Monday, February 12, 2007

Rattling Around

I offer deepest apologies, everyone, for the prolonged absence. After dropping the wife and daughter off in New York last week, I've been banging around the house, cleaning, packing books, and getting a lot of things done. For example, I just finished compiling my brother-in-law's Christmas present, which I promptly sent off to him.

By the way, February is the new December.

One thing I obviously did not do was work on the blog. I don't really like to talk about the day-to-day events of my life, largely because they're either mundane or because they involve other people whose privacy I'd rather protect. Instead, I try to use this space to work out some of the ideas that roll around in my head; in the process, I've refined my righteous anger, exorcised a few little demons, and discovered that the things that wither my soul are surprisingly universal.

Over the last week, the thoughts in my head have been pretty boring, to be honest. They've largely consisted of missing my family, being irritated at the state of my home, worrying over my wife's quest for a job, and (surprisingly) rediscovering a few of the joys of living alone. My biggest thoughts, or emotions, have revolved around my family. A couple of days ago, I was worshipping at the altar of Wal-Mart when I heard a baby cry. It was the kind of lusty, soul-felt, life-is-brutally-unfair wail that my daughter specializes in on those occasions when we don't let her do what she wants.

If I was a woman, my breasts would have started leaking. As it was, I was filled with a palpable, physical desire to seek out the kid, lift her on my shoulders, and give her a horsey ride. Hell, it usually works with George.

I was amazed that the sound of wailing, the most irritating sound in my daughter's repertoire, should be the one that makes me feel so achingly lonely.

Another thing rolling around in my head was the recent death of a little girl, Nyia Page, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. If you want to find out the whole story, you can Google her, but I don't want to recount the events surrounding her death. Long story short, she died of hypothermia, and her father was responsible. Apparently, Nyia kept waking him up, and he lost his temper.

I think the most upsetting thing for me was that I could relate to this story. When George was a little younger, and I was surviving on less sleep than the average North Korean political prisoner, there were a few times when my frustration, her tears, and various other pressures started to get to me. On a couple of occasions, I had to separate myself from my daughter, take some deep breaths, hum a few bars of "Let It Be," and generally give myself a little time out. As any parent can attest, no matter how sweet-tempered and delightful a child may be, there are times when our little bundles of joy become nerve-jangling hand grenades of misery and irritation. I think one key to being a good parent, or at least a responsible one, lies in knowing when to step back from the situation, not to mention the child.

So, even thought I don't hit my child, I can understand the loss of one's temper, and I can understand an accident. And I think that's what scares me the most about Nyia Page and her daddy, William. The other thing that terrifies me, though, is that after William Page lashed out at her daughter, he left her outside to die in the cold. Missing my daughter so much, I can't imagine the soulless cruelty that it would take to do that to a little girl.

I don't know what upsets me more: the part that I can understand, or the part that I can't.

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  • How so very sad. When I was an at-home-mom of two little rambunctious boys, I would sometimes run upstairs to my bedroom, shut the door and beat the sh*t out of my pillows until the irrational rage had dissapated. When I think back to then, it's hard to imagine why I was so angry. I was so exhausted back then.

    I watched a show once that said a human can die of sleep depravation after only 11 days. Totally freaked me out.

    Glad you're back...we missed you.

    By Blogger Lee, At February 12, 2007 at 9:23 AM  

  • We all have awful, hideous thoughts from time to time but how crazy to act on one.

    Well, in your absence, I had to settle for reading the New york times online--rubbish!

    By Blogger Matt, At February 12, 2007 at 10:50 AM  

  • If you save the gift for a few more months, he'll just think you're really ahead of schedule.

    By Blogger mist1, At February 12, 2007 at 1:04 PM  

  • I remember when princess was 3 and prince was 2, of locking myself in a bedroom and calling my mother in law (of all people) to "talk me down".

    Missed reading you. Glad you are back!

    By Blogger Pickled Olives, At February 12, 2007 at 3:58 PM  

  • I googled that story as I hadn't heard it. It's unbelievable that anyone could be so cruel. My heart breaks for that little girl.

    People never cease to amaze me, and too often,not in a good way.

    I hope you get your life organized soon so you can all be in one place again. Is Ella going to NY, too?

    By Blogger heartinsanfrancisco, At February 12, 2007 at 4:37 PM  

  • Lee-
    I think one of the hardest things is that we don't realize how common it is to get fed up and depressed.

