mulishly. “I don’t WANT to sleep in my bed. I want to sleep in YOURS.” Yeah, kid, I thought, tell it to Freud. But what I said was lots of comforting and encouraging things about how much older and more capable he was becoming. How proud I was of the way he was growing up, and how I knew he could do this. He was still glaring at me, so I added the offer of a special treat once he had spent a whole week in his own bed. That was intriguing, so he cautiously agreed.
Last night I walked that boy back to his bed so many times, I don’t think I need any exercise for a week.
I kept count, and I’m pretty sure he tried to climb in my bed seven trillion and four times. Really.
But he didn’t get upset, and when he woke up this morning (at an entirely ungodly hour), he was actually quite pleased with himself.
As I was tucking him in tonight he smiled smugly at me and said, “You’re so proud of me, aren’t you?”
You betcha, baby.

This morning Tre and Max

This morning Tre and Max and I were sitting at the table, doing school. Raphael played contentedly in the sunroom behind me. He wandered among the toy detritus, chattering quietly to himself, “Ah see stwaberry. Ah don’ like stwaberry. Nooo. Don’ like stwaberry. Don’ eat ‘em.” I glanced at him over my shoulder. He was indeed looking at a picture of a strawberry. And indeed, he does not like them. What a sweet wee Shooperman.
I went back to my efforts with Max in the direction of phonics. Max. Darlin’ boy, he gets it, and he even enjoys the little reading work we do. But the meandering journey of attention from his own world to the page in front of him…this journey is making me old. Anyhow, after a few minutes of work with Max I heard Raphael saying something. I turned to see him ambling around the sun room, calling out, “Daddy! Daddy! Daaaaadddeeeeeyy!” I stared at him. Chills. Raphael has never spoken to his father. The last time he saw him, Raphael was eleven months old. He had two teeth, and drooled a lot. He couldn’t walk yet, and he was so baby-chubby he had dimples in the curve of his belly. He’s never called out for his father, as though he were there. He doesn’t know about this person who should be here, who isn’t.
Raphael caught sight of me. “Ah can’t found Daddy,” he stated. I nodded, wondering what to say. The truth is, this isn’t a trauma for him. Not yet. And no one knows how this loss will play out in his little heart. He’s got a lot of love, coming at him from all sides. He might be fine with the fact that some guy contributed half his genes and then split. That somewhere, out there, there is a man with a goofy set of ears identical to his own, and their lives never intersect. He might not agonize over it. Some people don’t. Some people do.
However he does deal with this, he doesn’t need my anxiety to add to his own. So I swallowed, and said as lightly as possible, “Nope. He doesn’t live with us.” He nodded, picked up a Buzz Lightyear action figure, and started flying it around the room.
I turned back to the table, where Max and Tre were sitting motionless. Mention their dad and their hearts go on point. I wanted pull them on my lap, mother them up one side and down the other. Kisses and hugs and gentle words. I think they get sick of that sometimes. So I squeezed their hands and we went on with the day.
It sucks, not being able to patch up this wound. They’re so much better that they were, but it’s slow. And as a mom, I want to have fixed it by now. Instead, I realize Raphael is just growing into his pain. All I can do, ultimately, is love them and let them find their own way through this.

I live with my parents.

