Saturday, January 07, 2006

Evil incarnate

Well I finally heard a phrase that I never thought I'd hear from my own flesh and blood. Not the "I hate you" phrase. My husband got that one last week. It nearly broke his heart. Today, I got the "Mom, you're so evil!"

Wow, that's harsh. Am I like the evil stepmother in Cinderella? The evil Jafar in Aladdin? The evil wicked witch in Wizard of Oz? The evil fairy godmother in Shrek? Is Boogie watching too many movies? Am I? Maybe so.

My husband was in the hallway, out of her line of sight, and mouthed "Evil?" I had to look away to keep from laughing. She was obviously upset with me. I wouldn't let her eat a piece of candy she'd been promised earlier, because she chose to have a cookie instead. So she threw the candy, and started angrily trying to take out the braids I'd put in her hair earlier. I'm so not into drama, so I said, "Here, let me help you. If you don't want your hair to be pretty, we'll take these out." That made her mad enough to use the four-letter-word "evil." Who needs a thesaurus for the word "mean," when we have a real-life 3 1/2-year-old version of the resource?

So now I can say, I've seen true evil, and it is me.


Now that I'm considering applying to law school, I decided to have my transcripts sent to me. It's been more than a decade since I've been in school so I couldn't remember what my grade point average was. While I hope that my work experience will help me when they consider whether to accept me into the law schools around here, I just wanted to see where I stood on GPA aspect.

I got my transcripts yesterday (I know, I know, they're no longer official if I open them ... I ordered extra ... although now I have to register for the LSDAS, which submits my transcripts to my law schools of choice I didn't need to order extras after all ... but I digress). It was interesting to read the classes that I took, and which ones I did well in. Some semesters I did pretty well. That 3.8 during the Fall of '93, and the 3.7 in the Spring of '95 felt pretty good. Of course, the 2.0 the summer of '94 sucked. But then, that was the Research Methods class that was the most boring class ever.

I did well in all my writing classes, literature classes, criminology, and math classes. The classes that screwed me up, in addition to the research methods class, were the micro-economics class, and the U.S. history and government classes. I've always hated history, so no surprise there. The big suprise was that I got an A in the state and local government class. I owe it all to the professor, who somehow made government policy and issues interesting. Amazing how a good teacher can influence the learning of his students.

Strangly enough, the classes that I took in religious studies, that I found so interesting and compelling, were the same ones that I made Cs in. I still remember those classes to this day, I just somehow could never remember enough to do well on the tests. I also realized, after taking my third psychology class (the major I started out in) and getting a C that I wasn't cut out to be in that field. After switching to journalism, I did much better. I got As in my reporting, feature writing, and media law and media ethics classes.

When I combine my LSAT score with my GPA, it shows that I should have a 80-90% chance of getting into the law school to which I'm applying. That feels pretty good. Of course, it's not an Ivy league school. But it works well enough for me to attend part time while keeping my job and role as a mom. At times I wonder whether I'm crazy to be taking all of this on. But at other times, I'm so excited to be doing something different. To be learning something new. To be following a passion that I've had for a while but that got lost along the way.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

I thought I was north of the equator

Okay, so what month is this? I thought it was January, but that can't be right. It's 85 degrees outside! My drama queen of a daughter, upon leaving the doctor's office today, whined, "IT'S HOT! IT'S BURNING MY FACE!!" Indeed it was. Who knew we'd have to turn on the air-conditioner in January?

I've come so far

When I was younger, I wasn't really a "kid person." You know, the ones who shriek with glee at the sight of a child? Who were the neighborhood babysitters? Who always wanted to have 5 kids running around the house?

I wasn't that person. I didn't like to have little sticky kids running up to me, putting their cherry-lollipop-covered hands on my new pants, or rubbing their snotty noses with their hands so that it ran across their cheeks. It wasn't until I was in my early 30s that I even considered having kids.

But now I have two beautiful children who (whom?) I adore. And all that stuff that I despised before has just become part of my life. My daughter will run around with a chocolate mustache from the chocolate Santa she ate a few minutes before. My son will have hair crusted with the bananas he's now feeding himself.

I didn't realize how different my life really was until I had lunch with Em yesterday. I brought Dak along and bought him a little quiche (hey, he's just a boy, not a real man yet). He loved it. He ate up the little pieces I gave him in no time. Then I got out the applesauce I had brought in my purse (who would have thought 10 years ago that I'd be carrying around applesauce and a spoon in my purse?), and he got so excited he spit out the last bite of quiche he was chewing.

