Monday, October 10, 2011

to-do list from the deep end

Comfort food in progress, October 2011

1. When all else fails, cook a brisket. With lots of roasted carrots and potatoes to soak in the briskety juices. Do not expect your 4-going-on-5-year-old, the source of The Trouble, to touch it, but the baby, who still has no teeth yet loves chicken sausage and pesto pasta, might gobble it up.

2. Do not allow your husband, plumbing novice, to try to replace the garbage disposal, even though you asked him to do it just last night. Understand that this project will take up half of Sunday's waking hours because there's no way for it not to while juggling an insane 4-year-old who hasn't slept in a week, who started the morning off dizzy from the mild sedative you gave him at 2 a.m., careening into the bookcase in his room at 6 a.m., and a crawling baby who will, through the course of the day, be found sucking on the following objects:
a) the end of a hammer;
b) a rubber band;
c) leaves;
d) the pointy end of the hammer;
e) every Cheerio he earlier threw on the floor from his highchair, thereby saving them for a snack later; and
f) his Mama's flip flop.

3. When the 4-year-old, who has bags under his half-mast eyes, throws yet another tantrum over nothing except what's in the air around him: Disciple, comfort, repeat.

4. Discipline, comfort, repeat.

5. Discipline, comfort, repeat.

6. You get the idea.

7. Go out to the driveway for a breath of fresh air. Be happy it's not raining today, like it did all last week when the 4-year-old decided to stop sleeping. Be happy your husband is here, under your kitchen sink, rather than in Toronto, where he was all last week, while you were here, trying to keep your sanity, sleepless in the rain. Decide to have the 4-year-old do sidewalk chalk in the driveway, since you can't muster the energy to fight him into going to the park quite yet. Realize there is a flattened and desiccated salamander in the driveway. Notice, sadly, that this salamander looks an awful lot like the "Dada one" in the salamander family of four that lives under a planter in your back yard. Ask your husband to come out from under the sink to deal with the dead salamander.

8. Later, when the 4-year-old is drawing sidewalk chalk goblins and ghosts in the driveway, notice that he keeps saying the Dada goblin and the Dada ghost are dead, even though you did not let him see or tell him about the salamander. Wonder if this is an uncanny ability to hear the unsaid, his way of expressing emotion over your husband traveling for work, or just part of his general obsession about death right now.

9. When your husband, plumbing novice, manages through the chaos to successfully replace the garbage disposal, as well as fix the P-trap, which became very leaky in the course of replacing the garbage disposal, give him a big kiss and serve him up a whopping plate of brisket. He deserves it.

10. As soon as the garbage disposal is finished, leave the house alone. Go exercise. If you're me, swim laps. If you're lucky, the water will clear the fog just enough to glimpse the realization that this can't be intentional, that your child probably is not trying to ruin your life, even if it feels like that on this difficult day, at the end of this difficult week. Reaffirm, as your arms cut through the water, that you are strong and capable, and that you have it in you to be your child's rock in the stormy seas in which he is currently struggling.

11. Sleep in your 4-year-old's bed tonight, with him on a pad on the floor beside you, to try to help him sleep as much as you can. When he is asleep, drink in the sight of his beautiful face, for the moment restful, wishing you could make it all better, for everyone's sake, wishing you knew how.

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