“Why don’t you get some help?” the doctor asked. My heart sank.
She isn’t going to understand, whispered the little voice in the back of my head.
I had taken my youngest to the doctor because, when we switched the clocks back at the end of October here in France, my youngest child decided that, rather than his usual 5:30 wakeup, he would be waking up at 4:30.
I am fully aware that a 5:30 wakeup is completely inappropriate for a child of his age. But this was already better than what had been regular 4:15 wakeups before summer started. We had cut his naps, hoping to edge that a bit later, and 5:30 was the best we had ever gotten out of him.
But now, with the time change, having him wakeup again at 4:30 had put everyone on edge: me, because I like to work from 4:00-7:00 in the morning. My indulgent husband because he also works from 5:00-6:00, and then likes to go take a morning run from 6:00-7:00. With a 5:30 wakeup, we would take turns reading to him and trying to keep him quiet until his brother woke up at 7:00, but at least we both had a little time to work before we were called to duty.
Now, he was interrupting everyone’s time, and we were all grumpy about it.
The little fella’s fatigue became outrageous, but he couldn’t manage to nap. He is an “angry tired”, thanks to his genes from my side of the family. When we get tired, we aren’t just grumpy. We are angry. I get snippy and mean and sarcastic and cannot be held legally or socially responsible for my actions.
So I took him to the doctor, more because of the tension his early wakeups and his subsequent angry outbursts were causing the family than any actual concern about his health. I was enraged most of the time with him, and this was starting to scare me. The little guy and his brother were fighting all. the. time. I mean, all the time. Nonstop. All day. Everyday. Every moment they were in the same room and even when they were in opposite corners of the apartment. You can imagine what it was like being in the car with them.
And the doctor saw fit to ask why we didn’t get ourselves some help to deal with the boys. She meant, like, have a family member take them to school, or get a nanny or put them in an afterschool program, or have them stay at school for lunch…anything so that my indulgent husband and I could catch a break.
Except…we have no family in the area. I don’t work for a salary, so our resources are limited, and honestly, a nanny would be ridiculous in our little tiny apartment. I think I actually laughed at the suggestion, and not in a nice way (I was tired. Not legally responsible, remember?) Lunch at school would be great, but there are no more slots available (I checked.)
And then she said, “I know I shouldn’t suggest this, but, why don’t you put on a movie or a video for them?”
And then I knew we were screwed. If even our doctor was telling me that our only option to catch a break was popping on a video, then we were a great distance from having this worked out.
I am thankful for the Cleveland Public Library
I have been a member of the Cleveland Public Library since 1998. Yes, Cleveland, Ohio. When I was in college I would go study there at the gorgeous downtown branch because it felt so much more elegant than the University Library. When I worked in downtown Cleveland in the early 2000s, my office was directly across the street and I spent all my lunch hours in the Reading Garden and sometimes would pop over after work to wander the stacks, particularly their collection of music scores.
I have stayed a member all these years.
When I was very very little, my mother had found at a garage sale a series of cassette tapes, maybe twenty or more, of fairy tales. Each tape was a different color, that much I remember. I couldn’t read, but I knew which story was which color.
She set me up with a cassette player in my room and showed me how to play a tape and how to rewind it, and then let me play Barbies in my room or craft while I listened. I remember this very very very fondly. I would have my Barbies act out the stories sometimes.
So then I started wondering what kind of audiobooks there were, beyond the Ramona Quimby and Henry Huggins books that the boys were no longer allowed to listen to (because they learned to say “shut up” from them, and that was making our life even more miserable than you can imagine.)
And, voilà. The Cleveland Public Library came through for us. We have two older model tablets, and we installed OverDrive on both. We put on the parental controls so they couldn’t go wandering to different apps, but could change the books as they saw fit.
Finally. Thanks to Dan Gutman and his fabulous “My Weird School”, “My Weirder School”, and “My Weirderest School” series, and Ellen Porter’s “Big Foot and Little Foot” books we have a touch of peace. The boys settle in their rooms or in the living room with their Legos or Playmobil or the ubiquitous “Prop Box” and listen to someone read them a book. and we finally have some peace.
The early mornings are slowly starting to work themselves out, and we have found a kind of relative peace treaty, as long as each boy can choose his own book.
So, the first thing I am incredibly thankful for this year is the Cleveland Public Library and their amazing digital collection, and for the people who produce and perform audiobooks for kids, whose work keeps my family sane.
So…returning to the Thanksgiving question that is rumbling about this week:
Lily Fields: Have you not seen how all your longings have been granted in what he ordains?
My longing was for peace. Peace in my apartment, peace between the scalawags, peace. Just peace. And so many years ago, the Creator ordained that I discover the Cleveland Public Library, and their rich collection. And just this last month, he made that connection between my need for peace and this library I have loved and has been important to me for more than half my life. This has honestly left me feeling like the center of the universe.
In this little thing, I have found the off-ramp from the Living by Sight Freeway onto the Scenic Road of Faith. That’s a reason for Thanksgiving!