year (week) in review (it's thursday)
It’s time for the Year in Review!
Except when I say “Year” I mean “Week!”
And it’s only Thursday!
This is a good old-fashioned parenting post so while I’ll allude to some politics and feminism because #KatiesGottaKate, buckle up for some Chicken and Buster realness. (My 6 and 4-year-olds are the shizz, FYI.)
It was a little Monday-y in that Buster brought his favorite word, “butts,” into his preschool classroom which resulted in a delightful “potty talk” conversation at pickup. I was preoccupied with Tuesday’s midterms and a little sore from the trail run race on Saturday for which I DID NOT PREPARE ADEQUATELY. If you’re asking me if I peed my pants while running, the answer is yes, a little bit, 2-vaginal-deliveries-worth. If you’re asking me how much that is, exactly, the answer is I made sure to mention how slippery the course was to a couple of runners who did not ask. Because it makes sense that I fell down on a slippery course and landed vagina-first in a quarter-cup of urine. If you’re asking me if the fact that I had pee-shorts on kept me from stopping to grab a breakfast burrito on the way home, the answer is absolutely not.
WHATEVER, I was wearing black shorts and was probably more paranoid than borderline incontinent. I mean. I’ll take any win I can at this point, even Most ‘more paranoid than borderline incontinent.’
But the kids ate sweet potatoes and cauliflower with their dinner so I called Monday a win. LITTLE DID I KNOW that I would look back on Monday as the pride, which, as we all know, goeth before the fall as surely as the Monday goeth before the
Okay things got a little rougher on Tuesday because the time change isn’t something you fuck with, I don’t care if you ARE the toughest guy in here. You DO NOT FUCK WITH DAYLIGHT SAVINGS. DAYLIGHT SAVINGS FUCKS WITH YOU. Buster landed on my sleeping face at 5 am like I’VE BEEN THINKING ABOUT LIZARDS and the saddest part of that is that it’s #Standard. Also every morning when he lands on my sleeping face like the hot dog in that gif:
I felt that unique combination of feelings that only parents feel between the hours of 10 pm and sunrise: misery + joy + exhaustion + premature grief because there’s a voice in your head saying enjoy this because before you know it he’ll be going to college out of state and you won’t be able to just smell him whenever you want.
Tuesday night, Buster forgot he wasn’t wearing his pull-up yet and pooped in his undies and Chicken opened the door to his bedroom, all pajamas and rumpled bedhead, with tears spilling down his cheeks because he read about an endangered Phuket Horned Agamid.
Perfect, so one catastrophic poop encounter (and you can just pour one out for those undies because I am not one of the pioneer moms who knows how much baking soda can render tiny Hanes shit-free. I cut that shit off with kitchen scissors and threw his poopy butt in the shower) and one existential climate change panic? I got this! I still got this! Really want to sleep past 5 tomorrow! That would help me get this EVEN HARDER!
5 am: IS IT PANCAKE MORNING I WANT PANCAKES MOM
Someday before you know it he will be surly and quiet and would rather sing A Whole New World in front of his entire high school than jump into bed with you and snuggle into your warm belly.
No, there were no pancakes. I convinced him that instant oatmeal was just as good as pancakes. In the moment I was proud of myself but in hindsight I’m worried that Wednesday was the morning he began to see me as just a person, a pitiable, sad, greying woman who couldn’t even add water to the instant pancake mix at 5:07 am. “Okay, Mom,” he said. It’s not what he said, but how he said it.
Anywho, on the way into Seattle to record the Mouthy podcast about the Midterms, “Blue Wave or Blue Balls?” I got a call from Chicken’s principal. Apparently Chicken had been waving a pencil in the air in the hallway and had accidentally hit a teacher in the face. Someone insisted that he apologize to the teacher, and he didn’t. When they insisted again, he got very upset and was now sitting in the principal’s office wailing as if he’d read about the Phuket Horned Agamid for the very first time.
