Uh-oh, I’m disqualified

So I got an awesome response about the non-violent, non-scary videos post, and someone pointed me to some yahoo groups that discuss nonviolent communication. (Never mind that the first group listed is a polyamory group. I need extra time to see if I qualify for that one.)

But I noticed that, once again, I’m totally out of the running for attachment parenting and natural parenting and wild parenting, and all those awesome hippie natural respectful styles that I thought were totally up my alley. Why? ‘Cuz we occasionally teach using timeouts and punishment. I know, I know. Might as well use a playpen, as long as we’re totally failing our kid.

Yup. Our kid hits, he gets either a timein or a timeout. Timein is where we remove him from the situation and talk with him about how hitting is not okay, how it hurts, and how words are better. Timeouts are where I can’t do a timein without losing my cool, so I send him to another room, corner, side of the house by himself. Yup, he cries. He is very sad and should have attention and human contact. But at that moment, the only contact avaialable to him is the very un-AP palm of my hand, so he gets to weather the consequences of anti-social behavior alone. Not how I want to parent, but it beats beating him.

I’m also out of the realm of AP, GP, and something new to me called Aware Parenting, because there’s that eggregiously selfish post you saw a couple of weeks ago where we decided to bribe him each night for a night’s sleep (only time we’ve ever bribed him). A fistful of stickers are yours if you sleep through the night. Each time you call me, you have to pay me a sticker. Yup. Totally inhumane. I’m telling my high spirited high needs highly sensitive kid that he has to pay for my love at night. But you know what? It’s been working about 80% of the time. My kid, who never slept through the night before 28 months, and still does it only rarely, is now sleeping through the night at least half the time. For stickers. I’ll unsubscribe from the Aware and Gentle and Attachement and Wild parenting forums for that.

I wish we didn’t, at times, lose our temper and punish and bribe. Because these people sound like my kind of people, on 98% of their theories:

“Aware Parenting is attachment-style parenting …which support the following: natural childbirth and early bonding, plenty of physical contact (including night-time closeness), prolonged breast-feeding, prompt responsiveness to crying, sensitive attunement, and non-punitive discipline — no punishments of any kind (including “time-out” and artificial “consequences”), no rewards or bribes, searching for underlying needs and feelings, non-violent communication, peaceful conflict-resolution (family meetings, mediation, etc.). Acceptance of emotional release, awareness of babies’ and children’s vulnerability to stress and trauma, recognition of repressed emotional pain as a contributing factor in many behavioral and emotional problems, recognition of the healing effects of laughter, crying, and raging, respectful, empathic listening and acceptance of children’s emotions.”

Their kids totally lucked out! I’m totally with those parents in theory. Damn, that would be nice, eh? But my kid is stuck with a cranky, sleep-deprived former-academic, former-professor, former-business-owner, former-exectutive, former-creative , AP-poser who only does most of that stuff, is just way too grouchy that she’s gotten her wish for a wonderful, sweet, loving kid instead of the twenty-two other life-long rewarding opportunities she wished for that year.

Damn, man. It’s hard to be a feminist and an attachment parenting type. It’s hard to be an anything and the kind of parent I want to be. But, as our friend JS said, “This respectful parenting stuff ain’t for pussies!”

Gee, how offensively correct you are, sir.

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Aaaah, bliss.

You know, sometimes it’s just good to be exhausted.

Now that Peanut has adjusted to Daylight Savings Time, a little government intervention I like to call The Fcuk with Parents Solstice, which was clearly invented and perpetuated by old men with no sense of empathy for the month that it takes to re-regulate a child’s sleep patterns after the shift, I’ve decided to join a gym that opens at 5am so I can workout before Peanut and Spouse wake.

This seemed more self-cudgelingly painful and ludicrous than volunteering for a lifetime of respecting my child’s needs, but the first morning I slipped out of the house before dawn, every moment was glorious. I woke groggy, but that was no different than the days Peanut wakes me in the wee hours. (Background: I have a kid who doesn’t sleep well. Never has. He wakes every 3 hours or so. He sleeps no more than 9.5 hours total, even with the waking. Totally normal, well precedented in my family, yet totally eroding the little patience with which I came to this parenting game. [NB: Do not email me with Babywise bullshit. Letting your baby cry is not parenting. Throughout the world children do not sleep until 3 or 4. It’s just biology. Stop telling me to force my kid to be different. He goes to sleep fine. He has nightmares. He wakes and needs us. Just because it’s killing me doesn’t mean I need your child abuse handbook.] And because of his sleep pattern, if I spend a little time in the evening with Spouse, and either clean or write, I’m looking at 6 or 7 hours of sleep, which is almost hourly interrupted by either a screaming child or a yowling cat. Daily considering asking the SPCA to take both.)

