Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Life as an Introvert, or JUST LEAVE ME ALONE

Sorry, didn't mean to yell in the title, but, honestly, sometimes... Oh, wait, I did mean to yell. Because I have had it up to here [picture my hand held above my eyebrows] with all of you, by which I mean humanity.

Sigh. So much of what we read about How To Cope With Motherhood is written by and for extroverts. So when they say, well, sometimes you need to have an Adult Conversation, they're wrong for some 25% of the population: instead, what we want is to have no conversation whatsoever.

We, the introverts, are the people who, rather than needing people, find other people (literally) tiresome. Not [to forge ahead, ill-advisedly, with the song tie-in] the luckiest people in the world. And I, for one, am cool with that. It was an absolute godsend in law school and grad school that I could spend hours upon hours alone, reading, with no more ill effects than eyestrain.

It's actually helpful with parenting, too, by the way, because I don't need conversation particularly, so I'm not going to go stir-crazy because I spend my days alone with a toddler. On days when she takes a nap, I get at least an hour of blessed solitude. Napless days can get pretty uncomfortable, like today.

But how do I explain to an extroverted two-and-a-half-year-old that no amount of The Cute will make Mommy feel more like hanging out with her? And that girl has Cute to spare.

The sad fact is that Introverts have to figure out how to get some time alone no matter how the Extroverts feel about it. And there are quite a few Clueless Extroverts in my life whose feelings I don't want to hurt.

Here's a scenario: husband is out of town, Introvert Mom wants a hand with child care, so Extrovert Grandma comes to town to help out. Great, except that EG's idea of how to help out is to more-or-less constantly be up ini IM's grill, asking questions, chatting, etc. It's called, in ExtrovertSpeak, Keeping Someone Company. Great, except that IM doesn't need company.

Ok, I'm going to cast aside the pseudonyms and just say that my mother is easily one of the most charming people on the planet and is so Extroverted that she simply can't imagine that everyone else isn't an Extrovert, too--there are just some really peculiar individuals who seem to have chosen to Not Like People and who Keep To Themselves. They're snobby and strange; occasionally, you get to know one of them and sometimes they're actually interesting, which is a huge surprise.

So, when I need time alone with my mother in the house, I have to go pretend to sleep. And ditto, re. my daughter (she'll only settle down to nap if I tell her I'm going to go lie down, which is what I do).

What I want to know is this: how is it that my daughter, who is adopted, is so much like her grandmother? Shoe prodigy? Check. Charming Extrovert? Check. Believes that every problem can be solved with More Charm? Check.

God help me. My childhood was spent with a mother who was constantly prodding me to Get Out There And Make Friends and my dotage is going to be spent with a daughter who's going to visit me at my assisted living facility and do the same damn thing.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Spent a little time (naptime, aaahhhh) looking at old posts and the handful of comments. Thanks for your comments, readers, if you're still around despite the occasional lapses. I appreciate them immensely. And since there are Actual Readers out there in the Blogosphere, I thought I'd post a few updates on developments that I've mentioned in previous posts.

1. BabyGirl is potty trained! Mostly. Ok, more like 75%. And she wears a pull-up when sleeping. Postive reinforcement seems to work really well with this achievement, and Dada even praised ME for going peepee in the potty.

Lordy, I hope that's not a preview of my extreme old age.

2. I finished the 20K bike ride in the Danskin Triathalon in June. Frankly, I should have trained more and hydrated more effectively. I was wobbly at the end and possibly close to passing out or puking, though I improved rapidly after some Gatorade. My teammate Joanna, who ran the 5K run and did the 75K swim, did the heavy lifting and made it look easy, too. Our compadre Sherry did all three, and finished in an impressively short time.

I made a mental note to tell the Danskin people: next time, pick up the roadkill on the bike route. Please. Thanks.

3. The new house is wonderful, and 99% finished. Completion, we've been saying, is like the speed of light: you can get close but will never equal it. We've rented out our old house, too, but are still feeling broke, broke, broke.

4. Despite feeling completely broke, we're still looking into gymnastics class for BabyGirl--she absolutely loves jumpipng off of things and being upside-down and it seems a good idea to get her some training on how to land. We've sampled two classes and she now talks all the time about 'Nastics Class.

