Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Monkey Butt & Flying Poop

I started the day out in a bad mood. I won't go into why. Maybe another time. Anyway, when I arrived to start my day with Grace(5) and Bella(4), I was praying they would make my day easy, not hard. Grace immediately started asking if we could go to the mall after preschool today. The last time I watched them, I avoided going to the mall by saying that we didn't have money to buy lunch there. This time, Grace had a fistful of change - lunch money, if you will. "I have money for lunch, Miss Jen!" (These things always come back to bite me in the ass!) I chose to change the subject - "redirect" being the technical term.

Meanwhile, Bella disappeared upstairs, and returned wearing lipstick, not just on her lips, but on her cheeks and nose! "O-Kay!" We were on the fast track to that hard day I spoke of. As we were leaving the house, Bella was carrying a backpack full of toys. "Where do you think you are taking all those toys?" "Uh...to school?" "Uh...No. You are only allowed to take toys to school on trick or treat day, err, uh, uh, what's that day called?" (It's hard to win an argument with a four year old when you can't use your words). "Show & Tell day! That's it! You can only take toys on Show & Tell days". She was already on her way to the car with the backpack, by that point. I restated my position, saying "You can have them in the car, but that is where they are staying". Didn't matter. By then, she was crying because Grace was sitting in the carseat that she wanted. "Grace will sit in it on the way to school, and Bella will sit in it on the way home! That's it!". She fired back, "Your not my best friend, and you're not watching us anymore!" Oh, great. Fired by a four year old. That will look great on my resume.

When I picked them up from school, Grace immediately stated, "Now, we are going to the mall!", as we walked up the stairs, parents in front of us, and behind us. "No, we aren't Grace. We're going home". "But, I wanna go to the mall!", she whined. "I want lots of things, but we don't always get what we want", was my philosophical reply. The parents were chuckling around us. "But, sometimes we DO get what we want", she retorted. "But, NOT TODAY", I stated. Now the parents were stifling laughter. She was quiet until we were almost at the playground. "Miss Jen, if we can't go to the mall, can we go to the playground?" "Sure!", I agreed. (I'm not horrible, you know).

I am convinced that they hold all their bodily functions in throughout the 2 1/2 hrs they are at school, because they are ready to explode when I pick them up. Since finding this out the hard way another day, I have started keeping a potty chair in the trunk of my car. Sure enough, as soon as we stepped onto the playground Grace announced she had to poop. I got the chair and she sat there for quite a while, while I gave her plenty of space. I looked over after a bit, and saw her wiping her butt with a pile of leaves! Quite resourceful! Then she shouted, "Miss Jen! I pooped!" As I started walking over to her, I told her "Okay, Grace. I'll empty it". "I pooped a lot, Miss Jen". "Oh, goody.", I exclaimed to a giggling Grace. "How much poop can come out of a 5 year old?", I thought, as I looked inside. She watched as I flung the poop over the fence into the woods, and she laughed at the image of the flying poop. A big gust of wind sent the smell straight back to my nose like a right hook! "OOOHHH!", I shouted, making a face and shaking my head. "Thanks, Miss Jen". "You're welcome", I whimpered.

My stomach was hurting, (probably from being hungry), and I just didn't have the energy to push them on the swings, push them on the merry go round, or go on the see-saw. I just wanted to sit. Grace was on this bouncy thing, jumping up and down, and I told Bella, "Doesn't she look like a monkey?" Then, I called out to Grace, from my seat, "Hey, monkey, want a banana?" I pretended to throw her a banana, and she pretended to catch it. That bought me 20 whole minutes of sitting! Bella and I pretended to throw her different foods, she pretended to eat or reject them. Then, Bella was the monkey. Then, Grace was the monkey and she escaped from the zoo. I called the zookeeper (Bella), "HELP! A monkey is on the loose! Come quick!" The zookeeper chased the monkey and put him back in the cage, and on and on. At one point, Grace bent over to pick up something, and I said "Ew, I don't want to see monkey butt!" That resulted in hilarious fits of laughter. Follow any word with "butt" and the result will be the same.

The day wasn't half bad, and my bad mood lifted, and hey, I had some blog material with a great title.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

You Gotta Try These Things On?

I'm a moron. Months ago I bought Dylan a halloween costume, for $4, at a consignment sale I was at with my mom, while Jim was home with Dylan. I even called Jim on my cell to ask if he thought it was a good idea for Dylan to be a tiger. I said "It was the first name he had after all!" He agreed, and said that we could dress as people on a safari. I was just proud that I had saved money by buying such an inexpensive costume.

