Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Of Sick Days and Sudafed

Wait, Kaza is blogging during the work week??? WHAT??? I know, I know, it's highly unusual these days. But I'm working from home because I have the head cold of the century. Actually it's not that bad really but I do feel pretty miserable and didn't have to be in the office so decided to work from home. AND keep the 3 1/2 year-old home with me. Which must mean that this virus has traveled to the brain and is causing mucho damage, because why on earth would I turn down my husband's offer to not only take her to school but leave her in after care until 5:00 because he has an afternoon meeting? I could have had nine hours alone at home. NINE HOURS. I'm sick, I have a mountain of work to do, and I could have had a glorious nine hours in which to work (okay, and blog and watch t.v. too). But I said no, let me keep her home with me. I think that makes me certifiable.

But seriously, she was so sweet nodding her head in reluctant agreement as her daddy told her that mommy needed to stay home and so he would take her to school and she would "get" to stay late to play. So when she then turned her head up at me after he walked out of the room and then begged to stay home with me, I melted. Had she thrown a tantrum instead, she would be at school right now. But she was in my arms, willing to go if I said she had to go but hoping that just maybe she could stay home with me. I confirmed that she was certain, reminding her that if she went to school she would get to play on the playground but if she stayed home with me she would be indoors all day because I needed to work and didn't feel well enough to take her out. She was sure. She wanted to stay home to take care of me and keep me company. And I couldn't stand the thought of her having a late day unnecessarily.

So here we are, two girls at home, doing our "work" and having a slow day in the middle of the week. And I feel much better now that I have my beloved Sudafed on board to relieve the awful congestion and sinus headache. I had to go to the pharmacy to buy it yesterday. I hate buying it, because the rigamarole makes you feel like a criminal, and the pharmacy staff always looks so serious during the whole transaction. I mean, do the drug addicts manage to realistically fake a head cold when they go to buy the stuff? I could not have looked more miserable: Kaza the red-nosed Mama, snuffling away, clutching multiple tissues to dab at my nose and eyes, croaking out my request for the only medicine that brings the relief I clearly needed.

It doesn't help that I'm one of those people who gets all nervous in such circumstances. I'm the one who freaks out when driving in front of a police or highway patrol car, hands firmly at 10 and 2, eyes darting between the road, the rearview mirror, and my speedometer, trying too hard to appear normal. So when I buy my decongestant, I feel this irrational need to explain myself. Which is crazy, because it is not illegal to buy pseudoephedrine for relief from cold symptoms. But I chatter away like a magpie, explaining that the new formulation does nothing for me (which is completely true, the stuff is shite and simply does not work), blah, blah, blah, while they fill out the paperwork and ask for my license and enter me into "the system." I only have to go through this two or three times a year during the cold season, but I dread it. The goddamn drug addicts have ruined it for the rest of us. A once-simple errand to grab some cold medicine has turned into a humiliating exercise in government surveillance. Truth be told, it pisses me off. So I should rant at the pharmacy techs instead. Except that I'm not so good at the public ranting. I'm more of the play-nice-to-get-what-I-need-and-then-rant-on-my-blog sort. Clearly.

In any case, I got it and slept peacefully last night and am now clear-nosed and clear-headed and can get some work done. The Little One is coloring and watching the Heffalump movie, so I had best stop blogging and get to it.

I owe two memes from so long ago that my taggers have no doubt lost all hope, and I was given a sweet award by my dear friend Sassy Irish Lassie (on whose blog I will be guest posting in a few days, my first time ever!), which I need to pass on to some bloggy friends, but it may be a few days yet before I can organize myself well enough to catch up on everything. I hope you all are having a good (and healthy!) week.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Deep-Fried Manners, or Why I Hate the Phrase, "Yes Ma'am"

My child's Southern socialization has begun. Tonight after I asked her to do something she looked right at me, nodded, and uttered the words I have been dreading since we moved to the South: "Yes ma'am." That's right, I have been DREADING the moment that I would hear those words come out of her mouth. The very words that must make Southern mamas' hearts swell with pride set make MY heart sink and set my teeth on edge.

