Friday, March 4, 2011

Tuesday Train Day - Sneaky Hate Spiral

This Tuesday I had planned a double header - a train trip in the morning and then, another train trip in the afternoon! But then the universe decided to take a big dump all over our plans.

1. I locked myself out of the apartment, with you inside. I was schlepping all the soggy boxes out of our yard for recycling when the wind slammed the front door shut behind me. I didn't sweat it. You'd been opening the door all morning, telling me you were ready to go on the train, so I figured it was only a matter of time before you opened it again. A few minutes passed. I began to wonder what you were doing in there. I called your name, asked you to let me in, offered you chocolate, but nothing. So I scaled two fences and broke into our own backyard, a tricky maneuver I've had to pull off a few times before, but never in 30 degree weather and never barefoot.

2. We had to go to the doctor. To make sure your ear infection had cleared up. We left early and took the R to
Atlantic so you could watch the trains. Even after a ton of trainspotting we still had time to kill, so we stopped by Target to see if they'd restocked their train selection. My secret plan was to exchange Stanley for Henry or Gordon, some less fastidious train who wouldn't ask me to vaccuum all the time. No luck. Even the Charlies were gone, replaced by some bloated looking Thomas themed bath toys. We were stuck with Stanley.

3. They took your temperature at the doctor's, and you had a fever of 100.5! That canceled our post nap train adventure, which was the really good one. It involved taking the train to the
West Village to visit Lisa and Abi, and having dinner with Melinda and Willa. Your ear infection was gone, but your throat was red and you were developing a cough that the doctor promised would only get worse.

And it did, get much worse. You got so sick that I feel silly for complaining about such trivialities as the purple/green bruise on my forearm from breaking into my own house, and Stanley, the OCD train. The rest of the week made Tuesday look like a parental dream. We spent the afternoon painting stars on your big boy bed. You were so excited about the bed project that you only asked to go on the train once or twice. You refused to put any stars in the center of the footboard. You are saving that space for two buses.

I am sometimes prone to getting irrationally angry when small things go wrong. One of my favorite blogs, Hyperbole and a Half, calls this the Sneaky Hate Spiral, which is what happens when a barrage of small annoyances finally push a person over the edge. Having you around helps keep the Sneaky Hate Spiral in check. I want you to be better than that, to not lose your shit over the small knocks we all take, day to day. So I try and set a good example. If one of us is going to throw a temper tantrum, it really ought to be you.

I kept my cool on Train Day. Even when you screamed at me for dragging you away after a paltry 30 minutes of trainspotting, when you laid down outside Target and rubbed your lips on the tile floor, when you ran your hand along the station wall where I am quite certain a homeless man recently urinated. When we left the doctors and walked to the station and I imagined that deep inside your small body your temperature was ticking higher and higher with every step until I almost did the unthinkable and called for a car service. Instead we waited 15 long minutes for the R train to come and take us home, and you told me again and again that Gordon was coming, that we would ride Gordon home, and that he would be blue. The R train thundered into the station, looking nothing like Gordon. I braced myself for your disappointment. But you slid off the bench and shouted, "here is Gordon!" and pulled me towards the opening doors.

You helped me remember something I'd forgotten. Things are never so bad, if you know how to look at them just right.


  1. Tuesday Train Day posts are the BEST.

  2. No Sarah, *you* are the best! Thank you for being such a loyal commenter.

  3. This is a good lesson for all of us. Thanks for posting.
    One of my boys, Peter, said yesterday he was going to have an awesome weekend with many social plans, because he deserved it, what with the crappy, stressful week he's had (he's right; he did have a crappy week--as crappy as a 14-year old with few responsibilities can have who has a cast on and almost had to clobber a deranged man who tried to break into his dad's house with a snow shovel), and I was thinking, hmmmm? Did I teach that? That life should be rosy, and that if things go wrong, which of course they will, we deserve to get upset and then pay ourselves back with treats or instant gratification or escaping?

    Probably. (Duh. Think daily glass of wine. Or two.)

    So I said, (of course, ugh, I hate the sound of my own voice sometimes) "Let's put a spin on things, just for kicks, you're healthy, have a family who loves you, nothing tragic has happened, we're all okay, you have a home in Berkeley, you're smart and kind and funny" and so on. And what did having a "ragetastic" weekend mean anyway? I said, "think about how you pay yourself back for what has felt annoying and bad, so that doesn't just automatically translate into things that you think will feel good but are really bad for you".

    He was not impressed.

    I think we all feel like the world has to pay us back for the Sneaky Hate Spiral in some way, when really, that is what life is all about. It's HOW we bounce back from the SHS, right?

    I really enjoy your blog. Sorry for the long comment.