It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Inexplicability

Poppy comes to me full, her face solemn. I have heard a squabble rising in the kitchen but have opted to remain uninvolved. I am not surprised to have a small emissary of concern at my elbow. (Had it been Jazz, it would have been an emissary of Righteous Indignation and Most Grievous Outrage. I’m rather glad it’s Poppy.)

“Jazz not touch the scarey dragon!!”
“Does she want to touch the dragon?”
“No.”
“Oh. Do you want her to touch the dragon?”
“No.”
“Then I don’t understand what you’re fighting about.”
“She says there isn’t a scarey dragon.”
“Is there a scarey dragon?”
“No.”

So the situation of grave concern here is that there’s a non-existent dragon that Poppy does not wish Jazz to touch, and which Jazz is not, in fact, touching.

Well, you can SEE THE PROBLEM, can’t you?!!!

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February 21, 2013 Posted by | Jazz, Poppy, quirks and quirkiness | , , , | 2 Comments

Personal space? What is this thing?

Poppy fondles my right breast.

Of course she does. Are there any mother-type people out there who have not been fondled by their little one? Or someone else’s? It’s happened to all of you. I’m quite sure of it.

Put a baby or toddler on your left hip, and sooner or later their little hand just creeps across your body, reaches the slope, rests there and … enjoys the softness. Cups it, caresses, fondles, whatever. I’ve been groped by more small hands in my life than I can possibly recall. I don’t even have to think as I grip their wrist and place their hand gently-but-firmly down at their side. The fending-them-off motion is almost entirely reflexive.

Could I be so very inured to it that I let it continue without noticing it’s happening? Well, given that I notice and stop it in one half-conscious action, with my brain only ever half-engaged… Could there have been times when I simply haven’t noticed at all, when my brain never did engage, not one little bit? Entirely likely.

Has it happened in public? It happens all the time, after all, and I scarcely notice when it does. Happened in public? It is, I am darkly afraid, pretty near a sure thing that I’ve stood in line at a coffee shop while some teenage barrista tried not to notice my breast being stroked and squeezed right before his pimpled face. It’s a wonder my husband’s indulging in pretty much the same activity has any impact on me at all any more, poor man.

But today I noticed. Because today Poppy started with the generic fondle but quickly moved to a precise and painful pinch. Of the nipple. I yelped.

“Ouch! Poppy! Don’t pinch me there! That hurts!” Yes, I said she’d pinched a nipple. She bloody well had, and hard. There is no way, however, I’m giving her that word in context of my body. She knows she has nipples, of course. She knows her mummy and daddy and the other children have nipples, too. But you know, I just don’t want to be there at the end of the day when she tells her daddy, “I pinched at Mary’s nipple!!” as if it’s some sort of Terrific Accomplishment.

Because Poppy? That’s exactly what she’d do. With an “aren’t-I-just-so-smart?!” look on her round face. Poppy’s poor dad, unlike his chattering, decisively enthusiastic daughter, is a very quiet fellow. You could assume he’s unfriendly, but that would be unfair. The man is shy. Shy, shy, shy. Presented with a) his daughter, declaiming about Mary’s nipple and b) Mary, complete with nipples … he just wouldn’t know where to look. Not in my face — the eye contact just then would be excruciating, but — NOT DOWN! DON’T LOOK DOWN! AVERT EYES FROM NIPPLE AREA!!! Must look, um, UP! Yes, UP!

Poor man would try to exit while staring unblinkingly at the ceiling. He’d probably end breaking an ankle, tripping over the door sill. So, no use of the n-word in front of Poppy.

“Ouch! Poppy! That hurt! Don’t pinch me there!”

If I can be fondled and only be half-aware of it, so can toddlers half-consciously fondle. Poppy startles a bit and stares at her hand on my breast. “Oh. I sorry, Mary.”

And then, in a burst of sweet empathy and compassion, the wee toddler on my left hip cups my breast in both pudgy hands, leans forward,

and plants a kiss,

right on the nipple.

“There! All better!”

