Monday, February 4, 2019

Bise* Week

*Zuzu wrote a story at school about her "bise weekend" and it took me a day to figure out that bise = busy. Why was she so busy? Two birthday parties to attend on Sunday! She's living the good life, folks.

Here's what I've been doing: David went to a conference last week. He was gone Tuesday through Saturday, which is an absurdly long time for a conference. He said that it was productive and informative, so I'm glad it wasn't a waste of time, but managing our daily routine is definitely a two-person job, and we all really missed him.

I was prepared to deal with the all of the things I expected--Coco getting teary at bedtime (she slept with his photo every night), dinners needing to be quick and easy to clean up, and getting up extra early to make sure I had time to deal with the dogs and packing lunches.

I was not prepared for the polar vortex! A huge part of the reason we moved was to get David and Zuzu in the same school district so that they'd always be on the same schedule. Normally, anytime there is a cancellation for snow, my university makes the same choice as their school district. But when schools were canceling for low temperatures (due to bus riders), my university was still open. So I had to bring Zuzu to work with me two days in a row! Thankfully, Coco's preschool was still open, but Zuzu spent a lot of time watching a screen while I was teaching on Tuesday and Wednesday. It all worked out, but it was a little stressful and draining to not have any quiet time to think/read/prep for class except for after they were in bed!

The week did have several bright spots though--I didn't get to watch any TV (I didn't sit on the couch and snuggle the dogs at all) but I did manage to cross all the things off my to-do list, which felt really good. We skipped Spanish Tuesday night because it was dark and snowing and freezing cold and I just wasn't up to getting out in it. We did go to dance, and had a very successful lesson.

A few weeks ago, Zuzu had a wretched time at dance. She'd been sick over the weekend, but I really don't think that was the reason. I can't begin to fathom the workings of her mind, honestly. She has loved dance and asked this year to do jazz in addition to tap and ballet, but suddenly she was complaining every week about having to go. And then there was the day that she went, but refused to participate. After class, the teacher let me know that Zuzu had spent the entire hour lying on the floor.

I was so mad, and I admit that it was because I found her behavior embarrassing. I also couldn't relate to it--I would have never done such a thing as a kid. I might have acted out at home, complained about class, or whined about going, sure. But I definitely would not have defied my dance teacher or flopped on the floor while my classmates all followed directions. I felt like she was being disrespectful and I was so mad.

Out in the parking lot, Coco asked me what was wrong. I answered matter-of-factly, "Zuzu lay on the floor instead of dancing and I'm upset about it."

Well, Zuzu was furious with me for sharing that information: "IT'S NOT BETWEEN YOU AND COCO!" I think she was just looking for a fight, because her rage culminated in her screaming, "I HATE YOU!" at me as she got in the car. In a parking lot full of moms loading well-behaved ballet dancers into mini-vans. Which is great, because if your first grader is going to lose her mind and scream that she hates you, you definitely want an audience of other parents. I'm not going to lie--it was humiliating. I was taking deep breaths and not responding to her at all. After her outburst, another mom called to me, "You're doing a great job, Mama!" which was really nice and actually made me get teary-eyed.

The next day, we had a long conversation about being respectful. I'm not going to force her to take dance lessons if she doesn't want to, but I also don't want her to think she can quit by being an a$$hole. So we talked about why she takes dance lessons--to be active and healthy, to make friends, and to have fun. I told her that there are other ways to do that, and if she'd like to stop taking dance lessons when her swim lessons start in March, that's fine. But if she wants to take swim lessons, she needs to participate fully and respectfully in dance for the next few weeks.

(What would we do if she refused? Cancel swim lessons? I don't know. Parenting Zuzu allows me to only see one step ahead instead of mapping out the whole path, which is what makes it so terrifying.)

