Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Uncharacteristically Multi-Themed

Do you have any idea how often I have to remind myself to take my own advice? Confession: this winter I am barely hanging on to my running. Happens every winter, but worse this one. I don’t like cold, but even more I don’t like dark, and a lot of my running has to be in the dark in the winter. Then I usually get a chest cold or two, plus somehow my back ends up getting hurt during the winter, and before I know it, it’s days and days between runs. So I chant to myself, “Any run is better than no run,” “If it doesn’t hurt worse when you run on it, run on it,” and, believe it or not, I have to remind myself to slow down.

Thanks for the Nana advice, and TH will be perusing it. And yes, at this point HB understands that she is unreasonable and he is not likely to be permanently scarred by her, but I would like him to have some kind of relationship with her ultimately, and I don’t want that to be made impossible by her behavior now. Also, the aftermath of her visits have always sucked for us, with him having new fears (he’s going to have to go to her house alone, I don’t love him, etc.) and extra tantrums.

My own mother happened to make a connection I hadn’t realized. I was discussing it with her and she became very agitated. It’s unlike her to a) support Nana in anything or b) get very agitated about anything, so I asked her what the deal was, and she confessed that Nana reminds her of her mother, and she’s afraid that I feel like I was scarred because she left me with my grandmother often. And she’s totally right. Now, she had little choice—she was a widow with three difficult kids and no one to pick up any slack except her parents—so I do NOT blame her (and reassured her on this), but actually, my grandmother did scar me. An episode that haunts me to this day was when I was three and threw a tantrum because she made waffles for my brother but not for me (I woke up late and she’d already cleaned up). The tantrum was a typical unreasonable three-year-old tantrum, but for it she gave me the worst spanking of my life. I never liked or trusted her again, and I still flinch when I see anyone even close to smacking their kids.

Book Reviews
I recently read Keith Richards’s enormous autobiography, and since I finished it I actually miss him. I had no particular interest in him or the Rolling Stones before, but I adore him now, despite his drug-addicted parenting, his temper, and his cattiness about Mick Jagger. He is just so open-hearted, in this sense (and that clip is totally worth the 20 minutes, I promise you, and thanks to B for it), and funny, and unapologetic, and unexpectedly respectful of women, and loyal to people who treat others well, and honest about people who don’t (e.g. Brian Jones). And his love of music is enviable. At first the music talk bored me, but then I started pulling up the various songs he mentioned, and I got a great education and new appreciation for the Everly Brothers, Elvis, Chuck Berry, etc. etc. I still don’t like most of the later Stones music, but whatever.

I followed it up with Patti Smith’s book about herself and Mapplethorpe, which I liked well enough, but wished a) it was about her and not about Mapplethorpe and b) she had a sense of humor. Maybe she does in real life, but it didn’t come through in this book, which was earnest earnest earnest.

Music Reviews
I am loving running to The Dog Days Are Over (Florence and the Machine), Shake Me Down (Cage the Elephant), Bloodbuzz Ohio (The Nationals), Not Fade Away (early Stones!), and Tusk (Fleetwood Mac), which makes me laugh every time it pops up and which someone pointed me to because one of my forever favorites is the marching band version of This Too Shall Pass (Ok Go).

Other running, Nana, book and music recommendations welcomed.

Monday, February 07, 2011

More Please

Why, why do I not ask you all for advice more often? You are so wise.

Jul hit it when she said: “So WHY did I waste all that time trying to make you feel secure, you little s__?” Because yes, my distress really is all about me and wanting to believe that none of my sacrifices have been for naught. Even though OF COURSE THEY HAVE. Most of them, anyway.

And I instantly recognized that Law’s suggested response would work: “… besides it’s against the law to kill anyway.” I said to him, “Hey HB—you know how you can’t be sure Daddy and I aren’t evil?” “Yeah?” he said nonchalantly. “Well you can at least be sure we won’t kill you. Know why?” “Why?” “Because it’s against the law!” “Oh, right right right!” he said. “I mean, everybody would be a robber if it wasn’t against the law!” I didn’t even try to argue with that one, but he seemed to think the subject was entirely settled.

So thank you.

(Another thing he said recently: “A lot of parents tell their kids everything they do is great because they want them to feel happy. But I don’t want that. I want the truth.”)

To tap into your collective wisdom some more: You were incredibly helpful on the subject of Nana in the past, and we could use a little more advice.

Her last visit was the anticlimactic birthday party eight months ago. TH speaks with her on the phone and emails from time to time, and she rarely brings up the topic. When she starts to, he changes the subject, and she usually follows.

Until recently, when he got an email from her:

From: Nana
Date: December 3, 2010
To: TrophyHusband
Subject: HB’s gift

I’m glad he liked the book. I thought chapter books are fun for his age.  ....

We are really devastated that we aren’t allowed to see him.  It makes me sad whenever I think of him growing up not knowing or seeing us.

Love, Mom

TH freaked out and forwarded to me, and I said, what a way to escalate! You never said anything of the kind. Read the original email you sent her. And he did, and then quoted it back to her, and she let it drop.

But this begs the question: where DO we go from here?

HB has asked when we will go up to their “farm” again, because, he says, there are fun things to do there. But he also has asked me out of the blue, “Why did Nana say she would give me a time out if I cried because I missed you?” (When she was babysitting him two years ago.) Recently, he asked if we were ever going to see her again, and I said, of course. (We haven’t let him in on the whole discussion, just told him that he won’t be left alone with Nana babysitting again.) And then he said, “I know a way it could work: I could just do everything exactly the way she says.” Wellllll …. yeeeesss … in an alternate universe. He won’t even get on the phone with her. (And not just now; he never would—he hates to get on the phone when someone tells him to do it, which she always does.) Clearly he’s not ready to maneuver around her without freaking out. Most adults can’t do it consistently.

Traveling to Nana’s is an ordeal, and it isn’t “on the way” to anyplace. So that’s pretty easy to get around. But do we just wait for her to suggest something doable? They come near us on business from time to time, and I could see meeting them for a couple of hours someplace … but I really don’t know. Do we suggest it?

She hasn’t made even the tiniest of conciliatory moves, if that matters, which it probably doesn’t. E.g., HB asked us to take a photo of himself smiling next to the gift they sent for Chanukah/Christmas and text it to them as a thank you. When TH did so, she called and said, “He should write us a thank you note now too.” (Not that there isn’t any merit to the argument that written thank yous are more proper than texts/emails—just that this isn’t quite the place for that argument, is it?) (And the gifts are far from conciliatory—she has always showered him with presents and then demanded that he show exuberant gratitude in return. Once when we were visiting her, she banished him upstairs when he didn’t like a book she bought him. He found a phone and called TH’s cell, which was pretty funny.)