Milestones instead of millstones

By Mir
October 11, 2005
Category Growing

Sometimes I find myself being impatient with my children when they are slow to change behavior that has already proven counterproductive. To wit: Monkey does NOT like it if he is the last one upstairs on school mornings. You’d think this would compel him to get ready faster, but you’d be wrong. What it DOES cause him to do is pitch a great big hairy hissy fit when he realizes that I am packing lunches and Chickadee is eating breakfast and he is standing at the top of the stairs, alone and naked save for the underwear on his head. It’s becoming a problem.

And honestly, I have no idea where he gets that. Make the same mistake over and over, and then cry about the results? That’s just dumb. And so completely foreign to me. Ahahahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Sorry. I really thought I was going to manage that one with a straight face, but ummmm, no.

[For you, Dad: Why do I keep banging my head against this wall? Because it feels so good when I finally stop!]

The leaves are falling and the temperature is dropping. For days now the rain has fallen. Sometimes a pounding, driving drumming on the roof and windows… more often, a drizzle that just makes the air thick and damp.

This kind of weather lulls me into a comfortable melancholy. I feel slow and nostalgic and want nothing more than to cocoon and hide. I find myself remembering. Constantly. The drone of the rain hypnotizes me and in my head I replay movies of the past. Movies of when I made the same mistake, over and over, and ended up wondering how it happened. I am changing; but that’s not what I think about on rainy days. On rainy days it takes all of my energy to fight the urge to sleep. Escape.

I wonder if my children are similarly affected. I suspect that they are; both are a bit out of sorts and just slower than usual.

Last night Chickadee complained that she was tired of rain. As I tucked her in I shushed her. “Listen,” I whispered. “Listen for the pattern.” We sat there in the dark together. My fingers on her chest tapped out a pitter-patter of rain on top of her heartbeat, and she smiled and relaxed under my hand. This afternoon–when her frustration over writing out various facts about the endangered kiwi reached fever pitch–I pulled her onto my lap and held her while we watched the rivulets on the windows, and listened, together.

It’s still raining. Part of me still wants to hibernate. But a larger part of me is seeing–and celebrating–progress.

For one thing, Chickadee’s project on the kiwi bird is nearly complete. I just need to buy her a piece of poster board tomorrow to arrange her little fact groups on. Chickadee worked really hard on this. More importantly, perhaps, my ex worked with her on it all weekend, and I worked with her today, and goshdarnit if it hasn’t been just one big happy collaborative effort. If those kiwis could talk, they would praise us all for our cooperative spirits. Right after they asked why we keep shoving toothpicks in them, that is.

For another thing, I got something really, really cool in the mail today.

I sat with it at the kitchen table for a while, considering framing it. Eventually I decided against it, for obvious reasons.

Today I got my first check for work performed as a freelancer. (I couldn’t figure out a way to both frame it AND cash it, see?) There are other checks on the way, but this is the very first one.

You know, it DOES feel really good when I take a break from smashing my head into that wall.


  1. buffi

    Yay! What a satisfying feeling that must be to be paid for your writing. Good for you, Mir!

    I love how you used the rain to help Chickadee. You are such a great, intuitive Mom. I love stealing those moments with SugarPlum. They are becoming fewer and farther between.

    Post some pictures of the kiwis! She (and you!) worked so hard on them.

  2. Amy-GO

    Scan that check and copy it, my friend! It deserves to be framed.

    LOVE the Kiwis!

  3. Jess in Nova Scotia

    I love, love, love the kiwis! Will there be a photo of the final project? (Complete with blue ribbon or giant pencilled A, of course!)
    Way to go Chickadee – and that was a lovely moment that she will remember, at odd times, whenever she needs comfort, through her life.

  4. Jenn

    Hooray for money! I’m with Amy, scan it and print it out! Or you could always dance around your house with it and have the kids take pictures. Oh, or you could cash it, get the money in small bills, throw it on the floor and roll around in it like a dog in grass. Or maybe just deposit it. Your choice!

  5. Cyndi

    Oh, Mir…you are my hero!! Heroine? Anyway, even if you are chicken of the fizzy, smelly things for the shower… :P

    How very cool…Kinko’s, color copy, dollar store frame…it’ll be worth it. Very cool!!

  6. udge

    Congratulations! Enjoy the moment (and do something about that bruise on your forehead).

  7. ben

    Congrats, Mir. On all your projects!