Fast forward to Friday. Jim took 1/2 day off so that he could go with me to take Dylan to the orthopedic doctor -again. The first time we waited one hour before being seen and enduring Dylan having xrays. I was so looking forward to going there again! This time we were told that the doctor was running late "due to surgery". We finally saw her 1 1/2 hrs later, after Dylan had crawled all over the disgusting hospital floors and touched all the germy toys in the children's waiting area. I left feeling dazed and confused. I asked Jim, "What did you get out of that?" Basically, we wait. No one seems to be able to give a clear answer, just more conflicting stories.

I dropped Jim off at work. We had decided to just take one car to the appointment, because I wasn't sure how to get there anyway, and Jim could always take the bus home later if he needed to. When I got home, Dylan and I enjoyed the day playing and creating chaos as usual. Around 4:00 I looked at him, and he just looked so cute wearing his halloween shirt with a skeleton that says "I Want Candy!", that I decided to do a photo shoot.

I took these shots...

Then, I decided to take some of him in the tiger costume. I wrestled Dylan into it, and could not believe my eyes! See for yourself...

Yep, it was WAY too big! Who would've thought you have to actually try costumes on? Obviously, not me. By this time, it was around 5:00, and I called Jim at work. My first words were "We have a problem". Poor Jim. That's not the best way to begin a conversation. He said when I said "We need to go out tonight and buy another costume", that he was actually relieved.

At that very moment, Dylan decided he had to eat. He started to scream his "You think your hearing is bad now, just wait" scream, so I told Jim he better take the 5:15 bus home, instead of me leaving to pick him up. He called at 5:40 to tell me the bus still hadn't come. (This is why no one uses public transportation). By the time he got a bus and got home it was 6:30. My son's bedtime is 8:00 and we were just leaving the house at 6:30 to look for a tiger costume for the next day's trick or treating! And, I hadn't eaten dinner and I was starving!

Jim called and asked if I could just pick him up at the corner to save time. Right after he called, Dylan was going to use his car that he walks in, and he fell onto the side face first, making his lip bleed. I got the bleeding to stop and held ice on his lip, then realized no one had fed the cat. I held my 20 lb kid in my left arm, opened the door, and bent down about to pour the cat food with my right hand. I came face to face with a present the cat left by the door - either a very large mouse, or a rat. I jumped back, spilling half the container of cat food onto the deck. "#@!@!", I screamed. If I put Dylan down he would eat half of it, so I continued holding him, while trying to scoop enough back in with the other hand, while the cat SAT on top of it. I then wrestled Dylan into his coat, almost throwing my back out, by bending in ways I am not meant to bend. I grabbed Dylan in my left arm, the ridiculously heavy diaper bag in my right hand, and opened the front door. As I was fumbling with the key, the cat ran inside the house (it is strictly an outside cat). I snapped and just started screaming "GET OUT!!" like a lunatic. After finally scaring the cat enough to get her to run back outside, we finally left.

I picked up Jim and we went to three different stores. No tiger. We had bought safari type hats so that we could be on a safari with our tiger, and now we didn't have a tiger. My stomach was rumbling and my patience was gone. We found a lion costume at Babies R Us, and since we learned our lesson, decided to try it on before buying it. We knew it would take both of us to wrestle Dylan into it, so we just went to an open area of the store, and started the wrestling match. Somehow my hand flew up and I cut Jim's lip with my fingernail and he started bleeding. I was tempted to yell "Don't get blood on the costume!", but I didn't think he would appreciate that.

Luckily, it all worked out, and we had fun taking Dylan trick or treating for the first time. And you would never know from the picture that it all came together at the last possible moment! Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Things I Never Thought I Would Say

Today I actually said, "Yay! It's poop!". My son just had his first normal bowel movement since last Thursday, so it seemed like something to celebrate. Remember the show "Kids Say the Darndest Things"? Well, kids also make you say the darndest things.

Some other examples...
I actually uttered the words, "I don't want to eat chocolate chip cookies". That was while pregnant and VERY nauseous. I doubt you will ever hear those words come out of my mouth again.

