Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Shorts on the Ground

"Call yourself a cool cat, lookin' like a fool, walkin' downtown with your pants on the ground." - General Larry Platt

Today, I stepped into my black swim shorts (and my amazing Cacique swim top) and shot a quick glance at the mirror. Hmph! “I must be losing some weight,” I thought. My shorts seemed a tad loose. Oh well. Off to the Y I went.

I stepped into the pool. Ahh…the water embraced me. I love water. It speaks to my soul. I started around the lazy river but something seemed…wrong. I pulled my shorts up. I straightened my top and made sure it was pulled down snug. Yep…everything was covered. I kept walking, but the current seemed to be dragging my drawers behind me. I pulled my shorts up to my boobs. There. That should fix it.

Nope. I was flowing fabric like Stevie Nicks. What the crap? I gathered the legs of my shorts up like a Victorian lady hiking her skirt and wandered over to my dear husband. I explained my dilemma, but having always been of the opinion that his 250-pound wife should be swimming in a bikini instead of shorts, he was not sympathetic.  I tied my shorts up in knots high on each thigh and went about my swimming.

When I stepped out of the pool and progressed to the hot tub, I became distinctly aware that my arse was now sagging. My drawers, tied in knots in the front, had drooped down to the backs of my knees like a saggy diaper. Once again, I gathered my flowing, sagging fabric and went about my business.

At home, blessedly away from the peering, judging eyes of fellow Y swimmers who were bright enough to wear workout PANTS with their swim tops, I held up my ‘shorts’ for inspection.  Holy horrors! They were SEE-THROUGH! I’m talking transparent see-through. And they had stretched from my boobs (still graciously held in that fabulous Cacique top near the top of my chest where they are supposed to be, but aren’t) to below my knees! And I had been wearing them in PUBLIC!

I believe they are magic shorts. Start with a 1x, apply chlorine and voila! Super-size shorts! I could fit me and the Big Dog in these shorts. And he is a very big dog.

Now where am I going to find swim shorts to fit me in September? Screw you, lycra swim shorts. And chlorine too. Hmph.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Pain of Perseveration

“If at first you don’t succeed, perseverate.” – Aspie’s favorite quote

The amazing thing about Asperger Syndrome, is that to the untrained eye, the Aspergian may not initially appear to have any sort of syndrome at all. I often hear things strangers say. Things like:  “Oh, he looks normal.”  Or “he doesn’t look autistic to me.” My general thought is always “you don’t live with this kid.” Furthermore, what does Asperger Syndrome look like? It kind of looks like this-

First of all, he PERSEVERATES. Second, he can’t let go of a subject he is interested in. Third, he really digs in and perseverates on things that he obsesses about. Fourth, he goes on and on at length about his perseverations. Are you getting the idea? Do you want to beat your head into a wall yet?

His main interest right now, besides the opposite sex, is Yu-Gi-Oh trading cards and anime clubs. He trades, collects, arranges, shuffles, rearranges, displays, talks about, demonstrates, and duels with his cards. He carries them in an old milk crate that he pilfered. That’s another thing about Aspergians. What is theirs is theirs. What is yours is theirs. It’s all theirs if they like it. It is somewhat reminiscent of raising a toddler. A 16-year old toddler. I wonder if Ariel from the Little Mermaid had Asperger Syndrome?

He has the cards sorted into plastic sleeves in 3-ring binders and he uses his card decks to duel other boys with similar perseverating tendencies. Sometimes they duel in the library. Sometimes it is at the school-sponsored anime club. Sometimes it is in our living room. Sometimes, I think he duels himself, like some bizarre form of solitaire.

The issue is not so much the cards, or the dueling, or the anime clubs. It is the incessant talking about the cards and the dueling and the card clubs! Observe a typical conversation in our house:

