Monday, September 01, 2008

Back-to-School Shadow Box Post

There is a new scary. Or rather, it's probably not new, but it's certainly unique. Jarrah is petrified of "suits of armor." Empty ones. She saw one at a store called "Bears, Buddies and Toys," (I know what you're thinking: why would I bring my child into an establishment of questionable repute?) and started moaning that it was "trying to get her."

"How can it get you?" I asked. "It's empty. There's no one in there." How does she even know what a suit of armor is? Yet she knew the correct name.

Two nights ago, she had a mild melt-down at Burger Lounge because another suit of armor was trying to get her. As far as I could tell, it was actually a wrought-iron window flower box. But apparently my imagination is kind of limited, because Jarrah kept her goggle eyes on it the whole time we were eating.


We went back to the dentist on Friday morning. I had a pretty bad stomachache on the way there, but I was surprised--knowing what she now knows--that Jarrah was even willing to get in the car. She did say, reasonably, "I don't want to go to Dr. Baker. He hurts me." Then I wielded my ability to lose friends and alienate people by declaring that I didn't want any more crowns, only fillings. Things got kind of tense, and we had a to wait a while, but eventually we were beaten down by the idea that she might suffer if we didn't do the crown now. It turned out to be a moot point--she needed a root canal! A "baby" root canal, they call it. David said it only took five minutes, and Jarrah hardly cried this time, which seems incredible. I guess she's starting to accept dental horrors as her fate. The good news is that we're all done, for now. Stay tuned in six months.


Friday was also "Open House" at Jarrah's school. It was unfortunately timed, in that I had to drive there straight from the dentist. But Jarrah seemed mostly herself when we went to pick out her "prize" (a pair of working binoculars--cool!) so I felt it was okay. While I was driving (about a half-hour) a numb Jarrah bit through her lower lip, causing it to bleed and swell and--by the end of the day--look like she was wearing those Halloween wax lips. So she probably wasn't in the greatest mood when I dragged her across the courtyard to her new classroom. "I want to see Colleen," she balked. Colleen was her camp teacher this summer. After some big hugs, we headed towards her actual room. That's when she suddenly pulled on my arm with her full weight and began screaming, "NO! THAT'S NOT MY ROOM! I WANT TO GO HOME!" over and over. Now this was new.

I thought fast and ended up taking her to her old room first, where she was smothered in kisses by her teachers of two years, Barbara and Janet. I got a warm welcome, too. Both of them asked if Jarrah had hurt herself, since she was soaked with tears. "Um, no," I said, raising my eyebrows, "I think she's having separation anxiety." Barbara has a thick New York accent, and said a few times, "I've NEVUH seen her act like this!" She's not exaggerating. We're talking about a child who, just days past her second birthday, strolled into the classroom on the first day without looking back or saying goodbye to her uncertain parents. And that was her "adjustment." It went like this: "Cool! There are a lot of toys here...I think I'll go play with them." (Hours later) "Hey, weren't there two tall-ish people with me when I came in? Hey, isn't that a power drill?"

So, it just goes to show, just when you think you know them, they go all Sibyl on you. We did finally make it to the real room, and though she cried for awhile, she got over it. I am a bit concerned, though, that when I gently mentioned that this would be her new room and new teachers all the time starting next week, she added, "And you'll stay, too, right Mommy?"


I was Googling myself the other day (do you do that?) which is always unsatisfying because there's a child star with my name (imagine that! It's kind of clunky with 17 letters) but for the first time I noticed some kind of publications link and was surprised to find that UMass Amherst has a copy of my MFA thesis in their library. This was exciting, because when I wrote that thesis (a collection of 40 poems) computer technology wasn't great and my collection of badly labeled floppies is of very little use now. It's nice to know it's out there.

