Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Visit to the Doctor

Stimming - The repetition of physical movements, sounds, or repetitive movement of objects, common in individuals with developmental disabilities, but most prevalent in people with autism spectrum disorders. 

Liam has been talking up a storm lately. Here's a transcript of what he's been saying for the last month and a half:


As the school year wraps up it's IEP time. Liam is steadily progressing, but as his speech improves he adds new and unusual quirks to his repertoire of oddities. The "bye" thing is manageable. His teachers have a Kindergarten lined up for him next year and requested we take Liam in to see the doctor to have his sight and hearing checked, not because they thought he might have any issues with either, but just to rule them out. We hadn't seen Liam and Finn's doctor since he'd moved to a new office. He's great and he's been with the boys since the beginning so Erin and I agreed we'd make the effort to stick with him. We couldn't imagine his being in a new office would make much of a difference. It did.

 We showed up on time for our 9:30 appointment



11:30. Still no sign of the doctor.

I was so close to just walking out and making a big scene, but we'd already endured for so long and we had to get that stamp of approval. As soon as the doctor arrived Liam gave him a bright and sunny "good morning doctor". BURN!!! It was noon. Liam may not have mastered the art of complete sentences yet but he's got sarcasm nailed. Good one Liam.

He surprised me with his ability to follow instructions. A young nurse tried to get him to take an eye test. He had to name the shapes which were a square, circle, house, and some kind of heart shaped thing which Liam identified as an apple. As she pointed across the lines he would announce his answer then cheer his success.

"House! Bye house. YAY! Circle! Bye circle. YAY! Apple, yummy apple. YAY!"

It took awhile. After doing it the normal way she tried to make him wear some weird over-sized glasses with one eye blacked out. Liam is not fond of having strange things put on his head so that was a no-go.

Next was the hearing test which involved a terrifying headset. The nurse got within five feet of Liam with that and quickly threw in the towel.

All that was left to be done was to have a look in his ears and give him two shots to update his immunizations. It took three of us to do it. By the end Liam was crying the loudest, followed closely by Finn and then me. His screams were the sound of ultimate suffering, equal parts emotional and physical agony. It was terrible. The nurses slapped on two band-aids and made a hasty exit. As he tried to tear off the band-aids that he was sure were the cause of his pain, he screamed "ICE CREEEEEEEEAAAAM!!!" You're goddamn right you're getting ice cream, pal.

Friday, May 23, 2014

And Then There Were Lice. daughter has lice.

We were in Lola's buying some salsa when I saw the telltale head scratching. I shouldn't have been surprised given the amount of notices coming home from school lately, but still. Nothing prepares you for 'the scratch'.

In short order we were home, having commandeered the upstairs bathroom, where we spent the next three hours poisoning, washing, rinsing, gelling, combing, hunting, more combing, more hunting, hand-picking, washing again, rinsing again, and then blow drying before bed. During breaks from all of this, Evie was the picture of patience and hung out in the bathroom reading Charlotte's Web while I vacuumed, stripped beds, bagged stuffies and pillows, and ran seemingly hundreds of super-hot loads of laundry.

When I was back on task, one slow-going section of hair at a time, Paulie took over with the vacuuming, laundry, and then bed re-assmbling. He brought up a drink for me and a bowl of fresh berries for Evie, and us gals had ourselves a good ol' time hanging out on that hard tile bathroom floor. Evie found the patterns it made on her butt especially amusing. Me, not so much.

Let me just say this, in case you haven't had the pleasure of dealing with this situation yet: Lice are total assholes.

They spread like wildfire among the innocent "let me brush your hair!" set and cause havoc in perfectly well-meaning households for the next several weeks. Especially if the affected child (if you're lucky, it's just one) is bouncing back and forth between mom's house & dad's house. This just turns it into one big clustermess of 'Round and 'Round We Go, Where the Lice Will Stop, Nobody Knows!

Let's all brush each other's hair?! Fuuuuuuuck NO!!

IF they ever stop, no one knows, either. Just when you've congratulated yourself on the huge task of clearing every motherfucking louse and scraping every goddam nit out of your kid's hair, you'll find another of one, or probably both. Maybe you'll even be on the very last section of hair, beginning to unclench your jaw in preparation to breathe a sigh of relief, and you'll find a louse that miraculously seems to have survived all of the poison you just soaked it in, what the what?! And it's just (albeit super slowly) toodling along, pooping out eggs as it goes. DEAD!

So you do the whole head over again, just to be sure, as your neck and back make snap, crackle, pop noises from perching on the bathroom floor for so long.

