Friday, February 10, 2017

A Change of Weather (Or Why Trees Creak in the Wind)

Less than 24 hours brought a complete 180 in the weather. Three days of sun and temps in the upper-60s finally gave way to the cold, dark heart of mid-February in Northern Virginia. The wind whipped the bare branches of the trees in our neighborhood. When the wind blows, and its force moves the trees, the trees do not move uniformly back. As living organisms, the trees are in a constant state of growth. The muscle fibers in their trunk and branches are all at different stages of development -- some are fully mature and dry, some are new and full of sap. As the trunk and branches move, different areas of the wood respond differently. Some move a good deal, some don't move at all. Different fibers with different tensile strengths which are in close proximity react -- or not -- to the force of the wind, rubbing against each other. The tree creaks in response. Sometimes, hauntingly.

I came home yesterday to an empty house, snow flurries outside. Elise and Clementine had gone to a play date. They would stop at Target for new leggings for Clementine. She is growing. Fast. Unlike the trees in our neighborhood, she is all new and full of sap, and now none of her socks, underwear, or leggings fit her anymore which leads to a nearly daily break-down as she attempts to get pull herself into clothes that are two sizes too small. Unsurprisingly, this is frustrating. Not understanding why something that fit perfectly well just last week, is now riding, up, bunching, or rubbing. Tears ensue. They roll down her pinkish cheeks like marbles, clear and solid-enough looking that you want to pick them right up off her cheeks to make her feel better.

She also got a new superhero doll, though she wasn't allowed to open it yet. Elise is having to take Clementine with her to her three-hour hair appointment thanks to my crappy work schedule and lack of a regular babysitter. As a reward, she got to pick out a new doll at Target. DC Comics has a new line of Barbie superheroines: Wonder Women, Supergirl, Batgirl, et al. Clementine picked out Poison Ivy. Even in DC Superheroine World, even the criminals and villianesses now do good in Superhero High. Poison Ivy is the star of the botany department. I didn't have the heart to tell her, Poison Ivy was in Batman's rogues gallery.

Elise has been busting her ass for the past three days pulling out all the stops for a huge job she had gotten from Remy Martin. After a late night Wednesday doing food styling for a cognac tasting, she was exhausted. Needless to say, no one had anytime to go shopping, much less plan a meal, and no one was in their right mind to try and cook anything. Dinner out was in the cards (pun'll see why in a minute). Pete had other ideas.

When Elise bought Clementine the Poison Ivy doll, she was thoughtful enough to buy Peter and Sam each a pack of Pokemon cards for being so good on Monday and Tuesday -- the two teacher-planning days they were home from school.

Only -- as I've written previously -- Pokemon cards are like crack for Peter.

Pete ended up having a huuuuuge meltdown, and while there was no direct or overt cause-and-effect relationship, Elise and I are pretty sure it's the fact that Sam got a rare GX card in his pack and Pete didn't that sent him spiraling down into inconsolable despair.

When we announced that we were going out to dinner (and to one of our favorite pizza places, no less, Lost Dog), Pete freaked out and started screaming that he was hungry, "NOW!" Okay, fine. We're going to get something to eat right NOW, but that wasn't good enough. I offered him a banana, pineapple, grapes. He wanted none of it. "What do you want?" I asked him.

"A jelly sandwich."

There was the two ends pieces of a loaf of wheat bread in the fridge. I turned them inside out, so the insides were showing, and smeared huckleberry jam on the end pieces. I put the two ends together, so the insides were facing out and Pete wouldn't know I had just given him the two butt ends of bread. thankfully, he didn't notice and scarfed it down. Problem solved.

Or so I thought.

He continued to scream, telling us he wanted to take a nap. Clementine is learning to sleep without a pull-up on, but she didn't make it through the night and woke me up at 2:45 after wetting the bed. We then woke up Peter and Sam changing her out of her wet pajamas. This might explain why he was so tired and cranky. But my money is on the Pokemon cards.

Pete stormed off to his room, slammed the door, and slunk into bed. I went in their to try and talk to him, to convince him that he would feel better once he got out of the house and something to eat, but he wasn't having any of it, and, frankly, I was too tired to fight him. I feel like I sleepwalk through weeks that I am on opening shift, never really sleeping. I feel like I spend most of the night staring at the alarm clock, waiting for my 4:00 a.m. wake-up call. I didn't know how tired I was until I came home from work early on Wednesday. After picking Clementine up at school, taking the bus to Einstein's for an after-school treat, and walking home, we took a nap. I slept for an hour and a half and when I woke up, I felt like a new man. I chatted with the other parents at the bus stop and struck up conversations with people on the street walking there and back. I wondered what had gotten into me. Sleep.

I came out of Pete's room, and told Elise to go without us. Take Sam and Clementine. Just bring us back something. They left. Reluctantly.

Eventually, Pete emerged from his room. I didn't want to reward him for his tantrum by giving him extra special one-on-one treatment, but part of me also thought maybe that was just what he needed. I let him watch an episode of Star Wars: Clone Wars on the iPad,while I made him buttered noodles. When he was done with dinner, we played the "blowing up ships" game, the game where you fold a piece of paper in half and each player draws an armada of spaceships on one half. You then take turns trying to blow each other's ships up by penciling circles on the paper and folding it over to see if they hit. Its kind of like a poor-man's Battleship.

It may have been just what the doctor ordered. 

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