Waiting Week: Lost in Translation


My kids are always seeking validation.

I don’t hold it against them, though, because I’m always seeking validation, too. Usually from my wife. Right, honey? Right?

But when my secondborn was about two years old, I would essentially have to play a guessing game with her to figure out the exact form of validation she was looking for. She would tell me something over and over and over, while I searched for the exact word combination to let her know I understood what she was telling me. Sometimes it took forever.

“Yes! Yes, I see! I see you! Yes, I see you! I see what you’re doing! Yes, I see what you’re doing! Yes, I do see you!”

It was like playing an old text-based game where I knew what I wanted; I just couldn’t figure out how the programmer worded it:

“Get box.”

I don’t know how to do that.

“Pick up box.”

I don’t know how to do that.

“Acquire box.”

I don’t know how to do that.

“Get locked box.”

I don’t see a “locked box” in this room.

It was frustrating as a kid with a Commodore 64, and it’s frustrating now as an adult with three children. And it doesn’t at all call to mind my own preoccupation with words and precision in using them when my wife and I fight. Right, readers? Right? Right?


Waiting Week: Freaky Friday


This has been a busy week!

Well, they’re all busy, aren’t they? I’ve never liked using “being busy” as an excuse for falling behind in something, but that doesn’t stop me from doing so.

Still, it has been a busy week.

At this point, I’m just waiting for the week to end, as we’ve got a marathon of holiday activities planned for the weekend, including attending a holiday parade, a craft fair, a ballet, and a live performance of Mary Poppins, for which we’re skipping a potluck.

So it’s going to be a busy weekend, too.

I beg your pardon for not going too introspective or “themey” with today’s post. As happened with my spider/Internet post from yesterday, today’s image and the text weren’t planned to marry together—but unlike yesterday’s post, I’m not having a last-minute realization of a connection, no matter how slim or subtle.

My doodle today came from a conversation I had with my firstborn, when she was about 4 years old. I walked in to hear her declare to me: “Mom’s evil.”

I froze.

“Oh,” I said. “Tell me more about that.”

“I’m evil, too,” she said.

I didn’t know quite how to respond to this one. While I fumbled for the best way to continue this conversation, she added: “So, we’re the stepsisters. You can be the prince.”

Aha. Cinderella. This shows why it’s generally a good idea to wait after a kid says something startling, as opposed to knee-jerk reacting with something crafted from an adult’s logical and often cynical/world-weary frame of mind.

On a side note, I’ve traditionally heard those stepsisters described as “ugly”—which may not be fair, but it is tradition—but I suppose “evil” applies, too.

My girls have showed an increased interest in classic fairy tales lately, which delights me. My 4-year-old specifically requested “The Three Little Pigs” and “Little Red Riding Hood” for bedtime stories last night, and I’m so glad. These stories are some of the foundational building blocks for, well, storytelling, which is a subject very near and dear to my heart.

I’m a professional journalist, pretty much because it’s one of the best way to frequently and regularly get stories out to the masses. It’s why I fell in love with this line from The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck: “The story tellers, gathering attention into their tales, spoke in great rhythms, spoke in great words because the tales were great, and the listeners became great through them.”

I could just sigh at that line all day.

But I don’t have time for that. Sorry. In fact, I don’t really have time for this post any more!

What are some of your favorite stories? Or—to get meta on you—your favorite thoughts/words/quotes/ideas/stories about stories?

Waiting Week: The Internet is Out


I find that I’m more productive, more rested, more everything good the longer I stay offline. But, as a blogger, I do need a connection. Plus, Netflix.

So when my Internet cuts out, as it often does—as it did this morning—I’m both frustrated and relieved. Like it or not, much of life these days revolves around e-mail and Facebook, posts and threads.

Between dealing with a spotty connection, cleaning up the house (ha!) in advance of an inspection by our property managers, my day job, my side job, my freelance projects, holiday preparations, and—oh, yeah—actually spending time with my family, today’s post drew the short straw. Which is why the image is entirely unrelated (except, and I just now thought of this, there’s a whole “web” theme going on), as I drew this one back in 2011 and pulled it from my reserves because I think it’s funny no matter in what year it originated.

