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Over estimating my significance.

16 Mar

Ephraim is 20 months.  He is no longer an infant.  I should probably stop calling him “baby”, but it is hard to let that go knowing I am not having anymore babies.  He is walking, talking, developing and expressing opinions and preferences, and becoming more independent daily.  He even graduated from the Montessori infant house and now goes to the toddler room at the ‘big kids’ Montessori school. The last real vestige of my infant is the fact that he still c0-sleeps.  We have a nightly ritual of all the boys going into Alastair’s room where daddy will read Ephraim 3 age appropriate books and then bring him to me in our room to go to sleep while he goes back with Alastair to read comic books and 1 or more of the 30+ story books we check out from the library weekly.  In our room we have our queen sized bed where mommy and daddy sleep and then a twin bed between our bed and the wall.  That is where Ephraim sleeps.  When I am putting him to bed I lay in his little bed with him and snuggle him and sing a couple of songs until he drifts off and then I sneak out to meet daddy after he is finished reading to Alastair so we can eat dinner and hang out together.  I used to nurse Ephraim to sleep while I sang, but he has been weened for a while now.  I was shocked when on Wednesday night this week as I was singing him to sleep he started aggressively pulling on my shirt and saying “milk” in that barely intelligible sleepy/grumpy toddler with a pacifier way.  I was heartbroken and tried to gently explain to him that I don’t make milk anymore and that I still love him and will snuggle and sing to help him sleep.  That didn’t work.  He kept pulling and whining.  I felt my eyes well up with tears.  After about 5 minutes of him getting frustrated with me and pulling and crying I realized he wasn’t saying “milk”…he was saying “move”.  He wanted me to get out of his bed so he could stretch out.  I felt remarkably less significant at that moment.

Later when I told Rich what had happened he laughed and told me I obviously wasn’t listening and just heard what I wanted to hear.  It makes me nuts when he is right.

p.s.  Don’t feel bad for me.  I think what happened is funny and am proud that E is growing up.


Don’t mock my dreams. They might KILL you.

9 Dec

Be warned:  I composed this post in my head while in bed trying desperately to a) fall asleep or b) not throw up.  If either happens to you upon reading the following post, remember you were warned.

Last Friday I wrote a little post about these recurrent “teeth falling out” dreams called I can’t keep my teeth in my mouth.  Somewhere near the end of the comments I responded to a remark made by BecomingCliche where I casually mentioned that just today (the day of the post) my jaw slipped a little again.  Wow.  I was as wrong as I have ever been about anything, ever.

Friday night the pain my jaw increased and I found myself unable to sleep even using my night-mouth-guard thingy (I’m a teeth grinder) and taking a couple  of T3 left over from my c-section.  The kicker (this IS a pun) was that early Saturday morning my sweet baby Ephraim kicked me in the face…on the side that was hurting.  We co-sleep (before you get upset that I took pain killers and slept with my toddler let me assure you that I did NOT.  I slept on the couch that night and only went up to the family bed in the morning when I heard him fussing to get up!)…back to where I was: We co-sleep so getting kicked in the face, chest, kidney, or neck is nothing new.  On especially rowdy sleep nights I flip over so that E is kicking my back and it feels awesome. Sometimes I look forward to it.  Anyway, I don’t usually cry about baby foot in the face.  That morning I did.  I cried hard.

25 minutes later (about 6:00 a.m.) the little family was dressed and headed to the ER.  I don’t go to the doctor on a whim EVER.  I only go when I have to or when I am pregnant.  I am bad enough about the doctor thing that my husband makes appointments for me and reminds me repeatedly until I have gone…and then he will pick up my prescriptions for me because I am bad about that too.  My kids on the other hand will go to the doctor for a check up on schedule and often in-between.

