Wednesday, December 23, 2015

An Olde thing with Thoreau references

Seems I only ever post poems on Xtide.  Kids left today to stay with their grandparents in Illinois.  For me now it is the dark time.  The belly of the year. 

The last stanza of this thing (written 12 years ago) sums it up nicely.

Life in the Woods

I woke up out of a dream this morning.
I had been in a terminus of some sort;
there were carriages and horses
all manner of people, luggage,
and a countrywoman trying to get to Truro.
I knew, smugly almost, that she couldn't get there
from here and I felt pity for her
as I walked away

into this morning.
The light grey even though I had overslept and it was late,
clouds smoke dirty in the sky
and tree trunks black as soot.
I stood at the only window, feet already cold on the wood floor
already dusty from the ash that blows
out of the fireplace as wind breathes back down the chimney overnight.

I thought of how free I was.
I owned nothing.
I lived in the woods by a pond; I farmed nothing.
I had time. My time.
I was not a machine.
I felt a drop of cold water collect at the end of my nose—
(Where does it come from, that cold water?
Not mucus, not illness, just the coldness
of my nose's own persistent distillate).
I wiped with the back of first my right hand and then,
because the nose was still not dry, my left.

It was late already.  Past 7.
The fire needed to be lit.
I needed to find wood. (I had been too busy writing yesterday,
pausing only occasionally to rub my feet, cold in their socks, against my shins, marginally warmer in their trousers.)
I needed to put on something warmer than baggy flannel pyjamas.
I needed to pee.

Instead I went to my desk,
picked up the notes from yesterday:
"I Do Not Propose to Write an Ode to Dejection" I had written--
big capital letters and a strongly penned hand--
"But to Brag as Lustily as Chanticleer in the Morning."

There were bread crumbs on my desk: irritating.
And dust too.
That damn fire.  I can't keep it going; I can't keep it from blowing
its grey dust over everything.
If I had a mirror I would probably see ash in my hair too.

I put a hand to my head, checking:
the hair, greasy,
folds out to the left
like a crazy feather.

Today I would write about desperation.
"The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation"
I had concluded yesterday.
And this morning,
once I had:
found wood,
lit the fire,
eaten some leftover bread,
drunk one glass of water,
cleaned ash and crumbs off my desk,
and mixed ink

I would write about the desperation of men who lived with attachments
and obligations and jobs that forced them into routines and dulled their brains
and made them like the machines they cajoled all day before they went home to warm meals and soft wives and mewling children with ear infections in the night.

I hunch awkward over my desk,
yesterday's writing in my already cold left hand,
my back stiff and threatening to twinge.
The fly of my pyjamas, I notice, looking down,
is misbuttoned; it gapes. 

Aslant, forgotten, in a left-hand corner,
slightly smeared, I had penned

"I long ago lost a hound, a bay horse, and a turtle dove--"

The woods are dampened.
As I stand, silence expands,
dripping from wet leaves,
aching on emptily.

Is it easier to lose than to be lost?
I wonder--
Easier to choose the crust in the woods
than to be forced?

In pencil in the margin underneath the askant words, I add
"However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names.
It is not so bad as you are."

I go back to bed,
double myself under the scratchy grey blanket,
both palms pressed between my thighs
for warmth.
Staring at the rough board wall--
almost like sleep--
I know I will not write about this empty time;
I cannot even think about it.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Tomorrow: optimism; Today: bile

I recently clicked on a story in my FB feed about happiness.  Apparently, according to Dr. Steve Parsons, your synpses grow closer together over habitual neural pathways.  Always think miserable thoughts?  Over time you'll think them faster.  Always think happy ones?  Over time you'll think those faster instead.

Using a Buddhist-esque set of four choices can lead one down a path to bliss, apparently.  Love or Fear?  Acceptance or Regret? Drift or Desire?  Optimism or Pessimism? (Clue: always choose the first option).

Meh!  I feel myself in the negatives.

