Tuesday, March 25, 2014


Yesterday's sore throat turned joined up with a fever and a tummy ache, resulting in Clara being sent home from school early.

Winton, as you know, is wearing a cast.  He's also been having nightmares about a little girl "not part of our family" who flushes him down the toilet.

Because both were looking ragged, I fetched the double stroller out of the garage yesterday.  I should have sold that stroller two years ago.  It's only laziness that has kept it around. 

Yesterday we used it.  We crossed York Rd. into Guildford, enjoying the sun and the manicured gardens.  We walked a route that I haven't walked in about two years because on foot the two of them won't go that far (also two kids and a dog all on their own feet and trying to cross York Rd, twice, is a bit much).  The stroller walk was fantastic, a throwback into another era of dogwalking, and a means of being out with the kids without having to be so vigilant.

Today, there's more snow, more fever, more sore throat, more over-tiredness.  We've already been out in the stroller again.  I am tempted to embark on walk #3 . . .

Monday, March 24, 2014


Winton just a little too tired and a little sick with a sore throat and too sore last night, screaming "I HATE YOU" at me for 20 minutes because I made him take a quick bath (all the more necessary because his one-handed ass-wiping is really shoddy work).

Clara with a sore throat this morning, and off at school.

Me staring at an essay I thought I'd finished 18 months ago and am still (still) writing.

Snow in the forecast for tomorrow.

One of those silly buzzfeed quizzes said I was a medieval court jester, relieving people from their misery in times of darkness.  I feel like I need myself : Give me an egg, nuncle, and I’ll give thee two crowns.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Falling on Swords: More on Kids and Custody

Words I said:
"primary residence" (in reference to a future 6 months or so away and children and Kids' House with their father)

nota bene:
I still want and intend to carve out at least 50% of the parenting time and responsibility, but in other ways than asking the children to schlep between two "primary" residences.  They come to me two nights a week.  I come to them one night a week.  I spend weekday time with them every weekday and weekend time on some kind of sensible schedule all of which is TBD.

This is the right thing (for my children, in these circumstances.  You, Reader, may have entirely different predicaments to deal with and your decisions will be right for reasons just as good as mine.)

My primary residence and my children's may not be one and the same (even if I see them every weekday, as I hope I will; even if they come to me a couple of nights a week).  Even if this is the right thing, it is very very painful.

1) Losing closeness with my children.
2) Them thinking I didn't want them (So not true!  So very not true!)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Blue Cast

Winton's cast is blue.  His elbow is pinned back together.  He is able to use his left hand despite the cast (this is especially good as he is left handed).  He took his first bath in a week last night and we realized too late that the bread bag over his arm to keep the cast dry had a hole in it.  Even that worked out OK, after Mommy had a wee stress-out over the water-filled bag.  Yesterday he rejected his Oxycodone altogether, preferring moderate and tastier doses of Tylenol and Motrin.
Today he is at preschool.
And I am at work, staring at a computer screen mostly uncomprehendingly.  (I'm sorry, I am revising a what now?  An academic article?  For who?  And why?)  Might be a slow day, but it's definitely a good one so far.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Saturday Surgery

Winton has a surgery date (Saturday), but not yet a time.  The head of pediatric orthopaedics at Johns Hopkins Hospital is doing the surgery (Baltimore is amazing).  Winton doesn't want to school because he thinks people will fuss too much over his cast.  I am fussing too much.  All I want to do is fuss, and touch him, and then fuss some more.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Winton and the 4.53 pm nap

Winton and I have to leave to get his sister from gymnastics in about 20 minutes. 
He just fell asleep. 
He should have fallen asleep hours ago, but didn't.  We've been watching Ninjago all day. 
This is a bad time to fall asleep. 

I won't even be able to stuff him into a car seat without waking him, because of the elbow he broke yesterday at this time by casually tripping on a bit of curb right by our house. 

Of course he's exhausted now though: we spent all of yesterday evening at St.  Joseph's waiting to have his elbow x-rayed, and discovering that a bit of bone ( his elbow process, or olecranon)  has been snapped off and will require surgical reattachment. 

