Still Alive

One day, I’ll return to writing for my own sake.

In the meantime, this is what is going on right now:

Evan is thriving in middle school. The girls are swarming. It’s bad. Last Thursday, after some really strange symptoms that had been going on sporadically, we were told that they thought he had a brain tumor. More about that experience on another day. I just can’t right now. He is seeing a pediatric neurologist in a few days and we’ll hopefully get to the bottom of it. In the meantime, I am trying not to unravel in my worry by focusing my attention on the fact that the head CT was negative. I am instead focusing on other things: that–for the first time ever–this kid has friends; that girls love him and I actually have to worry about what goes on when he is not supervised with a girl, that he is now wearing small men’s clothes, that he has that goofy ‘stache coming in and his dad is going to have to teach him to shave.

Zach is…Zach. He refuses to have anything to do with a toilet. I am tired of having to buy Pull-Ups. Or worse yet, diapers. He still sleeps in a diaper because Pull-Ups leak too much at bedtime. I would let him feel that discomfort with the idea that it would motivate him, but he just sleeps through it, thus we sleep through it, and we wake in the morning to a child with a rash and blue lips from sleeping in soaked pajamas. I cannot deal with neither the grossness factor or the health risk of that. We encourage. His preschool teachers encourage. We have purchased every toilet-learning device known to man, looking for the magic one. Currently, that is this cushie Prince Lionheart insert that seems so comfy that I wish it would accommodate adults.He has no desire whatsoever. But what is he doing? He is speaking plainly, counting, saying his alphabet, (crudely) writing his name, singing songs. (Please do not mix up the order of he verses of “The Wheels on the Bus”!) In May, this was the child who could literally say nothing that a stranger could understand. So I am not sweating the potty stuff. We’ll get there. He always does, doesn’t he? He’s still my little wonder–smart, cute,  funny, sweet.  He’s just Zachy.

John is making me proud everyday, He has lost over 50 pounds since the fateful day over the summer when a doctor I respect came to me to tell me that he could have died at any second from the blockages in his heart. His BP is down. He is down to only one medication for diabetes, and that dosage even had to be cut in half. His cardiologist cleared him to run at home after he outgrew the mild exercises at cardiac rehab. His cholesterol was actually low at his last check, so his medication for that was cut in half. The beta-blacker was stopped after he exhibited no need for it. He was wearing a size 40 waist in the summer. He is down to a 34, and those are falling off, but we’re holding off on shopping for more, since he’s built up to 2-mile runs daily–any little bit of weight he has left will melt off as his endurance gets back up there. His doctor says he only needs to lose 9 more pounds to be ideal body weight. If he loses 18 more, he will be back down to his post-boot camp weight from his Marine Corps days.

And me? I’m hanging in there. I have–wait, let me count–8 more weeks left of school. I start my capstone next Saturday. My paperwork for graduation is submitted. I am off of work. Blame some little boys who cannot seem to get their dirty laundry in a hamper. I tripped on some dirty clothes and fell down the entire flight of basement stairs on my left leg, with it ricocheting off of each step on the way down. They thought stuff was torn. Instead, I found out that every piece of cartilage in there is inflamed from the trauma. So it has been injections, PT, crutches (for about 5 weeks). I am finally to the walking stage, but only for very short trips and in transit. I cannot stand or walk for long periods at all. (Read: I can limp to my class and sit in a chair, I can walk to the car and get in it, but I can’t do shopping trips, etc.) I’m just hanging in. Also, I remember lamenting on here how I hated undergrad corporate finance. It has nothing on the 600 level.

That’s all.

I’ll be a blogger again one day, I swear,

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6 Rude Things: My Version

middle276 Rude Things Moms Let Their Kids Do (Tsk Tsk) | The Stir.

Yes, I read this one. And I got pissed. I’m not sure why, but I did. Maybe it is because I have had so many encounters with unbelievably rude “adults” that it gets hard to swallow the critique of children. Yes, it is important to teach our children manners. And common courtesy. And how to behave in social situations. It is important that we not allow the carelessness of out children to infringe on the rights of others. But adults are not above these same guidelines. And before we can lecture our kids on manners, we have to set proper examples. So here is my list of some of the rude things adults do that completely get under my skin. And since they limited their list to 6, I will, also.Because I am a polite bitch.

