Tuesday, May 1, 2018

A Rant About Your Sick Kid

Dear Friends,

I get it. Kids get sick. From what I've heard, your kid turning into a permanently sniffly, glassy-eyed snot monster the second she started daycare was practically inevitable. And believe me, I understand that sometimes you just have to take your kid and get things done, whether they're sick or not. What you do not have to do is visit people with young kids, or invite them to your house without a heads up about the state of your fever-ridden, coughing, maybe stomach flu having outbreak monkey.

The first time, you did give us a heads up. Sniffles and a bit of a tickle in her throat. Didn't mention the pink eye. Didn't mention the cough was a persistent, wet bark. I got pink eye. My kids got pink eye. Both got the cough - my oldest got bronchitis. And you were apologetic. You'd had no idea she was so sick and I told you, these things happen.

And boy, do they ever. The second time it happened, we didn't get a warning and the boys were sick for a couple of weeks.

Somewhere around the 3rd or 4th time, I started seriously questioning whether it was worth visiting. You are awesome people. Our kids love yours. We love spending time with you. But there's a serious cost-benefit analysis that goes into it now. Is it worth the risk? Now, every time we visit, we surreptitiously look your little one over: does she have snot on her face, are her eyes glassy, is there a rasp in her little voice, does she have a visible rash? It's a weird set of things to look for off the bat, but it is what it is, I guess.

You know how I told you we decided to have the Hobgoblin's 1st birthday just be a quiet, family affair? We decided that because I didn't want my baby's first birthday present to be a case of whatever bug your daughter is carrying. Because you're great friends, and we couldn't have a party with out you, but I'm tired, I've got other shit going on and my kids have been sick enough this winter.

You're not the only people who bring your sick kids places. The Monster's favourite winter activity is his indoor play group. He loves it. His doctor recommends it for his social development. It's often the only thing we do outside of the house in a given week and it's absolutely the highlight for my boys. As a rule, people stay home when their kids are sick, but one time a kid there was coughing all over everything and everything on the way out - and the monster got sick and missed 2 weeks of playgroup, which is a big deal when you're 3.

His first day back was the day of your party. We went to your party in the evening, we looked over your daughter. She looked fine. We had a great time.

Well over an hour after we arrived, after our kids had been playing in close proximity in your daughter's bedroom, one of your other guests told us that the Hobgoblin getting sick now would be good, as it would build his immune system. I asked why my 1 year old is supposedly getting sick.

Oh, because our daughter has a fever, you blithely said. Because a kid at daycare has the stomach flu

It was loud at your party. Your kid didn't cough in front of me until we were on our way out the door. But she must have coughed in front of you. You must have known this wasn't a case of the sniffles or being a bit under the weather. You knew, and you didn't care and I'm having a really hard time reconciling that with the intelligent, fun, caring people we've been friends with for nearly a decade.

So, my kids got sick. Again. Because I do care if other people's kids catch what mine have got, we kept them home from play group. Every  week, for over a month, I've checked the monster's temperature, or listened to his cough and told him, "sorry, Bud, maybe next week." I've watched him stoically accept this, and blink tears out of his eyes.

We've visited the ER 4 times in the last month. 3, I strongly suspect, were related to our last visit with you. Like the time the Monster spent the morning vomiting because the sheer amount of mucous this virus produces meant that he swallowed enough to make him puke. Or the time the Hobgoblin's fever got frighteningly high and wouldn't come down for several days. You know what's not fun? Watching your baby get a plastic bag taped to his junk for a urine catch (but hey, it's better than a catheter, right?). You know what else isn't fun? Holding your baby down so they can take blood for cultures; wondering how they can take that much blood out of such a little body and have it still be safe. You know what really isn't fun? Listening to your baby scream when he's restrained inside a horrible plastic tube with his arms over his head, so they can X-ray his chest.

Which brings us to today. They're better. Finally. Fevers are down, coughs are gone. It's over. You know what else is over?


Friday, January 12, 2018

Cracks in the Sidewalk

Dear Exceptional Child,

I won’t pretend that no one will ever love you like I do. One day, you’ll grow up - have friends, start a family, if you want to. And I believe those people will see what I see and they will love you for it. But right now, when you’re young and the world hasn’t gotten to know you yet, your Dad and I have the privilege of loving you the most.

