Monday, December 31, 2012

The Geologic Scale

Parenting is frustrating. I was not gifted with the patience gene that I see so many of my friends with. Of course, they laugh and deny they have such a thing themselves. But their kids are breathing, well-adjusted, well-educated, well-behaved, and they have often dealt with mountains of circumstances that would have me skittering back to the cave, whimpering, to hide under a mountain of old blankets with my favorite stuffed animal.

Don't get me wrong. In public my children are angels. In fact, of all of the home-schooling cliches out there, I would never have guessed the one I would meet most often would be the 180-degree opposite of what I had heard so much about. "Pardon me, do you home-school?" Yes...? "It's so obvious, because your children are well behaved, articulate, helpful, intelligent...." Whereupon I look around frantically, wondering where my children have gone to. You know, the ones that test me to destruction, refuse to do chores until I have done my psychotic Klingon kabuki, and in their adolescent glory still expect me to do something about their siblings' breathing habits. It's bothering me! Make it stop! But I guess that's one of the perquisites of parenthood: Everybody else gets to see the polished product while we're the ones who get to see nothing but endless vistas of polishing.

Sometimes I just have to lock myself in the bathroom and indulge in some deep breathing exercises (I categorically deny that this is where I keep my stash of dark chocolate and sci/fi books) and remind myself of just how far we have come since I brought the little wiggling footballs home. Of just how long it has been since I looked down on my first born and thought - You're sending me home with this fragile creature? Are you out of your mind? I don't know anything about babies! EB is now as tall as I am, and MB and LB aren't that far behind, so maybe the on the job training took.

I think about other issues that simply ceased to be issues as time went on. MB still has a daredevil streak that makes me think of adulthood in terms of if, not when, but at least we've grown out of the "If you can climb it, you can jump from it" phase, and it appears that the "It's 6 a.m. and neither parent is awake, so let's walk 13 miles to my friend's house without telling anybody, despite me not having the faintest idea of where I'm going" bit has gone away for now. They all know how to do the chores and, once the PKK has been gone through with varying degrees of intensity, do them quite well. I'm pretty sure the PKK will go the way of the dinosaurs when the Banshees are old enough, but, like Cosby, I'm also pretty certain they'll be living with somebody else when it happens.

The logic circuit is almost fully installed in EB. I cannot take credit, only advantage whenever possible. It's nice to be able to explain (according to EB, in huge, nauseating detail) what I want, what I expect, why I want it and why I think it's reasonable to expect it. I get what I want how I want it maybe 15-25 percent of the time, but five years ago that wasn't even possible. LB's logic circuit is beginning to integrate; in a year I can expect to have conversations with all of them that they'll all understand. They won't often like or agree with or even do what I'm telling them to do, but they'll understand it.

Then pfff! they'll be gone. At some point they are going to be fully mature and I am going to be sidelined, no longer central to the game. In fact, that slow inexorable geologic shift is already happening. EB wants to go to another school, private or public doesn't matter as long as it isn't here cooped up with me. And I am going to let that happen just as soon as the study habits have been stepped up to public school speed. I don't want it to happen. Wait a minute, weren't you a wiggling little newborn just last week? Where are you going? But I'll let it happen. Because as a parent I'm going to be wrapped up in the parenting until it is no longer needed, and then I'll step back. It looks like eternity from the inside, and then suddenly it's all over. Because that's life on a geologic scale.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

erm...Bah, Humbug

Christmas week left me feeling distinctly unChristmassy. This is normally my time of year, I plan for it, I plot, I find items all year round that would be the perfect thing for any of the Banshees or DBS or Mom-in-law. All of which I did this year with my normal amount of enthusiasm right until Christmas actually got here. A few days before Christmas I realized I had a profound case of "meh". Christmas got here this year because of inertia, I think, and because the Banshees would have been unhappy if it hadn't happened. All I'm doing now is enjoying the whole get to sleep-in thing and looking forward to getting back to normal.

Okay, the mom-in-law dropping by Christmas morning? Loved that. Also loved the look on the Banshees' faces when they got to the gift, the one they never even saw coming but was what they wanted more than anything else under the tree, and DBS loved what I got him so that was totally cool. But me? Meh.