I live with my parents. Have I mentioned that? Yes, after the spectacularly horrible demise of my marriage, the boys and I packed up and moved in with my folks. Actually, Mom and Dad had been living in an 850 square foot house. Charming, but a bit cozy for all of us. So they bought a new house, one that would fit all of us, and we set up housekeeping.
When I told people about it at the time, I didn’t really think too much about their reactions. I had other things on my mind, and it seemed like the obvious solution. But over time I became aware of a certain level of discomfort, both in myself and others. I would start to tell someone, “We’ve moved in with my parents,” and pause. Wonder for a moment if there was any way to present that information without sounding like a 32-year-old sponge. Or I would be explaining my living situation and someone would remark, “That’s great, that you have that until you get on your feet.” I would think, wait. Do you mean I have to move out? Soon?
We’ve been here for over a year and a half, and life has settled into some very nice grooves. Once, when we’d been living together for about six months or so, I remember watching an exchange between Mom and Max. Mom and Dad’s room is in the basement, and she had just come up the stairs into the kitchen. As soon as she got to the top of the stairs, she realized she had forgotten something down in her room. Unfortunately, Mom had a torn tendon in her foot, and was wearing a big black orthopedic boot. This made stair climbing a chore, not to mention painful. She called Max over, and asked him to go downstairs and get the forgotten object. Max has strong, healthy legs and plenty of energy, so that was a fine solution.
Except Max was a little afraid of going into the basement by himself. So Mom stood at the top of the stairs, singing a goofy song that she made up as she went along. It was an enthusiastic tune, with more originality than…melodic quality. Mom has a gift. I mean that sincerely. She will sing the oddest songs of her own inventing to the boys without the slightest bit of embarrassment or hesitance. They love it.
And Max loved it, on his trek into the lonely wilds of the basement. He soon came thundering back up the stairs, forgotten object in hand. As I watched this moment in our lives, it occurred to me that this is why we all live here together. It’s this kind of community that is the goal of the lot of us, shoved in under one roof. Our assortment of weaknesses fit in well next to our varied strengths. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
This is where my boys and I need to be, and even where my parents feel they need to be. I’m on my feet, and I’m standing in the right place for us.

I fixed it!! And now,

I fixed it!! And now, that I have painfully journeyed through the land of AOL and ISP repair, I have here for your edification, Kira’s guide to computer program repair.
Step 1 – You are assaulted with a problem. Annoying error box pops up and will not stop interfering. Stare, motionless, at annoying error box for 7.4 seconds. Shut down computer and walk away, humming a little tune to yourself. This is also known as the “denial” phase of computer repair.
Step 2 – Become desperate to return to normal online activities. Boot up computer, get the same identical annoying error box. Swear (quietly so as not to increase rotten 2 year old’s vocabulary). Restart computer. Curse the ancestry of whoever invented computers. Restart computer. Throw things. This is the “anger” phase.
Step 3 – Try totally unrelated activities on your computer, in the hopes that these will magically fix whatever has gone wrong. Defragment. Dust monitor screen. Whisper sweet words in the general direction of your hard drive. Erase old files. This would be the “bargaining” phase. Don’t let your kids see this. It’s just too pitiful.
Step 4 – Tell yourself you don’t NEED the computer. Shut it down and sit down with a notebook to write. Stare at the paper as it slowly dawns on you that it’s been weeks since you composed anything on paper. Cry. This is the “depression” phase. It should be treated with food and/or massages.
Step 5 – Resign yourself to the losses you face to make everything better. Accept that the files lost will be worth it in the long run, and forge ahead with returning to your beloved ISP. Yes, this is “acceptance.”
Step 6 – This is the good one, the only one that makes this process anything other than grieving. Flail away wildly, deleting and moving files. Use weird backup wizards and install shields. End up (having no IDEA what you’ve actually done) with everything magically restored. Everything. Thank God and Bill Gates and gingerly step away from the computer. This is the “happy ending” phase.
There you go, Kira’s repair plan, free of charge.
And almost worth it.