YOU try telling her that was inappropriate. I dare you. 😀

October 10, 2012 Posted by | manners, Mischief, Poppy, quirks and quirkiness, socializing | , | 6 Comments

Weddings, Wonderful and Weird

Hannah wrote about a wedding she attended recently, so of course I started thinking about Weddings I Have Attended. There have been lovely weddings, silly weddings, joyful weddings, supremely touching weddings, and just plain odd weddings.

All weddings are joyful, but the wedding of two lovely young women who, until the previous year, had been excluded from even the possibility of a wedding? That one had a level of exuberance that topped any other wedding I’d ever been to. Wonderful.

All weddings are touching, but the 50-something friend who had long since accepted (reluctantly at first, then with perfect contentment) that marriage was not going to be part of her life? Her groom gave the most touching speech expressing profound gratitude, and not a little joyful surprise, that she had given up her happy and well-established single state to welcome into her life. Touching times ten. *sniff*

And then there were the receptions. Long and short, fun and tedious, joyful and just plain embarrassing.

The worst reception I ever attended was almost 27 years ago now. I know, because I was pregnant with my first child at the time. The wedding itself was lovely, just as wedding should be (and usually are). Things started to fall apart when the reception started quite late. No one ever found out why, since the wedding-party pictures had been taken the day before. (Really. They all got together and staged those pictures. The photographer attended the first bit of the reception to get candid photos of friends and family, but there were no posed pictures of bride and groom with their parents, etc. Which, in hindsight, was also weird, though I didn’t think about it at the time. The bridal couple had good relationships with their parents. There were no estrangements to account for it. At least, there weren’t until then…)

So. It started late as I said, at least an hour, maybe two. The reception itself lasted a mere four hours, short by the usual dinner/speeches/toasts/dance standards … until you realize there was no dance. This reception was four hours of speeches.

And toasts.
And skits, put on by friends and family. Many, many skits.
And songs sung by nieces and nephews.
And musical performances by all manner of friends and family on all manner of instruments.
And jokes told by an aspiring stand-up comic friend.
And a 12-year-old (was he a cousin of the bride?) magician.
And
And
And…

Hour after hour.

I kid you not.

Though the master of ceremonies knew who to call next, there was no programme for the rest of us. There was no list. No count-down. No possibility of knowing WHEN WAS IT GOING TO END? With each new act, our hopes would rise. Is this the last? Surely it can’t go on? Only do be dashed again, when the MC would introduce the next happy performer.

Until finally, we all believed, No, it was NEVER GOING TO END. Never, ever.

It is relevant to note that, with the sole exception of the uncle of the bride, who gave an extremely funny and, bless him to bits, SHORT, speech, not one of all those entertainers was particularly talented at whatever they were doing. In fact, some went so far as to be anti-talented.

It was three hours into this never-ending stream of vaudeville wannabes, when a sister of the bride and the bride’s (adorable) 4-year-old niece began a rousing mother-daughter rendition of “There’s a Hole in my Bucket” that I realized I had to leave. Had to, before I burst out into incredulous laughter or cries of outrage. Or just started sobbing into my drink. (My drink of water. This was a ‘dry’ event. Not content with boring their loyal and captive audience to catatonia, someone had made the decision that we should suffer all this without the gentle numbing comfort of booze.)

But, oh HURRAH!!!, I was pregnant at the time. (So no alcohol for me anyway, but it did seem a tad harsh on everyone else.) Pregnancy may be a pain for some things (as in no drinks when so supremely desirable) but it is a pretty near infallible get-out-of-stupid-shit-free card. I claimed … something. Fatigue? Backache? Sciatica? Can’t remember. Whatever, I claimed it, quite possibly limped pathetically over to the head table. We made our so-regretful apologies and got our bored witless selves out of there. If a few people stared at my waddling backside with murderous envy? Oh, well.

We were told later that it had gone on for another hour.

I have no idea what the bride and groom were thinking, turning a wedding reception into an Open Mic Vaudeville Event. It was many years ago, and we’ve long since lost touch, but in all the intervening years, never has a reception topped that in Weird and Tedious Beyond Imagining. Thank goodness.

How about you? Any weird (or wonderful) weddings in your memory?