  8. Chookooloonks

    Congratulations, congratulations. You’re my inspiration. And I’m with Amy-GO — time to get that Scanner talkin’ to that asshole System, and memorialize that check for life!

    Way to go!

  9. Bob

    A great big hug and congratulations on payday. You are now officially a professional writer. I’m happy for you, and that the rest of the world will now get to experience what those of us on the internet have for the past year.

    Kids are by definition illogical. My kids argued for years about who got to sit behind mommy in the car. You and Monkey will figure it out.

    I LOVE rainy days. When I was growing up I would go to my granfather’s barn so I could listen to the rain fall onto its tin roof. Listening to the rain is like watching a campfire – hypnotising.

  10. Nancy

    Paid for writing! See! I told you! Er, I think I did. Now leave the wall alone.

  11. Aimee

    Congrats on the first check — may it soon be joined by hundreds, nay, thousands, of others! One thing I really miss here in SoCal is the rain — I mean, it rains, but only from about December-February. I miss those rainy fall days. Thanks for sharing them.

  12. David

    Yea, you! Of course, now that you’re a Professional, you might want to consider HIRING someone to bang their head on the wall. I’m sure it’s deductible. ;-)

  13. dad

    As your father, Isn’t it is my responsibility to volunteer as your surrogate wall-head banger?

    Been there. Done that.

    I want a copy of your first Pulitzer.

  14. shannon

    The joys of being a kid means you can do things that perplex and confuse your parents.

    Walls, oh yes, nice for banging ones head…especially the sharp conrers, that’s where I hit them. Although I’ve tried to curb the action because it keeps meaning less and less to me…and this awful headache just won’t go away.

    Money is always good. Do you get your *cancelled checks back in the mail? Deposit it and when you get it back (assuming you do) then frame it in all its gloriousness. Or, Kinkos, like someone else said.

    *one or two L’s in that word?!? It’s one that eludes me and is maddening!!!

  15. elswhere

    Mazal Tov!

    Scan it and put a kiwi sticker on it!

  16. Carol

    And see, I learned something too. Who knew that Kiwi bird’s had whiskers? Not me! Very good job.

    As for Monkey’s antics~I refuse to believe it’s hereditary. 2 of my kids are old enough to understand the concept of consequences. Yet the almost always choose to cry about it instead of changing their behavior. I keep waiting but so far, no progress. There’s no way I was this way when I was a child and neither were you! Or if you were, don’t admit it!

  17. Colleen

    I LOVE the Kiwi! So creative. I also enjoyed reading how you prompted Chickadee to listen to the pattern of the rain. That’s putting a positive spin on something you’re frustrated with.

  18. Patricia

    ok, how is it that a photo of the too cool for words Kiwi has to include an explanation of grout??? Mir — we ALL know you wouldn’t post a photo of a less than clean space, ok like EVER.

    One last thought — stop banging your head on the wall or the check will have to go to pay for wall repairs and not the good stuff — like buying Monkey more hats — i mean underpants :)


  19. Fraulein N

    Congrats on getting that check!

  20. Jennifer

    That’s so great! It must have been the most incredibly gratifying feeling in the world to cash that particular check. I’m with whoever said it before. I hope you copied it before handing it over to the bank. It *so* deserves to be framed and hung in a place of prominence. Congratulations!

  21. Shari

    MIR!! Your first check! I don’t think you will ever have another feeling quite like that one.

    I framed mine. It was only for five dollars. Small sacrifice. :o) But what you could do, depending on the person who signed the check, is explain what you want to do and ask if they will humour you by stopping payment on the first one and sending another. My musician friend did that because his was too large to consider not cashing! LOL

    But seriously, congratulations. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind that it would work out for you. :D

  22. Jenny

    Yay! Mir! You’re, like, a professional! That’s killer, dude!

    (and it becomes obvious why I am not yet a professional)

  23. MamaPajama

    I love the amputee baby kiwi! And I’ll have to remember “sand-colored” grout. I wonder if anyone would believe mildew colored?

  24. Mit_Moi

    Yippy! Money for PROFESSIONAL writing! Now tell us where we can gaze on these finely crafted words pared down to conforming limits!

    And the KIWI? Man-o-man. I hope Chickadee moves to a different school next year! Does she realize how high she’s setting the bar? No wonder Monkey is at the top of the stairs. I think I would be scared to come downstairs and compete with the talented women of the house. Of course that’s just my humble opinion …..

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