"If you won't let me say what I want, then I won't play, and I don't want to be the pig!!" I told the five year old that I used to be a nanny for this after playing pretend with her stuffed animals for about the hundredth time. She would be all of her stuffed animals and give me the pig every time, and she would not only dictate the storyline, but what I, as the pig, was supposed to say!

"If you think I'm wiping your butt, you are very, very wrong!" I said that to the seven year old I used to be a nanny for whose mom was still wiping her butt at the age of seven!

"I WILL take you to school in your pajamas, and you WILL be embarrassed!" I told the four year old I'm currently watching this when she refused to get dressed for preschool. I was hoping I wouldn't have to follow through, but I would have. With my luck, it would catch on, and all the kids would start insisting they get to wear pajamas to school.

And, my personal favorite,
"Put those things away!" This I yelled at a line full of five year old boys, waiting to use the bathroom, at the preschool I used to work at. They were all standing around, comparing the size of their penis. Apparently the obsession over the size starts very early.

I'm sure all of you have some to share. I'd love to hear them!

Monday, October 22, 2007


After being stuck in the house sick for the past four days, Dylan was bored. Bored, Bored, Bored! For the past four days we have been dealing with puke and nonstop diarrea, and it was getting to me. Last night, I had 3 separate nightmares about Dylan choking on puke, which caused me to wake up in a panic, stumbling half asleep into his room to check on him. We both needed some fresh air. But, after the projectile vomit-fest which occurred yesterday evening after his first attempt to eat solid food in four days, I figured we should first take a trip to the dreaded germ carnival otherwise known as the doctor's office. If you remember correctly, I vowed never to go back there without help, after his 9 month well visit. I enlisted my mom for today's journey to germy town.

Between the two of us, we managed at the doctor's pretty well, and were told that he isn't dehydrated, and to just keep doing what we are doing. When we left, and I thought of going back home, I just couldn't do it. "It wouldn't hurt Dylan to go the park, would it? It's a beautiful day - nice and warm - and he could use the fresh air, right?", I begged my mom for her approval. She agreed, and we were off!

We went to a park that is surrounded by trees, with a stream running along the side. I spent many happy times at that park with my grandparents. My grandfather taught us how to skip rocks across the water, and the names of the different trees. It felt so good to be back at the park, with my son, and my mom, the generations keeping the traditions and memories going.

We put Dylan in the stroller and walked the entire length of the park twice. My mom sometimes walked, sometimes ran alongside the stroller, talking excitedly to a groggy but interested Dylan. She pointed out the leaves at least 20 times, saying "Look at the beautiful leaves, Dylan! Look! There's red, orange, yellow, green. See all the colors?!" Every time Dylan pointed, (which was quite often - it is his newest thing), she would exclaim, "Yes! I see the leaves, Dylan!" I tried not to laugh, picturing Dylan thinking "I wasn't pointing at the damn leaves, lady, but I appreciate your enthusiasm".

When we got near the stream, she insisted that we push the stroller over so he could look at the water. Then, she climbed down, and started skipping stones across the water. Then, she started throwing bigger stones in to make a big splash. She almost stepped on a big toad that was trying desperately to avoid the lady carrying on about the stones. Then, she started carrying on about the toad to Dylan. After awhile, Dylan finally grew tired of my mom's one man routine, and started making it known he wanted to get moving. She kept up her running dialogue, and at one point, found a buckeye or chestnut, or something, and would throw it in front of the stroller, making it roll down the road, while Dylan happily pointed at it. She did that over and over, and I couldn't help but remark "Where do you get all your energy?" She replied, "Bee-Alive!". It is an herbal supplement, not some hippy slogan.) My mom has become a naturalist - she only eats fruits and vegetables and she is very big into natural remedies, and down on doctors. Actually, she has been using "Bee-Alive" since I was in college. When I got mono my sophmore year, she insisted on sending me care packages filled with the miracle capsules, with little notes, reminding me constantly to "Bee-Alive!" At this point I am beginning to wonder if there really is something to this. Being a somewhat "older" mom, I worried, would I be able to keep up with Dylan? Perhaps, I should be worrying "will I be able to keep up with grandma?!"