You put your kid to bed over two hours late, go downstairs and try not to cry while you shove a cold burrito into your face and your boyfriend sits there watching you, trying to cheer you up but failing. You ask him to get his best reading glasses, hand him a headlamp, and ask him to check your hair because, after all, you do lay head-to-head next to your daughter every night, singing songs and doing the usual bedtime banter before she falls asleep.

He checks you out but seems more interested in how many silver hairs you have and therefore predicting how soon it will be before you go completely grey, as well as telling you, again, that when a single hair goes from white to brown to white (like several of mine do), it's a sign of early-onset Alzheimer's. Not terribly helpful. Especially since from the second you discovered the lice in your daughter's hair, you suddenly began feeling like there were bugs crawling in yours. Whether this is true or not remains to be seen.

Luckily I'd (back to first person now, heh) made plans to get together with an old friend the next evening. We haven't seen each other in a really long time, but I was pretty sure she'd be cool with my plan.

As it turns out, she wasn't terribly into the plan after all. Hm! I gave her my whole "lice are super fun friends to have!" sales pitch, too, but she wasn't having it. 

At the end of the day (meaning several days later), we're all clear, keeping a close eye out for those pesky relapses - so many eggs! HOW DO THEY MANAGE TO LAY SO MANY EGGS?!?! - and carefully avoiding braiding each other's hair for the rest of our lives. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

I Heart Mondays

Yes, you read that correctly - I actually, truly, not-at-all-sarcastically do love Mondays. I wish every day could be Monday! In fact, I've been trying to figure out how to make a well-paying career out of Mondays for, like, two weeks now, and I think I'm on to something. Not in that I've figured out how to make my dream career a reality, just in that I think it's a great idea. It counts.

I think I've been so geeked out on Mondays lately because my life is slowing down just a skosh, and it feels ah-maaaz-ing.

I always pick my kids up from school on Mondays, and for many many months now, I've tried to cram everything I possibly can into the hours before that happens. Appointments, clothing drop-offs, homework, answering emails, meditating, ordering inventory for my shop - you name it, if it had to be done, I did it on Mondays.

Then I realized that there are six other days in the week! Sure, I'm at work during all of them, but I can get a decent amount of stuff done if I parcel it out here and there. This was great news!

Now I sleep in on Monday mornings - tra la laaaaaa! (actually this only happens every other Monday, but just work with me here, okay?) Then I don't meditate because my meditation course is over - fuck yeah! And then I don't do homework because I finished all of my assignments early and now just get to sit back and wait for my grade - woo fucking hooooo! Sometimes I clean the house but often I just look around and think 'psshhhh - the kids are going to undo every attempt I make at tidiness the second they walk in the door anyway, Ima leave this just as it is for now'.

What a relief!

Well then, what's left?! you're wondering. I'll tell you! Just so you can have an up-to-the-minute detailed rundown of my day - 'day' meaning everything leading up to 2:25 when I pick the kids up from school, of course - here are the top 10 things I'm most likely doing on any given Monday:

1) Sleep in til 10

Admitted bed hog, right here

2) Make tea

3) Delete dumb emails

delete, delete, delete, delete

4) Work on becoming a Total Badass

Yes. This is happening. 

5) Make more tea

multi-tasking numbers 3, 5, 6 & 7

6) Write a bit

(you are witnessing this, right now!)

7) Make Breakfast

(see # 5)

8) Sit outside and read in the sunshine, attempting to get some color on my super-bright-white legs

Multi-tasking 4, 8, 9, and prep for 10

9) Doze in said sunshine

(see # 8)

10) Afternoon Delight

(I did not take a photo of this. You're welcome.)

Not too bad, amiright? Now to just harness all of that relaxed groovy energy and have it sustain me through the rest of the week.

And now to find a way to make Mondays my career.

And now to ignore the fact that summer vacation is coming up and those few quiet hours I scrabble together on one-half day of every week are about to be shot to shit.

And now to enjoy the hell out of the rest of this Monday as if it's the Last Perfect Monday I'll have in a while...because, as I sit here writing this - aka using precious Monday Time - I realize that it is in fact, The Last One. Next Monday is Memorial Day, and school ends next Thursday. Oh my god. OhmygodOhmygod.

Holy mother of all that is holy: I declare that this was the Best. Monday. Ever.

...because after all that silence and relaxation, I got to finish out my Monday with these adorable goofballs, so, win-win!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

That Kid (Warning: Major Rant Alert)

Picture this. It's a beautiful Spring day and you take your kids to the library after Saturday morning breakfast for a nice wholesome puppet show. It's 'Hansel and Gretel' and it is awesome. The performer really knows how to work the crowd and all the kids are screaming with laughter. The parents are too! You're even tearing up a bit because it's such a happy sight. It's rare to get to witness such pure, simple, childish delight. And then, right when the witch is cackling and scheming, some four-year-old in the front walks up and chucks a paperback at her. Great, it's "that kid". The kid that ruins it for everyone else.

