Monthly Archives: October 2014

Small Victories, Baby, Small Victories

Sometimes I think I must be the most obtuse person in the universe.

A little background. Darling daughter started public high school this year, after several years at a 2-days-per-week program 12 miles away. Twice a week, I drove her and picked her up. Had to. No other option. This year, we started by having her ride the bus. School is one mile away. That lasted a week because there wasn’t time to get her stuff after school and get to the bus in time. Without thinking it through, I said, “Hey, I’ll take you and pick you up.”

Here’s what I forgot. Darling husband is rarely here at going to school time, so KEPLER and I take her to school. Does Kepler enjoy this process? No, he most certainly does not. He has shown his displeasure many a morning by refusing to budge. He’s a strong kid, and it takes both me and DD to hold him (gently!) by the upper arms, and perp walk him to the car.

Isn’t it Steven Covey who first emphasized the power of being proactive? I finally got proactive yesterday.

Kepler needed to understand what I was asking him for. I was waiting around for him to catch on, and wake up one morning, and say, “Mother, I now see that it is futile for me to be so obstinate about taking big sister to school. I’ll be right with you as soon as I complete my morning ablutions. It won’t be a problem anymore.” Ooh, good plan there, mom.

See, obvious, like I told you.

But, poor kid, before I got specific and slowed down enough to explain it, he was in a whirlwind of activity every morning, usually me looking for my glasses. And then my keys. And my shoes. And his shoes. (another thing to be proactive about, obviously).

First try had me explaining that I wanted him to cooperate, but I didn’t make it very clear what that meant.

Our first trial run was yesterday afternoon on the way to speech therapy. He was doing well, until he determined that me placing his unfinished cup of milk into the refrigerator was decidedly unwelcome and should not be tolerated. FINALLY we got into the car, but I decided he hadn’t been cooperative enough. Which then made me realize that I had to get really specific.

So, I explained that I wanted him to cooperate and I explained exactly what cooperation is. In this case, it’s simple: put on your shoes, put on your jacket, walk to the car, when asked. Such cooperation earns the privilege of listening to the Frozen soundtrack (for the 87 millionth time).

After speech therapy, he COOPERATED. This morning, he COOPERATED. This afternoon, he COOPERATED. I guess I cooperated, too, by making it possible for him to be successful!

Small victory, but trés, trés sweet.

The end of the day

So I have been told that God doesn’t give people more than they can handle. What utter nonsense. A statement like that does little more than soothe the speaker who sees someone else going through something, some pain, that is heavy and intense. Someone who gives that statement as reassurance to the one in pain wants to be reassured that *they* can make sense of something confusing and mysterious.

As most pithy sayings go, they are normally uttered without really thinking through what they might mean.

What does it mean to be able to handle something? Apparently the old English pattern of word formation was to add -le to words to identify a tool relating to the item. Thimble was “thumb” + “le.” Handle came from hand plus le. The modern usage of the handle verb refers to one’s ability to manage, to cope, to take care of. Maybe it’s just me, but nothing is simple anymore. And handling things? Is the definition that we are handling something as long as we are actually living, in the simplest definition of the word?

Is it actually the case that there are varying degrees of handling things? I’d say so. I think handling things and whether or not God gives us more than we can handle is not even the point.

I’m alive after a harrowing day. I guess that means I handled it, and everyone can be assured that God didn’t give me more than I could handle today. Except I know I had more than I could handle today because life or death isn’t the standard I use. For me, it’s about how desperately I want to escape my present circumstances, how much I’d like to be able to change what IS.

On the other hand, I got her picked up, him dressed, that prepared and transported, that meeting attended, that other meeting attended with young child in tow, that girl given several hours to rest, that boundary drawn and enforced, that interruption and that one and that one and that one handled, that person’s silence experienced, that person’s stress and worry witnessed, that bottom cleaned up, that room picked up (and soon after, re-messed up), that one driven to her evening meeting, that one read too and put to bed for the night, and I’m still here. But it doesn’t make ME feel better that you think God doesn’t give anyone more than they can handle, ok?-

I’d like to think that however poorly I might accomplish the day’s tasks and handle what comes up, the point isn’t that I don’t have too much, the point is that I keep trying, that I keep getting up after I get knocked down, that I keep finding my footing when a strong wind blows me around. Because I’m in the thick of it, and any discussion of whether I have too much to handle or just enough is completely extraneous to the reality of what is.

