False start, three hour delay

Have you ever had one of those mornings that cause you think to yourself that you should rewind the day and start over?  That was my Saturday.  For such an anticipated day, I just could not get anything right. 

 After a few days of fun and consequently little sleep, I awoke on Saturday excited for the very last flag football game of the season.  I rushed Number Two around (where are your cleats?  Eat your breakfast.  Did you brush your teeth yet?  Find your water bottle.  Your hoodie goes under your football jersey!  What good is your jersey if no one can see it?) and practically pushed him out the door, preparing for my hubby to drive him to practice and swing back to pick us up for the Big Game.  I had big plans – hot chocolate, blankies, hats and mitts . . . I had to get moving and in order to do that, Number Two needed to be ready and waiting for Big Daddy. 

 “I want to see cleats on your feet and your mouth guard in your mouth!” It was not the first time I said it, so it came out a little nasty.  He stood there; whining, saying, ”meeehhhh, but I don’t know where they are.  Mom!  Find them for me.”

 “I didn’t wear them.  I will not find them for you.” Umm, why do I ever say things like this?  Still Number Two stood there. 

 NOW!  You’re going to be late.  Do you want to be the last one on the field?  Maybe your coach will make you do pushups.  Nah.  Forget it.  You can be late.  I’ll bring my camera to take pictures of your pushups and post them on facebook.”  That worked.  He was out the door in a flash, looking for the cleats and mouth guard that are always kept in the van.  (In my family, this strategy works out exceptionally well, as sometimes I have to lift a child or two, kicking and screaming, into the van. This way, we never forget shoes.  Or socks.  Or chips.)

 Two excruciatingly long minutes later, in walked a pathetic looking crying child with one untied cleat on and one in his hand.  “I can’t find my mouth guard!” 

 Double damn.  I put off buying a second one in case we ever lost the first, and I was doing so well . . . of course this would happen for the last game. 

 My nerves were shot.  It was five minutes until they had to leave to make it there on time, I still had to fill his water bottle and tie his shoes.  Number Three was yelling for “mo ce-we-oh,” hubby was dressed and bathing in cologne and I was a mess of bed head, jammie pants and hole-y sweater.  Not to mention the lack of coffee because of the perpetual case of chaos that morning.  My annoyance kicked into high gear when I spied, just seconds after he whined about not finding his guard, Number Two sitting on the floor with his iPod. 

 “GET IN THE VAN AND LOOK NOW!”  I bellowed.  He ran.  Surprisingly.

 We turned the van inside out – I even pulled open the stow-and-go.  Nothing.  I checked in the netting behind the seats.  Nothing.  We looked under the car seat.  Nothing but crushed Goldfish crackers.  I checked his coat pockets form the coat he wore at the last practice.  Nothing.  I had him do a play-by-play of his movements following his last practice.  Nothing that made sense.  Big Daddy checked the dryer (really??), the backpacks and the shoe bin. I checked the garbage, the junk drawer (twice) and the toy box.  Number Two had a few false memories (unsurprising and very fitting) about taking it outside, downstairs and to his room.  After twenty minutes of this we gave up and agreed he wouldn’t even go.  He couldn’t play without the guard and there was no time to go and get a new one, boil it and fit it and still make it to practice (and it was the last game anyway).

 With my shoulders slumped, I walked out to the van to close the doors and saw his coat on the ground . . . the same coat I had already checked.  Guess what I found?  Yessir, right there in the pocket.  I felt about a foot tall (nothing new there).  I spent a lot of time that morning chastising him for not being responsible about something so important and there it was, in a perfectly acceptable spot. 

 Big Daddy and Number Two raced off to make the last half of practice and I raced around getting dressed and pulling out the warm gear for the undoubtedly windy, 44-degree football field.  Just as I had everything ready and the water on to boil for the hot chocolate, my phone rang.  Big Daddy’s voice on the other end of the line had a hint of a smile when he said, ‘Hey, there is no one on the field.  Like no one.  Like there are tumbleweeds blowing around.”

 Wha?  That can’t be.  The fields should be full. It’s Saturday right?  I looked at the calendar.  Yep. It was Saturday.  But the game time on my calendar said we were three hours early for the game.  It figured.  All the stress, all the discipline, all for naught. 