6. When you see a mom bustling through a parking lot in rain/ snow/ sleet, don’t jump on the gas pedal to avoid waiting for her to cross the damned street. Just because you haven’t procreated, or you have and are fortunate enough to not have to go to the store with your children does not excuse you from common decency. Think to when your kids were small. All you needed was some milk, eggs, and maybe some random ingredient for dinner. You had to wrangle a squirming toddler into outerwear, wait behind him as he tried to climb into his carseat, because, hey, he can do it himself. Now it is cold, it is wet, and you are trying to hurry, carrying the 30-lb. mini-me through the massive parking lot, you get to the crosswalk and are about to make it into the store when a string of traffic passes while you helplessly watch rude assholes who can’t pause for 5 seconds to let you cross. And did I mention their cars are warm and dry while you and the little one look on in the freezing rain? People, if you are in so much of a hurry that you cannot do one this one thing, you have no time to go to a big-box grocery store, anyways. (The principles of this one can be extrapolated to apply to lot stalking as well. You see me with a toddler and another child. It is cold. You also see the cart full of groceries. There is a vacant spot 2 spots down from mine. Don’t sit and look annoyed/ honk/ etc. while I try to convince the oldest to get in an buckle up, strap the baby into his carseat, load all of the groceries, and put the cart away. It takes time. Don’t rush me. I’m sure when you had children back in 1952, all you had to do was toss them into the floorboard and speed away. We have better standards now.)

5. Treat my child’s cheeks as if they are magnetized, and that magnet, for some unknown reason, seems to get stronger during Godforsaken flu season. This one is simple. Quit touching my child. Yep, he has chubby cheeks. Yep, they’re friggin’ adorable. I made them. I know. He gets them from me. He also has the cutest little button nose. But after using enough public restrooms in my day, I have seen enough nasty assholes completely bypass the sink and head straight out of the door without washing their hands. And I have learned that these assholes  are generic in appearance, and thus cannot be identified among the rest of the population. And even if you are not one of them, how do I know that you are not harboring influenza/ MRSA/ syphilis/ scabies or any other nasty shit I find in my line of work? And then you touch my child’s face? Or his little hands, which he does not realize have he capacity to transmit the damned plague and thus puts them in his mouth without thinking? Shame on you.

4. Drawing assumptions. You know what they say, right? Assuming makes and ASS out of U and…. Scratch that. The saying is wrong. It just makes you an asshole.  What is it about seeing a mom/ dad/ both with young children that brings out this tendency in people? And we assume a lot of things. I have had people assume a lot. I have heard whisperings about morality .John and I do not wear wedding bands–John’s ended up down a bathtub drain many years ago and mine fell off of my finger and wasn’t found until John stomped on it with a steel-toed work boot many-many-many years ago. And, well, we just never replaced them. We keep meaning to and then forgetting. I assure you we are very-much married–12 years this very week thankyouverymuch. And even if we were not, it is none of your business. There are many types of families out there, and who are you to assume you have the right to judge any of them? Maybe I am “shacking up with my Baby Daddy”. What of it? This is in the same category as many other rude assumptions, like that I want your parenting advice. Or that, simply because my child is having a bad moment, I do not teach them manners.

3. If you visit a kid-friendly establishment, quit going with the expectation that there will not be children present. Kids will be there. And no matter how well-behaved, kids are growing, learning beings. In order to teach a child manners in a dining or other public establishment, there has to be some practice involved. Kids can get squirmy, fidgety, over-excited, over-stimulated. They are, by nature, impatient and self-centered. When they are hungry, they want food now. When they are stuck in line to pay for the jeans their mom or dad is buying them because they outgrew their old ones, they don’t generally like to wait in line. They never want to wait their turn, even if they have been thoroughly trained that this is something they must do. Expect that. They are children, for shit’s sake. You, on the other hand, are an adult. We expect that you have learned patience, as you have had ample opportunity. And we parents can teach and teach our children, but sometimes those lessons are forgotten, despite our best efforts. Are we never supposed to leave our homes because you might decide to go to one of the places we go? So just stop. Stop getting huffy when a kid whines for a candy bar in the grocery checkout line, when a toddler gets frustrated because he is hungry and has waited too long for his food. Stop acting like my children are infringing on your space at a kid-friendly business when, in all truthfulness, you are treading on our turf there. Or better yet, when one is at Chuck E. Cheese, expect for kids to get rowdy and excited, and just stop acting offended by playing children. You are at Chuck E. Cheese, for crying out loud. You are being ridiculous. In return for the improvement of this behavior, I will continue working on my children’s manners. I will request to not sit in the booth next to you so they can eat their kids’ meals freely while you enjoy your seniors’ country-fried steak or whatever other old-people shit you order. And I will not be so rude as to infringe on the swanky restaurant you visit for date night with unruly children. I will stick to places that give out crayons with the kiddie menu because I am civilized. (PS. Remember this experience on the day Obama passed through here, blocking roads for hours?)