Friday, October 19, 2007

It's Official

I have never been good with puke. (What a great way to start, eh?) I have only thrown up 3 times in my life, twice while pregnant and once when I had a really bad case of the flu. That is not to say that I have rarely been sick. On the contrary, my immune system sucks. When I was little, getting bronchitis was as commonplace as say, getting the sniffles. At the age of 6 or 7 I stayed at the hospital to have allergy testing done. A lovely nurse would come in each morning, and prick my roommate and I's arms several times with various needles, and come back later to see if we had a reaction to any. One morning we stole a rolling bed (name for these escapes me), and barricaded the door. The nurse begged and pleaded for us to let her in, as we jumped on our beds, singing "Nyah, nyah!" Anyway, they found I was allergic to cats, milk, dust, down feathers, and certain flowers. I started getting weekly allergy shots, which I got for several years.

When I started working in daycares and preschools, I would always let the other teachers know upfront, "I'm not good with puke. If a child throws up, I won't be much help". Once, while working as a head start teacher, I was given van duty, which just meant that you go along with the van driver to take some of the kids home, and you are responsible for getting them out of their seats and off the van. I was sitting near the back with "my boyfriend" (one of the 4 yr old boys decided that was his title), when a little girl started projectile vomiting with such force I thought she would blow out a window. I did what any good van driver's assistant would do. I sat there in shock, muttering, "Ohmygod", trying not to gag. The driver calmly pulled the van over, got out paper towels, and started cleaning the girl up, all while leading the kids in a round of "The Wheels on the Bus"! Not one of my proudest moments.

I knew when I had a child of my own, there would be no one to turn to and explain, "I'm not good with puke. It's all you". I knew I would have to deal with it. I knew when the moment came that I calmly and efficiently cleaned up my child's puke, that it would be official. I would truly have no doubt that I am indeed a mom, with a capital M. That moment came this morning.

Yesterday, when I gave Dylan his first bottle of the day, and he shunned it after a mere 2 ounces, I thought something couldn't be right. My son loves his bottle, and he hasn't left a drop in one since he was about 2 weeks old. Later, when he crawled over to me, and put his head on my lap, snuggling into me, I KNEW something wasn't right. He is not an affectionate child. He already looks at me in disgust if I kiss him in public, and he does not give out hugs or kisses, no matter how much I beg. He was affectionate all day, and while I was loving every minute of it, I knew I was in trouble. Sure enough, he had diarrea all day, and he threw up a small amount during dinner last night. Jim had the honor of cleaning that up.

This morning he slept 2 hours longer than he usually sleeps, so when he made the slightest noise, I rushed in. I felt like the worst mother in the universe, because there he was covered, and I mean covered in puke. The crib sheet was covered, the bumper pad was covered, his clothes were covered, his helmet was covered, and his hair was covered. I didn't hear him throw up on the monitor, and I called Jim at work and asked if he had heard anything, and he didn't. We have no way of knowing how long he lay there in it, but jeez, I hope it wasn't long. The smell hit me the minute I opened the door, and that is always the hardest part for me. I have a very sensitive nose - it is the one sense I have that works well - sight and hearing is a different story.

I admit, I did mutter "Ohmygod", and my stomach felt like a fleet of Riverdancers doing a jig, but I immediately and efficiently cleaned it all up, giving my son the proper amount of love and sympathy, instead of shunning him for his germiness. I am officially a Mom, and I can do ANYTHING.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

This Is Blogging Ridiculous!

When I went to a writers' conference in Ohio, back on August 25th, I had high hopes of being discovered. Instead, I was told that all writers, (or wannabes), should have a blog and I have come to discover that blogging can completely take over your life. I figured that it wouldn't be a big deal. Once in a while, when the mood struck, and I had the time, I would write something. It would be an outlet for the writer in me dying to get out, it would be a nice journal of Dylan's life for him to read over when he's older, and it would be a great way to let friends and family know what's going on in our lives without breaking the bank on phone calls. I thought it would be simple. Boy, was I wrong.

I worried I wouldn't know what to write about. Instead, just about everyday, sometimes more than once, I think, "I have to write about that!" I should have realized this would be the case. Things just seem to happen to me. Jim says, "You're the only person I know who can go to the grocery store and come back with a story!" (and that's without kids). My old hairdresser once told me, "I love when you come, because I get to hear your stories!" The problem with having that many stories is, there is never enough time to write them all down, (or type them all out, as the case may be). There is a sense of disappointment in letting these stories go unwritten - gone forever, never to be retold.

Another problem is the myriad of stories that CAN'T be told, unless I want to go live under a rock somewhere. The ones about "x", "y", and "z", that they would kill me if I told, but that are so funny I find myself saying, "Well, how much do I really need "x" in my life, anyway?" The trouble with that rationale is, as I'm gaining cyber friends, I would be losing real ones. Real, as in screaming in my face, about to beat me up, real. Not that you cyber friends are imaginary, but you can't break my nose if I say something bad about you. But, it's all about ethics, you know, not me getting beat up.

