Scheduling dances, attitude, writing, creativity in parenting

This morning I wrote a post, only to have WordPress glitch and swallow it. So here I go again.

From Wikipedia:

A scherzo (plural scherzos or scherzi) is a piece of music, … [which] frequently refers to a fast-moving humorous composition which may or may not be part of a larger work.[2]

The word “scherzo” means “a joke”; “a jest”; “a play” in Italian is related to the same-root verb: scherzare (“to joke”. “to jest”; “to play”). … Sometimes the word “scherzando” (“joking”) is used in musical notation to indicate that a passage should be executed in a playful manner.

And that is the sort of scheduling dance that ensued yesterday at 3 pm when my babysitter called to ask where I was. At that moment I was sitting at the playground giving the twins their snack and watching Hazel play with her friends. When I saw the babysitter’s number on my phone, however, I realized that a) I’d forgotten to look at my calendar that morning, and that b) I had an appointment with Ted, Hazel’s piano lesson, two babysitters, Ted’s class, and my writing time, as well as the kids’ bedtime to coordinate. Ted was at work, I wasn’t home, the piano lesson and the appointment were going to conflict with each other, and I wasn’t entirely sure about the babysitter’s hours (no one was available for the whole time when I made the reservation).


For some reason instead of flipping out I was able to find the whole thing somewhat amusing, so I was able to make the rearrangements with a minimum of stress, and Hazel was very flexible about coming home rather sooner than expected. It’s always nice to be able to laugh with the universe rather than feeling persecuted, and I appreciate the former when it happens, as struggling with the latter is challenging for all of us.

I did get about 40 minutes of writing done in the evening. I couldn’t produce a scene with that sort of time pressure, but I came up with a list of helpful questions. I am definitely getting to know my characters better, and I see that in more precise questions, as well as a reasonable feeling for what the answers are going to be.

Also yesterday I had another lesson in how Emily is teaching me how to parent her. I simply cannot use the same techniques with her that I used so successfully with Hazel at her age. Counting down from five just makes her mad. I have to be more creative, stretch further, find different ways. She didn’t want me to change her diaper, and so I went through a lighthearted conversation with her with questions: did she want a diaper or a pull-up; did she want to stand up or lie down; did she want to get diaper rash, because oh boy, diaper rash is ouchie!; and so on. It’s such a fine line. Kids have such strong bullshit detectors, and they can sniff out fake chipperness in a fraction of a second. But at the same time, if I can feel genuine lightness inside and convey real humor and good cheer, I can jolly even Emily into doing what I want her to do. Sometimes.

At bedtime, Joanna didn’t want to go down. 45 minutes of singing and rocking and soothing and creeping out and repeating the process did not suffice. Finally I started trying something my nanny does, which is to softly tell her, “Mommy loves you, Daddy loves you, Hazel loves you, Emily loves you,” and then cycle through all the grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins. She immediately calmed down. It still took three or four more times of leaving the room and then coming back, but the whole process was much nicer. That sotto voce mantra helped to calm me down as well as her.

I think that parenting takes just as much creativity as writing and playing cello, and is more immediately demanding in some ways. And certainly there are times that I feel that creativity has been all used up, that the reservoir is drained to almost nothing. Thankfully, it’s a renewable resource.


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