Monday, August 24, 2015

I get so emotional, baby

We try to read to our four-year-old every night. Usually it goes well, but one night this week I found myself crying uncontrollably.

I was reading him The Lion and the Bird by Marianne Dubuc. It's about the eponymous lion who takes in an injured bird and nurses it back to health. A sweet story, only when you buy this book they don't tell you that around page 22 you'll find this picture:
After he is all healed, the bird thanks the lion and then he flies away. Nobody warned me about this. It was not on the back cover, nor was it mentioned on either of the cover flaps. The Kirkus review neglected to say that after 21 deceptively sweet pages I would suddenly and painfully realize that the book was about my son eventually leaving home. I wasn't ready for it, and I started to weep bitterly. My son got worried and, hearing the silence, my wife came in and said, "What the heck are you reading?"

That stupid picture just started this horrifying avalanche of panicky thoughts in my brain: I need to do so much better at this parenting thing. I'm too grouchy and need to pay closer attention. The time is going too fast! Stop time. MUST. STOP. TIME. He's too innocent and sweet to go out into the world. I'll just tell him that everyone just lives at home with their parents forever, and when his friends tell him that they're moving out to go to college I'll tell him they're lying.

My emotions are more raw and close to the surface now that I have kids. I worry about them. Has this happened to anyone else? It's embarrassing and I need to pull it together. I didn't see my dad cry until I was 30 and had a child of my own, and it was at my grandmother's funeral, and even then I don't think he even shed actual tears, just got a little choked up while he was speaking about her. My son saw me cry 24 years too soon.

Eventually the bird comes back for a little while to do his laundry or whatever and it's sort of a a happy ending, but I was still upset.

Yes, I cried, but try reading something like this to your adorable four-year-old and see how well you do.

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Dentist Prince and Other Tales of Wishful Thinking OR Choose your major carefully, kids

The other night I was paying the bills when I realized we are poor. Not super poor like people who are born poor and have all the odds stacked against them and will most likely always be poor, but more like moderately poor with an option to be comfortable someday in the future. I went in to tell my wife that we are poor, but she already knew.

Social workers don’t make a whole ton of money and in college I majored in social work. It’s only recently that I realized my major was a disadvantage to me in the college dating game but a huge advantage in life as it weeded out all the horrible people who cared primarily about how much money a person is going to make.

It was devastating at the time, though. There were a few times in college where a girl broke up with me and said something like, “We should see other majors- I mean people.” And then she’d go off and attach herself to some pre-med dude. Brutal.

Then along came my wife: a beautiful, intelligent, kind, and  funny person, a beacon of sparkly hope in the dark superficial storm that is dating. She made her own money and didn’t care that I was destined for a life of poverty. I didn’t want her to get away so I asked her to marry me and against all reason she said “Yes.”

It seems like I should turn into some sort of dentist prince at this point in the story, and a benevolent fairy godmother tells my wife, “You passed the test! Because your heart is pure and you married for love and not money, you now have tons of money because your new husband owns three dental practices in a town where high fructose corn syrup is plentiful and floss is scarce. Stop working so hard and go spend up all that cavity money.”

But, no, still a social worker and still not making a ton of money. Money isn’t everything but it sure would be nice to say, “Do you feel like getting a hamburger? Let’s go get a hamburger,” and then just go get a hamburger. No checking the account to see if we have enough money or scraping up change from the couch cushions. Just getting a hamburger, man. It would also be nice to not live with the constant low-level anxiety that comes with struggling financially, like when the car makes a weird noise or needs brakes, it’s a crisis.

We’re working real hard and eventually we’ll be more comfortable. And we’re happy, at least most of the time.