Love or Fear?  Maybe not so much fear (oh that's a lie actually.  I fear for my children.  I want them to be well, and I want them to love me.  I am scared they won't, especially because I moved out and made them have two homes: one with their father and one with me and BF and his kids.  As for the new home?  I fear that in the end I'll have worked my ass off in the new home like some stereotypical drudge and that everyone will hate me because I'll be the cranky-ass tired Witch of an Evil (Step) Mother).
So Q 1?  Fail.  (Miserable Witch)

Acceptance or Regret?  Hmn.  Well, not acceptance.  I am always chafing for things to be other and better.  I'd like for there not to be a mouse in the living room at 10pm now that for the first time in my life I have no cats.  I'd like the pug puppy that was supposed to come home today, to actually be able to come home today (not on Dec 30 as now scheduled because it is on antibiotics and the vet won't release it to me until those are finished and the dog can be neutered) so that I have a happy-making distraction for myself when my kids are away over Christmas.    I'd like for the car not to be at the mechanic having its shrill squeal diagnosed.  I'd like every Issue to be resolvable (including that Neon Pink Electric Elephant in the room, the one with festooned in beer bottles).
Q 2?  Fail (Non-Acceptance)

Drift or Desire?
I want the damn puppy!  I don't care if it has a rash!
I want the moving boxes to be unpacked and the car to work and for the house to keep out vermin.  I want Christmas to not exist.  I want to live at the friends' house I visited yesterday with its homey Maine-y decor, functional rooms, open kitchen and trampoline  and I want new undies and socks.  I want a good, attentive, massage.  Or a good, attentive, conversation that leads to me laughing a loooooong time.  I want to laugh.  I want not to have a thick mucusy cold.  I want to be at work, not listening to some drilling noise outside my house while waiting to hear about the car.
Q 3? Fail (Wanting)

Optimism or Pessimism?
Deep breath
The mechanic will call and say the squeal is a plastic fork kicked up off a city roadway, and wedged such that it squeals when the front passenger wheel turns (easy fix).
The vet will say "OH, but you have adopted several animals over the years and all have been neutered and none have died of neglect.  Here!  Have a cute puppy!"
Grading will take me two seconds.
The mouse will have found a way out and is long gone and did not have friends or babies in the house.
The Pink Elephant will introduce itself to everyone and then shuffle off only to return on designated and predictable occasions.
Christmas will be somehow, miraculously, Godknows how because I can't seem to make it this way, better than expected and I will not want to hide until its over.
Q4 Pass (delusional)

Oh, and if you are still reading this far down, there is loving news!  Big Smiles said that when I die he'd like to have me mummified and kept in a gold sarcophagus so that I don't decay, ever.  He wants me to stay around, always!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Stepmoother, Strepmurther

Turns out, yes, that I am a stepmother and there's a whole world of self-help literature out there which legitimates the Evilness of Stepmothers (Wednesday Martin's Stepmonster, for instance, which points out, among other things, that while kids don't want a stepmother, most women don't set out in life wanting to be stepmothers either) or which argues that stepmothers have some awful issues with boundaries, norms, and resentments to traverse (see Katz's The Happy Stepmother which paints a picture so bleak about stepmoms feeling disenfranchised, shut out, and reviled that one amazon reviewer says she read the book and promptly broke up with her boyfriend because he had kids and she didn't want all that bad stuff to happen to her).

Really the issue du jour for me is how BF and I interact with each other and continue to treat each other as the apples of each others' romantic eyes when there are children present.  Maybe it's an impossible thing: if kids are there, they are paramount.  My kids are paramount to me; his kids are paramount to him, especially because we miss them so keenly when they are at their other homes, and especially because we feel so guilty about making them children of divorce.  To a certain degree, if my kids are home, I ignore BF; if his kids are home, he ignores me.  "Certain degree": how much should this happen?  How much should it not?  I don't know.

But but a troubling ugly truth is that my kids are not paramount to my BF, and his kids are not paramount to me

Therein a big difference between our relationship and that of a couple who biologically shares children . . . For the bio-sharing couple, it's easier to make sacrifices for the kids and for the adults' needs and emotions to take a back seat to the needs and feelings of the kids because "the kids" belong to both.  Also the bio parents have tolerances and blind spots for their progeny, a generosity and non-judgmentalism borne out of deep irrational filial love.  Stepparents see too clearly the small naughtinesses, deceptions and flaws in the behavior of their lover's kids.   