You see, where I come from, "Yes Ma'am" is something you say only if you're trying to be a smartass. And though I've lived here for over two years now and have heard this response from countless individuals in multiple everyday settings, I am still not used to it and I never hear it as it is meant. It always stops me in my tracks and I have to mentally remind myself that the person saying this to me is actually being polite, showing proper respect, behaving like a well-raised Southern person.

And I knew it was coming. I knew my child's teachers would eventually make her say it. I even expected it last year, but fortunately her teacher either wasn't a stickler for it or didn't think that two-year-olds should be forced to say it just yet. I figured that this year I would not be so lucky, and even asked her just a few weeks ago if anyone had told her to say it. No one had. Until today.

When she said it, I couldn't help myself. Instead of praising her, I corrected her: "Yes Mama, please. Mama doesn't like Ma'am." I then asked her who taught her to say it. Her teacher, of course. I told her it was okay to say it to her teacher, but not to me. We talked about minding her teacher and doing as she is told at school, but that mama and daddy have different rules sometimes at home, and this is one of them.

If you were raised in the South, you may find this puzzling. Incomprehensible, even. I mean, what's the big deal? It's just good manners, right? Except that manners are a matter of culture: they are what a people agree they are in a certain place and time. And in the U.S., though we share a common American culture in many ways, there are many subcultures, including regional cultures, and I am still in "culture shock" because this place is so very different from my home state. It may seem silly to the locals, but little things like this are an important part of preserving my identity and sharing that identity with my child (who is, after all, a California native too).

So dude, like, don't freak out when we don't say "Yes ma'am," or "No sir." Chill out dude. It's all good. Peace OUT.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

"Mama Training" Successful!

First of all, thank you to those of you who posted or emailed your support over this whole sleep training thing. It was quite a week, and not just because of the new bedtime routine, so I really needed the encouragement. As usual, the Little One got sick IMMEDIATELY after commencing the new regime. This has happened each time before, and always resulted in abandoning the whole thing and putting it off yet again. But this time? I. Was. Determined. She had just a bad cold, so I decided to stick to the plan and forge ahead. And? It worked! She only cried and begged on the first couple of nights (and it was awful for me, but I remained strong). On the third night she announced that she wasn't going to fuss, and in fact did not. The resistance isn't entirely over yet though. Last night she protested that this is "weird" and she took a very long time to settle down and fall asleep, but in the end she did it without me in the room (though I think I had to check on her about 7 times, the most yet). But I do think the worst is over and soon it will be a familiar routine.

We still bring her in with us when we go to bed, and probably will until we move to a house with a different floor plan. I just don't feel comfortable with her room being so far from ours, and on bad nights when she wakes often I can't take the up-and-down routine. I get more rest this way, so for now we're keeping our hybrid sleep practices. Because this works for our family right now, and that's all that matters.

Other than that, it was a nutty week all-around, and now I'm coming down with the Little One's cold and feeling more dreadful by the hour. I think I'm off for a nap now, in fact.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sleep "Training" AGAIN

Sleep. It's probably the topic we think and talk about the most when parenting babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. I've been reading recent posts by bloggers with newborns, and remembering my own struggles in those first weeks. Apparently it's no different with a second baby, if the recent experiences of Her Bad Mother and Mrs. Chicken are any indication. This is one of several reasons that I remain deeply ambivalent about our efforts to add to our little family of three.

I've written about our sleep situation several times before. Late last spring, I thought we had it licked. I had finally bitten the bullet and did some "sleep training" again, and the Little One was falling asleep all on her own for a very brief period before that terrible night when she woke up with that horrible ear infection. I am a total wuss to begin with on this issue to begin with, but then the guilt from that night really did me in and I put it on the back burner yet again.