And then I clicked on my dissertation, which I know is in the UCSD library because I've visited it (you know, like a bedside hospital visit, with flowers, magazines and soothing reassurances) but then I noticed there were actually two listings. And the other one is Harvard! I clicked on it, and sure enough, Harvard owns my dissertation--on microform, but still. I got all excited about this, because back when I was 17, I was rejected by Harvard, and it seemed like some kind of redemption that someone there now thought my diss was necessary to round out their holdings. I'm sure one of you is going to want to tell me that I'm totally misreading this situation, and that Harvard is actually just required to own every printed word on the planet or something, and to your helpfulness, I respectfully say, "Please keep it to yourself." I want to bask for a while in the sunny notion that my unpublished 300-page book is serving some practical function in the universe.


Robyn said...


I think Harvard tried for years to get your publication and they're lucky they finally earned a copy of it. Your dissertation is priceless and awesome - and fun to read to boot! I bet they regret rejecting you when you were younger. Who's sorry now, Harvard?!

Please tell everyone at Price Family I said hello and ask them to send collective good thoughts to get us back to San Diego. We miss you lots.

I am so glad that Jarrah's dental work is done for now. Poor thing. :(

Take care and I'll talk to you soon!



Sam said...

You are a dear friend, Robyn. :) And it's nice to be reminded of the ONLY person to ever read my dissertation cover to cover--even my own husband didn't make it! :)

I hope the birthday was fabu. Raising a glass to toast to "Next Year in San Diego!" :)

Jen said...

"Just when you think you know them, they go all Sibyl on you." Ain't that the truth!!!

Thanks for all of these updates. I, too, am very glad to hear the second dentist visit is now behind all of you. I hope you never have to do that again!!!!

And the poor dear with the suits of armor thing. Can you possibly file this away as something that will some day make her laugh uproariously?

And finally, I must echo Robyn to say it is Harvard's loss! Too little too late! (But how wonderful that your diss is there!!!) I am not surprised. Though I have not read the whole thing, I LERVED your introduction and you should know that if my book ever gets published (and that's a big IF), you'll be sure to have an acknowledgment!

Miss J

Sam said...

Thanks, Miss J! :) I will hold you to it WHEN the book comes out!

There is a note in the works for Sage's and your incredibly thoughtful gift and note following our last bout of dental carnage. You are divine and I LERVE you! :)

The Wades said...

What's a diss? You guys throw that word around like they're the thing to do! It makes my brain hurt thinking about having to do one.

I wanna read it! I do, I do! Are stalker friends allowed access? I'm sure it's a great read. Probably miles over my head? Obviously, I'm a little obsessed with your written word. (Don't be disgusted. I'm not all that twisted--just impressed!) :)

Love the Sybil(Sibyl?!)thing! Great stuff. And yes, they do. Often.

You applied to Harvard? Ah, my Albuquerque education failed me!

Fun post.

Jen said...

Sorry! Diss = dissertation. It's just too exhausting to say the whole word sometimes. ;-)

Lisa Gillespie said...

Hi Sam!

I just wanted you to know that Anton had a little anxiety this summer too, when he was moved into the older classroom. It is almost like the first days of preschool all over again, but fortunately the drama did not last as long this time.

Jarrah will do great!!

Love, Lisa

Anonymous said...


I am impressed!


Poor baby with that lip. Glad she is all better.



Mamasphere said...

Gabi started having strange anxieties this year, out of the blue. Makes me wonder what else is in store!

When you comment, it doesn't show a return email address (and I can't find one on your site). Will you email me so I can ask you about the mice? I DO need help!

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

Don't let Jarrah see the Wizard of Oz. Ever. Think Tin Man.

Oy. Baby root canal. Oy.

You Google yourself? Really? Just kidding. Me too. It is only fruitful under my previous name. When I was published and shit. ;-)

And yes, I'm commenting in the middle of the night. Can't sleep because I'm in the middle of trying to die of bronchitis.

suebdo said...

Baby root canals! Yowza, that is mean. Jarrah is a trooper & I'm sure school will be a big hurrah on the 1st day.
As for Googling yourself - Yep, I do that when procrastinating on writing assignments. There's a Sue Burton realtor in San Diego - check out if she's as fun as me. Try Googling your "Images" ... I got some weird woodpecker and a 60s singing group ... hmmmm Rorshach Blot!