Ugly truth #2: self-sacrifice for someone else's kids, even if you like them well enough and might even love them as time goes by, is hard.  Or at least it is hard for me.

I think I am a selfish person in wanting to be important to BF even if BF's kids are home.  But I Do. I think I am fairly good to his kids and am lucky that I like them, that on the whole they are funny, quirky, interesting beings that I am happy to talk to, happy to be curious about and feel sincere affection for.  But also, I conceal too poorly my irritations about things they do differently from my kids, and differently from me.  

Anyway, there is much to think about.  And much literature out there.  And I am not alone, which is a pity because company in such astringent emotions means there're too many edgy stepmoother, strepmurther, stepmonsters out there and the challenge (from where do the resources come??) is to be more like a Fairy Godmother (to my stepkids), UberMom (to my biological kids) and Wonderful Girlfriend  (to BF) all rolled up into one package.   

Truth #3: Good Luck with that; it seems there are few precedents.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

A shout out to the cohabitants of people with broken legs.

Undoubtedly the folks with the broken legs have it worst.  They have pain and reduced mobility and the mushy fall leaves are slippery under their crutches.

But their housemates . . . they take out the trash and recycling, vacuum, clean the toilets, fetch the laundry from the basement, bring in the groceries and put them away and walk the dog! For many months.

Walking back from school  with BF, he was a celebrity with the "Oh I broke my [leg, heel, toe] once too!" crowd.  (One of that crowd is himself actually a radio celebrity; he shared his story of taking off his cast/boot too early and, as a result, having what now looks like, in his words,  a misshapen "old man foot."  Some have a face for radio; I guess he has a foot for it).  Several people wanted to share their accident stories, the duration of their cast-wearing,  their surgical scars, and the appearance of their wounded limbs. 

Peripheral to the sharing and camaraderie, I suddenly, urgently, felt a desire to find the spouse of every one of that crowd and say:

 "Mon semblable, mon frere/soeur:
we who take out the garbage, vacuum, do the laundry, clean toilets, bring in the groceries and walk the dog
are the the invisible crutches behind the crutches! 
Let us celebrate that our working limbs let us heft and carry! 
Let us spend an evening together writing rude words on the crutches of our injured loved ones! 
Let us reorganize our kitchens to suit just ourselves!
Let us wash the clothes on cold instead of warm, if we so choose!
Let us missort the socks!
Let us buy the bread we like better, because if we are  buying it and putting it away, why should we not?
Let us, in short, indulge in small acts of selfish mischief because we are the invisible crutches
and  while the extra chores make us a bit shorter on time, we have the power.
Courage!  Mes amies!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Add to the move

A pile of new articles about anger management (in which the line between whose anger needs managing--mine? The childrens's??  The pet rats's???--gets blurry) and you have a fuller slate of activities to make the eyes boggle.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Been a Hella 7 Weeks

For the first seven weeks of semester, I taught 4 courses, one of them a two-credit, 7 week course, 3 of them new.  In academic speak: oof!  That's a crazy course load.  And in Me-speak: oof!  Thank god that's over (or the 2 credit one is over, anyway.  The others continue on).

On Friday afternoon I had the kids at work with me, and Smiles said: "Momma!  What if your next meeting is about whether you get to be Queen of the College??!!"  What if, indeed!

And then there's the upcoming move (scheduled for this weekend), and BF's broken leg . . .

Friday, September 18, 2015

Hey, Granma

And this, for the first time.

Walking with Smiles and Voice in the alley, en route home from school.

Smiles: "Mamma?  Mamma?  Is this rock a crystal?"

Elderly woman passing by, to me: "Oh, is he saying 'grandma?'  How cute.  Your grandchildren are so beautiful."