That's pretty normal for me. He either spits food out because he's not sure what it is and wants to examine every morsel, or he spits it out so he can eat the next thing he's being offered. I just stuck out my hand, took the half-chewed piece and put it on my napkin. Didn't think twice about it. But Em said, "Wow, that was pretty disgusting." Really? I hadn't noticed.

A little while later, he took a drink of milk from his sippy cup. His new trick is to take a drink, but keep his mouth open so that the liquid runs out. I guess he thinks it's funny to feel the cold milk run down his chin. Again, I didn't think twice about it until I saw the horrified look on Em's face. I quickly wiped off the milk so that she wouldn't have nightmares, and then wiped off his shirt so it wouldn't be wet.

On the way home, I realized that I truly am a mom. While I try to keep my car clean, there's bound to be some random goldfish on the floor. My purse at any given time might have a fake set of car keys or a pacifier. My clothes are mostly machine washable to get off messes from sticky hands, runny noses, or other bodily fluids that leak from children.

And you know what? I'm OK with it.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

What do you do when your husband has ADD, OCD or a combination of both?

My husband has never officially been diagnosed with ADD, or obsessive compulsive behavior, but I have to take on the role of doctor here and say that he needs help.

I should have recognized the symptoms when we first started dating. We were going with a friend to Busch Gardens (an amusement park in Tampa, FL) to meet another friend. As we started out the door, he said, "Hold on a second, I have to go get something." The friend and I stood outside the door, in the blazing Florida heat, for about 15 minutes. We looked at each other, in bemusement, and I said, "I'm going in." I found him cleaning the mirror in the bathroom.

Did he go back in for his baseball cap, and then realize that his bathroom mirror needed a thorough cleaning? I don't know, and he couldn't tell me. We went on our way and had a great time at the park.

Over the years, he'd done similar things. He's like a child, easily distracted by bright shiny things. Just the other night, we decided to play a game. The kids were asleep, and we thought we'd try out the new Trivial Pursuit Pop Culture DVD edition game we got. Before we started, he got up to get us each a piece of the cheesecake he'd baked on New Year's Eve (our kids were sick so we spent a quiet evening alone, so that was our treat). I set up the game while he cut the cake.

When he didn't return in the standard 5 minutes that it takes to cut the cake, put it away, and walk into the living room (our house is not that big for God's sake), I asked, "What are you doing?" "Do you know if something's wrong with this drawer in the kitchen? It doesn't slide right," he said.

That drawer has never slid right. Ever since we redid the kitchen a year and a half ago, it has always slid a little harder than the other drawers. Nothing is really wrong with it, it closes fine, it just doesn't roll as easily as the others. The people who installed it tried to make it better, but couldn't. I went into the kitchen and I told him this, but it didn't matter. "Just leave it," I said. "Let's play the game." I took my plate of cheesecake and went into the leaving room, thinking he was following me.

No dice. A few minutes later, I hear him rambling around in the garage. He came back in with some W-D 40 (or its equivalent) and started spraying the drawer. "Are you honestly trying to fix that drawer now?" I asked. Of course he was. No matter that the drawer has been that way for over a year, he had to choose 10 p.m. on a Sunday night to fix the drawer. I heard him tinkering around with a screw driver, and the drawer opening and closing about a million times. Finally, he realized that it couldn't be fixed (didn't I tell him that?) and he finally came in the living room to play the game.

I think this is what takes him so long to do everything. He'll spend over 2 hours mowing the lawn. I can just picture him out there mowing away, and then coming across a flower in the flower bed and saying, "Hmm, this flower wasn't here yesterday. I wonder what other new flowers have bloomed? I'd better check it out." Or when he's grading papers at night, I'm sure he's had the thought, "These mechanical pencils are amazing. I wonder how they work?" while taking apart his pencil.

I know I'm making him sound like RainMan, but what is the cure for this? How do I keep him focused on the task at hand? It's not enough that he worries obsessively about every little thing. (A sample conversation of this:

My husband: Do you think I'm going to get in trouble for what I said in class today?
Me: No, I think it was fine. I don't think you have anything to worry about.
My husband: OK. (five minutes later). Should I have said it differently? I was only trying to make a point.
Me: No, I think you said it well. I don't think anyone can misinterpret it.
My husband: OK. (five minutes later) I just wish I was a better teacher. I wish I could say things better.
Me: You are a good teacher.
My husband: But ...

I do love my husband, but sometimes his lack of focus and constant worrying are exhausting. We'd get so much more accomplished, and would worry less about the state of our little world, if he could just get some help. Any ideas? I dont' think he needs to be medicated. I just need some tricks to make him focus, and to let the little things go.

Update: My husband, after reading this has finally come to embrace his illness. If you'd like to see what I go through in any given day, read his post .