Dear IRS:

If you happen to work for the IRS, let me first apologize for how stupid I am going to tell you I think you are.

Our kids have to pay taxes because of some kind of trust, or something, their grandfather set up for them. This spring our Financial Dude (I think that’s the title on his business card) calculated that Aitch had to pay $28 in taxes for 2011. A check was filled out and attached to her return and that was supposedly that.

Then in May we received a letter from the IRS with a pay-stub enclosed asking us to pay her taxes, now with interest, to the tune of $28.11. Within a couple minutes I was able to determine that they had transposed the SS# for my daughter per the back of the cancelled check sent in April so instead of applying the check to Aitch’s account of say 111-11-1234, they used 111-11-1243. I was also able to confirm that this was an error on their part because we had copies of the returns that have 1234 on everything.

When I tried to call the IRS to explain how they are stupid, as I am sure they don’t hear enough of, I was told they couldn’t discuss the account because I am not Aitch. I tried to tell them that she was three, but because the IRS is stupid, they did not care that she was only a pre-schooler. I called the Financial Dude who said, “Seriously. The IRS is stupid and I’m not spending two hours on the phone (I was on hold for an hour) over $28.” Fair enough. So I made photocopies with a letter explaining the mistake and mailed it to the IRS.

About a month later, we received another letter and another pay stub informing us that to avoid additional late interest charges we should pay the $28 and some-odd-cents AND that they would review our information and respond within 45 days. That was in June.

Last week, we got another letter informing us that their big, giant collective heads were still reviewing and it would take another 45 days.

And I just laugh because…well, like, WOW. There’s a federal employee out there who has been paid three months salary to have a $28 tax dispute sit on his or her desk. I don’t know what an IRS employee gets paid, but I’m going to guess it’s around $7,000, minimum, a quarter. Doesn’t that make you laugh, too?

ETA: We got a letter from the IRS this week. They “found” our original payment from back in April and our 2011 taxes are settled. It took them three and half months.

Superficial

I can’t believe no one took the opportunity to call me paranoid.

I am just being paranoid about my kid getting some girl pregnant out of wedlock and the house going up in flames, right??

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The Corporate Office gave each satellite office surveys to hand out to their patients. Any comments shared on the surveys were released recently, and all were positive. Except this one: “The financial person was not nice. Superficially she was, but not really.”

I was especially wounded by this statement because of course I am that “financial person” (who probably also ensured their insurance company processed their claim appropriately. Asshole.). I don’t get it. Is that a legitimate complaint? Sure, I probably was being superficially nice because technically, that is part of my job. I wasn’t mean, per se, but maybe s/he didn’t like the fact I didn’t offer to call him/her up for lunch? Or that I didn’t flash some boob?? It would have made just as much sense if they had written: “The financial person was rude. Superficially she was not, but was really.” It just feels, oh I don’t know….Schizo.

********

Speaking of not being nice, I was on the deck last night huddled over my cell phone and on Facebook. The atmosphere was perfect because there was a warm breeze keeping away mosquitoes and the kids were bed. Sparring Partner came out to say good-night before he left to see his dad in the nursing home. Fifteen minutes later I decided to head inside and discovered he had locked me out on the deck.

I was pissed and dialed his number as I walked around the porch and to the garage. I told him to come home and let me back in the house and explained why. He swore that he did not lock me out of the house, and in fact had double-checked to make sure he hadn’t locked the patio door when he went back inside. Since the garage doors were down and locked, too, I went all the way back around the house to the aforementioned-unlocked deck door and confirmed with another tug and with a visual, that yes, he had indeed locked me out of the house.

I ended up walking back around again (tell me again why the hell we have a sprawling ranch house and that I am fat and too-out-of-shape-for-this-shit) to the garage and used the keypad to get in (I’ve never used it and the last I heard, the battery had died in it). SP was still adamant that he had not locked me out of the house, to which I replied, “So you’re saying that between the time you left the house and the time I tried to get back in, Doodicus woke up, realized I was outside, that you were gone, and locked the door on me??”

He thought THAT was more plausible then him simply subconsciously locking the door behind him.

I was definitely NOT nice, not even superficially.

Along Came a Spider, Who Sat Down Beside Her, and Told Her to Chillax

The little lightbulb in my daughter’s nightlight burnt out the other day, so I took it out of her room to replace it. As I screwed in the new bulb, I noted how quickly it warmed up (the switch was on), you know, as lightbulbs tend to do. The nightlight is actually a paper-mache’-like material over a wire frame in the shape of a duck. I’ve had it since Doodicus was a baby. I returned “Ducky”, as he is fondly referred, to Aitch’s room. She was thrilled I was able to fix it so quickly especially since it was during bedtime and she’s afraid of the dark.