Being alone in a quiet house was exhilarating. Driving alone in the dark, without having to explain why, yes, we need to share the road with other cars and trucks, and that, if you really don’t want to share you ought find yourself a job and some money so you can build your own infrastructure, because the logistics of buying out the freeway system so you can watch the world go by from your car seat with a view unobstructed with other humans is a little out of mommy’s purview this week, was almost orgasmic. And the foggy sunrise was delicious. But far away the best part of getting up after 5 hours of sleep to exercise my wayward body into some semblance of energy was that I got to start, finally, Consider the Lobster, David Foster Wallace’s collection of essays.

This is my definition of heaven.

I would do the elliptical backwards for four hours straight to read that man’s writing. (I wish I could footnote in wordpress [not for some hackjob parody, but because I really need to add a few notes that are too long to put into the text], but I’m angry about the new design so I’ll do parenthetical asides, instead.) (To wit: ) (This month, I have to do the elliptical backwards because of the cast I’m in for the next month. And I get my actual fitness from the erg, but I can’t read while I row, and I can’t get my pedal stroke to functional at all well the cast. So elliptical backwards until I lose feeling in my foot, then switch to the erg, silently debating Wallace’s arguments in my head until I can feel my toes again.)

And Consider the Lobster,  and thoughtful and moralistic and borderline self-righteous (in all the right ways) collection of essays (predominantly articles he’s written for some of this country’s finest magazines) has eye-rollingly pleasurable topics nestled within. I’ve often recommended that my fair readers read or re-read Infinite Jest. But honestly, I may have found my favorite DFW piece, blissfully ensconced as I now am, seven pages into Wallace’s review of a grammar usage text. This chapter/article/review has me deliriously happy.

Without fail, Wallace’s writing brings me to two, independent, and wonderful conclusions. One, I am not crazy, but if I am, I am not alone in my particular breed of insanity. If no one else does, David Foster Wallace understands me. [NB: Yes, I know I should use the past tense. But because I am still coming to grips with his death, and because I prefer the critical approach of reading the text as always present tense, as always available to us regardless of the author’s state of being, I will say that he understands me, by which I mean that I feel understood when I read his work. I attribute no intention to this sensation, for I do not believe he wrote for me, personally. Issues with the whole “not knowing me,” bit, and all.]  Two: I need to get one hundred times smarter and better each day, and read more and write more because I am compelled to express myself as beautifully, compellingly, intelligently, and hilariously as this man did. I won’t get there, but I’ll live trying.

Now, of course, wiping away tears in the gym, thrice, I have a new conclusion, one I’ve been working on since September 15 when I found out: This world, each day, is poorer for having lost him. I, again, offer condolences to his family. And I, again, roll myself into an intellectual black hole wanting more of his mind spread—-like a freshly blended hummus made from a secret family recipe that will be lost after its last knowledgeable chef burns it in a passion-fueled fire and vows, because of the pain cooking causes him in the wake of a divorce from a woman who was his gustatory muse, never to blend that garbanzo-tahini-garlic extravaganza again—-across the pages of book and magazine. May Hollywood never, never violate his words with a film version. (Just saw Into the Wild last night, finally, and found, yet again, that the book was far better. Sorry, Mr. Penn. Love your work. But the film didn’t do justice to the epistelary memoir.)

Wallace’s review, the fourth piece in Consider the Lobster (after a riveting and pathetic look at the porn industry’s Oscar night, a scathing review of Updike’s latest self-absorbed book, and a brilliant explanation of what I’ve always found interesting about Kafka’s work—that it’s funny in a way few people comprehend) offers frenetic  grammatical satisfaction to those among us who cringe at the general linguistic ignorance of those around us. If you get off on words, and are passionate about the language in which you read, write, and speak, turn to “Authority and American Usage.” It strokes the grammar wonk’s ego, it oxygenates the fires of grammatical anger, and it offers 62 juicy pages of critical argument about the political nature of language.

62 mathafuckin pages, y’all.

Laugh all you want. I gladly fly my geek flag, higher today now that I know Wallace’s flag is right there in my courtyard, too.  To read that DFW, a man whose work I admire more than any other author I’ve read, in whose words I’ve found a friend and a home, and for whose memory I plan a long critical academic career (which might well having him doing subterranean 360s), gets just as frothy as I do when college students submit their first papers riddled with such eggregious errors that we feel the need to conduct an emergency English grammar seminar in our classrooms, pushing literature and critical thinking off the gurney and diemboguing our linguistic scalpels with the sole intent of making the world a better place to read.

I’m actually ready to get out of bed every morning, with maybe five hours of sleep behind me, to read David Foster Wallace’s essays again and again. I only wish I hadn’t quit reading his work during my grad school and baby years, because I feel like I’m playing catch-up, devouring his writing like a person who finds herself, after a full day of unblinking focus on a newborn, starving and ready to eat anything in the house; and just as she scours the cupboards for something edible, she turns around to find a gorgeous, tasty, well balanced, hot meal from a caring and likeminded friend just sitting there, as though it’s been waiting for her.

Goddamn he’s good.