Speaking of ethics, there is a certain set of ethics or rules of politeness that comes into play with blogging. When someone comments on one of my posts, I need to know who I'm talking to, (it's sheer curiosity), so I read their profile. I then visit their blog, and feel I must return the favor by commenting on one of their posts. But usually, to do that, I end up needing to read back a bit, and I find myself hooked, reading more than I intended to, and adding yet another bookmark! When someone comments to mine, I feel it is rude not to comment back, after all they took the time out of their busy day to read about my life. I find myself checking to see if others have commented to the comments I've left on their blogs. And, the vicious blogging cycle goes on.

Before I become a blogging addict, stop sleeping, find that rats have taken over my home, drown in piles of unopened mail and dirty laundry, and come home to find a note from Jim, and a social services agent at my door, I feel I must set some ground rules for myself for this blogging business. So, I am going to narrow my list, and only read between 8-10 blogs faithfully. I am only going to comment to their posts, and those left on my own site. I am not going to search for any others. Now, please don't think I'm a cyber snob, or hate me for my rudeness. It's just that I need to return to my regularly scheduled life already in progress. If I can't, I'll have to join a twelve step program. Those of you who can relate, repeat after me. "Hi, my name is _____, and I am a blogging addict".

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Climber

I mentioned before how incredibly determined Dylan is, (see "My Son Is Joining A Nudist's Colony"). Well, his determination is continuing to amaze me. When we learned that he had torticollis, I read all the information I could find on the internet about this word I had never heard of before. I read that children with torticollis often are delayed in reaching milestones, such as rolling over, crawling, sitting, walking, etc. I am happy to report that so far, instead of being delayed in these areas, he has done them EARLY! I have to give some credit to his physical therapist, Adina, for this. She has worked with him since he was 4 months old, so she has helped push him along, and she has taught me helpful tricks for getting him to do all of those things. Mostly, though, I think he has done them early because he is so determined.

When he wants something, he WILL get it. If he has to climb over you, half his toys, and go through an end table, so be it. His attention span is amazing when it comes to doing what he wants. If he wants to pull Daddy's glasses off his face, he will keep grabbing at them until poor Daddy's neck is sore from tilting his head back, and Dylan is victoriously waving around said glasses while Daddy shakes his head in disbelief!

He has been cruising around all the furniture since 8/12/07, and he has been taking a few steps before crashing to the ground since 9/21/07, but he still isn't walking. He is far more interested in another feat - climbing! He can climb stairs faster than (insert famous climber's name here). Since mastering the stairs, he has set his sights on conquering the couch. I blame this newest obsession on Jim, who loves to rough house with Dylan on the couch. He throws him onto the couch, shakes it yelling "Earthquake!", and piles the pillows on top of a hysterical Dylan. To say that Dylan enjoys this would be an understatement. Of course, he wants to get onto the couch - that's where the fun is!

So, lately he spends a lot of his time trying to climb the couch. He tries, and tries, and tries, and he cries, and cries, and cries, because he is so frustrated that he can't do it, but he NEVER gives up. I try, and try, and try, not to laugh, because I don't want to encourage this dangerous behavior, but it is just so damn funny! I am impressed and yet frightened by his determination because I know I'm in trouble when he is in the terrible twos, or worse, the teenage years!

If you're wondering, he did eventually climb it. I went into the kitchen, and when I came back into the living room, he was sitting on the couch with a big goofy grin, looking around as if to say "Well, now that I've done that, what else can I try?"

Push It (or the promised video)

Ok, everyone. First, read my old post from back in August entitled "Let's All Be Kids". Then, watch the following video, guaranteed to make you laugh, or at least smile. Then again, who am I to tell you what to do? Do whatever you want. Just a suggestion. : )

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Blood, Sweat, & Tears

Dylan's baby book will read something like this....
First solid food - Rice Cereal - 5/12/07
First time you sat up by yourself - 6/19/07
First time you pulled to stand - 7/17/07
First time you made Mommy bleed - 10/10/07

Yes, my orally fixated son put a big piece of fuzz in his mouth the other day, and when I tried to fish it out, he bit me and drew blood. It was 7:27am, and I already had an injury! My day was looking good.

