What They Don’t Tell You About Having Kids Who Have The Flu

This blog entry is going to have to come with a disclaimer: if you are eating, have eaten within the last hour, have plans to eat in the very near future, or have a weak stomach, stop here.  Just close the page, and move on to looking at Kim Kardashian’s greasy ass.  Although, that is pretty vomit-inducing in and of itself, so maybe you shouldn’t do that.

I have a very real bone to pick with companies that manufacture diapers, baby needs, and any companies that feature babies and small children in their commercials. In all of these commercials, the children are sweet, smiling, and clean.  Even in commercials for children’s Tylenol, the child may be sick, but he or she generally just looks a little downtrodden and gloomy.  This sets parents up for a seriously rude awakening after being thrown headfirst into the sea of parenthood, wishing someone would throw them a damn floatie.

For those of you who do not know, 2/3 of my kids have caught the flu in the last week. Mallory caught it first, most likely from spending most of the afternoon last Monday at the cesspool we like to call our pediatrician’s office, and Leland ended up catching it from Mallory a few days later.  Needless to say, this week has just been incredible.  And by “incredible,” I mean, “fucking awful.”

I spent most of my days this week sitting in waiting rooms, sitting in exam rooms, filling prescriptions, dispensing medicine to screaming mouths, holding people in a headlock in order to effectively take their temperature, and crying into my coffee.

So, I’m here to tell you what nobody tells you about having kids who have the flu. Buckle up.

  1. If you have more than one child, if one gets sick, you’re pretty much screwed. One child is pretty manageable, because if they get sick, you just have to take them to the doctor, give them their medicine, and wait for the sickness to run its course.  Granted, one sick child is still a lot of work, but it’s easy to contain, because there are fewer potential hosts running around with their hands in their mouths, drinking from each other’s cups, and licking each other like wild savages.  When you add one or more children to that mix, it turns into a free-for-all.  What once was containable turns into a virtual pandemic.  Like a domino effect, each child gets down with the sickness, and I’m not talking about Disturbed.  Then, you find yourself visiting your pediatrician three times in one week, on a first name basis with the pharmacy tech at your pharmacy and the cashier at your local liquor store.
  2. You will catch vomit with your bare hands. And as soon as you catch said vomit with your bare hands, you will break into a full-on run to the nearest toilet/sink/trash can with it, trying not to slosh it everywhere, leaving a trail of drops in your wake, as your child wails inconsolably in the background and wipes his mouth with the sleeve of his shirt.  Not that I have any experience whatsoever with that.  I think my hands still kind of smell.
  3. You will scarf a value meal from a fast food place with the pungent odor of puke permeating your car. After spending close to 7 hours in a hospital, you will leave the hospital with your stomach growling like a dog that just caught a glimpse of Michael Vick.  You will load into your car with your sick child, who vomited that morning in the car, and despite the fact that you scrubbed the everloving shit out of the seat and carpet, the car will still smell like a bar bathroom.  You will make a beeline to the closest fast food place, and you will eat the entire burger in three bites, because you are that hungry.  The smell will not bother you, because at this point, this is a test in survival.  These people on Naked & Afraid don’t have anything on you.
  4. You will look like you belong on Monday Night RAW when it’s time to give the kids their medicine. If your kids are anything like mine, they don’t mind taking medicine.  My kids are usually extremely cooperative when it comes to taking medicine, so I knew when I attempted to give them their Tamiflu, and they spit it out all over my shoes, that it must’ve tasted like hot turd stew.  I smelled the medicine, and it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.  Therefore, I did the only reasonable thing:  I grabbed the kid like I was The Big Show, and I held him down while he flailed, screamed, and thrashed, effectively administering the medicine.  Unfortunately, there was no big, glittery belt for me to wear after I successfully gave him his medicine.  I was really looking forward to that.
  5. You will be woken up out of a dead sleep by the smell of what can only be described as a gastrointestinal explosion. Last night, I had the distinct privilege of cleaning a sloppy deuce that could’ve woken the dead.  As a matter of fact, I was so close to looking and acting like a zombie last night, that it actually did wake the dead.  I wasn’t sure where I’d placed my hazmat suit and gas mask, but I fought the good fight and did the job without any protective materials.  However, I’m pretty sure I’ll probably be growing a third arm, because that shit was radioactive.  No doubt.
  6. Your kid will, at some point, throw up in your purse in a crowded waiting room. No way could I make this up.  In a crowded waiting room, sitting elbow to elbow with people, my kid yakked into my purse.  Needless to say, taking my wallet out to show the clerk my insurance card was particularly interesting that day.  Anyone got a wet wipe?
  7. You will feel so bad for them, and feel so sorry that they’re so sick, that you’ll wish it was you. You will look at your poor kids, puking, running fevers, miserable and inconsolable, and you will wish you could switch places, and that it was you instead of them going through all of that, ten times over, if it meant they didn’t have to.