You, my dear, are an odd duck, and as an odd duck, you may find parts of your young life difficult. 

People won’t always understand you. They won’t always be able to cope with your incessant stream of questions (Hell, I can’t always cope with it). They won’t always be able to look past the way you consistently refer to yourself in second person-or to them in first. They might resent the way you handle stress and never stop to appreciate the extraordinary amount of self-control you exhibit daily, in the face of discomfort they can’t imagine.

People might get hung up on your hang ups. Your refusal to eat certain (most) food, borne of sensory issues they know nothing about, might seem to them like the idle pickiness of an over-indulged child. Your need for space to breathe and time to consider might make you seem antisocial. They might never see what the big deal is, when it comes to cracks in the sidewalk.

Some people will never appreciate the wonderful way in which your brain works. They won’t be impressed by your ability to read, your numeracy skills, your penchant for languages, your wordplay or your interest in geography.

People may look at you and see only initials: OCD, ASD. If ADHD makes it onto that list one day, I won’t be even a little surprised.

But here’s the thing: while you will meet plenty of people who don’t get you, you’ll also meet people who do. People who know immediately that you’re someone special; people who recognize that while your extraordinary memory comes naturally to you, certain social behaviours do not; people who value your insatiable curiosity and boundless energy; people who appreciate your quirky sense of humour, your sly smile and your entirely unique outlook on life.

And while you go through your life, collecting understanding friends and kindred spirits, know that I see you.

I see you for who you are and I love you for who you are. Know that I will be your champion, in your corner, forever. 

Travel bravely and proudly through the world, my perfectly wonderful, odd little duck.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

So Tired of Life

I'm just physically, mentally and emotionally drained. Like, ready to collapse.

There's a bunch of stuff going on with the hobgoblin that needs its own post.  But that's not what this is about.

Today's rant is brought to you by Mr. Wolfman, who seems to be going out of his way to make me feel like shit.

After yet another night of no sleep, I went to bed when he got up at 9am. He woke me up at 10, because an hour is a reasonable amount of sleep, I guess. Ok, fine. I made us breakfast, and wanted to mess around a bit on Facebook, then do the dishes. As I finished my reading, the hobgoblin wanted to eat, so I started nursing him.

Mr. Wolfman, who, incidentally, has been playing Legos by himself for half an hour (he had been playing with the Monster, who had gotten bored and wandered away) asked if I had done the dishes. No, I'm feeding the Hobgoblin. 10 minutes later, Hobgoblin is still eating, he asks if I've done the dishes yet.

Yes. I got up, ran to the kitchen, unloaded, reloaded and ran the dishwasher, then got back here and snuck the baby back onto my breast.

So, I was a little tetchy.

I go to do the dishes and the smell of diaper shit in the kitchen is overwhelming, so I say to Mr. Wolfman (not accusingly, mind you, even though it was him who decided to get rid of our last garbage can) that we really ought to get one that closes because it smells. And he goes off on me. We have millions  of garbage cans, and I never use any of them. We have 2 garbage cans. One in the bathroom and one for compostable garbage in the kitchen. The compostable one I use multiple times per day. The one in the bathroom... well, admittedly, I tend to put the garbage on top of it because I almost never use that bathroom, and when I do, it's like, a single Q-tip. There are papers and stuff stacked on the lid, and I've been lazy about cleaning it off so it can actually be used.  He took the garbage out of the other bathroom because I never emptied it, apparently. Because it's solely my responsibility to empty. Obviously.

Then there was a bag of clean laundry, which, being crammed into a bag, I assumed was dirty, so I put the monster's dirty shirt in there, and that earned me a a snappy comment, a sigh and an eyeroll. Like, fuck, just take it out if it's in the wrong place. Or tell me and I'll do it. But this sullen, huffy, the world is over because Mummy put a dirty shirt in the wrong spot shit needs to end (He constantly puts dirty clothes BACK IN THE CLOSET because he thinks that clothes are clean until there's a visible stain. So he'll keep lo in the same clothes for literally days, if I don't change him. Like, bathe him and put him back in the same PJs, and when it comes time to change him into something else, will put the 3-day old PJs in the closet to be worn next time. I've actually pulled clothes with food stuck on them out of the boys' closet a few times).