So, we are at the ER and my face looks fine except for the fact that my features are contorted in pain.  Poor Rich…I know the staff was just doing their job, but they asked me far too many questions about how and why it hurt for us to think anything other than they thought he had done it to me.  I got a morphine shot.  It took my pain from a 8 to about a 5.  That is all the relief I got.  They took 4 x-rays of my head.  Nothing to see.  Seriously?  There was nothing there?  How can something hurt so bad and you can’t find anything?  The ER doc was super nice and his only deduction was that I had injured my trigeminal facial nerve.  He offered a CT scan but that was going to take another 2 hours and rugrats had just about used up all their public decorum by that point.  I declined and went home.

Saturday night was worse.  The pain was still there but then something new started to happen.  My face started to swell.  I mean SWELL…but only the sore half.  If I thought I hurt before I was a light-weight.  This hurt worse than childbirth.  Guess where I was Sunday morning?  Yep. Back in the ER. Luckily my mom and step-dad took the boys to play (they even skipped church to help us out. God would totally understand.).  The same super sweet ER nurse was there and helped me into a room immediately.  She was noticeably concerned considering the change in my condition.  She hooked me up to an IV for fluids, more pain medication (this time Dilatin since the morphine was a wash the day before), and something to keep me from throwing up.  I have a weak stomach.  I got the CT scan this time.  Guess what…still nothing.  My sinuses were a little mucky so the ER doctor gave me some antibiotics, some vicadin, and some other pills for nausea…and sent me home again.

Monday morning…the first day of classes for the new quarter.  I was in bed, drugged, fevered, and crying.  I love the first day of classes.  I felt guilty I wasn’t there.  My face was still swelling and the narcotics were not working.  My husband called our family doctor and made me an appointment for that afternoon.  My mom picked me up to drive me there.  She hadn’t seen me since this started.  Her expression was enough to know I didn’t look so good.  She didn’t need to say anything.  Even the receptionists who are an angelic bunch of women that oh and ah over my kids when I bring them in were a little taken aback by my appearance.  My GP’s expression confirmed it.  I looked inhuman.    She looked at the x-rays, the CT scan and then gently poked around in my mouth.  She couldn’t see anything either…and she is SMART and I trust her.  She insisted I see my dentist just in case I have an abscess tooth even though there were no signs of it on any of the scans or during any physical exam by any doctor.  Super Mom called the dentist and got me in immediately.  My dentist is another smart and very kind woman whom I trust.  I was at her office in 30 minutes for more x-rays.  Still no real evidence of anything.  She was worried enough about me to call my GP right then and form a plan of action…because as she put it to me in her softest kindest voice, “your kids need you”.  Yeah, whatever was wrong that could not be pinpointed could kill me.  KILL ME.  She called the oral surgeon she trusts most and got me an appointment for a day later.  The dentist and GP were satisfied that with the amount of antibiotics in my body I would make it until Wed. although both of them called to check on me on Tuesday just to make sure.

Wednesday morning came and my mom drove me to the oral surgeon’s office.  Yet again another x-ray scan of my entire jaw and yet again no real evidence of a problem.  I do have a root canal in the area…the best guess at this point is there is a fracture so small that it cannot be seen on any scans and it is infected and leaking puss into the skin/muscle in my face.  (Puke now if you need to.  I almost did when I heard that. Thank God for those anti-nausea pills)

Here I am one week after my silly post about teeth with a swollen face (albeit FAR less swollen) and an appointment to have one of those teeth ripped out (a real one, not a dream one) next Friday.

Moral of my story:  Don’t mock my dreams.  They might KILL you.

p.s. I thought of several alternative titles for this post.  Here are a few.  Some have explanations, some don’t need them.

1) After 4 days of being unable to eat, microwaved frozen cheese pizza meant for the children tastes like heaven.  Sorry kids, it is all gone.

2) I am not a fan of narcotics.  While they helped take the edge off the pain, they did not make it go away.  Also, they made me feel crazy.  I think, all right, I know they gave me auditory hallucinations.  We have a sound machine in our bedroom that plays soft summer rains sounds all night while we sleep.  I woke up Rich several times asking “did you hear that?”  He didn’t.  I had to leave the room because for me every few minutes the sound machine was making static poltergeist like sounds.  It was not soothing. It scared the bejesus out of me. Once I could get by on ibuprofen alone I stopped taking those things.