2. STFU. If you don’t know what this means, Google the shit. My kids–and yes, even the little one–have issues. And this does not mean I do not discipline them. It doesn’t mean I don’t parent. I have to continue with my teachings that “no” really means no. That they cannot get everything they want. he end result is some tears and maybe some meltdowns. What I do not need from you is for you to turn around in line and instigate by making sure the kid knows that you would buy them the sugary candy if you were me. Or for you to turn around and tell me that you would beat them into submission. or that I need to control my kid. I prefer to raise a child who does not need to be “controlled” but rather has the self-direction, self-control, and logic to understand that behaviors have consequences, that we must earn what we want to receive. It is difficult to teach them this. It is especially difficult with mine, with one having a probable ASD and the other being largely non-verbal until recent months. But they still have to grow up in this world, to learn to function. And so I have to say no to some things. Regardless of their reaction, you have no right to put in your unsolicited comments to me or to them. It is none of your business. And if you would hurry up and quit the long-winded conversation with the blue-haired cashier, we can pay for our shit and get the hell out of there where not a soul will witness their meltdowns.

1. Quit acting as if my kid is the only child you have ever seen misbehave. And sometimes they aren’t even really misbehaving. We are learning more and more that some of Evan’s behaviors that could have been construed as being bad or bratty or manipulative really couldn’t be helped all along. Not all of them, but some of them. So you do not need to tsk-tsk. You do not need to gawk. There is no need to give dirty looks. And even though Evan looks like a typical kid his age, he isn’t so quit fucking staring at him. He is remarkable. He is probably smarter than you. But he has different reactions to some things. We’re working on it. Always working on it. What about you? And while we’re at it, even if he were to be completely like his peers, sometimes the best kids with the best parents can misbehave. And for you morons to turn around and stare like you have never seen this happen, to treat us like we are in some sort of freakshow, is completely unacceptable behavior from an adult. Because, in all honesty, your tendency to react like that makes me want to give in. Buy him the toy/ candy bar/ toilet scrubber he is so irrational about just to get you to leave us alone. Because the only other options are to deal with your lack of manners or never take him out of the house. I refuse to keep my kid like a caged animal because you have some sort of problem. And the same goes for the baby. He went through this shrieking phase. It was awful. And you people would hear me and see me trying to get him to be quiet. Telling him not to scream. Yet you would still stare and give largely the same reactions you would give to Evan and one of his meltdowns. And Zachy is obviously a little guy.

Maybe, instead of preaching on the bad manners of kids and the seemingly-awful parents who fail to teach them manners, maybe we all need to step back and consider others for a minute. Because ALL of these situations I have mentioned have happened to us. Some happen more than others. Some happen all of the friggin’ time. I am not perfect. My children are not perfect. But we are good people. We know right from wrong. My kid, who might have a mini-meltdown over a candy bar he didn’t get may turn around and gladly give his most prized possessions to a needy child or weep over a homeless man on the street. Later, on the same day as the meltdown, he may be so polite and well-behaved that strangers come up to us and comment on the polite young man we are raising. And the bottom line is that he is a child. He is being taught more and more everyday. Some lessons stick right away, while some take repetitive drilling. Some seem to stick and then he adopts the bad habits of his classmates, putting us back to Square One. He is, after all is said and done, still forming. You, on the other hand, are running out of time to let your asshole-ness wear off. And if you are so apt to help me parent, what with your assumptions, unsolicited advice, and comments, perhaps you could be more efficient by stopping the rudeness and serving instead as another example of good manners for these kids.

Using His Words

Ferguson-2Zach speaks.

Not gibberish. Not “word approximations” where he makes up random syllables to represent things he frequently encounters in his world.

He uses his words.

“Give Mommy hugs.” “Go night-night.” “Turn lights off.” Not long phrases. He will probably, according to his speech therapist, continue to have a speech delay, but she expects it to be completely resolved by kindergarten. He will qualify for preschool, because my state stops early intervention services at 3 years of age. This is also the age they stop adjusting his developmental age for his prematurity. In January, we will meet to discuss his preschool options.

Preschool. Zachy. Completely unreal.

But he uses his words. And well enough that I feel comfortable starting other things with him, like potty-training, though I completely forget how to do that. I did it once. I’ll figure it out again.

And his voice is such a gift. Each word he says the sweetest sound I have ever heard. He is showing us, once again, the wonder that is the world. My favorite word of all, “Look!”, shows us that he sees something new, something interesting, that he is learning. Everyday, learning more and more.