Voice's song

In Appalachia Bluegrass meets Balladeer meets gravelly blues, my 8 year old sings this long song, making it up as she goes, over 10+ minutes of car ride.  I capture only this much:

Chihuahua, Chihuahua
biting at fleas
Chihuahua, Chihuahua
bite til it bleeds
Chihuahua, Chihuahua
licks and it howls
Chihuahua, Chihuahua
blood on its jowls

Love love love
Love love love
little dog

(this is a mere snippet)

Wednesday, September 9, 2015


Voice, to BF: Do you have numchucks?
Bow, interrupting: No, he doesn't.

Monday, August 31, 2015

First Day Of School

Unexpectedly early encounter with BF's ex while I was still in my PJs trying to drink my first cup of tea?  Check.
Clammy hot weather?  Check.
Confusing crush of kids at school doorway?  Check.

Sent Smiles in by himself, but mistakenly, because it turns out I could have gone in with him?  Check.

I'd say my angst, constipation, sweatiness, nervousness, feelings of ineptitude and guilt are all peaking . . . . just in time for me to go teach my own first classes of the semester.  Whee!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Friday, August 21, 2015

Word of the Week

"Kabobble" as in Voice saying "When I was at Grandma's, we made fruit kabobbles." 

Smiles might insist the word is "kabob,"  yelling it forcibly: "it's a kabob!"
Voice invariably responds "Yeah, whatever.  We made kabobbles."

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Tallying up the Pluses and Minuses of these past three Summer Weeks

First there was a week of camping, the Second Annual Assateague Excursion.  This time, no child was recently post-operative (plus) but the heat and mosquitos were oppressive and there was a thunderstorm (minus).  But, no jellyfish (plus) and the waves remind me of swimming in the South China Sea which to me equals some kind of nirvana (plus).

I sent Opa (in Vancouver) several pictures like the above of the happy minions beaching and he responded that he hoped Wisp got over her anorexia soon . . . Sigh.  Moral of that story is that Opa, who lived through internment in a Japanese Prisoner of War Camp in Indonesia in the 1940s, just doesn' "get" picky eaters.  Anyway: don't they look happy?  Opa also commented that my photos are blurry and I should get better at photography. (Thanks, Opa)

After Assateague, I got a week of staycation with Voice and Smile which included: Trip to Nature Center (Monday); Stay at home day with excursions for gelato and toy store (Tuesday); Visit to  the Dentzel Carousel (Wednesday); Stay at home day with bike ride during which Voice mastered, for the first time, the art of riding with pedals (Thursday); and Bouncy Castle playtime with Bow and Wisp followed by ice cream (Friday).  I'd say 5 pluses right there.

Friday Smiles felt ill (minus) and then got a fever (minus).  Saturday Smiles and Voice left  for Illinois with their Dad (minus).  He phoned at 11pm to say that, on arrival, he'd found a "massive, engorged tick" on Smiles' head (hidden in the massive curls, I am guessing) (minus).  Combined with the fever, and the sore neck Smiles was complaining of, Dad decided to take Smiles to the ER (big, expensive minus).  Now Smiles has amoxycillin to take, which may cure his fever and/ or any Lyme disease he may have been incubating (plus).

And Boyfriend and I went swimming last night, in the neighborhood pool, without kids. The water, freshened by afternoon rain, was cool and blue and tranquilizing.  So decadent.  A definite plus.

Pluses: 10
Minuses: 6

I guess it really has been a good summer.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Angry Mom

It was the end-of-Camp performance last night and, in the audience, I smiled and wept (as usual) watching my progeny perform onstage in the midst of 300 other children.

On the way home, in the car, Smiles said, apropos of nothing "you are always angry Mommy." 

In my mind, I am always worried
I fuss too much
I'm scared
Maybe (maybe) I want my own way too often  . . .

but angry?

Already weepy, it made me cry again.

Smiles has been going through a phase of ignoring me when I say "no" to something and just doing it anyway, and, about a year ago I said I would try to never yell at him and his sister (can't  do it: sometimes you need to yell, like when they are in the middle of the street and an SUV is coming, or when they are trying to help you cook and refuse to hear that you said "no" when they asked about sticking their face over the pot of boiling water).

Also, Smiles and Voice have taken to smacking each other with my pillow when they are angry, often causing injury.

So, there has been yelling.  Theirs and mine.

It hasn't seemed immoderate to me.

