Friday, April 5, 2013

The stages of phone grief

A few days ago, my phone died the final death.  It was my first smart phone, the first phone with which I could check e-mail and facebook and twitter.  It made texting 1,000 times easier than with my old phone.  I loved that phone.  I loved that phone with the unnatural love of a woman who is fundamentally shy and socially anxious, with a fear of talking on the phone, who finally found a way to feel connected without sitting at a computer. I don’t call people, but I can chat with my bestie in our ongoing scrabble game, show my parents and mother-in-law pics of their grandbabies, and share funny things the kids say or just funny things that I think.  I recognize that sometimes it’s good to unplug, and I also recognize that maybe I have a little eensy-weensy problem with unplugging.  It has been pointed out to me, believe me.  But I can’t help it.  I’m attached.  Attached to feeling connected, attached to checking in without having to face my phobia of calling people, attached to Word Hero or Drop7 or Candy Crush or whatever game is my waiting-room game du jour.  I’m attached to my phone.

I’ve dropped it a few times.  It had a crack or two across the screen, not a spiderweb, just a few minor cracks.  It was just so sexy, all sleek and smooth, without a protective cover.  It felt good in my hand, and slid into my pants so easily.  Bzzzzzz.  Mmmm, I love you phone. 

And then it happened.  I was crouched on the floor in the coat room of the Maryland Science Center, trying to get a shot of my kids and their cousin, all of whom had wedged themselves into adjacent cubbies as if to say, “Please, please, mommy, take our picture.”  Except I dropped my phone.  And there was a disheartening clunk.  I picked it up, my heart in my throat, but no… no new cracks!  Had I dodged a bullet?  It had turned off in the fall, and when I pushed the power button, it showed some weird lines not in any way resembling anything.  Uh oh.

Stage 1 of phone grief:  Denial.  My phone isn’t dead.  It’s just stuck in some weird mode.  It will be OK.  You remove the battery and put it back in.  Fingers crossed.  It’s all going to be OK.  If you’re me, you stay at this stage for quite some time, removing and replacing the battery three or four times to be really sure.  And then again an hour later, just in case it went into spontaneous remission.

Stage 2: The forgetting.  Let’s say you’re still at the science center.  And your kids are playing with a sort of simulated tornado thing.  You reach for your phone to take a photo… and then you remember.  Shit.  You have no phone.  This stage was particularly difficult for me.  Even after I got home, I kept reaching into my pocket, not feeling my phone, and thinking… “Where’s my phone?  Oh, right… it’s dead.”  And then I would weep.  Not really.  Just on the inside.  This happened over and over until I finally just put my dead phone in my pocket and carried it around so I would stop wondering where it was. 

Stage 3: The realization.  You realize… I don’t have a phone!  Crap!  This hit me hard when driving home from the science center.  I had to drive without a phone.  What if my car broke down?  What if I got into an accident?  What if my husband was trying to reach me?  What if aliens chose me for first contact and I couldn’t get a photo of them to upload to facebook?  Shit.  I don’t have a phone.

Stage 4: The research.  OK.  You’re going to need a new phone.  You are beginning to accept it, even though your dead phone is still in your pocket like a freakish security blanket.  You begin evaluating options for a new phone. 

Stage 5: The new phone.  If you’re me, within a few hours you’re at a store getting your new phone.  Because seriously, how are you going to watch the Idol results show without multitasking on your phone?  I mean, you can’t just sit and watch that schlock.  You vaguely listen in case someone doesn’t suck, glance up at the fashion so you can pretend you have your finger on some kind of pulse and don’t just wear jeans or yoga pants every day, and screw around on your phone.  No?  Just me?  So anyway, you need a new phone, like, 5 minutes ago.

Stage 6: The transition.  You have your new phone.  It’s annoyingly different from your old phone.  The buttons are in the wrong place.  You can’t figure out how to turn off the little beep that happens with every single keystroke.  It keeps autocorrecting f*cking to ducking and doesn’t have douchebag in its dictionary.  You have to add all of your favorite slang and swear words into the dictionary again.  For a minute you think you have lost all of your old Word Hero statistics and have to start in the unrated league again, but then it remembers your username and puts you back in Diamond where you belong.  Whew.  You take the memory card out of your old phone, caress its lifeless form in a loving goodbye, and put all of your photos and videos into your new phone. 

Stage 7: Love again.  Your new phone is so shiny.  It’s 4G.  It’s sexy.  Wow, it can take a burst of photos, and the camera is really much better across the board.  The screen is so big and bright.  Photos upload to facebook in, like, seconds without error messages.  You get a nice protective case for your new love, and promise to treat it better.  You love again.  It buzzes in your pocket.  The buzz is stronger.  You smile.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The “special naked hug”

It’s spring break around here, so my kids are home all day with me.  Not so good for work-from-home productivity, but great for sleeping late and hanging out in pjs.  Sleeping late, you ask?  Yes.  You can hate me if you must.  I have those rare, almost mythological children who sleep late if they stay up late.  I’m not gonna lie.  It’s freakin’ awesome.  They slept in until 10am this morning.  I don’t look like death.  It’s great. 