I can’t promise much of

I can’t promise much of a blog today, because my ISP seems to be broken. I don’t know what happened. It was fine yesterday. Then I actually turned the computer off and left it alone for some stunning number of hours in a row – like, 20 hours ALL IN A ROW. Served consecutively, you understand.
Anyhow, this afternoon I finally relented and allowed myself to go ahead and boot up my little Dell dominatrix (well, she can make me cry and beg for mercy…but I love her). I sat there happily, with a mug of tea in one hand, and tried to log on to the internet. No deal. I guess the ISP’s ok, but my program accessing my ISP – busted.
I even signed up for my 6 months of AOL (I’m sorry, Teri, I know it’s small minded of me, but OOOHHHH, the loathing), so I could download a new program. Downloaded, installed, still busted.
I’m just so very sad. I don’t know what to do next. Have I mentioned my amazing prowess with all things computer-y? I tried restarting. Um…twice. Still didn’t work, even the second time. Ok, or the third. I guess I have to scrap the program entirely, erase it and pretend not to miss it, and then download it again, hoping the computer doesn’t smell my desperation. I’ll lose all my bookmarks and all those emails I couldn’t bring myself to delete…
Ok, clearly this is my problem, not yours. I’ll stop torturing you with it. Let me leave you with a few quotes from the boys to brighten your day/round out your encounter with drivel, depending on your viewpoint.
Yesterday I was hauling Raphael out of his car seat, and he was peering over my shoulder at a tree. The leaves had turned a brilliant, glowing yellow, and he was amazed. But although this isn’t the first autumn he’s experienced, it’s the first he’s talked about, and he didn’t know how to put what he was seeing into words. “Oh,” he sighed reaching for the tree, “oh…yummy plant.”
Tonight Max was taking a bath, and it was time to wash his hair. I was just about to rinse the suds out when he held up one imperious hand and shouted, “STOP!” I froze. “What, honey?” He turned his scrunched up face to me and pointed at his tightly shut eyes. “You have to be careful, because I don’t want any soap gliding down to my eyes.”
Ok, that may not seem like all that exceptional of a quote, but I love that he used the word “gliding.” That made my little writer’s heart go pitter-pat. Oh, the thrill of precise language!
Finally, Tre and Max were playing at the neighbor’s house this afternoon. Tre came running home to tell me they were going to another friend’s house. I said that was fine, and he turned to go. Halfway to the door he turned back and pointed a serious finger at me. “Now, remember, Mama. We won’t be at Kelsey’s house.” He spoke slowly and clearly, as one might to an idiot, “we’ll be at Craig James’.” I narrowed my eyes at him. “I think I can remember that, son.” He shook his head, “Mama, there’s no telling what you’ll remember.”
So, humbled by my son and saddened by my computer, I’m going to bed. If you know any program-healing chants, have at it. I’m stumped.

There’s a new show on

There’s a new show on TLC called Date Patrol. It goes like this: Someone requests an overhaul by the Date Patrol, who promises to “make the undateable, dateable.” This team observes the hopeless loser…um…person in need of some direction, on a “demo date.” Then they swing into action, helping them into the world of the dateable. The fashion consultant makes them wear clothes they hate and cut their hair. The communication expert helps them learn how to make conversation. The body language expert teaches them how to move, sit, stand, and make eye contact in an open, appealing way. By the end of the show this person is a whole new man/woman. And they’re irresistible to the opposite sex. Life is good, and the Date Patrol rides off into the sunset.
This bothers me. I don’t know, the people on the shows I’ve seen seem pretty happy at the end. They’re glowing with gratitude to the team that overhauled them, and they have full and promising social calendars. But I wonder. It just seems dishonest, on some level.
I used to be good at all that stuff. Oh, a decade or so ago, in my life before marriage. I was a flirt, truth be told. I remember once, when I was a college kid, hanging out with my roommate and friend through the ages, Kim. We were listening to the radio and decided we wanted to hear a certain song. I called the DJ to request it, and when he answered the phone I said “Hey, can you do me a favor?” He replied in his best smarmy DJ voice, “What flavor can I do ya?” And without missing a beat I returned, “Cinnamon…with the emphasis on SIN.”
Ok, on reflection that makes me sound fairly trashy. I wasn’t trashy – really. I was just messing with him. And I got my request played in record time. My point is that I was unafraid. Confident and interested in what the world might have to offer me. And all my nonverbal cues said as much.
Fast forward to today. Recently I was in a bookstore, without the kids for some reason. As I started to leave, a man stepped up to the door and held it open for me with a big smile. Mid-step I decided he must be holding the door for someone else, and started to move out of the way, toward the other door. But half a step into that I realize, no, you moron, he’s holding the door for you, and moved back toward him. But then I thought NO, what if you’re wrong…
So I did that stupid stammer step in front of this guy for what seemed like about a year, until I was thoroughly disgusted with myself. I squared my shoulders, glared at the floor, and marched past him, muttering, “Uh, thanks.”
Ok, did I look like an idiot? Well…yeah. And everything I said, non-verbally, screamed, “Don’t talk to me! I’m freaked out at the very prospect! Leave me alone!”
I’m sure the Date Patrol could help me. They could have coached me to look him right in the eyes and smile ever so slightly. They could have dressed me in flattering clothes, showing just the right amount of leg/cleavage/shoulder/back – whatever skin is deemed sexy this year. They could have prepped me with some light topics of conversation to get the communication going.
But it would have been a lie. In my head I would still be screaming, “Don’t talk to me! You scare me! Go away!”
I don’t think it’s a problem that I come across as undateable. When my marriage first broke up, I spent a lot of time just sitting and staring. There was this reality in my head, this fact that my marriage was over. And I had to come to believe it, to understand it. It was like there was this huge file, downloading from my head to my heart, and while that was happening many other functions were inaccessible.
I’m mostly past that now. But there are still a few bits of my heart that aren’t back on-line. I’m ok with that, even if it means I look like an idiot in Borders sometimes.
One day, eventually, a guy will smile and hold the door for me. I’ll smile back, and he’ll say hi.
God alone knows what I’ll say then.
But it’ll be good.
And it’ll be the truth.