I mean, at least then, you wouldn’t be the one catching the vomit with your bare hands.

Living With Small Children Is Like Living In A Fraternity House

Before I had kids, in what I like to affectionately refer to as “The Before Time,” I had my very own life, with my very own interests, hobbies, and leisure time to spend as I wished. A great majority of that leisure time was spent cutting out Greek letters, ironing them onto things, and then tracing the letters in color-coordinated puffy paint, because I was a sorority girl, and that’s what good sorority girls did during The Before Time.

It’s worth noting that during The Before Time, I spent my fair share of time with other members of the Greek community, namely, fellow sorority girls and fraternity guys. Equipped with the knowledge I have on this matter, I have come to a very interesting conclusion:

Living with small children is like living in a fraternity house.

When I had kids, I never would’ve thought that they would remind me so much of crazy, wild, immature young college guys, but they do. Only instead of doing keg stands, they’re trying to sip from their juice boxes while they’re dangling upside down off the couch, while watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and daring one another to stick a marble up their nose.

  1.  The noise level.  As you can probably imagine, a bustling fraternity house filled with guys coming and going can get pretty noisy.  Multiply the decibels by about 3405983495834985 and you’ll get something close to the decibel levels here at any given time.  When my kids play together, they look sweet and darling, but they sound like they’re remodeling the house.  What looks like a box of Legos sounds like a jackhammer.
  2. There’s always something dangerous and/or questionable happening. When you fill a house with young, immature guys who are looking to do something crazy to impress their friends, there is often something going on that probably shouldn’t be going on.  I’ve seen guys jump from roofs into pools, engage in DIY pyrotechnics, and dare each other to do a plethora of other ridiculous things.  Here, there are three miniature Evel Knievels, ready and willing to end up in a full body cast if they’re able to pull off a backflip in the bouncehouse.
  3. Sticky substances of unknown origins abound. This is actually pretty gross, but it wouldn’t be beyond the realm of one’s imagination to stumble upon a sticky substance of unknown origin in a fraternity house.  I touched the doorknob on the garage door the other day, and my fingers stuck right to it.  In what I can only describe as divine providence, I didn’t throw up all over everything within a ten foot radius.  After I got done submerging my whole sticky hand in a vat of Lysol, I cleaned the doorknob thoroughly with Clorox wipes.  I suspect it was one of my kids with a lollipop, but I’m not 100% clear on that.  Something tells me the source of the sticky doorknob will remain a mystery, and that the memory of touching a sticky doorknob will haunt me for the rest of my days.
  4. Bodily functions. Need I say more?  A house full of guys probably produces enough gas to run an entire fleet of jet liners.  Much like a house full of small children; very often, we are simply a parade of bodily functions, just putting it all out there for the world to see and smell.  It’s like a full-on sensory experience, designed to clear any given room we walk into.
  5. Streaking. Periodically, young, impressionable guys who lack appropriate decision-making skills find it humorous to run around the campus or across a football field, naked as a jaybird.  Like those guys, many children are known to strip down to their birthday suit and grace the world with that poignant visual.  Not mine, though.  Mine are far too civilized for that.  Clearly.

One thing is for certain, though: despite the fact that it’s sometimes crazy, sometimes gross, and sometimes wild, it is a lot of times very fun. Now somebody pass the puffy paint.

How To Avoid Getting Punched In The Face

I was a little torn on whether I should address this on my blog at all. I was going back and forth in my mind all day, wondering whether it was truly relevant to my blog, if anyone even cared about my two cents on the matter, and if it was even worth blogging about in the first place.  Then, I reread the news article, and I became so passionate and incensed all over again, that I felt like I needed to vent my frustration over it, even if it meant venting on a blog that only a couple dozen people read, if that.

The other day, a friend of mine posted a status on Facebook regarding a situation that went down at a Nordstrom store in California. Apparently, a mom was waiting in line to pay with a toddler that was having a pretty intense tantrum.  A 20 year old fellow patron at the store asked the mom to quiet her child.  That went over as well as you could possibly anticipate, and it came to blows in the Nordstrom parking lot, with the mother initiating the physical altercation.