 So there Number Two and I were nearly three hours later, parked at the field and twenty minutes early to the actual practice time.  We watched as kids were dropped off to their games, running across the frigid field in winter coats with their team shirts on over and then tucked in to their pants, hats and hoods flying off their heads as the wind blew.  We searched the field for his team color in vain.  Five minutes before practice time I started to seriously wonder where his team was.  Five minutes after practice was supposed to start I started to wonder if I screwed up again.  That‘s when I spotted his coach just standing in the parking lot, looking around.  I told Number Two to run out and ask where his team was.  He grabbed his things (super responsible all of a sudden) and bolted to his coach.  His coach yelled to me that he was going to delay practice a half hour and would keep my little player in his van with any other kids that might show up.  Okay, I thought, but I didn’t understand what he meant by “might show up.”  Shouldn’t they all be here by now?  Of course, that confusion was cleared up when I saw that I had a voicemail on my way home.  “Hi, it’s the assistant coach for the football team.  It’s too cold for the kids to practice too long, so please don’t show up until 1:30.”  Yup.  There it is.

 As if all that wasn’t enough, after I went back home to pick up the rest of the family, we were ten minutes late getting back to the game.  We are never late.  Ever.  It was in the stars for this day, though.

 As we traipsed across the field and behind parents wrapped in wool blankets and kids under makeshift blanket tents to block the incessant wind, I caught a glimpse of a bright blue hoodie tearing down the field.  Parents were cheering and clapping and I whipped around, camera around my neck but not at the ready.  I saw a dark-haired little guy in a blue hooded sweatshirt make a touchdown and amid all the cheering, I yelled, ‘that was Number Two!  I missed it!  His first touchdown!  I missed it!”  My heart was in two places at the same time.  My excitement/disappointment was cycling all over my face. 

 I readied the camera in the hopes of getting a post-first-touchdown smile and froze a little in immediate embarrassment.  That blue-clad boy was not my son, but my son’s best friend who was playing opposite him that day and wearing the same layer beneath his jersey (which was green and not gray like my son’s, adding more ridiculousness to the entire situation).  I got a picture anyway, and then many more of Number Two’s bestie making multiple touchdowns. 

 What crappy parent is actually relieved that it wasn’t her son making a touchdown?!  As much as I’d love for him to feel that exhilaration, I’d hate myself for missing that moment on film.  My priorities may be a little skewed, but I learned some very valuable lessons that day:

 1)   I won’t ridicule a child unless I am absolutely certain they, and I, looked everywhere first.  And when it’s warranted, I’ll have no shame yelling about irresponsibiity.

2)   I should check my voicemail often.

3)   I should find out all the information before cheering for my son, by name, for a touchdown he didn’t make.  And if I do make that mistake, I should follow up with cheering for the kid that actually made the touchdown. 

4)   Calendars are only useful if they are referred to on a daily basis.  Cameras, too. 






The secret to well-behaved kids

I just read an article about the secret to well-behaved kids.  Of course I read that article.  Probably every mom that came across that news link read that article, hoping to attain the secret.   Is it medication? Drugs?  Regular beatings?  A sugar-free diet?  Private school?  No.  It’s a real letdown of a secret: a regular bedtime. 

 Are you kidding me?!  My children (and yes, I know they probably aren’t the best example for this argument) go to bed at the same time every night. In an attempt to create a more harmonious household, I thought this year the kids should have a better bedtime routine; a la bedtime snacks at a set time, showers at a set time, tooth brushing at a set time, stories at a set time and bed at a set time.  With the implementation of this difficult-to-live-by-at-the-end-of-the-day-because-I-have-no-more-patience-left schedule, bedtime is now my favorite time of day (after they are sleeping, of course)!  I can’t stand when I (I mean the kids) miss a second of their sweet slumber.  Not because of their bad behavior the next day, but because that is MY time.  My time to paint my nails, watch hours of bad TV (and good TV, too, I’m an equal opportunity watcher), read, play laser tag with the cat, drink as many cups as I want of piping hot tea without the worry that someone will a) spill it on themselves or b) want to share . . . Seems I’m a bit of a loser. Huh.  It makes up for the hours during the day when I’m picking up a dish of half-chewed grapes from beneath the table, a bag of Goldfish crackers from the bathroom (god, boys are so gross), countless pairs of dirty socks (and when did their cute toddler feet turn into man feet?  I literally pinch the socks with the tips of my fingers and try not to touch too much of them with my bare skin), empty plastic cups from the yard, Band-Aid wrappers sprinkled from one room to another, candy corn smushed into the carpet, Pringles littering the garage floor, etc.  They need their sleep to rejuvenate themselves, and I need their sleep to rejuvenate me from their daily and nightly shenanigans.

 Case in point, yet again:  last night, the little guy rolled on the floor for ten minutes, screaming and kicking because I wasn’t going to let him have the iPad right before bed.  The cat got kicked (okay, accidentally, but still), the candle fell from the end table and the entire pile of folded laundry on the floor was knocked over.  My fault for letting it sit there since eleven am. 

 Anyway, he is no stranger to the bedtime routine.  Every night at 6:50 pm, I warn him that he has ten minutes until bed.  “How many books, one or two?”


 “A big milk or a little milk?”

