I am in the car about forty hours a week. I hired a driver. She won’t drive all the times I have to drive. Of course she won’t. Her life would suck.
It doesn’t matter. I have to be in the car for so much anyway.
I can’t ditch my son’s therapy appointments. I need to be there to say, “Of course nose picking is like cutting.” I’m an expert on cutting. Digging out eyebrow hairs so they bleed or tearing cuticles so they hurt all day. I need to be there to translate for the therapist the world of comfort through pain.
And the kids can’t learn their instruments if I’m not with them for lessons. Suzuki is about the parent being a fucking partner with the teacher. So I have to be there for that too.
Also, don’t fucking give me suggestions about what you do with your kids on your ten-hour car trips. I am on a ninety-thousand-hour car trip to fucking Juilliard and it never ends.
This Olympic season, can we please read about how the athletes’ Olympic dreams destroy their family’s dreams of being normal? We will read about parents not being able to scrape together airfare to Sochi, but I wonder how they scraped together room and board at ten thousand ski resorts during training: the dirty underbelly of extreme talent.
On the day I told you to sign up for my freelance course because I have such an amazingly fun, high-earning career that people want to learn to be like me, on that day I threw all the Rice Chex on the kitchen table and then I banged my fists on them to squash them.
Does it count that I did not bang my fists on my kids? Does it count that Rice Chex are gluten-free? It takes a lot of parental discipline to keep the family gluten free. Unfortunatly it also takes a lot of family discipline to not scare the shit out of your kids with your anger, and obviously, I don’t have that discipline.
Which is why I had an appointment at the psychiatrist for myself on that Thursday.
But on the way to the car, I see my son’s boots, covered in pig manure. I call Matthew. He’s in the lobby of his therapist’s office. He is getting therapy for anger management. I say, “Why the fuck did you leave the boots outside instead of cleaning them? Now we have frozen poop.”
He says it was already frozen.
“What boots do you think he’s gonna wear now?”
“He has his other boots.”
“They’re rain boots.”
“They’ll be okay.”
“You’re nuts. You’re a lazy, negligent fuck head. I fucking hate you. I have to do everything.”
The kids hear that. They are standing in front of the door. One is crying. They worry incessantly that I’ll get a divorce again.
So the kids are shaken and Matthew is probably using his anger management therapy session to talk about how I need anger management therapy more, but I’ve been in therapy for 40 years. I am very aware of when my anger is out of control. And knowing is the first step, right? It’s just that I’ve been at that first step for ten years.
At the psychiatrist it turns out my older son’s anxiety meds will run out if I don’t get a new prescription and this is actually the appointment for him. We share a psychiatrist. That’s right. My psychiatrist specializes in adolescents on the autistic spectrum because I am a good time manager.
We sit down and my son is crying and the psychiatrist thinks it’s from the meds. My son says, “It’s my mom’s yelling.”
And I say that probably I’m the biggest problem he has in his life, but right now we just need to get a refill for him.
The psychiatrist writes the refill and says, “I think I need to see your mom alone.”
I’m wearing a hooded down coat zipped up because I get really cold when I get stressed. You know Kenny in South Park wearing his coat everywhere? That’s me. I’m Kenny.
The psychiatrist is worried for the kid’s safety. He tells me I need a break.
I ask to go to the mental ward.
He says okay.
It’s nice to know that I have such good insurance. I say, “Is there a mental ward where I can do my work?”
“I think they all let you do that.”
“Then why doesn’t everyone go?”
We agree that I’ll spend four days in a hotel in Chicago with my younger son, near cello lessons, so I don’t have to drive.
I tell my son it’ll be fun.
People think we don’t have a TV because I care about my kid’s mental development. But really we don’t have a TV so my kids leave me alone when we are in a hotel. To my kids, a hotel is TV heaven.
The next day, five minutes into our trip, I sort of look left but not really. I still have my hood on. It is blocking my view.
We crash. Loud. Glass. Airbags.
My son says, “Mom. The car is burning. We have to get out.”
He is right.
I call a friend who is actually a former nanny because I don’t actually have friends, just people I pay to do stuff. I need her to come get the kids because I don’t want them to see the car blow up, but also, I think I’m going to jail for driving on a suspended license.
Matthew says, “I don’t think anyone will insure us anymore.”
He says this later. A lot later. When we agree that the best thing for me to do is not drive anymore. I can’t pay attention.
You would never think that someone who lives on a farm and homeschools would have a full-time driver. So I didn’t want one. But really, each of us needs something different in order to do our lives. I spend a lot of time looking around at other people, trying to figure out how they do their lives and how I can copy it.
But I need to trust my instincts more. I should not be driving. I should be paying an insane amount of money to have a driver available to me at all times.
5. Many high earners would trade eccentricities for mental stability if they could.
Often when I’m coaching people I feel like a clairvoyant. It’s incredibly easy for me to see what other people should be doing. I need so little time. My mind is not cluttered by common safety rules.
I’m afraid that the more extreme your incompetences are, the more extreme your earning power is. You just need to find it. If you have a normal brain then you have a normal skill set and a normal salary. You will not blow people away with your ability to see through them. Or anything else. You will look both ways at stop signs.
We each think we want high earning power and special talent. But the cost is high. I think what you want is a good night’s sleep. Without extra pills.