the state of the move

on

Unfortunately, it appears that I am not going to get through my backlog of sewing projects before the move. We’re picking up our Uboxes (apparently this is Uhaul’s Designer Impostors version of PODs) tomorrow evening. I’ve been wandering around the house on a rollercoaster of emotion, whipsawing between feeling like we’re in really good shape with our packing & feeling like there’s still so much to do.

My friend Rebecca came over with her daughter, Isla, the other day to help us out. Isla played with Ramona & Rebecca helped us pack & throw things out. An objective eye is always a good motivator for identifying the things you should probably just toss/donate, because they’re not looking at everything with the same sentimentality & emotion. She pushed me to make a decision I’d putting off for a long time: getting rid of Ramona’s baby clothes (except for the sentimental things, mostly stuff people made for us, hand-me-downs from when Jared was a baby, & the first sleeper she ever wore when she was finally given the okay to wear clothes because her skin was strong enough to tolerate it). & my maternity clothes. Baby blankets, swaddles, bottles, cloth diapers, baby carriers, & some toys she has outgrown. I’ve given away a lot & am trying to sell the stuff that is actually worth something. We’re not necessarily closing the book on ever having another baby, but it’s definitely not on the agenda right now, & toting that stuff along with us every time we move just makes me sad.

We have to have this place clean & empty by Monday, so the plan is to load up the Uboxes on Sunday. We don’t get keys to the new place until August 1, so we’ve booked an Airbnb in Oskaloosa for the interim week. I’m not super-thrilled about staying in Oskaloosa, which is a tiny town (less than 1000 people) about 20 miles north of Lawrence. But they were charging a two-thirds less than the cheapest place in Lawrence.

It’s going to be a whirlwind of change once we move into the new place. We’re finally moving Ramona into a toddler bed. She’ll be four in November & she still sleeps in a crib because she just never tried to climb out, so it was never unsafe. But we need to get serious about getting her 100% potty trained, & that means she needs to have the option of getting out of bed when she needs to go. This means we are also eliminating all diapers very soon.

& she starts preschool in mid-August. This will be a huge transition for both of us. She’s been home with me full-time since she was released from the NICU. Suddenly she’s going to be spending seven hours a week without me. I’m both excited & nervous. I am making all kinds of unrealistic plans for what I will do with that time. Sewing! Going to the pool! Home improvement projects! Reading! Like, way more stuff than you can really do in seven hours a week, especially when you consider that it’s a co-operative preschool, meaning that parents do a lot of volunteer work there. Like, they are required to do a lot of volunteer work. So that will be interesting.

All the parents I know at the school have transferred their kids into the afternoon program, so I will be getting to know a new batch of parents & their kids. I’m open to it, obviously, but a bit trepidatious. I wrote about the whole crazy TCBY-refusing-my-child-water-during-a-heat-advisory situation a few days ago. I shared this incident with some local online parenting groups, just as a kind of “heads up, this is not the place to go with a kid emergency” public service announcement. & the online parent groups totally lived up to their reputations by allowing the whole thing to spiral into recriminations & mama drama.

At the beginning, people were really supportive, but all it took was one person being like, “Hey, now, I think someone should be thinking about the feeling of Big Fro-Yo,” for things to go kind of crazy. Of course someone trotted out that old canard: “You shouldn’t expect other people to take care of your kids. It’s kind of parenting 101 to make sure you bring enough water if you’re taking your kid out on a hot day.”

Ah, yes. Time to get out your This Happened Because You’re a Shitty Mom bingo cards. Honestly, I expect bullshit like that from people who don’t have kids. Everyone is a great parent right up until they are actually a parent. & that’s not an indictment of people who don’t have kids. I’m just pointing out the reality that you truly cannot grasp the myriad challenges of parenting until you are in the shit (sometimes literally).

But from other parents? It’s insane! I would love to meet the person who has been parenting for three-plus years & has never once been caught out with one of the following situations: kid convinces you to go out without the stroller, but then refuses to walk. You forgot the snack. Kid decides the morning outing is the ideal time to take four shits in a row & you run out of diapers. Kid falls down & scrapes a knee & you are fresh out of Band-Aids.

These scenarios (like my TCBY incident, which was borne of my asking for a tap water top-off on my kid’s water bottle, because it was really hot & she chugged the water we brought from home faster than expected) are just everyday whoopsies & I defy the full-time caretaker of a child not to experience at least one of these in three years. We’re not even getting into big-time emergencies, like the car breaking down on the side of the road while you’re out with the kid, or the kid sustaining some kind of major injury on your watch, or your kid climbing into the gorilla enclosure at the zoo. This shit happens! To bad moms & great moms & every other kind of mom in-between. & dads too. & grandparents, nannies, aunts, teachers, everyone who is responsible for kids!