Is this how Smiles will remember his childhood?  "Mom was always angry, but Dad had an iPad"?


Friday, July 10, 2015

Secure Bonds

Occasionally in my work research, I stumble into books about child development.  Today, I am flipping through Hood's The Self Illusion.  It will not be useful for work, but there's a chapter on Romanian orphanages, the eighteenth-century French wild-boy Victor,  and children separated, too-young, from their mothers.  The old pang returns: god almighty.  Have I already ruined my children?  Voice went to daycare at 9 months, Smiles at 6 months.  Both for part-time hours, but still.  Did they bond enough (and the attendant pang: then they wanted to be with me all the time.  Every day they, now 8 and 6 years old, want me a little less?)?

I am hoping the severity of today's maternal guilt/loss is the result of inadequate sleep.  BF's children have challenging sleep patterns that really mess with me.  Bow, for instance, likes to show up at around 11.30pm (when I have just managed to fall deeply asleep) to request snuggles.  Wisp came to the big bed last night around 3AM and wiggled and kicked until she had taken up a surprising amount of the available space . . .

I am pooped.  I did not turn on the stereo loudly at 6.30 this morning to wake the then sleeping children. Maybe that is my commendable act of the day?

Wednesday, July 8, 2015


Roly-Poly and Avocado
Roly-Poly and Avocado
Roly-Poly and Ac-a va-doh . . .

Smiles: You said "acavodho!"

Voice, continuing: you all lie on the floor!

Smiles: Your song makes no sense.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Maybe I'm just sick of heroes?

Last night someone most dear to my heart got me to watch part a movie that is to them most treasured : To Kill a Mockingbird (1962).  I got through about the first third and then I shat all over it, irascible and blinded to its racial objectives by its presentation of a redemptive fantasy of the father as hero.

I am not American: I didn't read this book in high-school. I often fail to "get" the significance of American Greats.  I have spent some time this morning googling why the Harper Lee novel and the film with Peck and Duvall are such big deals . . .  it seems to boil down to Lee's daring presentation of conscience as more important than social norms, and of her paralleling of different kinds of ostracism, and of course she's dealing with some hot-button topics in addition to race (rape, alcoholism).  I should watch the rest of the film.

Context matters to my skewed reaction: I came to this film after finishing Mad Men (2015) (Betty Draper is dying) and after watching Fly Away Home (1996) (the mother dies), and had a wild flailing feminist response: why does the mother always have to die?  Is that really the most interesting thing a woman can do?  Get out of the way so that the man can be hero and sensitive, transformative parent?

On the one hand: 1960s, 1990s, 2015s . . . 50 years of  the mother being irrelevant?  Bite me!  I am a mother.  (And I am separated from the children's father.  AND I wasn't with my kids the nights I was watching these shows, so perhaps, ahem, my nerves were especially raw.)

Still: what am I supposed to learn from these representations?  Get out of the way, please, and the man will do a better job, of everything?  It would be better if you were dead?

But what about Weeds?  It has an alive mother . . . But she's a mess, people!  Hardly a heroine.  Sigourney Weaver is a great astronaut in Aliens, but not a mom.  In Gravity, Sandra Bullock goes into space because her child has died.  Is Lorelei a heroine in Gilmore Girls?  Perhaps.  And maybe I should actually watch The Good Wife.

On the other hand: perhaps men really need the redemptive father fantasy?  It is only relatively recently that the norm in divorce and separation is that the fathers have 50-50 custody.  For decades, centuries even, it has been more typical for the father to leave if his relationship with the mother failed, and for the children not to see him again.  Maybe boys, men, children, need this vision of the father-hero as a possibility, an inspiration?

Maybe I am just sick of male heroes because they get to mess up, and drink too much, and make bad choices now and then but come through in the end as The Best Men: solid, reliable, dads with consciences.

