Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005


[Insert primal scream here to begin entry.]

Hate. I am just hating EVERYthing right now. People are so dumb. And when they're not dumb, they're just freaking annoying as hell. I'm at that point right now where I just want to bite the head off of every person who comes within biting distance.

For one thing...I have not once commented on the Schiavo case here, and I am so not going to get into it now. Except to say this: SHUT UP ALREADY! All of you! Who the fuck cares what you think about whether this poor girl should live or die? It's not your business! It's not your CHOICE! Just stop talking about it, and for the love of god, PLEASE stop talking about it as if you are somehow going to change my mind or anyone else's mind on the matter. Trust me on this. You won't.

For another thing...Baroy. Driving me UP A WALL! Urgh. There is nothing more annoying than living with a man who is absolutely bound and determined to be depressed and miserable, and who will take absolutely any attempt to help him as a challenge to prove that you're misguided and wrongheaded and haven't a clue what he needs. Oh. Sorry. There is something more annoying than living with a man who is absolutely bound and determined to be depressed and miserable yadayadayada. It's living with a man who is absolutely bound and determined to be depressed and miserable yadayadayada AND THEN finding out that he doesn't want to be an organ donor! Dude! You really CAN'T take it with you! All I can say is that he had better make sure to tatoo that denial of organs onto some prominent part of his body, because I am so donating all of his when he dies unless someone stops me. How freaking selfish can you get?

[And yes, I know, on the depressed and miserable thing: Pot. Kettle. Black. But truth be told, if the pot don't know what black looks like, ain't nobody knows. So trust me. That kettle is BLACK.]

And another thing: Shouldn't taking seventy-five different psychotropic medications on a daily basis give you a pass on the PMS-from-hell thing? Well, sister, it does NOT. And I'm pissed.

I hate my job. Hate. And I hate working a job I hate and then coming home and working until all hours of the night on freelance stuff and then waking up so I can go back to the job I hate.

My son continues to refuse to play with other children in his preschool class unless it's facilitated by one of the adults. And, get this, WeeyumWise was out sick all last week, and yesterday, as is his schedule, he was still out. So that's six days without WeeyumWise. And has N gotten any better? Noooooooooooooooo. Of course not. (His comment to me this morning: "When you see Weeyum's mommy, tell her 'bout how sad I be WeeyumWise not here all the time.")

And I'm so pissed at the way I am now constantly analyzing his every sound, his every move, his every emotional manifestation. I hate that even as I grin at him each time he asks me to "plause" the video, I wonder whether that's one of the articulation problems he's having. I hate that even as I shake my head and laugh while he plays with all of his imaginary friends in the back seat ("No! You no say 'Shut up,' Baaa!" [voice change] "I say what I want!" [another voice change] "You no say 'Shut up' to me!" [another voice] "Yeah!" etc., etc., etc.) I'm wondering at what point someone's going to tell me he's schizophrenic or bipolar.

And my poor baby girl. Em's been so hyperemotional lately. She's crying at the drop of a hat, and is straight-out begging for more of my time, which I just don't have to give. Not to mention she's going through the usual girl stuff, mostly problems with her friends. And then there's MY problems with her friends, one of whom was recently supposedly giving her an "example" of how people make fun of other people, and used this: "So a Jew walks down a street..." Apparently her mother stopped her there and gave her what-for, but since I wasn't there, and don't know the whole story, I don't know what to do. Does this kid really know Jew jokes? Does she think it's OK to tell them? Or was there no follow-up to that line; was she just trying to wake Em up to the idea that there are people who make fun of Jews? (Even that, though. Not her place. The friend is 8. Em's 7. They are too young to try and make sense of this on their own. That's my job, to interpret all of this for Em.) So now I feel like I need to talk to the mom, and that's going to be one uncomfortable conversation, I'll tell you right now. I hate confrontation. I hate people. Have I mentioned that?

