Thursday, August 27 2020

1-on-1's, midwestern phone conversations, and mr. poop



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Just look at this waste of space. Arms out. Mouth cracked open. He probably spit out that perfectly good pacifier the second Marissa looked the other direction. He’ll lay like this for another hour before resuming his busy day of demanding everything and contributing nothing.

2020 08 27 passed out

I kid, of course. Miles seems to have turned a corner this week. He’s cut out most of the midday crying, and he even seems to be spitting up a lot less. For a baby that must have spectacularly flunked out of baby school, he’s finally getting the hang of things just learning on the job. Keep up the good work, Miles.

Sip. Happy Thursday, everyone. It’s been a crazy week. I’ve severely underestimated how difficult it would be ramping back up to regular working hours. My day feels squeezed, like I even have to fight for time to catch up on chores, let alone free time. But I’m hanging in there. My top priority this weekend will be scoring at least one solid afternoon nap.

I had a much more social day yesterday. Per my manager’s recommendation, I’ve set up 1-on-1 meetings with everyone on my team to catch up on things and absorb some different perspectives of what I missed. From my perspective, it was like bearing witness to a strange virtual work place human zoo, jumping from one webcam to the next. The people I work with have changed in the last three months. Everyone looks a lot more comfortable at home.

“I only do work in this room,” explained Fong, glancing at the walls of her home office. “Otherwise I’ll work too much.”

“That’s good, I like that,” I replied. “You have to keep those partitions up, even in a virtual office.” I employ a strategy similar to Fong’s at home. I write my morning journal entry from the dining room computer. Even though I’m remotely controlling my upstairs computer, it helps to be in a place other than where I work.

During a 1-on-1 with Rob, he invited me out to lunch - a virtual lunch over Zoom, of course. “You know - where we just stare at each other over Zoom while we eat our leftovers,” said Rob.

“Perfect,” I laughed. “And do we spent the first ten minutes of the call explaining to each other what we’re eating?” Rob nodded.

In between the Zoom calls, I made my way downstairs to make lunch. We had a flight of grilled cheese sandwiches, and playing some leftover bingo with the last bit of greek yogurt and a bottle of honey, I threw together a parfait. I offered some to Marissa, but she turned it away, grimacing.

“Creamy yogurt, honey, with speckles of… are those sunflower seeds?” she asked.

“I should have known,” I laughed. “It’s like a food texture gag reflex nightmare for you, isn’t it?” I shrugged and finished the parfait on my own.

Rodney, famished from swimming in his pool all morning, gobbled up the rest of his grilled cheese and retreated to his room for a nap. With his little pool still warm from the hot water, I sat out there with my feet under the surface while I caught up on work slack.

I finished out the work day, passing by Marissa in the kitchen as I was getting ready to pick up some groceries from Woodman’s.

“Rodney is exhausted,” said Marissa. “I would just let him sleep.”

Back at home, I put away the groceries and got to work on dinner. I made beef stew with seared chuck roast, onion, and toasted Hungarian paprika and caraway seeds. It wasn’t a slam dunk, but good enough to shake myself out of the home cooking slump I’ve seen. Between the rubbery orange dumplings on Sunday and the roasted chicken debacle on Monday, I was just happy to finally make something that was edible.

As I set the table, Marissa entered the kitchen from the back yard. She was setting up a sprinkler for the grass. Just before she sat down, she noticed the water from the sprinkler flying over our fence into the neighbor’s yard.

“Would you mind if I called Beverly real quick?” she asked. Marissa picked up her phone and dialed. I plated the beef stew on buttered noodles while taking in what was probably the most quaint, midwestern phone conversation I’ve ever heard.

“Beverly, how are ya,” began Marissa cheerily. “Hey, I put a sprinkler in our backyard and - yep, oh ya know, still trying to get that dang grass seed going. Hey, some of the water is hitting your yard, is that gonna be a problem?”

From the other line, I could hear Beverly voice her neighborly approval.

“Just making sure that you weren’t getting soaked over der’, and you didn’t mind the free waterin’,” continued Marissa. “Oh yah, our garden didn’t do so well this summer, so dry, ya know? Talk to ya later.”

After dinner, Rodney and I headed into the basement for some Super Mario time. Rodney sat on my shoulders while I played the same three levels on repeat, each time making it a little further in Lemmy’s castle.

“Dude, this Lemmy guy is kicking our butt,” I griped.

Finally, it was Rodney’s bedtime. I ushered him upstairs to get ready for bed.

“Dada, we read a story now?” asked Rodney.

“I have something special planned, dude,” I said. “I’m going to tell you a story.”

Rodney’s face looked worried as he searched for words. “Dada, I don’t like stories,” he said. “They make me feel… kinda inter-sting.”

“I’ll try not to make it scary this time,” I said. “Here, I won’t even dim the lights.” With caution, Rodney allowed me to proceed.

Earlier that day during his nap time, Marissa and I had a hushed discussion about his potty training progress. “The practice poops are helping a bit, but I just don’t think he’s motivated to learn,” said Marissa.

“Have you heard his new line of BS, where he says…”

Maybe Friday” we said in unison.

“Today I told him ‘We really want you to poop in the potty,’” said Marissa. “Not too much pressure, but some.”

“And what else did you say,” I asked, cracking a smile.

“Then I told him ‘POOP IS GROSS! YOU ARE BAD IF IT TOUCHES YOU!’” said Marissa.

“I DON’T WANT TO SEE THE POOP EVER AGAIN! PUT IT BACK! PUT IT BACK!” I chanted. Sometimes it’s therapeutic to take a mental break from being a responsible parent and imagine the worst possible way you could deal with a parenting challenge. Just for fun.

So my idea was to weaponize that night’s bedtime story to plant a seed of persuasion, and maybe explore what was stopping Rodney from doing the deed.

“Once there was a boy named Rodney. He was playing outside in his pool,” I began.

The first leg of the story wasn’t exactly great literature. Just a nice, over-the-top comfortable scenario to earn Rodney’s trust. In his defense, up until that point I had only told him scary stories.

I talked about how Rodney was hanging out with the ninja turtles in the back yard. How they thought he was the coolest dude and wanted to hang out with him in his rad backyard pool on the reg. Rodney was beaming. Time for the drama.

“Rodney woke up from his nap to a small voice. ‘Hi Rodney! Can you hear me?’” I squeaked. Rodney was intrigued.

“Was it green dino? Was it corgi? Was it baby dinosaur?” I cycled through every stuffed animal he had. “The sound was coming from his tummy. ‘My name is Mr. Poop’”, I squeaked.

If this were an intervention, this would probably be the point where Rodney would have angrily sprung from his seat and began to protest. But he instead began to meekly argue with Mr. Poop.

“I really want to go in the potty,” I squeaked, committed to the painfully pitched up Mr. Poop voice.

“Maybe Friday,” said Rodney. “Pooping makes me scared.”

“It’s OK to be scared,” said Mr. Poop. “But you have to be brave. Brave is when you do good things, even though they scare you.”

Rodney stared over my shoulder through his window, pondering Mr. Poop’s words. We said his prayers. Just before the final stanza, Rodney interjected.

“And help Rodney… not to be scared,” he said.

“To be brave,” I added.

Thanks for stopping by today. To good things, even if they scare you.