All was well. Until I started thinking about how hot that bulb was. I returned to her room and touched the outside of Ducky to test for heat, but there was none. I left her room again. The more I thought of that bulb, the more freaked out and anxious I became. If my brain could type, this is kind of what it would look like:

what if the bulb gets so hot it starts the duck to smoldering. the smoke detector in her room should pick it up pretty quickly since it’s on that side of the room. would it burst into flames? it’s by the door so how would I get into her room to save her? could I calmly instruct her to get on the floor and crawl out to me? would she pass out from the smoke so she wouldn’t be able to help herself? Dood would try to go in there so I would have to make sure he’d go outside and stay there, but I know he would freak out and try to come back in and that would waste precious time. both her windows are accessible without a ladder. how would I break the windows? the lawn chairs on the deck. I could pick them up and throw them through the window. but that would create a unwated airflow and feed the flames already engulfing her bed! the garden hose. the hose is right outside. I would smash the windows and spray her room. when will I call 9-1-1? would Dood be able to do it for me? would he remember our address or be able to explain to them how to get to us on that rural road? ohmygodthewholehousehasgoneupinflames! galkdjaflksjflwjtopuiwjljldjlfuuuuuccckkkkkkkk!!1;11!!

Eventually the panic attack subsides and I feel a bit foolish for worrying about it at all.

This morning I was thinking about Doodicus and wondering how old he’ll be when he eventually becomes more self-aware and responsible without us constantly reminding him to finish eating, combing his hair, flushing the toilet, and putting on the other sock. Self-control. He has none. What if in six years he still has no self-control; no way to audit his impulsiveness? What if he meets a girl who is looking to manipulate someone like Dood and gets pregnant. Of course, we would help them take care of the baby. But what if she wants to have an abortion, or give the baby up for adoption? Both of these are legitimate options she would have, but both of them make me cringe inside.

I’ll admit it makes me really uncomfortable with the idea of someone else making the decisions about my “blood”, which is so utterly ridiculous for me to say. In fact, I would have to call Bull Shit on myself. Need I remind you that Aitch has at least one half-sibling that is NOT her brother, Dood? The same woman who donated her eggs to us also donated them to another woman from our clinic, and she, too, got pregnant. Aitch doesn’t just have a half-sibling, she was a twin.

I rarely think about it, but sometimes, like today when I think about the fate of my non-existent grandchild, I get my brain wrapped up in it. It’s why I’m writing about it now. Have you ever unwittingly walked into a spiderweb? That’s what it feels like in my head right now. I’m hoping by writing it down, it sweeps the thoughts away, at least for a while. At least until the spider comes back and puts up a new web.

Make Your Next Anxiety-Filled Meal a Manwich Meal

Doodicus races radio control cars on the weekends with his dad through an RC club. He’s been doing so for at least five years. While he likes the actual driving, he leaves the pit work up to his dad as he prefers to pass the time on the park’s playground equipment or riding his bike on the walking path. Sparring Partner in turn makes sure to replace the shocks, charge the battery, change the tires, etc., on the car based on how he reads the track or Dood’s driving performance.

A couple weekends ago, they raced on a ridiculously hot day (in my opinion, they should have cancelled, that’s how hot it was). They couldn’t keep the dirt track wet enough as the 100+ temperatures just instantly sucked the moisture out of it no matter how heavily they watered between races. They eventually gave up watering, which meant the track became supper hard and supper slick.

Now for a little racing blah-de-blah stuff that actually does end up relevant, so bear with me: If you’ve ever watched a car race, whether it’s something like NASCAR or Formula One, you may have noticed that instead of having “nubby” or treaded tires, they are completely smooth. The reason is simple: the smoother the tire’s face, the more contact it has with the track’s smooth surface; the more contact, the more control. Now let’s look at Rally Racing or Off Road Racing. Those tires have exaggerated treads, studs or “knobs” to provide grip on an uneven and unstable surface.

Back to RC racing: the exact same principals apply except it’s scaled down considerably. They normally race studded tires because it’s a dirt tract, but on this particular day, the track couldn’t be kept in the condition they would have preferred in the time they were allowed. And to make a long story short, Sparring Partner changed Dood’s tires from studded to slicks. However, because Dood wasn’t use to the handling of the slicks, he accused SP of sabotaging his car so he wouldn’t do as well.

Doodicus went into a tirade of tears and yelling and there was absolutely no way we could get him to understand that SP was only to help him out. Even when we asked, “Why would we want you to do poorly?” he could not get beyond the idea – the IRRATIONAL thought – that his dad’s actions were not to help him.

Now hang with me, because I’ve got a similar story that revolves around Sloppy Joe’s.

