Blog wrap-up: The drafts that didn’t make it

As I close things up around here, I wanted to share some of the bits that have languished in my ‘Drafts’ folder through the years. I felt strongly enough about these topics to start writing about them, but not strongly enough (or perhaps coherently enough) to finish.


I am not my child’s best teacher, and that’s OK

This draft dates back to when Little Boy was two or maybe not even two yet.  It was about coming to terms with all the new songs and words and skills he was bringing home from daycare.

“Here is my son, so big and yet still so small, with a rich external life away from his parents.  Here he is, doing things I’ve never seen before, things that I didn’t teach him, things that he learned from someone else.”

Looking back now, I don’t remember exactly how I worked through those feelings, just that I did.  Little Boy is in kindergarten now and he has an amazing teacher and his own five-year-old social life and it feels completely right.  Younger Brother is learning two-year-old things both at home and at daycare, and I feel good about that, too.


Tell me about the books you grew up reading

Inspired by this Grumpy Rumblings post from, uh, 2017, I started musing about the books I loved as a kid.  Many of these had been passed down from my mother’s childhood.

The TL; DR version is that I read a lot of Enid Blyton.

“I came away with a picture of postwar England as a semi-idyllic place where children were sent to boarding school as a matter of course, then spent their holidays caravanning on the moors and getting up to all sorts of adventures.  I also came away with the strong impression that pre-decimalisation English money made absolutely no sense.”


These are your regular reminders

This was intended to be a multi-part post about things that people frequently get wrong, but it never got beyond me ranting that Millennials are not in high school anymore damnit!!

Like many Millennials, I’m rather tired of the parade of think pieces about the apparently awful features of my generation.  Probably every generation since the dawn of humankind has dealt with this kind of thing, but we’re the first to see it proliferate on the internet.  It was annoying enough back when the articles were mostly about actual Millennials, but half the clickbait these days isn’t even talking about the right people.


I have a wife now! Let me answer your questions

I ended up making a rather short “FYI my spouse is a woman now” post when my wife legally transitioned, but I’d originally had something longer in mind.  It petered out, though, perhaps because I didn’t actually have that much to say, or perhaps because I didn’t know how to say it.

Q. How are you doing with your wife’s transition?

A. Quite well, thanks.  There have been parts of this that have been rough on me, but they’re never the parts that people expect.

People always ask that question with certain expectations, and they’re always wrong.  I’m not an Amazing Wife and I don’t have a story of Love Triumphing Over Hardship.  I just have love.

I’ve been looking forward to this

Little Boy went for a run with me today.  Rather unexpectedly, when he overheard me talking last night about my plans for a morning run, he announced that he wanted to run, too.  So I did my main workout, a slow and awkward two miles, and then told him to put on his shoes and join me.

I’ve been looking forward to this, to him being big enough to join in activities that I love.  He may or may not stay interested in running for the long term, but for now he’s three and spending time with Mama is one of his very favorite things.

We ran up one side of the street and down the other, pausing to look at Christmas decorations and the neighborhood peacock.  He ran right next to me or slightly ahead—he likes to be the one in front—while I kept pace comfortably.  It was a beautiful day and it was fun.

10 things about a 2-year-old’s birthday

1.  How is my kid two years old already?

2.  No, seriously, how did that happen?  It feels like it hasn’t been that long since I was pregnant.

3.  We didn’t host a birthday party for Little Boy this year.  (Technically we didn’t last year, either—that party was for us, to celebrate surviving a year of parenthood.)  We just did cake and candles and presents and Skyping with family.

4.  Little Boy is starting to grasp the concept of ripping open the wrapping paper on gifts.  I foresee him being very excited this Christmas.

5.  I finally understand the concept of buying character-themed toys/shirts/books/blankets/etc.  The delight that Little Boy gets out of Cookie Monster and Elmo made me want to buy him every Sesame Street toy in the store.

6.  Except for this Cookie Monster in a toy car—turns out Little Boy gets very displeased that he can’t separate the Cookie Monster from the vehicle.  We had to hide that one.

7.  Turning two means Little Boy moves up to a new classroom in daycare.  He has been transitioning over the last few weeks and it is going very well.  So well, in fact, that he has twice thrown a fit about having to leave at the end of the day.

8.  His daycare provides snacks in the two-and-older classrooms, which means I no longer have to pack snacks, just lunch.  This reduces my nightly workload by a small fraction and I am thrilled.

9.  It’s only a matter of time now before Little Boy learns to climb out of his crib, at which point we’ll move him to a toddler bed.  He already knows how to open doors, and I have visions of him wandering the house in the middle of the night.

10.  This is a good age.  Yes, he throws tantrums and has strong opinions about which shirt he wants to wear, but he also reaches up to hold my hand when we walk and asks to carry his own lunch box and helps put away the groceries and braves the slide all by himself.  Our Little Boy is growing up.

 

(P.S.  Thanks to everyone who commented on my last post to let me know that publishing from the WordPress mobile app worked OK.)

Counting with an almost-two-year-old

“Let’s count!  One…”

“Too!”

“Very good, two!  Three…”

“Seven!”

“Four…”

“Seven!”

“Five…”

“Seven!”

“Six…”

“Seven!”

“That’s right, seven comes after six.  Then comes eight…”

“Nine!”

“Yes, nine…”

“Seven!”

It’s the little moments

When I arrived to pick up Little Boy from daycare today, his class was in the hallway looking at the school fish.  Before I even had time to register his position, my child was galloping down the hall toward me, his face filled with joyful excitement.  That was my reward for a day’s work: the extra-long run of a glee-filled toddler, so happy to see me that he couldn’t contain it.

I’m not going to end this with a trite platitude about what makes parenting worth it, but I have to tell you: toddler hugs are the best.

What’s next, the plague?

I took Little Boy to the doctor today, only to discover that he has an ear infection AND another (!!) case of hand, foot, and mouth disease.  The former is treatable with antibiotics and the latter is not severe, but still, really, universe?

Oh, and there’s a non-negligible chance that he inherited my allergies.

Which is worse for your PhD, a baby or a bad advisor?

From my perspective, the answer to the title question is clear-cut: the bad advisor.  But people like to blame the baby.

“Blame” is maybe an overly hostile word.  It almost always comes out as encouragement, as in, “You shouldn’t worry that it’s going to take you longer than average.  You had a baby!”  And I certainly don’t want to downplay the exhaustion of pregnancy and the even greater exhaustion of recovering from birth while caring for a newborn.  That does cut down on one’s productivity for a while.

But parenting also brought with it a surprising productivity boost: time management.  I am much better now at Getting Stuff Done while in the office.  My work days are much more goal-oriented.  I don’t allow myself to procrastinate anymore, because I can’t afford the time, and that’s made a huge difference.  I’d estimate my net productivity was really only down for about four months, plus some time lost here and there from low energy levels during pregnancy.

The bad advisor, on the other hand?  She cost me two-and-a-half years.  Leaving meant starting an entirely new project for my dissertation.  One could argue that I gained some skills during those two-and-a-half years, so they weren’t a total wash, but one could also argue I lost even more time combating the subsequent lack of motivation.

So the baby comment makes me feel sort of weird, and the bad ex-advisor still makes me rage-y and bitter sometimes.