We went to Comicon again this year!
It was waaaaaaay better than last year. Much better organized, for one thing.
It also helped that we knew our way around this year, too, and didn’t try to take the elevators. Sure, the volunteer “minions” scolded us for going on the escalator but it meant we actually got to ENJOY COMICON.
George Takei wasn’t there this year, but do you know who WAS?
Christopher Lloyd, Wil Wheaton, Felicia Day, and… PATRICK STEWART.
I got Christopher Lloyd to sign my copy of Roger Rabbit, which was cool but I didn’t get much more time with him than I got with George Takei last year, so there doesn’t seem to be a real benefit to signing vs photo shoots.
PH tried to see Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day, but he got there a full twenty minutes after Comicon opened and that was apparently TOO LATE.
We lunched down the road at a Qdoba, where I munched on a large plastic triangle in my burrito. They apologized, but did not offer me a refund or a fresh burrito. I ate it anyway.
We decided to skip napping Owl, hoping he would doze off in his stroller.
Instead, he flirted incessantly with some (childless) friends who were also down for the day.
He also enjoyed the Storm Troopers, the Spider Men, and the Power Rangers. He was somewhat bemused by the bagpipe-playing Darth Maul.
He did nap eventually for about ten minutes, at, like, 4 pm.
But you know what? He had a blast, and we got more time to browse the comic book stands. Plus we had friends to hang out with this year, which was awesome.
But the highlight was definitely Patrick Stewart.
So, remember how my boss gave me that money for a trip?
We went to Disneyland.
And no, the money didn’t cover the whole trip. Not even close. But you cut a thousand bucks out of the price tag and it begins to be doable for us, if you take into account the fact that PH is more willing to spend money on life experiences than tangible possessions. Pefect Husband had already been thinking about taking me for my birthday BEFORE we got given the money, because he’s like that.
So, off we went.
It did not start out auspiciously.
We picked up Owl from daycare after I worked a half day, and the first thing he did as we set out for The Farm Fairy’s house to drop off the dog was… throw up all over himself.
Then he began to wail.
Perfect Husband and I are in bed and settling down to sleep. For me “settling down to sleep” means reading for an hour in dim light until I develop the ability to go unconscious. For Perfect Husband, it means *snore snore snore snore*.
Perfect Husband: “I have a vital task for you.”
Perfect Husband: “Before you go to sleep, turn the dryer on to timed dry so it doesn’t run all night. Do this, and I will reward you with riches beyond your wildest dreams.”
Me: “And if if I don’t?”
Perfect Husband: “I will lick the inside of your nose.”
Me: “…I’ll remember.”
Poor Perfect Husband hasn’t been feeling very perfect lately. Sitting around doped up on percocet watching me take care of Owl, cook, clean, and work was hard on him, especially when I began to get sick.
Of course, he was ill, so while being a temporarily single mom was challenging, I didn’t blame him in the least.
But he still felt bad.
So what did he go and do?
He booked me a hotel room.
A hotel room with a four poster king sized bed and a whirlpool tub, and a lot of Roman-style decor.
I said, “I have ALWAYS wanted to sleep in a bed with curtains.”
He said, “I know.”
He dropped me off at 4 pm, gave me a kiss, and said, “see you tomorrow around 10:30 or 11ish.” Then he took Owl’s hand and they went home.
I get 18 hours TO MYSELF.
In a deluxe hotel room.
With a jacuzzi tub.
When I arrived, I didn’t know what to do first. Blog? Read in the bath? Eat a pomegranate?
First I figured out the WiFi. I mean, priorities, right?
Then I dealt with figuring out and ordering room service, thus getting my daily anxiety exposure and any need for human contact out of the way as soon as possible.
Then I downloaded a new game onto my iPod. A 16 bit style Oregon Trail remix for the zombie apocalypse.
Then I wondered, “why am I still wearing pants?”
It’s going to be a good night.
And I brought supplies.