3) My mother is made out of steel. (except her knees)  My mom has been through a lot of shit in her life. (Excuse my language mom, but sometimes profanity is necessary.) Those are mostly her stories to tell…speaking of, you should have a blog mom.  My mom has grit (the “momma bear” thing) when it comes to taking care of those us  fortunate enough to be counted as one of her loved ones.  She went though revolving-door doctor thing when my dad had cancer and despite her best efforts that didn’t have a happy ending. She went through something like this with her mom, her dad, my brother when he was baby, her step-daughter, herself, my step-dad (which did have a happy ending), and with me a couple of times so far.  She will be right there when you need her and back off when you need space.  She will be at every appointment you let her in and ask questions you should have thought of yourself.  She will be on the phone making the next appointment and asking “what is next”.  She will also not take it personally when you are a bitch to her because you don’t feel good.  She is made out of steel…except her knees.  We all have our weaknesses.

4) It is perfectly acceptable to eat 3 giant pixi-sticks if you have a fever (and nobody is looking and you are over 4 years old).

5) My coworkers and boss are way cooler than yours.  They probably don’t read this.  Why would they?  As Adam so astutely put it one day, “Why would I read your blog?  I share an office with you.  I get the one-woman show.”  Being the first week of classes was the worst possible time for this to happen.  Well, maybe not the WORST, but a pretty awful time.  My coworkers jumped in and took up my slack.  They kept the train moving and saved my seat.  I would say I love them, but I would get all kinds of teasing for that.  F- it…I love them.  They are awesome.  I am so grateful.

6) I love my kids.  I cannot get any more clear than that.  When the dentist reminded me my kids needed me I almost lost my mind.  I do not want to die now more than I have ever not wanted to die in my whole life..not that I ever really wanted to die before.  Now is different though.  I could muddle through an explanation, but I bet I don’t need to.  I bet you get it.

7) A 37-year-old can find comfort in blankies.  For four days I was home alone and needing to rest.  Before I got in bed I searched the house for 4 things.  1) the heat pack for my face. 2) Alastair’s blankie. 3) Ephraim’s blankie. and 4) One of Rich’s already worn t-shirts.  I would get in bed, put Rich’s shirt over my face with the heat pack on top, put Alastair’s blankie up under my chin and drape Ephraim’s blankie over a pillow and then wrap my arms around it.  My warm little nest of family smells made me feel better than any drug ever could.

8)  I won the partner lottery.  I had to save this one for last because I am going to cry when I type it.  I have the best husband in the world.  Cliche statement.  I know.  I could give a thousand examples from the last week about him missing work to take care of me, doing all the housework alone, taking care of both boys emotionally and physically, dealing with doctors and prescriptions, driving everybody around, making dinner, keeping our families updated, and all those other things.  That is not what earned him the award.  (Here are the tears!)  He wins, or actually I win, for one tiny little thing he did that he probably didn’t think twice about, which, of course, makes it extra special.   Sunday morning when I was in the ER I was in bad shape.  I hadn’t showered, my hair was crazy (think: dreadlocks-finger-in-a-light-socket), my teeth weren’t brushed, my clothes weren’t clean, I was crying out of fear and pain, I was in a narco haze, and my face was so swollen I was almost unrecognizable.  Rich Mansfield, (aka The Love of My Life) took my hand, leaned over, and whispered in my ear, “Your freckles are so pretty.”

Pause to let that statement sink in…

He probably thinks I didn’t hear him or if I did that I don’t remember.  I do remember and will until the day I die.  (which will NOT be any time soon!) You may have just fallen in love with him too. I wouldn’t blame you, but, sorry, this one is taken.  I totally learned “momma bear” from an expert so don’t test me on this one.  MINE!


I can’t keep my teeth in my mouth.

