Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Running so I can (Run and THEN) Stand Still . . .

Whenever I meet someone and they inform me that they are smart or super intelligent or something to that effect I immediately form the opinion that they are in fact, most likely, not smart at all. As one manipulator to another I personally find that very insulting. If nothing else, I am good at forming opinions.

So feel free to form your own opinion but today I realized I'm a bit of an idiot. Not really blog-worthy info, I know but bear with me.

I have this mentality, I've always had it--I guess you could call it running to stand still. Right, the U2 song but the saying has been around forever. Cliche. Right, surprise again, me? Cliche, never.

I think it is maybe an ADD quality because I see it in Beau. For example, I will ask Beau and Carmella to pick up their toys around the house and clean their room. Within 5 minutes Beau, whose room was 10 times messier will announce "Done!" And go downstairs and turn on the Wii. Carmella, on the other hand will be still cleaning her already clean room and getting ready to organize her closet too, right after she gets done folding all her American Girl doll clothes and arranging her stuffed animals in little conversational vignettes.

I warn  Beau that I am going to check. And he will run to his room, shut the door and I will hear some banging around and then after 10 or so minutes, he will emerge and tell me, to "Go ahead. Check."

I tell him I will be looking under the bed . . . and his eyes will shift but he gives nothing away. Instead, he goes back downstairs, turns on the Wii and resumes, along with Hans Solo, saving the universe.

At first look, the room is perfect (for a 7 year old having cleaned it), even under the bed is clear. I start to leave but notice one of the shelves above his top bunk is crooked. Well, that's no good! So I climb up there and while straightening it I see, stuffed between the bunks and the wall but not easily seen when just standing in the room eye level, his sheets--fitted and top because I guess he was too lazy to put them on, straighten them--I don't know. He tells me "sheets are hard." Just like he use to tell me buttons were too hard and he only wanted elastic pants.

Stuffed animals, some lego Star Wars,  along with dirty clothes, books, binoculars, hand written notes and other miscellaneous items are tucked in between the side board and mattress and the wall. There is so much there that you know that it wasn't a case of a toy falling to the wayside, getting stuck and accidentally being overlooked. No, they were placed specifically there. This involved thinking and method. This is sneaky.

So I begin investigating. I open the closet. Sure enough, clothes, shoes, and whatever else is stuff, shoved, tossed and pushed where ever it can fit and the closet door can still close. I don't even bother to look in the drawers. I'll find that another day. I don't even have time for this. Why? Because I want to go to the gym and get my run done. This is all cutting into my time! My time that I planned and had accounted for!

Le big fat sigh. I think, annoyed and knowing that this is my Mama's curse yet again biting me in the ass: a child just like me. . .
Karma, Karma, bo-bkarma
Banana-fana fo-fkarma
I yell for Beau to come and having pulled everything out I tell him he has to put everything away in its right place. And I have stripped his beds too so now he has to remake them the correct way. He is pissed.  I am pissed too because this is all going to take more time. Time that I have not scheduled for! Already I am changing my planned hour spin bike and easy 6 mile treadmill run to just a run, treadmill intervals I decide. As many as I can do. That will be harder, I decide. A compromise, not what I want but still better than nothing.

Sure, I could just let it go but everybody knows when it comes to parenting it never ever workouts out when you try to rob Peter to pay Paul. In my experience Peter is the debt that is never forgotten. He is always coming back around looking for his money.

So the problem is twofold here. The first, in the case of Beau, is that he spent so much time trying to get out of cleaning that had he just done it right in the first place he would be done. He put so much effort into NOT doing the thing that was expected of him that in the end he wasted more of his time (and mine!). If he had just done what was expected of him he would have been long done. This is proving a very long and not so sharp of a learning curve for Beau.We deal with this in nearly every aspect of his life down to the smallest things--like eating a meal, writing a thank you note. It is all very time consuming and also, very frustrating because I am still trying to straighten out my own damn curve on this issue.

