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Archive for September, 2008

Rise and shine

My daughter is not a morning person.  Every morning is a struggle to transform her into a functioning being ready to face the day.  Until she is fully awake, we can’t touch her, dress her or groom her without cries, screams and furious kicks.

This morning was no exception, though she eagerly hopped into my arms in order to be transported from her bed to mine.  She loves to spend a few moments with Nathan while I gather the instruments of torture-shirt, pants, socks and hairbrush-that will make her life and ours unbearable for the next five minutes.

When she saw me coming with her clothes, she swooped her legs over to one side towards Nathan.  While this didn’t impede my progress much, it still pissed me off because it has become an infuriating habit of hers.  When she’s in her own bed, she swoops her legs to the side and hits the wall with an indignant thump that says she will not be cooperating at this time.  Cooperate.  That has become our morning vocabulary word, and I repeat it over and over hoping that one of these mornings she’ll figure out things don’t have to go down this way.

This morning routine has become a kind of aerobic workout for all involved.  She kicks her feet furiously as I try to catch them and coax them through the leg holes of her Dora undies.  Once the undies are on I try the socks, but if they’re not the socks she wants to wear that day we get more kicks.  This morning, however, as I approached her with Mickey Mouse socks, she forgot the kicks and opted for a furious swoop to the left that landed right in Nathan’s scrotum.

Nathan gasped and cupped the violated area.  Autumn and I froze as we took in the pained expression on his face and I could tell from looking at her that my daughter was calculating how much trouble she had gotten herself into.

“You hurt Daddy,” I said.  “What do you say?”

Silence.

“You don’t kick like that.  You really hurt Daddy and need to apologize.”

More silence.

I finished dressing her and explained that there would be no snack and no “Wiggles” until she apologized to Nathan.  She left our bedroom in tears with her head down and plopped herself in a chair in the kitchen.  There she sat and wailed some more as Nathan and I went about our morning business.

She eventually issued a barely audible apology and all was well.  The transformation was remarkable.  She cooperated as we put her shoes and jacket on and happily embraced Nathan as he took her downstairs to the car.  She smiled and waved at me and I couldn’t help but think how unfair it is that the rest of the world gets to enjoy that child while I have to wrestle with the demon that possesses her every morning.  And tomorrow we get to do it all over again.

Later, when we’re each at work with the morning both behind us and ahead of us, Nathan sends me an e-mail.  It’s about a co-worker of his whose wife experienced complications during childbirth.  The wife is in one hospital and the baby is in the NICU at our local children’s hospital.  Neither of them are doing well.

An instant message follows asking me if I’ve read the e-mail.  I tell him I have and his reply is short and to the point.

“We are blessed.  Even if I get kicked in the nads.”

We are blessed because tomorrow we get to do it all over again.

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Rude is the new black

When we got out of the car at Dirk and Lisa’s yesterday, we discovered two things; Autumn had peed in her car seat and Spencer was having a friend stay the night.

As we unloaded the car, Spencer’s friend stood at the top of the stairs and erupted with loud, indignant whines at the sight of our soggy kid.  “She can’t play games!  She won’t be able to do anything!  She’s too little!”

Apparently Spencer had been talking up the arrival of his cousin and his friend was unimpressed.

Nathan and I looked at each other, each of us thinking, “Here we go again.”  Another bratty seven year-old who’s going to be mean to our kid.

After we had settled in and Autumn had changed her clothes, we found out there was more to this kid than an intolerance for toddlers.  He just plain didn’t know how to be a proper guest in someone else’s home.  He apparently told Lisa she ought to “clean this place up” to which Lisa replied, “I think we can send you right on home.”  As we were getting ready to eat dinner, I asked Autumn to come to the table.  She replied with her customary “no” and the kid asked me why she keeps saying that.  I looked at him, and with a slight tone of irritation in my voice, replied, “She’s three.”