August 23, 2012 Posted by | Mischief, quirks and quirkiness, random and odd | 7 Comments

Weird vs Weird

Playgroup. I take the children there so they can run around on a day when we can’t get to the park, when it’s too cold or rainy or mucky to even let them charge around my yard. A day when they’d normally be stuck indoors. They love it, of course. New toys, lots of space, lots of other kids.

But me? Generally, I’m not so fond of playgroup. Once in a while, I go there for me, but usually, I’m going strictly for the kids. Playgroup is crowded; I’m claustrophobic. Playgroup is LOUD; I’m noise-phobic. Not a happy experience for Mary. I do have a particular friend whose company I enjoy when I’m there … but I’d far, far rather meet her at the park or the coffee shop!!

As a caregiver, playgroup is also advertising. I am quite, quite aware that I am on display. When I walk in with my five small charges, I am immediately identifiable as Not a Mummy. I am a caregiver, a paid professional, and as such my talents, skills, attitude, nurturing capacity are visible for all the Real Mummies to evaluate. I am exposed. Fair enough. It works both ways. I will deliberately frequent playgroups more often when I know I have an upcoming space opening, hoping to impress one of those Mummies enough to get a new client. It does, however, mean I have to be “on” the whole time, and makes the event a little more tiring than it might otherwise be.

So, yeah. Pretty ambivalent about playgroup, all in all. However, with all the people and personalities gathered in that large room, sometimes interesting things happen. Sometimes weird things happen. Last week, something interesting and weird happened!

I was hoping to see a friend, but, sadly, she is not at playgroup today. (I really should get proactive about these things and, you know, phone her. I tend to be a bit vague, socially…) Even more sadly, really annoying caregiver is there. Gah. Happily, she has a friend with her, so I can sit a small distance away and not be drawn into conversation.

A Mummy approaches. She is young, late twenties, early thirties. Her long blond hair falls midway down the back of her tidy black dress, under which she is wearing black tights and black shoes. Her eyebrows are black, too, and are currently set in a firm, straight line across her face, mirroring the firm, tight line of her lips.

This is an Earnest Mommy, and she is Worried. Very, very worried. She approaches Very Annoying Caregiver’s friend. The caregiver friend is in her mid to late fifties, I’d say, with shoulder-length straggling grey hair, parted in the middle, falling alongside her face. She’s dressed casually, loose slacks in a nondescript colour, beige t-shirt. If she’s wearing a bra (and I think she is), it’s not up to the job… Caregiver is as loose, pale, and unfettered as the Earnest Mummy is tight, taut and tense.

“That baby over there,” she says, indicating a little boy some distance off, about ten months old, I’d say. “Is he with you?”

Other Caregiver acknowledges that yes, he is.

“Well, he has a runny nose.” Caregiver looks at Worried Mommy. Worried Mommy looks at caregiver. As the silence lengthens a bit past the norm, Worried Mommy actually wrings her hands. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone do that before. You read about it, you never see it. Now I’ve seen it. After letting the pause last a moment longer than natural, Caregiver responds.

“Yes, I know. He has a cold. His nose runs.” Her tone is polite and factual. She knows what the unspoken request is, and she’s not budging.

Wait. You’re probably all having a WHAT THE FUCK? moment. I know I was. I mean, WHO REFUSES TO WIPE A CHILD’S RUNNY NOSE? That is just bizarre.

But if you want to understand someone, the best way is to try to get into their thinking, see it from their perspective. So, okay. I’m a caregiver. I can do this. Even though I am a caregiver who wouldn’t hesitate for a second before wiping the child’s nose. Who would, in fact, thank the mummy before heading off with my kleenex.

Although, truth be told, I’d also be a bit annoyed with said mummy. Hm. Let me dig around a bit. Why would I be annoyed?

Well, first, because she had to hunt me down. She didn’t know which adult was with that child. So, rather than doing a quick scan for a likely adult, she’s been asking around, getting people to point fingers. (Yes, yes, I know. I shouldn’t have been that far away from a crawling baby, but we’re working at getting into the perspective of the caregiver here.)

Second, she chose to hunt me down rather than do something radical like, oh, I dunno … wipe the offending nose herself? If it really is so gosh-darn offensive?

