Monthly Archives: January 2013

That Time I Gave Up Coffee

A long time ago I drank a lot of coffee. Well, a long LONG time ago I didn’t drink any coffee. But then I started, got out of control, and sometimes drank six cups a day. I wasn’t even a nurse or grad student. I was just someone who worked in retail and socialized at coffee shops and stayed up too late.

I gave it up, and then slowly started again. My average coffee consumption is one large cup, occasionally two, per day. Except when I was pregnant the first time, when coffee made me nauseated so I drank tea. (When I was pregnant the second time there was no way on this earth I would get from home to daycare to work to daycare to home without coffee, so that’s why Eli is crazy, because he was cooked in a caffeinated, stressed-out soup.)

One or two cups of coffee a day doesn’t feel like an addiction. A habit, yes. A nice, friendly habit. Something you do because it’s pleasant and you enjoy it, not because you have to.

As Saint Aardvark is fond of saying, “That turns out not to be the case.”

Over the weekend, our house had The Barfs. Really it was only Arlo who barfed, but we were watching ourselves and Eli closely because DOOMPANICNOROVIRUS has been in the news for months now and part of me was excited because we could get the Norovirus over with already and get on with our lives, but part of me–most of me–was NOT excited because I hate barf. Barf is not my speciality. And before you say “it’s not anyone’s specialty, you lunatic,” let me add, there are people for whom it is no big deal. I have met those people. I am in awe of them. Though many of them freak out at the thought of green snot in a child’s nose, so: parenting. It’s a buffet of things you may or may not hate!

True to our history with The Barfs, Eli didn’t get sick, SA waited until last, Arlo improved drastically within 24 hours and within that same 24 hours, I started to feel queasy. This is my thing. Two years ago it had me frantically googling queasy NOT PREGNANT Gastroenteritis NOT FLU cancer but now I know, it’s just how I get stomach viruses. I feel like I might barf for some period of time (the longest was two weeks. TWO WEEKS OF FEELING QUEASY NOT PREGNANT) and then one day I wake up and don’t feel that way anymore.

So on Sunday, that queasy, might-barf feeling in my throat, I cancelled all the plans because of course this was the weekend we had all the plans, drank a pot of ginger tea, got into bed, held all my calls, read stuff, and napped. And lo! Rest cures the wicked and on Monday I felt much better, which was handy because Arlo still felt bad and SA was on his last legs.

Yet! Yesterday I decided to not drink my morning cup of coffee, because when I have my queasy-times, a cup of coffee generally sets them off again. I had some weak tea and a lot of water. I got through the whole day yesterday without coffee, which to me said “Hey, maybe you could give up coffee! Or not? Your choice!”

This morning I woke up with a headache that felt like Tom Waits in a metal shed recording a new album based on the moral collapse of North America.

“Oh no, oh hell, oh what have I got now, is it ‘flu it can’t be ‘flu I got the shot, oh oh oh” I thought, or attempted to think. I came downstairs, drank a big cup of coffee and somewhere halfway through that cup of coffee felt quite suddenly as though I could conquer small countries if only the prime minister would give me the go-ahead and some money to hire an army and I had the inclination to conquer small countries. Not only that, but I could go for a run, come back, make healthy food, force the kids to eat it, write a novel, publish that novel, go on a book tour, get a master’s degree in country-conquering

you get the idea. I went into the kitchen, dancing, singing, “coffee coffee coffee coffee coffee COFFFEEEEE!” and so I think it’s safe to say that no amount of coffee is a safe amount and I am clearly an addict. And that I should probably never try cocaine.

A Story I Will Be Telling Forever

Oh dear. What has happened here in this empty barn of a blog. Look, there are giant spiders on the ceiling and entire generations of mice nesting in all the crumpled up bits of paper. Soon teenagers will be rutting in the hayloft. Let’s not think about it!

We got through an entire Christmas season without illness, which is significant. Since the dawn of time, we have been sick at Christmas. This year we just dealt with run of the mill assholish behavior and crappy weather. I prefer this, for the record.