He still mixes up some sounds. If you ask him his name, he says, “Yack”. His age? “Doo”. I can live with this. He is two. He is not going to be a keynote speaker right now. He may never be. But when you have a child with apraxia, you appreciate each word that is understood, that does not need to be translated. Gone are the days where he could not tell us what he wants or needs, where he would point or grunt, or rattle off indecipherable gibberish that we could not understand, leading to frustration and tears from all involved.

For right now, we are thrilled. He is growing. He is strong and healthy. He is making progress. He is overcoming. He is using his words.

What I’ve Dreaded Writing

Twelve days ago, we all watched the news and learned of the massacre of innocence at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT. I did. I cannot even speak on the level of sorrow, the level of waste. We do not know which of those children would’ve grown up to lead out country, which could have held in their young minds the eventual potential to cure diseases. We’ll never know the future those young lives held because they were ripped from this world. I cannot imagine. Cannot. I looked at John, tears streaking my face, unable to put into words how heartbroken I was at that moment.

And how terribly frightened I am.

And now comes the part where I tell you some things that are not going to make me popular, but in my little space on the web, I can say this. Only here. I hope you will hear me out, that you will try to understand. I cannot speak these words to family, to friends, to coworkers.

When I read Liza Long’s post on her blog, “Anarchist Soccer Mom”, my heart dropped to the floor. Because I was thinking some of those things, but I never could say them. It is a terrible place to be in where you are truly afraid of the potential your child has to do harm. Not just harm to us, his family, but harm to others, to undeserving, innocent people. My child is not violent. He never has been. But I see in him a volatility that leads me to believe that the potential to turn that way is there, somewhere within him, if not managed appropriately. I have felt like this since Evan was very young, and so I have taken steps. No violent games. No violent toys. My husband, the veteran who has some valuable antique firearms, is barred from keeping them in this house. I’m not making a statement about gun control here. I am making a statement about my family. If the potential is there, why taunt it out of latency? People have hushed me when I have said this, citing that there are multiple ways to keep firearms in a home in a manner that a child cannot gain access to them. To those people, I will simply remind them of the time when Evan was really young and too independent (what I now know to be a sign of Aspergers) and we feared for his safety, as he would fail to wake us up before he would try to cook. No matter the solution, he would find a way to outsmart it. And that was to prevent him from wasting groceries or cutting himself on a broken glass. There is no way I will challenge his intellect to come up with a way around safety mechanisms that prevent him from gaining access to something as lethal as a firearm. And not only that, but I see how he gets interested in a topic almost to the point of obsession. So no. No guns. Not for my kid.

But this doesn’t help prepare us for the day when he will be old enough to do things without me, without my consent. Those days will come. So I do all I can. It is a constant uphill battle. I have good insurance. I have access to some of the best pediatric services in the world, and it is still an uphill battle. Look at the years his father and I have been screaming at the top of our lungs in a crowded room before someone finally heard us, before someone finally looked into the idea that what is going on with my kid is not simple hyperactivity, but something more. And after all of those years, when someone finally listened, saw what we saw, look how long we spent on the waiting list to get him help. And we still aren’t there. We’re getting there, but this is such a long process. Why? Why does it have to be? And if it is for us, with our resources, what is it like for the families at the poverty level, the families without insurance, the families in rural areas without access to the services to which we have access?

So then I find out that Adam Lanza, the gunmen, the cold-blooded killer of these innocents, had a possible Autism Spectrum Disorder, and I became flooded with emotions. All of the fears for my own child, given his history and what we are currently dealing with, came to the surface. Became palpable. And I want to label this Lanza kid a monster not fit for human life. But in his descriptions, I see my son, with his big brown eyes and his tousled hair that is always just a little too long. In the descriptions of his family demographics and his upbringing, I see my family, my neighborhood. So I begin researching infamous names: Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold…Monsters, right? Maybe. But maybe these are just more names of kids we have failed. And those failures have multiplied exponentially to where they are manifesting themselves in even more kids we have failed–their victims.

I am in no way advocating violence, but something in our system is broken. We are missing things, huge things, that are creating costs with which we are not prepared to deal. We cannot handle any more loss of children. And while Adam Lanza was of legal age to be considered an adult, if he was truly like my son, I offer you this: my child is, chronologically-speaking, eleven years old. Cognitively, he is an adult. Developmentally, he is about nine years old. Emotionally, he is stuck somewhere between a toddler and a five-year-old. Was Adam Lanza really an adult?

