Thursday, May 30, 2013

Parenting failure #1

Every year, our elementary school sends the second graders to the high school natatorium to have swim lessons. Pathetically, while I could swim and dive by age six, my children cannot. Of course, I grew up in Arizona and California and had pools in each backyard. I learned to swim by being dropped in the deep end. My kids have to be driven somewhere to learn how to swim. A task that seems Herculean, especially in a part of the country where winter = temperatures below freezing. And Things #1-3 take karate two or three times a week. I realize being able to swim is important. But so is being able to kick ass.

Random aside - who uses the word natatorium? Pretentious people, that's who. It's an indoor pool in York County. Stop trying to dress it up with Latin.

Anyway, so today was the Big Day for Thing #2. She can kinda-sorta swim, but I was glad she'd get instruction from a kinda-sorta professional. I'd packed a bathing suit and a towel in a bag and placed it near her backpack in the hopes she'd remember it. Towels are provided, but according to Thing #1, they are "nasty." Thing #2 asked me this morning where her swim stuff was. I pointed to the bag. And said it was right next to her backpack. Which it was.

This afternoon, Thing #4 had a phone check for her pacemaker. I picked her up from daycare and took her home so my husband could show me how to do it. How many lawyers does it take to perform a pacemaker phone check? Apparently only two, but only because Thing #4 is still nursing and she was more interested in eating than squirming and trying to get away from the donut/magnet that sends... something to the pacer clinic where they determine whether she's good to go for another three months.

As I left to go back to work - Thing #4 got to spend the afternoon with daddy and the Backyardigans - I noticed the gym bag by the table. Yep - Thing #2 left it at home. And my husband went home for it. But he didn't bother to check the contents of the bag he grabbed from the pantry and dropped off at school. Imagine my daughter's surprise when she dug into the bag and found, not the tie-dyed one-piece she thought would be there, but her sister's Jack Skellington hoodie. Awesome. I drove back to the office imagining her sobbing by the side of the pool as everyone else got to swim.

To my surprise, she wasn't upset at all. It turns out they had spare swimsuits. If the towels were nasty, I can only imagine what the suits are like. But she didn't care. Her only comment as we left the school was, "It's not like I have lice, mommy." Well, that's something.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Tampon Quarter

My husband’s family is Greek. Weirdly, that fact is an essential part of this blog post.

Recently, the Greek church in our area turned seventy-five and a celebratory dinner was held at the Harrisburg Hilton. We were on the guest list, along with our four children. My husband thought we should arrange for a baby sitter. After pointing out that the evening would include, at a minimum, several speeches in Greek about the founding of the church, prayers from the local priests as well as the bishop from Pittsburgh, and half-an-hour of Greek dancing by sullen children forced into it by their parents, he saw the wisdom of bringing our kids, including the baby, a/k/a Mommy’s little exit strategy.

About an hour in, long after the appetizer tables had emptied but before we’d been handed the ubiquitous Greek salads, we saw a film. It reminded me of those slideshows we’d watched in elementary school. Back in the dark ages, before the rise and fall of the Betamax machine. The need to change slides was heralded by a loud beep. Particularly memorable was a slideshow of Lord of the Flies. I was in fifth grade when I watched it.

Piggy is chased across the sand, while the narrator states in a flat voice, “Kill the pig! Cut his throat!”

Time and wine has blurred what I learned about the Greek immigrants who came to the Central Pennsylvania area. I do know my husband’s grandfather was responsible for bringing a large percentage of them here. He gave them a place to live and a job until they could stand on their own. He drank twenty cups of coffee a day until his doctor told him to quit. After that, he drank twenty cups of hot water. He died when my husband was seven. I wish I’d met him.

At some point, I got up to use the restroom, dragging Thing #2 with me. She’s eight and still pathologically reluctant to use the bathroom until she is no longer capable of physical movement.

While washing my hands, I noticed her messing with something attached to the wall. The tampon machine.  “T, wash your hands.”

“I did.”

“Leave that alone, you don’t need anything from it.”