Side note: Don’t comment to me about apologies, okay? I already know. I know that forcing young children to apologize is an exercise in power and not in empathy. I know that once kids reach a certain point, part of their socialization is understanding the social contract of an apology. Don’t fucking advise me about my son and apologies, seriously. I CANNOT THIS WEEK.
The principal was incredibly kind and empathetic. She said that she could tell he was really remorseful and upset and that she didn’t even want to talk about the incident, she was just hoping to comfort him to the point that he could rejoin his class. She was calling to see if I could talk to my little Chickadee, or if I had any ideas on how to help him. I recommended that she call the school counselor, with whom Chicken does a weekly Leadership Group, and she could maybe help him get back into class.
I did speak with Chicken for a moment or two but hearing my voice just broke him down more. He wanted me to come save him. It is the hardest thing any parent does. Not saving them.
I hung up the phone. I drove. I did not think about him, small and worried. I thought about how safe he was, emotionally, physically. I thought about how many teachers at his school know and love him. I thought about everything that was okay because I wanted to save him and I knew that if I did, I would be telling him that he needed to be saved. I wanted to tell him that he had this. He had this. And he did.
That evening, Buster had gymnastics. He loves gymnastics. This week, when it was time to take off his socks and shoes, he looked up at me with the enormous, wet eyes and crumpled mouth that could seriously be the logo for my bakery and wine delivery service. “I’m mervous,” he said.
“About what, baby?”
“I’m mervous about my coach.”
Buster’s gymnastics coach is seriously a top-3 candidate for guardianship should something happen to me and Ryan, although that would be a surprise to her if something DID happen to me and Ryan. Not only has she been his gymnastics coach for 2.5 of his 4.5 years of life, and not only does Buster ADORE her, but she genuinely adores him too.
“What are you nervous about her, baby?”
“I don’t know. I’m mervous she’s mad at me.”
She was standing on the gymnastics floor, smiling at him, all pigtails and love as she called, “Buster! Come on over buddy, can you show me how to do a bear-crawl?”
I finally coaxed him into the class but he huddled against the wall and after a few minutes coach told him that maybe he should try again next week. In the car, he told me he’d wanted to yell “Shut up shut up shut up!” but he didn’t and now he was sad. In the car, I picked up a bag of Pirate’s Booty. By the bottom of the bag. It appears to have rained cheese dust in the backseat of my car. It appears that Buster has licked paths through the new-fallen cheese dust on the armrests. Whatever.
Wednesday night I picked all the bedtime books. Chicken and Buster crawled into my big bed and I read four books that were all gifts from beloved friends, all books about friendship and love and taking care. The boys lay warm and still under the covers and listened to good books. It just felt like what we all needed. It was the best fucking thing.
5 am: CAN I HAVE A JUNGLE TRUCK FOR CHRISTMAS MOM
I love my son I love my son I love my son
I hate his face and voice and elbows
I would murder the Pope for him with my bare hands
Someday he will be taller than me
Get up Katie
I helped Chicken write an apology to the teacher who took a #2 to the face yesterday (#2 PENCIL people, jeez, didn’t you hear about the Potty Talk talk on Monday?) and FFS my heart cannot take this level of sweetness. When I asked him how he felt about giving it to the teacher when he saw her today, he said, “Spooked.” I asked what he was afraid might happen, and he said, “I don’t know.” I said, “I know how that feels.” I reminded him that he had Chess Club, meeting #1, after school today.
I got Chicken off to school and Buster off to school and I sat in the lobby of Buster’s school with a hot 20-ounce Americano and I worked on a couple of things uninterrupted, and I had the sense, from 9:30-11:00 am, that perhaps between the poopy undies and the early wake-ups and the RBG rib incident and the principal’s kind call from yesterday, perhaps the hardest part of the week was over.
I dashed with Buster into the city to be a guest of the local NPR station in a segment on women’s anger about which I’d had this conversation with Ryan the night before:
Me: I have to prepare for this segment on KUOW tomorrow.
Ry: What’s it about?
Me: Women’s anger.
