Monday, June 21, 2010

transitions and torture

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Toby and the trampstamp...
They tell you, "Transitions are hard" when your kids are little. You're supposed to warn kids. "We'll be leaving in 5 minutes..." 2 minutes later, "You need to start cleaning up..." I never remember to warn them, and I feel like a bad mom when I have to throw them into their car seats screaming in front of all the composed moms and children. Who are we trying to kid? Anyone worth their salt hates transitions. I text my husband 5 minutes before we have to leave our work and go pick up the kids. He's 6 feet away on the other side of a door, but I don't want to see him do the adult version of a melt down, so I resort to the phone.

To be good at pottery you have to manage, if not embrace, transitions. You can't rush anything or else it cracks, warps, bubbles or looks shitty. If you're compulsive, the only way to avoid rushing something is to start something else. So you throw 20 cups, wedge the pieces for the handles, wax the bottoms of a bunch of bowls, glaze their insides, load a kiln, feed your baby and THEN you make and put the handles on the 20 cups. Of course I want to weep when I can't finish glazing those bowls...

Last May my mother in law told us that if we were planning to use the shore house, we should be prepared to clean it. Tim hates the shore. He thinks the beach is barbaric because it's hot, sandy and because IT LACKS BOUNDARIES...I love the beach because I don't have to scream "NO!" to my kids as often as normal. I was pregnant with #3, and I volunteered to go clean, leaving Tim home with #1 and #2. When Carol says clean, she means it. We were dusting the insides of bureau drawers, bathing venetian blinds in the tub, and hoovering mattresses and box springs. It's embarrassing, but I was in heaven; it was so satisfying to start and complete a task in one go. Am I saying I'd rather be using Tilex on some grout than parent? Maybe...

The transition issue is why parenting is torture. You have to do something for a kid or keep him/her from dying before you can finish anything. I've never understood putting dishes in the sink. Why not just put them in the dishwasher? Now I get it. I don't have the time or attention span to get them all in the dishwasher, so I spend a 1/2 hour majoring in parenting with a minor in getting dirty dishes close to the dishwasher. The next 1/2 hour will be parenting with an emphasis on getting dirty laundry near the washing machine. Nap time arrives and I get an orgasmic 2 hours of task completion.

Speaking of torture...Why do people torture each other? One of my employees used to leave sandwich baggies filled with cookies around the studio when I was pregnant and worried about gaining weight. He'd wait until I ate them and tell me he was making side money betting his friends how many minutes it would take for me to locate and consume 3 Oreos in a 1200 sq. ft. clay studio. My children spend most of their concentration power anticipating the next toy move of a sibling. They then grab the desired toy and sprint away from the grab-ee, screaming.

I'm not sure my brother and I tortured each other so intently, but we were living with parents who routinely tortured each other. Peter's favorite was to see Susie in a short mood, sashay up to the Steinway and daintily start playing Chopin's "Minute Waltz." He'd crescendo to an appalling B instead of a B flat in the 9th stanza. It drove her mad: a. because she can't deal with anything off key and b. because she was probably trying to get stuff done, and it annoyed her that he was at liberty to waltz up to the piano instead of Windexing the storm windows or putting the coffee grounds into the compost...

We spent the weekend at the Shore with another vengeful Peter and his entourage. Peter is a second cousin of my husband-as if there aren't enough first cousins to deal with; Tim's dad was one of 14. Peter is the 6-years-later-mistake after a family of 4 Irish twins. (Tim's family has one of those...Johnny.) Peter's siblings have all bred, and he's footloose and 37. Rather than give his nieces and nephews a bunch of crap for gifts, he takes them on annual trips. This time his sister, Jackie had to chaperon the "Historical Pennsylvania" trip with 3 tweener nieces. (Jackie won my heart when she read a group text she received on Sunday morning, Ladies, I don't mean to brag, but I just fit into earrings I wore in high school.)

Apparently Jackie's conservative husband, Bob, was the main balker at Peter's discretion. In response, Peter tortured her and anyone who would listen with references to intercourse with his nieces (Intercourse, PA was one of their stops....where the Amish live) Jackie created a mutiny in which she and all 3 nieces demanded to go to the Jersey shore with us instead of seeing the Liberty Bell, putting the kibosh on another day of PA history. Peter lives in Miami; the crappy beaches of the Jersey Shore were not his pick, and being 2nd in command was definitely not on his agenda. Peter's revenge: going to the boardwalk and convincing each girl to get a semi-permanent henna tattoo (semi permanent meaning 5 weeks...all summer) that read some version of, "Uncle Peter ROCKS!"

Bob and Jackie's daughter got hers as a tramp stamp on her lower back....Peter's only request as they parted ways, "Please film Bob's face during the unveiling."

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