It wasn't so bad in the summer, because she won't nap at home and is an early riser, so she was tired by 6:00 and asleep by 6:30 or even earlier on most nights. I didn't mind sitting there for the 15 or 20 minutes it took for her to fall asleep. But the enforced "rest time" at school is of course just long enough for her to get bored enough to nap on most days, so she is full of energy in the evening. That of course means a later bedtime. Which is fine. We've adjusted to that. We seem to be starting the bath/bedtime routine at the right point, and she always admits to feeling tired. But no matter how we adjust the timing, she takes about an hour after lights out to go to sleep, and sometimes longer. It was getting to be like this in the spring when I snapped and trained her then. But now it's even worse, and I'm even more overwhelmed with work, and when she keeps popping up to ask questions or tell me "one more thing" or ask for "one more hug" (after we've had MANY already), I become increasingly cranky and then I LOSE IT.

So it's just not working for anyone anymore. I'm feeling now like I'm a hostage to her fears of falling asleep alone rather than a parent giving my child a gift of security (which is how I saw it when she was smaller). And I would like to find a way to teach her this skill. I've written before about my sleep troubles as a child. I know this is mostly my issue, not hers. And I'm thinking that maybe there's a middle ground, a way to help her to find security without my physical presence in the room. I may have wanted my mother in the room with me when I was a child, but that doesn't mean it was a reasonable expectation or the solution to the problem.

The bottom line is that it's no longer working for me or our family, and I have to finally be consistent and stick with it. I'm going to have faith that she will be able to make it through this transition just as well as she's made it through giving up her paci (which I thought would never happen) and potty training (which felt so difficult and endless at the time but now seems like nothing in retrospect). And I think I've also figured out the truth of the matter when it comes to the Little One: once again, the one being "trained" here is really ME.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

No, I Have Not Fallen off the Face of the Earth

It just feels (and seems to all of you!) that way. I'm getting tired of whining about work, but SRSLY people, it's insane. I've had it pretty good for a very long time (a decade of grad school, heh-heh!), so this is my first experience with understanding the phrase, "just not enough hours in the day." Because there AREN'T. If I could forgo sleep, I would, but I'm not built that way (especially at 41!).

I had to take this contract, which includes four distinct courses, two of which I've never taught before (known to us in the university world as "new preps"), and for career-advancement reasons I had to take another gig on top of that, so I'm overbooked. And I'm pumping out job apps for the new round of tenure-track jobs (my gig is temporary right now so I need to land a permanent job), and trying to get some papers published, all of which I have to do on my own time. If I were single and childless this would all work out fine, because I would work long hours and all weekend and get through it that way. But I'm not, and try as I might, there is only so much work that can be done after-hours.

BUT. I love my work, I really really do. And I'm grateful to have a job and hope my current contract won't be pulled out from underneath me. It's a crazy time in this country, the kind of time I never thought I'd see.

And we are PUMPED for the debate in this house tonight.... HOLLA!!! You all know I'm an Obama Mama, and I'm no fan of The Palin, so I cannot wait to see this. The Katie Couric interviews this week have told the real story, so now we'll see whether Palin's "cram sessions" will produce a good performance on the biggest test of her nascent political life.

At the moment I am sitting on my daughter's floor, waiting for her to fall asleep, wishing I had gone through with the latest round of sleep training last weekend instead of wimping out yet again, because I could be in the living room ready for the first minute of the debate but NOOOOO, I'm sitting here on the floor listening to her toss & turn and getting more irritated by the moment. Ahem.

Which reminds me: why is it so easy to watch Supernanny or Nanny 911 when they teach parents how to get kids to fall asleep by themselves and stay asleep in their rooms, but when it comes to my own kid I'm a marshmallow? All she has to do is tell me she's scared and that's it, I'm there. I remember my own childhood fears all too vividly. But eventually I've got to bite the bullet.

I should work all weekend to get myself caught up, but I think I need some time off even more. So don't be surprised if I manage to stop by to read and comment in the next few days. I've missed all of you and can't wait to read what you've been doing and thinking.