I’m grateful for the opportunities Life continues to offer me to grow up, to move beyond where I am, to make choices. Setting that boundary today was something I’m not good at, especially with this person. Bring clear in my communication is challenging, but I did it, even though the feeling sucked and the mood in the room was dampened considerably. I did it. Yeah, I’m a champ, and I fall down every day, but I’m still a champ. So are you. You’re keeping on. You’re hanging in there. I’m proud of you for continuing to figure out how to handle however much you have in front of you.

Let’s remind each other that whatever we are handling today, we are doing a bang-up job. I will if you will.

Thing 1, Thing 2, Thing 3, Thing 4

Small things pack a big punch

Yes, they are upside down in the picture. I don’t care. It just a perfect illustration of something that I find to be exasperating, enraging, unbelievably frustrating.


I believe I have probably written about something like this before, but things have reached a fever pitch lately in the area of electronics and their absolutely maddening help. Please note: this is about the electronics, and not the electronic setter-upper, no matter what the next paragraph says.

While [the wife cat] was away, [the husband mouse] did play, adding some sort of sound system to our already-complicated (to me) television set-up.

We went from having a TV, a cable box, and a DVD player to having a TV, a cable box, a DVD player, a blu-ray DVD player, and a sound system. And somewhere along the way the television because a really big black box of doom and despair to me. And that’s before I even turn it on! I’m not talking about FOX news here! Just the actual appliance!

On/Off has been replaced by Standby. Which means what, exactly. All the remotes have approximately the same configuration of buttons, but they do not work the same, no they do not work the same, no they do not.

Look, I’m already spitting nails this morning because the “simple” task of switching phones with Greg has turned our iMessage accounts into schizophrenic madpeople who send messages to themselves, in the name of being logged into a particular iTunes account.

This morning, Kepler wanted to watch a DVD. He put it into the DVD player, and then looked to me for the rest. I crawled around on all fours, hung from the ceiling to examine the back of the TV, and did a few back handsprings in front of the TV to coax it into action.

First, the remotes are LOST. Stuffed down into the couch cushions or abandoned on a kitchen counter. Except for the one I don’t need. So, first order of business is to find them. Where’s the TV remote, I ask Kepler, over and over. “The tv remote?” he replies. Over. and Over.

Finally, all four remotes are in hand and I begin to peruse the directions Greg has written out for me on how to use the TV. Push THIS on THAT remote, and THAT on THIS remote, and make sure the THING is in THAT position, hold your mouth just right, and press PLAY.  Success.  “Success.” SUCK-CESS.

Because the DVD is not at the PROPER PLACE in the movie, mom, so let’s see the scene selections, and now is good. Me, loathing every minute of this, “This one? This one? This one? This one? This one? This one? This one? This one? This one?” Him, knowing exactly what he wants: “No! No! No! No! No! No!” Silly me, I gave up before we got all the way through and said, “Just watch this!”

I left the room, done with the process.


Kepler finds me in my hiding place under the bed. (Curses, foiled again.) He comes in, holding the DVD in his hand, effectively telling me that I’ve done it wrong and I must start again. ONLY THIS TIME, THIS TIME, THIS BLEEPING TIME, the TV has a screen within a screen telling me I must set it up, asking me questions written in English but not meaning anything comprehensible to me. (How would you like to get your television signal into your house: A. by elf, B. through the microwave, C. by courier pigeon).  I answer as best I can, then wait as it thinks, then gnash my teeth when it tells me I have alas committed an electronic crime and must start again. After another fun round of this, I rip the DVD out of the player, and tell him the TV doesn’t work and he has to watch it in the laptop. He’s happy as a clam to do so. Should have tried that sooner.

Because indeed the TV DOES NOT WORK (like I want it to, in any way that makes sense, like a normal human being would think it would work, like things worked in the olden days, in any sort of logical manner).

And that’s all I have to say about that.