 “Big milk!” Big as in one inch of milk in the bottom of the glass.  In my experience with multiple boys, one should not actually give a kid a literal “big milk” at bedtime.  Unless they have an expensive mattress protector.  One that actually works.

 I even go as far as to employ a special parenting philosophy I read about a while back (1-2-3 Magic) – if you give a kid choices that you already agree to, they feel that they are in charge and the power struggle one may expect will actually vanish.  It works, if you’re not me and use it correctly (meaning, say only the choices and nothing more.  Don’t go on and on and on, warning and bickering and changing your mind like me).

 Even though the choices went off without a hitch, he was still crying and fit throwing, begging for the iPad, which I knew would cause another fit when it was time to turn it off. 

 “Do you want to run up the stairs or walk up the stairs?”  I asked, hoping to turn the night around.

 “iPad poopy.”

 “Okay, my choice.  I choose that you walk up the stairs.”  Again, a little tidbit from a book.  When the kid doesn’t make a choice, you make it for him.  

 “Poop up the stairs.”

 Baaa!  At what point can I give up?  When can I have the hissy fit?!  Is all this really necessary?  Am I really expected to continue having a conversation with no one, essentially? 

 He was watching me with a defiant glint in his eye.  His foot was inching toward the base of the coffee table – one good thrust and the glass top would be the glass bottom.  “Poop.” One word and all I can think is: Is this what my life has become?  Must I be the hostage negotiator, hoping to get the coffee table out in one piece? 

 “Walk. Up. The. Stairs.”  I said, pointing.  What a joke.  How can one make a child walk?  Trust me, I’ve had my fair share of experience with trying and have some shin bruises and dents in the walls to show for it.

 In the end, as the youngest child is often the martyr, he was carried up the stairs, kicking and screaming and sobbing about his loss of reading time and unceremonious tuck-in.  The elder two watched in disappointment, as well they should have. There is not a chance in heck of them getting away with anything on a grab and carry night.  Sometimes you just gotta take matters into your own hands.  Literally. 

 This bedtime/behavior study has me flummoxed.  Are kids really better behaved with a regular bedtime?  If so, mine should be pretty good.  But . . . there’s always that trip to the store where two kids are physically fighting before we get inside, one runs off and hides in the racks, one is crying because they were counted down to no treat, one pushes the cart into my heels (three times in one trip.  And not accidental.), and yet another feels the need to take the opportunity in public to tell me of all my shortcomings as a mother. There’s aways the youngest locking his friends out of our house or the older two sneaking off to the neighbor’s and playing Minecraft on a school night.  

 Bedtimes here are sacred, but certainly not the path to enlightenment and perfect kids.  Sometimes I even think my kids would be better behaved in the mornings . . . while they are still asleep . . . so I wonder if I should allow them to stay up later? 







Bad to the third power

My littlest guy and I sat outside in the warm October sun this afternoon.  He cuddled on my lap for no good reason for a good fifteen minutes before the ants in his pants took over.  He bumped the table and spilled hot tea, he knocked my brand spankin’ new book to the ground (Follow me on Goodreads!) and he missed stepping on the same sugar-fiending wasp by millimeters about twenty times.  As I was stressing about the impending sting and wondering if we should just go inside, I ruminated on the old saying, “bad things happen in threes.”

 My most memorable taste of the physical destruction of boys happened when my second monkey was nearly two.  He was jump-jump-jumping on the bed and just when I told him to stop, he fell off and cracked his eyebrow on the corner of the dresser.  I saw red – literally.  Blood was running everywhere, he was screaming and I was sweating it – a trip to the ER with a hyper and hurt toddler was going to be anything but fun.  Surprisingly, as rambunctious as this boy normally was, he was calm and still for the entire episode of the show I was watching – “Stitch: The Big Owie”.  It was mere months after that that the same boy ran head first into a corner, creating a gash (no stitches this time!) and a h-u-g-e goose egg right on the middle of his forehead.  As if that wasn’t enough pain for him, a few days later he backed into a roaring woodstove, sans diaper, and burnt his little baby butt cheek.  I have a picture of this, but isn’t it unsavory to post a picture of a little boy’s bare booty on the internet?

 It seemed that my life was going to follow the saying and I was given a reprieve for a few years until both my older boys suffered from Lyme disease.  Yeah, what are the chances that these bacteria would infect both boys at the same time?  Imagine my surprise when they woke with crazy bull’s-eye rashes all over their bodies and suffered debilitating body aches and fevers . . . lo and behold, Lyme disease was the culprit for both (don’t tell my dad that, though.  Although three blood tests came back positive, one for each boy and one for the naysayer himself, he still claims it hogwash). 

 It was another year of a peaceful owie break before all hell broke loose.  For real.  Looking back, I don’t know how I stayed in one mental piece.  In the course of one week, I was in the ER twice with two different children and could very well have been in three times had I not been more embarrassed than certain that my child needed emergency medical care. 