Third, because, come on, people, it’s a runny nose. There’s no blood. There’s no immanent danger of physical harm. It’s snot, is all. And wait! As I run through those objections, I see my description of tattling. Oh, now I get it. This mummy has just tattled on me. Tattled on me to me, but still. Tattling is tattling. And caregivers? We haaaaaaaate tattling. Hate it, hate it, hate it. And what do you do with tattling?

Well, you don’t reward it, that’s for damned sure!

Okay. I get it now. I still think it’s weird and stupid (because, hello, bad advertising!, and hello! inconsiderate to smear snot at playgroup, ewww), but I get it.

So now there’s a pause. Worried Mommy is flummoxed, you can see that. But she’s not going away. This is unacceptable !! Totally unacceptable!

“But his nose is running!” Her voice rises slightly with anxiety.

“Yes. He has a cold. His nose runs.” Calm, level, matter-of-fact.

Well, now. I’d say their positions are well-established. Worried Mommy takes another run at it.

“Well, my son accidentally touched your baby’s face, and now he’s going to catch that cold!”

Wait. What? All right, the snot is unsightly. And the caregiver really should get up off her annoyed and defensive ass and deal with it, despite her desperate urge to smack this woman. But does this mummy honestly think that it takes direct contact with snot to spread a cold? Anything that child has touched is now seething with cold viruses. And what of the other dozen or so children out there with colds whose noses are scrupulously wiped? You don’t know which ones they are, because their more conscientious adults are hiding the evidence keeping them clean, but you know they’re out there. You know they’re there, and every time they wipe their own nose with the back of their hand and then touch something, every time they cough or sneeze and don’t cover properly — or at all — those germs are being wantonly disseminated everywhere.

This particular snotty baby is unsightly, but only marginally more verminous than any other germ-ridden child in the joint. So that’s just silly. And weird.

In the weirdness stakes, these two are in a dead heat.

They have another exchange or two which I don’t hear because I’m off tracking down Grace, who seems to have vanished. I find her lying on the floor behind the play kitchen. Eesh. I sure will be glad when hiding behind things loses its appeal. I chat with Grace for a moment, give Rory and Jazz a quick pat on my way by, manage not to be tripped by a commando hug from Daniel.

As I return to my seat, I see the Very Casual Caregiver walk over to her baby and give his nose a wipe with a largish square of brown paper towel, the kind that you find in public washrooms. Guess Worried Mommy won that round.

But wait. A brown paper towel? Oh, how rough and uncomfortable for the poor baby. Why does this woman have no tissue? I know. I take absent-minded to entirely new heights (or is that depths?) of muddle-headedness. I cannot claim never to have left home without kleenex for a snotty child. It’s happened. But still, you put this unpreparedness together with her initial refusal to deal with The Nose, and … it just doesn’t look good, you know?

Worried Mommy heads out the door with a slender, blond two-year-old, heading for the bathroom where, presumably, the boy shall be thoroughly scrubbed.

Wait! She was THAT WORRIED about her child’s health, yet she chose to duke it out with the caregiver before disinfecting washing his hands (face, entire body)??? One begins to wonder whether it was concern for her son or simply self-righteousness that prompted the tattling. Hm.

And that was that. Caregiver retreated to her bench to chat with her annoying friend. Worried Mommy returned with her scoured child, retreating to the far side of the room.

My weird-quota filled for the day, I gathered my children and headed off to Starbucks. Where happily caffeinated people slurp coffee and look at laptops, and worry not about snot.

May 8, 2012 Posted by | health and safety, outings, parents, quirks and quirkiness | , , , , , | 8 Comments

Because maybe it changed in the last 10 minutes?

Two little girls colour at the dining room table. One pauses and looks at the other.

“Grace? What is your name, Grace?”

The second little girl pauses to give the question due consideration, then answers.

“Grace.”

“Oh. Your name is Grace?” This said in tones of so-polite enquiry. Just checking that she heard it right.

“Yes. And your name is Jazz?” An equally polite question, its inflection oh-so-genteel.

“Yes, I am Jazz.”

“Yes.”