In no way, shape, or form does this blog post condone or promote violence. I, for one, am not a violent person, I don’t believe violence can solve anything, and I don’t think the mother choosing violence is beneficial to anyone involved.  The only time I believe in violence is if you’re going for the last Krispy Kreme doughnut, because I will choke a bitch.  Not only did the 20 year old come away from it with several injuries, but the mom is most likely looking at charges pressed and a court date, and maybe even jail.  Also, I assume the child witnessed the altercation, which is clearly not the greatest way to demonstrate problem-solving skills to your young, impressionable child.  Unless you’re trying to raise the next Hulk Hogan or Jeffrey Dahmer.

Now that that’s out of the way, I can get down to the nitty gritty of this blog post.

Throughout my life before children, I was known to cast stones pretty regularly. I used to be pretty judgmental, pretty harsh, and pretty petty.  I can say only one thing regarding that person from the before time:  I have no fucking clue who she is, where she went, or why the hell she was such a bitch in the first place, because seriously?  Homegirl was a douche.

Parenthood strips everything down to the absolute basics. Some days, it’s a marathon, and at the end, your prize for running this trying, draining, exhausting, exasperating, frustrating marathon today is your survival.  You’ve survived.  Congrats.  Get ready to wake up tomorrow at 5 AM and do it all over again.

When I’m faced with people who I assume are childless casting stones and judgment upon a parent who is not obviously mistreating, abusing, or neglecting their child, I feel a very real, urgent need to inform that person that their tune is gonna be a-changin’ if ever they decide to have children. Not only is it the greatest, most fulfilling, most joy-inducing thing ever, but it’s fucking hard, man.  Not only is it hard, but the stress of dealing with small, unpredictable, cranky, emotionally immature people all day can many times be compounded by outside stressors, such as finances, hectic schedules, work, marital issues, family problems, illnesses, and other real world problems that contribute a great deal to our mental and emotional well-being.

Maybe this mom in Nordstrom was in the middle of the juggling act so many moms find themselves in the middle of each day. Maybe she was stressed out over work, financial difficulties, a fight with her spouse, car trouble, maybe she was preoccupied over test results from routine bloodwork, maybe she was tired that day, maybe she stayed up the entire night the night before wondering how she was going to make ends meet that month.  Then, on top of all of this, she has a small child, pissing all over the entire Nordstrom parade that day.  That, alone, is stressful enough as it is.  Compounded with all the other potential stressors?  I can see how she might have been on edge.

Then, here comes the expert. Dr. Sears reincarnate at the ripe old age of 20 years old, childless and clueless, but with the incredible insight to suggest that the child’s mother quiet the child down.

REALLY?! YOU MEAN TO TELL ME THAT HE COMES WITH A ‘MUTE’ BUTTON!? If I would’ve known that, I’d have been using that thing this entire time. Thank you for your wonderful insight! You must be a member of MENSA with that incredible brainpower of yours.

What a lot of people don’t understand is when small children have reached that hysterical, inconsolable point, there is no calming. At that point, you need to just ride that wave until it crashes on the shore, and let them boomerang back from that.  There is no talking that child off the ledge.  At that point, they need to just fall and come back to planet Earth, as messy, loud, obnoxious, and ridiculous as that may look and sound.

I can see that less than helpful “suggestion” by the 20 year old setting the mother off. I can see why she would tear her a new one, I can see why she would let her have it, and I can see why she would lose her cool, because I completely would’ve, too.  Would I have hit her?  Probably not.  But I would’ve given her a verbal lashing thorough enough to embarrass her in front of all of our fellow shoppers, and make her rethink ever saying anything potentially out of line to anyone ever again.

This brings me to the point of my post: people need to be sensitive, compassionate, and show empathy, instead of being judgmental, rude, and obnoxious.  In this life, none of us know anything.  We are all just doing the best we can, with what we have available to us.  This parenthood journey is a learning curve, and we are, for some reason, always given the test before the lesson.  Maybe it would do the world some good to give a knowing, sympathetic look instead of a disgusted glare next time you see a kid having a tantrum at a department store.  Maybe we could ask if mom needs a hand with her groceries, instead of rolling your eyes at mom and her sideshow circus act of wild, heathen children.

I mean, if you’re not down with that, I guess I’ll just have to punch you in the face.