 Day One:  Aforementioned middle monkey doubles over in pain hours after eating an entire tin of chewable mints (but I didn’t know that little factoid until it was unnecessary), screaming that he is going to “blow up”.  A CAT scan, four wasted hours and a few thousand dollars later the kid is giggling and grinning as he is blasting gas out of his nether regions at a rate even the surgeon couldn’t believe – though that didn’t stop that classy guy from making jokes about my monkey’s talent.  Imagine my embarrassment.  Here I was thinking his appendix had ruptured and all he had was gas.

 Day Four: Baby is running through the dining room like the madman he was when BAM!  Smack into yet another corner of yet another wall with yet another goose egg.  It must run in the family.  Trip number two to the ER results in another few hundred dollars long gone and three stitches – not to mention the discomfort and poor confidence in my parenting skills when the same doctor from the last visit enters the room and recognizes me, a la, “Hey, I know you.” Puzzled glance at the chart.  “This isn’t the same kid . . .” Puzzled glance at me. 

 Day Five: Same baby launches himself off the table and bites through his lip.  Listen to my phone conversation: “You need to get home now.  Baby’s bleeding again and someone else has to take him to the ER.  I can’t see the same doctor three times in one week!”  I was borderline hysterical.  After dad arrived, we determined that he probably didn’t need a trip to the doctor just yet.  Or, to be brutally honest, we determined that neither one of us wanted to go back a third time and possibly suffer the shame of inattentive parenting.

 Day Six: Again, the same little guy (at this point, the reader ought to know that he was almost two, which should explain everything to those who have had two-year-old boys) climbs onto a fire hydrant and tries unsuccessfully to jump off.  End result? Two big scrapes on his thighs.

 Day Seven: (Need I even mention who this is about?)  Yes, the baby fell and bit through the almost healed part of his lip.  I probably could have laughed that part off (oh, haha, another owie for the toddler! What next?!), but then he opened a drawer in the bathroom while I was wringing out the bloody washcloth for his mouth, found the tiniest vial of sample perfume and sprayed that sucker directly into both of his eyes. I sat in the corner and cried . . . after washing out his eyes for what seemed like an eternity. Trust me, that was no small feat and deserved the tears shed by the both of us.  Mothering can be a thankless job.

 In the tentative end of all the commotion of destruction, as we’ve been pretty lucky for the past few months, I smile about the comment the doctor made after she handed the littlest monkey a sucker after taking out his stitches.  “Just don’t fall and split it open again!”  Are you serious?!  If she knew what had gone on since those stitches came out, she’s be prescribing me Xanax like candy and offering the kids ten pound bags of pixie sticks because after all, the same way the sucker was a peace offering, a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down – or in our house, dulls the pain – in the most delightful way!  And with three boys, I’m potentially looking at nine bad things happening at a time.  Now where’s my Xanax prescription?

Feelin’ thirty-two

Yesterday was my birthday.  Thirty-two.  When I was twenty-two, that seemed so old. Not old like granny glasses and a housecoat, but old like granny panties and mom jeans.  I guess I wasn’t so far off with my one hundred percent cotton nude-colored hipsters and Wal-Mart jeggings.  At twenty-two, I thought anyone over the age of twenty-nine must have it all figured out – a house, insurance, fancy car, shiny hair, well-manicured nails, fashionably dressed kids and don’t get me started on responsibility (teachers!  Having to deal on a weekly/daily basis with teachers scared me to death!).  What I didn’t think about was that the process of aging had really begun way back then, and reared its ugly head right around the ripe, responsible age of thirty . . . and kept going.  It never occurred to me that I was going to age at all.  At one point around twenty-five I thought about using eye cream, then laughed at myself.  I’m not laughing anymore.  Shoulda coulda woulda. 

 As I sit here typing away with my semi-arthritic hands and dual carpal-tunnel syndrome (and the heating pad at my lower back), I glance at my brittle nails (one of which broke last night at this same keyboard) and admonish myself for not doing a better job keeping up with even the most minute beauty routines; after all, the more work you put in, the more you get out of a job well done.  I keep my toenails painted and wear makeup every day, but neither of these is done well.  As a matter of fact, I only recently found out that I was doing all my makeup backwards and incorrectly.  How do I get to be thirty-two without knowing that concealer goes on after the foundation?  Or that I should be wearing a primer before foundation as opposed to not at all?  Or that they (being the beauty powers that be) make something called eyebrow powder that one can brush into and on top of eyebrows to make sparse, fine brows look well kept?  Or that bronzer is a product that women use to look healthy and not just tanned.  And here I was thinking only Teresa from RHONJ used bronzer (and we all know she uses every other product out there, all at the same time and mostly on her eyes.  Will we ever get to see her sans makeup?).  