What’s slightly less great is what bedtime looks like.  Yeah… that’s where we pay the price.  (The completely, utterly worth-it price.)  During school breaks and on weekends, we push bedtime later, and then the kids push it later still with various requests and irresistible cuteness.  We often have our best conversations late on non-school nights, because they don’t have access to toys or iPads, and they will do anything to keep the conversation going so they don’t have to go back to bed.  So last night… around 11pm… my daughter decided to ask me a question.

“How did we get in your belly?”

Oh yeah.  Buckle up. This is happening.

“Well, there is a special hug that makes babies.  So when mommy and daddy decided to have a baby, we did that special hug, and a little part of daddy and a little part of mommy came together and that made you.”

Yeah no.  That’s bullshit, I know.  They were so on to me and not having any of it.

“But HOW do you do the hug?” my son asks.  “Do it to me.”  Oh shit.

“No, no, it’s only for grown ups who love each other.”  Or, you know, grown ups who smell really good to each other.  Whatev.  Same diff.

“Then do it to Daddy so I can watch.”   

[At this point, I am stifling laughter and totally unable to look at my silently shaking husband or I will just laugh until I pee myself and the conversation will be over.  I squeeze my kegels and continue.] “No honey, it’s very private.  I can’t do that in front of you.”

At this point, I realize that they may think it’s, like, a regular hug, and my daughter might stop hugging people.  So I specify that it’s a special NAKED hug. 

Brought the house down.  Who says I’m not funny?  Apparently, I am effing hilarious.

“But HOW?” my son asks again.  “What do you really do?”

At this point, I look at my husband, because had I been alone with the kids when this question was asked, it would have been time for the bombshell.  The P-in-V bombshell.  They’re curious and asking.  I answer honestly.  That’s my philosophy.

But not my husband’s.  He looks horrified, and tells me no, that they are too young. 

So we tell them that it is a very grown up hug and we will tell them more when they’re older.  Sigh.  Not how I would have handled it.  Why did they have to ask when he was around? 

We divert the conversation to genetics.  So the little parts of mommy and daddy have all of the information about our bodies, blah blah, and you each got parts of each of us and that’s why you (son) have daddy’s eyes and you (daughter) have mommy’s eyes blah blah boring not talking about penises or vaginas boring.

Oh, the non-boring part of this is that my son mixes up the word for cells and nerves, because he learned both of those words during another 11pm delay tactic/conversation about “How do our eyes see?”  Except he can’t remember the word nerves, so he calls them “nerds.”  So he says, “So daddy’s nerds and mommy’s nerds went together and made us?”  I die from cuteness.  And also, yeah, pretty much.  Our nerds played a big role.

Then my daughter realizes that we keep talking about a man and a woman.  She asks what happens if there are two mommies or two daddies.  I’ve never been prouder.  I leave out the concept of adoption for now because I don’t want to add the complexity of unwanted children to their lives (P-in-V, OK.  Unwanted children, not OK.  Am I weird? Contraception and sex-for-fun-not-babies talk, later.  Not tonight.)  I explain that if two men want to have a baby, they need a woman to help them.  And if two women want to have a baby, they need a man to help them. 

We ask if they have any questions.  They don’t.  They go to bed.  My husband and I discuss/argue for a half hour, I post the whole thing to facebook, and then we go back to watching Castle.

Today, on the way to the grocery store, we talk a little more about it.  I give them the names for egg and sperm.  I talk about the sperm swimming to find an egg, and how daddy has millions of sperm, but most of the time there is only one egg at a time.  But that I sent out two eggs, and two of daddy’s sperm found my eggs, and that’s why I had twins. We’ve talked about periods before, because for a while there, I couldn’t even pee alone. So I reintroduce that.  We talk about ovaries and testes.  “You mean my nuts?”  Yes, honey.  Your nuts.  I love my kids.  You’re right.  Testicles is a lame, un-pleasing word.  Nuts.  Much better.

“And the baby grows and grows until it’s ready to come out.”  They already know how babies come out.  We talk about it again.  How babies usually come out, and how they didn’t come out the usual way.  “And then the doctor sewed you back up.”  Yup.  C-sections still make them laugh.  Weirdos.

And then the light bulb comes on for my son.

“So babies come out the vagina.  Is that how the sperm get in?  They go in your vagina?”

Both kids laugh uproariously at this concept, while I say yes.  I’m not sure whether they really processed the yes.  Because vaginas are just too damn funny.  So no “Tab A in slot B” conversation, as my sister put it.  But you know… something in slot B.  It’s a start.

I’m much more comfortable the more real the conversation gets.  There is nothing shameful or illicit about these questions.  And even if there were, I would rather they know they can always come to me.  Always.  I want them to know that I will tell them the truth.  For me, this is groundwork.  We are building trust that, I hope, will remain as their questions get more complicated and the truthful answers more difficult. 

We move on to a conversation about how they shouldn’t talk about any of this at school.  How private parts are private, and conversations about private parts are also private and just for our family. I’m comfortable with my kids knowing this stuff, but lots of people (including the person I’m married to) are not.  I don’t want my kids to be the ones telling tales on the playground that make the other kids say, “Ew, gross.”  I don’t want any angry phone calls from parents who prefer to keep their kids innocent of the tab-slot mechanics.

But at home, they’re safe, and they can tell me or ask me anything.  I want them to know that.  At this point, I’m pretty much just waiting for:

Who’s there?
Sperm who?
Sperm in your vagina!!! 

If When that happens, I will not have to fake the laughter.