5. She's still cuter than your kid, too. I'd weigh in with evidence but that's too much information for a short post.

6. Smarter, too.

We're going to have to consider looking into private schools because I'm thinking that the public schools would turn her into some kind of enraged supergenius Bond villan. My father-in-law has started a college fund for her education and I think we're going to ask if we can tap into it when she's ready for school. Hey, maybe she'll get a gymnastics or academic scholarship that will pay for college.

Otherwise, more of the same, blah blah blah. Damn, it's hot.

Mmmm... bitter

About that last post: in my defense (because it was crankier and more profane than most posts), I want to point out that it's been 100F on a daily basis for most of the month of August AND BabyGirl has had no school for three and a half weeks now. With two weeks to go. So I'm expected to entertain an active, smart toddler without being able to go outside for more than a few minutes for most of the day. Every day, for more than a month. Yikes!

A few lifesaving forms of assistance have made a huge difference: I have a neighbor who's happy to look after Dada now and then, though I gather that she requires a nap aferward and I completely understand. Also, Hubby has been taking Fridays off AND heading home earlier in the evenings, so the weeks and days are a bit shorter. Mom visited for a few days and we all appreciated a break in the monotony.

There are other things that have made a big difference: I've been making sherbet from a recipe in Cook's Illustrated that's incredibly tasty and refreshing; we've been going to Deep Eddy pool, a miraculous delight--it's a spring-fed, non-chlorinated pool that stays about 68F year round. I cannot rave about that pool enough: there's nothing like a shock of cold water to take the edge off the endless heat and on brutally hot days, standing in waist-deep cold water with the hot sun beating down on your upper torso is like being in a sauna and cold plunge at the same time.

Downside: everytime I go to the pool with Dada around lunchtime I get a sunburn on some vulnerable spot, either the exact center of my back, or the backs of my shoulders, or the upper part of my thighs--areas that either get the sunscreen rubbed off or that I tend to miss, even with the spray-on SPF 30.

Upside: in addition to the pure physical pleasure of the cool water, it makes Dada exquisitely happy to be there, especially with both Mom and Dad. She just radiates joy--yesterday she bounced up and down in the water chanting happy-happy-happy.

Between the sherbet and the pool, plus occasional breaks from toddler managment, I'm doing ok, if kinda cranky.

Did I mention that I seem to have developed a food allergy? The vomiting was the first clue, followed by the maddeningly-itchy rash. And what am I allergic to? If I'm unlucky: eggs. If I'm lucky: just duck eggs.

When we found a source for duck eggs, I was intrigued--it turns out that duck eggs are like organically-raised chicken eggs, but with all the eggy goodness dialed up to 11. I'll be bummed if I'm allergic to duck eggs, because they're WAY tasty (well, going down--not so much the other direction). I've avoided eggs since the rash appeared. (Oh, and having a rash in nasty hot weather? Is bad. Because sweat irritates it even more, in a burny-itchy kind of way.) I'd really hate to be allergic to all eggs, since not only do I love all sorts of eggy stuff like French Toast and migas but also because I like to bake eggy breads, cakes, cookies and stuff like that.

But lately, not such a big problem because baking? No way, Jose, not in this heat, aside from a throw-in-the-oven-and-flee frozen pizza now and then. Is it too disgusting to mention that I've contemplated how refreshing it would feel to somehow apply a frozen pizza to my sunburned back like a poultice? Yeah, I suppose so.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

I Rant, Therefore I Am

Sometimes I think I wouldn't want to rant at all, if only I never got out of bed. Or turned on the radio. Or read any of the newspapers piled next to my side of the bed. Ok, nevermind, the urge to rant seems to be inevitable.

1. I'm still unpacking boxes of books and ran across Florence King's book Reflections in a Jaundiced Eye. Reading some of it made me think, whoa, Flossie, lighten up, willya? She's got a poorly-disguised sense of grievance that makes her writing just shimmer with stupid-smart resentment. She hates the 80's flavor of feminism because (shocking!) there are women in positions of power who take advantage and do stupid crap. Yo, Flo, listen up: there will be equality between the sexes when there are as many incompetent women as men in the workplace. Just because you admire the overachieving earlier generation of self-sacrificing working women doesen't mean their sucessors are a bunch of losers.

