December 17th, 2013

Deal Breakers I Did Not Know I Had

Sometimes, a person I have a relationship with (work with, friends with, having sex with, tea buddies with, professional relationship with, etc.) does something that has such a strong effect on me and my perception of them that I am completely unable to continue with the relationship, or at least I feel compelled to make prompt, dramatic and permanent changes in the nature of our relationship from that point forward. I call these "deal breakers". The analogy is to a contract, or a "deal" -- if you break it, it's over, unless a new deal is created.

I don't always know ahead of time what these will be, unfortunately for me and unfortunately for the people around me. Fortunately, as I've gotten older, I discover these with less and less frequency. Either people are picking me knowing what they are getting or I am picking them knowing what I am getting, or I just know more about what my issues are or who knows.

But last Thursday, I learned a new one. If you compare your child to Gollum, I can't hang out with you any more.

That is not OK.

I don't care if your kid lives underground, eats blind fish, is hunched over, and actually _does say_ "My Precious" (ironically, as a hipster, sarcastically, or otherwise). You don't get to call your child Gollum within my hearing.

Period.

But if you have a really nice kid, who just happens to want something really bad that you've decided, for whatever reason good or bad, not to give them, and you call your kid Gollum, you've moved into Sauron territory. And not in a heroic quest to save Middle Earth sort of way.

Also, I'm not actually a fan of Tolkien. Kind of the opposite. But I am not ignorant.

I've checked in with a variety of people (my husband, my walking partner, my sister, a few other people who crossed my path, etc.). They all agree that comparing a child, or, really, anyone you like _at all_ to Gollum is sort of unimaginable. They all kept asking me if someone _really_ did this, and tried to figure out any possible misunderstanding to make this Not Have Happened. Alas, it happened. Twice to me, and once to another adult, who didn't know enough about LotR to grasp the reference.

Lack of Recent Posts

I haven't been posting much recently. Partly, I've been feeling a little under the weather. I had some indigestion that I wasn't sure if I ate something that disagreed with me or what; it seems to have resolved itself. Whenever that happens, it reminds me how much anxiety can be produced by indigestion (and how anxiety can produce indigestion -- sort of a vicious cycle). R. says he had something related (right down to the massive headache) recently, altho his seems to have lasted longer than mine.

I read part of Sherman Alexie's _Blasphemy_ for book group. Sherman Alexie is a wonderful author who is compassionate and funny and conveys a strong sense of Truth even when you know he is making stuff up. I love his work and I believe it is truly important and worth the time and emotional resources, but it is some painful stuff to read. I think part of the problem is that there is no cathartic relief and no sense of redemption to Make It All Worthwhile (not that I believe in any of that, but you know what I mean). There _should not be_, given the subject matter, and he does provide humor and a wonderful humanistic and loving perspective, while being grounded and centered.

So, so, painful.

Obviously, I've been preoccupied with wrapping up (har de har har) the holiday preparations. We had a couple snow storms, so I've had a bit extra kid-duty, and we've also been spending time shoveling white stuff. Today, I took A. out on the sled, and then later A. and T. played together on the sled. This was sort of amazing, actually. I shoveled the drive while T. helped A. go up and down the hill in the yard on the purple sled. It was Beautiful. I spent a chunk of money, a lot of social interaction setting up and implementing some facilitated playdates to help my kids find pleasure in playing with each other and with other children, because this is something We Suck At. And by We I include myself. It is truly incredible to see them play together happily, resolve problems, be outside and active in 20ish degree weather and not want to go inside because they are having so much fun together without needing any mediation.

I mean, of course it fell apart because they got cold and tired, but that happens to every kid. I'm good with that. Altho wow is it a pain cleaning up 3 sets of snow gear after being out in it for a while.

Happy Holidays to All! And a Happy New Year in 2014!

I have no idea whether I'll get time to post again or how much.

We had a nice year, including some great travel to Disney and to the Netherlands where we visited extended family and went to Efteling. We also went to the Cape with family. The kids continue to enjoy swimming. T. is almost good enough to be allowed to use the diving board/well without someone being in the water with him.

