Antonym Action Vibe Part II

My writing is feeling manic these days.  I am enjoying that but am also working on slowing down and exploring how that feels.


To learn more about Antonym Action Vibe, please read Part I.


Right now I’m having a flare up, mostly in the parenting department. 

Below are several case studies done absolutely unscientifically and with total bias about myself by me with absolutely no analysis, be it quantitative or qualitative.  I am assuming one of two things.  “Case Study” must be a code for “Bitch Session” or my case studies qualify me for one of those Honorary PhDs that lead the recipient to have the lifelong struggle of wondering if they are ever to be called “Doctor.”  If I ever meet Stephen Colbert, I am totally calling him “Doctor Colbert.”  If I meet George Bush, I will call him Dr. Bush, but really facetiously.  My luck he’ll try to stick a finger in my ear or take my temp.  Stephen Colbert is welcome to stick a finger in my ear, although I do wish people would just trust me when I say my body temperature runs low (My average is 98.0.  Maybe I’m just the illegitimate child of the local Good Humor Man.  This would actually make a lot of sense, considering how much I like ice cream, white hats, and making kids run after my vehicle.)

Case Study #1

After months (yes, months) of trying to coordinate schedules, the other day I was finally able to meet an old acquaintance for lunch.  Lunch was the excuse for her to spend time with my monkeys.  I’m always happy to show them off, but taking them out by myself is an exercise in trying to run in two directions at once.  I worried about being able to navigate lunch – at a restaurant! – with two toddlers who are just on the cusp of finding out what Mama will do if/when they throw a public tantrum.  Right now, all they throw is whatever they can grab from the table. 

After 45 warm minutes of crisis management, (painting with ketchup, trying to scale down their high chair to charm the pants off the surrounding tables, dribbling from sippy cups, and, I’m pretty sure, rob the cash register, I counted about 17 new (mustard-covered) gray hairs and was ready to leave.  What’s fun for them is one long fire drill for me. 

 I just wanted to get them in the car.  One was screwing up his face about to scream (“He’s fine,” my acquaintance kept saying),  the other was throwing silverware on the floor.  And taking his shoes off.  And throwing those.  He was leaning waaaay over in his seat.

I knew I had approximately 2.3 seconds before L. melted down and J. twisted his way out of his highchair and ran off to join the Shanghai  Circus (he is really bendy; it’s like he was born without a spine and also without whatever part of your brain tells you that hurtling your head towards the ground at warp speed is a bad idea.)

I decided to just grab ‘em and put them in the car.  My acquaintance, fearless mother of four, was more than happy to grab a kid from me, feckless mother of probably only (CO) two.

The car was right outside the door.  It was 55 degrees outside, cooler by the lake and much cooler at the North Pole.  The restaurant was about 80.  I said I just wanted to run them out to the car, that since they would be outside for approximately 10 seconds in mild weather, they didn’t need a coat.

“Are you sure?” asked Acquaintance.

“Yes, thanks.”
“I think they need a coat.”
“No, they’re fine,” I insisted, trying to pull the bendy straw out of L.’s nose.
My acquaintance proceeded to put the coat on one of the boys. 

I said nothing. 

I choose my battles, and this was not going to be one of them.

Case Study #2:

The other day, a relative and I took my boys to their weekly “class” (which is really just a giant room to play in and a way for the moms of the two-and-under crowd to use each other as an informal yardstick by which to measure where their kids rate on the angel-to-demon scale.  Also, the instructor keeps pushing her homemade play-Doh recipe on me.  Every week she’s handed me a fresh copy.  Doh indeed.)

‘Twas circle time.  My kids hate circle time.  The instructor won’t let them sit in her lap, and her voice is more than a little reminiscent of Fran Drescher, just less tuneful. 

I wanted L. to sit down.  He was running off because he saw that no one was in the sand box (literally, a plastic bin with sand in it.)  I ran off after him to bring him back to the now-broken circle. 

“He’s fine,” said my relative.  “Let him play.”

I let him play.  The instructor was upset that Monkey L. was up and about.  I was upset Monkey L. was up and about.  The other mothers gave me the stink eye because their kids were not up and about, and apparently this makes me a terrible influence on the sanctity that is circle time.  My mother and Monkey L. were happy. 

I said nothing. 

I choose my battles, and this was not going to be one of them.

Case Study #3:

That same class, Monkey J bumped his chin on the smooth plastic edge of a table.  It wasn’t a bad bump at all.  He bumps his head harder – on purpose – thirteen times a day.  He’s a little pain freak.  It’s a thing with him…he likes the extra hugs he gets when he wonks himself on different parts of the house.  I hug him other times, too, don’t get me wrong.  I guess I must have a special “Good job on giving yourself an owie” embrace that he enjoys.

After bumping him chin on the table – not on purpose, but the way – he grinned to himself, looked around, saw six other mothers and the teacher with concerned looks on their faces, and burst into tears.  I know this particular cry.  This is an attention cry. This is his “Save the Drama for My Mama!” cry.  This is his “I am genetically related to my mother, the actress” cry. I know his hurt cry.  It’s different.  I always tend to both kinds of crying.  I smiled, scooped him up, held him, and kissed the boo-boo. 

“You’re fine,” I said to J.  “He’s fine,” I reassured the other mamas and the teacher.

“I don’t think so.  That looked like it really hurt,” said the teacher.

“He’s fine.”

She went to talk to my relative, who scooped J. up out of my arms and held him for the rest of class.

He was fine, by the way.  Not a mark on him. 

I said nothing. 

I choose my battles, and this was not going to be one of them.

