Sunday, August 10, 2014

How We Do It: Part XLVII

Remember the days when your children were babies and toddlers, and you had these long days to think of things to do with them without going insane yourself? This isn't a post about letting children be bored (a conversation that the bourgeoisie takes on with constant angst) or thinking of creative ways to entertain their every waking moment. This isn't about the boring conflict between helicoptering, Tigering and laissez-faire parenting. The moments I refer to are the moments when you've already left them to boredom or self play for some time and are actually at risk of neglecting them. You know what I'm talking about, right? With a baby (Oliver), a toddler (Henry) and a disabled child (Sophie), there were days when I'd rustle all three of them to the park or the beach, if I was feeling ambitious, and there were days when a trip to Venice to go through the drive-through Starbucks sufficed. I could buy myself an iced latte and hand Henry a cookie or two that he'd feed himself and Sophie, reaching over the baby seat where Oliver slept. That's an interesting story in and of itself, actually -- the fact that Henry at three years of age was perfectly capable of feeding his big sister, but I won't tell it here. One of the interesting and most challenging aspects of having a daughter with severe disabilities is that this phase of figuring out things to do with your child goes on for -- well -- ever. For me it's been more than nineteen years. While I let Sophie tootle around her room for hours at a time, checking in every now and then to turn on music or change her diaper or even just to lie with her and give her legs and feet a massage, I feel, if not guilty, then perpetually self-conscious. Irrational or not, and please don't assure me that I'm doing a good job, I always, always, always have the needling thought floating about my brain that I should be doing something more. Henry went to lacrosse practice this afternoon, and Oliver went to the Y to work out. I took Sophie to the car-wash, the kind that you drive through, because it was something to do with her. I have strings of plastic beads around the head-rest of my seat in the car, and Sophie sits directly behind me. She loves beads and will reach and play with them for the entire time. But she also loves the car-wash, so for those moments when we sat in peace and listened to the brushes on the window and watched them fill up with soap, then listened again to the water pounding on the car, I felt free of the niggling worry and doubt and guilt that plague many of my days.


  1. I'm listening and have a big smile. This is a great post.

  2. I have entertained myself the same way. I hate/love the way I don't know if the car is moving or the brushes are moving. I almost never take my grandsons anywhere, but choose to entertain them right here. I feel guilty about it. It never ends. We do what we can. It's all right. I promise you.

  3. Ah, Sophie's rosary/mala beads...
    the carwash meditations...

  4. So many women feel guilty for one thing or another. Do men suffer this?

  5. I can really understand how you feel after reading this. What to say? I don't know. But the ambient love and sweetness she is surrounded by has got to count for something.

  6. I'm happy to see the car wash getting it's due as entertainment/meditation tool/mini getaway
    and now as guilt reliever.

  7. I LOVE the car wash. Always have. I don't have a car, and the thing I miss mostly is actually going through the car wash. It's like watching people make pizza—utterly relaxing.

  8. I've done the drive through Starbucks thing many times. Today the only thing I "did" with my kids was take them to the grocery store and let them pick a candy. The image of Henry feeding Sophie is an emotionally complex one, but also so, so sweet.

  9. I know that feeling well. Unless I - or a therapist - is working one- on- one with C., she is utterly inactive.

    Wherever I am, whatever I am doing, whether for other family members or - on rare occasions for myself - the fact that C. is un-stimulated plagues me.

    While I type these very words, C. is sitting before her half-eaten meal waiting for me to return to the table. I just don't have enough time or energy to fill her day with productive activity.

    You expressed it perfectly: "the needling thought floating about my brain that I should be doing something more"

    But a drive through the car wash - so out-of-the-box! - is a diversion I think I'll try during C.'s upcoming 2 week vacation. In the meantime, we're still enjoying novels together - again thanks to your suggestion. Finished "Bridge to Terabithia" and now breezing through through "Wind in the Willows".

    By the way, did our cannabis numbers tell you anything significant? Here they are again:
    CBD: 4.9% and THC: 0.76%

  10. There were many days during the colic year that my husband made special trips to the carwash to stop The Boy from wailing...or to drown him out. The Girl hated them though & screeched so we haven't gone in years, relying on the rain to keep most of the grime away.

    Not only do I feel guilty I'm not doing more with the kids, I'm (growing) resentful of the job that leaves me too exhausted to try, and yet still too short of funds to hire other people to provide fun! and teach! and therapize!. And then I feel guilty for not appreciating what I do have (esp said job). But I cling to the fact that we have survived summer and I try to be grateful that my tiny tax contribution is now funding some excellent teachers who'll nourish their little brains and after 4 they'll NEED downtime just to process it all.

  11. I take you niggling worry, guilt and doubt and raise you.



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