Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Ice Queen, Melted

I kept Conor home from school today.  He stopped throwing up yesterday, and had begun eating and drinking small amounts, and his fever had passed, but I just wanted him to have one more day of rest.

I'd made a doctor's appointment for Aiden this morning to have his foot looked at.  I don't know what it is with my kids and their feet, but we've been through it, and thankfully have a wonderful podiatrist.  Aiden started complaining of foot pain after his first football practice, and I thought, "Oh, dear.  He will come unglued if he can't play."  We'd been getting him through the best we could with tape, ice, Advil, and prayers, but it needed to get looked at.  His doctor's appointment was for 8:45am, so I got up at 6:30am with the following plan:

6:30   Pack Sean's lunch--he was at Seminary (Sean lives with us now, have you heard?)
6:45   Make breakfast for Sean
7:00   Have scripture study with my kids
7:15   Feed Aiden and Conor (oh, and me)
7:30   Go shower and get dressed
8:15   Leave for the doctor's office

But, you know what they say about the "best laid plans."  Adam had stayed up all night working, so he was really tired, and when he heard that I was going in the general direction (sort of) of the town where Sean's school is, he asked if I could just take him "on my way."

So, that's why I didn't get to shower today.  And sort of why Sean was 5 minutes late for school (Adam told me it started at 8am, but at 7:49, stuck in traffic, Sean clarified that it starts at 7:50.  Precision isn't Adam's forte.)  And why we got to the doctor's office 38 minutes early.

Good thing we'd both packed books.  And I, mascara.

Aiden was relieved to hear that his growth plate had NOT broken again.  This time, just as his sister had earlier this year, he "just" has tendinitis.  And he is not forbidden from playing football, provided he follows some basic rules.  He is excused from all running in P.E. for a month, however.  But he is over-the-moon happy about it not being the worst case scenario he'd been dreading.

From the doctor's office in Glendale, we drove to Burbank to pick up an ankle brace, and then clear out to Northridge, where his school is.

On the way home, Lyndsay called me in hysterics about her Calculus 2 test.  She'd taken her first college exam and it did not go as she'd hoped.  I could barely understand her on the other end of the phone.  I pulled into a parking lot and talked her down for thirty minutes.

Things like, "It's okay.  You are allowed to do poorly sometimes.  It was your very first college exam."

And, "Who cares?  You're still awesome, and smart, and capable, and every wonderful thing you were before you took that test."

And, "This test, even if you do fail (which I know she won't) is not your semester grade, and all your preparation and hard work is not wasted.  You're finding your groove.  Hang in there."

And, "YOU are not your grades or your test scores, and you've got to separate your identity from your performance."

And a whole bunch of other things, some combination of which seemed to work, since by the end I think she laughed a little.

I didn't get home until just after noon.  Noon!  Tuesday mornings are my study hours.  (And this is prep for another exam week!) And after all that driving and the emotional highs and lows I was so tired.  I just wanted a 15 minute nap.  Maybe 30, if I got lucky.  Because Tuesday afternoons are piano hours.  But when I walked in the door, Adam was ready to hand off Conor to me, with an added, "The freezer repairman will be here within 30 minutes."

Crap.  There went the nap.

And my study time for the day, because at 1:30 back to back lessons begin.  Seven students on Tuesdays, which finish up right at dinnertime, and just before Scouts and bath time and bedtime.

Don't get me wrong, I was thrilled the repairman was coming.  Our ice maker, for the last YEAR has not stopped making ice.  It's a daily chore to keep up with it.  It just keeps on making ice!  And if you don't keep on top of things, regularly emptying out that bin, it overflows and ice comes crashing down on you when you next open the freezer.  And, about 4 months ago, it got worse.  Not only does it perpetually make ice, but now it also drips water into the ice bin, so that the ice slowly melts and refreezes into one gigantic block of ice.  Every single day, the bin has to be taken out and has to be manually sprayed with hot water to melt the entire thing out.  Because if you forget (and I did sometimes), the water rises up over the top of the bin and freezes to the bottom of the ice maker, making it near impossible to remove from the freezer, and spills down the sides and freezes and creates stalactites and stalagmites of ice throughout your entire freezer and everything inside of it.  I can't even tell you how annoying it's been to have this as a daily chore in my life for MONTHS.  Or of the nights when I've awoken in the darkness with terror seizing my heart: "I FORGOT TO DO THE ICE!"  When I've gone out of town I've had to leave specific instructions with the babysitters.  And I've called home, "Don't forget to do the ice!"  It's been a nightmare.

I called the landlord months ago about it, but his resident repairman gave me a "Uh, you have to lift that little metal bar up," at which point I wanted to climb through the phone and grab him by the throat till his eyes bulged.  "This is way past lifting the little metal bar up," I said, sarcastically.  Jerkwad Stupidface Male Chauvinist Pig, I wanted to add.  (This was the same guy who when I called him over here to fix our leaking-for-the-7th-time bathtub faucet, told me that maybe I didn't know how to properly turn off the water and I was wrenching it too tightly.  I replied, "Um, I've been turning water off and on now for going on 40 years and I think I've got it."  Retard Butthead Womanhater Pig.)  Well, if it wasn't that little metal bar, then he had no idea how to fix it, and I'd have to call an appliance repairman.


So, that being the situation, I had to wait until I had money to do that.  Which was today.  At a little after noon, when I was supposed to be studying, and wanted to be napping, and was about to get hit with a barrage of piano students.

"I hate today," I said to Adam when he told me.  He giggled.