Hmm, what else did I fuck up today? Apparently I've ruined my Fitbit by not installing the updates that it never asked me to install and now it's broken forever, because that makes total sense. I didn't wash his espresso cups by hand when he was done with them, so he didn't have one ready when he wanted it, and actually had to open the dishwasher, take one out and wash it himself! I know. I'm fucking awful.

I'm sure there's other stuff that I'm forgetting, but don't worry, he'll definitely remind me about it when he gets home from work.

I am REALLY, REALLY not looking forward to spending the holidays with my MIL martyring herself for her kids and husband and Mr. Wolfman thinking this is normal. She doesn't even eat Christmas dinner with the family, she's too busy serving it, and then she eats alone in the kitchen or joins half-way through the meal, eats and then starts tidying while everyone else is still talking.  Which, fine, whatever floats her boat. But that's not me, and if he wanted a doormat housemaid, maybe he should have married one.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

*Hurk* (on dating your own kids)

The hobgoblin is obsessed with computer wires, so I was on Pinterest digging for a way to secure them, when I came across this gem: To My Son, Expectations on Dating.  Now I feel queasy.

To start with, the blogger (not the letter writer) refers to her son as her boyfriend. As the mother of two amazing boys, who I fully believe anyone in the (distant) future would be lucky to date, allow me to just say, Ew. I have never understood or been able to get behind this whole, little boys are their mommies' princes or boyfriends, little girls are their daddies' princesses or little ladies thing. People. No. You're not dating or romantically involved with your children. At least, you really, really shouldn't be.  This isn't cute, it's icky*

The letter itself isn't all bad. But whenever I read something for Moms of Boys, I'm almost always disappointed by the way it pigeonholes boys or moms or both. And this was no exception. It starts with a pretty big assumption.

 ...honestly [dating is] the most important thing you will ever do. Because how you date will dictate who you date. And who you date will become your wife. 

At 3 and 8 months, I don't pretend to know my kids' sexualities. Or, really, their gender(s). Or their views on marriage. I mean, yes, most people are cishet, so statistically, the chances are pretty high that my boys will be, too. But I'm not dreaming about their girlfriends and wives and children yet. I'm still getting to know them. I dunno, maybe her kid is older - but it seems a bit presumptive.

The letter goes on with numbered pieces of advice for dating. Number one, I can get behind (if we replace a girl with the person you want to go out with. I agree with it whole-heartedly, but I have to admit that may be generational prejudice.

1. Always ask a girl on a date. Straight forward & direct. AND always ask in person. If that just isn’t possible then ask over the phone. Never, I mean never, ask a girl on a date through a text, instant message, or email.

Number two is already giving me overbearing mom vibes.

2. Always take a girl out on a date. None of this “let’s hang out at my place & watch a movie” nonsense. I expect you to pick her up & take her somewhere. It doesn’t have to be fancy or elaborate or immensely creative. Sometimes the best dates are simple, like a picnic in the park. You should always make sure you take her to a place you know she will feel comfortable & enjoy.
I like the last bit, about taking your date somewhere they'll feel comfortable and enjoy. Beyond that, Mom needs to butt TF out.

3. Open the car door for your date. Open all doors for your date.

Or, you know, don't. How about just, open doors for people? I would feel serious anxiety if I was expected to sit in a car, waiting for my door to be opened. That would honestly spoil the entire date for me.  And for getting into a car - just awkward, especially if the date gets to the car first.

4. Pay for your date. No questions asked. Your father & I will make sure you always have money for your dates. Do not ever split the bill.

This is sexist, classist garbage. I mean, I know it's to her own son, but there's a reason it was published online and why it's being heralded as something all moms should read. So, basically, if you're poor, or you know, your parents have other priorities than paying for your dates, you shouldn't date? Per rule #2, kid isn't supposed to stay home with the girl, right? So if Mom and Dad can't foot the bill, then no getting to know the woman who, per the opening paragraph, might become his wife?

