Audience Member-in-Training

We are lucky enough to live a stone’s throw away from a college. There are certainly drawbacks to living on a college campus, like when the students are on the prowl at 1am Saturday mornings and yell and laugh and fill the early morning air with their drunken post-adolescent angst. Or when they steal our pride flags. Or when they leave a container of half-eaten chicken tenders outside in our stroller and beer cans on our lawn.

Anyhow, it’s a mixed bag. But one of the good things about the college is that they have children’s programming on random Wednesdays and it’s free to the public. Unemployed as I am, I was able to take Boychild to two consecutive Wednesdays of live entertainment.

First up were three clowns with bubbles and balloons and an anthropomorphic mop, which he enjoyed. Well, lemme clarify: he really enjoyed the person dressed up as a T-Rex who chased the three clowns. He also enjoyed the fake cat that they threw onstage. “He made the cat fly!” he exclaimed during the show. Boychild was adamant that he should be allowed to go up on stage. He really wanted to be a part of the show, but I successfully derailed his attempts at stardom. At the end of the show, the clowns tried to make a giant bubble, but never managed to get it going. Boychild turned to me and said, “They tried so hard, mama.” Swoon! Love this guy. So caring. We met the clowns after the show and they were gracious and funny and tried to give Boychild a balloon from the show, but he ran away from it. He’s scared of balloons now?

Next was Peter and the Wolf with an orchestra, dancers and narrator. I have my own personal journey with Peter and the Wolf. The first time I got a leading role was the Wolf in my little ballet class when I was, oh, 11? It was great! I can still hear the screams of the scared little kids when I came out onstage. I also had a reinforced tail that was stitched to a pair of hot pants under my fur suit. So awesome. I got to jump and snarl and eat a duck and scare children- pretty much the best moment of my life up ‘til then. So when I heard there was a performance, I knew BC and I had to go.

I came prepared with plenty of snacks and drinks to occupy Boychild while everyone got seated and so forth. Prior to the performance, we had some lovely music introduced to us by the conductor. BC is in that phase where he repeats everything loudly, so each time the conductor mentioned something, BC repeated it for at the entire auditorium of 400 schoolkids to hear.

“And first we have the Peasant Dance,” said the conductor.

“Ma. Maaa! That’s the preasant dance,” says Boychild.

“I’d like to remind our audience to please remain quiet during the performance,” said the conductor.

“He wants us to be quiet,” says Boychild at full volume.

And so on. During the actual piece, BC gave a running commentary on the animals, letting me know where the cat was, what they were doing to the wolf and that the duck had duck feet. He also laughed and kept checking in with me to make sure I was laughing too. It was adorable, and despite his loud audience behavior, everyone surrounding us found him (mostly) hilarious and charming too. But then he wanted to switch seats and began to march down the aisle. I chased him down and then he started to shriek and hit me in the head, which prompted a move to the lobby, where a concerned box office staffer asked me if he was okay. I wanted to say “define ‘okay’. I mean, he’s two, so this is normal but not really that okay. ” He walked and screamed for a bit, then we reentered just in time to see the Wolf being taken to the zoo. All was resolved, both on stage and in the house. There was much applause. Is there anything cuter than baby applause? Those two little chubby hands smacking together and the little face not really understanding why they’re doing it but enjoying it anyway? So cute.

After the show, we got to go up to the lighting booth and make the stage different colors! Then we screamed and cried all the way home.  I’m doing my part to raise the next generation of theater-goer. If you, too are taking a toddler to the theater, might I recommend that each show contain a person in a T-Rex suit? Oh, and bring lots of snacks.

Parental Guidance

Last week, I was felled by what I can only imagine was a troupe of rogue viruses performing experimental theater in my digestive tract. It lasted 24 hours, involved lots of weird noises, and made me nearly crap my pants, just like some of the best experimental theater in Manhattan today. My virus was not, however, directed by Robert Wilson (theater nerd joke. *Ba-dum ching*). If you follow my blog, you may remember that Boychild had the flu, and I guess part of his flu (the grossest part) infected yours truly, despite some Haz-Mat style disinfection practices coupled with manic hand-washing. It didn’t matter. When you become a living emesis bucket and are doused in puke no less than three times in one day, washing your hands is not going to keep you from getting sick.