And what of his mother? We can judge her all we want from our safe distance. From here, I can tell you that, if I would never dream of having a firearm in my house, why would she? I want to tell you that. But in my mind, I can tell you that coming to terms that your child is capable of taking such a turn is terrifying to think of. It is not for the weak of mind or heart. It is terrible to admit. Soul-crushing. Because we parents internalize everything. If my child is capable of such an act, what does that say about me as a mother? Am I, too, a monster? What did I do wrong? I have worked much of my adult life to obtain higher degrees to provide my children with more, better, best. I have sent my oldest to private school when the public school system wasn’t working for him. I have pursued treatment when something just wasn’t right. I have read the parenting books, followed the advice of experts. I have tried every discipline technique known, every reward system to motivate him. I have done all I know to do, and I still look for more ideas. But if my child were to do something like this, I would be the monster, and you would be judging me right now.

So while the media, the web, everywhere you turn, is arguing over gun control, over whether teachers should be armed, it is painfully obvious to me that we are missing the big picture. Something is broken, and we have to fix it. We need services to identify this stuff before it happens. We need to create a safe place for parents to turn to truly help their mentally-ill kids. We need to interrupt the downward spiral before a firearm even comes in the equation. We have failed these children. Yes, even Adam Lanza.

Mommy is Losing Her S###

[Disclaimer: I say what I damned well please on here. I say things I would never say to my children because I don’t want to scar them. And the oldest knows Mommy has a blog, but he doesn’t read it. Nor would I do any of the stuff I may say in this post. Please do not call social services on me. aND THIS POST INVOLVES THE WORD “FUCK” AN AWFUL FUCKING LOT. Consider yourself warned. Thanks.]

My children are amazing. They really are. Pretty. Cute. Smart. Funny. Creative. I would dare say that they shit rainbows and butterflies.

I am going to kill these little fuckers.

How can someone so short create such a path of destruction?

John used to do this. The kids were his gig. I loved them and ensured they got immunizations and dental checkups, that there was an array of nutritious food for them. I played with them, cuddled, loved them. And I worked. And did the school thing.

Well the tables turned. Since I have been off of work for the shoulder thing, I have been, basically, a stay-at-home mom. Oh holy shit. These kids are everywhere. Do you have any idea what my days have consisted of for the past 6 weeks?? Do you?

Well, let’s see. At any given point, Zachary is prone to empty the contents of the refrigerator into the kitchen floor. What he is looking for, I have no idea. We bought an appliance lock. He broke it. We bought a different style of lock, and he figured out how to open it. So our newest solution? We cover the entire thing with clear packing tape, and running out of that tape is a federal crisis in this house. About a gazillion times a day, Evan or I will sprint to the fridge to get Zach out of it.

And the baby gate…Oh holy shit. We have replaced it 5 times in 3 months. My house has an awkward arrangement, so it isn’t easy to block stuff off. The bathroom and basement door are right across from each other, so we block the hallway with a baby gate and Zach’s toybox is in our living room. Forget Shabby Chic. We are Toddler Posh. It’s a hot look, and if you have any doubts about that, I challenge you to spread some Duplo Legos, wooden blocks, puzzle pieces, and five tthousand different versions of Lightening McQueen all over your living room floor and see for yourself. My living room is a perpetual dump. But back to the baby gate. I can’t block the kitchen entrance, so we block the hall and let Zach have his run. Until yesterday. That is when that little shit looked me right in the eyes, smiled, and tore down the baby gate in one fell swoop. So just like we dash to the fridge, we are dashing to keep him from plummetting down the basement steps or meeting sudden death through drowning in the damned toilet.

Evan is supposed to be the helper while I am…challenged with one good arm. He is more like the ringleader. “Mom, Zach wants…..” Fill in the blank. Strawberries are the newest. But usually it is some variation of junk food that will get mashed into carpet, which results in the need to use the vacuum, which is too heavy for me to lift and use with one arm. (Fuck you, Kirby Salesman.) Or he wants to watch a movie, at which point Evan will crank the volume up on the tv, insisting it is cool like that because it is like a theater.

Nothing is sacred. Nothing. Over my desk is a huge dry erase board, and I use it to write notes. The latest is the list of words. Every week, when Zach’s speech therapist comes, we recount the new words he has said since her last visit. Now that he is trying to talk more and more, we write the words on the board. So Evan will try to get him to say new words so he has an excuse to get the dry erase markers and climb on my desk. I love seeing an 80-lb. clutzy kid standing on my desk an inch from the laptop I rely upon for school. Love it.

