Wednesday, September 15, 2010

9/15/2010 "Natural Silliness"

I felt the dread building as I left work to pick up the kids.

I was already tired and strung out, irritated at being scolded at work for my blatant honesty about a very sensitive topic: software quality. Because, you know, we don't want to hurt anyone's feelings about....bugs. This political correctness lecture comes from someone who refers to a skilled engineer as "my girl" or who makes a comment about another high-ranking engineer's bald head in front of the whole group, or who embarrasses a manager by saying he's being sexist for referring to his team as "my guys." That stuff is all OK. But if I inform that documentation quality is "spotty" -- -breach-breach-- call Emily Post, quick! Then get condescended to for 15 minutes on how not to present the truth.

Sorry dude, what you see is what you get, I tell it straight and don't know how else to work. Pussyfooting, sugar-coating, and tiptoeing on the border of lying-by-omission wasn't in the job description. I'm about network protocol, not royal protocol.

That's far far more than I should ever post to a public blog, but this sort of thing weighs heavily on me, it's my life, and I stand by it. Even when I'm not thinking about it, it's there, churning in the background. I need chill, transition, relax time to let it go before turning to my other life at home.

But there is no such time -- from home to work, it's truly out of the frying pan into the fire.

I countered my apprehension by picturing Katrina's joyful face when she sees me, running with her arms outstretched and laughing, "MOMMYYYY!!!!" That's really fun. She's happy to see me and cooperative about going to the bathroom, washing her hands, and carrying her lunch to the car, usually in character (crocodile today). Miss Amanda says she loves drama!

But the chaos and crushing work really starts in picking up the boys. I have to tell them numerous times to get their things and go, about 1 time out of 5 storming out in anger and swearing they'll have to walk home. Other days, like today, I get diverted by a CDC careworker who's had some issues that day. She pulled me aside to talk about Gabriel.

"He's been really difficult lately," she said in a serious tone, "And nothing we do fazes him -- he just doesn't care!" She was looking for support and suggestions, and got a lot of support. For suggestions, I told her that too were at our wits' end and had no idea at all what to do. As parents we're supposed to be in control, but we relinquished that fantasy a long time ago.

Fortunately, incredibly, the boys have a Camp Day coming up on Friday. And Gabriel wants to bring a radio-controlled car that's been on timeout forever. I told him he had to be perfect tonight -- not ONE offense. If he was, then I'd talk to Dad over dinner about getting it back to him. That meant no reminding, no scolding, no telling him to stop doing something he's not allowed to do, no countdowns, no ignoring, no rude responses, and no pestering.

And he pretty much succeeded. Having this incentive turned the evening around. That and some Calvin & Hobbes books we got at the library on Sunday -- the boys are hooked ever since getting some C&H books from their cousin. The evening was far far more peaceful and manageable and .... dare I say ... almost pleasant than it has been in weeks. No one was sent out to the front porch for screaming, no one got timed out, I didn't have to chase anyone out of the room, I didn't have to take anything away. Multiple reminders sometimes, but overall it came a little closer to a normal night.

You know, I was only going to write a short paragraph tonight, but I guess I needed to dish on having a fairly normal evening. We just haven't had a lot of those. So here's what this post should have been.

At dinner, Gabriel pointed a double-barrel finger gun at Katrina and got her to put her hands up. Then he aimed at Julian and said, laughing, "Pay up, squirt!"

For some reason I found this so funny it flipped my anxious frustration into a hysterical giggle fit, which they found funny too. "Pay up squirt?!" I laughed, "Where did that come from?" (They have been reading a lot of comics lately.) Gabriel smiled at me and said, "My natural silliness!"

That's what he says anyway, but I'll take it. Finally, a day in which my own children are not my top aggravators. I think I'll channel his natural silliness some more now.


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