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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

mind diet

This isn't my son's latest collection of crap but it is recent-ish. The current pile of boogers is drying out nicely atop his yellow bookshelves. Hopefully I will share its glory with you soon.
My dad and step-mom came over for lunch the other day and brought us some koagies. A koagie is a Korean Philly steak sandwich. Kimchee and steak on a soft hoagie roll? Possibly genius? Or maybe a taste only a stoner could love.

So we were all sitting on the sofa digesting and my dad asked me how many people read my blog. Which is exactly the kind of thing a neurotic, competitive approval-seeking girl like me should not concern herself with. I told him that I thought there were maybe around twenty. I came up with this number by counting all the good people who tell me they read the blog but never post (you know who you are), the dear ones who read AND post, the kindly ones who comment on Facebook but not on the blog, and then at the bottom of the blog page, on the world map there are little red dots representing cities all over the world from where people are clicking in, but I don't know if they are stopping to read or just passing by. It's so exciting to see that wonderful cyber-friends from Tangarang, Seoul and Karnataka are perusing and, and can you tell where I am going with this? I would love to hear from you.

So, screaming. Here is an update inspired by my friend Kristi’s recent blog post regarding that New York Times article about yelling at our children, which I am too tired to link again after all the not-yelling I did today. Kristi is also going the no-scream route with her kids because like me, she feels like shit after shouting at the shorties. She makes the good point that not yelling is freaking exhausting. And as I obsessively listen to my Pema Chodron audiobooks and make an honest effort to change my habitual patterns of reacting with rage, indignation or despondence I am realizing firsthand that not reacting is very difficult. I am learning to stay with the irritation but not act on it. I am learning to accept the mounting anger, but not feed it. The John Nash character from A Beautiful Mind, is that movie really almost a decade old? When he's describing how he's battling his schizophrenic delusions, calls it a "diet of the mind." I love this. I guess I am on a mind diet too. I'm not eating rage, jealousy or self-loathing these days and boy is my stomach growling.

Tonight for instance, my kindergartener had a dance at his school. It was just for the kindergarteners. Every class gets their own dance, complete with DJ, which is cute, in theory. Why they scheduled it from 7-7:45 is beyond me, especially when the teachers beg us to get our children to sleep earlier, but maybe the DJ only works at night. 

We usually get jammies on and brush our teeth and read stories at this time of night. Not a good public time for my children. Funny, all the other kids at the dance seemed fine, like they'd all done it a hundred times. My kids? They don't do the chicken dance. They no hokey pokey. Line dance? No way. They sat and looked on longingly at all the participating kids circled up, putting their left hips in.

It wasn't long before Hamish writhed in anxiety because, as he later described it, he really wanted to do the limbo but he was too nervous and embarrassed to do it in front of all those people. And Stella was ready for bed and showed this by rolling around on the floor, chewing her plastic Halloween toy treat and swinging the spit covered thing in my face. Hamish hung on me keening with inner turmoil, gripped me for dear life, almost brought me down a few times. This was especially fun when I was chatting with his teacher, who for one, had a nicer trench coat than mine, and got it for a better price. 

Miss Young* mentioned that Hamish had a nice "mini-meeting" with the school guidance counselor that day, to see how he was faring since the first few days of school were riddled with fears and tears, his and mine. I couldn't resist confessing to Miss Young that Hamish and I share similar excruciating irrational anxieties and at times bring it out in each other, like say when I'm in denial about my son starting public school after two cushy cozy coddled private school years. I don't know, maybe I was hoping she'd nod her head emphatically and say, "Oh! I know just what you mean!" But instead she just nodded politely, wondering perhaps how to extract herself from the conversation with her trench coat intact. No she was cool. Really. She didn't bat an eye when Hamish straddled Stella's head, inches from Teacher's pointy-toed boots. Miss Young is a fashionista.

When I finally dragged our bedraggled butts to sit down, Stella punched Hamish in the face and he punched her back, all to the beat of Beyonce. Then he turned to me, eyes ringed in milky blue, and said, "Can we go home now?" And I said, "Yes, gladly!" We packed up and zoomed home just in time for my five year-old son to declare haughtily that he would be exiting the minivan through the front door, which would mean mud-stepping it over the front seats, which in our house is a rule-breaker. I said no. He leaned forward. I said we have rules. He lifted a foot. I said I'm getting angry. I said I felt like screaming. I held him back with my arm. He kept coming. I told him I didn't want to yell. I really really didn't want to yell.

And then, and I didn't even see it coming, I just. Burst into tears. Just follow the rules! I blubbered. Just cooperate! All I ask is that you cooperate! At first they thought I was joke-crying, which I do for schtick sometimes, but when they saw that I wasn't kidding, they got freaked out and it was satisfying in a creepy way. He left through the side door, I told them how frustrating it is being a mom, how my whole life is for them and all I want them to do is cooperate and I felt so... ew. I was giving them a guilt-trip. Not what I ever want to do to my kids, but there it was. I do everything for you and what do I get? Aggravation and red stinging eyes from the mascara and the crying. Thanks a lot, kids.

