Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Another Monday

Yesterday, I tried to make the day about JY. She's almost six months old. First I called the library to sign her up for storytime. Those of you who have small children under 2, check out what your library has to offer them! Many libraries have increased their services for the 0-4 crowd and their parents, offering storytimes, sign language classes, and more.

Then I spent the morning before she got up putting photos into her Baby Journal. And in the afternoon, we did arts and crafts! We made some hand prints and foot prints. They hang on the wall next to her crib now. I don't think she understood what we were doing at all (Mommy why are you coating my hand in black sticky stuff?), but I hope it was fun for her. I actually used an old fingerprinting pad from JT's former jail job for the foot before realizing that the kit came with an inkpad that's non-toxic, so I used that for her hand. It didn't all wash off though, so I'm making her wear those newborn mittens until it does.

Daddy came home, and the first thing I noticed were the drops of blood on his sweatpants, and the open sores on his wrist where they came from. He was crying. "They've singled me out as the weak one, and they're trying to weed me out. They want me to drop out." I put my arms around him. "They won't let up on me. They made me class sergeant again--who knows for how long this time."

This development actually happened on Friday. JT was telling me then, how he'll be class sergeant for the day and whenever he comes to something that he knows and can do well, like the twelve daily exercises, they pick somebody else to be class sergeant for that task. I told him this makes sense: academy isn't about showing off what you do well; it's about being beaten down for the things you don't until you do.

For JT, his memorization and academics are what keeps him going. He scored 95% on a test Friday that half the class failed. He took a spelling test yesterday and got a perfect score.

What did the tactical staff have to say about that? "We're gonna call up your police department. Tell them that you can spell but you can't jump a wall and you can't climb a rope. We're gonna tell them that you're not ready for this. You're a disgrace to your department." Then they give him more physical tasks like these as punishment for not having been able to do them.

So you can imagine the state in which my husband came home yesterday, and the work I had to do to put his self-esteem back together.

I held him for a while. He caught me staring at the blood spots on his pants, and asked me what I was thinking. I told him "a lot of things." Sad that he was bleeding and in pain. Wondering how I was going to get the stains out.

He was distraught that he might fail the physical part of academy, and have to look for a new job. He emailed the sergeant of his police department explaining the situation and all he got back in response was a curt, "Get it done." But he's trying as hard as he can--if these people could see the bruises sleeving his arms and the blisters crowding his palms they would see that, wouldn't they?

I brought him dinner in bed, told him that we'd be okay. "I shouldn't have said those things about your masters degree," he said, "because for all I know that may be the very thing that saves this family." I told him he didn't need to worry about providing for the family--that's just extra stress. We discussed what would happen though, if he didn't make it. I tried to do a little "best case, worst case". Best case, he would keep practicing and eventually climb that rope. Worst case, he would fail out, but then you have a range of other possible consequences to consider. Maybe he would just get sent to academy all over again. Maybe they'd send him to a different one. Or maybe he would have to look for a new job, a new path in life, and that's okay. We have a little money set aside, we'll be fine.

He asked me to go to a sports store and get some things he needed--under armour, wrist bands, and athletic tape. I also needed to buy some more Dryel for his uniform, which I've had to clean almost every night. I took the baby with me, carried her around the sporting goods store and and then made another stop at Albertsons for the Dryel and other cleaning products. The baby had been so good throughout this time, but as soon as we came home she started crying.

On our way in I accidentally brushed through a barn spider's web. This used to freak me out but last night I was apologetic for wrecking her hard work. I can relate to spiders now. I have restful mornings but my real work begins at sundown.

As I walked into the door with the baby in her car seat, the first thing JT said to me was, "By the way, I had to write a report because you ironed my uniform wrong. The collar isn't supposed to be stiff, it's supposed to lie flat. I'm just letting you know."

And my night went downhill from there.

You know, there are recruits who do all of this on their own. There's a single guy who lives with his parents and his mom absolutely refuses to do any of this for him. She says it was his choice and not hers, so he can iron his own uniform. I don't want to be that unsupportive, but sometimes I wish I could say the same thing.

I strapped the baby to me in one of those Baby Bjorn type infant carriers (although mine is actually a cheaper Chicco knock-off) and JY hated it. She fussed and cried while I tried to remove everything from JT's uniform, collect up his sand-caked PT gear, and put the one in the dryer and the other in the washer. She was hungry, but I selfishly wanted to get to bed before 1 a.m. and therefore needed to get the clothes started washing before I fed her. "I'm sorry, little bird," I told her. "In a minute your daddy will feed you and you'll have some nice Daddy time."

JT had told me, before I'd left for the store, that he would feed the baby when he was done writing reports. By the time I got the clothes loaded he was done, and already settling down into bed. But he wasn't getting off that easy. I brought his daughter to him and some rice cereal. I stayed with them a minute. When it quickly became apparent that his idea of feeding her was shoveling huge spoonfuls of food down her throat before she even had a chance to swallow, I lost it.

I took the spoon away from him and took over. "The one thing you said you'd do for me tonight was feed our daughter. But I'm not going to sit here and watch you choke her to death! You have to make sure she's swallowing! PAY F---ING ATTENTION!"

I'm sorry, but you put my baby in danger and you're gonna wake the bear.

A while later, the baby is fed but still not happy, and I'm making JT's lunch, and JT is in bed, crying out in pain. I'm starting to feel like Nurse Ratchet, like my house has turned into an insane asylum. I asked JT what was wrong and he said he thought he might have a bruised rib. I was freaked out. I said we should take him to the hospital but he said no. I asked how he's supposed to climb the wall and do ten pull-ups if he has a terrible stabbing pain in his side. He said he didn't know, but he didn't want to look like a baby by reporting his injury and sitting out from PT.

I was like, "Well, which is it then? Are you injured or are you a baby? Because if you're not going to treat this like a real injury then I'm not going to either. I've already got one crying baby to deal with and if you aren't really injured then maybe you could try to keep it down!"

"Ma'am, Yes Ma'am!"

I felt bad for how I was acting. It's just that I go a little crazy with all the crying and fussing that goes on around here. And to be honest, I don't think JT would have handled it any better if it was the other way around. He would have told me to quit. The times when I've been emotional or sad, he always yelled at me because he didn't know how to handle the stress of it. I think, on the whole, I've done okay...

I nursed the baby and put her to bed, and JT took some vicodin and fell asleep. I stayed up at least an hour longer, ironing his uniform and putting all the metal stuff back on it, getting his PT gear together, and cleaning up the kitchen which was a mess.

Then five hours later (at 5 a.m. this morning), I got up with him and walked him out to the car. I apologized for the way I talked to him and asked how he was doing. He said he was feeling okay. I hope his day goes better today. He knows that if he has chest pains again he needs to say something.


  1. Oh, sweet one.... I can totally relate. I remember those days. It was a daily "wondering" if DH was going to make it through academy or not. It truly is your own personal "academy hell" in a very private, personal way. Hang in there!! At least you know there is an end and it isn't indefinite. This too shall pass. I truly believe academy teaches our cops that whatever doesn't kill you makes you invincible, because they have to feel like that on the street.

    It will get better, for one reason or another!!

  2. Stay strong! You're doing the best you can and it's a wonderful job! It won't stay like this forever, keep reminding yourself of the future without the academy. :)