Perhaps, when I took him to his first Halloween party earlier this week, he should have been a vampire, instead of a ...

The sad thing is, I'm quite certain this won't be the only time the little devil will make me bleed. Who knew the expression "Blood, Sweat, & Tears" would be so literal?

P.S. My expert blogger buddy Julia explained the wonderful world of adding pictures and video to my blog, so look out world, here comes Dylan in all his glory! (Thanks Julia!)

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Wondering and Knowing

We took Dylan to the park over the weekend, and as we pushed the stroller past a port-a-potty, I read the name on it, "Mr. John". "Why are bathrooms called johns anyway?", I asked Jim. Always willing to accompany me in pondering life's nonsensicals, Jim replied, "Hmmm. Good question. I don't know". That thought got me thinking about some other guys.

Take "John Doe". This poor guy's name is synonymous with ordinary or anonymous. That has to give a person a complex, huh? Why was this guy so boring? And, how about Murphy, (as in Murphy's Law)? Who was this Murphy guy, and what happened to him that was so bad? I figured there had to be some interesting stories there, so I searched the internet.

This is what I found out...

"The "John Doe" custom dates back to the reign of England's King Edward III, during the legal debate over something called the Acts of Ejectment. This debate involved a hypothetical landowner, referred to as "John Doe," who leased land to another man, the equally fictitious "Richard Roe," who then took the land as his own and "ejected," or evicted, poor "John Doe."

These names -- John Doe and Richard Roe -- had no particular significance, aside from "Doe" (a female deer) and "Roe" (a small species of deer found in Europe) being commonly known nouns at the time. But the debate became a hallmark of legal theory, and the name "John Doe" in particular gained wide currency in both the legal world and general usage as a generic stand-in for any unnamed person. According to Mr. Dickson, "John Doe" and "Richard Roe" are, to this day, mandated in legal procedure as the first and second names given to unknown defendants in a case (followed, if necessary, by "John Stiles" and "Richard Miles"). The name "Jane Doe," a logical female equivalent, is used in many state jurisdictions, but if the case is federal, the unnamed defendant is dubbed "Mary Major.""

Still awake? That wasn't too exciting, was it? But wait! I'm going to tell you what I found out about Murphy...

"It seems that no one knows exactly who, if anyone, the Murphy of "Murphy's Law" was, although the "law" seems to have been discovered during or just after World War Two. According to the autobiographical book "Into Orbit" by former pilot and astronaut (not to mention Senator) John Glenn, "'Murphy' was a fictitious character who appeared in a series of educational cartoons put out by the U.S. Navy.... Murphy was a careless, all-thumbs mechanic who was prone to make such mistakes as installing a propeller backwards." Senator Glenn's recollection has not been verified, however, and it's equally possible that whoever actually dreamt up the pessimistic "Murphy's Law" simply picked the common name "Murphy" out of thin air."

Snore - or SUH-NORE!!, as I like to say. That's it?! I wish I hadn't asked. That just goes to show, sometimes the things we wonder about are much more fun to wonder about, instead of knowing the answer. The person who knows all the answers must be one disappointed dude ( or dudette!). Luckily that certainly isn't me.

Manic Depressive

I had the whole week off last week. Off from my part time job, that is. A mom is never truly "off", just different levels of "on". There is barely standing "on", just a caffeine fix away from good "on", good "on" (which is when you are managing the kids, house, and your own stuff, all with a smile on your face that is real, not drug or caffeine induced), and super warp speed "on" (which is when you are checking your emails, paying bills, feeding the baby, and talking on the phone all at the same time, and you've actually had a meal and bathed that day).

Anyway, when I picked up the girls from preschool, Bella, who I went rounds with the last time I saw her, ran at me full speed, and jumped into my arms, screaming with joy, "MISS JEN!!!", giving me a huge bear hug which took my breath away. What a greeting! If only everyone greeted me in this manner! (I will suggest this to Jim).

Then, not ten minutes later, she was screaming at me in anger, "I don't like you! You're not being nice!", because I refused to buy her one of the pumpkins for sale in front of the preschool. She scrunched up her little face, stomped her foot, and exclaimed, "Hhmpf!", when I ignored her tantrum. High highs and low lows.