I myself haven't been napping today because I've been calling pediatric orthopedic surgeons and because the thought of my 5 year old boy having pins surgically inserted into a bone I hadn't even heard of until last night gives me the terrors.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Clara: Not Crazy

Let me explain:

Clara watches Dr. Who.  She likes the Tardis ("tartis").

Clara's Mommy (me) lives at an apartment in which I have argued there is  a Cat Goddess ("cat gotis") who sends gifts down a special cat tunnel accessed through a mysterious flap in one of the apartment's cupboards and whose magic operates on the strength of my love and missing of Clara and Winton.

Conveniently the Walters Museum and books about Egypt substantiate the existence of a Cat Goddess, and call her Bastet, and frequently depict her in silver, gold and bronze statue form (as drawn above).

When I saw the children on Sunday, after being away Saturday, "The Cat Goddess" sent along Tardis shaped soaps as gifts for the children.


No one's crazy.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Projects: Academic Research on Children and Custody

Thursday night again and my fingers are numb from banjo practice.  Triumphantly, I can muddle through the opening lick of Folsom Prison.

In other projects, did I tell you that I, an academic, decided a few weeks ago that I didn't want to read the amazon self-help offerings on children, custody and divorce but instead would help myself to the myriad academic databases at my disposal?

For instance: instead of The Good Divorce, I am reading Divorce and Custody: Forensic, Developmental and Clinical Perspectives.  My favorite piece so far might be an academic review of a self-help book: Kevin Shafer reviews Yours, Mine and Hours: Relationship Skills for Blended Families and rants "I am no fan of anecdotal evidence," writing the book off as being primarily a "marketable gimmick" where an actual study could have been of more use.  I pat myself on the back, for at my elbow I have a stack of actual studies, and I am, for now, shunning the marketable gimmicks.

The studies have words in them like "morbidity," which sounds bad.  They tell me in no uncertain terms that the rates for depression, acting out and other child problems are always higher in the children of divorce . . . but by 0.2% which is, apparently (me, I am no numbers gal) statistically significant,  though 0.2% higher risk of depression seems a lot less harrowing to me than the phrase "children of divorce suffer more psychological problems."

So, childhood will likely be 0.2% more prone to psychological difficulty?  OK.  Exhale.

The studies, or the ones I have read so far, also consistently admit that "positive, authoritative parenting" or parenting that is "loving but firm" can mitigate or offset negative effects of divorce.  Perhaps it's kind of like buying carbon offsets when you buy a plane ticket?  I'm doing this bad thing, can I compensate for it by doing X as well?  In this context, X is being even-tempered, loving and good at maintaining sensible structures and boundaries.  (Wait!  X is really really hard . . .)

Back to the academics:
Being too lax or all gifty-gus as a guilt-ridden parent?  That's a problem.  Crying all day?  Problem.  Losing your shit and becoming a dictatorial monster?  Problem.  [Note to self: someone should have told me about "positive, authoritative parenting" years ago, even before separation and divorce were on the table, because I did too much of all that bad stuff already].

Anyway.  Be perfect, and then it will all be better. No problem, right?

Also: conflict is bad.  Yelling in front of the kids stresses them out in ways that damage them.  Making mean faces?  Just as bad, as are rude hand gestures directed at the other parent or unkind caricatures of them (I'm extrapolating here; strictly speaking, the research simply says conflict is bad).  Also: dissing the other parent and/or causing the child to have split loyalties: bad.  [These seem pretty intuitive to me]

To my surprise, step-siblings are good.  WHAT?! Surely Cinderella and her nasty steps taught us all to fear the extra children a child might be exposed to in a step-family, and Austen's novels are crawling with orphans adopted into homes filled with mean boys and girls,  but, get this, step-siblings experience the positives of a sibling relationship and are spared some of the rivalry that comes along with their full siblings.  Huh.

I feel bad that this doesn't have footnotes.  Sorry.  Stopping here for now.