Sunday, July 27, 2008

Buenos Sunday

Quelle weekend. And it ain't even over yet.

We spent Friday night/Sat AM (from 1am till about 5:30am) at the ER with Bambina, who woke up crying and would not stop, saying her head was hurting. After my health challenges I freely admit to being the kind of mom who calls the doctor at the slightest whiff of something uncommon. I understand that this is potentially annoying to doctors who must take my calls at 2am. I also do not really care. I'm comfortable treating colds, headaches, tummy aches and whatnot. But when your kid is literally crying uncontrollably and inconsolably while saying her head hurts, I don't think it's a sign of Munchausen-by-proxy to bring in the people who, you know, actually went to medical school.

So off we went to the ER, after calling the doctor who said that if she wasn't better in 30 minutes, after some tylenol, to take her in. I was starting to feel a little stupid when Bambina started asking to hear music, was seeming happier and not crying. Then just as we pulled into the entrance circle, she barfed all over the car, thereby confirming that we needed to be there.

Can I tell you how awesome our local ER is? Its specialty is pediatrics, and it shows. The last time Bambina was sick was January, but you'll recall I couldn't go in with her at that time and instead had to sit in the car for 4 hours, peering in the building windows. This time I got the full show, and it makes me grateful to live here where the emergency health care is high-quality and available. This hospital is tricked out. My first comment to the BBDD as we walked in was, "Man, no GSWs to the head at this hospital, huh?"

We were seen pretty quickly (note to aspiring ER physicians: call me and I'll let you know the identity of this hospital because it looks like a sweet gig), and it became the consensus that Bambina had a virus that seems to be going around. I hadn't heard of anything "going around" however. Until I asked Bambina about her friend Karen from camp, ie, where is Karen this week? I didn't see her or her mommy at school. "Oh, she out sick every day." You gotta love the petrie dish that is a preschool. After some anti-nausea meds, some more Tylenol and Motrin, and a wee bit of a (slightly annoyed?) comment from the doctor about *under*medicating my kid (I live in fear of overdosing my little under-30 pounder), we finally got home around 6am. And thank god she went to sleep.

And speaking of the petrie dish that is a preschool, I'm also finally navigating my way around The Mommies. Preschool Mommies are a tough crowd. I was struggling a little bit to feel comfortable, which is pretty unusual for me, which was therefore making me more uncomfortable. But having a friend actually say, "I wouldn't use how you're feeling about preschool mommies as an accurate bellwether of your social skills" really clued me in. Remember all those times you thought how funny it would be to be back in high school--only as you now and not you then? How much more fun you'd have, how much less sh*t you'd put up with, how much less of a jerk you'd probably be to others, and how much less you'd care what they thought of you? You can achieve that, friends. Simply have a child and enroll her in preschool. At least in the case of this preschool, I have realized that if I approach it like I'm in high school I can survive and thrive. There are Queen Bees. There are jocks. There are geeks. And there are cliques. Oh, how there are cliques. Perhaps depending on the community in which you live, they all bring themselves and their baggage to the task of raising their kids. And it comes out in parental interactions at the preschool. I realized that I wasn't hitting it off with the moms of the girls Bambina plays with, not because I'm socially retarded, but because We Have Nothing In Common (did I mention that at 36 I'm the oldest mother there--by years?). And you know what? That's okay. I don't need to be their friends; we just need to hang out for an hour every week if our daughters want to play. Obviously it's wonderful when you do find that love connection between kid and parent, but it's notable simply because it is not an entirely common occurrence. Now that I'm comfortable with not needing to love these women and be their BFF, I'm completely at ease with just hanging out for our 90 minutes as necessary.

Much like in high school, I am realizing that I'm not a clique-type of girl. I like to hover between and among groups of different people. I love my close friends but I'm not averse to making new ones. So if a new mom shows up with a new kid, I'm going to say hi and talk to her (which is how Bambina and Karen became friends). And also, much like high school, I make friends in the unlikeliest of places. Bambina had a playdate at our house with a little friend whose dad came with her. Well, what can I say? It was a weird playdate. Not for Bambina, but for me. He is Israeli (which if you ever want proof that American Jews and Israelis are completely different cultural animals, you should come to my house). He is rather forward. He is very blunt. He has no concept of personal space. It wasn't a bad playdate at all; it just took a little getting used to. But it went well enough that we scheduled another one at his and his wife's place, and I was a little excited if for no other reason than I wanted to see what this guy would do next.

Well, hello! This couple is lovely, their daughter and Bambina are good matches in energy and bossiness, and it felt like the most effortless 2 hours (yeah, it went so well we didn't notice 2 hours had gone by) I'd ever spent with a preschool parent in my life. We even talked about the cliquey-ness of the parents in the context of them wondering whether that was particular to that school or to Americans in general (I guess culture shock goes both ways). I said it probably depends on the particular alchemy used to create each preschool class each year; some years will just gel and others will not.

Which is really the larger lesson, isn't it? It's not that the other moms aren't likable or that I'm a social moron. It's just that sometimes a friendship falls into your lap sans effort, while other times you only find it by being open to making a little bit of effort--or at the very least to not making a snap judgment. Other times you don't find a friendship at all. There's nothing wrong with any of those options. But in any case, you're giving your kid a model for how to interact with other people. What I hope I'm giving mine is a sense that she can navigate the social waters of life as her authentic self, without having to find comfort in either aggressive lonerhood or exclusive cliquehood. That while there is safety in numbers, whether it be one or twelve, that there is great joy to be had in being open to new people and new experiences, even if at first they seem uncomfortable. Because you never know what close-talking, space-invading, blunt-speaking person is going to turn out to be a friend.

Come to think of it, I'm certainly glad MY friends tolerated it in me.

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