What else? Oh, piddly stuff about the Girl Scouts, my work on the PTA board, this headache I have right now that might be tooth-related (remember: we're talking about 25 dentist-free years here for me). I'm annoyed because there's a mom in Em's class who insists on talking (and talking and talking and talking) to me every time she sees me, and I want to chew my leg off after the word 'hello.' I'm exhausted and I'm bored and I'm bleeding like a stuck pig. (Oh. Sorry. Too much information?) Oh, and I'm hungry. So very hungry. And so very overweight right now. And so very unhappy this way. And so unused to it being this bad.

Hate. Do you think if I just crawl under the desk and go to sleep someone else will write the 75 stories I have due at work, and the 25 freelance stories I'm working on, and will pick up and distribute the PTA newsletter, and will drive to Em's field trip tomorrow, and will figure out the scribbled-on envelopes that constitute the Brownie troop's dues calculations, and make the Brownie troop deposit, and go grocery shopping for me, and put back everything into the kitchn closet (got new shelves), and play with my children and get my husband to snap out of it, and make an appointment for the pediatric ophthalmologist for Em and one with the urologist for N, and follow up with the speech therapy people, and call some of the child psychiatrists the pediatrician recommended I speak with, and go to my therapy and psychiatrist sessions, and GET MY HUSBAND TO SNAP THE FUCK OUT OF IT?

I didn't think so. Damn.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Maybe Your Best Friends Really WON'T Tell You

I had N's 4-year-old checkup scheduled for Wednesday. When I mentioned that to my mother, she hesitated for a second, then said, "Do me a favor, will you? Ask her about his speech. I still have a hard time understanding him sometimes."

"Really?" I said, taken aback. "Even in person? I thought he's doing so much better lately."

"He is, he is," she said quickly. "I just thought that at his age you should be able to understand him totally all the time. Anyway, just ask if you get a chance."

No doctor's appointment with N is simple or short. For one thing, I'm deeply in love with his pediatrician, in that "I want to be your best friend forever" transference kind of way, and she and I can chatter away for hours about our kids and about the university we both work for, etc. Not to mention that she now takes her daughter to the gymnastics class that starts right after N's on the weekend, so we have that to talk about, too.

But also, N's health has always been excellent, except for the fact that there are about a million things wrong with him. So we had to discuss his epigastric hernia (still there), his ear tubes (still both in three years later), his height (at 37.5 inches, finally on the chart), his weight (at 29.5 pounds, not on the chart), and his silent PDA. Then we had to look at some new issues. I wanted to make sure his back is straight and his hips even, because I'd seen something suspicious (not a problem, phew). She needed to check on his left testicle, which had descended perfectly when he was a baby, but has been going more and more into hiding as he's gotten older (definitely a problem; it's all the way up in his belly and can't be coaxed into his scrotum, so, yep, another consult on its way to us). And I wanted to ask her about his uber-attachment to WeeyumWise, and his umpteen imaginary friends who all speak through him and who sometimes have to be asked to step aside so I can talk to N (she's going to talk to a few colleagues and see if it's worthy of concern).

Finally, I reluctantly brought up his speech. She broke into an immediate, sympathetic grin.

"I'm glad you brought it up yourself," she said. "Because otherwise I was going to have to."

Uh-oh. "I don't get it," I said. "I don't have any problem understanding him."

"You're his mother," she said. "Of course you don't. Not only that, but you translate for him all the time."

"I do?" I said.

"I'm sure you don't even realize it, but that's why you probably don't realize how hard it can be to understand him. People don't have to ask him to repeat himself, because you tend to echo him or translate for him."

"Hmmm," I said. It's easy to dismiss your mother's concerns with "ugh, she's just so hypercritical." But the beloved pediatrician? Not quite as easy.

So I mentioned it to my sister: "And then Mom said..."

She cut me off. "Yeah, he can be hard to understand."

Uh-oh again. If my SISTER won't jump in to criticize my mother, then I'm really in trouble.

So I mentioned it to my friend whose own daughter has done speech therapy for years, and who knows a lot about the issues. "Do you have a hard time understanding him?" I asked.

"Well, yeah, sometimes I do," she admitted.

So this morning, still bemused, I was chatting with my boss, who's been out of town all week. And after I'd filled her in on the office stuff that had gone on in her absence, I mentioned that I was going to be spending a lot of time down at our affiliated children's hospital, what with all this stuff going on with N. I tacked on the speech thing as an afterthought: "Oh, and on top of all that, can you believe they want me to get him a speech assessment?"

