Backseat pilot

By Mir
November 5, 2005

It’s been kind of a long week. You know the sort of week where you have a million things going on and various sorts of angst over things you need to be handling and then you have half a dozen friends dealing with various things that make you say to yourself, “Self, it is about time to get over your own damn self because just LOOK at what these OTHER people are dealing with and not whining… well, okay, they ARE whining, and in fact whining TO ME, but they are ENTITLED, because they’re dealing with serious things and really your little bits of anxiety over work or the imaginary deadly disease you are busy diagnosing yourself with are really just small potatoes compared to these other things so kindly just SHUT UP and move on and have a fun-size Butterfinger or SOMETHING and just GET A GRIP,” that sort of week?


Oh. Nevermind, then. It’s uh, been a long week. Full of… stuff. Normal stuff. Yeah.

Hey! How about that team? You know, the one that plays… uh… that sport!

Why are you looking at me like that??

So anyway, this week, it resulted in several key realizations and events, summarized in no particular order as follows:

* The very thought of missing a deadline or even just someone THINKING I’ve missed a deadline is enough, at this point, to send me spiraling out of control with anxiety. I’m thinking that it’s POSSIBLE that this is not my very best possible stance, as an independent contractor. I need to have verification and fallback plans in place–even if I never have to use them!–just to make sure that I am not a quivering mass of nerves all the time.

* Cancer sucks. Having a friend with cancer sucks doubly. Have a friend with cancer who is far away and struggling is triple-plus ungood suckitude, and yes, that IS the technical term.

* Knowing my child needs something more than they’re currently getting but not knowing what is lacking and therefore how to provide it is the most helpless feeling in the world.

* Figuring out how to take care of yourself when you’re very busy taking care of everyone else is hard.

* I should never be allowed to have sacks of candy sitting on my kitchen counter.

* Helping a friend figure out how to cope with a difficult situation will bring up my own issues relating to having been in a somewhat similar situation before, and bring them up in such a way as to make me wonder when I am ever going to just get over it already, because yeah, it’s not fair, and blah blah blah, but LET IT GO ALREADY, brain.

* According to some Dr. Phil quiz that was forwarded to me, I’m a true and loyal friend but have trust issues. Gee, YA THINK? I also hear that the earth is round, and that very soon white stuff will begin falling from the sky. These sorts of revelations are always useful.

Anyway, that was MY week. And how was yours?

Today Chickadee and I headed over to Family Science Day at her school. Daddy and Monkey went off to do some male bonding while we immersed ourselves in all sort of interesting experiments and activities. I relish the opportunity to spend one-on-one time with either child, because it doesn’t happen all that often. Also this was EDUCATIONAL and there were OTHER MOMS there who I knew! Which is almost like a two-for-one kinda deal, that I can pat myself on the back about the wholesomeness of the endeavor, WHILE getting to socialize with other adults! Wooo!

Except, of course, that Chickadee never wanted to sit down at a station where there was someone who I knew. I would suggest a table (where there were friends of ours) and she would drag me over to a different one, because she didn’t WANT to make a sea creature right now, she wanted to do leaf rubbing! right! now! So I managed to wave to several people, or say hi, and then run off to do things like try to float a paperclip in a bowl of water using the miracle of surface tension.

Actually, I didn’t mind too much. She was enjoying herself, and I was having fun watching her. Plus I had the following interaction:

Woman: Hi! How are YOU?
Me: I’m… fine… how are you?
Woman: Good, good. I almost didn’t recognize you!
Me: … oh…
Woman: Your HAIR, it’s really different! Did you cut it?
Me: [At this point I wanted to respond: No, it’s always been like this!] Yeah, yeah I got it cut.
Woman: Well I LOVE it! It’s really different and SO CUTE!
Me: Thanks.
Woman: Whoops, lost my kid. Better go. Nice to see you!
Me: You, too!
*She leaves, and sits down at a station with her daughter.*
Me: Chickadee? Do you see the little girl over there with that lady?
Chickadee: In the pink boots?
Me: Yeah. Do you know who that is?
Chickadee: Nope. Don’t you know? You were just talking to her mom.
Me: Yeah. Um. I have no idea who she is. I thought maybe you knew her daughter. She’s not in your class?
Chickadee: Nope, I don’t know who she is.
Me: Oh. Hrm. I wonder who she is.
Chickadee: Why don’t you ASK her who she is?
Me: I can’t do that.
Chickadee: Why not?
Me: Because I just had a conversation with her like I know her. It would be too embarrassing, now, to tell her I don’t know who she is.
Chickadee: So you’re just going to never find out?
Me: I guess.
Chickadee: That’s sorta dumb.
Me: I know. Hey! Let’s go make bird feeders!