My day began with a raucous quarrel in my tummy, which was followed by fever and body aches. Somebody replaced my bones with sawdust, so I had the strength of a wet Kleenex. All I could do was lie on the couch, which wouldn’t be so bad, but I had Boychild with me. We had daycare available, but I was too sick to drive and Husband was booked from 8am ‘til 10pm with various performing arts groups, which he couldn’t reschedule, as he is the only person in a 50 mile radius who can do what he does. I also don’t think he knew that I was curdling internally. Y’all, I will say it again: I do not know how single parents do this. It is SO EFFIN’ HARD, even with a devoted and kind partner.

Want to know a feeling I never had before? Being physically unable to care for my child other than delivering the basics. It’s a helpless, pitiful feeling. I essentially assumed the role of Zookeeper, scooting a tray of food to Boychild every 3hours or so.  I had just enough energy to keep him clean and I threw him a ball now and then to keep his hunting instincts sharp. I left the T.V. on all day so that he’d be occupied while I was either running to the bathroom or moaning on the couch. We usually maintain some boundaries on screen time, so I felt horribly guilty about both not being able to engage with my child and also leaving the T.V. on for so long. What if his brain rotted out of his head from so much teevee? What if I was doing irreparable damage to my kid? Oh Lord, I’m a horrible mother!!!!

Oh, wait. He’s okay? You mean, he was fine? No real harm from watching trains all day on YouTube?

Well, shoot. That’s cool.

When I first had Boychild, I remember the midwife quoting a study about birds to me and Husband. In essence, she said that the birds who were crazy good parents- attentive, protective and frantic- didn’t have offspring that was any more successful than the just-getting-by parents who expended less energy than their type-A counterparts. Her message to us was simple: take it easy. Your kid will be fine, provided you love them and give them support and the basics. Oh, don’t do any weird stuff. Most science journals these days tilt slightly toward nature as the major factor in our cognitive makeup. While good parenting (love, attention, boundaries) matters, who we become is more a matter of DNA. This makes me happy and also really helps me remove any sort of ego I have attached to the success or failure of my child. I can neither take credit nor blame for who he will become. So the next time I’m sick and have to stick Boychild in front of the T.V. for a day, I won’t fret as much (though screen time will still be limited when I’m well). As those mediocre birds know, it’ll all be okay.

Flu Hair, Do Care.

So, I’m sitting in the doctor’s office with Boychild, waiting to be seen by the P.A. Suddenly, Boychild retches, spilling the contents of his tiny tummy all over me. My first thought is “how can so much puke come out of a child so small? Does he store vomit in a hump somewhere like a camel stores water? Does he have a hollow leg? ” My second thought is “poor fella.” My third thought is “Oh God, get it off me!!”

Lord, I hate throw-up. Fortunately, Boychild eats only soft, phallic-shaped beige foods, so his sudden reversal wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been. Unfortunately for me, it took the P.A. half an hour to come and tend to us, so I was covered in puke for waaaaay longer than I ever wanted to be. Boychild had a change of clothes in his diaper bag; I didn’t. I didn’t even think to pull my hair back. Y’all, my hair is so long, I look like I’ve gone feral (admittedly, the twigs and leaves stuck in my locks don’t help). I’ve got natural beachy waves with a little streak o’gray.  I look like a cross between a mermaid and a witch. A mermitch? The upside of long hair is that you can wear it multiple ways: long or up. The downside is that when you have a sick child, long hair left hanging becomes a towel, a tissue, a blanket and a toy. In the doctor’s office, my hair, along with my pants, sweater and socks (!) became a sponge. I will spare you the details, but once we got home and put Boychild in bed, I didn’t think I could ever make the water hot enough to get the vinegar stank of kid-puke off of me. Hand me the bleach! Dunk me in essential oils! Yet, here’s a spot. What, will this hair ne’er be clean?

That nasty little interlude paled in comparison to the following evening, when BC’s fever spiked to 103.5 in the small hours of the morning, and I had to bathe him down with wet rags to bring his fever under control. I felt like a pioneer mother, hoping my child would make it ‘til dawn. I cannot imagine the grit and courage moms had back then, where the nearest doc was probably drunk and at least an hour away and all he’d do for your sick kid is stick a glob of leeches on them and call it a day.  Boychild fell asleep in my arms as his fever broke, and he slept well for the rest of the night. The next day, he lolled around weakly, still with a slight fever. We had a lazy day of weird YouTube videos and lots of water, and when he let out a large toot, gave me a half-cocked grin and said “I tooted,” I knew he’d be okay.