Aspie: I got a blue-eyed dragon. It has 3 billion attack points.
Me: Yes, very cool.
A: Do you want to see my red-winged monstrous gnome?
M: No, son…I’m working on something.
A: It has even more attack points than all the other cards in my super deck.
M: Mmm…I see.
A: Can I go to Jim Bob’s and trade cards?
M: No, son…we will be doing chores soon and dinner.
A: Do you think I could do a fundraiser at the church for anime club?
M: No, son…you are not in anime club this year until your grades improve, remember?
A: Oh, yeah. Can I go to Jim Bob’s to trade cards?
M: No, son. What did I say?
A: You said we are doing chores soon and dinner, but I need to see if he has a white-tailed high-flying     drone.
M: You can’t go there today.
A: Can I have something to eat?
M: No, we’ll be having dinner soon and we are starting chores and you’ve already had a snack.
A: Ok. I’m going to call Jo Belle and ask her if I can use the church for the dinner.
M: What dinner?
A: The fundraiser for anime club.
M: YOU ARE NOT IN ANIME CLUB. You have to improve your grades first.
A: I have a D in math.
M: Exactly. You have to have at least a C.
A: Ok. Can I go to Jim Bob’s?
M: NO. YOU CANNOT GO TO JIM BOB’S. We are going to start chores soon and then have dinner!!
A: But I have to go because tomorrow is anime club at the library and if I don’t have a yellow-nosed ripple-backed sprite I won’t be able to duel John George.
M: You cannot go to Jim Bob’s right now.
A: Mom, you know what would be good for the treasure chest (for chore rewards)?
M: (through gritted teeth) What??
A: Super duper, premium, debt-inducing Yu-Gi-Oh card packs.
M: Son, you need to go find something to do. I don’t want to talk about this anymore. I’m working on something.
A brief pause…
A: Mom?
A: Do you think we should serve spaghetti at the fundraiser for anime club?
M: BLEEP Son, you are driving me up a BLEEP wall! You are not BLEEP in BLEEP anime club because your BLEEP grades are not good. I know you heard me!! BLEEP Would you please BLEEP BLEEP go find something to do?! BLEEP…BLEEP…BLEEEEEEEEEP.
Brief silence…
A: Well…I have to have the fundraiser next week.
M: BLEEEEEP (closing my computer) BLEEEP (leaving the room) BLEEP BLEEP BLEEP
A: Mom?
M: (Shutting bedroom door, still mumbling) BLEEEEP, I need chocolate.    

Sunday, August 14, 2011

She's Walking on Sunshine...and Don't it Feel Good!

"When you jump for joy, beware no one moves the ground from beneath your feet." - Stanislaw Lec

Today, is a day of celebration. It has been one year since Skiffy...well, became a SCFE. Original saga here. One whole year since the text message I will never forget- "you have to come in i hurt my leg." One year since the scary scene at the skating rink and the heart-wrenching ambulance ride to the hospital. One year since the doc said "we can be cautiously optimistic, but she may lose that hip." It has been one amazing year.

The strength I have seen in my girl this year has truly amazed me. And worried me. And...let's be honest, scared the ever living shit plum out of me. Knowing in my heart and soul that one simple fall could knock the pins loose and destroy her hip forever, I watched as she hopped up on one leg on top of chairs, wrestled with siblings and friends, stomped in anger, and barreled down ramps doing 120 mph in her wheelchair like Evel Knievel. I saw her develop stretch marks on her arms from building muscle so fast because she would not tolerate going to middle school in a wheelchair. I watched her struggle to carve out her identity as she entered middle school in a wheelchair with what she called an old person's injury.

Most of all, I watched her recover and heal. I watched her learn to walk again. I watched as she came to terms with her injury. Best of all, I saw her strength and determination. She is as strong as an oak. You can't break her. Wound her? Well, yes. Hell, she wounds herself. On a regular basis. Should have named her Skiffy Grace. But break her? No. She is tough as nails. Supergirl.

The good doctor has cleared her to do everything but wrestle and play football. Mmm hmm. That will be her first goal. I give it a week. She can't wait to jump out of an airplane. She wants to go climb a rock wall as soon as possible. For now, she will have to be content with spinning her color guard flag with the marching band in high school. And I shall watch her strut with joy. And she will call me creepy. And I can live with that.  

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Special Kind of Tired

Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion . . . . I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward. - Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Yeah, I know…my blog has been neglected. A lot has happened that I should have blogged about. Wailer turned a year older and celebrated with the party of the Gods…a CHOCOLATE party. It was divine. Chocolate flowed from a fountain, 10 pounds of chocolate to be precise. And there were birthday guests too- several giggling, chocolate-filled little girls who had no intention of ever sleeping. Ever. The house was on estrogen overload. Poor Big Dog.

What else has happened? Hmm…oh yeah! More broken bones! Rough Stuff broke a toe. I know…not major, but it was enough to result in yet one more visit to urgent care and one more visit to the orthopedic specialist and one more stupid blue protective shoe. I swear Skiffy and Rough Stuff are in a competition to see who can self-destruct first.

