August 8, 2006

I walked out my front door this morning and locked it securely behind me before realizing my keychain was inside, dangling uselessly from a hook in the kitchen.

Have you ever locked yourself out of the house? Did you do what I did; circle the entire house, eyes narrowed, looking for a point of entry that you’re positive isn’t there, but, you know…just in case?

After casing the joint and discovering that in fact my house is nicely sealed against the elements and does not offer a cracked window or handy gaping wall-hole through which people, raccoons, or wild dingos can enter, I searched the backyard for the extra key I knew we put somewhere, looking under planters and birdbaths, discovering all sorts of wriggling invertebrates and ancient tufts of dog hair but little else. Fine, I thought, mentally throwing up my hands, I’ll have to call JB. That’s when I discovered my cell phone was not in its usual place in the side pocket of my purse but was inside my car. My locked car.

You’d think this would be enough to deter a person from making any further attempts to get to work, but this is the week I will brave lost keys and locked vehicles and even, if necessary, zombie infestation to fight my way into the office, for it is the Magical Week of No Engineers at Workplace.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I love the engineers, with all their decompositional reasoning and hair-splitting and endless fussiness over everything from mustard brands to the pound weight of business card paper stock, but this is the one time I can flagrantly misuse hyphens in place of em dashes without causing someone’s head to explode, and go several days in a row without receiving a work email containing the terms “obviously” or “of course”. Sweet.

Speaking of my job(s), I’ve been more than a little discombobulated lately on my Mondays and Fridays away from the office. Sometimes they just feel like this endless stretch of boring, lonely hours where I do nothing but repeatedly piss Riley off by continually repositioning him away from various pointy/electronic/inedible things. I think the word I’m looking for is unrewarding.

I don’t expect that the time I spend at home with Riley shouldn’t be work, because that’s what it is: work. It’s sometimes wonderful and often funny and occasionally frustrating beyond all description, but it’s work; it’s just that I don’t think I’m especially good at it recently. Now that Riley is so active and curious he needs stuff to do, we can’t just spend our days together in the living room, battling over whether or not it’s okay to chew the laptop cord.

I met Karli for the first time this Monday; she was nice enough to ask me over to her house, and while I visited with her and her two cute-as-hell daughters raced around and played, I kept looking over at Riley and commenting about how he’s never this content at home, at home he would have gone through at least two crying fits and one outlet-licking episode by now. It may have been the fact that Karli’s house has soft carpeting in place of skull-cracking, knee-hurtingly painful hardwoods, but I think what Riley really likes is activity. He’s happiest when he’s surrounded by people and noise, and how JB and I – two of the most introverted, solitude-embracing folks who ever managed to shack up – produced such a tiny social butterfly, I’ll never know.

The key is to get out of the damn house, I think; I don’t want to spend one more afternoon sitting around wearing pajamas at 2 PM wishing Riley would take a damn nap already so I can check my email. I only have two days a week where it’s just us, I should be making the most of that time.

(GUILT! GUILT! GUILT! God, does it ever end? Is there any parent on this fucking earth who thinks they’re doing a great job?)

Anyway, my resolve is to figure out some activities each week with Riley, and to get over my goddamn shyness and do the playdate thing more often (which I hope Karli will be on board for, even though I accidentally cussed while her kids were in the room and also spilled Lime Diet Coke on her floor, jesus). There, I’ve written it on my website and therefore it must come true or haunt me forever.


Random things I recommend:

The Three Burials of Melquiadas Estrada. Tommy Lee Jones = brilliant.
The Contortionist’s Handbook. If you like Palahniuk, you’ll like this.
Prada perfume. Magically delicious.
• The Six Feet Under theme ringtone. Doodle-do-TOO-too, doodle-do-TOO-too…AWESOME.


31 Responses to “How to have a good week”

  1. Shelly on August 8th, 2006 3:38 pm

    Sometimes while I would be babysitting, they’d love to go outside in the backyard. Non-toxic chalk, non-toxic bubbles, and lots of play-doh tend to be the best. When all else fails, the park is only a few minutes drive. :)

  2. Jenn on August 8th, 2006 3:52 pm

    I got nothin’ for you as far as keeping a baby entertained and not pissed off at you… my two-year-old prefers to amuse himself by getting into the liquor cabinet. (I know, I know, I should just kid-proof the damn thing.) I am anxiously awaiting any suggestions offered to you!