Hmm, I guess on second thought that curve might be wrong word because when it comes to parenting Beau it isn't so much a curve as it appears to be one freaking circle.

Anyway, I'd like to think that I am not like Beau anymore but honestly my methodology in approaching tasks that I don't love has just evolved. Certainly I don't try to avoid them or go to great efforts to skirt around them like he does but instead I put a great deal of effort into  trying to make said tasks easier or at least more palatable. Really, I put a lot of effort into trying to trick myself into thinking that I am getting out of something when really I am not.

While I won't go to length's anymore to avoid a job I don't want to do  I still  try to find the easy way out while still doing what is expected. And I am finding that while it may seem I might be "trumping the chore" so to speak it has occurred to me that I might also be making things harder for myself than if I just tackled the task as it came. But I don't know, maybe not.

Like anyone I have things I have to do before I can get to do what I want to do. This is that running to stand still part and while that is probably meant as a metaphor in my case it is literal.

I feel like I am running so that I can go running or biking or swimming or to yoga. I near exhaust myself to plan for it and it does, at times, occur to me that is a little crazy.

But this is a long ingrained habit of mine that I have to think I developed in response to what I see Beau going through. My first memory of it is when we would go back packing as a family. I would complain at length how hard it was, how tired I was, how heavy my pack was, and how much I wanted to quit. Everyone else would just quietly march ahead, ignoring me. I would ask "how long till we can stop for a break?" And my dad would say in about 15 minutes or in a mile. So I would start running. My thinking was that I would get to the rest spot first and have to wait on them. Thus I would get extra rest time, more rest than everyone else. How smart is that?

Right, if you go twice as fast you do almost need twice as much rest. See how it is still the same and also probably more effort than if I had just shut up, sucked it up and marched along with the rest of them?

Then in high school I discovered what I called "planned procrastination." For example I'd get an assignment to do a research paper. We'd have a month to complete it. Now my normal inclination would have been to put it off and wait until the night before and stay up all night and write it the day before the due date. Knowing this about myself I would prepare for it. I would decide on my topic and do all the research. I would write up an outline, pick out my quotes, write my works cited and then set it all aside until the night before it was due and then stay up all night writing the 20 page paper.

This seemed to work pretty well and it did take off some of the stress of leaving something to the last minute since I had done some of the leg work. But why, why if I had done all the research and damn near had the thing written 3 weeks earlier--why wouldn't I have just written it then? I don't know. I guess I kind of thought this was how everyone did stuff.

Then I found out when I dated this guy in high school  who was really studious (I don't want to say smart because I always did better on tests but I guess he was smarter than me . . .)  and in my Southern lit class that this was  not how everyone else wrote their term papers. He not only began his researching his paper immediately he also began writing his paper even though we still had three weeks until it was due! I think that was the first time I ever heard the word "rough draft." You mean you do more than one? I asked.  He laughed at me. I think he thought I was joking because then he asked to see my "rough draft". I showed him my outline.

So, you know, now that I am a real live adult I've been trying it the studious way: the research, write, edit, revise and rewrite way (please note, this methodology does not apply to blogging. Still old school there!) Oh, and by the way this  being an adult thing is not an age thing. It is because I have kids and I have to set the example. By default, I am the adult so for that reason I try to (most times) act like one.

What in the hell am I talking about? Well, I'll tell you. In plain terms. This week I need /want to ( I still get those words confused) go to Bikram yoga in the evening and go to the Roswell ride. Both those activities keep me out when I should be at home playing mommy in the kitchen. I also want to do a long run on Friday and ride my bike on Saturday. Both big workout days that will leave me tired and not inclined to slave over a hot stove after slaving for a few hours in the August heat running and riding.

