Roe, Pt 2

Ok, now that I have had some time to cool down, I would like to slightly walk back my post from Tuesday. Political action is not useless. It’s actually essential; I just wish it wasn’t, and I wish it were faster.

I have come to believe that local community work is a better solution to many problems than government, but as SB8 has well proven, local community work cannot even happen if it is made illegal, and the chief thing that the far right wants to accomplish in the culture wars is not merely to sideline or marginalize behavior they disagree with but to actively prosecute it. And when it comes to abortion, repealing Roe is not the end goal for anti-choicers. I follow right Twitter, and they are of course over the moon about this, but the most common sentiment is that this is not the end, but the beginning. Their next step is a nation-wide ban, and beyond that, they will likely seek to criminalize it.

So look, the Democrats are fucking worthless; all they do is maintain the status quo. If you want a more progressive world, they will not get us there. They won’t protect the planet, they won’t lift people out of poverty, they won’t reform our justice system. They’re just in government to get rich. But at this point, Republicans are the activist party, they’re in government to get rich and also to control what we all do in our own homes and communities. The more control they get, the less freedom everybody has.

So, flipping Georgia was a huge fucking deal and a lot of people worked really hard at it. I have a friend who flew out there and knocked doors and she is rightly very annoyed at everyone who cannot even be bothered to make phone calls to swing states during an election year. Merely keeping the wolf from the door is not sexy work. It’s not fun, it’s not fast, and it’s not the kind of thing that makes young men feel like splashy heroes. But it is essential, and I’m sorry I suggested that it wasn’t. I’ll try to hold my nose and do it in November.

Lost Items

I didn’t realize that one reason having children is so expensive is because you have to buy multiples of everything they need so that you can continually replace their lost items.

Edith loves to toss things out of her stroller when no one is looking, and inevitably on the rare occasions that I check our neighborhood Facebook page, I will find pictures of my daughter’s possessions. I’ve retrieved several in this way (including a very large doll which somehow escaped the stroller without notice and was spotted propped up against a road sign), and also her nanny says that the people who live along their usual beat are familiar enough with them that they will sometimes come out and return something they’d found from earlier. Also, I take a stupid little daily walk and I inevitably find something when I go: yesterday, for example, I retrieved Edith’s sun hat, which was down by the pond.

But now that Edith is taller, we are also losing things inside the house. She can’t reach the highest surfaces, but she can reach some medium-high benches and counters where things accumulate and she can also now open bins, cabinets, and drawers, and as a result, everything is missing all the time. We recently located a spare set of keys that went missing several weeks ago at the bottom of a hamper, so sometimes things turn up. But one of Edith’s shoes is currently in the wind. I know it’s in the house, because she came in with both of them yesterday — I took them off of her, and she immediately picked them up and started running around with them. Edith loves to run around with her shoes in her hands and hand them to me repeatedly in a bid to be taken outside, and I often have to hunt for one, but this time, it is truly not turning up anywhere.

My fear is that she tossed it in a trashcan that then was emptied without anyone seeing it there. I paid 45 fucking dollars for those shoes, and her feet will only be this size for another month. I do not want to replace them now.

Roe

We’ve known it was coming for so long that I honestly have nothing to say about it, but I do want to weigh in on one point: as usual the leftists on Twitter are saying that this is yet more proof that the Democrats are worthless and the political system in general has failed us, and voting doesn’t matter. And the liberals are saying wtf, you morons, the whole reason this happened was because you split the vote in ’16.

And hey, they’re both right! I mean, this was a foregone conclusion ever since Hillary lost, and had she won, it would not have happened. BUT she DID win the popular vote! People DID vote! And you can hardly ask people to seriously invest in a system in which the electoral college overrode the will of the people six years ago and there’s been nothing anyone could do ever since to stop this, despite the fact that the majority of Americans think first trimester abortion should be legal and always have, but their opinions and what they want literally do not matter, and all this hinges on the fact that a couple ancient wizards in cloaks who weren’t elected died at an inconvenient time. Like, we’re supposed to invest in a system where two Senators can hold the whole country hostage and there’s not a damn thing anybody can do about it? Not to mention that even liberals agree that your vote literally does not matter unless you live in one of a handful of areas. Please do not try to tell me that spending ten minutes of my precious time every day over the past six years filling up all ten of Ted Cruz’s voicemail machines in offices he has never once visited would have made one goddamn bit of difference to this outcome.

I mean, look, I’m not saying I’m going to stop voting, I’m just saying, you cannot blame people for concluding that political action isn’t especially effective.

Anyway, if you’re moved to do something that really does make a difference, I can attest that donating to local abortion funds really, really does matter. It makes a difference in real people’s lives. After SB8 you all sent so much money to Lilith Fund that we’ve been able to fully pay for almost everyone’s abortions who have contacted us ever since. Every day now, we are able to tell a woman who was laid off in the pandemic and is unemployed with five kids and no healthcare and who just found out that she has to travel out of state that at least her abortion is paid for. So many of our clients burst into tears in relief.

