Seven Things

Thanks to your very kind comments, I felt buoyed and supported all day yesterday. And as is so often the case, the anticipation was worse than the reality. It helped that after Simone’s appointment I didn’t have to go back to work and was instead able to spend a few hours at my mother’s playing with Simone and Twyla and luxuriating in how lucky I am to have the two of them, and thanks to that and all of you and also a great deal of pasta I came through the day just fine. I am sorry that so many of you have your own Dark Days, and if I were a more organized and reliable person, I would set up some sort of (terribly sad) calendar we could all refer to in order to send soothing thoughts or email messages or cheese deliveries on the appropriate occasions.

The roads were so awful yesterday morning that I spent the whole drive afraid I would die and that because of my last post people would think it was probably suicide. I decided I’d do everything in my power to stay conscious long enough to write IT WAS AN ACCIDENT in the snow with my blood. Happily, this turned out not to be necessary.

Can you tell how much I am enjoying having a lunch break? Post! Post! Post! It is so much easier to write when you aren’t having your attention diverted every 30 seconds that I find my one half hour at lunch about the equivalent to four hours of attempted work time with children. This is absolutely shocking to me and really it is a wonder I ever got anything done then at all. It also helps that when I am leave work for the day, now, I am DONE WITH WORK FOR THE DAY.

The phrase “work outside the home” is driving me mad. I don’t like saying I “went back to work,” because I have BEEN working this whole time, albeit in a different, braless context. But whenever I specify “work outside the home” it makes me sound like someone who has been institutionalized and now is being allowed to get a job outside The Home (for the criminally insane?), probably something simple like working in Hosiery at a local department store.

The one real disappointment about my job so far is that my very favorite bit no longer exists, or rather exists in a much less satisfying form. I loved having a stack of pages in front of me, looking through them, finding teensy tiny little errors, marking them decisively in green pen, and appending a page flag. And I liked going through marked up pages, making the corrections, and removing the flags as I went. It was wonderful. Doesn’t it sound wonderful? (Shut up.) I cannot express to you the joy I got from noticing that an em-dash had been used where an en-dash was indicated. It was an arena where a certain quality of mine—let’s call it Admirable attentioN to detAiL—a quality that has been pooh-poohed by certain friends and family members who contend it makes me a ruiner of books, movies, television shows, life, etc., could really shine.

Now, there are no physical pages. All of the page corrections are done via PDF, because of the stupid Earth. This shouldn’t bother me, because it is mostly my job now to tell OTHER people to review pages and make corrections, rather than to do so myself, but that doesn’t stop me from taking out a package of page flags every once in a while and gazing moonily at it.

In my department, there is a girl woman GIRL for whom I used to babysit. She works there! In clear violation of child labor laws! Also, she is approximately 100 feet tall, like a full-grown person, and when I mentioned my surprise at her full-grown-stature, she replied, amusingly, as a kind of obviously highly improbable joke, that it had after all been TWENTY YEARS. Oh, how I laughed!

{Ed. Note: Math/Counting reveals that it has in fact been 18 years.}

I am actually dreading the end of the work day today, because I am in trouble. When I began this job Simone began attending a morning daycare program from which she is bused to school. (It is mornings only because I start at 6:30 a.m. and thus can leave early enough to pick her up.) She adores it now, but was initially opposed to the change in routine on principle, and in particular was VERY apprehensive about the bus. My daughter is a creature of habit and likes to be prepared for every contingency (I cannot imagine where she acquired such a characteristic) and the bus presented a whole new set of school-related variables. What if the bus was late? What if she missed the bus or the bus driver didn’t stop at her stop? What if–oh God help us–what if she was LATE TO SCHOOL? You have to understand that in Simone’s world, this is one of the very worst things that could possibly happen to a person, right up there with not knowing the correct procedure for something.

I replied in my usual soothing, motherly way that she didn’t have to worry about any of that. Those were things for grown-ups to worry about, and we had them under control! The bus driver would not leave without her! Some days the bus might be a little later than others, but that was okay! It was very unlikely that the bus would be so late that she was then late to school.

So today, naturally, in accordance with the laws governing such matters, Simone’s bus broke down early on its route. When they had been waiting for some time (Simone, a daycare staff member and the other two-ish children who are bused to her elementary), someone called transportation, which told them about the breakdown and said they should go back inside, out of the cold, and wait there. Which they did. When they saw the bus coming they trooped back out…and the bus blew right past them. Back inside, they called transportation again, and transportation said they would send another bus and notify the school that the children would be late. Which they were. Very. Over an hour.