Christmas Eve was so nice at first. The kids ate pancakes and watched Santa on NORAD. We let them open a present each before bedtime. Eli (that’s 4.75)(I can’t be bothered to refer to them in code anymore) opened the Hexbug set we gave him and he loved it. Arlo (that’s 6.5) opened a bunch of Lego from his uncle and aunt in Calgary. We were all happy and appreciative!

Well, after they went to bed we were less happy because Netflix broke so we couldn’t watch anything but DVDs. We picked Saturday Night Fever because we’ve owned it for years and never watched it. What an odd movie. It starts out all disco! exciting music! cheezy even! and then it’s kind of funny? Or is it just dark? Is John Travolta seriously such a douche? OK. He is. An innocent douche. Now he’s met a girl and they want to dance together. Now it’s all socio-political and about their status in the city. The music has ended. Boo.

Now we’re tired and turn it off, stuff stockings, and go to bed. Ten o’clockish.

At 1:30 AM I wake to the sound of a door opening. It’s children, creeping out of their beds. Ha ha, adorable. SA wakes up too and says, loudly, into the darkness, “It’s not morning.” We hear scurrying and the door closes. He goes back to sleep and I lie awake for twenty thousand minutes because that’s what I do in the middle of the night: have trouble getting back to sleep. It’s kind of a speciality.

At 2:15, the door opens again. I put in earplugs and put a pillow over my head but I can still hear it. Rattling, rustling, plastic something or othering. I get up and go downstairs, where I find Arlo sitting in the living room with the lights on, putting together the Lego he opened before bed.

“It’s not morning,” I tell him. I show him the clock in the kitchen, which reads 02:17.

“I just want –” he says.
“Go back to bed,” I say.

He weeps. I do not change my mind. I walk him back to bed.

Fifteen minutes later, earplugs and pillow reapplied, I can hear him and his brother talking in their bedroom. (This means he has woken his brother! I think angrily.) Then I hear arguing. They are having an argument in their bedroom at 2:30 AM. SA wakes up again and goes down to their room and speaks sternly of goblins and evil frankfurters who will come to their beds if they make one more peep before 6 AM. He returns to bed and returns to sleep in what seems like seconds. Seconds of UNFAIRNESS.

Fifteen minutes later, the bedroom door opens again. Two pairs of feet pad downstairs. I try to ignore them but I am now a) fuming and b) hungry because I’ve been awake for almost two hours so my body thinks it’s breakfast. I go downstairs and find my precious angels in the living room, shaking their gifts, all the lights on, eyes glazed like stoned deer in fluorescent headlights.

I eat a banana and stare at them.

They stare at me.

I attempt to explain how angry I am and why and what they can do about it. I don’t think I succeed. I am aware that they are not going to stay in bed, and if they do not stay in bed, I will continue hearing them move about the house and NONE OF US will sleep, except for SA bless him.

Arlo is upset that I am mad (he claims “Daddy told us we could get up at 3!”) and goes back to his room. I put a blanket over Eli and another over me, turn out the living room light (“Can we leave the tree lights on?” “NO.”) and attempt to sleep on the couch because then at least I will not be upstairs wondering what they are doing.

Eli strokes my hair.

“Your hair is soft,” he whispers.
I don’t reply.
He sighs and pulls himself closer to me. I feel his breath on my ear. He sighs again.
“Go. To. Sleep.” I say.
“I just can’t,” he says. I believe him. And yet.

Arlo comes back downstairs.
“I can’t sleep,” he says. “I tried. I just can’t.”

It is almost 4 AM. I give up. I turn on the television, prop them on the couch with blankets, leave the lights off and tell them if they make ONE SINGLE NOISE, Santa will take all their presents back and beat them with willow switches.

Upstairs again, I sleep until 7 o’clock, when I get up and make merry because hey, it’s Christmas. Allegedly, Eli slept on the couch but Arlo swears he, himself, did not. Judging by how quickly they fell asleep in the car on the way to my parents’ house (that’s fifteen minutes away, by the way), neither of them slept much at all.

Boxing Day was much better.