 As I blow dry my hair stick straight solely to make it look like I am at least attempting some semblance of “getting ready” and use hairspray only to tame my flyaways at my forehead to keep me from looking like Alfalfa, I am reminded that I am light years away from twenty-two (I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling thirty-two oooh-oooh ooh-ooh.).  No teasing, no braiding, no texturizing and no awesome products in this hair.  Not even a decorative barrette, unless you, like me, think a plain bobby pin is accessorizing.  And jewelry?  Only on rare occasions will I change my earrings from my small studs that exist to cover up the pierce holes to something a little more fancy, like the Meijer $3-on-clearance dangly rock-looking ones I seem to favor. 

 Don’t get me started on the difference in clothing, either.  I’ve never been a fashion horse, but I think there was a time in my mid-twenties when I had a little more self-respect.  Cute jeans, tighter shirts, heels.  Now?  The aforementioned jeggings are as fashionable as I get.  Sometimes I’ll wear a pushup bra.  And boots.  That’s hot. But not just a pushup bra and boots.  That’s not.  Shudder.  I recently caught sight of my not twenty-two-year-old body in the Kohl’s fitting room while I tried on cute dresses (no, I wasn’t having fun.  I was looking for a nice interview outfit in the hopes that I find a job).  Lo and behold, I must not have seen myself in a full-length mirror in years because guess what I was surprised with?  My thighs were folding over my knees (just there I originally typed knewws.  See the eww, as in, gross?  Subconsious disgust).  How did I go all summer wearing shorts and feeling semi-decent about myself with fat folds on my knees? (Jeez, did it again.  Knewws.  That’s what I’ll call ‘em from now on.)

 I’m old now.  Time for wrinkle creams, gloppy moisturizers and wearing a scarf on my head while I sleep to keep my fine, dry, elderly strands from breaking while I toss and turn with aches and pains.  No more time in the sun for me.  The last two summers have given me four wrinkles on my upper chest and a great many dirty birdy feet near my eyes.  I have melasma on my forehead and upper lip.  I can’t jump on the trampoline without feeling every ounce of my body jiggling around like pudding beneath my skin and without my back aching for hours.  I can wear only sensible shoes now – flats, flip-flops, clogs and slippers (and all in wides).  I tried wearing heels the other day for an important appointment and found myself carrying them while I walked through three levels of a parking garage in my pantyhosed feet (that dates me, too, doesn’t it?  Does anyone besides the Duchess of Cambridge wear pantyhose anymore?).

 Enter my cousin-in-law Mariah – a gorgeous gal and creator of the popular YouTube vlog, The Gal’s Guide (http://www.youtube.com/user/thegalsguide) – a guide for fashion, beauty and all things in between, it seems.  Picture a beautiful Barbie doll with brains, personality and all the beauty knowledge a single person could possibly have . . . and then some.  Just what a thirty-two-year-old mama needs to freshen her look when she needs it most.  My favorite tutorial of hers is her ‘no-makeup’ makeup look.  This is where I learned I am a four-year-old when it comes to beauty (watching her curl her eyelashes was a real eye-opener for me.  Pun intended).  Mariah is the epitome of fashionable.  Every video finds her looking flawless and effortlessly put together.  She is what I aspire to be in my down time (you know, when Hubby and I get to go on a date for about four hours every six months or so and pretend we are stylish and modern and young) and luckily for me, she gives lessons on how I can be just like her.  Her vlog is my new obsession.  Maybe she can add a little something about how she stays so thin, or how her skin is so perfect in the Florida sun and dry AC, or how a mama can do it all/have it all without missing a beat, or how . . . never mind, now I just sound jealous of her youth.

 The point, if there has to be one, is that one cannot turn back the hands of time. Luckily there are plenty of young women out there willing to help the elderly cross the road or apply foundation with a brush. 


Seeing 20/20

In a family with kids, weekends are less of an end-of-week vacation and more of an opportunity to sneak in a few more chores and errands (and tears).  That is why I spent the majority of a crisp, glowing Saturday afternoon under the rejuvenating fluorescent lighting in the eye doctor’s office with both bigger boys.  To them, it was an opportunity to get something (like buy something.  Something new.  They have a problem with material possessions).  Number One repeatedly stated that he wanted glasses because they’d look so cool with his long hair and braces (!!) and Number Two kept stressing that although he wanted glasses, he didn’t want those things that go in your eyes.  “Contacts?” I asked. 

 “Yeah, I don’t want anything touching my eyes.” He looked out the window in a Focalin trance.  I should have known at that statement and the defeated body language that there may be an issue in the near future, but I waved aside his discomfort and laughed. 

