Productive people take time off
The best thing about going to a rural school is that there are not really vacations. I’m not sure why. Maybe because we had bazillion snow days. Or maybe it’s because no one needs two weeks off to go to Bermuda in March. Or maybe it’s because kids need to get out of school early to help with crops. I am not sure. But what I am sure about is that school vacations are for rich people. They are for people who can take time off from work with financial impunity or, if they are brave enough to admit that vacation is torture for parents then they can afford to do stimulating stuff like a custom tour for your kids of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
This is a picture of me deluding myself that I was working last week:
But of course I was not working. I was doing Passover which means dealing with the family’s withdrawal from our bread addiction. This would be a good time to have a photo of some gross, unleavened food that I made for dinner one night during Passover, but I mostly just spent the week stressing having the only Seder in our county (yes, we imported Jews for the Seder) and having three days off for Easter (yes, the school calls it spring break and then passes out Easter eggs to my kids).
I was in denial the whole time about having no time for work. And when I don’t blog I actually start to feel lonely and disconnected. As if when I’m not writing, my life is not really happening.
Tuesday was going to be my first day in five days that I did not have the kids home with me, but the dog bit my son’s eye. This would be a good time for a picture of his eye bleeding all over the house while our big dog cowered in the corner and our little dog licked up the blood.
Later, in the hospital, after the second pediatric ophthalmologist checked out the rip in the tear duct, I said to my son:
“What were you doing with the dog?”
He said, “I was showing him my strongest Pokemon cards. But on the last one, I think he wanted it.”
My son had bites on his leg and his head as well. The dog tried to kill him, I think. I mean, I just try not to think about it. We put the dog to sleep. That was a hard lesson for the kids.
And for me. I used to think dog breeders are evil and there are enough dogs in the world and we should all go to dog shelters. Now I think dogs are like babies. You want to know what you’re getting, and it’s not always the most ethical, humane thing to bring more life into the world, but it’s what we do. And I want a purebred. I want to know what I’m getting into before I get into it. I know, no dog is certain, like no kid is certain. But kids and dogs are like playing the odds. I picked a smart, good-looking guy to have kids with, and I want to control the ingredients for my dog, too.
At the end of the day, we are exhausted. I watch The Social Network with the Farmer and I want to be Mark Zuckerberg and I think, I am messed up that I want to be a twenty-year-old guy. But let me tell you something: worrying about a gazillion-dollar company is so much easier than worrying about a kid.
The Farmer cannot stay awake for the movie, so I watch it alone. Then I get into bed. It’s late, but the farmer wakes up.
Farmers always get up early for chores. It’s non-negotiable even though when I took care of baby goat I proved that completely erratic feeding does not kill animals. Sleep is sacred on a farm and the only thing farmers wake up in the middle of the night for is sex. He says, “How was the movie?”
I take that as a mating call and do not answer. Instead I say, “Remember the flea bites I was telling you about? Look. I got another.”
He lifts up my shirt to check for bites.
I tell him that the bites are on my arm.
Probably now he is wishing he had just stayed asleep. But I told him, once, or maybe a million times, that talking to me and caring about my feelings is good foreplay for me.So maybe this is why he says, “We had fleas in our house every summer when I was growing up. And no one complained as much as you. I thought you said you have high pain tolerance.”
“Oh my gosh. Your mom had to deal with four little kids with flea bites?”
“No. Just three. Fleas don’t bite men.”
“Wait. You just told me I have low pain tolerance and you have never been covered in flea bites? Are you nuts? What about child birth? Do you think you could handle that better than me, too?”
“Okay. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. It’s just that I can’t believe how much you go to the doctor. People in the country wait ’til their arm falls off to go to a doctor.”
“You think I’m excessive?”
“Well, look at the bite. It’s next to the thing that you think is cancer.”
“Oh yeah. That’s right. Look at it again. Has the shape changed? Do you think it’s cancer?”
He looks. He genuinely looks to see if the shape of my cancer has changed into a more cancer-y looking cancer spot. He says no. It looks the same. He says, “You should have a doctor look at it because that makes you feel better.”
That makes me feel so loved. So I reach over to my nightstand and get the foam stuff that we are using for birth control ever since I told him I had been lying to him about using birth control.
So I fill the applicator thing with foam, but the applicator is a dyslexic nightmare because I can never remember which part fills and which part pushes out the foam.
I squirt the foam and it’s the wrong end of the tube and it flies everywhere. Most notably covering the wall and the ceiling. I look over at the Farmer. His head is under the sheet.
I say, “What are you doing?”
He says, “You always make a mess — I didn’t want to get squirted.”
We have sex while contraceptive foam drips down the wall. I can’t write about the sex because the Farmer really wants us to have some part of our lives that is not on the blog. Not that I really understand intimacy. I’m trying, though.
The thing is that he is so good at sex and so annoying about keeping our morning routines on schedule, but I’m left to write only about the annoying part: the next morning.
The kids get to school, the farmer leaves to do his own chores, and there I am, stuck on the sofa. I can’t move. I tell myself to do my to-do list.
I stand up. Find the newest issue of the Atlantic. Read about Tiger Moms and wonder how Tiger Moms stay awake when their kids are at school. I go to bed. I wake up and tell myself I will have coffee and do my to-do list. I bring the coffee to bed and fall asleep next to it.
When the coffee is cold, when I’m awake, I drink it and eat more bagels and then lay on the sofa telling myself I can’t say I’m leading an honest life if every time I cannot cope with my life I eat a bagel to avoid having to think of what to do next.
I eat another bagel to confirm that I am leading a dishonest life shrouded in bagel consumption. And by the time the kids come home, I hate myself not just for eating bagels all day, but also for getting nothing done.
Now, a day later, I look back and wonder why I didn’t just take a day off. There was too much. Too much taking care of people, too much medical drama, too much trying to work and not working. What I really needed was a day in bed with coffee and the Atlantic.
The only way to really get things done is to be in touch with how we are feeling and what we need. I wish I had been able to do that in the moment. But maybe seeing clearly in hindsight is a good step to seeing clearly in the moment, next time.
This would be a good time for a picture of me relaxing. But all I have is a Buddha that Melissa left for me to remind me to relax.
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