2 Dec

Gross.  They fall out.  They shatter into bits. It happens when I eat. It happens when I smile. They can get knocked out with an intense impact.  They can get knocked out with a soft kiss. Sometimes it is bloody and painful.  Sometimes it is subtle and I don’t notice until I choke on them. Sometimes they leave a big gaping hole.  Sometimes they leave a perfectly smoothed over space. Sometimes it happens in my sleep…all right, it ONLY happens in my sleep.  I keep having the “losing your teeth” dreams.

I have always heard that these kind of dreams are anxiety induced.  Being the intrepid woman I am, I Googled “dreams losing your teeth”.  Huh.  Surprisingly not that helpful and I even have a big thing for symbolism.  I love symbolism in literature, in art, in religion…in basically anything.  I give my Color Photography class an assignment called “The Psychology and Symbolism of Color” and I give my Intermediate Photographic Concepts class an assignment called “One Thousand Words” which is based on the methodology of Dutch Vanitas painting.

So, why weren’t the dream interpretation sites I explored helpful?  Because I couldn’t relate anything they discussed to my lucid life.

Stressed about your job situation? Nope.  I love my job.  It is true that a new academic quarter is starting next week, but that has happened every 3 months for the last five years.  That is not stressful.  It is exciting and I happily anticipate it.

Fear of being impotent?  Being a lady with lady parts the most common understanding of the word impotent doesn’t apply to me. As for the other definition, there really isn’t anything monumental that I am feeling powerless or helpless to control.

Afraid of looking stupid in front of people?  Uh…who isn’t?  Nobody likes to look stupid in front of people, but I do it all the time.  I usually laugh about it and move on.  (That was a gift from my dad.  Thanks dad!)

Stress about looking older/trying to stay young?  I am looking older these days.  That is probably because I am older these days.  So what.  I joke about it but I am most certainly not stressed about it.  My livelihood does not depend on looking youthful and neither do any of my relationships.

Have you lied to somebody?  It would be a lie to say that I don’t lie.  Everybody does.  I can tell a little one without much effort. I can answer the question, “How are you?” with an easy, “Fine” even though I have a throbbing headache and feel like I am going to throw up.  I am not so good at the big lies though.  It started in Kindergarten when I had some unexplained crayons in my backpack.  My dad asked me about them when I was in the bathtub that evening. (I remember this as clear as if it were yesterday.)  I tried to lie and tell him that Ms. Thompson gave them to me.  He knew immediately that was untrue and the next day made me take them back to her and confess.  Since then I have been insecure about my ability to tell a believable lie.  It didn’t stop me from trying as a teenager.  I got in trouble a lot.  So, no I haven’t told any big lies lately.

Lacking power at work or relationship? I actually have a remarkable amount of “power” at work.  I was hired  because it was believed I could do the job well and I have the freedom to design my courses how I think they should be to best serve my students.  As far as my relationships are concerned, they are all very healthy.  I don’t want “power” in my marriage.  I want equality and that is what I have.  I get along beautifully with my family and my in-laws and so does my husband.  I have the appropriate amount of power over my children.  I parent them…usually effectively.

Money?  Well, we never have any extra, but we are also not starving, naked, or homeless.  We have remarkably generous family members on both sides that help us out when we need it.

Truth be told, my dental health has been on a downward spiral since my second son was conceived.  In the last two years I have had 3 cavities, 2 root canals, 2 broken teeth, 3 crowns, 2 infections, and my jaw has been out of alignment 3+ times (which really really hurts).

Even Sigmund Freud said, “Sometimes is a cigar is just a cigar.”

I just made an appointment with the dentist.

Our holiday crime spree.

28 Nov

It is true that when my husband and I were younger we were on the rebellious side, but neither of us were ever criminals  (youthful indiscretions aside).  Well, we weren’t, unless you did not buy the late 1980’s/early 1990’s sloganeering that, “SKATEBOARDING IS NOT A CRIME”.  In that case, Rich was a sponsored criminal and I was a criminal groupie.