"Oh good!" she said.

"Oh good? What do you mean, 'Oh good?'"

"Well, I knew I'd had a hard time understanding him when he came by the office last time, but I didn't realize how off that was until Mary brought Lucas by the other day," she replied. Lucas is not yet three years old. "I couldn't get over how clearly he spoke, and it made me realize how little I'd understood N. Plus, he was using full sentences, and N still has a lot of that baby grammar."

"Aw, MAN!" I said. And told her the story of the string of people who have admitted the same to me.

"Well, who wants to be the first one to tell a mother that there's something wrong with her kid?" she said.

"Yeah, I know," I admitted. "But DAMN."

Here's the kicker. I'm a hypochondriac. That means not only do *I* have things, but I worry that my children have things. I worried about N's speech development for years, but kept being told that I was overreacting, measuring him by his big sister, whose speech development was so rapid, so advanced, that nobody could keep up with what I was probably using as "normal" milestones. So I backed off. And watched N blossom. Or so I thought.

And so now I wait for the consent form from the school district's 'special education' office to come, and then we schedule an assessment and an IEP meeting. An IEP. At which, possibly, we'll be told that he doesn't qualify for any services, and that will be that. But still. I'm afraid to assume that that's what will happen, since apparently I totally missed this to begin with.

Good health checkup. Bah.

Thursday, March 24, 2005


Back in my early days at ABigScienceMagazine, I discovered how much fun it could be to work in an office surrounded by people who were smart and funny and interested in the same sorts of things you were. I'm a normally social person, and having all these people to hang out with was like some kind of dream come true. For me. For my boss? Nnnnnnot so much.

One day, said boss called me into his office, all in a huff. I honestly can't tell you what he was huffing about. I'm not sure it was anything in particular, to be honest. But I do know that it was around the time when my now-brother-in-law and I were really starting to bond. And that meant a lot of joking around, tossing off comments between offices, sending snarky little notes via the computer messaging system (these were pre-email days), etc.

Like I said, I don't remember why he was huffing, but I very specifically remember what he said. "TC," he said, "there is entirely too much socializing going on around here."

Of course, being the mature and dedicated adult that I am, I almost tore a ligament running over to J's office as soon as my boss said I could go, almost snorting with laughter and derision.

"Entirely too much socializing?" J said, guffawing. "Entirely Too Much Socializing?!?"

It became, of course, a running gag. I'd be standing in my girlfriend's office door and another colleague would pass by, growling in a low voice, "There's entirely too much socializing going on here, young lady. Back to work!" Or I'd be talking to someone in a hallway and I'd hear J hiss, as our boss came up towards us, "Psst. TC! Watch your back! ETMS!"

You'd think times had changed, lo these 15 or so years. You'd be wrong.

I'm sitting in therapy yesterday, whining on and on about what a rotten couple of days I'd had, when I get started on my all-time favorite theme: how much I hate working. Even though my therapist has the patience of a saint, there are limits to her endurance.

"You know, this is the theme that comes up again and again," she said. "Don't you think it's time to do something about it?" She then proceeded to ask me a series of very pointed questions about my workload, my complaints, what I do to manage the stress and the angst. At the end, she sort of sat back.

"Well, the first thing," she said, "is that you need to cut down on some of your socializing at work..."

I couldn't help it. I laughed out loud--more like a bark, to be honest--and then told her why. And called J from my cell phone, still laughing, before I even reached my car.

Those old habits. Man, do they die hard.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

I Never Did Tell You About...

...N and the F train. Remember, we were in New York for four days total, and on two of them, we never left Queens. But for some reason, the second he descended beneath the streets of New York City, my 4-year-old son turned into a subway afficionado, and a snobby one at that. Perhaps it was because his first ride on the subway was on an F train. I don't know. All I do know is that by the end of that day he had declared his passion for the F--and, by extension, his hatred for the E, the D, the B, the V, the 4, the 5, the 6...All his little boy heart was interested in was riding on the F train.

