Just a day of recycling, driving, and dealing

By Mir
October 5, 2004

Another fine excursion to the dump, today. My car was packed to the gills with recycling; I’ve cut another path through the basement and expanded the walking room in the garage with the number of cardboard boxes I removed. The stack of discarded Boston Globes no longer threatens to topple out of the garbage cabinet and knock me senseless every time I go to throw something away. The “Still Good” shed offered up some bakeware (I defy anyone with children under the age of 12 to say there is such a thing as too many mini-muffin tins) and a few comparable plastic pieces for the kids’ kitchen. I hit pay dirt in the book shed, scoring the two Shel Silverstein books we needed to complete our collection, two trivia card sets, and about half a dozen other kids’ books. Grabbed a little piece of fluff for myself and called it a day.

Thus invigorated, I then embarked on the Shuffling of the Children. Due to poor planning on my part (surprise!), I’d forgotten I was going to the dump today when I’d written the note for Chickadee to be excused early for a doctor’s appointment. The dump is on the same side of town as her school. Our house is on the side of town where Monkey’s school is located. But as I am a moron, and decided I wasn’t up for arguing with the nazis in the office about removing Chickadee even earlier than requested, I drove across town to fetch Monkey, then back across town again to get Chickadee, then back the other way once more to the doctor. Phew.

At the doctor I got to confess to having changed Chickadee’s medication dosage without approval. I rushed to blame it on her therapist having suggested it last week, adding that I had made an appointment as soon as possible to get official sanction. Luckily, I am brilliant and the doctor is pretty easygoing; she agreed that was the thing to do and didn’t have a problem with it. That was a relief, because I strongly suspect that if Chickadee hears another adult tell me that I am wrong about something it will only serve to confirm all her suspicions that I am not only the dumbest person on the planet, but possibly trying to poison her, as well. She’s charming, that way. We do not need to present this child with any more evidence to support her hypothesis that I should be ignored.

This doctor keeps a continuum of smiley faces from 1 to 10 on her bulletin board. Number 1 Smiley Face looks like he’s had some extremely good weed and is currently watching the sunset and eating brownies. Cheesecake brownies, perhaps. It’s that kind of smile. Duuuuuuuuuude, says Number 1, I can’t stop smiling! Number 10 Smiley Face has just lost his entire family to the raging inferno that consumed his home. Perhaps the firemen came too late, and–upon realizing the house and family couldn’t be saved–decided to pass some time by taking poor little Number 10 out back for some non-regulation activities. Number 10 is far too busy wailing and gushing tears to say anything at all. You kind of want to scoop up Number 10 and comfort him and tell him everything is going to be okay, but on the other hand, you look at his face and feel like nothing will ever be okay for him ever again. Plus, he’s just a sketch of a face. Anyway, you get the idea. The faces go in degrees of emotion from Number 1 down to Number 10, with Smiley Face Number 5 being the Switzerland of Smiley Faces.

Monkey demands to see the Smiley Chart first thing every time we go to this office. It’s not his appointment, but he is mesmerized by that chart. The doctor is always game to indulge him, and asks him to please point to the face that best describes how he feels on the inside. Without fail, Monkey chooses Smiley Number 1, every single time. Monkey is high on life. Yay Monkey! Unfortunately, in the year that Chickadee has been seeing this doctor, she has chosen Smiley Number 10 more times than I like to recall. We’ve had a rough few weeks and so I steeled myself as the doctor ruffled Monkey’s hair and said, “Okay, Chickadee, your turn! Show me which one is you, today.” Chickadee studied the faces for a moment and then turned away and flopped down in the chair next to me.

“None of them,” she declared. The doctor raised her eyebrows and asked Chickadee to look again, and pick the one closest, even if it wasn’t exactly right. “None of them are even close,” she insisted. I exhaled. Loudly.

“Chickadee, honey, please just try to pick one,” I urged.

She picked Switzerland. Smiley Number 5 probably winked at her and said, “You and me, kid. They can’t crack us. We’re inscrutable!” (And Chickadee, being Chickadee, then thought to herself, “I have no idea what inscrutable means, but it sounds good.”) All in all, it was kind of a relief. Except for the part where I imagined the Smiley and my daughter chatting. But that’s not really her fault. We talked a bit, finished up with making our next appointment, and headed out to Daddy’s house for dinner.

I have now had an entire hour all to myself and I have no idea where it went. But I do know that I am totally going to have nightmares about disturbing Smiley Faces tonight.


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