Saturday, December 16, 2006

Don't hate me because I'm calm

I haven't written in a few days because on top of my usual amount of work, I've been helping Daniel with some school projects. Well, not helping him do the work--more standing by to offer moral and technical support. Finals are next week, and several end-of-semester projects were due this past week. Only a few years ago, I would have refused to help on principle because he'd waited until the absolute last minute to start on projects, but he's been much better about keeping up with work. Unfortunately, he couldn't do much work ahead of time on these projects. For example, for an economics project, he had to include a summary report on how the stock market performed over the past month, and you can't write something like that ahead of time, unless you're Nostradamus.

He skipped going to his dad's Wednesday night and was up late gathering data for his econ project. Then Thursday morning, he had to be at school at 7:00 a.m. for Brain Game practice AND had a meet that afternoon until about 6:30 p.m., and then he worked on his econ project and an English paper as soon as he got home. He was up until 2:30 a.m. and got up again at 5:00 to finish. I stayed up late both nights with him, fixing paper jams, solving computer freezing and CD burning problems, and typing a few things he'd written longhand. He likes to write on paper first because my boy is unbelievably old school. Hell, even I write drafts on the computer, and I'm fairly old-fashioned about overusing technology to do school assignments.

What made those few days even more hellish is that Daniel was suffering from stomach pains and nausea most of the time. I'm worried he's coming down with something and kept fretting over him, offering yogurt, bananas, and tea, but like his dad, he tends to manifest stress as stomach complaints. He was still feeling sick this morning, so he decided not to accompany his dad to Ohio for a family Christmas gathering at his aunt's. Just as well--if he's coming down with something, I'd rather he not infect all his cousins at once. Talk about the "gift" that keeps on giving. Here! Have violent stomach cramps, nausea, and diarrhea for Christmas! You're welcome!


Kevin picked up Andrew this morning and headed up north to visit his cousin Sam for the day. Based on some good advice I got from a few people, I've decided to be more hands-off about how Kevin deals with Andrew. I know he feels almost completely helpless to do much about Andrew's situation, and my harping on it isn't helping. The truth is there's not much of anything he can do, and particularly not if he doesn't want to start a war with Andrew's mom. I can't imagine how awful it must be to have so little say or control in what happens with your own child, and I think I need to focus more on understanding Kevin's feelings instead of giving advice, as a wise friend suggested. Sure, I ALWAYS know best (snort), but Andrew's not my kid.

I do think, however, that a tiny bit of my previous talks with Kevin had some impact, or he at least decided to do what little he could to help Andrew. He was talking about Christmas gifts for Andrew and said he wanted to put together a sort of "grooming kit," with an electric razor, aftershave, and the like--things to make Andrew feel more grown-up. That's a positive step, I think. A baby step, but at least one in the right direction.

I realized, too, that I've been guilty of comparing Andrew with Daniel. Comparing any two kids is a fruitless exercise, and when one of them has problems the other doesn't, it's also cruel and unfair. I hate to think this, but I suspect I indulged in some comparisons occasionally because it made me feel the tiniest bit smug about what a great son I have. That's awful of me, I know, but I'm trying to look honestly at how my own behavior has contributed to the arguments Kevin and I get into over Andrew. I've never come out and said "Nyah, nyah, I have a better child than you do!" of course, but it's entirely possible my attitude has spoken for me, and in that case, I can't blame Kevin for feeling resentment toward my "helpful" advice.

You know, I hate analyzing when it turns out I've been wrong. Damn it.


Okay, on to lighter topics. Did I mention I got my Christmas tree up AND decorated last weekend? And that I've finished my gift shopping, thanks to the twin miracles of online stores and shipping services? And I have about 80% of said presents wrapped? AND I've already bought my Christmas ham--on sale, even? You can commence with the hating me now. I'd hate me, too, if I weren't so impressed with my bad self. Usually, I'm the one running around on December 23, cursing the very existence of other shoppers, cramming objects into gift bags that are wildly mis-sized, and paying way too much for food for Christmas dinner because I've waited until the last minute, when grocery stores know they have you in a tight spot and can charge exorbitant prices for yams and hams.

I don't know what got into me this year, but I'm not even dithering over the prospect of my parents' visit the Wednesday after Christmas. I am, believe it or not, almost serene. I got up early this morning and baked apricot-almond bread for breakfast, and I'll wrap a few of Kevin's presents while he's gone today. I need to do some carpet shampooing upstairs today, too, but other than that, I plan to relax and watch a movie with Daniel this afternoon. I don't know who I am or what I did with the real Lisa, but I'm certainly enjoying the lack of typical pre-holiday panic and angst!