By hiring someone else (many thanks to D!) to do all the actual work, the inside of our house is now completely painted. It previously only had builders' paint -- when the walls got marked up, there was no way to clean them. Now, in addition to happy colors in every room (and two closets), we can clean marks off the wall. It's the little things that count. Also, the front door is now purple! It matches my hair.

T. is starting to sight read, and spends a lot of time asking people to spell words for him. We've started turning the questions around on him, and he can spell some words out loud ("day" was one of the first).

We enjoyed a big Thanksgiving dinner at R.'s sister's house: 17 people, if I counted correctly. Everyone was so nice to the kids, and the kids had a really good time. They even sat (briefly) at the dinner table. It's so nice that they can both talk to their extended family and enjoy doing so, and so rewarding that the extended family has remained patient and connected to enjoy this as well.

T. has developed some new social routines. He particularly enjoys his good night call with his Aunt, Uncle and 2 cousins. Because we often vacation together, they are close in age, and have many character traits and interests in common, T., A. and their cousins are building friendly relationships that we hope will last for decades to come.

I continue to walk most days of the week with my walking partner, and every year that goes by I am more thankful to have her in my life. She always finds a way to say in a few words what I somehow cannot manage to get across even in many. I am also thankful for my (ex-)girlfriend/High Priestess R.'s continued presence in my life, and her willingness to share her adventures with me so I can live a little bit vicariously in her continuous search for (more) wisdom and joy. My sister R. has been a wonderful emotional support and sanity check for me, when unexpected things happen, particularly when they involve the school system or health care providers.

We are looking forward to next year. R. and I will celebrate 10 years of marriage, 50 years of life for him and 45 for me.

And I want to thank everyone who reads this blog, here or on FB, and maintains contact (however distant) with me, despite my many moves and generally not-very-sociable nature. Your interest in what I think about and write about is always valued by me -- even if what I express comes out as cantankerous. Thanks for being willing to try to understand what I meant.

Possible rereading project

I was going through some of the parenting books that I read when T. was really small (or before he was born, in some cases). I was trying to explain how I came to think about parenting the way I do, given that I was raised really about as differently as can be imagined. Two books in particular, Greene's _The Explosive Child_ (read _before_ I had kids) and Gordon's _P.E.T._ came to mind and as I was flipping through them (not having read them since before A. was born) I was really flabbergasted about how much of their approaches I internalized. I sort of thought I'd read them and go, oooh, completely forgot about that!

But I feel like it might be worth rereading anyway, just to refresh myself in how to present these ideas to someone who does not already share them. Parents with a traditional authoritarian, behaviorist or even some positive parenting approaches, can find these ideas really, really, really weird and problematic. But Greene and Gordon have figured out ways to explain them that Get Through To People. I would be wise to better understand the rhetorical approach and adopt it.

I swear this is the last one: 8 year old and IT

My son listened to me talking to my sister as she set up her new iPhone. I was describing settings for iCloud. So he (who shares an iCloud account with me) decided to make some changes to iCloud on his device.

Oh boy.

I rely heavily on iCloud and Notes, Contacts, etc., to figure out what to do next and then do it. Having him be able to access this stuff _and change it_ would pretty much ruin my life. What to do?

Well, of course I panicked and threatened. Then he cried and was really sad. I turned everything back to off. He misunderstood me walking over to the hall to get better network access as me trying to get away from him. Very, very sad.

I set him up (a while ago) to use his gmail account to sync contacts, notes, calendar, etc., but gmail doesn't have a "reminders" category the way iCloud does and for whatever reason he likes to use reminders and he has two devices and wants them synced. Once he conveyed this desire to me, I realized that he could use reminders through iCloud Because I Don't. Turned it on. Showed it to him. Got him to calmly agree to the idea that messing with the settings would be a really bad idea because I would get all mad again. And then he was willing to hug and kiss and make up.

An 8 year old should not have decided that he wants Reminders to stay in sync _and_ noticed that that won't happen through gmail AND realize that it could happen through iCloud. That is just _freaky_.

Kinda cool, tho.