All I can ask is, why isn't Miss King writing science ficton? Not to dis sci fi (ok, I'll dis anyway), but that's a crowd loaded with that same old, oh, I'm smarter than my peers but what does it get me? They told me to go to school but then mocked me for being smart, blah blah blah. Hey, all of you: maybe you were mocked because it was easy and they were insecure assholes. But letting your childhood asshole peers mark you for the rest of your life is stupid and that's why there's therapy. Get some and shut up about it already.

But Miss King's decline as a writer is distressing because she was so brilliant in Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady. That book is fantastic and I'm pissed that I've apparently lost the better work while hanging onto the crappy one. Which will be on its way to Half Price Books, and soon.

1.a. And another thing: in one of her columns for the Raleigh News and Observer (a fairly crappy paper, good only on the literary page and the sports page during basketball season) she remarked in passing that she underlines as she reads books, in pen, even in library books. God, I hate that. Fuck you, Florence, along with all the other underliners-in-pen-in-library-books. I'll decide what's important when I'm reading a book, thankyouverymuch. Knock it off.

2. Those of us who live in college towns have the same stupid, fucking problem every Fall, which around here starts when summer is in full swing: like the swallows returning to Capistrano, the college students return and run around crapping all over the place (figuratively speaking, thank God), clogging restaurants and stores, tailgating and acting like they own the fucking world.

I want to make some College Kid throwies: powerful tiny magnets with a note attached that says, Hey, Moron, Go Back to Campus and Stop Driving Like An Asshole. Some Of Us Live Here. Toss it at their car and HA!, I win a pointless moral victory.

It was actually worse in Chapel Hill, because the town's population doubled every Fall, but UT students seem to be more fucking entitled, probably because UT's so damn hard to get into these days.

3. Oh, and drivers: when we're in the middle of a miserable fucking drought, stub out your goddamn cigarette and stick it in the ashtray. If you flick it out of your car there's a good chance it'll land in the grass and start a fire. Jerk.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Developmental Milestones

I don't want to brag, here, but I'm convinced that my little girl is way ahead of all the other toddlers. In fact, she's almost a teenager. Here's my evidence:

1. She's learned to say "no" in a way that combines sarcasm and "well, duh" better than most teenagers. It's more like "nuhoooh" and features a little head tip. I laugh helplessly whenever she deploys it, which is either going to damage her self-esteem forever or reinforce the behavior until she's using it on everyone, not just her mom.

2. Some mornings, when I pop my head in her room to see if she's awake, she lies in her bed and frowns at me, then points at the door and says, "Get out." I laugh at that, too, with probable ill effects as noted above.

3. Her dad is teaching her to tell time (on an analog clock, of course) so that I can never again lie and say, bedtime in 15 minutes and then put her in bed ten minutes later when I'm tired of waiting. Or when I say, time for Quiet Time and it's an hour before the usual time but mom's getting sleepy.

Thanks, dude. Thanks a lot.

4. She's fascinated by shoes and her favorites are, no kidding, flipflops with inch-thick soles. I find that style of shoe hard to walk in and I'm an adult. Also, she puts her shoes on the correct feet, managing complicated buckles on her little sandals. Parent Hacks had a hack for reminding 4-year-olds which shoes go on which feet. Apparently, my girl's a shoe prodigy. She'll be striding around confidently in 4-inch wedgies in time for the first grade.

5. At the salon, where mom and dad got haircuts, she was puzzled and amused by a guy with his hair in permanent rollers. As was I. And she lowered her voice to a whisper to observe that another customer had gunk in her hair. When Brittany (who cuts our hair, beautifully, I have to say) said, she's getting her hair colored, she did a perfect, does-she-or-doesn't-she "ooooh."

I suspect that she was fully aware that she's cuter than most of the women in there.

I'm pleased that we're apparently gearing up to skip the preschool and 'tween years, but am not sure if I'm ready to parent a teenager. We'll see...