5 things on a Tuesday: 26.4.2016

1. Why hello 5am, my old friend. I’ve missed you. Between months of on-and-off sickness, then assorted holidays and other interruptions, I just couldn’t get myself into gear to set that alarm. But I’m back. And not because I have such a burden of work – I just really, really, really miss the alone time. (Anyone reading this who is pondering having children and likes both sleep and alone time, take note.)

2. Yesterday was the first day of school holidays. Which happen to coincide with (a) Dude having an exceptionally difficult phase – it’s been going on at least a week and a half now, seems a bit Wonder Week-y (ie developmental growth phase), so many tantrums, so much need – and (b) a bitter cold snap. I almost wrote “an unseasonal cold snap” but, well, April. A German song has it “April, April, der macht was er will” (does what he wants), which I find more to the point than Eliot’s complaint. We’ve had gorgeous sunny days, then yesterday, snow. Barely any snow. But snow. Anyway, I do find the timing harsh. Elf actually, spontaneously volunteered yesterday to take Dude – you know what, I’m rebranding him Pumuckl. We called him that when still in my belly. Pumuckl is a mischief-making pixie from a German TV show and it seemed to match well with “Elfling”. Then as a newborn he was such a chill Little Dude, but who are we kidding, those days are over. Pumuckl was right. Anyway, so they went outside to play, without Mommy, without even asking for Mommy to come, which was soooo exciting, but Pumuckl was yelling to come back inside within 5 minutes because of the cold. (Yeah yeah. Children should be tougher than that. No such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes. Whatever – they were bundled up well, but the wind cut like a knife, and frankly I think they made a sensible choice.) So, yeah. The first morning of the holidays did not go well. (So much screaming and fighting and then even when they were happy they were happy in a very wired shouty way and OY WITH THE POODLES ALREADY.)

3. I spent Saturday with a bunch of knitters, so obviously that was a treat. (I also managed to destash over 6km of yarn, and only buy a tiny bit for very specific and immediate purposes, so yay. I still have way too much yarn. Curse steep Swiss postage prices!) The thing about this retreat is that it’s mostly just a hangout for the Zürich Stitch n Bitch group, and since I don’t often get to the meetings (because children), I felt awkward about joining in. (Silly me, right? Next year I might go for the whole weekend.) The thing about the group is that it meets at three different regular times, and each of those meetings has a distinct make-up and vibe. Most of the retreat folks were from the Tuesday night meetup (the retreat organiser’s time of choice), which I’ve only been to once. (Children! And late working husband! Also inconvenient location and such.) But therefore a lot of the Sunday morning people (I’ve been to that meetup a couple of times and so know them a little) were maybe in the same do-I-belong-here boat. Oddly, I didn’t see anyone from the Wednesday afternoon crowd. Which is the meetup I get to most often. It’s not the one I like the best. But I have a friend who’s keen on semi-regular afternoon babysitting (yay me!) so that’s when I go. I just wish I connected better with the women there.

4. Ongoing, minor but surprisingly intense frustration: I am so miserable about not being able to listen to music when I want to. Sometimes I can get away with having the kitchen radio on. But playing music of my own choice? Hardly ever possible. Pumuckl Does Not Like It. I think there are a few things going on there, but mostly it’s just really distracting for him. This book was enlightening. Evidently background TV is a major hindrance for toddler learning; it makes sense to me that for a kid who is particularly attuned to hearing (not that I’m saying he is, but maybe), background music could be an interference in the same way. And Armin can’t deal with background music either, which baffles me (how can a person do housework without music, honestly), but there it is. To make matters worse, I can’t just play a CD in the lounge – no player. I have to play iTunes through our TV. So that’s a huge distraction of its own because then TV IS ON! and if he can’t actually watch something he just wants it OFF please. Yeah, you’re thinking I need to just assert my authority and teach the kid to put up with the world not being how he wants, but it doesn’t seem fair to insist on doing something that he really finds so very upsetting. So. I can’t play music much when he’s home, and when he’s not here, I’m generally either working on something that requires concentration* or I’m knitting and watching TV. And usually, TV beats music. But music as part of the texture of my daily life… I miss it so, so much. Especially when the whole damn world is, oh, say, listening to Hamilton or watching the new Beyoncé** and I just don’t have time to catch up. So that’s my parenting whine du jour.

5. Ooh, French! I’ve been slightly motivated to learn a bit of French since holidaying in Valais. It was always on the agenda for “one day” but wotthehell archy, wotthehell, may as well get started. So I’m adding French lessons to my Duolingo practice. It’s making me appreciate German, just on grounds of pronounceability. Dad also sent me a couple of CDs for the kids (thanks, Dad!) so we can listen to French songs and train our ears. 

* Interesting point: I used to focus better with background music. I still do, often, but it depends far more on what it is that I’m doing. Engaging my full concentration, eg for grading, requires silence. I blame Armin’s preference for silence – I’ve just gotten used to working that way – and I think the post-baby brain situation; concentrating on anything is so much harder than it used to be. Anyway, it sucks.
** I’m not particularly a Beyoncé fan but this is a major Cultural Moment and it sounds like a very awesome thing and dammit, I feel so left out! And, well, Hamilton. I didn’t think I’d care for it. I love it. But I still haven’t listened to it all the way through. Two hours to listen to music? What an unimaginable luxury.

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