The kid was the first to finish his meal.  He left the table without a word and settled into some pillows with his Nintendo DS.  He slipped some headphones over his ears and shut himself off from the rest of us.  Lisa looked at us.  “He’s a little different,” she said.  She went on to explain that the boy has ADHD and takes special education classes at a different school.  That explained a lot, but I still wasn’t thrilled to hear Spencer say his friend had already taken to calling Autumn “dumb.”  

I also wasn’t thrilled to know this kid would be spending the night under the same roof with mine, but I knew Autumn would be in good hands.  Lisa would most certainly send the kid home if he became too much trouble and even Spencer seemed at a loss for what to make of him.  You can only excuse such behavior for so long before you shake your head and wonder why you’re friends with this person in the first place.

My brother had problems with ADHD growing up. He was on Ritalin from the time he was five until he finished junior high.  I know that kids with ADHD can’t process things like kids without ADHD can.  They learn differently and have a different set of social skills.  Medication even works differently on them.  They get frustrated easily and don’t like change.

Autumn’s presence probably put Spencer’s friend outside his comfort zone.  He didn’t know what to do with a three year-old girl and reacted with hostility.  Still, ADHD or not, he needs to learn a thing or two about being a guest in someone else’s home.  And I guess that’s the point of this post.

What this kid and the mean girls last week taught me is that good manners are becoming an exception instead of the rule.  When I was a kid (and let me get my cane and shake my finger for this one) I wouldn’t have dreamed of telling a friend’s mother she had to clean her house.  I treated my friends’ parents as I would have treated my own.  Shit, I treated my friends’ parents better than I treated my own because I never gave them trouble.  I never talked back and I certainly never game them a reason to send me home.  In spite of his ADHD, I’m fairly sure my brother could say the same thing.  We were well behaved kids when we weren’t at home.

So what do you think, folks?  Did I encounter a few bad eggs or have good manners in kids become a thing of the past?  I’d really like to hear your stories, good or bad.

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Famous last words

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Have you ever seen the movie Poltergeist?  It’s one of my favorites simply because it scared the bejeezus out of me when I was a kid.  To this day I have a hard time watching the whole thing from start to finish without covering my eyes.  I find the scene where the paranormal researcher hallucinates tearing his own face off especially disturbing (fun fact: those are actually producer Steven Spielberg’s hands tearing all that “flesh” off).

There’s a scene towards the end of the movie in which the Freelings have finally been able to retrieve their daughter from where she was being held captive in the spirit world.  The diminutive medium Tangina, played by the late Zelda Rubenstein, looks proudly into the camera one of the paranormal researchers is holding and delivers the iconic line, “This house is clean.”   But the house is not clean.  Far from it, as the Freelings find out during the last half hour of the movie.

I should have thought of Poltergeist when I wrote this post declaring my knee troubles to be over.  My knee is not clean.  My knee is still giving me problems like those pesky corpses that burst through the Freelings’ kitchen floor.

I have seen some improvement since the last Synvisc injection in July.  I no longer limp at all.  After the Synvisc, I’ve been able to sit and sit and sit and not limp when I get up to walk.  That’s an improvement.

However, I now have a problem with severe clicking and locking in the knee, which Dr. P. surmised as being inflamed tissue getting pinched behind the kneecap.  After a few X-rays yesterday, he also saw some irregularities behind the kneecap that concerned him.  Seriously?

The bad news is that if I were a horse, my life would be over and I’d be galloping around with Eight Belles in the great big racing track in the sky.  The good news is that I’m not a horse and I do have a few more years ahead of me.  Unfortunately this year might include more surgery.

I don’t know what caused the inflammation that’s vexing me, but Dr. P. didn’t seem thrilled to hear about the 8-mile bike ride around Mackinac Island.  He’s got me on Naproxen for the next two to three weeks.  If that doesn’t reduce the swelling, we’re going to have to try another steroid injection and if that doesn’t work he’s going to have to go in with a scope.  Not as invasive as the surgery in March, but it will set me back some.  I was really hoping I could go into this holiday season without crutches or a cane.