So where was I? Oh yes, the blog. Neglect. Irresponsibility. Self-doubt. Frustration. Blah.

Well, in honesty people…suck it.  You see, I’ve been tired. Hella tired. A real special kind of tired. This semester of school is killing me. Seriously. Killing me. One tedious assignment at a time. I am so tired I could sleep standing  up. I’m so tired I could…well let me tell you how tired I was yesterday.

Yesterday, I got out of bed tired to the point of tears. And nausea. I showered, put on makeup and proceeded to take Skiffy to physical therapy. Of course, because Skiffy and I LIVE at physical therapy. I came home from therapy with enough time to work on homework for an hour before the next appointment but I couldn’t quit yawning so I wasn’t very productive at finding the answer to the very important, life-altering question about Lindblom’s theory of mutual adjustment. (Sorry, world of public administration…I have failed you.) I was about to leave for the next therapy appointment and to drop Skiffy off for color guard practice and to drop myself off for class, also known as four-hour-lecture-about-really-boring-public-administration-policies, when I decided I should go freshen up.

Freshen up? Did she just say that? Why yes, yes I did. Do people still do that? Why yes, yes they do. You know that feeling when you are just flippin’ exhausted and your makeup looks all icky and your eyes are sagging and your fat cheeks are drooping and your hair is flat and you just feel disgusting? NO? Then you don’t have a herd of kids. That moment requires some vain attempt to freshen up and look alive.

Anyhoo, I blotted my makeup, applied more blush, and added deodorant. But that didn’t really fix the situation. I decided I needed a less frumpy shirt. Then I decided my distressed capris looked a little too distressed and I would feel better in jeans. Then I had to decide what shoes to wear. I tried on the oh-so-comfy, but frumpy, brown Skecher’s sandal, and the so much cuter black, beaded flip flop. I decided the comfy, but frumpy, brown sandals were perfect.

So, I’m driving down the road just cruising along chillaxing to Bob Marley when I approach the traffic circle and it happens. As I press on the brake, something feels off kilter. Something is not right. Something is just…ahh shit. I wiggle my toes and press them into my shoes. Sure as shit, the toes on my left foot press into the soft comfy footbed of my brown sandal and the toes on my right foot press against the hard, flat bottom of my beaded flip flop. “Filth and foul and filth filth foul...we have to go back home” I screeched.

Now, like any well developed, responsible grown person, I laid blame on the nearest human being I could find. “SKIFFY, HOW COULD YOU LET ME LEAVE HOME LIKE THAT?!” Like any witty, smart ass teenager she said “because you’re 37 years old, Mother. I thought you knew how to dress yourself.”
Sigh. Actually, I didn’t sigh. I mumbled something in my head that should never be repeated.

I am that kind of tired, folks. Too tired to think straight. Too tired to function. Too tired to dress myself. A real special kind of tired.               

Sunday, May 15, 2011

I Love to Watch Her Strut

All walking is discovery. On foot we take the time to see things whole. –Hal Borland

Alright, I confess. I love to watch my daughter’s butt while she walks. It is…amazing…and intoxicating. It is so absolutely perfect. As she walks her hips tilt gently from side to side. One foot is planted in front of the other and her wonderful, healthy body moves purposely forward. I just can’t get enough of it.

Insane? Yes, I know. But, you see…when Skiffy broke her hip in August, 2010, I gave up all hope that she would ever walk without a limp. I just held onto hope that she would be able to keep her own hip and not undergo a complete hip replacement at the ripe old age of thirteen.  For six months, I didn’t actually see her walk. I saw her hop, crawl, and swing from crutches, but I never saw her actually put both feet on the ground and walk. Then slowly, she learned to limp along with two feet and two crutches, then one crutch, and finally no crutches for short distances. But even in the end of March it remained to be seen whether she would have a limp.

Now it is May. She has no limp. She walks perfectly. It reminds me of when she took her first steps as a baby. I just can’t get enough of it. I step behind her every chance I get and just admire that limp-less walk. Today, I saw her run. I actually laughed out loud with joy. It was absolutely fabulous.  

She calls me a creeper.

And I can live with that.  