Now I just need to eradicate the guilt and I’ll be set.
They say bad things come in threes.
Two weeks ago, I checked my phone after a busy day at work only to discover a string of texts and missed calls from Perfect Husband, first telling me about stabbing stomach pains, then mentioning a trip to the walk in clinic, followed by a trip to the emergency room, followed by updates saying that he was being given Oxycontin and that they wanted to do a CAT scan.
Later, when I asked him why he hadn’t called my work instead of my cell, he said “well, I figured that if you weren’t checking your texts it must be really busy…”
HMM. What is more important? A string of dogs with torn dewclaws, or your HUSBAND BEING IN THE HOSPITAL?
So anyway, I rushed to Owl’s daycare, picked him up and drove to North Vancouver. There a friend of PH’s met me and took Owl to her house so I could sit with PH.
We had about an hour to wait after his CAT scan for the results. A busy doctor bustled up to him and said “PH? You have *gobbledegook word*. Which is nothing. But it hurts a lot!”
When your experience of parenthood was one of constant screaming and struggle, sometimes the experiences of other parents can be a little baffling.
Me: “I went to see Pug Mama last night. Her new baby was awake and not crying.”
PH: “I don’t understand. Is that possible?”
Me: “And then I held her for a while and she just fell asleep.”
PH: “That sentence doesn’t make sense.”
Me: “Wait, it gets better – then, I put her down, and she didn’t wake up.”
PH: “YOU’RE SPEAKING GIBBERISH.”
Me: “And then, and then, when she DID wake up, she just opened her eyes and started watching the boys play. She didn’t cry or anything.”
PH: “I know you think you’re speaking normally, but your words are garbled and nonsensical. Do you have aphasia?”
PH: “What are reading?”
Me: “I’m obsessively googling articles on child spacing.”
PH: “Well, instead you should be googling “why does my child bite everything he touches and how can I make one of those things NOT BE ME?”
I’ve always planned a rather large space between children.
I was an only child, and that means that I am entirely unused to the sibling dynamic. The rivalry, the fighting, the chaos were all absent from my childhood. It was just me and my parents. Often it was just me, hanging out in my room.
A wider spacing between kids would give me the chance to focus on each child with the kind of intensity that I enjoyed from my parents as a small child, while still giving my children siblings to share family memories with.
I figured about three years would be about right, but I wasn’t too picky. When Perfect Husband said a couple of months ago that we would have to wait until Owl was in school before we could afford a second, I just laughed. Five years seemed extreme, but if necessary, so be it.
PH has begun to change his tune.
Our week in Vegas really made clear to us how much of our time is spend in simply trying to entertain Owl. Taking him places kept him busy, but any time spent in our hotel room was time spent wrangling a pent-up extrovert.
Then, by contrast, our time in Wisconsin involved lots of people to deal with Owl. He especially adored his 12 year old cousin who came down for the reunion as well. He demanded her by name constantly, and we found blessed relief when she was around.
“Take out your IUD,” PH told me.
I think he was only half serious, but we are becoming more and more aware of the possible benefits of having a second child as a potential playmate (and, yes, squabble-mate) for Owl.
We also have begun to do the math.
Owl is not even two, so we have always felt like we have plenty of time. Turns out, it takes 9 months to make a baby.
“Even if you got pregnant right now,” PH pointed out, “there would be two and a half years between them. If we wait much longer it will be three years, and then three and a half.”
How big of an age gap would be too much? If we want a sibling that Owl can play with, and not just share memories with as an adult, we may be fast approaching a pregnancy deadline.
There is another thing that we are beginning to take into account, too. While we were away, we found ourselves really looking forward to when he is old enough to enjoy bigger-kid things. Rollercoasters and the Nuclear Testing Museum – the kinds of stuff that we like to do in Vegas. And we realized that we wouldn’t just have to wait until he is old enough – we have to wait until his younger sibling is old enough.