There really is nothing that can do justice to the scene this kid made on the subway. On our way home from his uncle's house, he was loudly--some would say ear-shatteringly--lamenting the fact that we were NOT on an F train. When I mentioned that we would be transfering to an F in just a few stops, he began to hoot and pump his fist into the air. "Woohoo! Woohoo!" New Yorkers--real New Yorkers--smiled and laughed at him, made eye contact with me, even, in order to shake their heads in disbelief, apparently at the cuteness of it all. Because it was cute. Almost terminally so.

Now, you are not to assume that just because he's 4, the boy has since let it go. Oh, no. He's declared his ardor to everyone he talks to. On the airplane ride home, he turned to me without any preamble and simply said, "I sad when Zaboo and Pumpkin get died. I happy when I go on the F train!" Even tonight, almost two weeks later, when Em mentioned something about the subways at dinner, N piped up. "The F train? I loooooove the F train!"

(This is not the first time that I've been forced to wonder whether or not I'm ignoring him as he crosses the line from kooky kid to seriously bizarre person. I just figure that seriously bizarre couldn't be this freaking adorable. Or maybe it could...)

In any case, being the overly indulgent parent that I am (but refuse to admit to being), I took it upon myself to find my boy something to commemorate his first great transportation love. I think he's going to flip. And then refuse to take the thing off for about four straight weeks. But I'll cross that bridge or, rather, track when I come to it.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Matchmaker, Matchmaker

Nine years ago yesterday, Baroy and I got married. Two Jews tying the knot on St. Patrick's Day. We signed our marriage certificate in green ink.

When I got to my office in the morning--my still-newish office in the main administrative building on campus, which overlooks the medical school's main quad--I was greeted with the sight of lavishly set tables in the quad featuring green tablecloths under white tablecloths. It reminded me of my wedding, which had a green and cream theme.

These tables weren't for me, though. They were for the medical students. Yesterday was 'match day' at medical schools across the country, a day when the graduating class finds out where they'll be spending their internships and residencies. (Afterwards, there is music and dancing and food and celebrating, as they share the news with one another, call families, console friends, whatever. Hence the tables.)

The process of matching, for anyone who hasn't had the pleasure of observing it firsthand, is absolutely byzantine, involving multiple interviews at places across the country, and then a mutual 'ranking' system that is then fed into a computer in an attempt to match doctors with positions available at the hospitals that want them in the most mathematically inane way possible.

At this school, Match Day starts with a breakfast and speeches from the dean of the medical school as well as the dean of students, and then the students file out to tables set up by the library, where they receive the envelope informing them of their match. There is much whooping, much hollering, much crying, much mourning. There are people who don't get a match at all, who then spend the next few hours doing what is called 'the scramble,' in which they literally just start calling internship programs one after another, trying to find one which didn't fill its roster and which would like to take them on. Talk about rejection. And remember, these are medical students, the smart kids, the ones who are generally not accustomed to any sort of failure.

This is the first year that I've had a literal bird's-eye view of the proceedings, and I'll tell you, it was fascinating to watch from behind glass several stories above the festivities. I watched women embracing, men slapping each other on the back, jumping in the air. I watched shoulders slump and then shake. I watched tears stream down faces.

It was weird, inwardly celebrating the anniversary of the birth of my marriage, and watching these young people celebrating the birth of their careers. Or mourning. I sort of wanted to go down and tell them to calm down, to realize that no matter where they're heading, the journey is just beginning, and there are going to be ups and downs and triumphs and regrets and if you think all is made or lost because of the way a computer matches you with an internship program, you are sadly mistaken. Things change. People change, circumstances change. Life chugs along, I wanted to say, and it takes you with it. No matter what you think you found out today, I wanted to say, I can guarantee you that your life won't even vaguely resemble your vision of it right now. So don't worry so much. Sit back and enjoy the proverbial ride. Don't forget to look out the window every now and again. And make sure to celebrate the milestones along the way.

Nine years. It staggers me.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

She's Lucky To Have Escaped With Her Job

Baroy went to pay for our entry into the Museum of Natural History while I waited with the kids. When he rejoined us, he was ashen-faced, and fuming.

"What's the matter?" I asked, as he muttered particularly unsavory four-letter words under his breath.