But then, when I went downstairs to wait, I decided to change my attitude.  I could feel Grouchy setting up a tent, and he wanted to stay. Yes, it's true that I'm a creature of habit, predictability, and constancy.  I don't like errands and driving around, and changes to my schedule.  However, I melted, I was able to help Adam out by taking Sean to school so he could sleep.  I have a really good podiatrist who knows me and my children, and even better, their feet, and then he rarely charges me for his services.  I got to spend the morning with Aiden, whom I adore, and we didn't get the bad news that he'd have to quit football.  I had the gas to drive all over creation.  I was available for Lyndsay when she needed me.  Conor had recovered.  The freezer was about to be fixed!  I am really, really blessed.  This has been a good day.

The repairman did not show up in the next 30 minutes.  (Do they ever?)  I could have taken a nap after all, but instead of feeling grumpy about that, I was grateful that in my waiting, I'd vacuumed the downstairs, thrown some chicken in the crockpot, and swept up the laundry room.  The repairman showed up at the same time as my first students.

Well, come on in!  Because I just got 20 minutes a day back on every day from here on out, now that I'm off of ice duty for good.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Conor's Heart

I love this boy of mine.  What a gift he is to me, each and every day.  His little heart is huge, and the depth of his feelings and compassion, combined with the way he sees the world are such a privilege to behold.  He just came this way, and it's really fun to watch him grow.

Conor adores his 1st grade teacher.  She is a member of our ward at church and the mother of one of Lyndsay's best friends, so he was familiar with her before she became his teacher.  Several weeks into the school year, she was out sick for a day.  He was worried about her.  In his prayers that night he prayed, "Please bless Mrs. Pinkston to get better and to not be sick anymore.  Not even a bit."  The next day, more of the same.  Once she was back to health, he kept up the prayers for her: "Please bless Mrs. Pinkston to be so grateful that she is not sick anymore."

But while she was under the weather, he wanted to "make a craft" for her.  He asked me for black and white paper, which I gave him, and he pulled down the scissors and glue and crayons.  Then he proceeded to cut out black and white squares and glue them to another paper, and then draw each of the chess figures, placing them in their positions and folding them up so they stood aright.  He worked for several days, a little at a time.  He was so proud of his homemade chess set when he was finished.  I almost hated to see it go, but he'd labored over it as a gift for his beloved Mrs. Pinkston, so the morning after it was finished, he toted it off to school.

Conor loves adults, if you haven't noticed.  Other children are fine, though he prefers them just a bit older than himself, but he makes interesting connections with adults in his life.  Take the Iranian bus driver.  Conor doesn't even take a bus to school, but every day the busses line the streets in front of his school and the bus drivers wait outside their busses for their children to board.  Conor and I would walk by them each day on the way home from school, and for some reason, he really took an interest in this one.  They didn't exchange too many words, but once that bell rang, Conor would run down the street to see him and give him a high-five as he passed.  The driver would say in his thick accent, "Have a good day, Mister."  And Conor would say, "You too! Have a great day!  See you tomorrow!"  And that was it.  Every. Single. Day.  And the bus driver wouldn't take his busload until he had seen Conor.  He stopped me one time on my way to the school to ask if it would be okay if he gave Conor a small gift.  I said sure, so he brought Conor a small toy school bus.  And he gave him several other toy school busses of various sizes over the months, which Conor cherishes.  Towards the end of the school year, the driver asked me when Conor's birthday was and I told him it was the day before the next school year started.  So he brought me a gift to save for the summer and give him when it was his birthday.  Conor was so thrilled to receive a gift after a summer of not seeing his friend.  (Another toy vehicle.)

Well, when this school year started, and we headed home that first day, passing by the busses all lined up, Conor's old friend was not among the drivers.  Each day that week we looked for him, but he was gone.  I think his route must have been changed.

 Earlier this week, after Conor had been put to bed, I heard him crying.  I went in to see what was wrong.  "I miss the bus driver," he sobbed.  And his little heart broke wide open with his sadness.  I tried to comfort him, but I felt so helpless.  I didn't even know the man's name (Ashat?  Ashrat?  Something like that, but still, that's only a first name.)  Conor wanted to write to him, to find him somehow, and I didn't know how to do that.  I sat with him for several minutes, and then, in such an astute way, he asked, "Can I get up and draw a picture of a bus?"  He knew that's what he needed to do to process his grief.  He does that sometimes.  When he was missing Dylan, he would ask to draw pictures for him.  When he was missing Lyndsay, sometimes even late at night when his thoughts become more clear to him in the silence of his darkened room, he would ask to get up and draw pictures.  I understood that that was what he needed to, much in the same way that when I am processing emotion I am overwhelmed with a feeling to turn on the light and write.

I didn't care that it was past his bedtime.  I loved that he loved this Iranian bus driver for LAUSD, and I loved that he was so in tune with his feelings that he could channel his grief into action that would be healing for him.  So, I let him out of bed and he came downstairs and got out his journal.

(I'm not sure why the bus is purple and blue, except that maybe purple and blue are "sad" colors for Conor.)  He dictated just a few sentences to me, which I wrote on the top of the page, but when I prompted him to see if he wanted to talk more about his feelings of missing the bus driver, he said, "No, I'm done."  And off he went to bed.

He knows so innately how to take care of himself, and he seems to realize, even at age 6, that taking care of his heart and his feelings are just as important as taking care of his body, which is astounding to me.  He reminds me to honor my feelings and express them in healthy ways.

Just part of the magic of raising a child.