Ok, Cub Scouts. Everyone sick

Ok, Cub Scouts. Everyone sick of reading about Cub Scouts yet? Well, welcome to my world, baby! Today I took the boys to Mom’s office and then Dad’s office so Tre could hawk his Cub Scout greenery. (In case that isn’t clear, his pack is selling evergreen wreaths and garlands as a fund raiser. Nice stuff, actually.) It went well. Tre was so adorable in his little uniform, with all its many patches. Max wore a tie, because he wanted to help. And he did, by announcing whenever the opportunity came up, “I’m FIVE!” Everyone was very nice and encouraging. I want to say thanks to all of his many kind customers. Tre sold a bunch, and he’s got the selling fever now. He wants to sell more greenery than any Cub Scout EVER SOLD.
Me, I’m sick of it. Tonight I went to a pack leader’s meeting. Wait, you say! Kira, you’re not a pack leader, you say! You are right. What I am is gullible. And the Awards Coordinator. Actually, there already is an Awards Coordinator; I’m the backup A.C. until January, when I will be taking over. So when one of the pack leaders said, “Hey, why don’t you come to the pack leader’s meeting and get a feel for what you’ll be doing!” I said, “Oh, sure.”
I hate meetings.
I especially hate meetings I don’t really have any reason to be attending.
The agenda went something like this:

7:00 – start meeting, ask Kira to introduce herself.
7:01 – move to discussing things that have absolutely nothing to do with Kira or her fabled “Awards Coordinator” duties.
8:15 – wake Kira up, thank her for coming, and snicker that she fell for the whole “come to the pack leader’s meeting” gag as soon as she’s out the door.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, they kept interrupting their meeting to say irritating things like “Kira, could you stop banging your head on the wall and whimpering?” or “Kira, you’re drooling on my shirt.” Finally, seven trillion years later, the meeting ended. (By the way, have I ever mentioned that I find hyperbole to be the MOST ANNOYING HABIT EVER?) I chatted for a few minutes, and made a dash for the car. As I drove home I contemplated my fate. Tre has already decided to make it all the way to Eagle Scout. That means I’m facing roughly ten more years of this stuff. Meetings like this one, with people who are so genuinely nice that I can’t even feel good about making fun of them in my blog.
Anyone want to buy some greenery?