Weekend Recap

Normally, people post weekend recaps on a Sunday night, Monday the latest, but since I obviously think I’m pretty slick, my weekend recap is sliding in through the backdoor with its lipstick smeared and a hickey on its neck on a Tuesday night.

Last weekend was pretty eventful.  As everyone knows, Friday was Halloween, and despite the fact that I had Halloween hyped up in my head as something I’d need at least two weeks and a couple Valium to recover from, it went surprisingly smoothly.  We trick or treated in our neighborhood, and even though the last few years, Halloween has royally blown as far as trick or treaters and neighborhood participation goes, this year was starkly different.  The trick or treaters were out in droves, and the kids got to fill up their buckets with lots of delicious candy.  I know it was delicious because I ate most of it.

Carl dressed up as a werewolf, Leland dressed up as Donatello, and Mallory was a candy corn.  They really seemed to enjoy their costumes, and they kept all of the elements of their costumes on the entire time we trick or treated.  I thought that Carl would for sure chuck that hairy werewolf mask out of the wagon five minutes in, but he did great, even though it looked like he was wearing a giant toupee that covered 87% of his face. They were on their “trick or treat!” and “thank you!” A-game, and I was so glad, because the last thing I wanted was for my kids to be those senseless heathens that walk up to the door and stand there with a slack jaw and a glassy look, waiting for candy to drop into their buckets via osmosis. Once we filled up our buckets, Carl took over candy distribution at the house. This part went as well as you could possibly expect when you have a sugared up 5 year old handing out candy to other sugared up, costumed children. When I realized he was heaving whole handfuls of candy into these kid’s buckets, I reminded him that we were only giving out two pieces to each child. Have you ever seen the movie The Green Mile? When Percy, the prison guard, brings in John Coffey? And the whole time he’s walking him to his cell on death row, he keeps shouting, “dead man! Dead man walking!” Well, that’s what Carl was acting like. “TWO PIECES! TWO PIECES ONLY! TWO PIECES!”

After we finally ran out of candy, the Candy Nazi was able to come inside and we were finally able to go to bed and put Halloween 2014 in the history books. The next day, I bravely took both kids to the local indoor bouncehouse place and to a sit-down dinner at a local pizzeria by myself. That was also surprisingly pleasant. The kids sat and actually ate their pizza, let me eat my pizza, and by the end of dinner, I was thinking, “if these kids keep this up, I’ll have to shut down my blog because there will be nothing left to write about.”

Today was a teacher planning day, and we spent most of the day out back. We just had a teacher planning day not even two weeks ago, and I’m wondering what exactly these teachers are planning, because I’m beginning to think they’re really planning how to drive me batshit insane, because filling an entire day with activities for all three of these scallywags is enough to make me get all twitchy. Luckily, the weather here has been beautiful, and the kids have been taking advantage of being outdoors in such mild, nice weather.

Tomorrow is Leland’s 4th birthday. I can’t believe he will already be 4 years old- I remember the day we brought him home from the hospital so vividly. We have a small celebration at home planned, with just immediate family, and a homemade chocolate cake and some presents. I also plan to make his favorite for dinner tomorrow night- meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and green beans. Then, hopefully, we can have a little time to get back in the swing of things and catch our breath before Mallory’s birthday and Thanksgiving come along like a steamroller- that is, unless they spring another teacher work day on me.

On Holidays And Salmonella

October is quickly coming to a close, and while that means the anticipation and excitement of the holidays for most people (read: children and senile, elderly people), for people with small children, that only means one thing:  lots of shit to do, in a really narrow window of time.

November and December are always busy months around here, and not just because of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and all the festivities that come with those holidays.  In addition to those two major holidays, Leland and Mallory also have November birthdays, and my own birthday is in December, not that it matters, because I have major competition in the form of a guy who died on a cross to wash away the sins of all of humanity, so yeah, I would say I’m playing second fiddle.

The last few days have been spent mentally preparing myself, organizing my to-do lists, and hoping I don’t get a lifetime prescription for Xanax in the process.  Yesterday, we stopped at Publix, where I let Leland flip through the birthday cake catalog in order to pick his cake.  Of course, he chose the one theme that was out of stock: Ninja Turtles.  Mallory also chose Ninja Turtles, which I guess is the result of being the lone girl with two older brothers.