5. Walk to the door to pick up your date. Never text from the car, or worse yet, HONK! And always walk your date to the door at the end of the night.

^^^Agree! Actually, numbers five through sixteen* are all good advice for dating, about making sure your partner is comfortable, kissing the right [person], not getting physical too quickly (it seems to be aimed at when the kid is a younger teenager? So I'm on board with this), telling someone when you're in love, often.  All good stuff to consider throughout dating life.

*Except number 12.

12. Get to know her family & friends and let your family & friends get to know her. Especially Me.
I've never bought into the whole you marry the family thing. Like, no. I married Mr. Wolfman. I did not marry his father or mother or brother. They're nice, and I'm glad that I did get to know them, but knowing them or not has zero to do with our relationship.  And some families (I suspect, including the author's with her Especially Me) can be a bit overwhelming. There's a reason Mr. Wolfman didn't meet my parents until after we were living together.

And then we have... some more sexist nonsense.

17. When the time is right & you’ve found that special someone, get down on one knee & ask her those 4 special words.
This is a touchy one for me, because I proposed to my husband. After discussing our lives together, children, etc. The time being right leaves it open to interpretation, so I'm giving this lady the benefit of the doubt and assuming that she means once the necessary discussions have been had and both parties have agreed, equally, that the time is right. But, even so, WHY is her son the one that's expected to propose? 

My hope for my boys is that, when the time is right, IF marriage is their end goal, that they'll propose - or accept their partner's proposal. Or come to the decision jointly without anyone ever "officially" asking.  Mostly, I just hope they'll be happy.

*To be very clear: parents dancing with their children, holding hands with them, hugging and kissing them, having special one-on-one time, etc. - all great in my mind. The Monster and I have tea parties pretty frequently, with special music, no electronics allowed, and enjoy our tea and biscuits and each other's company. We do not, however, date.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Long Overdue

My long over-due update:

  • I have ADHD. Or, at least, it appears I have ADHD. I also have an incredibly long wait ahead of me to get in to see a psychiatrist, to be officially diagnosed.
  • I've been going to therapy roughly biweekly and it is helping immensely. Everything is still nowhere near where I'd like it to be and my therapist seems pretty convinced that the aforementioned psychiatrist is going to put me on medication, which is fine, but I won't be doing that until the Hobgoblin is weaned.
  • The Hobgoblin is the happiest baby in the world. He's seriously always so happy.
  • Hobgoblin might also have some sort of food sensitivity which causes him to projectile vomit after eating solids. He's been to a clinic doctor and will see the paediatrician on Tuesday and then the eye doctor later in the week. It also looks like he has intermittent facial palsy and is behind on crawling on all 4s and sitting up straight, so we'll be looking into all of that.
  • The Little Monster is 3. He is wonderful and by now it's quite obvious that he's gifted. Yesterday, I caught him standing on the desk, pointing to DH's home town on the map and mumbling to himself. He can read, but doesn't know he can read. He just looks at words and knows what they say, but gets flustered if you ask him to sound things out (this is in addition to about 30 sight words). He can recognize German and Spanish as well as his two native languages.  He is slowly figuring out fractions. We got him a wooden puzzle with the continents and he'd learned all their names and where they go on the map within about 30 minutes.
  • Monster also might have ASD. He has something. Hand flapping, toe walking, sensory issues, extreme adherence to certain routines. I'm not really worried, but I would like to find out exactly what's up with him. Waiting on the paediatrician to get back to us with a date for the initial assessment.
I think that's everything. I'm finishing up a project that I've been working on for a while, which hopefully will bring me a modest amount of money, so that's fun. 

Until next time...

Monday, June 19, 2017

Part Two

This is what it's like to have... whatever I have.