And the damned phone. Oh my God, the phone. My cell, that is. Everytime I turn my back–to answer the land line, write an email, pee, grab a cup of coffee—I turn around and Evan is on my fucking cell phone. Running the battery dead, downloading any and every free game he can find. Watching the same God-forsaken video on Youtube.You need a little slice of this to understand, so turn up your speakers and press play for this little slice of heaven.

Yeah. Full blast. All motherfucking day. No, I’m not kidding. Zach tries to sing along, which was funny the first few times. It isn’t anymore. I keep reminding myself that Evan has an unofficial Autism Spectrum Disorder. He’s off a little. This is enugh to keep me from completely killing him, but it is not enough to keep me from wanting to curl up in the bathtub with a fifth of Grey Fucking Goose. Oh wait. I’m poor now because I am off of work. Make that Smirnoff.

And Cars. Fuck you, Disney/ Pixar. I hate Lightening McQueen. Lightening McQueen infiltrates everything we do. Everything. Zach will not take a nap without a Lightening McQueen cllutched in each chubby little fist. And the Disney people, being as smart as they are, made several different forms of him. The one from Cars 2. The one who drove throough the fence in the beginning of the first movie. Dirt Track McQueen. Dinoco McQueen….Bling McQueen–he has fancy rims on him. No, I’m not kidding. Zach has all of the ones he has received, plus he has inherited all of them that Evan doesn’t have use for. And Evan had every single one they made at one point. Lightening is in the couch cushions, under the crib, on the entertainment center, in the car. Yesterday, I found one in the fucking dishwasher.

Everytime the phone rings, my children become opportunistic little boogers. Just now, my doctor’s office called to schedule my epidural steroid injections I have been waiting all week to scedule. The call took 2 minutes and while I was on the phone, Evan hurried and thrust 2 frozen pizzas in the microwave. Now I know what you’re thinking. They’re starving. Poor kids. No they are not. Evan’s medicine has weird appetite side effects, so he literally never feels full. If I let him eat whenever he wanted, he would weigh 800 pounds and we would never have groceries in this house. But the point is, 2 minutes. Mom cannot have 2 fucking minutes to answer the phone. And the phone rings more than once a day, especially since I am off of work. There are calls to and from insurance, to and from work, to and from doctors’ offices. One of these times, I am going to hang up and discover he decided to roast a fucking turkey.

So that is my day. If I need to do anything at all, I have to just let them run. If I have a paper due. If I have to visit the bathroom. Showering? Somehow that always waits until John gets home. I am a skanky bitch until 5 PM.  I cannot afford the luxury. And I know some of you moms will use this to explain that this is what you do all day everyday. Well, have a fucking cookie. I bet your kids are normal. I am telling you there is something wrong in this house. No sane human could endure this shit. Right now? Right now, Evan is in the recliner rocking back and forth and making it tip, laughing and doing it all over again, while Zachary sits and rubs the tread of the treadmill. Not fucking normal. Not even close.

So I live for naptime. Zach is quiet for somewhere between one to two hours and I let Evan play on the computer while Zach is asleep. He can put in his ear buds and listen to “Retarded Running Horse” on a continuous fucking loop the entire time. And I sneak out to the porch, close the door, and chain smoke the hell out of Marlboro Ultralight 100’s with the shaking hands of a heroin addict going through DT’s. (Don’t judge me. If I didn’t do ths, I would cut a bitch, I swear. Besides, it isn’t around the kids, is once a day, and nobody can say I am uneducated about what I am doing.)

At some point, John comes home. He futzes with his shower. He masturbates over the God-Forsaken Harley—putting it away, cleaning it (OH MY GOD IS THAT ROAD DUST ON THE FUCKING HARLEY? GET IT OFF STAT!!!!!!). We eat dinner. The kids have to be bathed, and I cry because I have a shit ton of stuff to do that cannot be done until he stops jacking off and handles the kids so I can fucking do it already.

I AM GOING INSANE. Fuck this shit.

 

Toddler Challenges

Oh sweet merciful crap.

I never have enough time to blog about my Mommy Misadventures. My life is chaos, though right now, I am even off of work for a couple more weeks following the shoulder issues. We’ve had some big changes.

John got a job.

Zach started daycare (and abruptly stopped when I got put off of a work for a short while.)

I am wrapping up my undergrad business degree and preparing for grad school in a couple of short months.

But the biggest change is the challenges we are facing with Zach. Not that Zach is having trouble, but that we are a little bit. I forgot what the life was like of a mother of a toddler. I forget some of the simple stuff every day that one takes for granted. Like how it is no longer cool to have anything important within reach. Books will be pulled off of shelves. It will not matter if those books are expensive text books or cheap paperbacks–they all have equal right to destruction here. We do not discriminate in this house.

