I am here to confess that when this part of my lunch today was done, I ate my share right out of the pan, standing here at the stove. I was hungry. It was perhaps the worst day for me to be undertaking any sort of eating-revamp, as it turned out, but I prevailed.
I mean, yk, the only things I had to give up which are relevant to my daily life are potatoes, oats and butter. But: butter! (Butter doesn't go on yuca. I can do this!)
The children's guitar instructor came to me a couple of months ago & said, "I would like them to play in the summer show." It's a thing, it's a Society-Patron kind of a Chamber-Music Debutante's thing that the children have managed to avoid thus far under his tutelage. Because they were not interested, he let it go, but then he realized, I think, that they were never going to become interested, that he would have to push.
So when he told me, I said, "Ok! Well ... good luck with that. Let me know how that works out, or if there's anything I can do."
Garçon's been studying with Juan for three years & so by now Juan should know that I drive the car and sign the checks, unless requested to do more, by the child or the instructor. He should also know, particularly since he has taken Fille on as a student, that these children can not be made to do anything they do not want to do, so I do not get involved in other people's work problems. The children already do not do the things I want them to do, why would I get excited on another's behalf, just randomly? So, it's like I told him: Let me know how that works out for you.
Well, this is how it worked out for him: they took control of it; they are playing a duet. This was hilarious to me when Juan told me this is what they decided on. Juan is himself half of a lauded-around-town duo virtuosi, so he knows how to play à deux, but I swear to you -- knowing these two like I do -- they were thinking, "Fine, you want us to step it up? You do it, too."
But again, that is between the three of them. Except that this playing together has called for a great deal of sibling-relationship arbitration from me, the likes of which I have not had to set down since they were of primary-grade age, which is ok, because I felt extremely competent when they were very young. There was an immediacy in parenting, like a tactical-troubleshooting vibe to it, like Let us clear away this bullshit & reflect upon your essence without judgment, please. Your solution is within you. But then they went into the latency stage & joined motorcycle gangs in their minds.
But now they are back from that stage, just in time for practicing a duet to perform in public with each other, ok too much parenting!
Two days ago, they sat down to practice, together, live, for the first time. I do not think Juan asked them to begin working together, but what do I know? In the weeks prior, they were practicing their parts separately & then graduated to playing each part in the studio with Juan playing the other. But Saturday, after lunch, they decided to put it all together.
Mari & I were sitting in the room adjacent to the room they were practicing in: he was doing a Sudoku puzzle; I was reading the NYer. We were relaxing, like civilized people do sometimes, and then Fifille was suddenly having a tantrum, yk, about the way her brother was doing it wrong. Or, at least, not the way in which they had been instructed.
A tantrum isn't really an accurate label for what she did -- there were no stompy stomps nor kicky kicks. It was more along the lines of letting him have it. Was she overreacting? Probably, but I don't know. I have no sense of what he had done (or not done) in that day in that hour, I could not see him, he was not saying anything, but she was super-mad.
You know, and it was like it always is around here -- Let it out, babies, let it all out. We're a family & we can't work it out if you are hanging onto it & stuffing it down. Get it out, you may as well, Mommy wishes she had an abortion, so I know. Right? As long as people are not name-calling or you-alwaysing or you-nevering, you know what? Say it out loud, because we are all-ears.
But after a while, her little tirade started to turn in on itself & I busted it up with an instruction to our son to walk it off, to just go downstairs & take five. Whereupon Fille burst into the tears of rage, boohoohooing & cursing a blue-streak, at once.
She has added goddamned to her put-upon lexicon now, which is fine, I don't care, but the other day I was calling her & calling her, not realizing she was in the half-bath 15 feet away because I couldn't hear her over the, yk, Def Leppard. She came out -- I had surmised, eventually, that she was way-up in the third-floor bathroom -- and said "Do you want everyone in the goddamned world to know I'm in the goddamned bathroom?" I was like, "Er, no, Holden, and get out of here & take these dirty dishtowels to the laundry," and thinking about all the Caswell-Massey bars which remain for bathing because no one has to eat them at our house, obvs, so ok.
I asked Mari to take care of it, because I am not nice. I mean, honestly. I was not interested & this is why they have another parent, to be interested. Or to take turns feigning interest, same diff. I did not want to go in there & hear her whine & blame & carp & kvetch. I just did not care. Mari misunderstood & thought I meant mediate, which, no. I was not particularly interested in getting them back together -- I was going to turn this right back around to Juan: "Why is there screaming? Can I help work this out? Fuck screaming, unless it is me doing it."
Anyhow, during mediation Garçon offered as his reasonable, disgruntled response, something like, This is the sort of thing -- the disagreement -- that happens when there is an earthworm & a butterfly.