What do you do when you can’t get online?

Waiting Week: Worry Wednesday


We’ve been to the E.R. a few times.

There’ve been falls and head bumps, exams and x-rays. When my firstborn was really little, we found her with an open package of penny nails, several of which were in her mouth.We didn’t know what to do. So we watched and waited. That night she woke up screaming, twisting around and arching her back. So we rushed to the hospital. I was understandably and justifiably worried.

One x-ray of her digestive system later showed she hadn’t actually swallowed anything sharp. We have no clue why she’d been acting as if she were an inside-out pincushion, but now I worried that we had her x-rayed for nothing, that we had irradiated her. I’m not one to let the answer to my worry allow me to stop worrying.

Since then, I haven’t done well with the wait-and-see medical approach. Waiting means worrying.

When my secondborn climbed up on a small picnic table on our patio and fell off headfirst onto the concrete before anyone could grab her—and then started crying and vomiting—we rushed her to the E.R. Turns out she was fine. The doctor told us that throwing up isn’t necessarily a sign of a concussion in children that young. But upon checkout, we got the requisite speech and paperwork: Keep an eye on her for a while. If she develops any of the following symptoms, come back.

That’s the part that tears me up. For the next 72 hours or so, I braced myself for the worst. Forget that a medical professional told me she was fine and the likelihood of any long-term (or even short-term) issues was incredibly small. There was a chance (however unlikely) that something bad was happening in my girl’s brain—something no one could see—and I was powerless to do anything about it.

I equate waiting with powerlessness. If I had the power, I would have the answers when I wanted them and wouldn’t have to wait for an all-clear sign. And I don’t like feeling powerless.

At 34 years old, I find myself jealous of older people, people at the ends of their lives, who can look back and see that all their children survived and thrived, that everybody made it through, that even the big stuff turned out OK. I know that’s not the case for everyone—bad stuff happens.

I just need to figure out how to balance that knowledge with appreciating and enjoying and having peace with what I have and where I am now.

How do you deal with waiting?

Waiting Week: On the Road Again


The “are we there yet?” joke is so overdone in pop culture in our society, I had forgotten that it had to be based in reality—that it wasn’t the product of some Hollywood script writer or advertising executive.

On Thanksgiving, I wrote about the sort of dialog that flies around the minivan on a family road trip, but in the days since, I’ve kept returning to the idea of wanting to arrive now. My kids will often insist that they’d like to be at the destination—sometimes getting angry with me that I’m not magically and instantaneously transporting us to where we’re going.

Even in their more charitable moments, my kids don’t ask “Are we there yet?” in those exact words, but they come up with seemingly countless other ways to phrase the question.

“Is this it?” they’ll shout from behind me, wondering hopefully whether our continued 70 mph progress suddenly means we’ve arrived. Or they’ll sort of plead, “Can we be there now?” Or they’ll go for seemingly useful information: “When are we going to get there?” Encouraged, I’ll tell them a rough time, but that doesn’t actually work, either.

This last trip, I tried something new with my 4-year-old, who kept asking, “When will we be close?” I made sure she could see a clock, and then told her that when it said 10:30—one zero three zero—we would almost be home. She can recognize numbers, so I figured it would be a good, busy-work exercise for her.

After less than a minute of clock watching (it was 9 a.m., so I didn’t expect her to sit in silence the whole time, but I thought I’d get a little reprieve), she started a new line of questions: “What time was it again that you said?” “What time comes right before one-zero-three-zero?” “When will it be 10:30?” “When will it be—what did you say again?”

I feel like I ask the same questions: to myself, to my wife, to my parents, to God. I’m not sure what exactly the “there” is, but I know I haven’t made it yet. It’s no fun feeling stuck, waiting on what seems like someone else’s whim. When will I arrive at more peace, less worry, more money, less stress, more free time, more confidence, more whatever it is I don’t have as I travel at 70 mph through life?

The metaphor isn’t perfect, because I know I don’t have a fixed destination at which I’ll stretch my legs, crack my back, and say, “Yep—and I made good time, too.” And yet I still feel like asking, “Are we there yet?”

How about you?