Friday, May 13, 2011

Tales of Woe and Chocolate

"What you see before you, my friend, is the result of a lifetime of chocolate." - Katherine Hepburn

As·pie Mo·ment  temporary breakdown induced by a child with Asperger’s syndrome; moment of insanity temporarily cured by consuming mass amounts of chocolate

Okay, okay…an aspie moment isn’t really about the mother, but ingesting chocolate can increase a mother’s ability to cope. What is an aspie moment? It may be the breakdown a person with Asperger’s syndrome has when they are too overwhelmed and their sensory integration systems are short circuiting. It may be the meltdown that comes when an aspie wants what they want the moment they want it…but they don’t get it. Or, it may just be one of those ‘uh…alrighty then’ kind of moments that you witness an aspie having.

This last one, you just have to experience to understand. Last week in a restaurant, I saw my aspie pick up a glass to move it across the table. He stopped, mid-move, lifted another glass, and clanged the two together. He listened intently to the sound and then returned to dipping his fries in a bath of honey mustard (the 2nd bowl of honey mustard he had asked the waiter for).  I immediately thought to myself “uh…alrighty then.” If you know an aspie, you have probably witnessed many such moments. You may even witness such moments among strangers and think to yourself “I wonder if they are on the spectrum?”

Anyhoo, this week I’ve witnessed aspie moments of the worst kind.  Sixteen year-old Aspie has been breaking down to the point of tears over relatively minor crises: the trash being too heavy, the lawn mower blade needing sharpening, pizza from the refrigerator being cold. He is overwhelmed by the situation and quickly resorts to whining and finally to tears and storming off to his room. Several tearful fits finally led to a mildly aggressive outburst.

Now Big Dog and I get to play the very un-amusing game of Guess-the-Problem. It could be the new medication we’re trying. Or it could be the end-of-quarter change of school schedule. Or it could be that he is interested in a girl and hasn’t resolved asking her out yet. Or it could be that he asked her out and got rejected. Or it could be that his senior-year friends are graduating. Or…

And so the game goes. We may never find the answer. Aspie doesn’t really know either. Although he is graced with exceptional language abilities, he doesn’t have the ability to articulate what is bothering him. Whatever it is, it activates the very primal fight-or-flight syndrome. Sometimes he fights. Sometimes he flees. Sometimes he just stands there and cries. It is frustrating and exhausting for all involved.

As a mother, I generally lose the game. I can never figure out what the problem is and I end up losing my patience when he won’t comply with chores, or meal plans, or schedules. In the end, he goes to bed overwhelmed and frustrated, and I turn to chocolate. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Clowns to the Left of Me, Jokers to the Right

Nothing is as frustrating as arguing with someone who knows what he's talking about. -Sam Ewing

Tonight my children had the following argument while walking through a crowded Wal-Mart:

Little Bean: Ewww!! Bras!
Rough Stuff: Mom wears a bra!
Me: Thank you. Very nice. 
Little Bean: She does not! MOM NEVER WEARS A BRA!
Me: (mumbling) Fabulous. Please stop. 
Rough Stuff: She does too!
Me: Yes, mommy wears a bra. Enough now. 
Little Bean: DOES NOT. Mom has NEVER worn a bra.
Me: ENOUGH! Hush!
Rough Stuff: She does too. Remember? They're so big I can stick my WHOLE head a helmet!
Wal-Mart employee: (Giggling without shame) Kids are so funny!
Me: Yes. Hysterical. 
Little Bean: (mortified) That was your bra??

Yep. Everybody is a comedian. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Give the Girl a Hand

The thing about family disasters is that you never have to wait long before the next one puts the previous one into perspective.  ~Robert Brault

Yes, that is a sweet waterproof, fiberglass cast that has comically immobilized Skiffy's hand in the 'thumbs up' position. The orthopedic hand specialist thinks she fractured the growth plate and may have also fractured a small bone in the anatomical snuffbox. 

Yes, I said snuffbox. No, I had never heard of it either. Yes, I have considered wrapping her in bubble wrap.     

How, you wonder? Roughhousing with a boy, of course. 

The ortho visit was very interesting. 
"Is she under treatment for any other medical condition?"
- "Yes, a SCFE."
"OH MY! Who is treating that?"
- "Dr. X."
"Oh. Wow. Stable?"
- "No, severe, unstable, pinned, 2 pins, August."
"(Gasp) She's WALKING!"
- "Yes, (beaming) she will be released from physical therapy this week."