Apparently, the woman behind the counter had swiped his credit card and started to hand it back to him, but then suddenly said, "Uh-oh. It says 'Call police.'"

I can only imagine what went through his mind in that second, as he looked at the woman and managed to spit out the word, "What?" Stalker girl. What had she done now? How could this be possible? Who had actually believed her? Did we have our lawyer's number on hand? Was he actually going to have to defend himself against her imbecilic accusations? Was he going to wind up in jail? What were we going to do?

"I'm just joking," said the broadly smiling woman.

Just joking. Just joking. Just joking.

I remember once, back in my ABigScienceMagazine days, we had an intern who was trying to buddy up with everyone. I also remember, with startling clarity for something that probably occurred 17 or 18 yeas ago, a day when a bunch of us were going to lunch, and we stopped by the bank to get cash. The intern was telling a supposedly funny story while we waited in line--what the story was about eludes me--and he ended it with the line, "So I raped her."

There was dead silence as several of us looked at one another. When I spoke up, it was in the deadly calm voice that people who know me well know is an indication of deadly seriousness. "Lemme give you a little comedy tip here, Will," I said. "Rape jokes are never funny. Never."

I remember nothing else about that intern nor, I think, does anyone else who knew him. To all of us, he will forever be known as "that stupid rape-joke guy."

Although I'm generally inclined to give most people the benefit of the doubt, and although I know that the woman at the museum meant nothing by it, I now need to expand that rule of comedy to include things that might threaten someone's personal safety. Maybe it's just me, but I'm thinking there are a lot of people who walk through that museum's gates each day who would be upset rather than amused by a comment like that, or at least knocked a bit askew. I know I was, if the number of times I snapped at Em and N through the rest of our museum stay was any indication.

There's so much that's no longer funny to me, even though it might have amused me in the past. Anything that evokes Stalker Girl is in that 'not funny' category.

Rape jokes are never funny. Threats of imminent arrest are never funny. Stalker jokes are never funny, either. And that's because there's nothing even slightly amusing about being raped, or stalked, or threatened. And there's nothing even slighly amusing about being reminded of that rape, that stalking, or that threat.

Perhaps the Museum of Natural History needs to work on its customer service training a bit.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig

We’re back from five days in NYC. (Oh, N. Y. C. What is it about you? You’re big. You’re loud. You’re...frigging ridiculously cold.) We were in Queens for my stepsister’s baby shower, and threw in visits to my brothers-in-law in Manhattan on two of the days, and a quick trip to the Museum of Natural History to get in a bit of official sightseeing as well as a trip down memory lane for Mommy. (I lived across the street from the museum for a year or so, paying $600 a month—in 1987 dollars, no less—to sleep on the couch in a tiny, roach-infested one-bedroom apartment rented by my roommate, the sister of a close friend. But did I mention we were across the street from the museum? And two doors down from Columbus Blvd? And did I also mention that this was the street where they blow up the big balloons for the Thanksgiving Day Parade? It was a blast.)

There were a few trips down memory lane for me this weekend, actually. But none was as odd, as disconcerting, as my quick visit to my friend Marg, who works at ABigScienceMagazine, where I worked for almost eight years. It’s hard to describe if you didn’t live through that era with me, but those were the most intense years of my life, and my work—my friends at work in particular—made up the bulk of that intensity. I spent most of my days and nights with people from work. They were my colleagues, and my best friends. We would get out of work at 5 on Fridays, and head out for a couple of hours of drinking together. Almost none of us were married or had kids. We were all obscenely dedicated to making our magazine work, stand out, educate, make a difference. I’ve never before, and never since, seen a group of people less cynical about the jobs they do and their importance.

So it was weird to walk into the lobby of the building, almost a dozen years later, and sign in under the watchful eye of a doorman I still remembered, but who obviously didn’t remember me. It was weirder still to slide up 15 stories in an elevator completely unchanged by the passage of time, only to step out into a hallway that was half familiar, yet half utterly transformed. (Same intercom, same dirty, banged-up door on my left. But...hardwood floors in the hallway? A glass wall in front of me? Those aren’t part of my memory.