Doodicus is a terrible eater. Fruits and vegetables haven’t passed his lips voluntarily in years. “Weird” foods are off limits, i.e. casseroles or crock pot meals. He prefers plain, unadorned food: steaks, pork chops, the occasional hot dog (but it must be XYZ brand in html color #CC3333).. Sometimes he’ll even eat a hamburger or a *gasp* taco! It’s exasperating. Once he confessed to liking Sloppy Joes at daycare, so I happily bought a couple cans of Manwich. I personally love Sloppy Joes. They’re easy to make and easy to use for left-overs. The first couple of times, they were a hit. Then one ill-fated night, he took a couple bites and suddenly clutched at his throat in a melodramatic way, “There’s onions in here!” He refused to eat them from that point on. By the way, there were no onions.

Fine, whatever, kid. Everyone else in the house likes them, so the other night it was on the menu (hahaha! we don’t have a “menu”! Our meals are based on what’s in the pantry and my mood du juor.). Sparring Partner thought he could help diffuse what battle there was sure to come by actually reading the ingredients from the can to Doodicus to prove that there were no onions involved.

That seemed to have worked as he sat down with the rest of us and dug in, taking first one, then two and then a third! bite of his Sloppy Joe. And then IT happened: “Mom! You put onions in here!” “No, I didn’t.” “Yes, you did! I bit into one. I can FEEL it!” The exchange devolved into yet another teary tantrum, complete with dramatic gagging and threats to throw up. He even went so far as to say the company who made the mix were putting onions into it and not listing it on the ingredients.

At our appointment with Dr. Rita yesterday, somehow this story came up. He looked at Doodicus and asked him calmly about why he didn’t like the sandwich. “I know I think there’s onions in it!”

Back up and read that again: I know I THINK there’s onions in it!

This is an Irrational Response.

“Uh…duh,” you might be saying, but get this: whenever you try to rationalize with someone who definitely holds irrational thoughts, you keep that irrationality alive in them. If Dood was rational during that race, he would have eventually responded to our explanation for the change in his tires with, “Oh. I didn’t know that there are different tires to help me when track conditions change.” A rational child who might have exclaimed, “You snuck onions into my Sloppy Joe!” would have quickly realized that some rogue Manwich employee was not going around throwing bits of onions into the mix before it was canned.

However, trying to rationalize with Dood means he must try harder to believe his irrational thoughts are true, which leads to us trying harder to rationalize with him and the vicious vortex of suck becomes ever deeper and broader and encompassing.

When Dr. Rita explained that to me, I literally gave myself a face-palm. WE are maintaining the irrational thoughts Dood has every day! “This is a different brand of bacon! It tastes funny!” “No, Dood. See, it’s in the same packaging as the last time.” “You are just taking out the new bacon and putting it into the old package!” “Of course we’re not doing that! Why would we?” “To get me to eat it! It’s not the same!” and wouldn’t YOU want to convince – to rationalize – with him that you are not trying to pull one over on him?

Instead? When he brings up an irrational thought (You’re trying to make me lose! You’re putting onions in the sandwich! You’re buying the wrong kind of bacon!”, we are simply to respond, “No, we’re not. It’s time to race (or eat),” and that’s it. If he persists, which Dood WILL do, we are to respond: “You already know the answer.” or “I’m not going to answer that,” and what should eventually happen is he’ll realize the world will not end if he does end up eating an onion, or coming in last at his race, or getting dropped off on the west side of the school as opposed to the east (another irrational argument that has recently come up).

If you don’t have a child who suffers from anxiety or other challenging behavioral issues, this post probably won’t make sense to you. But, oh, if you do, I hope you had a Lightbulb Moment as enlightening as I did. And I have Manwich to thank for it.

Smile. It Won’t Hurt

We spent this past Sunday at the zoo. It was cloudy and the heat is finally fading away, plus it was the last weekend before school started and we hadn’t made it there once this summer. The kids wanted to ride the train, which goes around the zoo in a loop that’s just under two miles long. Since the train is steam and crosses several pedestrian areas, it is wonderfully noisy with its chuffing engine and warning high-pitched whistles. People can’t help but watch it go by, and a handful would wave as we went by.

Later, we were walking between exhibits and heard the train coming. Aitch stopped to watch it and I suggested she wave to the passengers. As she did, a few on board waved back, but not many. Doodicus asked why we should wave; we didn’t know anybody on board, and I was struck by his question. I told him briefly how decades ago, everyone waved or acknowledged a fellow human being if they crossed paths. A hundred years ago, men politely doffed their hats out of respect to the women passing by and at the minimum, made eye contact out of polite acknowledgement with the men. Then I said, “People have simply become so rude.”