The thing you need to know about Family Science Day is that they bring in this little flight simulator thingie and as you walk in, the kids get a ticket with a number so that they can take a turn. We went and watched a few kids have their turns flying, then went around to about forty stations to do activities, and then discovered that there were still 15 people ahead of Chickadee in the simulator line. I suggested that perhaps we should call it an afternoon, since the wait was so long.

Nooooooooooooooooooooo Mama! I want to fly the plane!

Okay, then. We walked around and chatted with some people and stood and watched kids lay down on the table and grab the controls and fly into barns and such. After about two weeks (well, it felt that long), it was Chickadee’s turn and she leapt up on the table and situated herself as directed. She listened intently to instructions on how to use the stick-thing (yes, that’s the technical term) and how to slide her hips in the bracket-thingie (this plane was very technical, I’m telling you) to change the angle of flight.

She took off, and we all watched the screen as she steered the plane between a couple of trees. “Great job, honey!” The plane levelled off, and Chickadee experimented a bit with changing angles, and then the plane headed towards the ground as she pointed the nose just a bit too far down.

I couldn’t help it. “PULL UP!” I urged. And pull up she did. She reared backwards on that lever and the screen showed the view change sharply to nothing but sky and clouds, right before the plane careened backwards into the ground with a great big THUD.

The operator congratulated Chickadee on a good effort, gave her a brief synopsis on velocity and lift, and helped her down. I gave her a quick squeeze and told her that for her first time flying a plane she’d done really well. “Did you have fun, honey?”

She glared at me. “It was fun until you told me to pull up! Then I pulled up and I CRASHED! Why did you tell me to do that?”

“Well, um, honey, you were headed towards the ground, and if you hadn’t pulled up, you would’ve crashed that way, too. You just pulled up a little bit too much, is all. It’s okay, you did really well.” I was looking around, desperately hoping to spot something distracting.

She huffed and looked down at her feet. “Well you should’ve let me crash MY WAY, then.”

I hate it when she’s right. I also hate it when life presents me with such obvious, duh-evoking metaphors. Hmph.


  1. ben

    Okay, but DID the paper clip float? I’m dying to know!

    (I’m busy crashing MY WAY, or I’d stick around and chat)

  2. carson

    I love you. I love every single thing you write. I am thinking of changing my blog so that it just redirects to yours, because you say things that I have wanted & tried to say in my blog, but didn’t come out nearly as well (or funny, or poignant or–you can fill in any nice adjective you want, whichever one will make you feel better about your 8th grade English class, where they introduced you to the art of composition but the teacher didn’t get your writing) as it did for you.

    The line that brought me to tears this entry was about the hopelessness of seeing your child in need, but not knowing what.

    And then you followed it up with laughter. . .

    If you ever come to Atlanta again, I would love to meet up with you and your short hair in the public well-lit place of your choosing. I won’t even take it personally when you get that “emergency cell phone call” that means you have to leave after 10 minutes.

    Here’s to mysteries, and hoping that the solution is right around the corner.

  3. Bob

    off we go, into the wild blue yonder. flying high, into the….wump.

    kids 1, mom,….. .75 (for effort)

    I can’t think of anything fantastic that I could tell you that’ll make everything better, but I can tell you this: You are obviously a good friend and a great mom. Everything I’ve read here reinforces that.

    Small comfort, be you’ve bags of admirers out here.

    Take a breath, drink a glass of wine and take the night off. Tomorrow is soon enough to take up the cares of the world again.

    Take care, and remember – it’s only a flesh wound.

  4. Theresa

    *snort* I would have been yelling “pull up!” too! Have you ever had a stranger come up to you, start a conversation as if she knows you, and then come back and ask who the heck you are? That’s fun.

  5. Jules

    You know what..having a friend like you cuts out on some of the triple-plus ungood suckitude.

    Love you!

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