And they continue colouring, both under the apparent impression this was a perfectly rational exchange. Between, I note, two elderly Edwardian ladies. All that was missing was tea and crumpets and white lace gloves…

February 7, 2012 Posted by | Grace, Jazz, manners, quirks and quirkiness, the things they say! | | 2 Comments

Honesty is the best Policy

In fact, I have an ambivalent response to that quote. I’m not a believer in the inviolable sanctity of honesty in the pantheon of virtues. Too often honesty is nothing more noble than cruelty, dishonestly masquerading as a virtue.

But that’s the stuff of another, more philosophical post.

This one is from quite a few years back. Twelve or thirteen, I figure. Among the children in my care at the time were two small boys, whom we’ll call Riley and Paul. I’d been caring for Riley (then about 20 – 24 months) for a shortish while, a couple of months or so, when Paul (9-ish months) entered my care. Riley and Paul’s mothers were good friends, and I gather all Riley’s mom’s ravings about the wonderfulness of Mary encouraged Paul’s mother to leave her son with me.

All was going well. Riley, though a lively, accident-prone little punkinhead, was the cheeriest little dude. In fact, he was that one-in-a-thousand child who enters daycare cheerfully, and just stays that way. There was no separation anxiety, there were no tears at the door, there was no hesitation. Riley just trotted through the door, made himself instantly at home, and dismissed his loving parents with a happy wave. Insouciance itself, our Riley.

Paul was a little more standard. He was troubled when maman and papa left, but he was consolable. And it did help that his buddy Riley was there. Nice to have a familiar face close to hand in an unfamiliar environment. Despite the age difference, they did play together. Riley was cheerfully interested in ‘baby Paul’s’ doings, happy to help him with stuff, eager to play. It was very cute.

Which was why I didn’t hesitate to go into the kitchen for a minute or two, leaving Riley and Paul together in the living room. The living room and the kitchen in that house (I’ve since moved) both adjoined the dining room, each room connected to the other with an archway. There were no closed doors between us, and it was a matter of two steps to my right and a peek around the doorframe, and I could see the entire living room.

Seems safe, doesn’t it?

You’d say that if you didn’t know Riley. This was accident-prone, shitpalooza Riley, the boy to whom bizarre things happened, and through whom bizarre things happened. It always seemed like a good idea at the time. Riley did not (nor does he to this day) have a malicious bone in his body. He was cheerful — I keep using that word, because it just fits. Cheerful, eager, willing, energetic, friendly… and a disaster waiting to happen.

I love that boy. 🙂

Anyway. I’m in the kitchen, just for a minute, and Paul and Riley are in the living room a few feet away. And from the living room, I suddenly hear a rhythmic thudding. “Bump, bump, bump.” I don’t know what it is, but I don’t hear any cries of pain or alarm. Nonetheless, this is Riley. I’d learned, even at that early date, to check into anything out of standard when Riley was within three metres a mile or two.

I pop my head around the corner, and there is Riley, squatting on the floor in the way of toddlers. Squatting on the floor and bouncing up and down. “Thud, thud, thud.” That noise is not his diapered butt hitting the hardwood. No. Would that it were.

That noise was Paul’s forehead. Paul’s head, which Riley is straddling as he squats. And with each bounce of Riley’s padded butt, Paul’s wee forehead is knocked into the floor.

Oh.
My.
God.

The telling of this story takes faaaaar long than the actuality. Paul’s head probably got no more than two or three bounces before I’d swooped in with a cry of alarm and tossed Riley to one side lifted Riley off.

The damage was (hallelujah) not severe, but Paul was definitely going to have a bruise at home-time.

How to explain this one?

This is one occasion where I was seriously, severely, sorely tempted to lie. In that home, I had arranged the baby gate on the third step up, so that small children could practice going up and down three stairs. It would be an easy thing to say that Paul had crawled up three stairs and tumbled down. A tumble of three stairs is a minor thing. Having your head bashed into the hardwood floor by your bouncing buddy because your lame, inattentive caregiver was in the next room?

Eesh.