    However, I did lock myself out of my house a few years ago (pre-kid, thank God, because that would have made this story just SO much more fun!) I was running around getting ready for work one morning. I had put a frozen waffle under the broiler in the oven, and stepped out into the backyard to feed the dog. Somehow the door locked behind me. I ran to my neighbor’s house who had our emergency set of keys… stupid cow couldn’t find them. When I got back to the house and looked in the kitchen window, the waffle had caught on fire. So I had to grab some big heavy something and break the window and crawl in. Good times, good times!

  3. Katie on August 8th, 2006 4:09 pm

    Wait, so how did you get back in the house???

  4. Emily on August 8th, 2006 4:49 pm

    Dude, I have been silent for your last few entries, but I have to share some words of comfort for you now, because I once locked my keys in my car WHILE IT WAS STILL RUNNING. Also, I drop F-bombs in the vicinity of small children at least once a week, so be enheartened. Wouldn’t you rather your kid learn his cuss words from you, anyway? In the words of Will Ferrell’s Harry Caray … I know I would.

  5. jonniker on August 8th, 2006 4:57 pm

    I adore Prada. Patchouli. It’s the patchouli. I can’t get enough of it. It’s such a holdover from my angst-ridden teenage years, yet it’s all grown up here.

    And you know, I’m pretty shy and introverted and solitude-loving too (despite the fact that it manifests itself in embarrassing bleating outburts of extroverted freakishness), and truthfully, I worry about having kids because I’m afraid that I’ll be the mom who’s all, “What do you mean you want to leave the house and be with other people? There are books! And TV! AND A KITCHEN!”

  6. mom on a wire on August 8th, 2006 5:40 pm

    You are hilarious. You must have used some crazy magic spell to clean up the coke, because I can’t even find the spot where it spilled! Would you mind taking care of the rest of the hideous stains on my living room floor please? You have the special carpet cleaning touch that I have tried to master for years. You must have been born with it.

  7. MJ on August 8th, 2006 5:42 pm

    I locked both myself & my mother out of the house once, and neither of us had phones or anything. Being that we were the only two living there, and we didn’t know our neighbours, it was quite a problem. I ended up breaking in through the tiny little basement window and jumping on top of the hot water heater. Doesn’t sound so bad, except our basement was GROSS and the window was rotting with broken glass, and I had to climb behind the air conditioning units outside. Mmm. Can’t say I made that mistake again…

  8. DiWriter on August 8th, 2006 5:44 pm

    “two of the most introverted, solitude-embracing folks who ever managed to shack up ”

    And here I thought Kayakboy and I were the reigning king and queen…of course you trump us with Riley. We’re lazy and just a couple of grownups here, no kids in the picture yet.

  9. christen on August 8th, 2006 5:59 pm

    I know you don’t want to hear it… because it’s so gay… but what about some of those Mommy and Me swim classes or something? You gotta have some kind of classes in your lovely community recreation directory…

  10. shal on August 8th, 2006 6:44 pm

    My suggestion (not that you were asking for them) is to have a ‘Fans of Sundry with Young Kids Who Live In or Around Seattle’ Playgroup, or FOSWYKWLIOASP, which I would totally attend if the thought of meeting new people didn’t make me want to throw up. But, you know, not socially awkward people would probably want to attend.

  11. Kristen on August 8th, 2006 7:11 pm

    I was at the mall with my twins who are just a little older than Riley, and another mom said to me, “Oh, don’t you just LOVE this age!?!? They’re so FUN finally!!” And I smiled and tried not to visibly clench my teeth. The first year is full of, um, let’s call them “challenges,” but I find the time between age 1 and about age 2-1/2 to be……to be……well, if it was the FIRST part of the baby’s life, before I’d grown so fond of the child, that baby would be in a basket of rushes in no time flat. I find it IMPOSSIBLE. But when I’m in it (I have two older children), what it feels like is this: “I suck. I am the worst ever mom. I never want to be with my precious, precious child, and that is a CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY. I can’t believe I am WASTING PRECIOUS SECONDS of this child’s glowing life, and that I am doing so on the INTERNET. Jesus, what the hell is WRONG with me??” Well, it’s a trying stage, that’s what’s wrong.

    If you started FOSWYKWLIOASP, I would end up with BITCHIN’ frequent flier miles.

    May I recommend the Toyota Sienna to anyone inclined to lock their keys in the car? I sat there pressing the Lock button, just about fainting with rage when for some inexplicable reason the car kept unlocking itself a second later. Turned out my keys were in the ignition, and it won’t lock that way. And hey—how DID you get out of your locked-out-everywhere problem?