Are all children manic depressive? Take Dylan for example. When Jim gets home from work, he is usually pretty cranky. (I meant Dylan, but sometimes Jim is also!) Jim grabs him and throws him up in the air, causing Dylan to erupt with laughter - wonderful, full bellied laughs that are infectious. A second later, when Jim stops, Dylan can be completely miserable, crying as if all the milk in the world ran out. Like I said, high highs, low lows.

Children experience their emotions so fully. They live passionately. If things are bad, they are really bad. If they are good, they are really good. They feel what they feel, without reservation and without apology. Most adults are pretty even keel. Their personality stays the same for the most part, and their emotions are kept in check. Pretty boring, you have to admit. Say what you want about kids. They're emotional, irrational, volatile, crazy, wild, even manic depressive! But, they are never boring.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Drive-Thru Preschool

Two days ago I went to visit a friend, and I went along on the walk to drop off her 5 year old son at preschool. When we arrived at the church it is held in, the parents and kids were all congregated in the area in front of the building. Being an ex-preschool teacher myself, I was very curious about the procedure, so I asked my friend about it. She told me when it is time for preschool to begin, the teacher comes to the door, lets the children in, and then takes them to their classroom. "You're kidding!?", I replied. "You don't take them to the classroom?". She said, "No, I think they feel that if we take them in, it will be harder for the kids to separate from us, and there will be long, drawn out goodbyes".

Believe me, I have witnessed the "long, drawn out goodbye". Some kids can dramatize it to an Oscar winning performance level. I have seen parents weep, children actually throw up from getting so hysterical, kids going horizontal while hanging on to their parents legs for dear life as I tried to calmly pry them off, etc. I have seen parents actually give in, and stick around for circle time because their child (or them) couldn't bear to say goodbye just yet. I have seen parents use bribes, threats, reasonings and long drawn out explanations. I understand the need to eliminate the "long, drawn out goodbye".

Later, when we returned to pick up her son, the parents again crowded around the door to the building and waited. At this point, I became perplexed. "Wait! So, the teacher just opens that door, and they come running out, and that's it?!" "Yes", she replied, looking at me like I was a weirdo for getting so worked up. "She doesn't talk to you? You get no feedback about how they were, or what they did that day, or what they are learning? You never get to see the classroom?" "We got to see the classroom at orientation, she talks to us if there is a problem, and she sends home newsletters each month talking about what they will be learning".

Some of you might be wondering why this was all so amazing to me. I taught preschool for 3 years at a local daycare, and all of this is making me realize how incredibly hard I worked for the pathetic $9.50 an hour that I was making. Actually, when I started, I made $8.25, but I worked my way up to a whopping $9.50. When I worked the morning shift, I would be stopped by parents on my way into the building to discuss little so and so's newest dilemma. I hadn't even taken my coat off, or reached the door to the classroom! Sometimes there were parents waiting for me in the classroom when I arrived, who would act like they were doing me some great favor by helping me take down the chairs off the top of the tables, while little so and so prepped the room for me, by taking every toy down from the shelves, while their parent crooned "Aren't they good little helpers?" The parents brought the children into the room at all sorts of different times, whenever it suited them. They felt free to sit in on circle time, snack time, story time, play time, Jen's losing her mind time, whenever.

It was one of the three teachers jobs to take out the "one o clockers". These were the kids whose moms were stay at home moms - who just sent them to preschool for the learning and social aspects, not for daycare. Keep in mind this was also the time the other stay all day kids were laying down for nap time. Naptime lasted from one until two thirty. Can you imagine trying to get 18 or so 4 and 5 year olds to stay on their mats for an hour and a half! Madness! The reason it was so long was because this was the only way all three teachers could get their 1/2 hour break, and get all the bulletin boards created, crafts prepared, paperwork done, etc. Anyway, I digress. The teacher in charge of the "one o clockers" would talk to EACH parent about their child's day. We were at their mercy until we humbly excused ourselves by explaining it was time for our break. Sometimes even this explanation wouldn't stop them from continuing to assault you with so and so's latest funny anecdote.

In the evenings we talked to each parent briefly, or sometimes not so briefly. The one year that all three teachers from our room couldn't work late into the evening and had someone from another classroom take over, we were told this was unacceptable. The parents weren't being told about so and so's day! We had to keep notebooks for each child, and write a note to each parent about each child's day. We weren't given extra time to do this, so we usually ended up having to cram this in along with the other nap time things that needed done, or worse, on our breaks.