Now my mom, Lala/Smut use to do this thing  she called "making plates." I know I have mentioned before that my affection for endorphins is inherited. My mom use to go to step aerobics in the morning and in the evening.  Sometimes she would run too so that could have been her evening workout.  My dad was also a twice a day workout fiend. Running in the morning, step aerobics with mom or karate in the evenings. Us kids would complain about having to eat dinner so late. So my mom would make dinner everyday sometime around 3 or 4 pm. Then she would clean the kitchen, put every one's food on their plate, cover it with tinfoil and pop it in the oven on warm. Then you were free to eat your dinner whenever you wanted.  This worked awesome for us when we were kids and had things like work, sports or social events after school. We also didn't have to wait to eat with my parents whose preferred eating time is never before 9pm.

I will admit making plates is genius  but the flaw in the making plates process is that you have to well, make the plates.  You have to make them everyday. You also have to be willing to leave your oven on. Something that is okay in the winter but in August? In Atlanta?

So my "genius" Nat idea was to make a bunch of meals yesterday and freeze them so that I wouldn't have to do much the rest of the week. I could catch a break was my thinking!

Pork roast in the crock pot with lime juice, salsa and cumin. Monday for pork tacos, leftover pork and black beans to made into Enchiladas Verde and frozen for dinner Friday night.

Baked Ziti. One for this week and one for next week.
On paper, and I am just saying that since I didn't actually write it down, it seemed like a good idea. But in execution (isn't that always the case?) I think it may prove more work than if I just cooked every night before going to my workout and ordering pizza when I am tried. 
For certain, I don't think I am actually getting out of any work here, which originally, I guess I thought maybe I would. I thought I could at least trick myself into thinking that someone else made me dinner. But I think, if I were to add up the hours spent making extra meals and cleaning up from making them and then add in the clean up involved on the days I eat them I think I added an extra hour or two in the kitchen rather than sparing myself any.

That part kind of bothers me. The doing of extra.

I am still not a person who wants to naturally do the extra, just cause. (Especially when it comes to things like laundry, cooking and cleaning. )This is not to say that I won't become one but at the very least I am not a person who is trying to get away with less anymore. Even if you don't see it, trust me, that is progress.

Yes though, I am still that little girl with a 30lb Jansport backpack racing down the trail, trying to beat everyone else to the rest stop so I can catch more of a break. Old habits die hard.

However, I do think that when I get home from yoga, or my bike ride or from running in the woods for a few hours when certainly I will be tired, hungry and have eyes only for food and energy only to shower that I will be grateful for the extra.  I am thinking I might even be pleased with myself at my forethought of doing the extra; for having dinner done. I will be able to relax after wards because I will have all the laundry washed and folded and put it away so that the only dirty clothes in the house are the workout clothes I peel off of me. No looming laundry baskets. And  I will be happy to sit in my clean (ish, let's be honest here) house so I can relax without guilt and worry that there is something I should be doing or should have done. Oh, and for sure, the next morning when I am stiff, sore and invariably extra tired I will be relieved that I had made certain the kids backpacks were packed, clothes laid out and everything was in its place before I  went to bed so I won't have to run up and downstairs searching for shoe, sock, homework or book because, well, probably I won't be able to, at least not quickly.

I am certain I will be grateful for it all, when (if) it happens, but there is always that Beau factor, that karma that always thwarts my plans for sitting still; my plans for lethargy. So in truth, I am always running in hopes that eventually there really will be that rare moment when I will find myself standing still.  Until then I guess I will keep on running so that when it arrives, I will be able to enjoy it.


  1. Beau is like Cameron. The running and changing your plans doesn't stop for a while. Thwarting your plan is their specialty. It will continue until they move out of the house and then you miss those moments.

  2. This post made me feel tired and stressed.

    I should mention that I feel the same way about the restaurants. I have yet to break 40 miles in a week. This is not a physical limitation, but a temporal one. It ALWAYS sucks to be the responsible adult. I often get stuck picking up the slack of others, my time being the only real casualty...

    Beau, though? Hilarious!

  3. "So in truth, I am always running in hopes that eventually there really will be that rare moment when I will find myself standing still. Until then I guess I will keep on running so that when it arrives, I will be able to enjoy it." - this describes my life every weekend of the year.