  12. Beth Anne on August 8th, 2006 7:12 pm

    I know exactly how you feel. I got laid off from my job and thought it was going to be great to spend all this time with my 4 month old. Now I’m just a drooling, crying, pajama-wearing mess by the time my husband gets home. I feel guilty that I’m not totally loving this time, but I’ve realized that I need to work to appreciate the time I have with him even more. GUILT GUILT GUILT

  13. sundry on August 8th, 2006 7:51 pm

    Thank god for you people, THANK GOOOOOOD.

    I got out of my Very Bad Situation this morning by virtue of the falling-apartedness of my car’s electrical innards. Apparently my back door only halfway locks, which is to say it doesn’t lock (go ahead, break in! 848195 used kleenexes will be yours!), and I got my phone and called JB to have him 1) laugh at me and 2) tell me where the damn key was.

  14. Amy on August 8th, 2006 8:33 pm

    As someone who continually locks herself out of her vehicle, house and place of employment I have to say…. a lot of people have my spares! My sister blessedly lives next door and has an extra set of my keys hidden in her back garden. A life saver :)

  15. MommyMaki on August 8th, 2006 8:59 pm

    Doing a great job at parenting? No. Doing a good enough job at parenting? Sure. You just got to aim your standards just low enough to get over the guilt ;)

  16. LL on August 8th, 2006 9:42 pm

    Here are my unsolicited words of wisdomosity: (1) get out of the house – even if its to the mall a museum or just going around the hood in the stroller, the boy will like different sights and sounds. My 6 month old seems bored too in the house – but even a slight deviation in what she looks at seems to make her happy. (2) get a keysless deadbolt. Its a great thing you can buy at Lowes or HD and JB could install. You program in a code — its awsome when you are carrying a baby and cant find your keys (or, um, when you lock yourself out).

  17. robin j. on August 8th, 2006 10:21 pm

    I believe I’m doing a great job as a parent. The secret? Utter acceptance of being imperfect.

    I call it zen parenting. Or, I do as of just now.

  18. Jem on August 8th, 2006 10:34 pm

    I know what you mean about the shyness. I just got over my shyness to meet Chiara – she’s safe and well in New Zealand!

  19. Sonia (DDM) on August 9th, 2006 3:35 am

    When you get REALLY brave….I recommend the Imagine Children’s Museum in Everett, or something similar closer to you. I think there’s a children’s museum in Seattle too? We go to the Everett one because it’s close to us. I really like it, but go prepared for noise and little bodies flailing about. It makes my husband go catatonic inside of 15 minutes…”Must….get….fresh….air”. Total sensory overload for him. Sheer joy for our son.

  20. Aimee on August 9th, 2006 5:29 am

    We locked ourselves out not too long ago too. Luckily, we had the car open already and baby was safely in his car seat. We tried every door and window and they were locked tight, which, I guess, is a good thing. Finally, my husband took out the screen on the window above our sink, got the ladder from the garage and had to shimmy through. It was hilarious seeing him get swallowed up by the window. Of course, we vowed to keep a key in the garage but, guess what, there’s not one in there yet. You never learn!

  21. Lori on August 9th, 2006 5:34 am

    Yes, the key is VERY MUCH to get out of the house. Even walks around the block can work to amuse my extremely active toddler, so I highly recommend! Also, malls have play areas by us… germ infested, yes, but the toddler doesn’t scream.

  22. robin on August 9th, 2006 6:22 am

    I know where you are coming from. Once my child was mobile, staying at home actually seemed to piss him off. I’m a huge homebody and seclusion loving person myself, so I know the guilt you are speaking of. Sometimes…when I would be taking Ryder somewhere to do something..whatever..he would inevitably fall asleep-therefore completely throwing off the coveted nap schedule where I MIGHT get a couple of hours. When he would wake up and if we were back home, he would literally be pissed off. I can understand, but damn. And once you hit that stage where you are constantly chasing them and telling the ‘NO, don’t do this, don’t touch this, don’t eat this, don’t jab this in your ear’…I’d probably get pissed off too.

    I’m anxious to hear some suggestions too. I don’t think playdates are my thing and the mall? Shudder. But ya know..I guess they’re never going to go back to being content just hanging out on a blanket on the floor with a toy. So I guess it is up to us to figure it out, eh?

    For some reason, I always believed that the hardest part of having a baby was the first few months. Ha!

  23. Ang on August 9th, 2006 7:01 am

    When I stayed home, I would take my kids to a play group in the community. It got the kids and myself out of the house and socializing. I found my play group through a program called Parents As Teachers.