What really surprised me was all the people defending TCBY on the grounds that the local shop is a sponsor of our library’s summer reading program. If your kid finishes their summer reading, they get a coupon for one free 3oz. fro-yo cup. This is a value of $1.38. I’m sure the owner is well-aware that most kids are going to want more than 3ozs. Parents are on the hook for paying for any overages, as well as toppings & cones, plus fro-yo for themselves & any other children they are with that do not have a coupon. Meaning that the owner more than recoups the value of the coupon, while also receiving the goodwill associated with sponsoring this children’s literacy event. This is why businesses do coupons like this! It’s not because they are altruistic. It’s because it makes money.

One person piped up to say that the local TCBY generously provided coupons to the school she used to work for, which was apparently in a “lower socio-economic district” (not sure what that means in Lawrence, which is kind of too small to have “rich schools” & “poor schools,” but anyway), so kids could come in & pay only $2 for some fro-yo.

What a pillar of generosity! Inviting poor children to patronize his shop & pay him money! What will he think of next!

But for whatever reason, these other moms weren’t seeing that. They probably think that stores have sales purely from the goodness in their hearts. They perceived of this child-exploiting money-making gambit as proof of his “family-friendliness,” & clearly much more important this his decision to turn away a sobbing three-year-old on a hot day when all she wanted was some tap water.

It’s times like these that I am very relieved to have a good solid foundation in radical anti-capitalism, & I’m glad I’m sending Ramona to a co-operative preschool (the first integrated preschool in the United States, in fact!) where hopefully the other parents will be thoughtful people not so ready to believe everything Big Fro-Yo tells them. I mean, obviously I can laugh about this to a certain degree, but I will also never patronize a TCBY for as long as I live (in fact, when corporate HQ offered me coupons to try to “make things right,” I declined), & I stand by the fact that the owner of our local TCBY is a monster who should be run out of business, & anyone who tries to defend him is pretty much dead to me. Actions speak louder than fucking coupons, for crying out loud!

7 Comments Add yours

  1. LoisAnn says:

    For heavens sake people, the lady asked for tap water. Any decent human being would have said: “Of course, no problem. It certainly is hot today.” End of discussion!

    1. Ciara says:

      Exactly! I totally understand that if they had some kind of corporate policy that was tying his hands. I’ve been an underling working in fast food, I know how that goes. But the corporate policy is actually to give water to anyone who asks!

  2. feministgina says:

    I have asked for tap water on many occasions, for myself, an adult woman, on days that were not remotely hot. I have only once been denied said tap water, at a theater that charged like $3 for bottles of water just because they could since you couldn’t leave the venue. I do not understand the mentality that denies someone tap water if they’re willing to drink it. Especially if it’s a kid who’s getting stressed about being thirsty. FFS, you’re not going to break the bank giving out a little tap water, and why wouldn’t you want to help out a fellow human? If someone knocked on the door of my apartment and asked for tap water, I probably wouldn’t let them in because I don’t know them, but I’d take their bottle and fill it up for them!

    1. Ciara says:

      Yup, pretty much. I also don’t understand the mentality of parents (as I expounded upon at length in this post) that seem to think every outing should be akin to loading down your Conestoga wagon with everything you own, because you need to be independently prepared for every possible eventuality. You’ve been to Lawrence, you know where my house is in relation to downtown. Obviously I do make an effort to pack a snack, water, extra pants, etc when I go out with Ramona, but it’s such a small community, mainly comprised of local businesses owned by people in the community, of course there’s an expectation that people will be willing to help each other out. People actually have come to my door asking for water before, & I gave it to them. They didn’t murder me, I wasn’t then besieged by a neverending parade of oogles that know me as The Water Lady, my water bill was unaffected.

  3. hoperoth says:

    I can’t even count the number of times I was out and about and realized that I didn’t have 1) a fresh change of clothes 2) enough clean diapers 3) Lilian’s water bottle 4) any number of other things.

    We had to wrap her up in a t-shirt that came out of a t-shirt cannon at a minor league baseball game once because it was the middle of the summer and I forgot that, oh right, it gets cold when the sun goes away. We didn’t have a sweatshirt or a heavy enough blanket for her. Stuff happens. Now it’s a hilarious memory and a very funny picture.

    I think people like to point fingers and judge because it makes them feel better about their own fuck-ups.

  4. Honestly, I can’t think of a single thing a person or business would do which would make me think it’s ok to deny water to anyone for any reason.

    Heartily seconding the radical anti-capitalism thing – I just don’t know how people don’t examine these things! The job of a business is to get your money so I always assume that’s what any gesture is, and examine it for that. You know what’s a great, cheap way to build goodwill in a community? Giving out free water on a hot day when asked. No, too hard? Well then.

    I don’t think I’m that radical (I consider myself to be lapsed into a cushy, middle class, class-betraying, ideologically unsound lifestyle) but every time I say that my (also v lefty) friends say ‘uh yes you are’ so I guess there’s just a giant chasm between me and many other people.

    Also, I can barely manage to get myself organised and out the house in appropriate clothes. Now I can’t eat gluten I have to take snacks everywhere I go and it’s hard work organising. I am in such awe of people who manage it EVEN ONCE with children. It seems just insane the amount of work that takes, and you have to do it every day! Seriously. Where is your medal?

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