It's all about me, obviously.  I would like to be a hero-Mom.  (Or maybe I would like to be a hero-Dad even more.)  One who isn't currently a mess, and whose past mistakes are forgiven, overshadowed by her present towering greatness, her moral clarity, her utter competence, her sensitivity to and love for her children, her emotional balance and her rationality.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Au Retour

Voice, Big Smile and I went to Vancouver to see my parents last week.  Yes, that is my father letting Voice ride his mobility scooter while Big Smile asks a question he can't quite hear.  And yes, the scooter is pink (they got it second-hand though I think it still cost a small fortune . . . enough of a fortune that my mother decided it had earned a name: Fred).

My father is not the intrepid (reckless?) man he used to be.  Getting him out of the courtyard of their townhome was unusual.  The trip to the beach less than a mile away?  Extremely unusual: I don't think he'd been there since 2012.  He is down to three fingers, hobbled by back pain and suffering from seeping wounds on his ankles incurred while trying to get into his car in a crowded parking lot without scraping any paint off his own car doors (car vanity, with painful and long-lasting implications).

He is lucid though.

And he is, with the help of two daily nurse visits, my mother's sole caretaker.

My mother has a spinal condition, is wheelchair-bound, incontinent and, new on this trip, "absent."  She was not so much this way at the time of my last visit in December 2013.  She is somewhat aware of her surroundings, and of the people in the room with her, but she (of the lengthily verbose, often bigoted, opinionologues) is silent.  I wasn't expecting this.  Her body, broken-down as it is, is still present, but my mother is unexpectedly gone. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015


I once heard families described as cults: each family has its own norms (in terms of schedule, rules, humor, tabboo and language).  It makes great sense to me.

When I visit my own parents, I know the cult and slide back into to my long-ago spot, like a lego piece in exactly the right place.  I know that shoes must be cleaned outside the front door (with the old vaccuum attachment left on the steps for that purpose).  Then the clean shoes must be removed and one must enter in socks or in bare feet.  The cats will always eat first, wherever they like.  Reading the newspaper is sacrosanct and can take hours.  Never defile the paper by doing the crossword.  Don't cook with garlic.  Refold the hand towel after use.  Keep all sinks dry.  Expect to watch the news at 8 and then again at 10.  Pappa showers in the morning, therefore I shower at night. etc etc.

Fast forward to the present and to me as adult:
In the brave new world of BF and my children "blending" in our parts of the weekly custody schedule, there are some glitches as his immediate family cult and my immediate family cult (established over years, with former spouses) rub against each other.

Shoes, for instance.  My cult won the battle for cleaner floors (shoes get removed at the door . . . urhm, yes.  That will be the legacy of my father bleeding into the present now, won't it?) but BF's cult's fondness for running in after being barefoot in muddy fields kind of defeats (de-feets?) my purpose.

BFs cult preserves their bedtime routines, as does mine . . . making for an apartment (apart-ment) literally split into two halves (but this is quite functional  and good as the split means the one bathroom gets used at slightly staggered intervals).

Both cults have compromised on communal mealtimes, which happen at an overcrowded table (intended to seat four, accommodating six) and during which we all, mostly, eat the same meal rather than an individually tailored one.

Language is interesting:

In my cult: "slot" is a piece of chocolate (not to be confused with "slop" which is the accepted unit measurement for poop).  "TVTime" is any screen time. 

In BF's cult: "bite" is the unit measurement for any small piece of food, there is no unit measurement for poop (as far as I know) and "Watch" is the verb for any screentime (no noun required), eg "Can we Watch now?"

Children in both cults influence each other's vocabulary so a new vocabulary unique to the shared cult is developing.

For instance "I farted" is the height of rhetorical and comedic pleasure for all children involved, perhaps because it sometimes means "I farted," but it often means "I am thinking about farts! haha!" and sometimes even just "Hey!  I have something to say!" or "I'm funny, right??"

Friday, May 22, 2015


There's a conversation killer, right?  Lice.  No one talks about them.  From what I can tell though, the school is riddled with the little buggers.

Over the winter, Wisp came home with a note indicating she had lice.  And then all four children were Nix-ed and everything was laundered.  And about ten days later Bow had lice and all four children were Nix-ed and everything was laundered.  And about twelve days after that, Big Smiles (Nix, Laundry) and then again Big Smiles and I had lice (Nix, laundry).  Don't underestimate the time, effort and towels required to Nix four children and often also two adults.