Ugh. Gross.

But Hamish was over it. He only wanted to make sure that we'd still have time for stories. And I love that in the midst of the chaos, he still wants to be read to and I still remember to be happy that he gravitates toward books these days, even if it is Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants. But it's actually thoughtfully written and LOL funny. And oh yeah, that's another thing to put in my spiritual warrior tool kit. Laughter. I'd remember where I left it if I weren't so exhausted.

17 comments:

hubs said...

Well really - does anyone remember laughter? Apparently you sometimes do.

I read your blog and I love it and I want you to write more. And Hamish is frustratingly angst ridden sometimes and it's so glorious when he gets past the angst and does the thing he's afraid of - the level of elation at these moments is only equalled by the level of pain felt experiencing his suffering - and probably the level of annoyance at his subsequent behavior.

but, you rock.

The Golden Papaya said...

Hey Elise, I don't know if you counted me in your 20, but if not you can make it 21. I do read whenever I remember and have a moment (which I really don't know since I'm at work and have a million things to do), but I miss you, and told Ezra about what Ry said and it made him smile and he said he misses him too.

vrexy said...

I love your blog, but then - you already know that, right?

claudine said...

I am so grateful your blog is linked to FB or I would never get the opportunity to read such great stuff. People whose wardrobe i envy nod politely to me all the time........thanks!

Misner said...

I'm the guilty SOB you're referring too. I read your blog all the time, yet rarely post comments...I'm so disappointing! I will make the effort to comment more and click on cool ads if you promise to scream every now and then. It helps to release the bad energy. We need to just redirect it to the wall or a chair. I too, was en route to alternative parenting "calmness when dealing" (thanks in part to your blog posts). However, this morning my sobriety ended with a mini hissy fit because all the organizing of toys that I did a mere week ago was for nothing. The kitchen items had made their way into the baby doll box, a battle I fight daily. So, after my choice words for my husband who has yet to teach the concept of "pick up your toys and put away in the correct cubby" to our child, I faithfully have locked myself in the computer room to read your blog - That is true fanhood - ALWAYS A FAN - you're the bestest!

kristi said...

i think you are WAY underestimating the amount of people who read this blog.

and i almost fell off my chair--you have now linked to ME twice. you. wow. you rock.

and i got tears in my eyes reading about the minivan deal. way to go! i do the fake crying thing too except my kids just look at me waiting for me to stop. evidently i'm not that good an actress.

so great that you held your (inner) ground and refused to let yourself yell.

gillian gave me a little paper "mommy" award the other day (talk about piling on the guilt) that is "for being a good parent." so i'm keeping it propped up on the laptop all day to remind me not to yell.

also, my husband is not gay. i don't think. but i haven't clicked the ad so it can tell me for sure...

elise said...

woo! peeps commenting! Am misty with gratitude. Kristi you have to click on the ad. Ellie I miss you too and love your blog and see your red dot in Salvador on my world map often! Jen, your toys stayed organized for a WEEK? That's a HUGE accomplishment! Claudine! I love your wardrobe! Let's get together and nod politely at each other! Vrexy, you are in the top 5!

elise said...

oh yeah hubs, I love your hubs pic. kisses.

Amelia Plum said...

I clicked the 'is your husband gay?' ad so you can thank me for the 6 cents coming your way. Man, I was ready to write my own post regarding that NYT article on yelling, in particular about Mrs. Sanctimony who gloats over never spanking her kids but yeah, she's yelled at them. My gosh, I'm telling you your next book is in these gems of posts about the nitty gritty of how hard parenting can be. The jealousies, the anger the fears and the love, you've got a goldmine there.

And dude (my God! dude has been added to my vacabulary since moving to Pittsburgh) , you're my only follower so don't you worry. I agree with Kristi, you've got many people reading you! xox

elise said...

Thanks Amelia! So is he or isn't he? I really have to find out when I get paid... I bristled at the sanctimony too. Nauseating. I am presently marinating in my goldmine. xo

vrexy said...

Where is this link that I can click on and give you 6 cents? I don't see it.

elise said...

Hey Vrexy, its the ads. Click on any ad and I will receive six cents from Google AdSense. Thank you in advance for your click!

vrexy said...

Well, hey, I can be a clickin' fool!

Rima said...

I, too, shall comment!

I found your blog a long time ago and have been reading on and off ever since. But it felt a wee bit stalky, since it seemed that most of the people who comment here know you in real life. So if you don't mind me popping in every once in awhile, I will!

elise said...

Rima your blog is SO cool and please pop away. I will do the same!

Sunnye said...

Well, even though this is a week night, I have no children, and I just stuffed my face with Lays and munster cheese...and now feel sick to my stomach...I am inspired by your writing, your perspective, and everything you are learning through your children.

Thank you...
I'm off to the word verification and then to Bed.

elise said...

Thank you Sunnye! Your comment has made my day and it's only 9:30 A.M. I checked out your "k n o w p l a s t i c" blog and it's plastastic. Now I'll be ever more conscious of my consumption. Looking forward to your "k n o w c l o t h e s" blog in January. I could use that!

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