"Skiffy, what kind of activities do you do?"
- "(hateful) Nothing!" me- "She walks. She is weight-bearing. That's it. No sports, no fall risk, no ROUGHHOUSING. Just walking."

Two days later, I found her in the back yard playing 4-square with a playground ball. I arrived just in time to see the ball bounce into her casted hand, right on the thumb. "Ooooowww!" Yeah, ya think?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

C’est la vie – Ad absurdum

He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying-Friedrich Nietzsche

Last Tuesday Skiffy was released from physical therapy to walk without her crutches for longer distances. It is a beautiful thing to see her walking again. It is also terrifying. I spend my days worried about her every step. The old cliché that when you have a child your heart forever walks outside your body? So totally true.

I worry that she will fall and dislodge the pins in her hip somehow. I worry that she will push herself too fast and won’t heal properly; and she will because she is strong and stubborn like that. I worry that she will have long-term complications with scary names like avascular necrosis; and that is still a possibility. I worry that she will hurt. All of that worry is part and parcel to being a mom.

All of that worry about Skiffy’s hip is misplaced it seems. She twisted her arm rough-housing in school last week and hid the injury for several days. Even when she revealed that her wrist was injured, it didn’t seem to warrant an x-ray.  


Tonight, the doctor in the urgent care center put a fiberglass splint on her wrist and referred us to ortho first thing in the morning.

To be continued...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Asperger's, to a Family is...

An intense sense of wonder
A destructive force
Shaping an individual
Shaping a family
Alienating a son
Holding a family hostage
Seeking joy in a passion
Being ruled by an obsession
Stretching a mother's heart
Tearing emotions to shreds
Climbing mountains and
Sleeping in cold valleys
Watching a bird spread his wings and
Holding the safety net until your arms are numb
Seeing the world through different eyes
Feeling intense frustration
Overcoming obstacles
Tolerating exhaustion
Persevering on eggs
Avoiding red dyes
Staying organized
Limiting spontaneity
A test of patience
An act of love

Saturday, February 26, 2011

THERAPY-NOS (Not Otherwise Specified)

Once again, a professional has questioned my son’s diagnosis. “He sounds like he might be more ODD (oppositional defiant disorder) than Asperger” she said. “Who diagnosed him?”
Ugh. Here we go again. I have been on this carousel ride more than once. He has been pegged as having PDD-NOS (pervasive development disorder-not otherwise specified), ODD, Aspergers, and high-functioning autism. Oh, and there was the kindergarten speech therapist who thought he was retarded and had no sense of reality. He was FIVE. She thought he couldn’t understand the difference between reality and fantasy. Don’t most kindergarten students have trouble with that? Isn’t that why we have such fun with the tooth fairy, and leprechaun traps, and fairy dust? But…I digress.
Once again, I have to advocate for my son to a professional. The thing is, the DSM changes and evolves more often than an Aspie changes wardrobes. What difference does it make what label you put on him today? The new DSM will come out and the label will change. The other thing is, and this is a big one, I live with this kid. They don’t. Why do so many people think they can make quick decisions about this boy that they have never spent any significant time with?
It doesn’t just come from professionals. Family, friends, even strangers readily supply their brand of therapy and advice.
“He just needs a change” (Has this person ever MET an ASPIE?)
“He needs more structure” (Oh my stars! We live and die by the whiteboard and lists.)
“He needs less structure”
“He needs a quiet, calm, environment” (this person doesn’t have five kids)     
“He needs medication”
“He needs to get off all of that crap” (the medication)
“He needs this system…this book…this method…this therapy…and on…and on…and on…”
Let me just say, advising is easy, but I LIVE with this kid. I have been living with him every day, for sixteen years.
I need advice from people who actually live this situation. I need advice from people who understand what it means in Aspie World when school is cancelled abruptly for snow, when school assemblies alter an entire day’s schedule, or when the weather changes and ruins a dry, warm walk to the bus stop. I live in Aspie World. Those small, seemingly harmless changes are like throwing a large stone in the center of a calm pond. It creates a huge splash and then there are waves and finally ripples. The family- every other member of the herd- fights desperately to keep their little sailboat level on the precarious waves.
I once heard a very successful Aspie say “if you’ve met one person with Aspergers, you’ve met one person with Aspergers.” How absolutely true.
My advice to all experts, professional and not otherwise specified: Put the DSM, back on the shelf. Don’t make assumptions. Don’t toss around diagnoses like beach balls. Meet my child (or anyone’s child) and walk a mile with them before you give advice. We (the families who care for children on the autism spectrum) need support and advice. We need a beacon on the restless waters. Don’t throw more stones at our pond. Throw lifesavers, or get off our beaches.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Language Barriers