I think some people don’t realize how fucking expensive it is to get an abortion. Before SB8, the least you would pay for the earliest possible abortion in Texas with a needs-based adjustment from the clinic was $550 and that was just for a pill you can take at home. Now you have to pay more than that plus enough gas at inflation prices to get you to Albuquerque and back, and a hotel room. People need your money.

And don’t forget practical care funds, because travel costs are super expensive and abortion funds don’t pay for those, but there are many orgs that do (such as Fund Texas Choice, New Mexico Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, and many more). This is a good site to find abortion funds. I would not recommend giving to Planned Parenthood, because they’re going to be unable to provide abortions in the affected states and they do not help people to travel. (Also, they do shit like this.)

Also, if you want a good person on the ground to follow for updates on all this, I recommend Dr. Moayedi, who is an abortion provider here in Texas who’s been doing this work for awhile now and won’t be stopping anytime soon.

Lizard

Last night, I was having a glass of wine on the porch when I noticed one of our spiny lizards curled up on my bedroom windowsill. It’s unusual to see a lizard on a surface at dusk (they bask in the midday sun and otherwise are in the trees), and also it looked dead.

I was already overdue to get in bed when I noticed it, so I texted Mom on my way, and she went out and poked it.

It sort of…drooled itself off the windowsill:

From there, it continued to hold very still. We decided to leave it alone. I wonder if it’s a pregnant female maybe. Anyway, I am very fond of the lizards and I worried about this one as I fell asleep, but this morning there was no sign of it on the window ledge or elsewhere, so I hope that means it was fine and just having indigestion or something.

Shan’t

It occurred to me today that at this age, the only things I’m asking of Edith is for her to give in to her own biological needs: eat when she’s hungry, drink when she’s thirsty, go to sleep when she is tired. That’s it. That’s what we spend all day wrestling over. It’s not like I’m asking her to learn math yet, or stay home on a school night. I’m just like, “Edith, you’re obviously starving to death, eat some food. Any food.” And she is like:

Unruly

I remember very clearly a certain moment from my first day of kindergarten. We were all assembled on the rug and the teacher was explaining how the year would go. I wasn’t really listening and sensing this, the kid next to me leaned over and whispered “they have a lot of toys back there, you want to go play with them?” I didn’t see why not, so we politely slipped away from the circle and were vrooming around on some plastic trucks when the teacher appeared, and gave us to understand that this was absolutely shocking behavior in its complete lack of regard for social norms and timing. I hadn’t been trying to be difficult; I had assumed that the toys wouldn’t be there if they weren’t for us to play with them, and I had assumed that all the other kids were sitting quietly because they wanted to. (Which is funny, because I now am especially annoyed by those people who assume that those of us who do boring or unpleasant shit do it because we like it, or at least don’t mind it as much as they do, but I digress.)

That was the start of a long and difficult schooling for me.

Baby gym has some segments where all the kids sit in a circle and do exercises or play games or watch a puppet show and Edith is not into any of this circle work at all. I mostly physically restrain her, which is increasingly difficult, but sometimes I just let her go, and today as I was watching her climb to the top of a ramp thingy in the corner while the other kids sat watching a stuffed penguin, it occurred to me that she’s going to have a lot of the same struggles I did. It’s for different reasons, though: I just didn’t understand that there were rules in most situations, and that I wasn’t specially exempt from them, but I was extremely good at sitting and focusing on things when I wanted to. I had no trouble being still or quiet if it happened to suit my purposes. Whereas Edith is so physical that she simply cannot sit still for very long (never a problem I had).

Anyway, this is one example of several ways in which I’ve noticed that Edith and I are similar in aspects of our outward behavior, but I can tell that our internal motivations for it are very different, which I find interesting.

Cups

Edith is off formula, but she still drinks milk out of a bottle at least twice a day. I am trying to wean her off of this, but it’s complicated by her refusal to hold her own vessel. She can perfectly well, but she will not. She wants it to be held for her, up to her mouth, and ideally she would like me to jog along with her as she goes about her business, holding her cup next to her mouth for whenever she’d like a sip on the run.

This doesn’t happen, but I do hold it for her from a sitting position. I’m not tackling the bedtime bottle yet, and I don’t know what she does mid-day. I’m just working on morning cups. We do a straw cup because she won’t both raise her arms and tip her head back to drink, so the most passive drinking experience is most likely to entice her. I also cut the valve out of the straw so she doesn’t have to suck too hard. If I do all that, she’ll occasionally pick the cup up and drink it herself, but far more often, she hands the cups to me. There are two in her playroom every morning: water and milk.

She wants to drink some of the milk right away, in my lap (which she throws herself into with a delighted little scream laugh), because she wants me to hold and cuddle her while she has her morning milk, and frankly as long as she keeps doing this, I will oblige her. I would be happy to hold her while she has her morning coffee when she’s 25; I’m not going to be the one to curtail this behavior.