It was the same as I walked down the hall. “Omigod, they still haven’t found places for those filing cabinets,” I thought one second, and then, “Omigod, when did they paint the walls baby blue, and what WERE they thinking?” the next. Who put those weird abstract carpeting blocks in the art department? Why haven’t they taken down the artwork that they had up when I was still here? It was positively schizophrenic.

Weirdest of all, though, was the fact that I had to be introduced to people. To almost everyone I ran across, to be honest. There are four people left on this staff of 20-some that I know, and only two are friends. Used to be that not only did I know every single person on staff, but I didn’t need to use speed dial for more than half of their home phone numbers, because I knew them by heart. That office was my social hub, my social life. And it was a rich social life...don’t feel badly for me. I was busy and happy and energized. That’s probably why it was so sadly odd to be there as very much a guest. No homecoming parade for me. No familiar, smiling faces. Just a sense that I did not, very much did NOT, belong there any more. That time has passed in the real world, even if somehow I’d continued to hold that office in some sort of memory-related amber resin—petrified, still, never-changing.

In short, visiting that place weirded me out, man. I don’t think I’ll do that again any time soon.

On an only vaguely related note...Some time in the near-too-distant future, remind me to tell y’all some of the funny stories about this trip, and especially about my four-year-old, who was a complete and total pisser the entire time. Remind me to tell you about his 40-or-50-something-year-old ‘girlfriend’ from the flight over (“Where my girlfriend go? I love her very much, mommy”) and his completely out-of-the-blue obsession with the F train. (“I sad when Zaboo and Pumpkin got eat by the coyotes, Mommy. I happy when I ride on the F train.”) And remind me to tell you about Em’s much-too-insightful-for-a-7-year-old comments and questions about my 27-year-old cousin with Down’s Syndrome who attended the baby shower. (“I didn’t know if she was a grownup or a kid, but I figured out that I shouldn’t ask in front of her or I might hurt her feelings,” and “Does Lee like being the way she is, Mommy?”)

Those kids. They leave me speechless.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Marathon Endeavors

Baroy ran the LA Marathon yesterday, successfully concluding his self-imposed challenge to run the New York and LA Marathons before his 50th birthday, which is in October. He put forth that challenge during last year's LA Marathon, after running just two miles at a local track, and feeling the need to push himself a little further, a little harder. My reply to him was then, and has been every since, that if this is to be his mid-life crisis, and it doesn't involve expensive cars or cheap women, I'm all for it.

I am extremely proud of him. I'd say excessively proud, because I'm brimming with it today, but the truth is, it's not excessive: He deserves it. It was an amazing goal to set, and he stuck with it through everything--employment ups and downs, depression, the worst rainy season LA has seen in I-don't-know-how-long. He did it.

Of course, this makes me think about my own current goals, not one of which I've met. I've gained back all of the 14 pounds I lost last fall. I still haven't finished or even much advanced my book series proposal. I haven't gotten very far on my 'memoir.' I haven't even started a novel. I'm still flailing helplessly in a job I've grown to dislike, overwhelmed with work and ennui. I haven't even found the time to finish a ridiculous series of posts here in my own blog. I'm a little disgusted with myself, if truth be told. I've gone for long walks, something I promised myself I'd start doing to relieve stress levels and burn some calories at the same time, less than once a week. I'm unhappy with my body, and that's not something that happens often. I'm not that hypercritical, usually.

Some of my disgust is unfair: In the last couple of months, I've made a relative boatload (i.e., it's a boatload to me, not so much to most people) of money for freelance work that I'm enjoying. But even that is just work for work's sake, since it's not going under my name. It's not really going to advance my career any. But it will pay for some stuff that I'd like to get done around the house, like one of those solar light tubes for our dark kitchen, and maybe even central air and heat. And that's worth a lot to me.

But other parts of the disgust are absolutely fair. I waste so much time in an average day. If I took all the hours that I spend futzing around on the Web, checking to see if blogs have updated, even when I know they haven't, or playing stupid games online, I'd be checking items off my to-do list left and right. Just the hours I've wasted on online solitaire alone would have gotten me through half my book project.