Speaking for myself (and I think the kids feel this too, Bow perhaps especially as her lice coincided with a hair-matting problem which ultimately culminated in her long Chincoteague-like mane being cut down to a fashionable bob), finding lice on oneself is humiliating.

There's a significant shame component.  Am I dirty?  (Am I evil and are my sins being punished by the recurring plague of lice??).  I am not updating my FB status to read "Hey, I have lice!"  Are you?  (You probably should be: everybody has them.)

The kids rat out their friends though, and other grown-ups.  The kids reveal, salaciously, who really has lice (everyone!).  I asked Big Smiles where he thought the lice were coming from and he cheerfully said that his best friend at school has  LOTS of lice on her head.

God, it makes my head itch to even type this post.

I've given up on the Nix.  If  once a week or so you have to reapply, and launder like an especially OCD Lady Macbeth muttering "Out out damned [louse]" over a mountain of bedding, then it is not working.

I have instead bought what purports to be the best nit/louse comb on the market.  It is small, and has grooved metal teeth. Every two or three days I comb the kids and myself.  Every two or three days their heads look clear, their scalps clean, and yet I harvest two or three lice.  I feel more like an ape each week.

With this shift to constant combing, I find some benefits.  Instead of irately, urgently, frantically washing and laundering, I drift towards fondly grooming in a social behavior that (as the sign at the zoo by the Chimpanzees announces) "soothes and calms."  Is this effective? I hope so.  It's better than all the Nix-ing.  But still, there are lice and (when I am not in stupefied nit-comb wielding denial), it makes me want to weep that I can't get them to go away.

Ex-Husband may have thought I was merely neurotic, and there were no lice . . . one advantage of the combing is that I can save a number of carcasses in a bowl of water to demonstrate the existence of the bugs: "See!  Those are not in my head, they are on that child's!"

It's an interesting feature of the blended family in which two pairs of children rotate in to this household and then out to their other parents' homes (ie three households in total: the one here, Ex-Husband's and Ex-Wife's) that the lice come to symbolize unanswerable curiosity.  What goes on over there?  How does that other parent deal with the lice?  Has the other parent ever found lice on their own head?  These are itching questions . . . and yet one can't ask.

Liceyness: as Taboo as menstruation in terms of topics one can ask about in the Big Wide World.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

After the Hiatus

I took a year (well, 8 months) off of writing because a dear friend suggested that all of these personal revelations might look bad if/when/however I wind up in divorce court.  It's true, I suppose.  But I miss blogging about my kids.

Somehow writing about them for an audience makes me see the humor of everything more clearly and, paradoxically, putting my trials and tribulations into the public realm reduces them from "Monumental" to "Problems I Bet a Lot of People Have."

Starting afresh, what you need to know:  My children are now 8 and 6 and (ex)Husband and I share their care. I live with my Boy Friend (BF) in a big idiosyncratic apartment in an old building.  BF has kids too, and though I will write about them here I will not give their real names.  In fact I think I will start writing about us all in slightly encrypted ways.  There will be a new "cast list" (see below).  There's a new dog at the apartment, and there are three pet rats, one of whom has an enormous pituitary tumor and yet is still, somehow, always alive.

Life's pretty good.  Stable, mostly.  Calm.  Current dilemmas include trying to decide if the neighborhood pool is something we can afford for the summer (the real answer is "no," but BF and I are still thinking about it).  Almost mulberry season here.  And I'm trying to figure out if a LeapPad will provide adequate entertainment on the plane trip to see my parents in Vancouver in June.  How've you all been?

Cast List 

Adult Humans (between ages of 40 and 50):

Ex-Husband (mine)
Ex-Wife (boyfriend's)
Me (aka Mummy, Mamma)

Juvenile Humans (all under age ten)

My kids:  The Voice (female) and Big Smiles (male)
Boyfriend's kids: Bow (female) and Wisp (female)


Oldest Rat, O.R., (Pink Eyed White, PEW)  This is the one with the tumor the size of a baseball.
Middle Rat, M.R. (brown)
Youngest Rat, Y.R. (PEW)

Dog, Neurotic.