If any of you have some good mojo to spare, send it my way.  My knee could really use it.

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  1. It’s one thing to reveal your weight on national television.  It’s another thing entirely to reveal that it all resides within your sports bra.
  2. Alison Sweeney.  Someone needs to bitch slap that woman.
  3. Having to explain to my employer that I’d like to take a leave of absence from work to attend “fat camp.”
  4. No one should ever have to die wearing spandex shorts.
  5. Four to six hours a day of workouts and challenges leave very little time for surfing the net.
  6. Missing several weeks of reading bedtime stories.
  7. No one is going to make me feel bad for losing “only” two pounds in a week, especially not some woman whose day job is wreaking havoc on “Days of Our Lives.”
  8. Displaying all my trigger foods in a lighted curio will only make them look more appealing.
  9. Jillian would totally make me cry.
  10. Recreating pig-out scenarios for the camera.  Folks, we all know I eat too much.  Do we really need photographic evidence of how I got this way?

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Mean girls revisited

I wanted to add a follow-up to yesterday’s post because some of you brought up some valid points and questions.

First of all, why didn’t I bring this behavior to the other parents’ attention?  Honestly, this was the first time I ever had to confront someone about the way they were treating my child and I just went where my emotions took me.  I don’t know the parents very well, although they have been at every birthday party for our friends’ two boys these past six years.  We were tangentially acquainted with them before then, but we never considered them friends of our own.

I also didn’t want my friend to feel responsible for something that happened in her house, nor did I want to put her in the position of having to decide whether or not to invite them to further parties, although I’m sure we’d all welcome their absence.  Last year the older girl pulled out a tooth and proudly presented the bloody thing to her mother while my friend’s son was opening his gifts.  

Willow commented how it was kind of unusual for the girls to tease Autumn instead of playing mother to her.  While I didn’t really expect these particular girls to do that, I was struck by how different they are from the other kids I know who are around that age.  Nathan’s niece and nephew are wonderful with her.  Even the four and five year-old boys next door nurture Autumn and include her in their play.  As we watched Autumn play with them last night, I looked at Nathan and said, “These are the kids she should be hanging around with.”

Being a parent, I don’t want to judge other parents.  I know every parent is doing the best job they know how to do.  Now that I know what those girls are capable of, I’m going to do my job and keep my child away from them.

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Yesterday Autumn had her first encounter with mean girls.  Four little mean girls who attended a birthday party and thought it would be fun to ridicule a child who’s not yet three.

Two of the girls belonged to friends of the friends who were throwing the party for their youngest son.  The other two girls were tag-alongs who accompanied them.  The two older girls were about nine years old and the younger girls were around seven.

At one point I during the party I went downstairs to check on Autumn.  As I descended the stairs, I heard a chorus of mocking voices say, “Elmo’s stupid! Elmo’s stupid! Elmos’s stupid.”  They were referring to the outfit Autumn was wearing, a two-piece ensemble which prominently displayed the fuzzy, smiling face of Elmo on the shirt.  Autumn was playing with a soccer ball and was oblivious to the ridicule, but I stopped on the stairs and looked at the two younger girls who were chanting the heresies against Elmo.

“Are you making fun of her shirt?” I asked.  “That’s not very nice.”

The two guilty parties looked at me and said they weren’t making fun of the shirt.  They lied with such complete ease that I have no doubt they exercise their talents on a regular basis.

A few minutes later the nine year-old approached me.  I almost expected her to apologize for sister’s behavior.  Instead, she had come to tattle on my kid.

“You know that little girl downstairs with us?” she asked.

“Yes, that’s my daughter,” I said.

“Well she took our ball and won’t give it back.”

I sighed.  “She’s little.  She’s not quite three and doesn’t know how to share very well,” I said.

The blank stare coming from the nine year-old told me she had absolutely no intention of letting a toddler appropriate the ball, so I got out of my chair and went downstairs once again.