I forget how keys must be kept hidden from a toddler who loves them. It took a couple of occassions where we were frantically trying to find said keys while the alarm was going off on the car. Apparently that red panic button on the keyless entry is just to powerful to resist, but then you have to find the keys to turn it off.

Yes, you really can crawl around on the floor, picking up toy cars and blocks and puzzle pieces a million times a day.

The dial on the dishwasher has a gravitational pull that begs for little hands to mess with it.

The refrigerator is a fascinating place. And there is no appliance lock that can withstand the Power of Zachary. We have resorted to locking the fridge and sealing it with clear packing tape or we will end up restocking cans of soda, bags of cheese, gallons of milk, and a gajillion cups of Greek yogurt as often as we pick up toy cars/ blocks/ puzzle pieces.

Nothing, and I mean nothing, has power like a couple of plain M&Ms. Yeah, I know. Junk. Zach usually doesn’t get junk, but in a quest to find something to motivate him to use his words, his speech therapist recommended it. It worked. We try to limit its use to when the situation calls for the Big Guns.

DJ Lance What’s-His-Name on “Yo Gabba Gabba” looks strikingly like JJ from “Good Times”. And nothing will make a toddler giggle like these four words: I. Like. To. Dance!!!!! We can end any horrific mood with that one.

Words, coming from the mouth of a toddler who has a speech delay, are very interesting. Truck is Cuck. Except when he sees one and gets excited, shouting out the name, it doesn’t sound like CUCK. It sounds like a very vulgar term for male parts, and we get lots of looks. Similarly, when one has a southern husband who refers to pants as “britches”, and that same toddler gets a hold on that word…well, you can imagine what that sounds like. I remember the first time Zach came up to me, putting his little hand on the leg of my denim capris, saying, “Mama Bitch.” Gasp! Pause! ” Yes, Zach, those are Mama’s BRITCHES!”

The sliding window in the living room, which has a sliding screen, is a veritable Vortex. If it is opened the wrong way, one side is completely opened, no screen or anything. If it isn’t attached, isn’t too heavy, and isn’t too big, it’s going out that window. Yesterday, at various times through the day, I rescued my cell phone, the remote control, a binky, the beloved Lightening McQueen car, a ball, my planner, and the phone book. This morning, I cannot find the cell phone charger and must remind myself to check the shrubs under that window.

I’m reminded that, if you cannot say the word, it is perfectly acceptable to make up your own, so long as you are consistent. Lightening McQueen is loved in this house. But he isn’t Lightening. He’s Ahhhhhhh-Baba. I do not know. No idea. Not a clue. But that is his name. It is also the name for anything with the Cars logo on it. At all. And when these crazy “word approximations” (the term his speech therapist uses) come out, it is our job to know what he is saying, to speak his language so we can not only know what he wants, but repeaat the word back to him in correct form so he can learn.

Play-Doh balls aren’t for squishing and molding and playing. They are most obviously for throwing around the room.

Mashed ‘Tatoes are delicious. Until you have your fill. Then they are for finger-painting. On a similar note, it is perfectly normal to simply get tired of a spoon or fork mid-meal and just give up. And cutesy plates with cartoon characters don’t really encourage a child to eat like a human. They encourage the dumping of the food anywhere and everywhere just so you can see Mickey/ Elmo/ Lightening McQueen without all of that pesky food in the way.

Toys ‘R’Us has got to be the most identifiable store on the planet to a toddler who is in a car with a Mom who really just has to get somewhere NOW without stopping at Toys ‘R’ Us first.

It does not matter what it is. I you see it and want it, it should be yours and come home with you. The cart at Wally World. The ginormous aquarium at an orthopedic surgeon’s office. Every damned toy within a fifty-mile radius.

Toddlers create a challenge that, once we can say we have survived the toddler years, we often forget. I don’t remember having to do any of this stuff with Evan when he was Zach’s age. It isn’t that the kids are that different or that Evan was an angel and Zach is not. I just forgot. I let my mind slip because, while all of these seem like a massive pain, they are wha you do. This is a mom’s job, to teach a child to navigate the world around him. To tap into herself to see how keys really could be fascinating, how Toys ‘R’ Us really is a cool place, and finger-painting with mashed potatoes can be interesting. We see them do it, we try to prevent them from infringing on the rights of others in the process, and so long as it doesn’t hurt them, we let them carry on. They have their whole lives to learn lessons. Now is for them to learn of all of the little things in the world that can be so awesome. And I think we forget the challenges over time because, well, those challenges get completelyy overshadowed. You don’t see the mess, you see the smiles and hear the giggles and squeals of delight. You hear new words. You see the child you once nursed feed himself.

