Tue 12 May 2009
years ago, after a few shots of honesty absinthe on a concrete balcony one October evening, Dave and i got to talking about having kids.
i was thirty, he was turning twenty-eight. we were living in separate apartments in the bleak post-Soviet suburbs of the Hapsburg Empire, where we taught English to aspiring supermodels and went broke for awhile, soaking up kultur. we were both in the middle of long, ex-pat divorces. we were happy.
then he said, i worry about your anger, with kids. i worry that you couldn’t control it.
and my head spun round and i ate his off in one big bite, munch. end of story. what anger? whatever could you be referring to? braaaawww-kk. urp.
erm, or not. but i remember being gobsmacked by the conversation, the vein of indignant righteousness popping out on one side of my forehead while the other brow fell in shame at being judged and found wanting. so, he’d seen me lose my shit at an officious customs officer AND an on-the-take taxi driver only the week before. irrelevant, i told myself. they were adults. if they’d been children trying to fleece me with their petty little graft schemes, i’d have been much more patient.
besides, i might have occasional temper control issues – they run in my family, i heard a voice say petulantly, and cringed – but he was the chronic pain in the ass, after all. look to thine own molehill, or however the proverb goes. i was the Nice One of the partnership. he could ask anybody.
i don’t know if he did. i know that we never really revisited the conversation, just kept on keeping on, the way people usually do when neither of them is perfect. i took my umbrage at his comment and channelled it into trying to be a calmer person, mostly. it was good for me, i found. and possible, which surprised me more than i could ever have said. i occasionally pointed ostentatiously to examples of me holding my temper, especially with Dave himself, and for his part, he slowly grew into less of a pain. we were still happy.
and eventually, with much ado and struggle along the way, we found ourselves living in a house with two very short people, both of whom seem to require an inordinate amount of attention. right now.
and mostly i do okay.
this morning i woke up with a cold like two Mack trucks had parked themselves in my sinuses overnight. i’m drippy and blurry and my head hurts like a sonofabitch and i sneeze every twelve seconds and i’m home all day with a 3 year old going through a whiny phase and a baby who seems to be teething. again. because every 8 month old needs to be able to rip apart raw steak with her 87 chompers, right Mother Nature? yeh. fuck off.
by 10:30 this morning i had morphed from weary, slightly self-pitying maternal figure with a cold into John Goodman in The Big Lebowski. Oscar demanded milk again, after having been told he’d had enough, reminded to use his pleases and asked to just get on the ever-lovin’ potty for what felt like the fifteenth time that minute. his last caterwaul of miiiiiiiiillllllk woke the baby from a nap already previously interrupted by the alarm clock in their room going off mysteriously, thanks to his early morning curiosity about the buttons and my inability to figure out the snooze on the damn thing.
i found myself standing in the middle of the bathroom, having separated myself from both the children in some instinctual act of species preservation. i was seething, in full tantrum. my face was red and my voice trilled shrilly up and down.
i was muttering, shut the fuck up, Donny. shut the fuck up, Donny. shut the fuck up, Donny. louder and louder, angrier and angrier, all theatrical pitch and emphasis and vicious rage. it felt good. it felt remarkably good. i was vaguely wishing i’d named BOTH the children Donny, just to make it all the more satisfying. i was also considering tearing out my hair, which seemed like a perfectly pleasant idea at the time.
then Oscar appeared at the door.
it’s not Donny, he said. it’s BONNIE. silly goose. bbbb-Bonnie. and he walked away.
good. now i’ve taught my kid to cuss me out.
i got him some milk. and thought maybe Dave had a point, all those years ago, and is 10:30 am too early for a shot of absinthe? i have swine flu a cold. it’s medicinal.
do you, uh, get angry?