"We spend the first twelve months of our children's lives teaching them to walk and talk and the next twelve telling them to sit down and shut up." -Phyllis Diller

Today was the day for Skiffy's orthopaedic check-up. I look forward to these appointments with all of the zeal I would approach a root canal with. It is not that I don't enjoy visiting with the doctor; I do. I look forward to hearing about Skiffy's progress and so far, the news has always been good. What I dread is Skiffy herself. Something about these appointments brings out her teenage best. As soon as we arrive she flops down in chair in the waiting room and starts making the face. You know the face- the one that says 'I hate all adults for no apparent reason and I would burn holes in their bodies with my eyes if only I had super powers'-yeah...that face.

You see, there is a small obstacle here; Skiffy and I don't speak the same language. The native language spoken in the home is English. Skiffy speaks Teenagerese. The hospital we visit is no help at all. They have interpretive services for a variety of foreign languages and for visually and hearing impaired individuals, but not one interpeter there speaks Teen- I checked. So, when we leave the hospital, we are never on the same page and we proceed to argue all the way home.

Me: The doctor said you can bear more weight now.
Skiffy: No, he said I could go rock climbing.
M: He said no such thing! He said you have to protect that hip.
S: He said I was all better and I could take on the whole world if I wanted to.
M: He said take it easy!
S: Skydiving is easy.   
The last time we visited with the doctor, he said Skiffy would probably walk without crutches by September. I asked about band camp in July and he squirmed and said "we'll see." Today, he looked over her x-rays and declared it was time to start physical therapy and that she may walk in as little as three weeks! Gibberish. He must have been speaking gibberish. I heard "the x-rays look incredible, the bone is fusing, she can start therapy now and if all goes well she may be walking in three weeks." Skiffy heard something different altogether. Her version went "I can start walking TODAY."

Excuse me, interpreter...where is the INTERPRETER....I NEED AN INTERPRETER!!

So, the bone is fusing in the left hip around the screws and for now at least, the femoral head (big round ball on top of the femur) looks healthy as if it is maintaining the blood supply. The growth plate is also fusing in the right hip which means it cannot slip and created problems like the left side did. All good news! She is going to walk months before we thought she would. It looks like this child has been part of a small miracle. Oh, happy day!

She pouted all the way home. She did not like the doctor's lecture about only getting one first chance with this hip and that taking risks could cause her to endure a hip replacement at a young age and how that would be a terrible thing. She did not like that she couldn't walk TODAY. She did not like that we did not go see a physical therapist TODAY. She does not want to wait three more weeks to walk.

Good grief. The biggest joy of the day- we don't have to do this again until May. I hope they hire a new interpreter by then.     

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Cereal Killers

Have you any idea how many children it takes to turn off one light in the kitchen? Three. It takes one to say, "What light?" and two more to say, "I didn't turn it on."
-- Erma Bombeck

Hello. My name is Keeper of the Herd and I'm a stress-eater.

After a challenging second interview and a really rough week I decided that what I really, truly, wanted after a nice, long sleep was a big bowl of Cap'n Crunch cereal on Sunday morning. Not really a bowl, no...more like the whole box. I wanted to binge on Crunch and eat my crappy week away. I wanted to keep adding little bits of crunchy goodness to the milk until I was content that I wanted no more. I went to bed dreaming of my morning bowl of bliss. (Hey, I don't call you out on your bad habits! Don't call me out on mine!)

Saturday night I took my beloved herd to the grocery store. I asked each of them what kind of cereal they wanted. I BOUGHT them the cereal THEY wanted! Several boxes! I bought myself a beautiful box of Cap'n Crunch. Ahh...sweet, crunchy corn crap. But alas, when I awoke on Sunday, what do you think they had eaten? Absolutely! MY box of cereal! Their boxes were untouched.  Unbelievable; unless you have a herd of your own and then surely you have experienced this brand of betrayal.