We must look shady.  Nothing says dangerous like a relatively short couple in their late 30’s schlepping two little kids and an overstuffed diaper bag with their coat pockets full of used Kleenex, lollipops, and a couple of pacifiers.  At least that must have been what the cashier at the Christmas tree farm thought when she insisted on seeing my husband’s identification when he tried to pay for the tree we lovingly picked out.  I don’t know how she saw through our plan.  I thought it was fool-proof:  we steal a debit card, drive (our minivan) outside the city to a tree farm, take 2 hayrack rides, freeze, pick out a tree, take 2 hayrack rides back, freeze again, pay for our frigid fun with stolen funds, and disappear into the night with a diabolical laugh.  It could have been Alastair’s fault.  I warned him that his over-the-top adorable act would draw unwanted attention.  The kid has got to learn to tone it down if we are going to make it as a crime family.

The joke was on her though.  We thought of every possible scenario.  We had the proper identification and completed the purchase.  Some young farm boys tied it to the top of our van and I restrained myself from correcting their inappropriate language.  I needed to remain calm and low-key. We were almost home free.  I had it in my head to belittle these wholesome boys to the point they would watch their mouths around children in the future, but then realized they would probably just insult me back and then Rich would defend my honor, a physical brawl would ensue and the police would surly be summoned.  I didn’t want to make that memory. I wanted to get home and decorate our ill-gotten prize.  I rolled up the window, turned up the radio, and held my tongue.  Soon enough we had our tree and made a clean get away. 

Drunk on Friday’s success we decided to up the stakes on Saturday night.  We loaded up the get away van and headed to Target under the guise of needing dishwasher detergent.  No matter how often I tell the boy, Alastair blew our cover almost immediately.  I just know that security saw him chatting up the elderly wheelchair bound woman right inside the front door.  Their mental alarms must have gone nuts watching him on video surveillance holding up his pant legs and dancing around her so she could see how his cowboy boots light up.  The minute she smiled and clapped for him it was all over for us.  For the next 30 minutes I noticed that no matter where we were in the store a certain young female security guard was never far away.  She kept a keen eye out when I picked out lotion (our criminal escapade at the tree farm did a number on my skin), she watched as we debated what to pick up for dinner, she was ever vigilant as we joked with another mother about the chaos that comes with having two young sons, and she was front and center at the exit as we all shrugged back into our coats to make our escape.  We eluded capture once again.  No alarms sounded as we passed through security.  What cunning! What luck! What skill!  How did we do it again?  Here is the secret.  We paid for our stuff like we always do with our own hard-earned money from the jobs we take quite seriously.


I failed.

22 Nov

I have failed quite a few things in my time on this planet.  Fine.  Whatever.  I took the driving portion of the DMV test 4 times before being awarded my license. In my defense, I passed the written part the on the first try and was a nervous 15-year-old.  I failed a couple of courses in high school and a couple more in undergrad.  That was my fault for not paying attention and/or not showing up.  I failed at my first marriage.  I was 23 and knew what I wanted, not what I needed.  I failed as a saxophone player in middle school.  It was heavy!  I failed at snowboarding.  I am just not that coordinated.  I have failed at doing my fair share, remaining composed, being sympathetic, picking right over wrong, meeting deadlines, following up, apologizing, saying what I mean, losing weight, quitting smoking, correct pronunciations, simple math problems, remember things, listening, and being on time.  I failed a pregnancy test twice…

In the end, very few of those things mattered and some of them even turned out for the best despite their poor initial showing.  I have had my fair share of successes.  I even have a document printed on the skin of a dead animal declaring me a master.  (I totally would have opted for the paper if I knew I had a choice!) Those are stories for a different day. It is my failure as a writer that continues to needle me.  I finished my undergraduate degree with a major in studio art and a minor in English (creative writing).  It could have gone either way for me.  It just so happens by the time I visited an adviser I had 1 art class left for the B.A. in studio art and 3 left for the B.A. in English.  I went for the art degree.  After 5.5 years it was the way to go.  For several years I wallowed happily in the mud of mediocrity.  I dabbled in both photography and creative writing.  I taught art to elementary school students and later English literature and creative writing to high school students.  I loved both jobs.  What I did not love was the idea that I was done growing and evolving as an image maker or writer.  A good number of my friends at the time had terminal degrees and spoke enthusiastically about what a gift it was to have had the time away from “real life” to hone their craft and refine their methods of expression.  Slowly my mud stopped being safe and pleasant and started to get sticky.  I found myself increasingly frustrated with my creative works.  They were stagnant and juvenile.  One subject in particular proved itself to be impossible to express through either photographic imagery or the written word.  I tried innumerable times to address the death of my father with seriously limited success in either media.  It was time for graduate school. I looked into programs that offered a MFA in photography and those that offered a MFA in creative writing.  I labored over statements and cover letters.  The more I wrote the more frustrated I became.  I found myself blaming language for my inability to communicate.  In one rash moment, I unceremoniously discarded all the creative writing applications and dedicated my life to the photographic image.