He’s gradually getting back to normal and I’m truly thankful that my new unemployed status has allowed me to take care of him. I don’t think I’ve gone longer than 15 minutes without holding him. He’s pretty much become another appendage at this point.

P.S. Thank you all for the kind wishes on my last post about rejection. I think it’s something we all have to deal with from time to time, and I’m grateful for your support. Having a sick babe really put it all in perspective for me: career stuff is small potatoes next to my fam.

Rejection

Hello. I am eating Flaming Hot Cheetos and drinking white wine. I have been officially rejected oh, 6 times? I’ve had 6 interviews and they’ve all turned me down.

Hold on.

Let me refresh my wine and Cheetos.

That’s better. Did you know the first ingredient in Cheetos is enriched corn meal? I think they feed that to hogs to fatten them up. I feel like Flaming Hot Cheetos is a snack for Sado-Masochists. I really want to scald my tongue and also be fattened up like the Christmas ham. Gimme them Cheetos.

Today was also my last day at a temp job that I enjoyed, thought the commute was brutal and my availability was less than ideal. That was interview and rejection # 5 for me, and my lack of summer availability cost me the full-time gig. But honestly, I was not their forever person. I’m doing a 180 career shift, so.

I spent the last 4 months driving 50 minutes up and down a mountain listening to the podcast “My Dad Wrote a Porno” and playing old C.D.s from college. At least twice a day, I obsessively played “Pump Up the Volume” at the beginning and end of work. I found it strange how I kept coming back to the same song time and time again, but whatever. It’s a cool song and a great bookmark of the nearly 1 hour journey.

Rejection #1 was the worst interview experience I’ve ever had. After applying in June, I received an invitation to interview in August. The committee was visibly unimpressed and unenthused. This crew looked like someone had turned down their contrast/ saturation in Photoshop while simultaneously bleeding them with leeches.  It was a tough crowd. None of my jokes landed and I gave the worst fake smile I’d ever given. I left crying to Husband that it was a disastrous interview. I didn’t get the job.

Interview #2 was with T.J. Maxx. I love T.J. Maxx. It is the only place to buy pants within a 45 minute radius of where I live. But then I found out how much they pay and that they were only hiring for nights, so much like T.J. Maxx’s pants, it wasn’t a good fit.

Interview #3 was with the head of a company who spoke at me for 1.5 hours about what good things he’s done since coming on board and what good things the company has done since he’s come on board. He spent all that time displaying his plumage to me, and I never said more than “mmhmm” or “Wow. Great.” He never asked me one question about myself or my experience. Then, like a bad date, he ghosted.

Interview #4 was actually quite pleasant. Two young women who were very nice interviewed me about trash disposal. They were stylish and clever and I liked them. I told them I was a goofball. They went with someone already in the company. I should not have told them I was a goofball.

Interview #5 was where I was temping: a lovely place full of really great people. When I left my former job, I thought I may never find the right cabal of sensitive, loving and intelligent people, but if anything comes close, it’s my temp place which I will not name because I don’t know if they’d like that. I will miss them, but I was not as available as they needed me to be.

Interview #6 was a very nice, very kind place who I don’t think knew what they wanted. It was a new position and I think they wanted someone with all the answers, while all I had were questions. The upside is that I took an online assessment test and it states that “Overall, H has superior, versatile skills and should learn quickly and perform well at almost any task in the workplace.”  Can I put that on my resume?

My child saw me crying today. I had to explain to him that I was sad, but that I would be fine. I feel like a square peg in a world full of round holes, and that sucks.  I want Boychild to see me sad and then see me get over it. It’s really important to me that he’s not scared of negative emotions, because they happen and they’re human and seriously, tears are not the end of the world. Unless you’re crying blood. Then you need to see a doctor. Or a priest.

So right now, I have ¼ bag of Cheetos and am out of wine.  It’s time to dry my tears, call it a night and go to bed. I’ll get over it, then move on. So goes life.  ❤

A Day Off

What, a weekend?  What a weekend! Husband and I had roughly 24 hours without Boychild this weekend, and it was many things: restful, anxiety-provoking, and fun. Let me explain.

