Monday, May 16, 2011

The tinklefairy

This morning as I was getting Dragonsita ready for school I bent down to get some socks out of her dresser and my knee popped as I got up. As usual, Dragonsita had to throw in her 2 cents worth.

Me: "Ow..."

Dragonsita: "It's cause the old fairy came and made you old"

Me: "Are you saying that Tinkerbell sprinkled my knee with fairy dust and made it old?!"

Dragonsita: "No! Fairy dust makes you fly and Tinkerbell just makes things. She's a Tinkle fairy!"

Me: "A Tinkle fairy??"

Dragonsita: "Yes, because she's a good tinklerer. Anyways, you are old all over"

Me: "Gee, thanks"

Dragonsita: *giggles* "You need old people stuff now. Maybe Poppa could let you use his cane" 

If she had her way, I would be in a retirement community already.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A new take on potty training

I have two wonderful daughters who always keep me on my toes. Today Dragonsita ("almost 6" as she constantly reminds me) came up with a very interesting way to potty train Fussy (2).

I went out to the garage to answer the doorbell (no, I am not interested in buy more papaya right now, please stop ringing). It took a long time to convince the vender to remove his foot from my door so that I could shut it because I'm not buying. When I got back inside Dragonsita met me at the door:

Dragonsita: "Mami! Fussy is a big girl now! She's wearing Dora panties!"

Me: "Now she's going to pee on everything"

Dragonsita: "She already peed. But, don't worry Mama! It didn't on everything, it didn't. She's got some adult diapers!"

At this point I'm starting to worry because I wasn't aware we had any in the house. So I decide to go check it out. Sure enough, there is my toddler waddling around in her bedroom wearing a pair of Dora panties. They were a little difficult for her to walk in because my little problem solver had decided to put a pad inside in case her little sister went potty in her underwear.

Dragonsita: "See Mami! Now she can be a big girl like me and you don't have to worry about if she won't ever use the potty! My bestest friend told me that sometimes her Mama pees her pants when she sneezes, is that why you have adult diapers? This way Fussy can be a big girl and pee in her adult diaper and be happy 'cause she has Dora on her butt!"

I don't think that my attempt to be a responsible parent and point out that she got into my stuff without asking was very effective while laughing.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Then and now

6 1/2 years ago I visited Mexico for the first time as a newlywed. I had been married for less than 2 months when my mother-in-law suffered a massive stroke. We dropped everything and flew down. Then, Mexico was an amazing place. Truly awesome. Despite the somber reason for visiting, I found everything beautiful and wonderful. I met my inlaws, most of whom I liked. We arrived very late September 15th, so my first real day in Mexico consisted of us being delayed on the way to the hospital by a parade for Mexico's independence day. Watching the little girls in their tradition adalita dresses and green, white, and red bows in their hair made me smile. Walking to the taco stands was an adventure. Strolling around Central was a daily pastime I enjoyed. My visit lasted 1 month, and I enjoyed almost every minute of it (the highlight being when I discovered I was pregnant when every doctor I had ever seen had told me that was impossible!).

One thing sticks out though. I had walked with my husband daily to Romeral to go to the super. One day he was out with friends that he hadn't seen in years, and I was bored at home. No big deal, I knew the way to the super. I could walk there and pick up a snack. I was excited about my time alone in this fascinating new place. As I walked I waved and said "Buenos Tardes", as I had been taught, to all those I passed. I was happy. However, when I returned to the house, it was a very different feeling I experienced. My husband was not happy. He had returned to his sister telling him that his young, white American wife with limited Spanish, had taken a walk on her own. He was scared out of his mind. He kept telling me all the horrible things that could have happened to me, even in our own little colonia. This was 6 1/2 years ago, before the "cartel issues" started. I know that he had my well-being in mind. What he forgot (we'd only been married 2 months though, so completely understandable) is that I am bipolar, have OCD, and panic disorder. I'm already prone to what seems to others as completely irrational fear.

Fast forward almost 4 years. We had just moved to Mexico and my husband was doing his best to fill the protective role. This time, I'm more scared of Mexico. I've seen the news, and combined with the feelings that I left Mexico with (thanks to one small isolated event that most would have put out of their mind in 3 years), I've come back paranoid and seeing danger in everyone. My husband, with the best of intentions, only increases that feeling with his need to keep me and his then 2 year old child safe and sheltered. He doesn't know what has changed or is going on in his city, and he fears the worst. For the next 2 years, if I even walk to the little tienda on the corner of our street, I'm not allowed to go unaccompanied. I learn to fall asleep with a cell phone with my brother in law's (lives next door) phone number already loaded and all I have to do is press talk. Really though, that's silly. What's he gonna do? Break down my door armed with a loaded squirt gun? Or, maybe he'll get his goat to break down the wall dividing our houses because a fly flew past my head and I twitched and hit call. I developed a habit of waking up and doing the "2 am stalk" through the house with a butcher knife because the dog sneezed.