It was not a mistake.  I thrived in my MFA program.  My images grew technically, expressively, became more sophisticated, and I leaned who I was artistically.  I finished my degree, worked a year in a museum, and then landed the coveted college teaching position.  14 years after my father’s death I have finally made a series of images that address this ever elusive topic.  Granted, they don’t even begin to scratch the surface of my experiences or emotions in regards to losing my dad.  I have not resolved anything, nor do I think I ever will or even want to.  What I did succeed in doing I am very proud of.  I simultaneously communicated my grief and gratitude.

Bolstered by my pride in that series of images I thought, maybe now I can do my dad and his life some justice with the written word.  It turns out that I cannot.  I tried.  I failed.  I found myself reverting back to my old argument that words are weak and incapable of the depth I need.  While that may be MY truth, it is not THE truth.  I have read so many well crafted,  interesting, and entertaining blog entries since joining this crowd a couple of weeks ago.  Here are some recent examples that I enjoy and am admittedly a little envious of: The Laws of Nature « Becoming ClicheProcrastination and the Time Thief | Rant Rave Write.  Rebellious Phase (Or Why I Blame Boyfriend For Ruining My life) « purposefullyawkward.  Boxers & Blugs « Kana’s Notebook.  Panic and Maternity Pants « brokencondoms.  Driving in America « Miss Demure Restraint.  Weak words are definitely not their truth.

Right now I feel like Alastair.  He is 4 years old and in a manic struggle with the number 5.  He can count to and far beyond the number 5.  He can add and subtract to reach 5.  He can write the letters to spell five.  He can recognize a well crafted “5” when he sees one.  He can also recognize a poorly crafted “5” when he sees one.  What he cannot do is get his brain and hand to co-operate to consistently create his own beautifully handwritten number 5.  The frustration causes screaming, tears, and projections.  I know, buddy, I totally get it.

I can’t find my angst.

17 Nov

I seriously think I lost it for good this time.  Over the years, I have misplaced it a few times, but it always found its way back to me.  I am not sure what do to about this.  I have had it forever.  It matched my cynical perfectly.  Speaking of, where did I leave my cynical?  This getting older thing is really doing a number on me. I can’t seem to remember anything these days.  I usually keep my cynical with my disillusion but now can’t locate either one.  I hate to say it, but it is a distinct possibility that kids stole them.  Maybe my husband threw them out.  He never liked them anyway.

Ugh.  They were so comfortable!  They don’t even make them like mine anymore.  What I see the young people with these days just seems so cheap and contrived.  Not like mine at all.  I had the real deal with the poetry and journals to back it up.

I guess I don’t miss them that much.  They were fairly outdated.  Not to mention the fact that they were heavy and I was always exhausted after carrying them around all day.

I must admit the optimism my husband gave me on our first date is pretty nice…and it does look really hot with the confidence I picked up in my early 30’s.

You are lucky I am a Pacifist

13 Nov

I am talking to you, young man in the black truck with the bass so loud it rattles my teeth.  I dislike you with a passion I usually reserve for bigots and abusers.  I know you are oblivious.  How could you not be with those sound waves regularly liquefying your gray matter?  You have an uncanny knack for passing our house daily during nap time and/or minutes after we get the kids settled for sleep at night.  I can hear you coming when you enter the neighborhood and then literally feel you as you slow down to a crawl to pass the speed bump directly in front of our house.   I have noticed you turn down your music as you approach your house.  (I totally know where you live.)  Did your mother complain?  She should.  It is obnoxious.  Speaking of obnoxious, what is it that you are listening to?  Your taste in music sucks.