Before any of that, though, we have to get through Halloween.  Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays, but now that I’m struggling to get flailing, sweaty limbs into cheap, polyester costumes, dragging them all over the neighborhood in the dark, trying to keep them from getting run over, and poring over candy so my kids don’t eat arsenic and razorblades, I’m really rethinking its existence.  Can’t we formally petition for October 31st to be “Drink Wine & Watch SVU While Eating Reese’s Day”?  That sounds like a much better celebration. Or maybe we can just petition for November 1st to be declared, “Eat Your Kid’s Halloween Candy Day.” I mean, if we have to go peddling from door to door with them, we should get a cut. Just sayin’.

The other day, I baked for the first time this Fall. I baked several dozen peanut butter cookies, and they were glorious. The kids kept milling around the kitchen, asking to help, and I’d let them help with little things. I always think these commercials that feature small children helping their parents cook and bake are kind of funny, because none of that shit ever looks that way in real life. If my real life experiences with baking with my kids are any indicator, the mom in the commercial should have flour in her hair, her nostrils, and her kids should look like vintage antiques, covered in a fine dusting of flour. There should be a screaming toddler somewhere in the background, due to the fact that she’s not allowed to crack an egg, because hello, salmonella?! Toddlers don’t understand salmonella.

For now, I’ll just listen to Bruce Springsteen and brace myself for the tidal wave that’s about to crash upon me in the form of baking, errands, cooking, and to-do lists. It’s all for a good cause. And on the days when I feel like I’m going to flip my shit, I’ll just pour some wine, and when my toddler inevitably asks me for some, I’ll tell them it’s got salmonella in it.

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  What they don’t tell you is that a few of those words are probably four letters long and start with the letter ‘f.’

Today, we went to the JCPenney portrait studios to get holiday pictures taken of the kids.  This is our second consecutive year going to the same JCPenney photo studio to have portraits taken, and based on my cumulative experiences of last year and this year, I can say with certainty that it is always a shitshow.

This week started like any other, with a fair amount of hustle and bustle due to Carl’s school schedule, his activities, and keeping track of every other special dress day that his school declares.  Between Hat Day, Red Shirt Day, Yellow Shirt Day, Jean Day, Superhero Day, and every other day inbetween, I’m starting to think that maybe they’re just trying to drive me batshit crazy.  Or even more batshit crazy than I already am.  If that’s at all possible.

Friday was a rainy teacher planning day, so after an outing at the local indoor bouncehouse place, we made a trip to the store to pick up some nice outfits for their portrait session.  Everything fit nicely, they looked adorable, and we were all set.  This morning, we woke up, had breakfast, got dressed, and were on our merry way.

Admittedly, it wasn’t my kids who were a hot mess.  I’m not saying that because they’re my kids, either.  They surprised me pleasantly today and were very well-behaved despite having to wait a while to get called, and were totally cooperative during the photo session, leaving me with a tough decision, trying to pick between 5 different shots that were adorable.

Equipped with the knowledge I have of this JCPenney photo studio, I can attest that there is some type of mysterious force field surrounding the photo studio, and once a child crosses the barrier into this force field, they completely lose their shit.  Never in my life have I seen so many outwardly cherubic looking children, acting like Rosemary’s Baby.

Beautiful little girls in pristine white dresses tearing their headbands and hairbows out of their hair.  Darling little boys in sweater vests rolling around on the floor, wailing.  Adorable babies in tiny ties and argyle socks, clawing at their mothers and screaming bloody murder.

As I assessed the very real chaos unfolding around me, I have to admit, I gloated a little bit, since my kids were behaving pretty decently on the overall, and then I felt sorry for these presumably good parents, who only want to document this time in their children’s lives with a nice portrait, only to have their offspring basically take a hot, steamy dump on their face and flip them the bird.  Figuratively, anyway.  I didn’t actually see anyone drop a deuce on anyone else’s face, but that’s pretty much the only atrocity I didn’t witness at that godforsaken place today.

So, I’ve compiled a few tips on how to deal with your kids in the event that they morph into drooling Neanderthals at the photo studio this holiday season:

1) Keep the fancy stuff off until the last possible second.  Chances are, your kid doesn’t want to wear that adorable little accessory you just had to buy them- I actually witnessed a little girl whip a floral headband across the waiting room like a boomerang. Unless you want whatever cutesy little item you brought to accessorize with under your kid’s shoe (or under some other kid’s shoe), keep it off until you actually get in front of the camera.