  • Doing anything sucks. It's physically difficult for me to do simple everyday things, like:
    • Put the brown sugar away. I thought to myself: Wouldn't it be easier just to take two seconds and put it in the cupboard now? That way it won't contribute to a bigger mess. You have do do it sooner or later anyway. Put the damn sugar away. Put it away. Don't leave it there. Don't walk away. You can do this. Your husband shouldn't have to deal with the pointless messes you make. It's easy. Put. It. Away.  It's still on the counter.
    • Call the clinic and set up an appointment for the hobgoblin. He needs an appointment. Nothing bad is going to happen to you if you call. He's overdue for a checkup. You don't have to go out right now. You don't have to wrangle your children. You just have to pick up the phone. Just pick up the phone. I haven't called.
    • Wash the dishes. It's not that hard. I don't get grossed out by the dirt in the sink, at least not enough for it to be a big deal. I'm just lazy. Lazy to the point that I'm fighting off tears because I want to be able to do this stuff without it turning into a big deal. I want to be like a normal person, who doesn't start shaking at the idea of doing a boring chore that I don't care for. The dishes aren't done.
    • Call my Dad for father's day. Like, why? Why is that hard? Yes, conversations with my Dad can be awkward, but I don't dread them. I'll see him. Say, Happy father's day. How's it going? Show him the boys. No big deal. I didn't call.
    • Downloading the software I need. I need it. I literally cannot work on anything to even attempt to have a work-at-home job without this software. It's not that expensive, not really. I tell myself, just boot up Windows and download the software. But I'm lazy. I'm so fucking lazy that the 30 seconds it's going to take to reboot the computer doesn't seem worth it. Nothing seems worth it. Because I also tell myself, You're going to fail at this, the way you've failed at everything. You can't focus, you can't complete anything. You've given up on school, not only when you dropped out, but a second time, before you even got close to going back. You are going to work menial crap jobs the rest of your life. Just download the software and try. But I don't. I still don't have the software.
  • Doing things that are actually difficult is impossible. Things like:
    • Editing my book. Yeah, I wrote a book. I've written several, actually, published two. I try to be proud of that, but it feels like I'm faking. And this particular one I finished in... I'm going to say 2011? Maybe 2012. And it's been sitting, unedited, on various hard drives for over half a decade.
    • Work on my other books. Intellectually I know what I have to do: decide which one to focus on; commit to putting the others on the back burner; plot; write; plan artwork; make artwork; edit. Instead what I do is: nothing. After all, I don't even have the software necessary for the artwork. 
    • Cleaning my closet. Yeah, no. I can't. I can't even contemplate that mess without shutting down. I'm kind of regretting thinking about it at all, actually, because I may have just ruined my whole day.
    • Going to the store. You maybe think that going to the store belongs in the category above, of simple, everyday things. If that's the case, I assume you don't have a baby and a toddler. Because it's not just going to the store, it's a hurricane of chasing said toddler, changing said baby, putting on clothes, feeding, burping, getting spit up on, taking off clothes and putting on new ones, changing the baby again. Negotiating toddler clothing choices, pee breaks, finding keys, stocking the diaper bag, weather-appropriate considerations, where are the damn keys? Put your socks on. Put your socks on. You have to wear socks. Stand still, I'll do it. Forgetting my own socks. Where are the keys now? Forgetting the shopping list and deciding to wing it. Forgetting the baby blanket and giving up my jacket. Forgetting my sunglasses and feeling overwhelmed by my purse and the sun and the diaper bag and the jackets and hats and sweaters and everything else in the world and HOLY FUCK, THE REUSABLE GROCERY BAGS GOT LEFT AT HOME AGAIN. Still, I know it's doable. I know lots of people do it. No. It's better just to stay home.
  • I'm not sleeping right.
    • I'm always tired, but sleep is elusive. Sometimes I just have to stay awake until my physical exhaustion overpowers the noise in my brain.
    • Once I'm asleep, it's deep. I feel physically heavy when I wake up. Like something is dragging me into the bed and pulling my eyelids closed.  Like I'm struggling to climb out of a hole with barbells tied around my ankles. 
  • I can't finish anything I start. Not even this list.
There's so much to do and I just can't. 

Friday, June 9, 2017

Conversations with my Monster, part 18: Manners

Me: *Opens bathroom door, accidentally hitting the monster lightly in the head*

Me: Sorry!

LM: Oh, you cannot bash me in the head! You can just gently say excuse me!