She continued to screw with the tampon machine. Oblivious to the black clad seniors walking in and out and clucking to themselves in Greek. No doubt speculating that the obsession with the tampon machine is related to her being not one-hundred-percent Greek.

“Seriously, T. Let’s go.”

“Look mommy!” She triumphantly displayed the quarter, once wedged in the money slot, now freed by her efforts.

I made her wash the quarter, and her hands, and we returned to the table. Seconds later, Thing #1 announced she had to use the bathroom. She and her sister proceeded to check every tampon machine within a fifty-yard radius. At one point, the tampon quarter was dropped in a toilet. It had become Thing  #2’s precious. Something so wondrous, she could not put it down to pee. Although, in drafting this, it occurred to me she’d peed right before she found the damn thing in the first place. It’s best not to think too hard about how it got in the toilet.

The tampon quarter took several baths that night.

On the way to my mom’s house (the girls were staying the night with her), Thing #2 asked me what a tampon was. I promptly told her to, “ask Nammer.”

“Do you think she has one at the house? So she can show her what one looks like?” my husband asked.

I thought that unlikely, since my mom hasn’t had a uterus in about two decades.

The next day, I was informed by Thing #2 that tampons were disgusting. As someone who’s experienced the joy of menstruation for thirty-odd-years now, I could only agree.  

Friday, January 4, 2013

Things that should never be

Small coffins.
A nursery decorated for a baby who didn't come home.

When Thing #4 was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect, I immediately started googling. Looking for any sort of support group that could help me. My daughter had a host of people just waiting to help her. Seven of them were in the OR when she was born. I needed to find other moms and dads who understood how I felt. Who could tell me what to expect - good and bad.

I found them. And they are the most amazing group of people I could ever know. I've only met four of them in real life. But, funny thing, in so many ways I know them better than people I see every day.

When something tragic happens, like the murders in Newtown, I hug my kids a little tighter and pray for the families of those lost. While I might have some fear for "what if," I don't send my kids to school with any expectation that the same thing will happen there.

But when a heart baby dies? I cry. Because my heart is breaking for the pain her family must feel. Because they have realized my worst fear. And because there is no guarantee it won't be my child next. If I could give my heart to my daughter, I would. How I wish I could do that.

So screech away, little girl. Spit up on my sweaters. Blow through a diaper. Or a hundred. I'll take it all. I am so blessed to have you. To take any of it for granted is a disservice to those who would give the world for that two a.m. wake up which came an hour after the last one.

Fly high Ollie and Ali, and all the ones who didn't make it. You will never be forgotten.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Fun times at the Camp Hill Giant

Dear Anonymous Elderly Woman at the Grocery Store, I'm going to assume your comments are meant to be helpful, but I really don't need to be badgered about why my child is screaming. This isn't my first time at the rodeo, and it's entirely possible I have more experience raising children than you do. She's not cold. She's not hungry. She's three months old. It's likely she just farted to the right instead of the left this morning. Also on the list of reasons she's screaming loudly enough to be heard in the next county over? She knows I'll pick her up and hold her. Notice how skillfully I cradle her while steering the loaded cart with one hand? Or how I manage to avoid flinching or cursing when she spits up all over my shoulder, hitting my back and rear end and the floor of the meat aisle in the process? A newb couldn't do that. I know I couldn't nine years ago. But I'm a freakin' pro now. So we're good. And thank you, she is cute.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Why I Drink

This is a rough approximation of my side of the conversation I had with my four-year-old last night as I was attempting to relax in the tub and finish a nice glass of wine. Because only my bathroom will do when nature calls at ten o'clock. 

Do I really have to wipe you? Well, I don't want to do it either. Fine. Okay, you asked me to get out of the tub to wipe your bottom, you'll have to deal with the suds and the water. Yes, the rug will dry. Look, you already pulled up your pants. If there was pee on your penis, it's been completely absorbed by your underwear. I know you're wearing your Tuesday underwear and not your Friday underwear. No, I am not getting your Friday underwear now. You can wear them next Friday and besides, it will be Saturday in roughly two hours. No, I am not getting the Saturday underwear, it's not Saturday. Yes, I will remember. You can wait seven hours. Jesus. Please go to bed. No, I already read "All My Friends Are Dead." I'm not reading it again. Your sister is asleep in the other room and if you wake her up, I will grow another head and spit blood. Yes, I will. Mommy is naked, wet, and now cold. Go to bed. Seriously. I love you, too. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Never mind the dumb shit...