Oh. Oh this again? I remember this, and you may, too. When last I saw my non-latency-stage children, Garçon had an episode of a hollow-eyed pity-party in the downstairs hall where he could not understand why he should have to try at anything because there is no point because nothing is perfect and only one person could be perfect, and blahblahblah --
Ok, drama queen, perfection is not a zero-sum game, but whatever
-- and that person was Fille and etc, etc. I am pretty sure I wrote about this when it happened, because I vividly remember responding that day, but also typing out my response, which was "That's nonsense, honey. Fifille gets in trouble all the time for showing off." This was probably cold comfort, but you know? Get a therapist, kid. Oh, wait, he can't -- none of them can work with him. Tough!
Anyhow, I instantly filed that away, because his curmudgeonly analysis was not the point in that moment & I was not going to let him steal the show with his obfuscation & melodrama. I excused myself from the mediation, having only stopped in to remind them that I did not the whole of their learning with Juan, but the one thing I did know was that he said that Listening to Your Partner was the cornerstone of being a duo. I do not know what happened Saturday, but Sunday they practiced together & they sounded lovely. I mean, you know, there was whining over here & grumbling over there, but it did not disturb the peace.
Today was kind of a different story. And, let's just get back to me, it was halfway between shake-breakfast and solid-food lunch & I was just about to have a snack. Almonds, in fact, and maybe some leftover carrot soup. I feed myself even now, you know. Mostly. The children were playing & then they finished & there was a commotion.
I had to get in there right away. Hey, hey, hey, you guys! What is it?
Omigosh, you guys! At the end of the piece, they are supposed to quiet the vibrato by placing their hands over the strings, yk, to end it. Well, oh, no! Garçon wasn't doing that! He didn't do it! It was ruined! This child, and her father, and J. Jonah Jameson, and Lex Luthor hollering at Miss Tessmacher -- I swear to God, there are times they could make Jesus Christ Himself drink enough neat peach schnapps to pass out before lunch.
I sent Garçon downstairs. ("Just please go downstairs, please. I'll be with you in a second, ok?") I told her, "You sit here. Just stay." I have never split them up to talk to them separately, ever. Not in the moment. It will happen that I will follow-up later, but first-response is always jointly-issued. Everyone presents together, there is a fair hearing, it is as equitable as I can ever manage. So already they knew this was different.
When I got downstairs, I did not eat, but I did lay it out for him. That I did not miss his comment over the weekend, that I remembered -- as I am sure he does, too -- his blubbering in the hallway about how no one is perfect so what risk perfection unperfected, etc. Fine. But for someone who whines as much as he does about his sister, he could think about taking advantage of this project to observe her process, the process by which he has judged her in her perfection. Never mind that she's, yk, not. But she does have a way of exceeding expectations & he can spy on how she gets that done, and maybe he will decide it isn't for him, but this is an opportunity.
Also, I pointed out to him that her stompy stomps and kicky kicks and her genuine distress about how things are not the right way -- which is to say exactly and perfectly as they should be -- might be something she is directing at him, but it is not about him. He knows as well as I know that she would be up there all by herself to her very own self, accusing and blaming and excoriating in a way that he never would to himself. That I wanted him to think about how it feels to him when she complains and cries because she is frustrated with him, but to think about how that must feel to be a person who does that to herself.
I closed with a reminder that the lesson in this duet is listening to your partner and she is his sister, and they have things they can learn from each other, but I needed him to not take her behavior personally & also, he could give a little show of trying.
I mean, I get it. Why the fuck should he practice quieting the strings? He can do it! A monkey could do it! But I get what she is saying, too, that there is a complete piece and why not aim high? Is it a hassle to put his hand on the strings? Why can't he just not be oppositional for once?
They played after Garçon & I came back upstairs, and -- this made me laugh: he would not take it from the top, lol -- they sounded fine & met her exacting specifications.
I did explain to her later the inverse of their relationship counsel, which is that she always complains about how it is just not fair that Garçon doesn't have cavities when he can't be assed to brush his teeth and he, like, whatever, you know? He just coasts through life, and he doesn't check all the things off of the list and it's not fair, but maybe it's ok. Maybe he can show her how she can ease up a little on a daily basis and still have everything work out OK. Again, the same close: listening.
Mari called & wanted to know how things were going: There is too much parenting in this day! Listen!
But it was ok. Then I got lunch, eventually. Fifille asked if she could do the program with me & I said yes to the elimination-diet part, but she needs to eat three solid meals & can have shakes for snacks.
The children went to the library. I did two loads of laundry & stoked the fire. It has been legitimately cold outside, so if we let the fire go out for more than overnight it will be in the 40s on our first floor pretty quickly. It's fine, no one sleeps down there, but it makes standing around working the Vitamix a drag, obvs. When we got home from Sal's last Tuesday, it was 45 degrees down there & I turned on the furnace. I was not going to be able to fool around with the stove until Thursday afternoon & maybe not even then. I turned it off again Friday night because it just makes this horrible noise and if our central-heating situation were optimal, we would not have installed a woodstove. And wood is free, all over the county. Anyhow.
This was fun. I'm really sleepy. Next week is ballet's observation class. It is stressful -- there are parents who are more into it than driving & writing checks; all the Russians pile in & really pay a lot of attention ... please let there be no emotional-eating of nightshades in that time. À plus tard xoxox