Month: August 2013

Before the Beginning of School Anxieties

My children look to me to create the rhythms of their lives. They do not watch clocks, they wait for Mom to call them for lunch. Sometimes they pay attention to calendars, but usually only when there is a holiday or birthday to anticipate. In the summer they are even cast free of the school schedule, each day shaped very much like all the rest. I watch clocks and calendars. I track appointments and set alarms. Which is why I am very aware that school starts in only two weeks. On August 19th the changes that have been roiling and causing anxiety since last February will solidify. We will have things to deal with instead of things to worry about. But we are not quite there yet and I’m not looking forward to the moment when the kids figure out how close we are to that day. When they do, there will be emotional reactions and I don’t know what shape those emotional reactions will take. In fact part of my brain is convinced that one or more of the kids will melt down into major anxiety which will snowball causing stress and emotional upheaval for all of us that won’t resolve until sometime in October.

It is possible that the kids aren’t the ones I need to worry about with the before school anxiety. In fact all current evidence suggests that I am the one who is going to be stressed and fretting during the next two weeks. I’m already there. And I am trying very hard not to signal any of my anxiety to the kids. We’re not going school shopping. I haven’t scheduled before-school-starts haircuts. I’m not trying to do a few last outings before the summer is gone. As much as possible I would like this week to be summer-as-normal. Next week is soon enough for all the other things.

Taking Care of People and Things

The people come first. They should always come first, but sometimes I get enmeshed in all the things to do that I forget to focus on the people. That reversal never lasts very long because people in need of care tend to draw attention. They request attention even if they are not aware that this is what they are doing. On a day like today I have very little temptation to care for things first.

Howard is working on the sketch editions. Sketching season is always a time when I rearrange my schedule to support Howard’s efforts, because doing 1000 sketches is really a marathon effort. Marathon runners could not accomplish what they do without a crew. Howard can’t do the sketches without the other members of his household providing support. This time the onset of sketching coincided with one of Howard’s depressive “I can’t do all of this” swings, which increased the level of support necessary.

Kiki had four wisdom teeth removed today. We made the appointment two weeks ago and then did all in our power to forget about it, because the thought of surgery made both Kiki and I very nervous. Today she was as jittery as a junebug, which I assume is really jittery since I’ve never actually seen a junebug. I watched her walk away with a nurse and remembered the last time that I’d seen her walk away with a nurse for anesthesia. She was two back then and needed ear tubes. This time it was a removal not an addition. Everything was routine and I rejoined her in the recovery room where I learned that recovering-from-anesthesia Kiki is very chatty. Most of the thoughts that came through her head were spoken, but short term memory was not being written into long term. She was awake and alert, asked reasonable questions, but she repeated them about every five minutes because she didn’t remember the answers. That effect wore off about half way home. Now we’re helping Kiki through post surgical recovery. So far the pain has not been particularly bad for her, which I’m glad about. Hopefully in another day or so she’ll be back to normal.

I’ve taken to hovering over Gleek’s shoulder as she plays online games. She’s on public servers and has made some friends there. Making friends is good, but it is my job to make sure that Gleek learns how to stay safe. Also, I’ve realized that at twelve she does not have a comprehension that just because someone has always been nice does not mean they’re safe. So I am hovering, and mostly being bored by it, because the chatter is primarily about blocks, building, swords, monsters, and giving instructions to new players. Yet I’m getting a feel for the social context of the game so that I can offer advice for when a player seems dodgy to me. Bit by bit my kids gather experience for normal online interactions so that they are able to spot the ones that are out of the ordinary, like someone being too nice because they want something later.

My mailbox is full. Three of them actually, since I manage my mail, the Schlock box, and the box for the Jay Wake Book. Each of those messages represents a person. It is easy to think of email as things to do, but on the other end of my replies are people. Today the email people are going to have to wait an extra day, because the in-my-house people get my attention first.

Patch spent most of today at cub scout day camp, so he missed the return of loopy Kiki. But he doesn’t mind because there were boat wars, pringles, cookies, rabbit fur, slingshots, and hours in the sun. All he needs from me today is for me to listen to his adventures for a bit.

Link spent the afternoon playing Metroid Prime Corruption for Kiki’s entertainment. He beat the game with 100%. Apparently my son has gotten quite good at video games. Naturally he started playing all over again on a harder difficulty setting.

Monday is the twentieth anniversary of when Howard and I got married. Sometime between now and then I’d like to find some deep and important thoughts on the topic. At the moment I just see the date coming and know nothing in particular is planned other than postage printing. Monday will be a work day, which is in keeping with our family tradition I suppose.

Dishes, laundry, clutter, bathroom grunge, these are all things, though they are things which affect the moods of people. I wish I had the energy to solve them today. Or rather, I wish I’d had the energy to take care of them yesterday so that they would already be done today. Instead I see them and feel a measure of defeat. Another day I will find laundry victory.

One thing I did succeed at doing today: I kept refined sugar and white flour out of my diet. I’m not going to be rigid, but those things need to be the occasional treat not daily fare. So that is a success. I also ordered banners for GenCon, made some arrangements for WorldCon, re-ordered the Writing Excuses DVDs, approved TOH for reprint, accepted delivery of shipping supplies, began accounting, and communicated with several people about Jay Wake. So I did some of the things today, I just wish I’d done all of them.

People before things.