Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Blog about Writing, Art and Raising Kids

Anything with a "hood" attached scares me, including my old Lincoln Town Car, so here and following will be thoughts on the mental high-wire act of writing semi-seriously while semi-seriously raising a child (young or old). Welcome are everyone's ruminations and advice.

Sounds Like "Chan Choo"

“What do we say?” I ask
the two year-old whose
raising is my task.

He answers me in the cold
playroom, “Sit!” still
needing to be told

the magic word when
you want someone to follow
an order set as question.

His “pease” rings hollow
among the toys whose parts
I hope he doesn’t swallow.

I jump when he starts
for my naked desk
to practice his dark arts

on mousepad and blotter.
In my weary arms
he is slick as an otter,

barking, “Mine, mine”
at my hand and all he sees,
as all that was once the line

between me and them
disappears in sippy cups
and apothegm

about ways to change
a soggy diaper,
while not to estrange

myself from the tongue
I spoke before I was
devoured by my young.

Where's the Machine?

How is it that computer placement can mean so much?

In our duplex bedroom apartment, we have two computers on the upper level (our offices), a desktop on our kitchen table, and two laptops that make the rounds. It's hard to spend time on the second floor, because that either takes us our of Bradley earshot or brings him upstairs where he demands we play with him instead of working on our computer. Downstairs we at least have a shot at keeping him amused for stretches of time (20-30 minutes) while we work. Of course if only one of us is home, the situation becomes even less manageable.

I used to try and sit on the floor with him, "playing," while sneaking minutes to type or read. Aside from the detrimental (to him and me) distraction, the challenge to get mental focus from zero to sixty in three seconds was enormous. Even with half-hour stretches of work, this is a huge problem.

A couple of months ago, I gave up trying to divide attention, and now save writing for the downstairs desktop, at times my wife takes Bradley out; for an hour or two at the upstairs desktop after Bradley goes down and before the customary midnight bedtime (which leaves barely enough hours to sleep before he wakes up between 7:30 and 8); and for the laptop when I am out of town or away at our summer property by myself, or, if I'm there with Denise and Bradley, for nighttime, when he's asleep and Denise also has work to do. (On the property we stay in a camper that has one small table, on which we set our two laptops back to back. Sometimes, one or both of us can sit on the deck and write, but with Bradley loose on two acres, this isn't a great option.)

So, where and how do you work and watch you kids at the same time? Do you? How have you arranged your living space to combine or separate work and child-rearing?