I’ve been a bit cranky

I’ve been a bit cranky today. I think it’s the @#$%@# Cub Scouts and their @#$%# patches. I’ve been sewing, you see, for about…one hundred and ninety seven years. My fingers hurt. *whine*
So anyhow, I’ve been…edgy. And I got into something of an email discussion over these stupid magnets. See, someone on an email list I’m on posted a link to a site that sells these, saying she had bought some of the “Boys are Stupid” ones for her daughter. Now, this woman has two daughters, one of whom is a very pretty teen. I understand having an attitude of guardedness in her situation. That doesn’t bother me at all. When my boys are teens I very well hope all the pretty girls they know have parents who keep an eye on them.
But. These sayings, which can be printed on magnets or t-shirts, are offensive. There are five pages of “boys are stinky” logos. I’m sorry, but would this be funny if they were saying things like “Girls are stupid. Throw rocks at them”?
Well, no. But it’s ok to say whatever you want to about boys. Sometime a few months ago I was in Costco with my boys (I can’t remember if I’ve already told you all this story. Sorry if I have). They were talking about the TV show Jimmy Neutron. Well, Max and Tre were. Raphael was throwing things out of the cart and giggling. Anyhow, they were commenting on something stupid Jimmy’s dad had said, and noticing the fact that he frequently says stupid things.

“Well, guys,” I said, “I don’t know why, but dads on TV are often stupid. Are the real dads you know like that?” They shook their heads.

“No,” I continued, “but for some reason the dads on TV are.” As we were having this conversation we passed a woman who was passing out samples. She overheard us and remarked,

“Honey, it’s not just on TV.” I turned and looked at her, but she continued blithely, “They’re all like that.” I smiled my sweetest smile.

“Well, I’m trying to teach my boys that that’s not their only option.” She looked at my three bright eyed little guys and SNORTED.

“Good luck.”

The thing is, I think this attitude does as much disservice to women as to men. If men are all bozos, then when your daughter settles for a bozo, how can you argue? How can we protest when men treat women badly, if men are at their core bad?
I grew up with a mom who used to change all the “men of God” references in hymns to “people of God.” When I was the child she was protecting I pretty much rolled my eyes at her or looked at the floor and pretended I was elsewhere. But now, as the mother, I understand. I gotta say this.
I know three boys. They’re not stupid.

I went to my former

I went to my former in-law's house this weekend. To say it wears me out to go there is an understatement. Driving home I have to will my hands to continue gripping the steering wheel. It's not their fault. It's not even his fault. It just is.
When I married into that family I thought they were good hearted simple people. Salt of the earth. My ex mother in law and ex father in law are both immigrants from Mexico. The came from different areas and met here in Denver, where they married and had four boys.
After a few years I was sure they were terrible people. Forget salt of the earth, think minions of hell.
But the truth is they are neither. They aren't simply any one thing. And holding the many truths about them in my head, that's what wears me out.
They love my boys. That's true. To the best of their ability they love them. Even if they do call Tre by his father's name. He's never gone by that name, even when he was a newborn and I was thrilled with the ridiculous name we had saddled him with. He's always been called Tre.
It's that "to the best of their ability" thing. They don't love children like I think they should be loved. There was a little boy there, a ten year old who has developmental delays. There had been candy passed around and he had eaten his and wanted more. He had more, in his goody bag in the kitchen, but his mom was too busy to go get it for him. He was mad. "F*** you!" he shouted, at no one in particular. Everyone ignored him. You just don't dance on the needs of any child, not even one whose mother was beaten so badly when she was pregnant that he was born with shaken baby syndrome.

But they do love their children, in their own way. And they love my children. Abby, my ex mother in law, was feeding Raphael cake at one point. I stood to the side, watching her poke bits of cake in his mouth and croon to him in Spanish. She refuses to speak English to him. She was the same way with Tre and Max. When they were babies she chattered to them in Spanish and scolded their dad for not speaking more Spanish at home. Now her son has nothing to do with this child, her latest hope for the future of her family. So she sings to Raphael and whispers to him and wipes her tears on the sleeve of his t-shirt when she thinks I'm not looking. She hopes her fervent burst of language lessons once every two or three months will help him grow up Mexican.
I guess that's the thing for me. I don't really have to go over there. But they have their wounds from this divorce too, and I can't bring myself to add to them. So I go and try to relate to them in all their complexity. It will never be an easy relationship. We'll never just agree on most things.
Have I ever mentioned the fact that divorce isn't freedom? Oh yeah. Well, it's not.