It was restful because I wasn’t awoken to “Mammaa. Mammaaa! Mammaaaaa! Wanna GET OUT.” Boychild wakes at 4:45, or 5am, but must stay in bed ‘til his cloud alarm lights up at 5:30. He doesn’t like this. He perhaps feels it’s unfair. Recently, our little sneaky-pants started lying about things to get us to rescue him before the cloud lights up. This morning he told us he had a kitty in his crib. He did not. Sometimes he fibs that he lost nighttime puppy. He has not.

It’s fair to say that having a child has really impacted my beauty sleep. But I had 24 hours to get 12 hours sleep, and it rocked my world. I sweat ta gawd I look like I’m 32 again. 

The anxiety-provoking part of having a day off from being a parent is what to do with your time. You want to carpe the sh!t out of that diem. You have so little time and you should spend it doing something fun and meaningful- something that you and your partner have been waiting to do for a while. 

So what do two grown people do when their only child is out of the house for a long stretch of time and they’re alone and still in love? What do you think we do? 

We CLEAN! 

Well, yeah. We cleaned. We cleaned lustily, heartily. We got into crevices and crags and crannies. I even hit my head of the bathtub in my excited efforts to eradicate all toilet grime. I’m sporting a nice bruise today as a result.

But we also listened to music at top volume and dropped a whole buncha full-voiced f-bombs whenever we felt like it, because we had the HOUSE TO OURSELVES!!!! I swear I saw Husband slide into the living room to the opening riffs of “Old Time Rock-n-Roll” wearing only socks and undies. It was like our parents left for the weekend and we were teens again! Teens who clean!

Side note: Boychild really hates the music we play. He hates dad’s yacht rock and he hates my ambient, fancy-hotel-sounding electronica, so he just marches over to the speakers and turns them off. Everyone’s a critic. 

We also watched a movie that was rated R and we didn’t even need to turn on the subtitles because, again, we turned the volume all the way up! I had lots of wine and leftovers and a half a KitKat and some chips and I didn’t go to bed until 10pm. It was glorious. Oh, and I also looked at pictures of BoyChild because I missed him. 

The next day, I woke up at 10am. TEN AY EM! Then I had coffee in bed while my husband cleaned the floors. So, so sexy. I got to hang some artwork and go through my jewelry and wash myself and the bathroom and all the blankets. It’s funny how quickly time passes when you don’t have a little guy around asking you to do something for him every second. It’s like a day passes in 5 minutes. It was a great 24 hours, but I did miss our adorable dude quite a bit. When he came back, I just couldn’t kiss his little face enough. It was like a piece of me had returned. I truly relished my time apart to just be a non-mom-type person, but I am so glad he’s back to squeeze and snuggle and give airplane rides to. Now when does he leave again? 

 

Weaknesses

I’m not sure people really know how they come across to others. I have no idea. I’ve been interviewing for jobs, and the most dreaded question for me is “what are your weaknesses?” I never give a good answer, as I think my weaknesses aren’t really defined by me, but by what other people expect from me that I fail to deliver for them. I also find my weaknesses to be part and parcel of who I am and a reflection of my own expectations: I cannot make a quick decision to save my life, I am hilariously authentic, I have no poker face, and I cannot figure out what to do with my hair. But these are self-perceived weaknesses, or rather the weaknesses that I will cop to on my blog 😉. Others may have a different opinion what my weaknesses actually are, like my dear Boychild.

Last night, he asked me “where do you live?” I was a little confused, so I said “where do you think I live?” He pointed right at me and said, “You live at work!” Um, I felt my heart crack open on that one. He’s been sick recently, so we’ve spent a lot of time together, watching Peppa Pig* and snuggling. When he was finally well enough to go back to daycare, I had to return to working in the office instead of at home and it was hard on both of us. He begged me not to go to work, then begged me to take him along. Ugh. This is being a working mother thing is really hard (so is being a working dad). The guilt is intense and, I imagine, unending. According to Boychild, one of my weaknesses is that I live at work. Or maybe my weaknesses is that I’m afflicted with mom-guilt.

