Nota Bene: For the next nine days, this blog will function primarily as a Remote Parental Communication Device. Do not expect reflective content. School behavior, potty-related issues, bathing schedules, and bedtime crying jags will be faithfully recorded for the benefit of the Temporarily Canadian Spouse. All other visitors should plan to read this instead, for the duration.
Nothing like a little car trouble to start TIFF '07 on a stressful note. And my jangled nerves were not improved by the Hurricane Henriette-related deluge that hit us this morning. I waded to work through ankle-deep water flowing over every paved surface and actually cried out in shock when a lightning strike about a half-mile away split my eardrums. I fretted much of the morning worrying that the steady downpour would flood our street and make it difficult to get back to the house, where a kindly friend (hey, Ali!) was watching Cady Gray.
But the rain had slackened by 1 pm, when I drove home after my freshman class, and the new drainage channels that the street department put in this summer evidently performed like a champ. Cady Gray was still sitting at the table carefully eating raisins out of her Lunchable, one by one, as she'd been doing for nearly an hour. Ali said that they talked about "opposites" and "science."
Being the mooch that I am, I traded on Ali's inherent goodness a bit more before I let her leave. She had picked up and fed my child; now I asked her to drive with us to the garage where the Subaru sat with a new battery (grrr, that really couldn't have been it), waiting to be retrieved. That being accomplished, I removed my vehicle from its strategic position blocking her in the driveway (under the theory that even goodness such as Ali's might need a little persuading).
Two cars in the garage, no waiting. Cady Gray took a late nap with minimal protests. An hour and twenty minutes to myself in the early afternoon! What better way to fill it than happily setting up Google Reader with my 153 subscriptions? For some reason Safari won't connect to any of my feeds anymore, and besides I'm getting tired of navigating very long bookmark menus over and over again to page through all my reading material. It's suddenly also apparent to me that I don't need to be reliant on a browser platform to bring me my preferred feeds -- when I'm at work, using Firefox, or otherwise surfing on another computer than my MacBook, I'm unable to access those Safari menus where the complete list is stored. Like so many technological tools, the true usefulness of Google Reader (or another web-based aggregator) doesn't become evident until you've committed to thinking inside a new box. The greatest genius of Google Reader? A "Next >>" bookmarklet you can drag to your browser menu bar. Click on it anytime, and it will take you to the next site in your subscription list (not to the feed -- to the actual site). Is there any easier way to page through the list of sites you read every day?
At 3 pm I got Cady Gray up, secured her in the car with juice, and went to school to pick up Archer. He came out beaming, with three Good As Gold stickers on his chest, and told me the story of how he got them ("good job being a leader," "paying attention in music class," "good job playing a game in P.E." -- the game in question apparently being Pac-Man (!) wherein "if the ghosts catch Ms. Miller, game over!"). A trip to Sonic for my usual gargantuan soda, and then home for Yo Gabba Gabba and playtime. Then I solidified my mommy credentials by putting food on the table for my children, getting one bathed and both in pajamas, brushing their teeth, supervising the reading of two bedtime stories, and tucking them into bed.
Cady Gray has developed the unpleasant habit of insisting that I be the one to read her bedtime books to her, then whining and crying when the reading is over and it's time for me to leave. With negligible success, we've started asking her to promise us that she won't whine and cry at bedtime. Before she and I depart for her bedroom, Noel takes both of her little hands in his and asks for her solemn promise.
Tonight after we read our books in her rocking chair, after Archer said his goodnights and went to his room, Cady Gray said, "I'll make a solemn promise, Mom." So I took her hands and she said, "I will not whine and cry, Mom." "Great," I said, "do you want me to tuck you in?" This is usually where it all goes south as she begins to protest incoherently -- promises be damned -- against the end of our time together. But tonight, apparently realizing there was no Daddy to come in and finalize the bedtime deal, she just nodded happily and let me put her under her covers. I praised her extravagantly for her bravery. Twice so far she's called out to me for "a toy" (her usual request when she demands a return parental visit to her room), but with nary a frown or a tear in sight. It's early yet, but our experience has been that when the custodial situation shifts due to the absence of Mom or Dayd, the kids feel some additional pressure to behave. At the very least, bedtime was a markedly more tranquil experience than it's been anytime in the last month.