 “Only bigger kids and adults get contacts!  Don’t worry; nothing is going to touch your eye.  The eye doctor is the easiest doctor to go to.”

 “Am I going to get eye drops?” I could hear the worry and once again, I chuckled.

 Haha.  Kid stress is hilarious.

 “No.  Why would you get eye drops?  You don’t have pink eye.”  Oh, woe is me for my ignorance and failure to predict that what can go wrong, will.  Of course he was going to get eye drops – dilation is the only way in which an eye doctor can prescribe glasses for a child with impaired vision.  One guess as to how I know that.

 Their excitement over the possibility of glasses grew as we neared the mall, as did their eyes as we walked past the indoor bungee jump and it’s corresponding sign – ONLY $7.00 FOR FIVE MINUTES!!!  “Mom!  Can we do it? I know you’re going to take us after the doctor!  That’s a surprise, right?  If we’re good we get to go.” 

 Hmm.  Noooo.  Never crossed my mind.  And wasn’t going to happen.  “What is seven times two?  Sorry, no.  Maybe another day you two can convince Dad to bring you.”  Passed the buck.

 Let me interject a little something here: I am a big believer in fate and signs, though I don’t usually internalize those signs and allow them to help me make decisions based on logic.  Nope.  I see them – don’t get me wrong – and I count them as they lead up to whatever climactic outburst is in my future, but I rarely heed their unspoken advise.  Case in point:  

 Sign #1:  I went the wrong way on the way to the eye doctor. 

 Sign #2:  As we walked up to the reception desk, the receptionist asked if I received their message about my insurance (no, I didn’t get that message.  I may have a problem with phones) – yep, what can go wrong, will.  They couldn’t find us in the system and for sure the glasses wouldn’t be covered.  Sigh.  The exam will, though, she told us, so I breathed a little easier . . . until Number Two had to get the puff of air test. 

 Sign #3:  Unfortunately, he watched his older brother do it and even though Number One laughed, Number Two was whining and wiggling, saying, “Nooo.  No.  I won’t do it.  No.”  I saw this coming a mile away.  Four tries later, the tech was able to get his first eye.  Three more tries and the second eye was done, though not without tears.  I, being the no nonsense mom that I am, actually grabbed him by the temples and held his head still, threatening to hold his eyelids open if he wouldn’t stop closing them.  I was subconsciously practicing for the feared eye drops.

 The eye doctor came in and determined Number One could see at 20/20 or better – saved a bunch of money with that little blessing.  Number Two, though, was deemed to see at 20/40 and needed corrective lenses.  We figured as much, so not too much of a shock . . . until the doctor brightly announced these words: “Okay, we’re almost done – if your mom agrees, all we have to do now is put a few drops in your eyes so we –“

 And the climax:  “No.  No.  NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.  Nooo!”  I watched with slight surprise as a fully medicated Number Two actually slid down the chair, hands on his eyes, crying already.  “No drops.  You said no drops.  You liar.  You’re a liar!!  I hate you!”

 “Hey, it’s gotta get done.  No chance of getting out of it.”  Ms. No Nonsense was in control, I kidded myself.

 I knew, based on my experience with Number Two’s fits, that with a little cajoling and perhaps even the dreaded bribe, I could get him to relax enough to just take the eye drops, so I tried offering ice cream.  I tried offering candy.  I tried begging (please, just let her put them in.  They don’t hurt.  Please.) and lost all self-respect.  The doctor tried begging.  I tried holding him down, but being twenty pounds and 7 inches taller than the last time I needed to hold him down really put a damper on my control.  He nearly banged his head on the corner of the table, and since I was struggling to keep his hands away from his face so the doctor could squeeze the drops in, he started kicking his feet, missing the doctor’s thigh by millimeters.  The whole time he continued to scream, “I hate you!  You’re a liar!  Liar!”

 Finally, I gave up the struggle and a light went on.  “He has oppositional defiant disorder,” I lamented, “do we have to do this?”  And that’s how I know a child needs to be dilated to obtain a prescription.  Every situation is a chance to learn something new.  “Is there a m-a-l-e  d-o-c here?”  As if Number Two was three years old and couldn’t spell.  The doctor looked at me, bewildered.  “It’s not personal, he just does better with men.  He usually just does what they say.  They’re gruffer.”  I felt like an idiot saying it, but . . . I was at a loss.  In hindsight, I should really be reading all those helpful articles I signed up to have e-mailed to me from a great ADHD website.

 Enter a male optician, 40ish, blonde, soft-spoken, and smiling.  Not exactly what I was looking for.  I wanted someone tall, dark and scary looking to sweep in and say, “Okay, we’re doing this.  One drop, two and we’re done.”  Nope.  What I got was a sweet child-like man who did not want to use force (probably the best thing anyway).  He tried bribing with candy.  He tried bribing with a mini field trip to the lab where he made glasses.  Still Number Two had his hands on his eyes, crying and kicking – looking a little ridiculous alone on the chair, fighting just the idea of something.  The optician spent nearly fifteen minutes trying to convince this ball of tears and squeals to just take the eye drops, during which time I dithered between feeling crappy about the doctors’ wasted time and feeling crappy for Number Two’s stress.

