Of bats and dogs, part one

What's that? Why, that's a kitchen bag, on my ceiling.
What’s that, you say? Why, that’s a kitchen bag, on my ceiling. Who put it there? Bats. Indirectly.

Well, heck. It’s been a rather tumultuous week. I’ve been trying to think of a way to tie it altogether, but I can’t. Hence, two posts. Also, it was getting really long. So, here goes.

On Monday, we got a pre-inspection on our house. We’re moving, by the way. Five days before we left for Kauai, we bought another house. Super fun, right? Yeah, I was a basket case. Lots of hand-wringing and how-will-we-do-this and stress dreams about confronting The Storage Room, aka the place where our possessions go to die.

Anyway, one of the things that was making me the most crazy was that I didn’t know how much it was going to cost to get our 40-year-old house in shape to sell. We’ve done a lot to it — put in new windows, a new kitchen, a new deck, a new master bath, on and on. But what if there were little, insidious things that were going to bankrupt us? Huh? What if?

We had an inspector come and check things out. Our realtors, Karen and Aaron, who are also friends, came over too. They brought their daughters, who amused Bini while the inspector did his thing. At about 5:00, the kids were on the living room couch on the iPad and Karen, Aaron and I were outside discussing how to fix up the backyard. Then the door from the garage opened, and there stood the kids, covered with grayish-colored dust.

“What happened?” I think one of us said.

“There’s a hole,” said one of the kids.

Apparently, we have at least two of these hanging out in our attic. Don't get too comfortable, bats! (Image courtesy of Tim Knight)
Apparently, we have at least two of these hanging out in our attic. Don’t get too comfortable, bats! (Image courtesy of Tim Knight)

Our inspector — Nick, good guy — had been in our attic, doing his thing. He shone his flashlight at a dark corner and out flew two bats, right at him. Nick was so startled he stepped back and put his foot through the floor. Which was the ceiling. Down came insulation and, presumably, bat shit, all over the kids and my living room.

“I’ve been face-to-face with dead cats, rats, you name it,” Nick said, all sweaty and rattled, “but I’ve never seen bats.”

Everyone mobilized. Karen grabbed a shop vac and I donned yellow kitchen gloves to scoop insulation-slash-bat-shit into a garbage bag. Aaron held the garbage bag and helped me scoop. He and Nick put the kitchen bag over the hole. The girls went downstairs to watch TV, and Bini went into a bath, where I scrubbed the insulation-slash-bat-shit out of his hair. Afterward, I dressed him in shorts and Batman t-shirt (get it?).

For some reason, I found this all very funny. Which is interesting. I’m pretty tightly wrapped, and I stress out about minor things all the time, much less a hole in my ceiling and pests that require a wildlife expert to remove. I spend an inordinate amount of time anguishing about What I’m Going To Do Next With My Life, and other problems of the privileged. But now I’m up to my neck with stuff to do, and I figure all I can do is laugh.

I do have a hole in my ceiling, covered by a white kitchen bag, but Nick is going to pay for that, so it’s not like I’m out any money. And apparently, bats are way better than rats, which burrow through insulation and leave terrible messes throughout the entire attic. Our bats were polite, limiting their guano (which I totally didn’t know was a word!) to one area. Thanks, bats!

Hey, did I mention we rescued two dogs from Kauai? More on that later.



The kind of mom I am

Bini and I, playing Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em Robots. It's a pretty good metaphor for our relationship, sometimes.
Bini and I, playing Rock ‘Em, Sock ‘Em Robots. It’s a pretty good metaphor for our relationship, sometimes.

We’re in Hawaii this week, on the trip that Steve’s company gives its employees and their families every year. It’s a nice perk, and much more manageable now that Bini’s almost six and can swim like a fish. Our first trip with him was rough  — the three of us in one hotel room, coming to terms with our much-diminished freedom and trying to maintain a nap schedule.

The trips have become a yardstick of sorts for me — noticing how other moms mother and how I stack up. It’s hard not to do: there are hundreds of us, in the pool, at mealtime, at the beach. And the moms judge each other: who lets her kids eat too much sugar, who lets her kid bop other kids with beach toys, who lets her kids have too much screen time. I’m sure the moms judge me. I know I judge myself all the time. I know how I’m different, and what I do “wrong.”

I am not a sweet mom. I have a soft heart, but I wouldn’t call me gentle. It’s just not my personality. My attempts at “mom voice” sound forced and inauthentic. I can be brusque, I can be stern.

I am not a patient mom. I remember reading “The Day I Stopped Saying ‘Hurry Up,’ on Hands Free Mama. A bunch of my friends had reposted it on Facebook and were vowing to be more tolerant of their children’s lollygagging. I’m all for honoring my kid’s personality, but sometimes, he needs to get his damn shoes on and go to school.

I am not a crafty mom. Well, unless you count cutting up old Zappos boxes into the shape of surfboards. (Hey, that’s what he wanted to do.) I tried doing a couple of crafts with Bini, but to make it look like the picture on Pinterest, I had to step in and that seemed to defeat the purpose. I love coloring and drawing with Bini, but I don’t see any paper tube trains in our future.

I am not an easygoing mom.  I don’t believe that the inmates should run the asylum, so I’m a hardass about rules. Bini says I’m “mean,” which is one way to interpret it. I believe in structure and consistency, and I’m strong willed. So is Bini. We butt heads a lot.

I yell. I was raised by a father who yelled, so I just thought that was normal. I’ve tried to tamp it down, mainly because my yelling was turning my kid into a yeller. But I can remember times when I screamed myself hoarse, like the time Bini drew all over the underside of my beautiful honed-granite counter with a Sharpie.

I am a mom who needs her space. I know moms who are attachment parents, those who won’t hire babysitters and who selflessly sacrifice daily showers so they can be attentive to their kids’ needs. These moms used to make me feel horrible about myself, because I’m just not like that. I need time to take care of myself or I’m just not a very good mom.

But, for all of these bad mom attributes, I have a few things that I like about the way I’m raising my kid.

I am silly. Bini and I find it hilarious to have butt-cheek-squeezing contests. I taught him how to tape his nose so he looked like a pig. I’m queen of the spontaneous dance party. I make up games. I make up songs.

I play wall ball.  Bini came home one day this winter and said that he was bad at wall ball, this strange variation on handball with little-kid rules. He was trying to play it with the big kids (first and second graders) and he kept getting out. So I bought a playground ball and we practiced most days, in the garage or up at the school. When I asked him if his friends knew his mom practiced with him he said no, that he wanted it to be his secret superpower. That’s one I’ll cherish when I’m on my deathbed, I think. I was my son’s superpower.

I have turned my son on to music. Music is something special between Bini and me. We have our own playlists, filled with stuff that we listen to together and that’s just ours to share. Bini loves Queen, Daft Punk, Linda Ronstadt, Led Zeppelin, Michael Jackson and Earth Wind and Fire. Bini has his own little guitar (which he wields like a natural) and he plinks at the piano with a surprisingly good ear. He loves to dance.

I am trying. I am only too aware of my maternal deficiencies, so I’ve worked hard to learn how to be better. I got help for my own issues. I go to support groups for adoptive parents. I ask questions and pester experts and I reach out for help, all the time. I love my child, and somehow, he’s turning out awesome, despite my screw ups. And every day, I get a chance to try again. That’s all I can do.