My mind has been whizzing with numbers.
If we had a baby when Owl is three, he would be four when the baby was one. They wouldn’t be able to play. The baby would be two when he was five. They could start to play. The baby would be three when he was six. They could probably play. The baby would be four when Owl was seven. They could almost definitely play.
If we had a baby when Owl is four, he would be five when the baby was one, six when the baby was two, seven when the baby was three, eight when the baby is four…
It might be too much.
We’re beginning to think that instead of three being the minimum age gap, three may be the MAXIMUM gap.
The problem is, I don’t feel ready for another baby yet.
I always thought I would just wait until the baby urge came back. Perfect Husband only wants two kids, so if I pop out a second and then get the urge after that, well, I’m out of luck. My next kid is my last chance.
So I’ve been keeping that second future kid like an ace up my sleeve. When the baby urge came back, well, I could bring out the “time for a second!” card. Why condense the baby years, when I could enjoy them consecutively, instead?
I haven’t felt the baby urge yet. In fact, when I think about having a second one at this point I start panicking with thoughts like “OMG no one will ever baby sit for us ever again” and “what if Owl pinches the baby on purpose just to hear it scream??”
But if we change our goal from “let’s wait until we actually want another” to “let’s get someone Owl will actually be able to play with”, I may have to take the plunge early.
And soon, apparently.
The problem is further complicated by my nitpickiness.
I have always had this dreamy image of being pregnant over Christmas: My family crowded around the tree, bringing me presents of baby clothes that I spread over my belly while Nat King Cole sings in the background. Christmas fills me with a deep peace and it makes me think more about birth and family than any other time of year.
I was technically pregnant over Christmas last time, but since I didn’t know it yet, I don’t think that counts.
If I want to be noticeably pregnant over a Christmas season, I would have to get pregnant either RIGHT THIS INSTANT or in spring/early summer next year.
Well, considering that I have an IUD and don’t really feel ready for pregnancy, not to mention that I don’t have a “pregnant” switch that I can just flip to ON, right this instant is clearly not happening. But if I wait until spring/early next summer before getting pregnant, Owl would be three and a half by the time the baby is born, and that may be too large a gap.
Nor do I want a Christmas baby, because Birthmas gifts suck and I wouldn’t wish that on a child.
That leaves a time frame of getting pregnant in May-August, which again leaves me either getting pregnant RIGHT THIS INSTANT or waiting until next spring/early summer. Which, again, might be waiting too long.
Complication # 3:
I feel obliged to give my boss at least a year of work before I become knocked up.
I hate to tell someone who just hired me a few months ago, who just told me that she considers me one of her “senior techs” and who wants me to take an “active role” mentoring the newbies that I will be leaving in 9 months. I figured I wouldn’t be getting pregnant until after next February. But maybe I should be rushing things…
I DON’T HAVE A PREGNANCY SWITCH.
It’s all very well to over think this to the skies, but as The Farm Fairy pointed out to me today, nothing ever goes as planned.
Even if I decided I did want to get pregnant RIGHT THIS INSTANT, chances are excellent that I wouldn’t.
Ditto goes for waiting until early spring/late summer next year. An age gap of three and a half might be pushing it. If I don’t get knocked up with gusto, we could end up with that four year age gap which we no longer want.
…Which means that we should probably begin trying a bit earlier, since a smaller age gap is a better outcome than an earlier age gap.
…Which means that we should probably file Complication 1 and Complication 2 under the category of “Suck It Up, Princess.”
Tell me, honestly – what age gap do you think is too big? How long can I put this off?
My new boss made us all go to a sort of business seminar thingy, which was a little weird because it was run by Scientologists. But I heard something there that really struck home with me:
The coach said that you need to put in 10,000 hours of work before you become truly expert at something.