Case Study #4:

After class, I took the boys to the “family” bathroom.  I find that term highly amusing, because it reminds me of this.

L. is what is referred to in scientific communities as “a heavy wetter.”  He needs a diaper change if we pass a canteen lying on the street.  He was loaded up but good.

J. didn’t need a diaper change.  He’s got the bladder of a camel.  I think he’s still wearing the same diaper from St. Patrick’s Day.  It’s still dry.

I struggled to keep my almost 30-pound L. on the changing table that was inconveniently in a corner behind a swinging door, about six inches too high for me to lift L without straining my back.

“I’ll change J. when you’re done,” whispered my relative.

“He doesn’t need to be changed, and we need to get them out of here and feed them before they melt down.” (I still had memories of the one time they melted down in public, and obviously I act on this whenever I leave the house with children in tow.)

“I can change him quickly,” said Relative.

“No, it’s ok, he doesn’t need it.”

L. burst into tears because I wouldn’t let him play with the tampon dispenser, and J. had found my emergency stash of Reese’s in my purse.  He was excavating.  That wouldn’t stand.  No sir.

I picked L. up and went into a stall to take a vacation pee.

I came out to see my relative changing J.

I said nothing. 

I choose my battles, and this was not going to be one of them.

Case Study #5

Another relative visited the other day during lunch.  The boys were clamoring for lunch, so I pulled out left over pasta with feta and basil from the night before.  I added that detail so that you can all be impressed that I can boil water and open a package of cheese.  I started spooning it out for them.

“It’s cold, I can warm that up for them,” said Relative. 

“No, thanks, it’s ok.  It’s good cold.”

“It’ll just take a second.  Look, J’s not eating it.”
“He’ll eat it.  He always examines his food before eating it.  Sometimes he like to examine it with his ear drum.”

“Maybe he’s not eating it because it’s too cold.”

I turned around to get sippy cups and was not particularly startled to hear my microwave beeping and smell warmed up pasta with feta and basil. 

I kinda wished J. didn’t eat it after that.  He did, of course, but only after similarly examining it.

I choose my battles, and this was not going to be one of them.

This happened to me a lot in improv class, too.  Not in a scene, per se; that would be called “blocking” and was beneath my classmates.  It was around a scene and never by a scene partner.  I had several folks in there constantly commenting on my choices during and immediately after my scenes.  Instructors either didn’t hear or chose not to.  It was harsh, too. I remember saying something in one particular scene and hearing one of the “stars” of my class, standing on the sidelines, saying, “What the f*** is she doing?  Why did she say xyz (quoting exactly what I just said)?  What a stupid bitch.”  (I am assuming he was talking about me and not the man I was working with.)  Every time I opened my mouth in that scene after that, I heard Star Boy say, “Whaaaaaat?”  A  few other folks in class joined in. (One  of the chorus was kind enough to give me notes regularly after class about what I could have done better, usually prefacing it with, “Wow, something went wrong in every scene.”)

I heard this.  Others heard it.  Teachers didn’t.  I’m not sure if that’s because this classmate was quiet, if the teachers actually heard and chose to ignore it, or if they were talking so much between activities that they didn’t hear. 

The point in improv class is not to do what my classmates did.  At most, after a scene, you talk about what might have gone differently, different choices you could have made.  You let it go.  You support.  Especially in a class, you let people navigate things.  Quite frankly, if someone really screws up in class, you let them learn from it.  Or, better, you let them let it go.  More often than not, the instructor/coach will tell you what happened.  (My instructors let me know if I screwed up, or if a scene went south.  They didn’t say things nearly as often as my classmates.) 

After Classmate “Whaaaat”ed me, I didn’t say anything.  I was afraid he was right and that was a battle I was terrified of.

This person, I learned this week, is achieving a certain amount of success in the improv scene here in Chicago.  He’s very talented.  I wish he weren’t.  I wish I didn’t wish that.

It nags because the nice, supportive people are supposed to be nice and support everyone on their team or in their class or on the bus, I suppose.  I found a lot in improv was shaken by Antonym Action Vibe.  I think that may have contributed to my abysmal failure in improv and my deep disappointment in the whole thing.

The other morning, the boys threw yogurt on the floor for the millionth time after I’d wiped the floor down for the millionth and first time.  I was upset that Huzzy gave them a bowl of yogurt and didn’t supervise them.  Poor Huzzy came over and offered to wipe the floor.  I said, “no.”  Not JUST  to be a martyr, but because Huzzy’s version of cleaning and wiping tends to involve a cursory wipe down and a fine layer of sticky crap left behind.  I asked him to just finish up with the boys so I could get the laundry.

I came back.  My shoes started sticking to the floor.  Then they were just sticky, no matter where I walked. 

Sticky shoes and the sticky sound they make are a ridiculous, personal pet peeve of mine, and probably unrelated to Antonym Action Vibe.  But I lost.

Apparently, this was the battle I wanted to choose, for I am an idiot.

“Did you ‘wash’ the floor?” I boomed.

“I made the mess, I’m an adult.  I cleaned it up.”
Crying, for God’s sake.

You see, AAV slowly blinds the victim.  She feels, quietly, that no one hears her on all the trivial issues that fill our days.  This, ironically, gives them much more weight than they deserve.  She yells so that people can’t help but hear, if not listen.  She can’t discern decency anymore.  She assumes all efforts are made to silence, rather than help, her.

So it seems the real victim in this is Huzzy.  The other favored victim is my pair of sticky shoes.  One of those got an apology.  The other is scrubbed and drying on the mat by the front door, next to a picture of Sally Struthers, who urges me to care and quietly tells me with her eyes that the solution is either to grow a pair or get a DNA upgrade


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