Thursday, February 05, 2009

Three-Ring Circus

In the first ring you’ve got the little miss. She’s just finished “davening,” which involves placing my watch on her forehead, wrapping a shirt around her wrist, and rocking back and forth. Now she wants, simultaneously, her “moshu” (pacifier) her “daddymilk” (chocolate milk, in honor of her friend’s daddy) and to “brush the teeth.” I am fully aware that such wishes wreck the parallel structure of a sentence. I’m also pretty certain the kid has got a rather heavy oral fixation.

We depart from the eschatological perspective that would allow all three to happen simultaneously, and accomplish them chronologically. And it occurs to me that the phrase “three-ring circus” is redundant.

It’s my lucky day: after reading 10 books, the girl wants to play “sweep the kitchen,” and she’s also amenable to helping me put dishes away. In her babydoll stroller I discover the missing sippycup lid, the missing kiddish cup, my string of pearls, and a letter from my mother. I’m able to make pizza dough in between tasks (we did, after all, wake up at 6 am). Normally I like finishing one task before beginning another. For example, I prefer to empty the dustpan before rolling pizza dough. But today I do what I can.

It’s my morning “off,” which means I have no baby sitter while I prep for class. I must teach a graduate class in the evening (the second ring). And today little miss is coming to campus with me. Our normal Tuesday evening babysitter, our love, has been gone for nearly two weeks seeking clarity, or deciding whether the custody suit, the unemployment and, finally, the current hiring freeze in Israeli universities is going to be too much for him (ring 3, or is it ring three squared? Can you square a ring? oh will the circle be unbroken?)

By 10 am, little miss falls asleep from sheer exhaustion on my back in the ergo as I’m rolling pizza dough. I prep for class in my apron with flour all over the table and tomato sauce spattered. 40 minutes later it's done. And that’s about it for the nap today. My daughter sleeps like Thomas Edison did. About 4 hours every 24 hour cycle.

But her timing is perfect. The people we nanny share with have phoned and are coming over for pizza. They leave an hour or so later, and it’s time to play clean up.

Office hours are held in the presence of little miss, who has decided she wants to “work” too, by which she means press the keys on my laptop. Last time she did that I couldn’t reformat my screen and had to have professional help. Laptop is shut.

The arching of the back. The roar far too mighty to belong to a 22 lb girl-child.
The profuse apologies to colleagues currently holding office hours.

Are there trumpets and flowers falling from the sky? No, it’s just the lovely graduate student, who used to be a kindergarten teacher. She plops down on her stomach and draws pictures with my child using the washable markers she brought with her. I can go sola to class.

The assignment was to translate Rilke’s Duino elegy #1. The one that begins “Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the angels hierarchies?”

Who, indeed? And Rilke didn’t even have children.

1 comment:

lsw said...

My heart goes out to you. I don't know how you manage it all with such grace and equanimity. You are an amazing woman, mom, and poet. My thoughts and prayers are with you, dear friend.