The media has picked up on a story of an airline losing a ten-year-old girl and how the company couldn’t have been less indifferent if the girl had simply been a forgotten jacket. Not only had the airline acted as if it had been some lost inanimate object, but I read the comments by people who felt it was somehow the parents’ fault for entrusting the airline with their daughter even though it’s a service they not only offer, but get paid extra for doing so. Not only have we become more standoffish, some people have just become dicks and companies like this airline (United Airlines, for what’s it worth) ultimately reward ambiguous treatment of fellow human beings because it saves resources, i.e. money.

When DID we become so…numb…towards each other; so void of empathy? What ever happened to the simple nod; the one-finger-off-the-steering-wheel wave; the SMILE? We are more connected to humanity then we have been in the history of man – digitally, but it has made us also the most disconnected interpersonally, keeping everyone and everything that can bring us happiness at arm’s length, because it, too, might bring us pain. Smile. Acknowledge. Can it really hurt THAT much?

I didn’t just throw my panties on stage…

 

Having friends in the computer can really pay off. Olivia Drab scored me an autographed pantyliner. Not just any pantyliner. An Always Pantyliner. The Cadillac of Pantyliners. Trust me on this.

And not just any autograph. An autograph from Jenny Lawson. And who is Jenny Lawson? The Bloggess.

Olivia updated on Facebook how she was in line to have The Bloggess sign her book, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened¬†and I excitedly (and half-jokingly) begged her to get an autograph for me as well since I know I would personally never have the opportunity. I suggested she hand her a pantyliner or something for Jenny to sign. So she did. When handed the pantyliner, Jenny said, “That is so AWESOME!”

No, Jenny, YOU are awesome (and so is Olivia Drab, of course!).

Let’s Pretend This DID Happen!

 

 

Cooling Down

I shut off comments on the last post about Doodicus because I was so upset, I didn’t even want to hear that eventually this too would get better. I also didn’t want to feel guilty in case someone decided to add that I’m over-reacting. Honestly this is not so much that I am angry that he was looking at images that a ten year old has no business at looking at; I am angry that this is the third time he’s broken the rule we specifically had already set in stone.

I get that a ten (almost eleven) year old boy will be curious about sex, and in fact I’d be worried if he wasn’t by now as he has never ONCE asked us anything about the birds and the bees. I’d hate for him to be sitting in his health class this year when they will bring up the subject of puberty and for him to be the only kid sitting there wondering what the hell just blew his Lego and Bey-Blade-filled-world to smithereens.

The specifics of what happened will bore you, but here they are: Dood was in his room playing on his iPod. It struck me as odd because he likes to sit in the living room with the rest of us, even though he pretty much tunes us out. The reason I didn’t think about it too much is because 1) it’s not the first time; 2) his sister wouldn’t stop bugging him; and 3) I like when he plays in his room by himself. The overall environment is much calmer and quieter for everybody.

It was time to get Aitch ready for bed, but I went into his room first to give him a heads up that he should also get dressed. When I asked what he was doing (more of a rhetorical question asked only so I could ease into the topic of getting ready for bed so he wouldn’t flip out, which is not uncommon), he was jumpy and over-talkitive. When he clutched his iPod to his chest protectively, my jaw clenched. "Let me see," I commanded. As he handed it over, he said he "was just watching Mine Craft videos", but again, he was acting nervous and basically just…off. I scrolled through the history of the videos, and while the first several I swiped through were as he said, they devolved into explicit videos of women in different states of undress and the titles of the videos were disturbing.

He must have seen by the look on my face that he had been thoroughly busted and began pleading with me to not take away his iPod. I was silent as a stone when I turned my back on him and left him in his room, crying.

Eventually the kids were both in bed (Sparring Partner was gone. Again. He spends more evenings away with his dad who is terminally ill and rarely sees the kids into bedtime.), and I sat down and turned on the restrictions to just about everything on his iPod except the apps already installed and music, as well as locking down access to our WiFi. I then returned his iPod to his room so he could listen to his music.

It wasn’t until the following evening that he discovered what I had done. He exploded because a couple of the games required WiFi in order for him to play them. He pounded on the couch in rage and screamed at me. I myself had had 24 hours to let my own anger cool so his fury slid off me and I remained unfazed and detached. I think this infuriated him even more. Eventually the screaming caused dad to call him down to his workshop in the basement. I listened as Dood’s voice slowly and eventually came down in decibels. He then came back upstairs and apologized.

Right now I don’t have an answer for him when he asks when he’ll get access back. I’m just disappointed enough still that I could easily shoot the answer "NEVER" at him, but of course that’s neither fair or true. School starts next week. Maybe if he starts off on the right foot, I’ll be ready to give a more favorable answer in September.