And it's dumb shit 99% of the time. I have to remind myself of this often, because I tend to get more worked up by the dumb shit than the important shit.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

My Foley Fun

I thought maybe I'd post something lighter. My first experience with the joys of a Foley catheter. The names of the nurses have been changed because it seemed appropriate (or my sieve-like brain refused to retain them). 

After I know that without question I'm delivering that day, I call Jamie and tell him Thing #4 is being born on Dr. Suess's burthday, but since I'd had breakfast, it wouldn't be until 3 or so. He says he has a meeting at noon that he really has to go to. Instead of "Are you fucking kidding me," I just say, "Okay - see you soon." They get me a room and I'm just hanging out for an hour or so. One of the L&D nurses, Emily, poor Emily, comes in and says they want to put in the catheter early just in case they decide they need to move right away, so they'd have one less thing to worry about. I didn't know it at the time, but they had a huge team of people assembled for this. At least 7 just for Belisaria because they thought she was going to be a very sick baby. If they thought they needed to move, they were going to move fast. I ask if my husband should be there and she says "yeah, good idea." No way am I having a c-section without him there. It's not that I'll be alone, because I won't, but he's been bitching so much about not wanting to see any blood or guts and at that point I think it's only fair that he at least run the risk of looking the wrong way and seeing the reflection of my sliced open uterus. I call the office and ask if he's available. Nope. Still in his meeting. I consider asking when he'll be done, but decide screw that, he needs to come. I start crying, and try to talk like I'm not crying, which never works, and say he should come to the hospital. Lisa, no dummy who absolutely knows I'm bawling, walks into the meeting and says, "Your wife needs you." 

He shows up and things slow down again. My SIL, Mary, comes by. Emily comes in to place the catheter, but seems hesitant to put in the catheter with Mary there. After three vaginal births and having dozens of strangers with their hands up my clacker, I could care less if Mary sees my taint. Mary tells me how much she loved hers because she could just lay in bed and pee and not have to go anywhere or clean anything up. I ask her if she thought it hurt going in. She says she doesn't remember that, just the bliss of being able to piss at will. Lovely. So Emily tries to get the first one in, and no dice, it went into the vagina first. And there must be no mingling of the vagina and the urethra. It doesn't hurt as much as I'm expecting - more like a rough pap smear. But she has to get a second kit. She tries the second one. 

At this point, I've been lying on my back with my feet pulled up close to my ass and my knees apart for about five minutes. Did I mention what I had for breakfast that morning? Two high fiber granola bars. Emily starts trying with the second catheter. At that point I completely lose control of my sphincter, and fart right in this poor woman's face. I am completely mortified. Mary starts laughing. Jamie starts laughing. All I can say is, "holy shit, I am so sorry. I am sooooo sorry." She says it's okay, happens all the time. Mary is still laughing, Jamie is still laughing. I start laughing and predictably starting farting like it's my fucking job. At that point, Emily has had it with my ass and my urethra, so she goes to get another nurse. The other nurse, we'll call her Jane because her real name slipped from my mind one second after entering it, comes in and says, "I hear you have a tricky urethra." She has a third kit. I have no idea where the second tube ended up, but assume vagina.

Jamie says, "I should use that as my facebook status - overheard at Hershey Medical Center 'You have a tricky urethra.'" I say, "Fuck you."

Turns out I did have a tricky urethra. I'm not sure why or how, but Jane gets the thing in, pointing out to Emily exactly what is askew in my nethers. It really isn't so awful when it's going in, but the feeling it gives you is that your bladder is full and no matter how much you pee, it's still full. Mary is full of shit. Emily says, "I'm so sorry I put you through that." I say, "I farted in your face. I think we're even."