2) This is the perfect time to utilize the iPad or Kindle.  Just trust me here.  At one point, the boys were getting antsy, and they started to horse around briefly, and Leland ended up with a huge scratch on his face.  So now, every time anyone looks at our beautiful holiday portrait, I’ll get to explain to them that he looks like Scarface because I forgot their Kindles at home.

3) Keep it short and sweet. This one’s pretty obvious, but I saw a few parents in there who had so many outfit changes, I was wondering whether their kids were getting ready to host the Academy Awards. Keep it short, keep it simple, do a couple of different poses, and leave before the meltdown begins.

4) Bring snacks. If your kids are anything like my kids, they beg for food more often than a dog or a hobo. Keep an arsenal of snacks to keep them at bay, particularly if you’re waiting. I made the mistake this year of not bringing a single snack since we left the house in a hurry, and I don’t think I’ve ever prayed so fervently for the heavens to open up and drop a bag of Goldfish crackers in my lap.

5) Book your appointment early in the day. My kids got up at 4:45 AM today. Four. Forty. Five. AM. Wrap your head around that, then proceed to feel sorry for me as you make me a pot of Cuban coffee. I was glad we had an 8:50 AM appointment, because they were still in good spirits, and the studio wasn’t crazy packed. We got out of there a little after 11 o’clock, and it was a madhouse. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many cute kids acting like drunk high school girls: laying on the floor, crying, and ripping all their clothes off.

I hope this post will help those of you who are planning to take your little ones for professional pictures! For those of you who are taking them this holiday season, good luck and Godspeed! For those of you who aren’t, congrats! You’re obviously way smarter than I am.

The Power Of Yes

I was tired.

Bleary eyed, barely awake, the sun wasn’t even up yet.  It was 5:22 AM and I could feel that I was already approaching the end of my rapidly fraying rope.  The kids were in the living room, arguing over the TV.  One wanted to watch Jake & The Neverland Pirates, the other wanted to watch Tom & Jerry.  I was in no mood to referee that fight, so I told them to knock it off.  The baby was clinging to my leg, whining for some milk.  I was ready for the day to end and it had literally just begun.

The day before had been a bad day.  I yelled more often than I’d have liked, let my anger and my abject need for control get the best of me several times over.   After I put them to bed, I felt an immense amount of guilt.  I didn’t want to feel like a bad mom, but shortly before bed, during a heated moment, Carl said, “you’re a bad mommy.  You never let us do anything.”  That comment, however immature and misguided it was, coming from the mouth of a mere 5 year old, stung.  That one sentence played in my head over and over… “You’re a bad mommy”.  It stayed with me the rest of the evening, and into the following morning, leaving me with a heavy, and, quite honestly, hurt heart.

Flash forward to the increasingly hectic morning we were embarking upon, and I reached into the refrigerator for the pancake mix after Carl requested pancakes for breakfast.  The word “no” danced on my tongue- how many times have I told him?  Cereal or a sandwich on school days.  I don’t have time for pancakes.  That’s too much work for a weekday morning.  As I grasped the box of pancake mix, relenting to the pancakes moreso out of guilt from the debacle of the day before than anything else, I felt a searing pain travel through my badly knotted shoulders and neck.  In that moment, that pain gave me perspective.  That was physical pain due to the strain and tension of all of the unnecessary battles I’d been fighting as of late.  Why do I need to control everything?, I thought to myself.

Simple.  I don’t.

So, in that moment, I chose to give myself over to the power of yes.

This doesn’t mean cookies before dinner or playing tag in traffic.  The rest of the day, I practiced saying yes.  To 90% of their requests.  Wanna color?  Sure.  Wanna pull out all the Legos, dump them out, and make castles all afternoon?  Let’s do this.  Wanna bounce in the bouncehouse?  I’ll set it up now.

I found the less controlling I was, and the more laid back I became, the more laid back they became.  It was such a welcome reprieve from the constant battle I felt I was fighting.  I felt like every time I said anything, they countered me.  Everything was a bartering tool or a bribe.  Everything was forced.  There was no cooperation, because I was being a dictator.  And nobody wants to be controlled.  They aren’t pawns, they are children.

I have been investing my attention and time almost exclusively into them lately, and it’s helping.  They are listening more effectively, fighting less, and behaving better on the overall.  I am giving them my entire self- at the end of the day, I am completely exhausted, but I feel good.  I feel like we are making progress in the right direction.  At the end of the day, I feel less like I’m completing a chore, and more like I’m being granted a privilege.  And I am.

The pain in my neck and shoulders is gone.  Oh, and the pain in my heart, too.