Fine, I am an old lady.  I don’t get it.  I am cool with that.  I don’t want to get it.  I just want it to stop.  This has been going on for 3 years now.  I am not that good at math but by my calculations you should be at least 19 years old.  That is plenty old enough to be over this desperate “please-look-at-me” business or to move away for college. I have yet to meet a woman (or girl for that matter) who confesses to having met her beloved after being overwhelmingly impressed by volume of his car stereo.  It doesn’t make you look desirable.  It makes me want to punch you…and I don’t even know how to punch!

You have annoyed me enough to Google search “tire deflation devices”.  They are called Spike Strips or Stingers if you were curious.  Alas, they are dangerous, expensive, and only available to law enforcement.  I am not that kind of person anyway.  I did get a little satisfaction daydreaming about it though.

Am I missing something here?  Is there anyone who can clue me in?

Since I have given myself permission to gripe in this post there is one more thing I need to get off my chest.  Why in the hell are the recycle triangles so hard to find on plastic containers?  I spend far too much time scanning the bottom of containers, especially the transparent ones. Until this issue is resolved I am just going to recycle everything.  Take that!

My hands are too cold to be a mom.

11 Nov

I get “corpse fingers” (Reynaud’s disease) when I get cold.  I can’t help.  It is gross.  My fingers (and toes) turn white, lose sensation, and don’t bend easily.  As I warm up they turn red and tingle.  It isn’t all that painful, just a little uncomfortable.  The painful part of the whole thing is when I go to touch one of my kids and they wince, pull away and sometimes scream.  I don’t blame them.  Nobody likes to be touched with ice cubes. I get it, but it doesn’t mean I don’t get bummed out.

One of the million things nobody warned me about being a parent is that you need NEED a thick skin and healthy sense of humor.

Examples from recent memory:

A: I don’t like it when you touch me with those hands.  (I already explained that one.)

A: You talk too much. (True…ish)

A: You laugh too much. (Lots of things are funny!  Anyway, I thought that was a good thing.)

A: You are boring.  (No I am not! I am just tired.)

A: The house is messy.  (Agreed, but it is mostly his fault.)

E: We are working on saying Ma-Me (mommy) because Ma sounds too much like “milk” and “more”.  Granted, those all used to mean essentially the same thing.  Now it is confusing.  He can say it, I have heard it.  Right now I will say, “Ephraim can you say, ‘mommy’?” He will keep a straight face, hesitate, and then say, “Alastair” (his brother) or “Teacher” (the dog).  He usually giggles after he does it.  (Little devil.)

E: He gives great kisses and I want them all the time.  Sometimes I will ask for a kiss and he will go grab a stuffed animal and shove it in my face and then walk away smirking.  (Again, little devil.)

A: Within the same 30 seconds Alastair has told me my breath smells bad and he likes the smell of the car exhaust.  (Seriously?  I know coffee breath is bad.  I agree, but it is hard to hear that your breath is bad from a kid who enjoys the smell of exhaust.)

A: You car is too dirty. (I am not the one eating Goldfish in the backseat!)

Here is the kicker…

This is this year’s Thanksgiving card he made at school. That is me.  Right there at the bottom of the list.  First on the list is Target?  Yes, he is most thankful for the retail store.  Brother and dog are next.  Daddy got a decent spot.  Hugs and “doing work” (work is what they call the activities they do in Montessori) gets the next spot.  That is pretty sweet, except I know it is in reference to his Directress whom he LOVES.  I am last.  If he had thought of one more thing I would have been out of the running all together.