At that point I thought it best to just remove Autumn from the basement.  I pried the ball from her hands and told her she had to share.  After I handed the ball back over the fearsome foursome, I dragged Autumn back upstairs and deposited her at Nathan’s feet.

“I don’t want her going back downstairs,” I said.

Nathan, oblivious to the ensuing drama, asked why.

“I just don’t,” I said, not wanting to relay the story with the girls’ parents sitting five feet away.

Of course his curiosity was piqued and he started to ask more questions.  I told him I’d talk to him about it later and asked that he just keep Autumn from going downstairs.

I was able to talk to him about it before we left.  He was angry.  We were both very angry that these four girls had chosen to target the youngest child at the party.

We talked about it a lot last night.  We’ve both suffered through our own years of ridicule and nastiness at the hands of others.  Nathan’s high school years were a living hell and I received a lot of flack for my weight in elementary school.  It pained us to have to hear this kind of thing happen to our kid.

But then there’s the part of me that thinks perhaps we’re overreacting.  It was just some bratty little girls dishing trash about Elmo.  Any adult will tell you Elmo is only tolerable in very, very small doses, so what’s the big deal?  What does it mean to me or my kid if someone else thinks Elmo sucks?

Because it was my kid.  It was my kid and it was my kid’s shirt.  My daughter is almost three.  She’s still innocent, still a bit unspoiled, but with every day that passes I see more of that innocence disappear.  She doesn’t know how to be mean and doesn’t know when someone is purposely trying to be mean to her. She doesn’t understand ridicule and only feels betrayed when someone takes something from her.

If she had been a little older, Autumn may have understood what went down in that basement.  I know I can’t keep her innocent and unspoiled and that eventually she will come in contact with girls way meaner than those we encountered yesterday.

“I’ll tell you what,” I said to Nathan, “if I EVER hear her make fun of another child like that, she is going to get it.”

While I haven’t figured out what “it” is, I’m praying I won’t have to find out.

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I mentioned last week I’m in this pedometer challenge at work.  I signed up for it against my better judgment because I knew trying to fit extra activity into my day was going to be difficult.  When your entire work day consists of sitting on your ass and the work you’re required to do for school requires you to sit on your ass even more (if only one could walk and read text books at the same time), you pretty much know you’re not in it to win it.

However the “challenge” part of this pedometer challenge is not what I thought it would be.  The challenge for me has been my team mates.  Their numbers are awesome.  Each one of them has reached ten thousand steps or more each day while I’ve performed well below that.  None of the three of them has said anything about my poor performance, but I’m just not enjoying myself like I had hoped because I do not like these women at all.

The reasons why I do not like these women involve a lot of work issues we don’t need to go into here, but we needed to form teams of four and I rounded out their team.  Had I been able to choose a team, I would not have chosen theirs and I’m quite sure if they had been able to choose their fourth, I would have been at the bottom of their list.

By now you’re probably thinking I’m an evil hag who can’t get along with anybody, and as close to the truth as that may be, that’s not really the point.  My point is that this whole thing was supposed to be a motivator for me to get my ass out of the chair, but I just. dont. care.  Instead of us encouraging each other to get moving, the three of them take off for walks together and pass my desk without so much as a word.  Trust me, the last thing I want to do is spend even more time with them, but if they’re hoping to get into the top three, don’t you think it would be in their best interests to at least pretend to care about my progress?   Even if there’s no sincerity behind their invitation, wouldn’t it serve the whole team to make sure each one of us is getting away from her desk?

We’re on week two of this twelve week challenge and I’m ready to chuck this pedometer into Lake Michigan (or the pit in my back yard that used to be a swimming pool).  I think I’m just going to have to get past my personal feelings for these women and remember why I got into this thing in the first place.  For me.

ME. ME. ME. ME. ME.

So enough of this.  The evil hag has purged herself of her venom and is ready to head into the weekend with optimism and her pedometer clipped to her waistband.

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