    Thanks for the welcome back!

    As God is my witness, I will try to spare you the hell of the online NYT in the future!

    I thought about that, but my family tends to remember little things like missing Christmas gifts. Go figure.

    I lucked out with my wife. We've had a lot of luck with talking each other down. Thanks for the welcome!

    Wouldn't it be nice to be surprised in a positive way?

    I'm here until the end of the semester, after which I will make the trek northward. Ella is in Pennsylvania, but might end up in school in New York. Regardless, I think she'll probably visit us.

    By Blogger Crankster, At February 12, 2007 at 4:47 PM  

  • I'm glad February is the new December... I still haven't sent the gift to my brother. I swear it's going to the post office on Wednesday.

    A friend of mine has a son with terrible sensory integration problems... read as, there was no way to console him when he was a baby. Everything they did made him cry harder. One day I called and there was silence in the background. "Ummm, Aud? Where's the baby?" "In the car, in the garage." "Ummmm, Aud? Do you think that's okay?" "Oh, for god's sake, the garage is heated, and the car isn't on. But I need 10 minutes of silence or I'm going to lose my mind." I'm really glad she had the foresite to take 10 minutes to herself, and I was sure to call her every few days to give her a mental-health-check. It's too bad no one was supporting this guy more, or that little girl may have been alive today.

    By Blogger WanderingGirl, At February 12, 2007 at 7:49 PM  

  • As usual a very expressive and delightful post.

    I can't even think and don't want to either, why/how Nyia died. It seems so cruel!

    By Blogger ramo, At February 12, 2007 at 11:47 PM  

  • I couldnt bring myself to google it but being a mum of a 2yr old and a 3 yr old and getting the same amount of sleep as that political prisoner you so mentioned, they can be insightful, More than one occasion Ive locked myself in the bathroom and and between tears wished for patience...The same thing stops me each tome, they are my little girls and I am their mama, the one who protects them and loves them any murderous thoughts are banished quick smart, we have all teetered on a thread with our kids, sure maybe even given them a tap on the butt but leaving a child out in the cold to die ? Thats a bit premeditated for my liking..

    By Blogger Judith, At February 13, 2007 at 1:59 AM  

  • I googled the story. For me, it’s just more evidence supporting my theory that humans evolved specifically from baboons. How in the hell our species has made it this far without destroying the world is beyond my comprehension.

    By Blogger slaghammer, At February 13, 2007 at 2:41 AM  

  • "I don't know what upsets me more: the part that I can understand, or the part that I can't."

    Yes, that is fascinating. It is easy to pretend that we are not all 'the whole catastrophe' and to describe those who embrace the dark as 'evil' or 'insane'. True enlightenment comes when we can acknowledge that part of ourselves and love it, too. Still working on that one...


    By Blogger Glamourpuss, At February 13, 2007 at 7:31 AM  

  • I hate blogger. It keeps eating my comments.

    Anyways, welcome back...I can't even go there about that little girl.

    By Blogger Claudia, At February 13, 2007 at 11:04 AM  

  • Wandering Girl-
    Don't even get me started on my gifts for my two oldest sisters. They're mostly done...

    I think we always worry about intruding upon the lives of people with newborns, not realizing how much a little intrusion can be welcome from time to time.

    And I can't stop dwelling on it!

    I'm right there with you. It's one thing to reach the end of your tether, but this was (became?) something else entirely.

    It's funny, thought--I still have a lot of faith in humans, although I'm a little distrustful of humanity.

    Maybe the key is being able to forgive (and perhaps even appreciate?) our own darkness/weakness.

    Thanks! And thanks for standing up to blogger. Personally, I try to remember to copy my comments before hitting publish, because the damned blogger is such a comment-eating bastard!

    By Blogger Crankster, At February 13, 2007 at 11:59 AM  

  • When my son was 4 months old a woman who lived not far from me in NYC tossed her 4 month old son out the 3rd floor apartment window because she couldn't stand his crying anymore. It really opened my eyes to the minor feeling of frustration I felt from time to time with no support system at all, including my husband. I still don't understand how anyone could do something like this.

    By Blogger Spellbound, At February 14, 2007 at 7:29 PM  

  • Spellbound-
    It sounds like you've been where I am--caught between understanding how hard things can be without a support system and being disturbed at just how far people allow themselves to go.

    By Blogger Crankster, At February 14, 2007 at 8:12 PM  

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