And you count every challenge of toddlerhood as a blessing. Because, lucky you, you get to witness every bit of it.

I Lied

I was going to get a good night’s rest tonight before my GMAT tomorrow. Incidentally, this is also the test that will make or break me. And then I couldn’t resist clicking the links to some blogs I follow and seeing what everyone is up to these days.

My heart hurts from it. I know it shouldn’t but it does.

I am so happy for my friends who have children who are whizzing through their milestones. I was going to comment. And then I stopped because it hit me.

My baby is amazing. He is smart and funny. He imitates sounds. As soon as you finish a drink at the house, he snatches your glass or cup and promptly runs it to the kitchen sink because he knows that is where it goes, damnit. He has a better sense of direction than I do. He climbs and runs and jumps. You can tell him, “Zachy, give me the phone/ book/ remote/ toy of whatever name/ paper/ pen/ any other obscure object”, and he knows exactly what you want and will hand that object to you. He is, by all rights, a toddler. He has wants and needs now. He is playful. He is fucking unbelievably adorable and people come up to him all of the time in public.

Yet the second reason why my heart hurts.

Because he is toddler and people expect him to say small phrases. Or respond when they ask his name. Or when they say hello or goodbye. Instead he looks at them. He won’t speak. He won’t even attempt. And there is this awkward pause. And he has the wants of a toddler, but he cannot tell us. Sure, they are teaching him to sign. He can now tell us ” more” or “drink”. But that doesn’t tell us if he wants milk or apple juice. or whether “more” means food or play or bedtime stories. And while you are trying to figure it out, he is wanting it and having a meltdown because he does’t understand why in the fuck you will not help him out right then.

Today, we got his hair cut. And the stylist was trying to talk to him. For the first time, I had to explain that he understands but he won’t speak. And then, as if there was something wrong with him that I had to make excuses for him, I followed up by blurting out that he was almost 2 months premature and he is behind is all. As in “please-don’t-think-he’s-a-freak-he’s-not-a-freak-he’s-a-fucking-miracle”. Why? Why do I feel like I have to make excuses? Better yet, why the fuck am I crying right now? Zach is fine. He isn’t even slow, cognitively anyway. When they assessed his cognitive development, he scored above average. WAY above average. The problem isn’t with Zach. The problem is with me.

We want our children to run faster , learn more, be cuter than the others. And then when they don’t, we tend to internalize that like I am doing right now. And when we hear a child is having probems, we assume stuff. Mom smoke/drank/ did drugs while pregnant. The parents are stupid or uneducated or come from a low socioeconomic background. Or they got no prenatal care.

What happens when the mom got the best prenatal care around by some of the best specialists in the field of maternal/fetal medicine? What happens when the family is from a middle class environment? And both have college educations? And the child has an older brother who is freakishly gifted? And when mom is no dummy, was a merit scholar, labeled gifted all of her life? Or maybe mom and dad work too much and noone works with the child? But no, because mom and dad make sacrifices so that one parent is with the child at all times. Went through hell to give the child breastmilk, organic baby food, nurturing, and more. What happens when the parents have done everything right? Well then to have a child have something wrong just slaps everything we believe right back in our faces. Because if all of these things apply to us and there is something wrong, then that means there is no control. That means it could happen to any fucking one of you, too.

So when I tell you my kid won’t talk, and you have that awkward pause, is that what is going on in your mind?

And now it’s worse. Because today, we got Zach’s hair cut. And he is a little boy now insead of a baby, so instead of just a trim, he has a little boy style. It is so fricken cute I cannot stand it. But he looks like a little boy now, which means people will expect more. More awkward pauses.

So if you are one of my mommy-blogger friends here in the blog world and I follow your blog, and you noticed that I haven’t made comments, please do not be offended or think ill of me. I am not wishing this on anyone. I am glad that your children are doing well. I want for them to continue to do so. One day, hopefully soon, I will take pleasure in reading about the new and amazing things they are doing. But it is very, very hard for me to read of the things that your child is doing and mine should be doing and is not. I get angry at our situation, hurt, and then feel guilty for even feeling like that, all because I read a blog post. And then what should I say? “Gee, be glad your child is normal?” No, because then it will make you feel bad for taking pride in the things your child is doing, and I don’t want you to feel like that, either. You should be proud! So I will be abstaining from commenting on some subjects. At least untill I heal a little bit. But I am still reading. I’m still there.