Now, I’m sure there’s nothing magic about that particular number. I Googled it and the author of Outliers, who made this claim, bases this on examples of people who got famous after doing something a LOT, including the Beatles who logged 10,000 hours of playing time between 1960 and 1964, and Bill Gates, who logged around 10,000 hours of programming time as a kid. What the number does do is give a general bookmark, a rule-of-thumb, which helps to define “A WHOLE LOTTA TIME”.
10,000 hours. That’s 9 hours a day for 3 years, or 3 hours a day for 10 years, or 1 hour a day for TWENTY SEVEN YEARS.
Not just to become good at something. To become GREAT at something.
It sounds impossible, but that also explains why there are so few true experts in any particular given field.
Then again, Mozart probably hit 10,000 hours of music playing before age 10, and Sidney Crosby, who used to shoot pucks at the washing machine in his parents’ basement before he even learned to skate, probably hit 10,000 hours of hockey before his teens.
I haven’t logged that many hours in dog training, yet, but I’ve probably logged about 5,000 if my estimates are close to accurate. So I’m half expert. I’ve certainly done enough to become competent.
The 10,000 hour rule makes sense to me and is actually quite liberating. Obviously, one needs an aptitude to do really well, but even if you do have an aptitude, you still need to practice.
The problem is that we don’t tend to grow up with this mindset, especially if we were considered “smart” as kids.
The western world places a lot of weight on innate ability. We think that either we have a gift for music, or writing, or art, or math… or we don’t. We test our pre-schoolers for genius, and weed out the “gifted” from the average kids long before their brains are even close to mature.
In fact, many kids who test as gifted at age 3 average out by the time they’re 6, and many kids who test as normal at age 3 end up re-testing as gifted later on.
But by then it’s too late – the gifted programs are already filled.
Why do they spend so much time talking about how to challenge the smart kids, instead of teaching kids how to meet a challenge?
More and more research is coming out showing that telling our kids that they are smart may actually be damaging their self-esteem and chances in life.
While that sounds ridiculous to start, those of you who DID grow up being “smart” may already be nodding your heads.
When you are a “smart” child, school is easy. You are told that it is easy because you are so “smart”. So what happens when something is suddenly challenging?
Research is beginning to show that those of us who believed that our success in school was due to our innate intelligence actually give up faster and feel worse about ourselves than people who believed that life is something you have to work at.
Researchers gave a class of average children an easy aptitude test. In private, they told half of the kids “You did really well, you must be very smart”. They told the other half, “You did really well, you must have worked very hard.”
Then they offered the kids to take another, more challenging test.
Interestingly, the “smart” kids almost always turned down the opportunity. Having already achieved a “smart” label they didn’t want to risk failing and no longer looking smart.
The “hard working” kids, on the other hand, almost always accepted the challenge, because they wanted to keep looking like hard workers.
Even more interestingly, the “hard working” kids persisted at difficult questions longer than the “smart” kids, and when asked later on which was their favourite puzzle, usually chose the most difficult one.
“Smart” kids gave up very easily, saying “I guess I’m not good at this one” and when asked which puzzle was the best, chose the one they found easiest.
If any of you “smart” kids out there weren’t nodding your heads in recognition at the beginning, I bet you are now.
I recognize myself in these studies, so does my friend The Farm Fairy, and PH is a perfect example of the “smart” effect.
PH is a genius.
He was accepted by Mensa when we were still in University and they told him that he was probably the 16th smartest person in the province.
But he did not get good grades in University.
He had never had to work before.
Even though his parents held him to very high standards, PH coasted through the public school system.
He never had to exert himself in order to achieve a good grade.
Even when his own mother was his English teacher, and marking him as strictly as she could, she was forced to give him the English award, after taking his work to her fellow teachers and saying “my son has the top grade in the class…” they looked through his work and agreed - she had to do what no teacher ever wants to have to do with their child – put him at the top of the class.
PH is smarter than 99.9% of the people he walks past on the street, and when you’re that smart, you don’t have to try very hard to do better than the others.
