Bait and Swish

I love my daughter. I adore every fiber of her being. But her newest habit’s going to make me tear my hair out.

It’s saliva swishing. Like what you do with water after brushing your teeth, but using spit. It’s loud, gross, and sort of scary. I don’t know how she summons enough liquid to make the racket she does. It’s like Niagara Falls in there. She must have over-active glands. It sounds like the final deluge. I should build an ark.

She does this constantly, but it’s most acute when she’s concentrating. When she draws, for example, or attempts to write. It’s at its worst for puzzles. Of which, right now, we are doing a lot. I say “right now” because I find the passion for puzzling waxes and wanes. It’s like a food craving, but in a three-year-old. Who isn’t pregnant. Anyway. These days MJ wakes up asking for them. They must be comforting in some way. It makes sense–the order, the fulfillment, the knowing where things go. I get it. But the swishing. Jesus Christ!

At first I tried saying nothing. The advent of this new behavior has coincided, roughly, with my going back to work; if it’s a self-soothing mechanism, I figured, far be it from me to take it away from her. Then it became incessant. Giving in, I asked her kindly to stop. Nothing doing. We finally arrived at the “you’re seriously grossing me out” phase. She thought that was hilarious. The more discomfited I became, the happier she was.

It usually ends, now, in a threat that I will leave the room (and the puzzle) if she doesn’t stop. I feel badly about this. But I have a sound thing. Or certain sounds. Wet ones. Mouthy ones. I’d rather she farted. She could fart incessantly and I’d hardly notice. I would think it was cute. I can do poop, toenail biting, even puke. I’m mildly freaked out by nose-picking, but I’d even take that over this.

And yet. The pleasure of being in her company these days is so sheer, so pure, so profound, that even aural torture can barely make a dent.  Every moment is a gift. I feel totally unable to accomplish anything else, of course–anything that takes me away from her is intolerable. Phone calls to return? Sorry. House to clean? Later. Fundraising for her preschool? Someday. Time enough for all of that, I reason, after she’s gone to bed. Except there isn’t. Life, it seems, is about to get more disorganized. The puzzles may be the only thing in this house with all of their pieces in place.

On the other hand, the whole working thing may not last. At least not this job. I learned  from my boss a couple of days ago that a mistake was made– I can’t, in fact, get benefits for my family as a part-timer. Only for me. He’s terribly sorry for the mixup. He’s aware I took the job believing otherwise. His hands, however, are tied.

Never mind. I have to stay for now. Money is money, and one less insurance premium to pay is better than nothing. So I’ll stick it out, at least until Mike finds work. It’s hard. But there are up-sides. On the three days I’m there, for example, I hear no mouth sounds. Saliva is out of the picture completely. It’s a totally spitless environment.

There is one other perk: I have time to read. So I finished my book. The one about horseshoe crabs and other ancient species. It was a slog, but I got through it on my breaks. And I’m glad I did. It was helpful, in the middle of all of this, to be reminded of the vast sweep of time on earth, the six major extinction events that have occured since its inception, the millions of species that have come and gone. And of the four billion years the planet’s been here. Four. Billion. Such numbers give me comfort.  When they’re not scaring the shit out of me.

Having said that, my next book is “Gone Girl.” Book Club again. There goes all perspective, all wisdom, and half my brain cells, too.

I’ll get them back doing puzzles. I just need a pair of earplugs.

And a little bit more time.

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3 thoughts on “Bait and Swish

  1. Jeff McElroy

    Ah…don’t you see? This is God’s funny little way of easing your way back to work. And it seems to be working.
    And this is one of the most entertaining posts you’ve written in some time. I’m glad you’re back!

    Reply
      1. Jeff McElroy

        Without a sense of humor, I’m sure I’d be locked away somewhere where they would slide me cups of pills through a hole in the door, which would keep me content.
        As for the Woolly Mammoth, I hear they had had a terrible sense of humor. They held grudges because they couldn’t just forgive and especially couldn’t forget. Plus those damn tusks were in their way all the time. They’re extinct, not because early humans hunted them, but because they didn’t find enough time to laugh and just wind down. Silly Mammoths….

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