 In the end, I did what any other self-respecting parent would do.  I caved.  I asked for another appointment so that Dad could bring him and I could take my flaming cheeks and get the h-e-double hockey sticks outta there.  Yeah, I passed the buck again.  Embarrassment had never felt so deserved as I should have a) realized that special needs require special prep and b) had a plan in place for the tantrum I should have seen coming. But before I could go, the optician came up behind me and whispered conspiratorially, “I even tried to pay for a bungee jump.  No dice.  Sorry Mom.”

 Am I right to be doubly embarrassed that a perfect stranger offered his own money to convince my child to do what his mom says?  Was anything I did during this trip right?  Am I screwing up my kid? Maybe the answer to the latter is one I don’t want to hear, as just this morning I caught myself reminding (teasing, nagging) him that there are only three more days until he gets the eye drops.  And they might hurt this time. 


A single pair of shoes

This afternoon I sat in the kitchen, wearing my big girl panties in expectation of the brawl sure to happen as the boys walked in from school.  Immediately, there was arguing about a situation on the bus (yeah, this is everyday, nothing new here), followed by, “Take that off the floor – I tell you every single day to hang your backpack.  Why can’t you just follow the directions ONE TIME?” followed by, “Mom, this is my last granola bar.  I only had three already, just this one. Why mom, whyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!  I’m very starving!  I didn’t get time to eat!!!!!!!!!”  Followed by, “I said it’s time for homework.  Now pull your head out of your butt, take your finger out of your nose and pick up that pencil!” Then this is usually followed by more yelling (obviously not by just the kids), threatening and finally tears.  Tears always.   In the past month (and strangely it is roughly the amount of time school has been in session), I can say with complete confidence that I have cried every single weekday.   Sometimes it’s out of frustration, but most of the time it’s shame – shame at how I handled a situation, shame that I don’t know what to do, shame that I haven’t sought out the help we all need, and shame that I always know that there is someone out there in this same predicament who is handling all the same struggles with more grace than I’ve been faking – and they are probably the real fricken deal.  Graceful, that is. 

 I’m sure there are a lot of mothers of special needs kids (yeah, I consider ADHD and ODD special needs.  Sue me.) who may read this and think, “so what?  You’re not so special – we all go through this, and you are actually pretty lucky – the steady income from hubby’s job, the health of the entire family, etc.” and to that I say, “Hah!” And, “You’re right, I am lucky.”  But at the same time, those positives don’t necessarily deflect the negatives; they just make dealing with the negatives a little less stressful with room to breathe and focus on the behavioral issues and not hospital stays, babies crying, daycare scheduling, etc.  Actually, if anything, the positives may tend to magnify the negatives as one in a comfortable situation has nothing else to complain about, if you get my drift.  But maybe I’m just a complainer.  

 But here we were again in my kitchen, this time hours after homework.  My youngest was in bed for an hour already and it was only 8:30 (hey, sometime’s an introvert’s gotta prioritize – I need my down time free of having to formulate words when I don’t want to).  My two older ones were at the island counter, elbow deep in cereal and the proof was in the crumbs and mess all over.  I walked in with the intention of getting a cup of tea but was instead interrupted by half a milk footprint, a quarter cup of Special K with Red Berries crushed into the grout, the open milk gallon on the counter, refrigerator door open, and yep, there was the cat nosing all the way in the second shelf of the frig, as if the rest of the activity wasn’t enough.

 Son #1 (not as in NUMBER ONE! the favorite, as in number one, the oldest):  I have more milk than you.

 Son #2 (yeah, the middle child.  And the one with ADHD.  And ODD.): BOOCHYKABOOCHYBOOCHYKOWKOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOW!!!!!!!!!!.  (This is screamed.  With a smile.)

 Son #1: Moooooommmmmmm.  His disgust with my silence immediately following his brother’s outburst shames me into action, though he acts as if I wasn’t standing right there, head pounding and cleaning up the mess they made.  

 Here comes my uncool moment . . . wait for it while they continue arguing and I turn and find an empty glass just sitting on the kitchen floor next to a pair of little shoes.  It might be the little shoes that push me over the edge, and why not? Something was going to eventually.   I had my bet on something son #2 did or said as is usually the case, but it seems he got a reprieve.  ‘Bout time.