Of course, what escalated my shock and outrage at the discovery of the near empty box of cereal was that not one member of the herd made a peep when I bellowed "WHO DID THIS? WHO ATE MY CEREAL?" The look on their faces said "cereal? What cereal? Who is this woman? What is she hollering about? I have never heard this word- c e r e a l."

Finally the scrambled answers began to flow. Not in the form of confessions, mind you; no, no, they took the form of blame. "Rough Stuff had some. Little Bean had a cup too." Why is it, when you ask a question of a herd of children, their replies never, ever begin with 'I'? They know they've been caught. They know too, that their siblings are going to rat them out and sell their soul, but some compelling inner force keeps them from making a confession.

I threw the half-empty box of cereal on the floor in a momentary mommy-tantrum. I know,I know...I could be nominated for a worst-mommy-of-the-year award for that scene but I wanted the herd to know that I felt betrayed. I declared I would never again buy them the cereal they asked for. They pursed their lips together to hide smiles. They knew I was bluffing and they were keeping their poker faces on. I stormed away, without my Crunch cereal. 

Herd 1-Keeper 0

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Along Came a Spider

Literally spacin'
I sat on my basin
Reading my cares away
When along came a spider
I fled to the
And dribbled right down my leg

Arachnophobia: the irrational fear of spiders and spider-like creatures. It is my curse; the ball and chain I drag with me on my journey through life. I am terrified of spiders. I have unreasonable fears that they will jump on me or crawl on me. I have been known to hurt myself trying to escape them. This particular time, I was not injured. Just thoroughly humiliated.

I was sitting innocently on the toilet when the attack happened. I was chattering at my husband who was going about his nightly getting-ready-for-bed rituals and reading from a local paper (one I had actually picked up from a local store and carried with me most of the day). Suddenly, this enormous, butt-ugly wolf spider crawls out of the pages of my paper, right over the top corner and...HORRORS...almost onto my hand!

There was no time to think. I closed the paper (Big Dog  said I actually folded the paper but I have no memory of this action) and flung it as forcefully as possible in Big Dog's direction. I simultaneously leaped from the toilet, into the shower, placing myself as far as physically possible from my attacker.

What happened from that instant on was a biologically primitive reaction that was completely beyond my control. My sympathetic nervous system took complete control of my physical body. My voice forced shrill pleas for assistance, my legs went numb and rubbery, my heart raced, and my bladder deflated like a busted birthday balloon.

Big Dog stomped cluelessly at the spider, missing it entirely, and causing it to flee in my direction. I continued to scream in sheer terror. Finally his big shoe found my attacker and with a final crushing blow the terror ended.

As I finished undressing and turned on the shower my heart descended from my throat and my bladder began to regain some resemblance of its former self. I felt so ashamed, so dirty. This ugly thing, this SPIDER, had taken my dignity from me. Like all victims of assault, I suffer PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). I can no longer read newspapers and magazines on the potty. I am relegated to sit there on my throne, bored, eyes patrolling the perimeter for a possible attacker.

Little Miss Muffet, I have walked a mile in your shoes, I have sat where you sat, and you, my dear child, have my utmost sympathy.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Revelations of a Wavy Woman

