Saturday, September 11, 2010
Can't. Hold. On. Much. Longer.
I have 10 minutes to kill: That is the prescribed amount of time to leave in the lice removal shampoo that I applied earlier this evening to Beanie and to Bubbie, and now, after rinsing and combing their hair and changing the sheets on all our beds b/c naturally, this morning, both kids climbed into bed with me to snuggle, as StraightMan is out of town at a conference, so the kiddos felt like they needed extra cuddling.
This is why it is best that I avoid other means of self-expression / self-indulgence like Twitter. Besides which I think it actually might drive me insane (not to mention others insane with boredom) to report minutely on such happenings as have occurred here during the last 48 hours or so:
Thursday 6:30pm. StraightMan has departed for the airport about 30 minutes later than he had hoped b/c Bubbie had a meltdown at Mama Nina's, where they went to pick up the pizza that was supposed to spare us a lot of trouble at supper.
For the record, Bubbie also had a meltdown earlier in the day, when we dropped him off for his first day at nursery school. Given that he has been attending a child care program since the age of six months and that he already knows the teachers and other children at the nursery school, we are a bit surprised. Also, irritated, in my case. I need to finish prepping two classes for that afternoon, including a lecture / "discussion" that is not unlike pulling nits off Beanie's head, and a hands-on seminar, the reading for which I have completed. (My usual prep time on Wednesday afternoon became swallowed whole by chatting oh-so-helpfully with a couple of students after my back-to-back intro classes, then attending a department meeting.) So, by the time I arrive at home after a mercifully quick meeting with Anthropology Club, for which I am co-adviser, I am reminding myself that I encouraged StraightMan to attend the conference - between the two of us, he really is the better scholar - so it is unfair of me to be sending darts of dark thought at his back as he closes the door.
Perfectly formed tear drops fleck Beanie's long, long lashes. Her great-grandfather on StraightMan's side would have said: A rooster could stand on that lower lip.
Thursday 10:30pm. Dishwasher that was run last night still has not been unloaded, which is required before I load it again with today's accumulated mess. Students e-mailing their troubles and worries about the weekly quiz, the paper due next week, the realization that their major in fill-in-the-blank is not that inspiring, and that anthropology might be calling to them. Hang up, I am tempted to tell them. Ignore.
Friday 10:30am. Bubbie woke about 6:45am, demanding that we make Mickey Mouse pancakes for breakfast. This means putting all the ingredients in cups and bowls for him to dump into a mixing bowl, then combine with a wooden spoon. Miraculously, we make the pancakes, the kids eat them hungrily, and they are dressed and reasonably clean when we leave the house. I drop off Beanie at her friend's house, so they can walk to school together. Then, in lieu of my morning run, I take Bubbie in his stroller to his child care program. Not to go on for too long, I am dressed and reasonably clean when I arrive on campus. I chat with a couple of colleagues, then with a student whose independent study I am advising. I teach my back-to-back intro classes. Blurgh.
Friday 3:05pm. On our way out, Beanie's teacher gestures to me to wait a moment. She tells me that another child - whose coat hook is next to Beanie's - has been sent home with head lice. Frak.
I have Beanie change her clothes on our back porch, washing and drying everything on high heat. We get Bubbie from child care, then open the Netflix that arrived - "The Princess Bride." Toward the end off the the movie, I notice that Beanie has fallen silent after a steady stream questioning and commentary. Is something bothering you, I ask. As she nods, the tears drop from her lashes. She is glad that Inigo finally got his revenge on the six-fingered man, she says, but Inigo's father is still dead, she continues, and that makes her think about how her own daddy will not be home until Sunday.
Saturday 12noon. I am cursing this ridiculous American middle-class notion that we ought to give children "choices" in order to help them feel more control / less frustration. Yadda yadda yadda. Does Bubbie want a slice of pizza or a roni roll? A roni roll, he tells me. So, that is what we order. Pandemonium ensues.
Saturday 2pm. Bubbie is in his crib, Beanie is in her bed, and I am in my bed. I do not care what they actually do, as long as I am unaware for at least the next 30 minutes.
Saturday 4pm. One by one, we wake. Life... feels like it could be... enjoyed.
I ask the kids whether or not they might like a treat - to have supper (and dessert) at Friendly's. Walking to Friendly's, drivers stop their cars to allow us to cross. Sorority girls remark audibly on "how cute" Bubbie is. We see the dog poop on the sidewalk in time to avoid stepping into it. Sunshine day... All through supper, we look and even act like a happily functional family. The children even lick clean their little saucers of mandarin oranges and apple sauce, which they ordered (instead of fries) as their side dishes. We order candy shoppe sundaes for dessert.
Saturday 10pm. I am wearing lice removal shampoo in my hair and blogging to kill time. I had checked Beanie's hair in the am, but found nothing - I check again before bedtime and find dried little nits. Hmm... Then I check Bubbie's head and find three larger gelatinous nits. Frak. I shampoo both kids' hair. Bubbie's is so short and fine that it seems lousy for lice (ha!), so I hope that takes care of it. I comb out three dead bugs from Beanie's hair.
This is our third lice experience since June. I cannot understand it. Is it that we just never got rid of it the first (or second) time around, or is it that the larger circle in which we move (school, summer camp,, and so on) just never got rid of it, or both? Not only do StraightMan and I read and follow the instructions on the lice removal kits, but we wash and dry clothing, linens, towels, and so on on high heat; have dry cleaned other things we cannot wash; quarantine stuffed animals and pillows in plastic bags for a month (in fact, there is still a batch stashed in the attic right now); vacuum rugs, couches, and curtains; and check for nits every day. We are not lackadaisical about all this. In fact, I feel like we are a bit over-the-top daisical.
All of this is happening at the same time that I am feeling that creeping anxiety about: The classes that I have not prepped for the coming week. The exams that I need to write for next week. All alongside two committee meetings that will cut into the time that I would have used to prep the classes, write the exams, and do the following: The application for a salary adjustment that is due this coming week, along with the application for funds to attend a conference where I will be presenting. Not to mention a proposal (due in three weeks) for a talk (in November). The talk that I will be giving next week. The presentation that I am giving in one month. The research poster that I will show in one month. The research poster that I will show in two months. The research for a different project that I need to complete for the revision of my book manuscript that I intend to resubmit in February. The renewal file, due in January, which leads to the reappointment and promotion (tenure) file that I will need to prepare next fall.
The thing that kills me is that I am not entirely convinced that it all needs to be done. Not in the sense that I individually choose or do not choose to be a parent, a college professor, and so on, but that the expectations for each of these roles has become so much. It just seems like things that a generation ago were good-to-do (like teaching and publishing...) have become required-to-do. Or else.
As a parent, I become a logistical contortionist in order to create an environment of unharriedness and unhurriedness for my children. So that I am not always telling them "some other time" or "later," and that I have the patience and presence of mind to listen and engage with them or just take them around the block on a bike ride or to Friendly's for supper and dessert.
Yet, I am not, as a person, unharried or unhurried.
Way past time to rinse the lice removal shampoo. Which I hope kills the nits and bugs before it kills me.