You know it's not his fault, it's his idiot parents. And where are they? Ah, there's the dad! He's motioning for his recalcitrant kid to come to the back of the room and sit in a chair. "That dad" has been standing back there the whole time, fighting to hold onto "that kid"'s struggling younger brother, future "that kid". Why did that dad bring these two boys by himself? Where is their mother? Oh he's probably not married anymore. I guess shitty dad was also a shitty husband. Huge shock. Fortunately they've taken off out the back door in full tantrum mode, of course. Good riddance.

Meanwhile your children are sitting quietly, peacefully trying to enjoy the show with all the other kids. There was nothing magical you did to get your own children to behave the way they're supposed to. You set limits and were consistent. It was that simple. How do parents like that manage to suck so badly? Why the fuck are people like that even allowed to become parents?!

Well, as the "shitty dad" at today's puppet show, allow me to enlighten you fine reproachful folks as to how this works. Not all kids develop the same. Some children have trouble understanding instructions, controlling their emotions, or even just sitting quietly with other kids.

Liam has been doing well at school, sitting in circle time and participating with the other kids, so I took a chance on today's puppet show. He started out great. He sat criss-cross applesauce and laughed along with the other kids through the first half of the show. He had to look back and check that I was still there from time to time, but he was holding it together and behaving well, up to a point. I guess the witch was a bit too much for him. He moved quicker than I could and took down the witch with a gentle toss of Scholastic's "Dinosaurs: A to Z", so we got out of there as quick as we could and probably won't go back for a long time. I think he deserves another try though, maybe in the Fall.

What he doesn't deserve is the poisonous dagger glances and pernicious scoffing from parents who don't understand his difficulties. As for parents like me, I'm not sure we deserve your hate faces either. We just want our kids to have all the same fun as the other kids and we would love nothing more than to sit smugly next to our own perfectly well behaved kids. Instead we're dragging our kids out of the room, crying and screaming, heartbroken that they don't get to participate in the stuff they love, not understanding the injustice. The scene we stir up is the part you perfect parents see with your rolling eyes. What you don't see is that conversation we have with our kids at the park later, looking into their tear-streaked eyes and assuring them that there is nothing wrong with them and that they are brilliant, beautiful, and loved beyond measure.

And another thing (rolling up my sleeves and kicking over my soap box), where the FUCK were your kids when mine was coming to the rescue of Hansel and Gretel? They were just sitting there laughing while that bitch was about to eat them! SHE WAS GOING TO FUCKING EAT THEM!! My kid was the only one that did anything!! Mine was the only one with the stones to take action!! Where were yours!? FUCKING COWARDS!!

(drops the mic, slams the door, peels off down the road)

Friday, May 9, 2014

Five Rules

When you move in with someone it's fun to do a mental inventory of all the cool new stuff you get to inherit. For example, Jodee's got a giant leather sectional, an enormous spare dresser, and an espresso machine. SCORE! In return I've got a nice plasma screen tv with surround sound, and two boys under the age of five...also with surround sound.

Obviously, agreeing to cohabitate with me proves Jodee has the courage of a lion and the patience of an oyster, but in an effort to have her not wake up every morning thinking to herself "Dear god, what have I done?" I've made up five ground rules:

#1 - Everything that comes out of the boys' bodies is my problem. This is not always possible since little boys can go from cute to nasty in the blink of an eye, but I'd say 99% of the time I'm there first to deal with whatever it is that's been launched from within their vile insides.

You would not believe what's in my pjs right now

#2 - Any crying that requires attention between 8pm and 8am is also my problem. No explanation needed.

#3 - When I say I'm going to run an errand and leave her with the boys, I mean "run" literally. If I don't come back winded, I did it wrong.

#4 - Clean as you go, because...damn.

#5 - Every time I break my own rules and rely on her help (a daily occurrence), say "thank you", and really mean it. Any girl who would skip happily down this path deserves the most heart-felt gratitude.

I can't say that when my kids are grown I'd be willing to go through it all over again. Jodee didn't go into this half-assed or with any illusion that it would be like 'The Sound of Music' (OMG costume idea!). 

Just last night as soon as she walked in the door she made a beeline for the boys who were having a bubble bath (she likes them more than me now, understandably). I griped about work while I washed the boys' dinner plates. When I realized she wasn't listening to my very important issues, I went into the bathroom and discovered her scrubbing their crusty heads, which is definitely a risky task. Not only is she quick to embrace the "fun" of caring for little buggers like Liam and Finn, she's even willing to do the chores that put her at risk of losing their favor. That's worth ten espresso machines, at least. I made sure she was the one to serve them dessert.