Never mind that I regularly walk from room to room. Never mind that they were out of sight for perhaps a minute, and never out of hearing. Never mind that parents let their children play together in the basement playroom while watching television in the living room upstairs all the time.

This just sounded sooooooooo bad.

I even practiced my Lie, so I could say it with a straight face. I rehearsed it in my mind so it would sound believable. I’m telling you, I was seriously tempted.

But in the end, I couldn’t do it. I ‘fessed up. Told the truth. And waited … for the shrieks of horror, for his super-nice mother to grab her bruised baby and storm off, never to be seen again. If I was lucky, I’d avoid a law suit. I hoped.

Because you just don’t know, do you?

Eesh.

His mother looked at her baby, eyed up the bruise. She snuggled him close, kissed his poor wee forehead.

And
.
.
.
laughed.

“Oh, thank goodness!” she said. “I was afraid you were going to tell me he’d fallen down the stairs. I am so paranoid about stairs!!!”

Blink.
Blink.
Blink.

Holy Hannah. In opting not to fudge the facts lie to dodge a potential bullet… I dodged a bullet. A real one. Honesty really is the best policy! Who knew? Wow.

The next day, I hear from Riley’s mother that the two women had chatted about it that evening. Riley’s mother was cheerfully (Riley comes by that trait honestly) apologetic.

“I warned her that she’d be taking a chance, leaving her poor baby in the same house as Riley. I did truly warn her!”

Paul’s mother concurred. “Yes, she did. ‘You never know, with Riley’, she told me.”

We all shared a fond laugh at the mayhem that is Riley. Because — who knew??? — it is far better to be bounced on the head by your friend than tumble down two or three steps. Far better.

But I will tell you this: from that moment on, Riley never, not once, not ever, left my sight. Well, except when he was sleeping… and we know where that led. (cf, ‘shitpalooza’, above)

Riley and his mother came to my birthday party last winter. They’re still two of my favourite people. Paul’s parents live a few blocks away, and we always take a few minutes to chat whenever we meet. Sometimes Paul, now a rapidly-sprouting-up young man, is with his parents. Hale and healthy, and always with his shy smile.

All’s well that ends well.

Phew.

August 2, 2011 Posted by | health and safety, quirks and quirkiness | , , | 1 Comment

The things you hear yourself saying…

“Rory. We do not sit on people’s heads. Off, right now.”

“Please do not pick the baby’s nose.”

“Because she is a dog. People clean their bums with toilet paper.” (This, I hasten to clarify, was strictly a theoretical question. No one had actually tried to implement canine-style personal hygiene.)

“Rory! We certainly don’t BOUNCE on people’s heads.”

Those were mine for today. What were yours?

June 8, 2011 Posted by | eeewww, health and safety, quirks and quirkiness | 14 Comments

A senior moment?

Until about 7:15 this morning, it was Saturday.

I got up (having ‘slept in’ until 5:38!!), pulled on a pair of jeans under my nightshirt, and took the puppy out for her first pee of the day. No need to get fully dressed, as I would on a weekday, because who’s going to be outside at 5:39 on a Saturday morning?

Oddly enough, my neighbours to the west were out, just getting into their car. And dressed rather nicely for a Saturday morning. Maybe they had a wedding to attend, or something?

I come back in. My husband wanders through the living room, a little early for a Saturday, but Saturday is one of his running days, so maybe he’s just going to get an early start on what promises to be a beautiful day.

I putz about on Farmville for… a while… while I sip my first cup of tea of the day. (For such a low-key game, it sure can eat up a lot of minutes. I make no apologies. As vices go, it’s pretty mild.)

I go outside with the puppy again.

I wander into the kitchen and scratched a line through yesterday’s dinner menu, and checked tonight’s entree. (Yes, it has the days of the week written on it…) Took the ground turkey out of the freezer.

And still, it was Saturday. Saturday at 7:12. My first child arrives at 7:45.

And I’m still in my jammies.

Here’s where good karma comes in. I go upstairs to the attic to where my Wonderful Husband is watching sports highlights, a morning ritual for him. I go upstairs to the attic, intending, it being a Saturday and us having NOTHING on the agenda (which is how we prefer our weekends), to jump his yummy bones.