What I was happy about? I planted my two Wickson crabapple trees and so far nothing has eaten them, which is good, because they came to me as beautiful as can be expected for two bare-root, year-old mail order apple trees and I want them to thrive and become more beautiful. They are supposed to get as tall as 14 feet and to be very good pollinators for a variety of other apple trees, which why I settled on them, considering I have very little self-restraint when I get into a new enthusiasm. (Say it with me: Wickson, Arkansas Black, Sierra Beauty, Gravenstein, Winesap, Blue Pearmain, Pumpkin Russet, Wolf River, Saint Edmund's Russet, Newtown Pippin, Black Twig, Foxwhelp, Niedzwetzkyana, Red October, Twenty Ounce, Victoria Limbertwig, Winterstein. (Italics are the ones I don't have, but would like. Some day. When I get more land than I have now! But color it as good as gone that Wolf River and Saint Edmund's Russet are going to make an appearance on the current acreage.) I see a micro-market garden in the suburban desert, and the mini-orchard is part of my starting that eensy project.

I lost my neurotic hen to a very determined coyote, but none of the other birds were harmed. Maybe this will be the year I find my Trout runner ducks again. It's a good, tidy little dream to have. I'm happy with the winter this year because I look into the back yard and see the bones of possibility - if the weed trees come down here, then I'll have room for a couple of apple trees more. If I get the land weeded and worked and shaped to my purposes, then I'll have room for the duck pasturage and Hopping Goose Farms might be able to produce one or two veggies and some staple crops. I might be able to put some root storage in back there, in time, with hard work and patience and a touch of money.

I am happy that, while I don't have the money quite yet to spend on getting Hopping Goose off to a roaring start, I do have a few dollars and dimes here and there to do the small and necessary things. I'm grateful beyond words that I have the money to pay the bills we run. I am happy that we have the possibilities we have, so that even if our modest dreams seem beyond our reach, getting to the foothills of those dreams is not.

So the Christmas magic flatlined a little for me this year. There is other magic.

Friday, December 21, 2012

And One More Thing...Like I Have Any Room For It...

A friend proposed co-authoring a book. She is currently in her latest manifestation of the 72-hour day, month-long work-week phase while I'm winding down from one - we alternate, I think, because the universe can only hold so much.

I said yes.

Of course.

What could possibly go wrong?

Monday, December 10, 2012


NaNo was a bust. I was too far behind and all of my efforts to catch up resulted in a crazed attempt to garner word count at the expense of...well, everything. I should like the story to be a story when I'm done with it. So when it got to the point where there was plenty of blather but no actual furtherance of the real writing, I quit. It was a lot harder to quit than I thought it would be. I wanted it. I can, however, garner 50,000 words at any time of the year - even in 30 days if I so wish - so perhaps this novel is merely postponed.

On the bright side, in the last week of NaNo, when I was struggling with the realization that my frantic wordsmithing was in service of all of the wrong things, one of my Facebook buddies introduced me to Coursera. And not just any course, my absolute Holy Grail of Courses, an honest to gods How To Think class. Not a What To Think Class, an honest-to-goodness HOW to think class. I have been searching for something like this for more than a decade, ever since I realized that I could spot an argument that looked specious as all get out but that I could not put my finger on exactly why it was a bad argument. Which is absolutely infuriating because one of the first things you need to do in order to counter a bad argument is to spot why it's bad. So, yes, How To Think, sign me up. Of course I'm already about a week behind because of the fall-out from NaNo and the pressure to actually keep the Banshees alive, functioning, and possibly actually learning things, but I suspect that I'll spend the rest of today catching up.

MB is baking bread. EB is showing off hairstyles, LB is probably buried in a book and ignoring her chores.  After our knit-together at the local bookstore we're going to come home, bake gingerbread cookies, hunt up civics lessons, and I'll try to persuade them that if they can hear the clickety clickety click of my fingers on a keyboard, then it probably isn't a good time to try to strike up an in-depth conversation about the basic unfairness of being themselves in a family that is trying to teach them some semblance of civilization. Because that conversation will not go well at all. Welcome to Monday.