The phone rings this evening. . .


“Hi, this Marie from Dr. Kornfeld’s office. Can I speak with Elizabeth please?”

“Ah. . . well I guess you could, but it wouldn’t be a very meaningful conversation. . . .”

(As it turns out, they were just calling to confirm an appointment, but I thought it was funny that they asked to speak with Beth. It was a first.)

A Lesson in Physics

Beth, doing her best impersonation of Isaac Newton, reaffirmed a couple of principles this evening: mommy and daddy’s rules are for good reason, and gravity plays no favorites.

Beth was in the family room when she decided Stuart Little was no longer worthy of her undivided attention. “Daddy, could you please give me my balloons?” I promise you I handed them to her innocently, with no idea what she would do with them… despite a couple years of practice as a parent.

Beth has taken to throwing things since staying in the hospital, in any direction that is convenient. Tonight it had unintended consequences.

Back to the balloons. Balloons in general, particularly the large foil – helium filled variety, are not very good for throwing. They’re all surface and no mass. Enter the rock ballast. Wrap it in foil, tie a couple of foil balloons to it with ribbon, it’s still a rock; and it still hurts when its dropped on your scull from 2 – 3 feet in the air. This is just what Beth achieved when, from a lying position, she awkwardly heaved the foil covered rock in the direction that tragically was most convenient at the time – straight up. Actually, I’m not sure if the rock technically hit her in the scull – unless the jaw/mouth is considered part of the scull (high school anatomy escapes me at the moment). Since teeth don’t bruise, and none of them were knocked out, the mishap left no visible marks or scars. There was just a bruised ego (if a 3 year old’s ego can be bruised), and hopefully a lesson as to why she should listen to mommy and daddy when they tell her not to do something.

Anyone got odds on wether I’ve learned anything?

You must be proud. . .

Today, Beth and her classmates did face painting in class today. The only problem was they were not using paint, the activity was not sanctioned by the school, and Beth was the leader. And to top it off, it turns out Beth contributed more than her leadership skills, she also “contributed” the “paint”, obtained “south of the border.”

Snapshot of an evening

DADDY: “Beth, are you going to say goodbye to mommy, she’s going to exercise.”

BETH: “Bye daddy.”

DADDY: “Beth, I’m not going anywhere.”

BETH: “I’m going to go exercise with mommy.”

MOMMY: “I’m sorry Beth, you can’t go tonight. You can go this weekend. Can you say goodbye to mommy?”

BETH: “Goodbye Beth.”

MOMMY: “I’m not Beth, you’re Beth.”

BETH: “Bye Beth.”

MOMMY: “Bye Beth.” (mommy goes out the door)

DADDY: “What’s your name?”

BETH: “John Jacob Jingle Smith.”

DADDY: “Did you learn a new song in school today?”

BETH: “My name is John Jacob Jingle Smith.”

DADDY (singing): “John Jacob Jingleheimer Smith, his name is my name too.”

BETH: “No, my name is John Jingle Smith. You’re daddy.”

DADDY: “You’re silly.”

BETH: “No, I’m John Jingle Smith”

A Little Helper.

There was a little girl in church today helping her mother usher. We’ll call her Beth. Now Beth was having a grand time helping hand out messengers to people as they entered the church. Her mother, we’ll call her Cheryl, was impressed that Beth was so good at this task. Beth stood at her post, with a stack of messengers in her hand, and dutifully handed one to each person as they approached. Beth delivered each messenger with a big smile. Uncharacteristically, she was very responsive to people when they asked her questions. She just loved all of the attention that the people gave her. She got to like it so much that she got a little impatient when someone lingered at the door with the greeters. She walked up to the tardy party, straying from her post, and thrust a messenger into their hand saying (with authority), “here.” When these people took notice, and paid her the attention she felt she was due, they asked her, “Are you helping your mommy?” “No”, she answered, “My mommy is helping me!”

Another day in court.

(Note, I’ve changed the names of those involved.)
I’m in court and I call the next case. I call the mother on the case, and ask to speak to her in the waiting area, outside the court room. The mother is a middle age white woman. She is of average height, with slightly above average girth. She is wearing more make-up than she should. She explains to me that she just got the kids back from foster care. She does not tell me why the kids were there, but I can guess. She seems slightly unstable emotionally. She is worried that she will be evicted from her apartment, as she has been out of work and can’t make the rent. If she is evicted, she believes she will loose the kids again. The kids are there, playing in the corner of the waiting area (the toy area). I try to explain to her that we will try to get a support order for her today; but that it will be months before it starts, and that she should not expect anything right away. All this time, I am having trouble focusing her on the interview. She keeps going off on tangents, blurting out her personal concerns as they come to mind. My normally rushed approach to court is given pause by the thought of their situation.

