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.