*Side note: My son put a game token on his face and told me he was wearing a “mosque.” I was like, “Oh yeah? Cool, I guess.” I had no idea why he’d be wearing a mosque, but okay. Kids say weird stuff all the time. And then it hit me: Peppa Pig has given my child a British accent. He was wearing a “mask.” The actress in me was delighted: he can do accents!!! It’s adorable having this little British child around, and I especially love how he says “cuckoo clock.”

Another one of Boychild’s observations is that I’m fat. Not that he minds, but it is a little shocking when I’m goofing around, rolling on the floor with him and he points to my stomach and says “bowl full of jelly” while giggling madly. Then he repeats it over and over, all the while being thoroughly amused at my untoned midriff. I’d like to rethink my introduction of Santa into our home, as the phrase “bowl full of jelly” is used to describe that jolly old elf’s tummy. I’ve thought about pointing at my belly and saying, “this is your old apartment, buddy, so if you don’t like the way it looks, it’s partially your fault.” But I can’t tell him that because he’s adorable. Also, carrying a few extra pounds doesn’t bother me that much. A little, but not enough to, like, I dunno, stop eating cheese in a jar.
In fairness, I’ve only had one person ask me directly about weaknesses. The big one they throw at you these days is “Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself?” That open-ended question is where I really get thrown. Recall the “hilariously authentic” thing in paragraph one? Yeah, I can’t stop myself from saying things like, “well, I’m a goofball,” or “I have a small child,” neither of which should be mentioned at a job interview (I guess) and both of which they will surely find out later. Anyhow, wish me luck on my continued job search and Lord help us all!

Christmas Cuckoos

This is the BEST time of the year! We’ve weathered two Christmases prior to this one, but our boy is awake enough to realize that some really great shiz is happening this time of year, and that Santa is gonna do some magic on Christmas Eve. Every time we take him sledding, he says “ho, ho ho!” I say sledding, but what I really mean is “every time we drag him behind us on a sled.”

Side note: when BC was barely old enough to sit upright, Husband and I would put him on a sled, strap him in, and take him for a ride. The early onset of the sleigh rides could be explained by the following: believed in fresh air, we were bored, and we had absolutely no idea what else to do with the little guy. More than once we looked back during our circular snow route only to find our child sideways, face plowing the snow. Husband once carried on for a good five minutes before realizing Boychild had tumbled out the back of the sled and was lying prostrate in a snowbank, shocked, but otherwise unscathed.

This year was the introduction of Santa Claus, because he was too young to get it before now. I had serious reservations about introducing Santa to our household. Do I really want to lie to my child? Because, y’all, there is no Santa. As trust is a fragile thing, I just thought, “can I lie to him”? Should I lie to him? Should I lie to my dear only child and tell him that the presents his father and I selected and labored for actually come from a sneaky, smoking elf with type II diabetes? I’m not sure about the diabetes. Just a guess.  Also, part of me wants credit. I’m an actor from way back and I want applause for my work, so Eff You, Santa. We did this, not you. This need for acknowledgement is hilariously ironic, as I know that being a parent means RARELY GETTING APPRECIATED BY YOUR SPAWN.

On the other hand, I feel like we have so little magic left in the world, so why not make something a mystery? Why not let our little boy think that there is a benevolent force out there who brings him his heart’s desire once a year?

So, we did the Santa thing.

With our child’s hopeful heart set on a cuckoo clock, Husband- er, I mean Santa- had the unenviable task of tracking down a cuckoo clock that was

  1. Less than $100,
  2. Worked
  3. Wasn’t butt-ugly (this was my request)

And holy crap, Husband found one for free! It’s a traditional model with a leaf motif and “West Germany” stamped on the side. Bonus- when he took it apart for repair, Husband found a photo negative of what looked like a young man being surprised on the toilet. Hubs and I thought “is this a photo taken right before a murder? Is this a still from a schizer film? Why was there a pic of a young guy on the toilet circa 1980 in our free cuckoo clock?”  We will never know . . .

Boychild loves the cuckoo Santa brought him. He is perpetually excited by the possibility that the cuckoo will come out. Admittedly, we hoped the cuckoo clock would sort of, uh, ameliorate his obsession with cuckoo clocks, but it has not. Daily we are regaled with cuckoo impressions and hounded by requests to ”watch cuckoo bird” on T.V. In case you’re curious, we left the photo negative inside, to confuse and titillate future owners.

I cannot wait to hear what strange thing our child will ask Santa for next year.