I get more than enough of sweetness from my kids.  I appreciate every compliment (I make the world’s BEST scrambled eggs!) and show of affection if get.  I live for them.  I have to be honest though, when I became a parent, I expected them.  Who wouldn’t?  I did not expect the criticism.  I mentioned this to my mother, she laughed, and sarcastically said, “I wonder where they got that from?”.  My mother is seriously enjoying watching me get a little of what I gave.  I don’t blame her.  I was pretty wicked.

I know she is reading this.

Mom, I apologize for the thousandth time for my youthful mouth and attitude and thank you for resisting the understandable impulse to have my lips sewn together until I reached adulthood.

I only hope I can be as strong.

A House Full of Alphas

8 Nov

Yes, I did just equate my sweet little family with pack of wild dogs.  With all the howling, growling, snarling, and teeth baring that went on this weekend it is a pretty apt comparison.  We all have dominant personalities for better and worse.  This weekend it was for worse.  At some point last week everybody in the house was sick.  By the weekend all the acute symptoms were gone, but the grouch stayed around.  I was bossy and impatient.  Rich was tired and quick-tempered.  Alastair was convinced we all lost our hearing and need to be yelled at. Ephraim thought everything would be fine if he could just be touching me (and only me) at all times.  Even the dog got in on it.  Apparently this is his house and if he wants the garbage spread across the kitchen floor than that is damn well what is going to happen.  I am sure the fish would have jumped into the mix if he had vocal cords and his biology didn’t confine him to his bowl of water.  After all, he is a Siamese Fighting Fish (aka Betta) named after the Roman god of war.

Most days our little pack of Alphas can coexist in relative peace.  We are never bored.  Somebody will always have an opinion about what we should do together and we are happily adventurous.  I also take a lot of comfort knowing nobody in my house is going to be taken advantage of and if nurtured correctly my boy’s dominant personalities can translate into positive leadership skills as they grow.  The dog though…he really needs to learn his place.  Be that as it may, he is a rescue who had a rough start in life, so I do tend to cut him a lot of slack.

Monday morning was a long time coming.  I do not generally look forward to the weekend ending regardless of how much I love my job.  I enjoy hanging out with my boys.  This weekend was an exception.  After I dropped Alastair off at school I felt my shoulders loosen just a bit and my jaw unclench.  As I walked from my car to my building on campus I remembered that it is near the end of the academic quarter when all the students are stressed out about finishing their final projects and taking exams and that I had scheduled 2 critiques for that day. I felt myself bristle.  Fortunately, nobody growled at me and I didn’t have to bare my teeth.  That would have been embarrassing.

An argument so good he almost got his way.

6 Nov

It doesn’t happen everyday, but on occasion my 4-year-old will give me an intellectual run for my money.  On this particular day he wanted a popsicle before dinner.  His first two attempts at persuasion fell flat.  It was the third that slacken my jaw.

A: Can I have a popsicle?

Me: Not before dinner.

A: I can’t eat dinner.  Real food gives me green face.  (We make the distinction between play food/treats which are fun to eat but don’t have any nutritional value and real food which is at least somewhat good for the body and green face=nausea…it is from a book we read to him when he was tiny).

Me: Nice try.

A:  I think I am allergic to real food.  It makes me itchy and crabby.

Me: You are getting more creative my love.

A: You just won’t understand.

Me: You would be surprised how much I understand.  I am pretty smart.

A: Fine.  I can’t eat dinner because then I won’t be hungry.

Me: That is the point of eating dinner.

A: Ugh!  If I am not hungry I won’t want a popsicle.

Me: That is a problem?

A: Yes!  I want to want the popsicle.  If I am not hungry I won’t want the popsicle and it tastes better when I want it.  I want to want it!

Wow.  That is the truth.  There are a number of things in life that are infinitely more satisfying if you get them when you really want them.  Of course, there are things that are better if you wait.  I know that.  Still, that was a damn good argument and I almost fell for it.  Almost.  My brain kicked in and I thought, “He has to be well nourished to be able to reason that well.  It is my responsibility as his parent to see to that.  He thinks well if he eats well.  No popsicle before dinner.”

I won’t relay his reaction when I congratulated him on his rationalization but still said no.  It makes him seem far less charming.

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