Caught In A Blur

I have heard people say, “man, it was such a blur!” when describing a time in their lives.  Whether it be moving from one place to another, switching jobs, drinking too much in college, I’ve heard this described to me many times by different people.  I can’t recall a time in my life that I can accurately describe as being a blur.  Well, I guess there’s a first time for everything.

Lately, life has really been a blur.  It seems like there’s always something else to do, another errand to run, another chore to finish, another phone call to make, another appointment to schedule, another ass to wipe- and mind you, none of those things are mine.  Not even the ass.  Well, I wipe my ass, but you know what I mean.

Today, I had the distinct privilege of spending the morning at the dentist with Leland, after shuttling Carl to school.  He’s been complaining about a tooth that sustained an impact last year-  I can remember the day like it was just yesterday.  Leland tearing through the living room like the Tasmanian Devil, and suddenly, he trips, falls, and mouth to corner of table collision takes place.  I can still hear the wailing, and I remember holding a wet washcloth to his mouth to stop the bleeding.  Eventually, the tooth turned grey, then black, and he affectionately nicknamed it, “mah black toof.”  We lived with the black toof for close to a year, but recently it’s become sensitive to temperature, and on Sunday, it started to hurt while he was eating a sandwich.  The dentist had previously told us that it wasn’t a big deal unless it began hurting, and that the tooth was valuable for its role as a space-saver for the adult tooth that would inevitably take its place.  Promptly after settling in at the dentist, filling out all the necessary paperwork, and getting called, Leland proceeded to completely lose his shit.

Imagine a wild, rabid animal, corralled into the corner of a cage.  Then imagine poking it repeatedly with a pointy stick.  Then you can imagine the level of cray cray we were dealing with at the time.

As I sat there helplessly, while the clueless dental assistant attempted to cover both of our wiggly, writhing bodies with the same x-ray apron, as I attempted to keep all of his limbs under the apron and away from the dental assistant’s face, I knew then what it felt like to wrestle an alligator.

When the x-ray was finally done, they graciously placed us into a large room with three dental examination chairs placed in the center of the room, where two children were sitting quietly and calmly, having their teeth cleaned.  I glanced down at the creature of the blue lagoon, who was dry heaving and had a spit string dangling from his lower lip.  I knew then that shit was about to get real, before it even started.

The clueless assistant attempted to coerce him onto the third exam chair, bribing him with stickers.  I think I could have probably covered him from the tip of his head to the ends of his pinky toes with every sticker in that place, and he still wouldn’t have gone willingly.  Finally, I resigned myself to the fact that we were going to have to do this by force, and I heaved him onto the chair like a sack of potatoes, and he proceeded to scream like I’d just lit him on fire.  At that point, the dentist decided to grace us with his presence, and Leland chose that very moment to make a great first impression by screaming, “GO AWAY!”

Once the assistant realized she’d have better luck extracting a tooth from a wild hog, she produced a device called a “Papoose Board.”  I don’t really know what a papoose is, but I think it should be more aptly named, “something you’d find in Buffalo Bill’s dungeon in Silence Of The Lambs.”  She strapped him into it, and he was totally restrained, from the shoulders to the ankles, looking just like a burrito, only if your burrito screamed relentlessly and wore blue Crocs.

The doctor proceeded to promptly inject the gums with novocaine, and quickly prying his mouth open with this metal contraption before extracting the tooth in less time than it took me to consider doing a shot of tequila right there in his office.  The dentist was up and gone before I could even ask if it was already over.  Vanished like a fart in the wind.

What also vanished was any trace of the demon spawn that had possessed Leland for the past half hour.  As soon as he was out of his restraints, he was supplied with a lollipop and two Doc McStuffins stickers, and promptly began singing, “I feel betta, so much betta, thank ya Doc, fa takin’ all mah ouchies awaaaaaay!”

I was dumbfounded.  I had some papers in my hand that I had somehow signed at some point, but had no recollection of signing, a happy child, content with stickers and a lollipop, and the assistant was smiling cheerfully and saying, “that’s a wrap!”

I had no clue how we’d gotten to that point.  My brain was still playing catch-up.

THAT, ladies and gentlemen… Is being caught in a blur.

Bad Blogger

Well… I guess I fell off the wagon.

By “fell off the wagon,” I really mean, “flung off the wagon with enough force to kill a man, then tossed down a steep ravine, never to be heard from again.”

Sorry, guys.

