Thursday, August 14, 2008

my nerves are past frayed and into flayed

The day after we got back from the East Coast, I came down with a debilitating flu, leaving me homebound and miserable for a week. I didn't leave the house for days apart from an emotionally draining marriage counseling appointment (current verdict: I need to be meaner to my husband and refuse him more things, but yet my wrath is too scary to him, so I need to be nicer so that he can speak up more about things that bother him. I'm not sure that makes a lot of sense to me overall). As soon as I started feeling human again, Iris got sick, so I spent several days at home keeping her company in front of endless "Dr Who" episodes.

While I've been housebound (I have a severe case of cabin fever developing), my next door neighbor, the one I believe to be a participant in the witness protection program, is having some work done on her house. She didn't tip us off ahead of time, which I would have appreciated as the acoustics of this particular work make it sound as though someone is repeatedly breaking into my garage with a sledgehammer. When it first started, I grabbed a cordless phone, dialed 911 but didn't hit the transmit button, and crept down the stairs with my heart pounding, without saying anything to sickly Iris or healthy but crabby Lucy. (I actually own a delightfully powerful handgun, but ever since we procreated, we've kept it unloaded in a locked box. It's worthless to me if there's an intruder. I'd have to go downstairs, get my keys, go back upstairs, dig out the locked box, then unlock it, only to try to bluff someone with an unloaded gun. I have no idea whether there's any ammo in the house and where it might be --- probably there's a small quantity of it stored somewhere in the garage. It would make more sense to try to club someone over the head with the little locked gunbox). Over the past few days I've grown somewhat used to that racket and haven't had to do a house-sweep again, but it's taking a toll.

On top of that, yesterday I paid off a favor owed to one of my mommy friends by hosting her daughter, one of Lucy's dearest friends and Iris's mortal enemy. Iris stayed home sick, and the two children were clearly spoiling for a fight all day. The visiting child, Lawyer, Jr., at one point jabbed me in the arm with her index finger. "Iris is watching a scary TV show upstairs," she said, "and when we walk by, we can hear it." I was not about to deny Iris the pleasure of watching Dr. Who behind closed doors, so I instructed Lawyer, Jr. and Lucy to play together where they couldn't hear the television. After all, it was a gorgeous day, and they were authorized to play with the hose in the backyard, plus there were four kittens afoot downstairs. But our young guest was not appeased.

An only child of an attentive and permissive stay-at-home mother, she is accustomed to a higher level of service and accommodation than the children receive here. Iris balefully kept track of Lawyer, Jr.'s complaints, which included "I don't care for green grapes", "Bananas make me throw up", "There's a MOSQUITO IN THE BACK YARD!", "I stepped on a dead snail", and many, many more. Iris was gleeful when she had counted up ten complaints made by Lawyer, Jr. to me (many of which were accompanied by poking me with an index finger). "She complained about ten things! Ten things!" I think Iris is hoping to get Lawyer, Jr. banned from our home, but that's not going to happen so long as she remains one of Lucy's dearest friends.

Earlier in the day I'd had plenty of energy, and I picked up around the house and invited a neighbor to come by for drinks to discuss our errant cat, Rachel, who spends a lot of time over at his house whenever I have foster kittens (Rachel also spends time at another neighbor's house as well, and there's some other unknown house she likes to visit as well, because she often sets off purposefully in the other direction). But after a day of being shut up with these children, including the nitpicking and complaining visitor, my nerves were shot, and by the time the neighbor called back, I'd already turned to Ben & Jerry's for some self-medicating (there wasn't anything I felt like drinking around, so it was ice cream instead of alcohol). "Tell him to come tomorrow," I hissed as the Sober Husband held his hand over the receiver. "I'm just not up for dealing with ANYONE right now."

In a few days my anorexic, violent, high school drop-out nephew, my teenage niece who is pregnant yet again, and my toddler great-nephew who was in foster care for over a year after sustaining severe, life-threatening injuries from his teenage father (who is now in prison) are coming to visit. I'm so disgusted and annoyed with my niece for being pregnant again that I felt greatly tempted to cancel the visit, but I haven't met my great-nephew yet (he has been in foster care for most of his short life). My flayed nerves are not in the best shape for this visit, sigh.


Missy said...

I can't believe you still have nerves.

I hope the visit with the relatives goes well. There's a lot of difficult history there.

hughman said...

too bad the pregnant one can't drink with you. revisiting the scene of the crime and all.

bottom line, they're teens. just ignore them and let them watch TV.

i am, however, in awe of your interest in seeing your great nephew. my relatives have little to no interest in me at all. i want you for an aunt.

Captain Steve said...

Dude, poor great nephew. Have some fun with him, sounds like he needs it.

hokgardner said...

Oy, honey. You have so much on your plate. Hang in there.

And my oldest has a friend who sounds like your daughter's. She likes to complain that she's bored within five minutes of coming to the house. The funny thing is that my daughter gets frustrated every time Miss X comes over, but then she keeps requesting playdates with her.