(Another parenting question I have... off-limits language. I love words and I don't mind salty language and I personally would not choose to punish my kids for using curse words, depending on context--obviously if they called their teacher (or me) an effing bitch, that would warrant punishment. But so would calling their teacher (or me) a dumb-dumb face. For me, it's less about which words they choose and more about the fact they're trying to be hurtful and disrespectful. My kids haven't been exposed that that many curse words (except when they overhear me... whoops!) and they are young enough that it hasn't been an issue. But there are certain words that we say our family doesn't use--particularly hate, stupid, and shut up, which are words they may hear at school or on TV. And while I think it's important to not use those words, I also wonder if forbidding them gives them more power, so really they just save them up for maximum effect, as Zuzu did in the ballet parking lot. Coco kept talking about the "shhh" word the other day and I was trying to figure out where she learned the word "shit" until I realized she meant "shut up." Anyway, still figuring that out and trying to be a good role model...)

I've been bracing myself for dance lessons since then, but it's been fine. In fact, now she's decided she wants to stay in dance through the recital in June. (This child is baffling.) And while David was gone, she had a great dance lesson and the teacher actually pulled me aside (as I was pulling Zuzu out early to go home because driving in the snow makes me so anxious, particularly when I'm pregnant).

Thursday night we had no where to go, and my parents came up on Friday which was so amazing because they picked up the girls from school AND my mom made dinner. It was like I was on vacation! David got home on Saturday and life is back to normal. This week is particularly busy, though. How does it happen that everything happens at once?

I have a workshop tonight that runs from 6-8:30, and when you factor in the 20-minute drive there and back, it eats up my entire evening. It's a good workshop and my choice, but still a challenging time commitment.

Tomorrow I'm volunteering to put up decorations for the school musical performance immediately after school; later that night the girls have Spanish and I have a We Stories meeting, so D and I are going to juggle drop off and pick up and still try to make and eat dinner together.

Wednesday night is dance (fingers crossed it continues to go smoothly) and I'm on my own because David will be at his school all evening for an event.

Thursday afternoon I have a doctor appointment to check in on The Closer (24 weeks today). Thursday night I'm double booked, but I'm choosing to attend Zuzu's musical performance (I mean, I can't miss her first one! Plus it's "The Day the Crayons Quit" and I think it's going to be soooo cute. And I get a reserved seat since I'm volunteering on Tuesday. #incentive).

Friday I have to take Zuzu to a dentist appointment, and that night, she and David are attending a dance at school. (Confession: I'm so relieved not to have to go! I'm sure they will have fun and Coco and I will find something else fun to do that doesn't involve large numbers of elementary school girls shrieking in a gymnasium).

Saturday, David and I have plans to go to dinner and the Fox. It will be great to have a date night, but I'm not fully looking forward to it because sitting through a show at the Fox the last two times we've gone has made my sciatic nerve flare up the next day. Any suggestions for avoiding that while sitting for two and a half hours in small, old, not super comfortable theater seats? I'll get up and walk at intermission, but that doesn't quite seem to be enough. I am considering trying a water exercise class on Saturday. Pro--I'm sure it would be really good for me. Con--I will feel social pressure to shave my legs before I go.

Whew. So that's my week. Plus working--we're wrapping up Hamlet, The Taming of the Shrew and Pride and Prejudice in my three different classes this week, so my head is swimming with questions about Shakespeare, love, vengeance, Austen, gender roles, marriage, and how these questions transfer to our twenty-first century context. The big questions are so much fun. But it's so easy to get weighed down by the minutiae--and I fully admit that I am someone who gets a rush of accomplishment from crossing minutiae off a to-do list. Hoping to ride that rush through the packed calendar this week.


  1. The comment -- "You're doing a great job, Mama!" -- made me think of this great podcast that you should listen to (if you're not already): One Bad Mother. I'm not affiliated in any way. It's just a great podcast by two moms, and their tag line, which they say constantly to each other and others, is "You're doing a great job!"

    1. Thanks for the rec! I always love a good podcast.

  2. G is expsosed to all the words and I’m constantly saying don’t say that ever to her. I used swears in the context of things adults can choose to do but should not choose to do them. Children don’t have that choice. See also, smoking, drinking, unhealthy food. So, she starts saying crap, and I’m like, mmm, crap is just a step away from shit, and you don’t need to be saying shit. So she goes; well, ok, I’ll say c-word. AND THEN I DIED RIGHT THERE.

    1. The c-word. BAH-hahahahaha. That's amazing.