Things have been relatively (read: super) hectic around here, and even though Summer felt endless at times, it really went by remarkably quickly. It felt like one minute, we were celebrating Carl’s pre-k graduation with a pizza party and an adorable end of year show, then a week later, we were packing up his bookbag and laying out his uniforms. There were definitely days that I felt were absolutely, incredibly, mind-blowingly neverending, days I would’ve given my right arm for bedtime to be pushed up by, say, four hours, but we had a good Summer on the overall. Lots of lounging around, playing outside, being lazy, and not living and dying by the clock, which is all good in my book.

Now that school is back in session, we are back at the mercy of the clock, and it seems like my watch has become my very best friend. I look at that thing so often, you’d think there was a picture of Channing Tatum on it. The hustle is definitely back in full effect, and it seems like we are all feeling the crunch. As Carl eloquently put it, “school is tricky.” Yes, son, school can be tricky. He is enjoying it, though, and demonstrating that he luckily inherited my brain, because he is doing really well. I mean, I’m really good at Kindergarten stuff. Not trying to brag. Just saying.

I recently volunteered to become Carl’s Room Mom, and in the spirit of doing too many damn things at once, I also decided to restart my blog. Again. For the third or fourth or tenth time. Luckily, I only have like, seven readers, so I’m not disappointing too many people. I really enjoy writing, and with all three of these wackos running around and running me ragged, it is sometimes (read: always) difficult to find the time and energy to write. Hopefully I will be able to fit more blogging into my schedule. I have had a few requests to restart this thing, so let’s see what happens! Maybe I’ll stay motivated this time. You know what they say, the eighth time is a charm.

Sick Days

It seems like lately, it’s been an uphill battle to keep my kids from getting sick. I know they’re still little, and that little kids swap germs, drink from each other’s cups, and subsequently get sick often, but today, I visited the pediatrician for the third time in less than two weeks, and that seems pretty excessive to me.

For those of you who are regular readers, you know that the pediatrician’s office is probably my least favorite place in the world, second to the dentist, or perhaps, the ninth circle of hell, so as you can imagine, I have been less than enthused to frequent the pediatrician as often as we seem to have been frequenting lately. We were one of the few unfortunate souls to not have an appointment scheduled today, and wound up waiting FOUR HOURS to be seen. To a four year old, four hours might as well be four years. I always think those people who get all impatient and snappy at the doctor’s office are real assholes, but I guess I was a real asshole today, because after approaching the receptionist’s window as hour three of the four hour wait from hell commenced, I recall telling the receptionist, “wow, I think I’ve started getting grey hair since I got here.”

Once we were called in, one of the nurses mentioned that there was an abnormal result in a specimen sample I had to drop off for Leland earlier this week. I don’t know about you guys, but if you’ve never had to obtain a stool sample, consider yourself VERY LUCKY. I was mentally and emotionally preparing myself for obtaining the sample for hours in advance, and the specimen container comes with this handy little built-in spork for collection of the specimen. I WILL NEVER EAT FROM A SPORK AGAIN.

They informed me that due to the abnormal lab result, they’d have to obtain a urine sample and a blood sample from Leland. For those of you who don’t know, Leland is not potty trained yet, so they attached this ridiculous bag to him, and told me to “make him go.” Oh, okay. Let me just grab my magic piss wand and wave it at his boy parts. Wingardium leviosa. Did that work?

So after I “made him go,” AKA, kept repeating, “are you peeing? Do you have to pee?” and making swishy water noises with my mouth, they were satisfied with the sample, and then they took blood from him, which involved three nurses and myself holding down this 42 pound child, who for some reason, has been endowed with the strength of ten men, while Carl shouted in the background, “STOP DOING THAT TO MY BROTHER! SOMEBODY HELP!”

Shortly thereafter, they obtained throat swabs of both boys, and left me in the exam room with both of them crying, coughing, and Carl wailing, “why did that man choke me with a Q-tip?”

After all the lab results were returned, we discovered that all the suffering we all endured during the blood and the urine tests were both in vain, because everything was normal, and only Carl tested positive for strep throat. Prescriptions in hand, I promised the boys ice cream cones for being such good sports after all that poking and prodding.

As I waited at the receptionist’s desk to make a follow-up appointment, I noticed a woman waiting nearby, smiling wistfully at the boys. I smiled and told the boys to say hello to her, at which point Leland said, “HI, BOOTYHEAD!”

Seriously, I HATE THE PEDIATRICIAN’S OFFICE!

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