Sunday, November 09, 2008

I thank you, and my liver thanks you

Last night we hired a sitter. This is a crazy concept in our household, because we are incredibly cheap people who believe money should be spent wisely on things like booze and plastic surgery, not frittered away on babysitters. Luckily for us, Brian's parents live nearby and cheerfully watch our children free of charge almost any time we need them to, and as far as we know they don't even molest or abuse them--not that those would be deal breakers at the low price of "free."

But last night they were off watching some boring football game in Austin, and because there is no bartender in my house to make martinis for me, we were forced to actually open our wallets and hire a sitter so that we could go to a bar. Actually, we wanted to attend a surprise 30th birthday party for a friend of ours at a bar in downtown Fort Worth, which meant we couldn't use our standard Plan B.

Plan A, of course, is using the free babysitting services of Brian's parents. Plan B is hiring a random, reasonably-responsible 16-year old to come to our house after the kids have gone to bed at 8, and get paid to watch TV and see that the house doesn't burn down until we get home--which means, of course, that we can't go out til 8ish--usually not a problem. Plan C, used last night for the first time, involves a little more thinking, since it requires finding someone to come to the house when the kids are still awake so that we can get to our destination at a certain time.

Jake, the 3-year-old, is an agreeable and easy child who would be fine with literally anyone coming over to play with him for an hour and then put him to bed. 16-month-old Chase, on the other hand, is the wild card in any situation. She sometimes likes a person upon meeting them for the first time, hovering at knee-level and grinning maniacally at them until they pick her up. Other times she will lay eyes on a new person and run immediately to throw her arms around my legs, casting furtive glances over her shoulder every few seconds to make sure they're not pulling a baby-chopping axe out of their back pocket and leaping at her. Other times she likes a person well enough while I'm in the room, but as soon as I step out she begins screeching like a badger caught in a trap, stopping only upon my return. I'm not sure what makes her so different from the agreeable Jake, but I can only assume my husband's DNA is somehow to blame.

We picked someone Chase knows and loves, the chick who runs the kid's club at my gym. Chase spends a couple of hours a day with her three times a week when I teach there, so she's totally used to her, and we love her as well. She showed up at 7, as requested, and allowed Jake to drag her from room to room for thirty minutes as he performed the very important task of showing her every single thing in our house. "This is the wivving room!" "This is the dime-ing room!" "This is Cow!" "We have three TVs [pronounced "tee-dees"]--one in the bedwoom, one in the wivving room, one in the pway room!" The kind of stuff that little kids find fascinating, and that make most adults want to wrench little kids' necks. Chase followed behind happily.

We left with only about half an hour or so til bedtime, went to our soiree, drank and ate and socialized with grownups, which is not something we're used to--but it was nice. Not once did any of them demand that we do a "puzzo" with them, or burst into frustrated tears at their inability to put on a discarded pair of our shoes, nor did any of them try to put their hands in the toilet or eat something found in the trash. So it was an unusual but enjoyable evening.
We got home at around 10:30 to find Chase still awake; in a good enough mood, but exhausted. The sitter had tried several times to put her to bed after reading a book in the rocking chair, but Chase stood in her crib and wailed hysterically each time til the sitter was forced to finally give up and just let her stay awake. Naturally, when I took her into her room and sat with her in the rocking chair for a minute, then put her into her crib, she rolled peacefully over onto her belly, hiked her diapered butt into the air and went to sleep willingly. Why couldn't she have done that for the sitter? My guess is she was trying to appear so completely unable to function without my presence that I would be touched by her sweet neediness and vow to give in to her every whim from now until the end of my life. However, the child overestimates me. In truth, my reaction will be the opposite: I've got to get rid of this kid now before her neediness further cuts into my drinking time.
Who wants her? Leave your name here, and I will consider all applicants before finally sending her to whichever one of you is closest, to cut down on shipping costs. Hurry, because there's a party I want to go to next Saturday.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

You guys have inspired me to write.

I know you guys are probably all wrapped up in the election results tonight, but I'm here to talk about something way more important: My personal mission to do away with the infernal NaBloPoMo.

NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) is always hyped as a creative writing tool, but there is nothing less creative than the stuff you guys crap out when forcing yourself to blog every day for a month. The reason you (and I, for that matter) don't blog on a given day is that there's nothing interesting to say that day. Now imagine a million uninspired people forcing themselves to blog every day for a month, starting nearly every post with a zinger like, "Well, it's day __ of NaBloPoMo, and I have nothing interesting to say, but..." followed by 9 paragraphs describing something as mind-numbing as a phone call from grandma, a critique of a coworker's shoes, or a debate about whether to switch cell phone providers. The most bizarre part is how, at the end of the month, your last post always describes how proud you are of the fact that you were "successful" at NaBloPoMo. That tells me that you are misinterpreting the word "successful" to mean "able to consistently achieve mediocrity through the written word."
Do us all a favor and vow NOT to participate in NaBloPoMo this year. If you're already committed to it, then at least remove the word "NaBloPoMo" from every post, because that's like announcing, "This is going to suck" in big letters across the top of the post. Allow us the temporary illusion that you blogged today because you were inspired, and not because there's a national bore-a-thon going on and you're determined not to be left out.
Thank you.