Sunday, June 27, 2010

Thoughts on Constant Parenting

This afternoon I had to take a little trip to the bathroom. I even took a book with me, silly me! I left the door a little ajar because I had a feeling Virginia would want to come be near me, as is often the case. As predicted, she promptly showed up, proudly pushing the door open and crawling right on in.

Scout is currently fascinated by doors. She loves to push them open and closed. So, she busied herself with the usual swinging back and forth of the bathroom door. Then she got a little excited and swung the door right into her face, whacking herself in the mouth right where her new teeth are emerging. Needless to say, drama ensued.

There was screaming, there were tears. I coached her to crawl over close enough that I could pick her up and put her on my lap for a few minutes to give her some comfort. She told me all about how awful it had been and how that mean door whacked her right in the face. I tried to be as sympathetic as possible.

Finally, she calmed down and began spinning the toilet paper on its holder. I could see that it would all be on the floor shortly if she didn't find other entertainment. So, I pulled a few soap samples from the basket on the back to the toilet, showed her how nicely they rattle, and put her and them back on the floor to play while I finished my business.

At this point, I started thinking about a friend who was recently asked whether becoming a parent isn't really a selfish decision. And I'd been philosophically pondering this question for several days. But now, with my daughter trying to pull her soap from the edge of the bathtub, I just had to laugh. Anyone who thinks parenting is selfish has no idea what parenting is all about. Whatever it started out as, it very quickly becomes a major commitment and a lifelong lesson in service unlike any other.

There are a lot of jobs that are very demanding. But most of them don't follow you into the bathroom. Even if a crisis happens while you're in there, it usually just has to wait a minute or two until your personal business is taken care of. Parenting is its own special kind of work with no bathroom breaks, no sick days and very little shift work.

How Scout Plays Peek-a-Boo

This is hiding
Notice how the corners of the cloth are pulled down?

And this is peeking

Notice that the corners are now up.

After all, if she actually covered her eyes, she might miss seeing your wonder where she's gone, and that would be no fun.

Now that we have a one-year-old

Some things are still the same (every book must come off the shelf).

Some things are messier.

And life involves a lot more posing.

Especially when she's gotten into something and spread it all over the floor.

I wonder where she gets it from?
And, my personal favorite. Her hair is long enough for some great pigtails (and a fauxhawk, but I didn't take a picture of that).

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

At Least I Got What I Wanted

Because nobody has a complaint department anymore...

Around 4:40 this afternoon, our modem stopped working. This came as only a mild surprise since at about 4:15 Scout was holding it in her hands, eating it like a sandwich, and then slammed it into the floor. In addition to the aforementioned interaction with our one-year-old, we knew it was a modem problem because the modem is typically alight with various flashing and steady green lights. Now, only the power light was on, and it was red. Not a good sign.

So, we called our internet service provider, who also provides the modem. And just because I know you're wondering, that provider is AT&T. We don't use them because we like them. We use them because they are the only carrier who will give us ESPN 360, and James loves College Football. But I digress....

James graciously took the first turn on the phone, spent ten minutes giving the automated system as much information as possible and finally got to speak with a real person. This person said that the red light means the modem is shot, the modem (which is only a few months old) is no longer under warranty, and we must buy a new modem. He puts James on hold for about five minutes, then comes back with a phone number to call to order a new modem. We're not thrilled about the money, but we need our internet more than our $50.

So James calls the new number and speaks with a nice woman in Texas who says that she can't help us. He must call another number, which she gives him. Bear in mind that every one of these phone calls involves the same ten minute automated system maze navigation before you can speak with anyone. He calls the new number and learns that whoever this is has closed for the day. They're only open until 6:00 Eastern and it's now 5:20 in Wisconsin (we've been at it about 35 minutes).

My turn. I call the original number again. I've been through this little maze a number of times and I know that if you just start pushing buttons at random, you get on the fast track to a customer service representative and the person you'll talk to is more likely to know what they're talking about. So, I push my random buttons and speak with a guy named Renee who concurs that the modem is shot and says I'll need to order a new one. Oh, and he's sorry for the inconvenience of having to call so many different numbers. So Renee checks his little computer (two minutes on hold), which tells him that whatever customer service place is supposed to service us will be open for another half hour. So he's going to transfer me to them. At 5:34, I start holding. At 5:57, I stop holding. Either every customer in Madison is calling them with a problem or they're not actually open anymore. And I'd rather complain to a person than be on hold anyway, right? Possibly my favorite thing about being on hold with AT&T is that they keep telling you help is available online. If I'd just long onto, they could probably solve my problem faster, which would be great if my problem weren't the fact that the internet isn't working.

So, being the tenacious sort, I call in again. This time I'm more patient, go through the slower maze, answering more automated questions. Whoever I speak with this time also says that I need a new modem. And he apologizes for the inconvenience of me having been on hold so long. It seems like he might have some other direction for me, but he suddenly disappears entirely. I have been hung up on.

Not to be defeated so easily, I call one more time. It should be noted that at this point James has left and Virginia has grown bored with the books I'm trying to use to entertain her and is
now pushing random buttons on my computer. The screen display was upside down by the time she was done. Great. Anyway, on this call I once again push 0 a bunch of times and, after surrendering minimal information, I speak with a very nice woman who, of course, apologizes for the inconvenience of...well, she couldn't actually put all of what had happened to me/us in words. But she tried valiantly, and I politely tried not to laugh. This time I told her that I needed a new modem. I figured yet another diagnosis would just waste time. She still checked and concurred that, yep, the red power light means you need a new modem. Then, wonder of wonders, she said something helpful! If you want a new modem really quickly, you can just go to an AT&T store and buy one. Tonight even. She gives me the addresses and phone numbers of three such stores in Madison. And if they don't have a modem, Best Buy will. There's hope! With a little luck, we can be blissfully back online tonight! I call the store, and they don't even close until 8pm.

I start to call James to give him the good news, but Virginia has a little meltdown and needs to be put to bed for any further progress on the modem problem will be permitted. That's fine, they're open until 8. To bed she goes, and I call James to tell him where the store is. As we're finishing our conversation, I glance at the modem and notice that there are green lights now. In fact, the power light is green. The ethernet light is green. And only the DSL light is red. I do the standard fix of unplugging everything, waiting fifteen seconds, then plugging it all back in. The lights flash, they flash some more, and suddenly, they're all green! I open up my laptop, get the screen display turned right side up again, and open up Mozilla. Low and behold, the internet is fine. Everything is fine. For no apparent reason, the modem has returned from the dead.

It is now 6:35 p.m. And while I am a little chagrined that two irretrievable hours of my life have been donated to customer service calls, I am also feeling a little grateful that I never did get to speak with anyone who would take my credit card number and send me a new modem. Because it probably would have taken at least two hours to convince them they wanted to let me send it back for a refund.