But after she’s had a few mouthfuls and is off playing, it’s as if the very presence of the cups is annoying to her, so she continually hands them to me. I don’t know what she wants me to do with them. If I put them away, she asks for more milk, but if I try to leave them anywhere at all, she hands them to me again. I think she just wants me to….hold them until she wants them again?

It’s hard to describe and sounds kind of weird, but her handing me these cups is extremely annoying. Like SO IRRITATING. Probably ten times a morning, I say “I swear to god, if you hand me those cups one more time…” to which she immediately replies, “oh, here’s these cups, found them again, can you take?”

What I want to happen is for the cups to sit peacefully on a corner of the rug, and when she wants to have a drink, she simply helps herself. This seems unlikely ever to happen at this point.

Birds

The neighborhood pond has a more interesting variety of birds every day now. These little white cranes (?) are always there, and are very cute:

Yesterday, there was also this large grey boi, though, and some little black water birds with bright orange bills (you can’t see them that well, but they are right behind him):

When I got home from my walk, I did some work out on the back porch, and a huge hawk flew down right in front of me, and landed on the fence for a second before soaring off.

Birds!

Mornings

5:20am: Toddler shouts to be released from pack-n-play, I put her in my bed. She immediately begins to dance on my head and step on my hair.

5:22am: Place toddler on floor, lie prone as she retrieves and hands me every available object in bedroom. Collect on bed: iPad, dirty laundry, multiple pacifiers, diapers, giant bottle of lotion, hairbrushes and so on.

5:35am: Foot race to the bathroom. I win and so get to pee as fingers scrabble beneath the door.

5:36am: Hysterical sobbing as I change her diaper instead of proceed directly to getting her breakfast.

5:38am: Breakfast is ready, but she is now busy emptying all the dresser drawers into a small mountain in the bedroom, and taking some into the shower and others into the other rooms of the house according to some precise but unclear system of distribution.

5:50am: In high chair, flinging Cheerios. All other presented food is roundly rejected, only Cheerios are acceptable and they are mostly acceptable when airborne.

5:55am: Released from high chair, eating Cheerios off floor.

5:58am: Emptying the recycling, moving the high chair to the other side of the kitchen.

6:00am: All noise-making toys turned on for the day. Kitchen dancing and singing, Cheerios crushing into dust beneath her triumphant feet.

6:05am: I am sitting on the playroom floor and am now being handed everything else in the house: sippy cups of water and milk, multiple books, everyone’s shoes, my car keys, wallet, floor Cheerios, toys, items from the recycling. I begin to look like this:

6:10am: She is momentarily distracted, I hide on the couch. This works!

6:11am: It did not work, now she would like to be on the couch also.

6:12am: Frantic couch laps, hysterical laughter. Pride goes before a fall, and I warn her.

6:13am: She has fallen off the couch. Screaming beyond anything imaginable.

6:15am: She would like back on the couch again. I issue another warning.

6:16am: She has fallen off the couch again.

6:20am: Disappears into the bedroom, all is quiet.

6:25am: Too quiet.

6:26am: She has figured out how to open the tupperware drawers under the sink and is investigating a cardboard box of replacement razors.

6:30am: I am interrupted from shocked contemplation of my horrible parenting and the fragility of skin by her crawling sweetly into my lap and cuddling. Momentarily touched, then realize she has taken her epic morning shit.

6:31am: Attempt to change diaper while she flings herself about and grabs at her befouled diaper to throw it at the wall.

6:33am: Closet time. She would like to empty my dirty laundry from the bin and spread it throughout the house and she begins to scream because she cannot get it open. I oblige her.

6:40am: At some point I left my coffee cup sitting on the carpet, discover it now, a small lake.

6:41am: Sop coffee from carpet while being handed cups, shoes, keys, books, dirty laundry, clean laundry, recycling, chunks of fruit unearthed from somewhere, etc. Handing goes on and on, I retreat to various rooms, and am still handed things, eventually I wind up cowering in a corner pleading to not be handed anything else. My boundaries are not respected.

6:45am: She would like to be picked up and held at the window to suck on the blind chords. It takes us a lot of hot-and-cold screaming to establish that this is what she wants.

6:50-7:10am: Holding a 22 lb. toddler in my quavering arms as she blissfully sucks on the small knob at the end of the blind chord.

7:11am: She is suddenly starving, emergency! But now deeply hates every possible food, including Cheerios.

7:25am: Dancing and crowing atop my prone form.

7:45am: The nanny’s key turns in the door. Edith prances happily down the hall squealing in delight. I run into my office and shut the door firmly.

Outmatched

Um, so when a pre-verbal toddler becomes physically stronger than you, how do you change their diaper and clip their nails and brush their teeth and make them go to bed and get their shoes on and etc?

I can’t find this covered in the parenting books and it’s rapidly becoming the situation around here.