  24. omuchacha on August 9th, 2006 7:09 am

    My babe is almost ten months old. He’s crawling, and he’s trying to learn how to walk. He’s getting into everything! My husband can’t tell me enough how he enjoys this, because this is “the fun stage.” Oh, no. Give me the newborn puddle of baby that quietly sleeps in his car carrier any day!!

  25. Roberta on August 9th, 2006 7:27 am

    It is fun! In small chunks. The time from when I get home at 6 to when I put the kid down for bed at 7:15 is about right. The entire stretches of hours when I’m left by myself with a child determined to get behind the TV stand and pull the whole thing down on himself, not so much.

    The park is your friend, somewhat now, and enormously in the next few months (mine is 15 months, so I can’t say beyond that.) In Chicago, lots of the toddler parks have a kind of squishy sidewalk where the perpetual falling doesn’t hurt quite so much.

    Or – it just occurred to me that you have a yard! Mine plays quite happily anywhere outside (something about outdoor air) with a ball or any sort of yard toys. There are fewer hazards, and I assume you have some sort of yard furniture for you to sit on, and him to pull up on?

    As he starts to walk in the next few months, you’ll go completely batty if you don’t get him out of the house!

  26. Mel on August 9th, 2006 7:48 am

    Walks around the neighborhood are a good thing, even though I still get lost from time to time, not as much though. I always try to get out o fthe house with Ian or he goes batty, chewing up daddy’s sandals, waving cords around in the air and slapping walls and sticking things in childproof outlets. I think we get out more for my sanity than his, now. As for locking yourself out of the house, I’ve done it with Ian safely in his crib inside. I went to pick some lilacs last Spring and the door locked behind me. So, after I called my husband crying and my neighbor came to sit with me, my hhusband came home and we went to buy a garage door opener that you push in a freakishly long combination to open and we have a hidden key. So hiddden that I have to ask my husband every few months where it is again?

  27. Mary on August 9th, 2006 9:21 am

    Call BCC and ask them to send you info about their family life program. It meets once a week and you get to sit quietly and listen to the teacher talk while Riley plays with the coolest toys in the world. I did it with all three kids, and actually managed to make some friends there, because everybody’s in the same boat.

    Oh, and I once locked myself out of the car with the engine running and MY DAUGHTER STRAPPED INSIDE!!!! Did you know that if you call 911 they consider that an actual emergency and send somebody in about five minutes? And they won’t charge you, because if you’re that dumb they feel sorry for the kid?

  28. Mossymama on August 9th, 2006 9:57 am

    I would so attend a FOSWYKWLIOASP, but I would always be late because I would have to stop for a bathroom several times before arriving to deal with my social anxiety induced intestinal twisting (oh my GOD what if they hate me, I’m not a good mom, my kid’s going to be the biggest brat etc.) Seriously, I’m pretty antisocial my self but I’ve found that is a good resource for things to do locally in the Seattle/East Side area.

  29. fellowmom on August 9th, 2006 10:53 am

    I work full time, but on Columbus Day, in-service days at daycare, etc., spending all day in the house with my twins can get old. I have tried the baby and me swim classes. They are good, but if my husband wasn’t there (because I can’t wrangle 2 squrimapusses in a pool by myself), I would probably feel more dorkish. I recommend a park with toddler swings. My boys are just a bit older than Riley, and they have loved the toddler swings this summer. Also, any good place to roam (for him to crawl on the grass) might be fun. There is a school field down the street, which my boys love to stumble and crawl around. Of course it makes me sad when they disappear into the weeds down by the creek. . . Kidding! Also: love the SFU ringtone.

  30. katie d on August 9th, 2006 11:20 am

    no offense to robin j up there, but frankly, i think people who think they’re doing an excellent job as parents are probably the worst parents in the entire world. except robin j, because she’s all zen and zen people just except it is what it is, so that probably doesn’t count. my father was not bothered in the slightest by self-awareness, and i can say for certain he did a piss-poor parenting job. the fact that you worry about it probably means you’re doing an excellent job. as for the key situation, i keep a hide-a-key on my car, which is awesome and has bailed me out many times, because unlike others here, i excel at locking my keys in a running automobile. because i’m stellar like that, apparently. our house locks up like fort knox, and i have locked myself out (in the pre-hide-a-key days, and my phone was in the car), and that basically necessitated sitting in the nice, hot heat all day until about 9pm that night, when the sig other got home. that was fun. thank goodness there was no waffle in the oven, because all our windows are sliding glass doors, and i can just imagine that bill… katiedoyle

  31. Kristen on August 9th, 2006 2:00 pm

    Maybe what we should do is form local chapters of the FOSWYKWLIOASP.

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