The first nanny job I took involved taking a little girl to her preschool in the Fox Chapel area. The first day I took her, I felt like I was in a Twilight Zone episode. There was a line of cars, waiting to pull up to the curb, where the teacher was waiting! We didn't even turn off our cars, just let the kids out, then drove away - a drive-thru preschool! The whole year that I took her, I never once saw the classroom, I only caught quick glimpses of the other kids in the class, and I never had an actual conversation with the teacher longer than a few sentences. (Jim said soon they will just have things like those bank vacuum chutes - stick your kid in, press a button and they are whisked away into a huge ball pit in the classroom!)

As a former teacher I can appreciate all of these procedures that preschools have adopted. They are so much easier on the teachers, who believe me, already have a very difficult job. However, as a mother, I now have a completely new perspective. I understand why those parents needed to tell me so and so's newest dilemma, funny anecdote, or even just to talk my ear off because they hadn't had an adult conversation all day! I understand how difficult it must be to let go, and leave your precious child in the care of others. I understand the need to know all the details of their day, that you feel cheated to not be a part of. Since I remember what it was like to be a teacher, will I be the type of mom every teacher dreams about? I hope so, but probably not. They will probably roll their eyes as I tell them Dylan's newest funny anecdote, but as long as they tell me about his day, I won't care.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Stick A Fork In Me

I'm done. For Dylan's first four months of life, I took him to the pediatrician quite often, trying to figure out many things. One, why does he have this big bump on the one side of his head - "a hematoma (blood blister)", the doctor said, "it should be gone by the time he is one year old". (It's not gone yet). Two, why does he suddenly, and without warning, scrunch his body up and scream bloody murder, like he is in pain? "Colic", the doctor calmly explained. "It usually goes away at 3 months". (It lasted until he was four months). Three, why is his head always tilted to the one side? That pediatrician said it was "nothing to worry about", so we found another pediatrician, and a neurologist, who then told us, "He needs to go to physical therapy", and handed us a prescription with the word "Torticollis" written on it. No explanation of what this strange word "torticollis" was - that was apparently for us to figure out.

That started our weekly physical therapy sessions every Monday. Since then, we have added a visit to an orthopedic surgeon, who made us wait one hour with a very fidgety kid. At one point, I rolled Dylan out into the hall on the stool on wheels, saying "Helloo, Helloo, is anyone here? Nope. I guess we're leaving". Then we had to endure Dylan getting xrays of his neck, which entailed Jim holding Dylan in the air, while the technician shoved his head up until I thought he had stopped breathing because he turned so red. We also added the weekly, then biweekly treks to get the helmet adjusted. There, we had to have him placed in a scanner to get a scan of his head, so they could make the mold for the helmet.

Recently we have added an early intervention therapist who comes to the house every Thursday to do more stretching, and to teach me how to do daily stretches. At this point, trying to stretch Dylan is a lost cause. I can barely put on a clean diaper, let alone stretch his neck in an uncomfortable position!

Add to all this the fact that the poor kid has inherited my ezcema. The "continual rash" as Jim likes to call it, has invaded my son's body with a vengeance. Since Saturday, when he went on his first hayride, it has really taken over, so I called the pediatrician to get a recommendation for a dermatologist. Every time I call, I start to explain the current problem to whoever answers the phone, and she interrupts me to say "I'll transfer you to the nurse". Except that I never get the actual nurse - I get her voicemail. I swear I could say, "My son is bleeding out his eyeballs", and she would say "I'll transfer you to the nurse". Anyway, after the actual nurse called and gave me a number, I called the dermatologist. After explaining my son's dilemma the nice lady, said "Okay, (as if she was about to be accommodating), we are scheduling appointments for February". "FEBRUARY?!!!"

I think that was the point at which I was done. DONE. I can't take it anymore. I can't smile politely at the receptionist who tells me to fill out yet another form with questions I have already answered. I can't feign interest in the newest idea for a stretch that Dylan will allow. I can't make another phone call to make another appointment. I can't press one, two, three, or any other number. I can't wait in another waiting room. I can't watch as someone else pokes or prods my kid, as the doctor and I make small talk. I can't make small talk with doctors, therapists, surgeons, receptionists, people in waiting rooms, etc. I can't answer anymore questions about why my son wears a helmet.

Tonight while on my hands and knees, chasing Dylan, pretending to be a dog (it makes him crack up), I had chest pains. That's right. Chest pains! I'm done. At least until Monday. Then, we go to therapy again.