(TMI? Mary has a happy marriage.) 🙂

Before I make my agenda clear, he says something about having a shower. “Before you take your run?” I say, somewhat surprised. See, my plan was to get him all sweaty before he took his run, knowing he’d be taking a shower after that. Aren’t I just so efficient??

“I’m not taking a run this morning.”

Now that’s just weird. My sweetie is a creature of habit. Run days are Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. I am thrown into further confusion when he asks whether I’ve taken the dogs for their morning walk. Well, no. He always takes Indie with him when he runs. I walk the puppy later.

“But I’m not running today. It’s Friday.”

Friday?

FRIDAY???

I’m dressed, properly dressed, in less than three minutes. I’m drinking my second cup of tea in less than seven.

And I greet the first parent — fully clothed, face washed, teeth brushed — twenty-three minutes after that. Because it’s Friday, and I’m working.

Thank heavens for naughty intentions.

June 3, 2011 Posted by | quirks and quirkiness, sex, the dog | 8 Comments

Love Conquers Phobia. Almost.

Two weeks ago, we bought a vanity for the bathroom that is being constructed in the basement. (We will soon have TWO bathrooms in this place!!! Whee! I am so excited.)

The vanity came in a large cardboard box. A large, very sturdy box.

We LOOOOOOOVE large boxes around here. Some judicious slices with a large knife, a few holes, a little decorative duct tape, and you have….

a play house!!!

It’s been in my living room for two weeks. This is Big News. I am somewhat claustrophobic, see. I have a fairly unexceptional set of symptoms: anxiety in elevators and tiny washrooms on planes and trains (mild and manageable these days, due to persistent effort), and a complete and utter inability to enter a cave, no matter how spacious. Just can’t do caves: pounding heart, cold sweats, shakiness, surging panic. And you know what? I DO have to deal with elevators and teeny bathrooms. I put the work into getting over elevators and teeny bathroom trauma. But caves? I can live my whole life without ever once needing to go into a cave. I do not need to put myself through the trauma of getting over this one. It did mean that that one time when we were in West Virginia, I stayed firmly above ground while my family went below. Apparently it was spectacular and beautiful down there. But did I NEED to go down there? And how much spectacular and beautiful would I see through the dark film that goes across your vision right before you faint, anyway?

Not so much, I’m thinking.

A bit of a downer for the rest of the tour, too, I have to think. So, you want to go in a cave? You just go RIGHT AHEAD. That’s ooooookay. I will stay up here in the light, without all those millions of tonnes of rock oppressing my space, crushing me, making it hard to breathe…

Yes, well. So now you know.

One of the quirkier manifestations of the claustrophobia is an aversion to being crowded. I can manage parties, and crowded buses, though like most people I can find myself getting irritable. I know my irritation stems from the anxiety of claustrophobia, and I can just breeeeathe through it. “Being crowded” includes not just crowded by people, but crowded by things. I do not like cluttered space. Which is not to say my house is clutter-free. (I wish.) It’s a small house, it has many bodies in it. It gets cluttered. But, knowing how I need this for my mental health, I am a diligent fighter of the clutter.

And that box?

That giant box that they love so well?

Is taking up a LOT of space in my small living room. It is a giant mass of space-sucking cardboard. Light does not bounce around the room; light lands on The Box, and vanishes. All movement in the room has to take The Box into account.

And I have let it live in my living room, I have let it OWN my living room, for two weeks.

I am a good, good woman.

And I am done now. It can stay through Friday, one more day, and then it’s history.

A brand-new bathroom!!! No more sneaking past the person in the shower to pee!!! A box-free living room!!!!

The excitement around here! It’s just too much! I KNOW!

February 17, 2011 Posted by | crafts, daycare, quirks and quirkiness | , , | 3 Comments

It’s supposed to be an answer…

“Mary, can you put my slipper back on?”

Hmm… They’re supposed to leave them on precisely because they can’t put them back on themselves.

“I can, but why is it off? You know you’re supposed to leave your slippers on.”

“Yes, but Emily needed to kiss my foot.”

April 12, 2010 Posted by | quirks and quirkiness, random and odd | , | 4 Comments