I'd ask where my self-discipline has gone, but really, I've never had any. Still, it's disappointing to lose what little drive I had, and to watch things I was passionate about just a couple of months ago fade into the background. It's especially disappointing when I watch my husband set his sights on a goal and keep chugging along, undeterred by anything, until he reaches it.

I need more of that in my constitution. I need to finish at least one of my own personal marathons. I need a reason to feel excessively proud of myself again. I need to do SOMEthing.

I need. I need and need and want and want. I long. I long for...what? I don't know. But lately, I feel like my life is all about longing, and I want it to stop. I want to stop reaching forward all the time. I want to live now and do now and stop needing and wanting and not doing. I'm just not sure how to start, or that I have what it takes to cross the finish line.

But, still. Baroy ran the LA Marathon yesterday. I'm so extremely proud of him.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Too Good of a Friend?

So, as I've chronicled before, N has this wonderful friend who he calls WeeyumWise. Full name, all the time. They are inseparable. And that was fine, when WeeyumWise was going to preschool full time, just like N. But now, he's not, because I helped convince his mom to quit her job. I'm a fool. Not really. His mom is worlds happier. But my boy? Not happier.

N isn't much like his sister. Where you could question her and get not only a straight answer but one that went deeper than the original question, even at the age of four, with N you sometimes don't even get an answer that has anything to do with your question. And when you do, it's not always truthful.

So I wasn't much worried when he would report, every Monday and Friday this past month, that he didn't play with any of his friends, or that he only played with Baaa, Baby Baaaa, This, That, Little Bit and Silly (who are his imaginary friends--and that's only a partial list). He wasn't crying when I dropped him off those days, and when I picked him up he didn't look like he'd spent the whole day crying or moping or anything. But then, last Friday morning, I found out from one of his teachers that he'd been spending long periods of time with his little body stuffed into his tiny cubby, sucking his thumb, on any day that Weeyum wasn't there. And that, when approached, he would respond to offers to play with a teacher or one of the other kids with, "No, danks. I'm waiting to go home."

X-rays have since confirmed that that statement alone completely broke my heart.

It turned out he had a better day that Friday, playing with one of the teachers, and occasionally with one of his non-Weeyum friends. So I figured things had turned around. They hadn't. Monday was just as bad, apparently. He and I had a long talk on the way to school this morning. Actually, it was a short talk followed by a bit of role-playing, because he's into having us switch roles anyway, so I got to pretend I was him and I was upset because Weeyum wasn't coming to school that day. And he told me he would not go to work that day and I didn't have to go to school, and we could go to the zoo instead. Interesting. (Of course, then it turned out that all the animals in the zoo 'are died,' because the coyotes ate them. And then the crocodiles from the LA River were chasing us, so we had to drive especially fast. And then it was hard to bring the conversation back to where I wanted it. But at least I tried, right?)

In any case, I'm hopeful that, combined with a discussion I had with the preschool director yesterday about how he's needing a little special attention right now, things will get better for him. Because the image of him smushed into a cubby waiting for eight hours to go home is too much for me to bear.

And then, of course, there's the obsessing. There's the "OK, maybe we can deal with this. But is this a sign of a bigger problem? Am I missing it?" I mean, for one thing, this is not a child who's been dealt a particularly favorable genetic deck when it comes to mental illness. Grandpa's a loon--the technical term is bipolar, of course, but he takes it way beyond that to true loon-dom. Mom's a...whatever I am. A depressive, maybe, or maybe bipolar II. A panic attack sufferer. A full-out neurotic for sure. Dad, too, has his issues, especially panic. So while I wouldn't normally go straight to "is he depressed?" for a 4-year-old who mopes or throws a fit because he's pissed that his best friend isn't at school, I wonder sometimes if I should be going there for N. As I said to one of the other parents this morning, as N cheerfully but deteminedly attempted to move the mat and blanket and pillow aside so that he could draw his other leg into the cubby, "You know, there's attachment and then there's pathology. And I can't help thinking that day-long cubby-sitting is just the teensiest bit pathological."

That's my boy. Next thing you know, he'll be playing the starring role in "Single White Male: The Preschool Years." Opening soon in a cubby near you.

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