Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Degree of Difficulty

The Cat and The Comforter (and its cover)
B and I struggle, as every modern family does, with The Changing of the Comforter Cover. We have a cat, so this should be done every couple of weeks. Unfortunately, it is not so. We used to try to do it together: Debacle. She or I would end up standing on the bed, lifting things and shaking them, trying desperately to communicate what assistance was needed, and eventually becoming so distraught we needed the other to leave the room. This lovely language of ours (English) just does not have words for the manipulations that must be synchronized during The Changing of the Comforter Cover. Eventually, we determined that The Changing of the Comforter Cover, like so many of life's difficult tasks, had to be done alone.

Recently, I got a job. (Yay!) Since then, the one thing I have insisted on, which B grudgingly agreed to, is a maid service. They come every two weeks, and one time, they even attempted The Changing of the Comforter Cover. They did it wrong, of course, but who can blame them? They're maids, not superheros! I was grateful that they'd even had the courage to look at the damn thing.

All of our comforter covers have holes in them. (Did I mention the cat?) I'm not sure, since they're so worn and clawed, why it matters to us that they be changed every so often. But it does. Of course anytime someone attempts The Changing of the Comforter Cover, the cat comes to cause trouble. She (the cat) is terrified of all strangers, vacuum cleaners, and feather dusters, but I'm sure she showed up when the maids attempted The Changing of the Comforter Cover. Why? Because that is What She Does. One of her primary purposes is to disrupt The Changing of the Comforter Cover. This purpose is a higher purpose (It must have something to do with the cat/fabric ecosystemic balance.), and it takes precedence over hiding from strangers (even those with vacuum cleaners) and other less important duties, like getting stuck places and making us crawl all over the floor, appliances, and furniture searching for her. Somewhere in her pea-sized brain, she (the cat) decides that she will put aside her vacuum/stranger phobia and take one for the team, courageously disrupting The Changing of the Comforter Cover time and time again.

Of course, I was not here to witness the disruption, but I know it must have happened. I know it in my bones. I almost wrote the maids a letter of apology, on the cat's behalf. Instead I just tried not to be too disappointed when the maids did not attempt The Changing of the Comforter Cover the next time they came. They are, as we said, maids, not goddesses.

Something about this whole thing reminded me of a trip to the refrigerator I made the other day. We eat a lot of fruit in my family. I'm obsessed with oranges. B is obsessed with apples. Ari is obsessed with grapes. Sometimes, there is crossover. The honey crisp apples B has been bringing home lately are worth stealing. So, the other day, I opened the refrigerator, and there was the biggest apple I had ever seen. I was terrified. It was so big it might have been a pumpkin! I immediately thought of eating it, of course, as one naturally would, but then I became so concerned about How It Had Come To Be that I was too grossed out. I mean, what the hell did somebody have to do to grow such a thing? Did they feed it blood? Inject it with steroids? The possibilities are staggering.

What does this have to do with The Changing of the Comforter Cover? Just: navigating one's household is a dangerous thing. Even if one doesn't have an anxiety disorder, the degree of difficulty in just, like, subsisting -- eating apples and changing bedding, for instance -- is massive. I was alone when I was frightened by the apple, and I don't even try The Changing of the Comforter Cover anymore if I'm not alone, but there is an un-aloneness in both of these. After I explained the apple incident to B, she apologized earnestly for having left it there to frighten me, in a way that only a woman who understands me could have. Whenever I change the comforter cover, I'm given treats and praise and gratitude. So, it doesn't seem so bad. This life, with all its first world problems, can be difficult, and I, for one, am glad I'm not doing it alone.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Casanova or Klepto

Insert paragraphs about not blogging for centuries here.

The other day, I went to my son's preschool parent/teacher conference. For the purposes of this appointment, I paraded as the parent. I was terrified. My son is willful, we have determined. It would be a learning difference, only he is too happy about it. He is three and a half. He does not listen. He will not wear anything he does not want to wear. (I know: you think that sounds reasonable, don't you? Fool!) He wants to be a daddy when he grows up. He does not wish to hold a job. He insists he will have some number of children which is greater than 6 and less then 8,000. He kisses everyone. He says, gleefully, "Let's share germs!!" and runs at you with arms outstretched. I do not know who taught him this particular phrase, but I have my suspicions. Lately, he comes home with his pockets full of filched toys (small ones, obviously) from school. He also likes to drag girls into the bushes, tackle them, roll around with them, pin them to the floor (Horrid!), and touch their faces. He would do this with boys, too, I am certain, only he doesn't spend much time with them because they do not wear enough purple.

Spending half an hour with his teachers was the last thing I wanted to do. They are lovely people, patient and energetic, smart and kind. But my child is not easy. I wanted to play sick. Surprisingly, their biggest complaint was his kissing problem. His victims adore him and beg for more, but their parents freak. I can understand that. The teachers, Ms. Evelia and Ms. Saba, didn't seem to know he is a kleptomaniac. Evidently, he's good at it. They aren't wild about his refusal to sing except (loudly) at nap time. But generally, they haven't figured out just how impossible he can be. Lucky me!

Ari has a telephone he drags around. One of those ones they had when I was a kid, too. It has eyes that roll around and a string to pull it with and wheels and a dial to spin. He somehow knows it is supposed to be a phone even though we've never had a land line in his lifetime. In fact, I don't know where he could have ever seen a phone like that. The doctor's office? Probably, yes, it was there, since he spent every other day there until he was three, deathly ill with whatever latest virus we all shared. Anyway, he knows the thing is supposed to be a phone, and he even knows how to pick up the separate receiver and talk into the mouthpiece and dial the damn thing. But mostly, he begs to sleep with it (No! Strangulation risk.) and calls it "Jarzay." This is pronounced, "JAR-zhay," which rhymes with "Tar-jay" (soft, french J), which is a store we often go to. I am sure that you must go there, too. Today, B asked Ari if he wanted to bring Jarzay to show and tell. This week's show and tell must begin with the letter J, so B was explaining to Ari that he had to tell his class that it was Jarzay, not just any telephone, since telephone does not begin with J. Ari said, "Jarzay is just a telephone by accident. She has a phone attached to her, but that's not really her." Or somesuch existential thing that no three year old should be saying. When things like this happen, I get so confused. Are we really here, my wife and I, discussing the limitations of the physical body with our three year old? Or are we somewhere else, doing something that makes sense? And even if we get him to introduce his telephone to the class as "Jarzay", is anyone going to accept that? Or will they all just say, "It's a phone, you foolish boy! That doesn't begin with J!" And if I have given birth to the youngest existentialist ever, then why don't I have the mental capacity to think of anything else we own in our endless masses of possessions that begins with the letter J?

While Ari has expanded his repertoire of strange habits, I've been comforting myself by thinking of my own. When I was two (I'm told.), I decided to call my mother "Meredith" and would not call her anything else for a year. When questioned, I just told people that was her name. If Ari did this to me, I would put him in time out. Thankfully, he doesn't. I did not have a telephone named Jarzay, but I had a doll named Tanya Lois. I ripped off all her clothes and pulled her hair out, one strand at a time, until all that was left were a few red bangs and her bald, rubber head. I chewed on her hands until they disintegrated. Still, I claimed to love her, and if anybody touched her, or even looked at her, I would start shrieking obscenities (and yes, I was only 2) at the top of my lungs. I don't think I wanted to kiss anybody, but I ran away whenever I could, and I did not stop running, the way a toddler is supposed to when she notices she's alone. I had other issues, as well. I can't remember them all, but it is a comfort, somehow. Don't you think?

Like mother, like son. Freaky is as freaky does. Something like that.