“What after all is a halo? It's only one more thing to keep clean” –Christopher Fry
So, I’ve revealed that I have hair issues. I vowed at a tender age to never, ever dye, perm, bleach, crimp, straighten, or otherwise abuse my hair. The challenge hasn’t been too difficult. I’m kind of a blue jeans and basics girl. I change my hairstyle every few decades and then only under extreme duress, but I must confess that I have not always been true to my vow. I was a teen in the late ‘80s and I am guilty of mass hair spray consumption. Yes, I too had poofy bangs teased to humiliating heights with a blow dryer and curling iron. I even sported a spiral perm for my wedding. Then, for the next decade or so, I settled on soft, feathered bangs and tamed long locks, courtesy of blow-dried, hair-frizzing heat. I was perfectly content. Until…
I partied like it was 1999. Nah, not so much. The dawning of the millennium found me heavily pregnant with twins. It was then that I first began to notice it- the first signs of betrayal. It was subtle at first. The color shifted. My auburn locks were turning blonde on the ends. I looked like I was growing out a dye job. My hair was mocking me! Gradually the changes became more aggressive. My soft feathered bangs wouldn’t behave at all. They wanted to…GASP!...CURL! My hair was becoming coarse, multi-colored, and un-manageable. Well I was not about to go down without a fight. I applied more heat. I spent more time brushing and coaxing and pressing my hair into place, but the battle was on and I was losing.
Finally, several years later, a friend (and supervisor at the time) convinced cajoled coerced inspired me (yes, that’s it!) to let my hair do its thing. I worked up the courage to just step out of the shower one day and sure enough (how could she have known?!) my hair dried in soft, spiral curls. Well…I’ll be damned. All that time I thought my hair was misbehaving and it was actually transforming.
I set out to learn how to handle my curls and stumbled onto Lorraine Massey’s Curly Girl method. Now I am a born again poo-free curly girl. That’s right. I said poo-free. I haven’t used shampoo for over two years. I step into the shower every morning, rinse, condition, scrub my scalp, rinse, finger comb, and leave it alone. I plop my curls in an old t-shirt to dry, which by the way is a fabulous way to embarrass your teenagers. I add a little clear gel to tame frizz and I’m good to go. I confess I love to set my curls with a bit of diffused heat (I know Lorraine, I am hanging my head in shame) but that is the limit to my hair care.
I finally embraced my hair and let it do its own thing. I was at peace with my curls. Until…
I shot a glance at the mirror one day and holy crap! There was one, defiant, solid white curl plastered square on the front of my forehead. For the love of all things, where the crap did that come from?! In an unforeseen instant I was back to coaxing. I separated the white hairs and poked them back into other, more pigmented curls and added a bit of gel to keep them in place. I thought I had conquered the curl, but occasionally, without any warning it would just reassemble itself. It was totally unpredictable. Two, three days would pass and then out of the clear blue sky whoop! There it is, right smack in the middle of my forehead. I was mad. I was grumpy. I was beginning to consider…GASP! dye. And then one day it occurred to me- this little white curl- it’s my halo. That’s right. Some days I’m a handful. Some days I wear a white halo.  
I am again at peace with my curls.     

Monday, January 3, 2011

To Dye For

My beloved Skiffy has the most beautiful head of hair. Thick, dark brown, healthy spiral curls. It is absolutely gorgeous. Of course, like a good rebellious teenager, she hates it. She would love to dye it, bleach it, flat iron it, or otherwise find some way of turning it to straw. This is incredibly painful for me as I am a devout curly girl. (More on that another day, but in short, I don’t use shampoo, sulfate, silicone, etc. in my hair.) You see, my own mother developed an extreme complex within me, a true fear actually; a fear of dyes, bleaches, and hair chemicals in general. She had a horrid habit of ‘doing’ her own hair at home and then paying a visit and a wad of cash to a professional to repair her do from the doing she’d done to it. Her hairdresser once told her she would be lucky if she woke up without all of her hair on her pillow. The result of this hair fear/complex is that I have made a serious commitment to loving my hair, sans chemicals. It is the curse of motherhood that my beloved daughter will not embrace her own fabulous locks as I will her to.
Enter Jerome Russell’s Punky Colours hair dye. Skiffy got $20 for Christmas and has been ‘dyeing’ to get to the store to buy her dye. She returned home with her dye, but no tint brush, no rubber gloves, and no knowledge whatsoever of how to dye her hair. Curly girl au naturel that I am, I have no idea either. What I do know is that I cannot fight every battle. As she journeys down the long and painful road of asserting her independence and establishing her own identity it is my job to keep her on the high road. I am doing my best to help her avoid body piercings, tattoos, destructive hair techniques, and bad boy selections, but I can’t win every battle and temporary hair color is certainly an easy one to lose.
So, off to the bathroom she went with stern warnings…no…outright threats about what would happen if she turned my bathroom green or blue and two bottles of hair dye in tow. I stayed in another room trying to subdue my blood pressure. The rational parent side of my brain said: Whatever will be will be. She will learn. Perhaps the hard way. It is her hair. Not mine. It can’t be THAT bad. So what if her hands are green and blue. She will learn from the experience. The insecure mother side of my brain said: Oh holy hell! What if it is horrendous? What if she comes out crying? I shouldn’t be letting her do this! Where did the years go? Why has it come to this already??
Two hours later, with much prompting…no…threatening, she opened the bathroom door, soaking wet, a bizarre turquoise tint from head to toe, everywhere except…her hair. That’s right. Not one ounce of dye attached itself to that beautiful, dark, healthy hair of hers.
I nearly dyed laughing.