Now we've been here 3 years. My husband has become frustrated at my lack of independence. I am frustrated at my inability to handle the smallest thing outside the house without dissolving into a puddle of fear. My eldest daughter started Kinder this year. For the first month, I was a nervous wreck walking her to school with my toddler each morning on my own. I still fight a burst of unreasoned panic when I open my front door to push the stroller out each morning. I still have only managed to leave the house for something non-school related on my own once. The 4 calls from my husband to make sure I was OK did not help. Yes, things are scary. Yes, it's not easy. But I know, in my head, that I am capable of taking care of myself and the children on my own. It's my emotions I can't control. I don't need to fight some non-existent stranger who is out to murder the stupid American. I'm too busy fighting myself.

Friday I go for an interview for a big private school teaching English. My therapist's sister happens to be in charge of hiring, and my therapist got me the interview. This has me paralyzed. Yes, Friday my husband will take me to the interview. The interviewer speaks English, so I am confident in my abilities to wow her. That's not what scares me. What scares me is "What if I actually get the job?". Goodness knows we could use the money. That's not the issue. I could easily arrange child-care for my toddler and get someone to walk my eldest to school; that's not a problem. The thought of getting there, multiple buses, on my own, possibly in the morning when it's still dark, THAT scares me. Getting home, making it on my own, THAT scares me. All this on top of the usual "Will I do well in this job?". On top of worries that, "what if I don't speak enough Spanish? What if it's older children or adults that I'm not used to dealing with? What about the politics in a job that are difficult enough to manage in my native language but now will also involve a language that I'm not proficient enough in? What if I walk into the interview and fall on my face and my pants rip and the entire school body sees my underwear?"

All these questions have been rumbling in my brain the last few days. It's keeping me up at nights, leaving me a jumpy, snappy mess in the mornings. I'm afraid that this is going to leave me in such a mess that I blow my chance at independence. My chance to prove to myself I can do it. And our chance to finally make headway in this uphill battle for financial survival that we've been fighting ever since we moved here 3 years and 4 days and 20 hours ago. It is time for me to take that step out of my comfort zone. And I know I don't do it alone. I have a great support system. My husband is there, I have inlaws who will watch over my children, I have a great therapist, but most of all, I CAN DO THIS! Now if I could get my hands on some duct tape and Xanax to shut up the irrational voice in my head, I would be set.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Cinco De Mayo and Adaption

Cinco De Mayo has duel meaning for us. Yes, it's a holiday for the Battle of Puebla. But this Cinco de Mayo also marked our 3 year anniversary of our move to Mexico. That always confuses me: 3 years. It confuses me because last December when we celebrated our 3rd Christmas in Mexico I started forgetting and saying we had been here 3 years. Well, that's kinda truthful. We were working on our 3rd year. Now we have completed our 3rd year in Mexico. We've started in on our 4th year. Funny, I still remember my first thought when we finally arrived at my sister in law's house at 3:34 AM on the 5th of May: "Damn, I'm tired" and "Why is the rooster crowing now?! It's still dark out!". Yes, I had no prior experience with farm animals. I have since learned that NOTHING will shut a rooster up and it will crow all. day. long.

At my therapy appointment on the 4th of May, my therapist asked me "How well do you feel you've adapted?". I knew this was an important question because she asked it in English (normally she speaks Spanish to me, and I answer in English). This got me started wondering, what exactly is adaption? Yes, I've been here 3 years now and I wonder, "Have I adapted?" I still cannot speak Spanish enough to make sense to those who are not used to me. I can only conjugate in the present tense, so you kind of have to guess if I really mean now, or if I mean past or future. The mop still frustrates me sometimes. Yes, I've used one like it before, but years of my Swiffer wet jet have spoiled me.  The only meals that I can do well enough to do on a somewhat daily basis are beans, rice, quesadillas, and various fried tacos. I get lonely. I have no friends. I cannot relate to my inlaws because since I married the baby of his family and also happen to be 10+ years younger than him, my sister and brother in laws are the same age as my parents. Sure, my nieces and nephews are my age (or slightly older), but since I'm their aunt there is a barrier there. The heat still overwhelms me at the beginning of every summer, and the rainy season still pisses me off while also making me clap for joy.

On the other side though, I can eat spicy salsa with soda to drink and no longer end up with sweat, snot, and tears running down my face. I've managed to deal with the constant stream of dirt flowing in our windows. I can handle a bus and 2 kids now without fearing that we are either going to run over a car or wanting to puke from the abrupt stops when I slam my head into the seat in front of me. I've learned how to carry 25 million bags on an umbrella stroller while still keeping it from tipping over backwards because my baby weighs less than the veggies from Mercado. I can ride my bike with my toddler in the baby seat and my 5 year old sitting on the bar in front of my seat while holding bags on both sides of the handle bars. I've learned to love garrafons and how to tell if a gas tank is empty by tapping on it.

I do not know if I have adapted. Depends on how you would define "adaption". For now though, I'm still a work in progress.