I send the mother back into the court room and call out the father. The kids are still playing in the corner. The father is at least 50, a late middle age black man. He is the picture of a hard life. He carries himself like a man without any hope left. He is beaten. I advise him that we are here to legally establish paternity and establish a child support obligation. He indicates that he has doubts as to wether he is the father. He has never seen the children. The children are 12 and 10. I tell him I will arrange for a test which will determine wether or not he is the father, and he agrees to take the test. Until now he has paid no special attention to the kids in the corner. He has not seen the mother in the same room with the kids, and gives every indication that he has no idea who they are. As I am about to go into the court room, to get the forms needed to arrange the testing, the younger child approaches the man and asks, “Are you Donny?” The child is obviously biracial. “Yes”, answers the man. “Who are you?” he asks. The boy replies, “I’m Jimmy.” The man’s expression changes, and a look of shame takes up residence in his manner of being. He knows who the boy is. The boy asks, “Are you my daddy?” My heart breaks. I am frozen. These lives seem completely foreign to me, and I am saddened for the loss that they may never realize – because they don’t know how life could be different.

I’m not sure why this case effected me so. It’s not that these circumstances haven’t presented themselves in court before. Maybe it was all of them being present in this one case. Maybe there was something about me that day that made me especially prone. Whatever the case, it had an effect that has lingered somewhat. I wish them all well, and pray that they will make the best of what they have in the future. However, I’m not terribly optimistic.

This morning

Picture if you will, a three year old child. . .
A child standing on the arm of a futon. . .
A child standing on the arm of a futon with her knees bent like a coiled spring.

Now picture in your mind this child, under these circumstances, bouncing slightly and saying (with little evidence of restraint in her voice), “ready, set, . . .”

Welcome, to my morning.

The rest of the story. . .

When we last saw our hero, he had learned that his wife had been tranquilized following her shortness of breath induced panic attack. It was Tuesday evening. Also remember that Sunday night our hero endured another trip to the emergency room with his daughter. Diagnosis: UTI (yes, our hero too can use fancy medical acronyms).

We now pick up our story where we left off. . .

It was a cold, dark and dreary night. The wind was howling and a sense of foreboding filled the house. (Well, it was dark.)
Very early Wednesday morning our hero awoke to sounds of agony and despair in the night. He leapt out of bed and rushed to the source of the horrible sound. It was his wife, crawling on her hands and knees, desperately seeking relief from her pain. She said she had been up all night violently ill. Pressure marks under her forearms bespoke the position she maintained throughout the night. A night long, not so silent vigil, bent over as if in prayer. (And who knows, some praying may very well have been going on.)

She pleaded with our hero to call her doctor. After making the call, our hero was once again on his way to the hospital. His wife was pumped with fluids, to make up for the night long purge that had taken place the night before. She was shot up with drugs to make her discomfort fade, and our hero’s wife was reacquainted with an old friend – sleep.

Upon awaking, she returned home with our hero. Long shadows running from the sea made it clear that they had not been home for quite some time. Our hero’s wife was just getting settled when the phone rang. It was the preschool, the daughter was ill and wanted to come home. She had been dropped off that morning by her grandmother, the one known simply as mem-may. It is supposedly french, but you know the french – our hero could have spelled it right, but you would have no idea how it really sounds, so we’ll just settle for “mem-may.” She was once again complaining that her belly hurt, and she felt to our hero like a Louisiana summer day – hot and damp. Our hero brought her home and she collapsed in her room. She slept for several hours. When she awoke she was hotter than ever. Another call to the doctor was made when the thermometer said 103.5. Once again, our hero was on his way to see a doctor. At this point, our hero was courageously and single handedly supporting the medical industry.

It was with mixed feelings that our hero learned that his daughter’s fever was gone by the time he arrived at the doctor’s office.

Thankfully, Wednesday night was uneventful for our hero, and he was once again reacquainted with an old friend – sleep.

Beth Finds New Ways to Get Into Trouble

A little while ago, Beth decided she didn’t like having to wait on us to get her food for her. She is, as you know, a big girl now. She is capable of many things, including opening doors, especially the pantry door. Beth subsequently learned the joys of getting her own food when she is hungry. This lead to Beth getting all kinds of things out of the pantry, including things we wanted her to eat, as well as those we didn’t.

Being the logical, thinking parents that we are, we decided to put a stop part of this behavior, while still encouraging her independence. We merely took the things that we didn’t want her to eat and put them on a higher shelf.

Being the logical, thinking child that she is, Beth figured she could fetch the broom and use its handle (or for that matter anything that might extend her reach) to poke items she is not supposed to have (candy and the like) off of the upper shelves.

While part of me was upset seeing this take place so soon after we moved all of that food, I had to suppress an urge to laugh out loud, thinking to myself, “that’s my girl!”

Why I feel content

What can I say, I feel good. Do I need to appologize? I’m not going to. For the most part I have what I want. I have a wife I love, who seems to feel the same for me. I have a healthy daughter, who is a joy (most of the time). My wife and I have steady, stable jobs. We have a place to call home, and a place we feel we can continue to call home for some time. I have hobbies I enjoy. I like my job. I have family and people nearby I can call a friend.

The only threats to my happiness lie within. I fear I don’t let people close enough. And those I do, I fear I tend to drive away. Does it have any basis in reality?

Bottom line: I worry what others think about me. More than anything else, I think that feeling drives my behavior. It’s not such a bad thing, is it? If I’m happy, and all of this is what got me here, maybe it isn’t.