The problem is that when you are told again and again that you are innately more gifted than other people, and your success is put down to that (even if it’s true), it changes how you approach problems.
When you suddenly come up against something that is difficult, you think, “uh oh. My innate abilities don’t seem to be helping me with this one,” and you give up because you don’t have any other tools in your mental toolbox. Either you’re brilliant at something, or you aren’t.
So PH holds himself to ridiculously high standards.
He loves curling and did very well in junior leagues as a kid. But when he rejoined a curling league a couple of years ago he came home every Tuesday night in a foul mood, because he hadn’t thrown as well as he expected.
He hasn’t played softball in years, but if he joins a charity softball event, he curses himself for every missed hit.
When he finds himself in the vicinity of a piano, he lays his hands on the keys and beautiful music floats into the air. After a few minutes he hits a wrong note and curses, and stops – he used to be able to play that piece perfectly.
I got off a little luckier in life than PH did.
…First of all, I’m not as smart.
I was a bright kid with an aptitude for English – I remember that in the IOWA exams I scored well into the 90th percentile for language, and people are still impressed that I can spell chrysanthemum off the top of my head. But I’m no genius.
Secondly, I was in private schooling up until grade 8. Every year my teacher would be impressed with me for a week or two, and then would start raising his/her standards. It wasn’t good enough for me to be better than the other kids. I had to be better than myself if I wanted a good grade.
I remember getting a D (the lowest grade I had EVER received by a country mile) on a test that I hadn’t bothered to study for, because I knew the book inside out. I am willing to bet you money that it was still better average, but my teacher knew that I hadn’t put a drop of effort into it, and she wasn’t afraid to give me a D to shake me up a bit.
So I did have to work at school, up until we moved back to Canada and I got put into the public school system. The teachers there were too busy, too jaded, and had too many kids who couldn’t read at all to bother with trying to demand higher excellence from me. They were just pleased that they didn’t have to worry about me.
I coasted the rest of the way.
Nevertheless, before I moved North, my demanding private school teachers taught me how to take notes, how to study, how to write a difficult test, and how to meet deadlines.
I did fine in University… with a lot of hard work.
But generally, I have always given up easily. When I try something, and fail, I think “I can’t do it” and that is it. I place a lot of my value as a person on my intelligence, and when I start feeling stupid, I get really depressed. I fear failure. Failure is my enemy.
…just like those “smart” kids who declined the more challenging test.
I should have the 10,000 hour rule stapled to my brain.
I have always wanted to be an author, but when I sit down to write, I start thinking about how much my writing sucks (if you think I’m hard on Stephenie Meyer, you should hear me critique myself…) and the page stays blank.
The Domesticated Nerd Girl recently made a post about her love of drawing, and how she gets discouraged when genius doesn’t flow instantly from her pencil.
We had to wait until our thirties to discover it, but we’re learning – that (shock and surprise) talent takes effort and time.
So PH and I don’t want Owl to be “smart”. We want him to be “hard working”.
So far, it could go either way. Owl IS hardworking. He loves a challenge, whether it’s the daily failure of trying to put on his own shoes (on the wrong foot and backwards) or the challenge of climbing every piece of furniture, every chair, and every rock he can find.
But people are already starting to tell us that he’s smart.
Mind you, parents are always told that.
But Daycare Lady says he focuses longer than the other kids his age (19 months), and is starting to outdo the two year olds on counting, identifying objects and so on.
Maybe he is smart, but his chance of success in life is much more closely tied to his love of the challenge.
So we try really hard to not tell Owl that he’s smart.
Oh, it happens occasionally, because somehow “congratulations, you did it through hard work and determination and not through innate ability!” doesn’t slide off the tongue as easily. But we’re really trying not to overdo it.
We’ll raise him on the 10,000 hour rule, instead.
And meanwhile, if I want to become the famous author I’ve always wanted to be, I’ve got to log more writing time, otherwise I’ll be eighty before it happens, if I live that long.