 “AAAAAAALLLLLLRRRRIIIGGGHHHT!!!!!!  That’s it.  Snack is over.  Get upstairs.”  My teeth were clenched, so this came out as “Thatsh it.  Shnack ish over. Gt upshtairsh.”  I had noticed the open kitchen window nanoseconds before opening my mouth, so I made sure to keep my voice down. Wouldn’t want the neighbors to think I’m a screamer. 

 On our way upstairs, and yes I need to walk them up to make sure son #2 actually put one foot in front of the other and moved toward a goal, I pass at least five dirty socks, half a roll of toilet paper sitting on the catwalk ledge (I can only imagine), and another empty glass.  At least this time it was on the nightstand and not the floor. 

 My blood was rushing, my cheeks hot, my hands clenched (yes, all over that silly pair of shoes in the middle of the kitchen floor).  Son #2 flings open his door, which slams into the wall in the dark room, which is dark because his younger brother was asleep in there, and promptly wakes him up. 

 I wanted to scream, and shout, and let it all out Will-I-Am style but my brain was singing a PBS song (“When you’re so mad you could roar, take a deep breath and count to four.” Works for kids, why can’t I try it?)  Don’t yell, don’t yell, don’t ye-

 “GO TO BED!  All of you, in bed, eyes closed, mouths shut.  No kisses.  NOW!”

 There is was.  The mean, spiteful, angry woman that hides below the translucent layer of momness just climbed right up and out and tada-d herself to my kids.  Did it solve anything?  No.  Did it teach a lesson?  Nah, not to the kids.  Me?  Hell yeah.  An hour after all that happened, I went into each room to kiss them anyway and found a bedroom window opened.  No biggie, normally, because my antisocial doctor neighbors practically never made appearances outside their home and always keep their windows closed tight against the dirty world.  Except for tonight, apparently.  As I closed the window, I noticed their office window was wide open, light on, a figure at the desk.  Great.  So if all the kid screaming didn’t convince them we were the epitome of immaturity and dysfunction, my unhinged banshee screams did.  And if that wasn’t enough to shame me for my ill-tempered outburst, there was that sweet, not-too-innocent nine-year-old, all curled up with his little brother’s light-up stuffed animal (likely stolen from him shortly after I left the room), snoring slightly with his mouth wide open. 

 All kids are images of perfection when asleep.  You can quote me on that one.  

Diary of a madder, fatter girl

Happy, happy day. The stress of three little boys bored out of their skulls is really getting to me . . . but I am holding off on too much food binging today after yesterday’s caloric catastrophe. This morning greeted me with one cup of coffee immediately followed by an ice cold Mountain Dew. Immediately followed by another cup of coffee. I have the best will power in the morning – I can hold off on eating until 1 pm as long as I am drinking. To all you naysayers out there, yes, there are calories in drinks and yes they are empty. I am gleaning no nutrition from these drinks but they are tricking me into feeling full, allowing myself to eat less – and let’s be clear on one thing – my choices in what I put in my mouth are poor! So . . . the calories in my coffee and Mountain Dew are decidedly fewer that the calories I’d ingest if I chose to eat instead of drink. The only problem with my will power is that it drastically decreases as my self-tolerance diminishes. By afternoon, I am ravenous not for sustenance, but for comfort. Mmmm, greasy burger. Mmmm, butter pecan ice cream. Mmmmm, cold fried chicken. Mmmmmmmmmmmm, cream cheese. You know, it’s like “Calgon, take me away.” Only, “Calories, comfort my soul.” And just like Calgon, calories cannot take away one’s troubles. But unlike Calgon, calories will create new ones.

 When I did begin eating today, it was with a sensible and agreeable Caesar salad. I even went easy on the shredded parmesan cheese and dressing. So really, I ate a plate full of lettuce. It was really delicious. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the idea of healthful eating. I slowly and methodically chewed my leafy greens, commending myself on an awesome choice. My son, always the scavenger of food that does not belong to him, took half of the croutons off my plate, yet again saving me calories. I was actually happy to part with them! I was totally into mindful eating. Until my plate was clean. Clean as a whistle clean because I wanted more and used my finger to wipe up the last little bit of dressing. Hey, if I’m counting these calories I might as well eat them, right?! I was at a loss. My stomach was actually growling after eating, like, two cups of lettuce. Looking around, I saw there was only one apple left in the fruit bowl (Hubby actually had me do the grocery shopping this week. Idiot. We are out of everything right now.) I thought I could sneak it until Son walked in and saw it in my hand. “Oooh, is that my apple?” No apple for me.

The pantry was no better than the fruit bowl with empty cereal boxes on the floor amid random Goldfish crackers. I knew what I wanted – Ritz crackers with cream cheese and raspberry chipotle sauce – but I also knew that I shouldn’t. But I did. Thirteen crackers, ¼ cup of cream cheese, and a slathering of sauce.  Anyone want to tally those calories for me?