Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Sisyphean ducks

Helena had egg the other day, and she didn't throw up.

The girl certainly seems to know what she likes and to have a handle on what's good for her.

Last winter, after our offers of egg were hesitantly accepted and them regurgitated, we even had Helena tested for an allergy. Nothing. The doctor's best guess was that Helena had some trouble digesting egg. (Thanks for the professional medical opinion.) Or she didn't like it much. (I guess she'd have to really not like it, to think about it for an hour or two and then decide to vomit it all out of there.)

She's never had a problem with egg as an ingredient in other things — egg bread, for example.

Anyway, she's expressed interest in eating egg, with a decided preference for whites, and intends to digest it thoroughly.

She's a good egg, that girl.

Currently, for the second time in a week, she's staying with J-F's mom, so I can get some, ahem, work done.

Frankly, editing this 98-chapter text on neurological disorders in children is giving me a headache. It reinforces my suspicion that as a child I was severely neurologically disordered, and I continue to be so. The descriptions of migraine onset triggers are acting as triggers in themselves.

But I'd better just buckle down and do it. It's not like I have a real job to go to. Remember my interviews of the other week? Sigh. This makes three times now I've been declared overqualified for jobs in Montreal. What does that mean? When people say "overqualified," I always think "bullshit."

What this means is that people with more professional authority than I think I deserve more money, I deserve to work in a stimulating environment, I deserve far better things. So they say. Well, I don't care what I deserve anymore. I just want a regular paycheck, with regular work hours, so we can buy ourselves a regular condo and go on regular vacations to New York City and Paris, like regular people. I can't wait to show Helena Paris. So many carousels!

I also think Montreal is a little underqualifed for my standards of work. Just get over the bilingualism thing already. English copy deserves the attention of a specialist in English. Ditto French. A bilingual copy editor is generally not a good copy editor. Good enough, you seem to think. Ah, Montreal, you have so much to learn.

So here I sit, editing away on various freelance contracts. And the guilt is unbearable. I'm at home after all — you'd think I could attend to my toddler's needs while I whip out chapter after chapter. It's a tough sell, convincing "others" (all those strangers who pass me in the street and dare to judge me), but most especially convincing myself, that freelance work at home is still real work, like watching a toddler is a different kind of real work, and you just can't do both at the same time. And I can't live on 4 hours of sleep a night.

Yesterday we went to the playground for a couple hours in the morning. Took a jaunt over to Mont Royal to buy whatever vegetable we'd run out of and really needed. Dropped off some film, picked up some Swiffer cloths. Home for lunch, then off to the wading pool for an hour or so. Two loads of laundry, and only two chapters edited. I'm a little tired.

The wading pool is a lot of fun, though I'm still adjusting to the behaviour of children. What odd creatures. (They walk right up to me and try to take the watering can out of my hand. Imagine doing that as an adult...)

Helena decided to move a couple dozen of the communal plastic yellow ducks from the corner of the pool to a highly superior patch of water along one side. Very methodical, focused, two or three at a time. One little girl came to liberate a duck and Helena had the gall to give her some attitude (a brief shout and an outstreched hand). Oh well; only 26 ducks to manage now.

By the time Helena completed her transport efforts, most of the ducks had drifted back to within inches of their original positions. She didn't care.

We walked right across the middle of the pool. It's deeper than I imagined, creeping up on Helena's armpits. She showed a bit of hesitation, but plodded on through. Brave girl.

We were already getting ready to leave when a lifeguard blew his whistle. "Everybody out of the pool." Relative quiet as all the splashing stopped. The kids were out, the ducks stayed in. I looked up to see a young woman wearing the standard-issue "sauveur"-emblazoned white t-shirt standing in the middle of the pool. She was also wearing galoshes up to her knees, a rubber apron, and a gas mask while pouring in what I assume to be chlorine, stirring it up as she walked the perimeter.

We'd been splashing about while the water was at its "dirtiest." We know by the smell that the pool is kept highly chlorinated. I'd rather soak my feet in a bath of chlorine than baby pee. I think. I don't know how long the kids had to wait before going back in.

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