The face I will see at pick up this afternoon is already vividly present in my mind. It is a stern face. A forbidding face. Honestly, you wouldn’t think a five-year-old could make a face that manages to convey such a righteous and furious sense of betrayal, but I assure you that this one can.


  1. Grace says:

    Similarly, my twins were terrified of fires and I had to assure them over and over again after fire drills in Kindergarten that fires are extremely rare, I’ve never heard of a school fire, etc. etc. And then their school caught on fire. So. Luckily no one was hurt, etc., but I have a couple of very distrustful people on my hands when it comes to the Big Worries. I hope that she was ok when you got there to pick her up. I also hope you got a picture of her expression.

  2. MomQueenBee says:

    When I was staying home with the (four) children I told people I had a full-time unsalaried position and worked from home. Yeah, I’m sure they didn’t think that was pompous at all.

  3. Jen says:

    I think you should just refer to your current employment situation as “Work Release,” and see how it goes from there.

    One of my fondest memories of my otherwise tumultuous teen years with my mom was the time we spent proof reading the galleys of her book together. As she and I are both of a similarly, shall we say, “detail-oriented” bent as you, it was a wholly satisfying endeavor.

    Glad yesterday was worse in theory than in practice, and hope that with each year, the pain and horridness lessen even more.

  4. A'Dell says:

    I am reading the 5 yo behavior book and it is talking about how by 5 1/2 or 6 children decide that everything is mother’s fault. “You made me wear this dress today and then I TRIPPED ON IT, this is your fault.”

    Simone is TOTALLY going to blame you for the mechanical difficulty of a bus. (Can’t wait till I’m there with you in a few months! WHEEE!)

  5. Kirsten says:

    So glad you made it through the Dark Day unscathed. And selfishly, it has been a total treat to read 2 posts in such quick succession.

  6. Melissa H says:

    The fear of being late to school is very strong still for my third grader. It does make mornings easier than if she didn’t care. I made her late her second day of kindergarten. Oops. I’m sure the fear is all my fault though we haven’t been late since.

  7. Melissia says:

    I too am so glad you made it through your dark day and that you made it through alive. Sometimes that is all that matters.
    Poor Simone, and you! I am sure that she will forgive you eventually. I retired from nursing after 15 years due to health reasons and when people ask I always say that I am gainfully unemployed as I volunteer at my local shelter and am much busier than when I was working full time.

  8. Clarabella says:

    #5. Lady. I work in academia, and am an English Lit geek by choice, but my trade right now is directing a Graduate Writing Center, and let me tell you (!) how hard it is for me that tutoring philosophy is moving from “editing” toward “educating.” While I understand and agree that it’s more important to help students become better writers than it is to “fix” writing for them, oh how I genuinely miss straight-up editing. What I’m saying is that I too often gaze lovingly and pet my neglected page flags.

  9. Andrea says:

    I’m a long time reader AND I work for the same company (in another city though!). I too miss pages and use my flags every chance I get (including on my request for intervention for my daughter at school this year – the school psychologist laughed at me!) :) I get it (at least you are now surrounded by like minded people).
    My routine driven child blamed me for being late to school because I make her take a bus too. Again, I get it.

  10. SarahB says:

    Oh, it is nice to have you back. I kept nodding and chuckling. Please, keep being so generous as to share your blissful lunch break with us. My lunch break is also one the linchpins of my ability to function. Welcome to the land of lunch breaks–and some mystical magical day in the future, you might experience the joy that is a “date day,” taking the day off with your husband and sending the kids to school/daycare. We do this a couple times a year. Also, if you get sick, you can take a real sick day!

  11. HereWeGoAJen says:

    Haaa, I cannot wait to hear about Simone’s reaction.

    I am both extremely detail oriented and a psychology major, so when people suggest that I may be anal, I give them a lecture about what Freud’s definition of anal really is and how that doesn’t apply in this situation and yeah. That doesn’t usually change their minds.

  12. Patti says:

    Are you prepared to hear a stern “I TOLD YOU SO!!” :-) That’s what my 5 year old would say and with a very cross look on her face. :-)

  13. AlisonC says:

    I am laughing so much at Simone’s anticipated reaction as I know that at x years older than her I would have pretty much the same reaction. Also is it Ok that I now blame you for al these mishaps in the future like Simone will?

  14. Andi says:

    I “went back to work” after working from home (freelancing plus parenting three kids–like two full-time jobs to accomplish in the same 16-hour day) and while I tend to work through lunch, I am really loving the bathroom. Where there is no one but me. And grownup soap.

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