Ry: YOU’RE PREPARED.
The segment went well and I met some really nice, smart, thoughtful co-panelists.
I had enough time to go to Costco and pick up one important thing. I had enough time to wander there. Buster and I hit every sample cart, even the ones right next to the vitamin area, where they were sampling KIND Bars. On the way home I made a couple of phone calls that needed making. Buster fell asleep in the car. When I got home I cleaned out the car while Buster slept in his seat. I eventually moved him into the house and lay him in my bed, where he snuggled in the late-afternoon sunlight, his feet in mismatched socks curled up together like puppies in a basket.
I had an hour until Chicken’s Chess Club ended. I sat down to check my email. I got a text from Ryan.
“Chicken’s school is calling me. I’m in a meeting, can you get it?”
My phone had been buried in my backpack. I pulled it out and hit the missed-call number to call back. I hit 2 for the front desk. Janine picked up.
“Hi, it’s Katie…”
“Oh hi, Katie. Listen, Chicken’s fine.”
OK. I cracked my neck.
“… his teeth aren’t loose or anything…”
“… but he was running and looking over his shoulder, and he ran straight into a pole.”
I couldn’t help it. I laughed through my “Oh” as I said, “Ohhhhhh buddy.”
Janine continued. “His lip is very bloody and there’s a cut. He obviously doesn’t want to go to chess club today, and we’re trying to figure out if he needs stitches.”
Ohhh. Okay. It’s gonna be one of these now.
“No problem,” I said. “I’ll be there in 5.”
I grabbed a tote bag and filled it with 2 cold cans of seltzer water, an empty water bottle, 2 frozen yogurt tubes from the freezer, a handful of snacks that I grabbed without really looking from the snack cabinet, 5 cheese sticks, an iPad, an iPad/iPhone charger, headphones, and a fresh t-shirt in case his was bloody.
This is not Mama’s first Urgent Care Rodeo.
I picked up a still-sleeping Buster from the bed and clipped him into his seat. He snored and rolled his head to the other shoulder.
While I drove to school, I called Ryan back and asked him to check the hours of the local Children’s Urgent Care and to make an appointment online — again, neither mama’s first Urgent Care rodeo, nor mama’s first facial laceration rodeo.
As I pulled into the parking lot, Ryan texted me: “6:40 appointment. I’ll be home in time to take him.” I took a deep breath - at least I wouldn’t have to go to Urgent Care solo with two little boys.
I brought Buster into the school office and sat him down in the reception area, in one of the chairs next to the tiny table with a phone. “Stay there,” I said, “And don’t play with the phone.”
Chicken was sitting in his teacher’s lap as she held an Otter Pop in his mouth. I knelt down next to him, and he stood on unsteady legs, then curled his arms around my neck and lay his head on my shoulder, and sighed. “All I wanted was you,” he whispered. I held him. I breathed. He spoke again. “Buster’s on the phone.”
I looked over my shoulder. Yep, Buster was on the phone. I picked Chicken up and carried him over to Buster and the phone. On the digital display I could clearly see the number Buster had dialed.
My 4-year-old called 911 from the Elementary School office. While his brother nursed a 3-cm cut inside his lip and we wondered if he needed stitches. I sat on the floor in the office with Chicken in my arms and waited for a 911 operator to become available so that I could tell her that this was, in fact, the perfect ending for my Year (week) in Review (but it’s Thursday), that we were fine, that there was no emergency, and that a child dialed the number he’d just learned in preschool but that we were just going to go get in the car where I would sit and call the pediatrician to find out if we needed to keep that 6:40 appointment at Children’s. We didn’t, btw. So we’re here now.
That was an hour ago. Chicken is eating ice chips and watching Pokemon. Buster is eating sympathy ice chips and is psyched that he gets to watch Pokemon. Mommy is waiting for Daddy to get home so she can take a shower and figure out how to stay inside and out of the news tomorrow. Because even though this week has taken what feels like a year…
tomorrow is Friday. I’ll be coming to it with this vibe.