Category Archives: Sparring Partner

240

Imagine this level of Crazy in YOUR home.
Imagine this level of Crazy in YOUR home.

Even though I’ve known his collection was extensive, I just found out that my FIL owned approximately 240 firearms.

TWO HUNDRED AND FORTY GUNS OWNED BY ONE MAN!

And now five children will split that collection between themselves. That’s just shy of 50 each, including to my husband, Sparring Partner. I’m furious.

Would you believe that S.P. thought I would be less angry if he told me that he had no intention of keeping them all? He’d sell most of them. This coming from the man who still has his sibling’s Christmas presents sitting on his desk waiting to be sent out…from LAST year. This coming from the man who hasn’t finished insulating his shop that he built seven years ago and yet recently informed me that he’s ADDING on to it this year (over my goddamn dead body, he is! (which if he gets 50 guns, he increases his opportunities and odds)). This coming from the man who adamantly refuses to let the kids have a trampoline because of how dangerous they are.

I should mention that since he told me all of this about an hour ago, which immediately preceded me telling him that he’s fucking crazy if he thinks he’s bringing any of those guns into our house, he’s been trying to draw me into some small chat about Doodicus’s homework; the night sky; and now just a moment ago, a rerun of Frasier. Does he really think he can baffle me with bullshit?

(Image courtesy of The Guardian.)

Guns and Your Child’s Friends

I read today on Facebook that a friend of mine asked a mom if there were guns in her home before responding to a RSVP for a child’s birthday party. I was amazed by her audacity, her bravery, her awareness. Even though a day rarely goes by that I don’t think about the shooting in Newtown, it never occurred to me that as my children’s social circles expand that I need to consider more than the basic questions (what, where and when). As one of her other FB friends stated, it’s a question parents should “normalize.”

First of all, I am absolutely for gun control. I believe the 2nd Amendment is ridiculously outdated and grossly misinterpreted. It’s a topic that I know has lost me friends (if not, my name on a restricted list or two) because it’s one I’ll admit that I’m not flexible. However, what you probably did not know is that my husband, Sparring Partner, was a long-time member of the NRA, but while he’s no longer a member and his opinion about the NRA is now hardly favorable, he and I don’t see eye-to-eye on gun ownership. In fact, there are guns in this house. Right now. I couldn’t tell you where they are except I do know they are under lock and key, and that neither my 4-year-old or 11-year-old know we have them. Then there’s my husband’s father, who is a collector. Not just a half-dozen or so, either: we’re talking hundreds of guns.

I grew up with guns, specifically rifles. As a farmer, it was one of the tools of the trade and used for hunting, pest control and as brutal as it sounds, to humanely treat critically ill livestock. They were kept (and still are) in an unlocked cabinet in my parent’s house where even now my kids can see them and frequently ask about them when we visit. The only dangerous situation I ever recall happening was this incident back when I was still pregnant with Aitch (I never would have guessed it had been that long ago) when my husband had one of the old rifles misfire while he was handling it.

The point is, I’m not at all ignorant about guns and how they can be used effectively in the hands of a responsible owner, but I also know that there are a half-dozen less objectionable ways to protect ourselves or to put meat on the table. So simply put, I don’t like guns, under any circumstances. It wasn’t until I read my friend’s update mentioned above would I have ever thought to ask the parent of a child if they had guns before I considered letting either Aitch or Doodicus go to their homes. I then put the question to my friends (bear with me as I included ALL of the responses below):

I have to ask, and I do so respectfully (and expect the same in responses): would you ask a parent if they have guns in their home if your child was invited to a sleepover? And how would you address this with your child if the parent’s response was not favorable?

RN: I wouldn’t even think to ask this question, but I think it’s a really important one. If there is a gun in the home, I would follow up with asking how it is stored (is it locked up in a gun safe?) and if it’s loaded and where the ammunition is stored. If everything is locked up in gun safes and only a responsible adult knows the combo, it is probably ok. Right?

KA: No, because although it’s not completely unheard of here (we live in quite a rural area and next to a big game shooting area), legally they would have to be in a locked cabinet, inspected etc.

TGM: i don’t know if i would think to ask but then again i am not sure. if a parent asked me that i would answer them honestly. yes we have guns in our home. they are kept in my room, in a closet where the children can not access them easily. they are kept unloaded and the ammunition for them is not kept in the same area as the guns. if they objected to their child being there, i am ok with that and don’t see it causing any hard feelings on my part. i know that not everyone is comfortable with guns. i am not that comfortable with them. all of the guns we own are my husbands, used for hunting (no hand guns) and some are from his grandpa that were handed down. however, i don’t have an issue with my child being in a home where responsible gun ownership is being practiced. responsible being the key word. and of course i assume that i would know that family pretty well.

MG: Never thought of it before..

XV: 1. Yes. 2. I’m worried about a lot of kids in the same house with guns. Yes, I know the parents are very responsible, and I know you are careful, but you know as well as I do, darling child, that kids can be crafty and get excited in packs, so…I’d rather not risk it. I love you.

IPK: I would absolutely ask and if the answer was yes I would not allow my child to visit that home. I once visited a home and discovered after half an hour that my three year old was playing with duplos in a room with a shotgun leant up behind the door. I died ten times inside.

EGM: I don’t know that I would think to ask normally but if I did, I would follow it up with asking how they are stored and locked away. If the answers weren’t satisfactory, I would be honest with the other parent and say that I’m not comfortable with it and ask if the child could sleep over at my own house first. Then I’d address it with my child. With a child of [Dood’s] age, I’d be honest and explain my concern and the solution (hopefully the other parent would be OK with the sleepover at my house instead). With a younger child, I’d probably just say that we’d decided to change it to our house. For the record, we have a gun–it’s kept locked up in a coded safe, unloaded, and the ammunition is under separate lock-and-key. Only Jxxxx and I know the code to get to the gun itself, so even crafty kids couldn’t get it.

KA: I let M spend the night with a friend who I know the family has guns. They live on a rural property, and the guns are locked away. I think the dad usually does carry on his person though. I grew up on a farm though, and my father had guns, so my comfort level might be different.

KJW: I would ask. I’ve personally known 2 families that wish they would have asked as well. You can’t be to careful. You don’t get a “re-do” with a gun.

KA: Also, I’ve had some pretty blunt discussions with my M about guns and gun safety. I agree that there are people out there who might be careless with guns–and careless with other things too. Trust your gut. If you’re not comfortable, for any reason, keep your child home and do something else.

EMM: Yes, I would absolutely ask! If they were locked away and secured appropriately, fine. If not, explain the rules of gun safety with him (treat every gun as if it is loaded, etc.)

JF: Oh honey, I ask even if we have a play date and I’m staying. It’s an important question to ask.

EC: I have the gun talk with my boys A LOT. Their Dad and his brothers all have guns. They are locked up appropriately, but I’m paranoid. There are three houses in the neighborhood where my kids play and have sleepovers. I’m nosy enough to know that all the parents are crazy liberals like me and don’t own any guns.

MGK: Never would have asked that I grew up in a home with guns was educated starting at an early age (5) my daughter has been shooting since she was 5. I feel it is very important that our youth are taught about guns what is proper handling and how to act around guns. People can get hurt around guns if they don’t know proper handling and how to act. If children are brought up and taught to respect guns and that they should not handle guns without an adult present I believe you have a lot less to worry about. When kids are introduced to something and taught properly they are less likely to investigate on their own it becomes second nature. When I was growing up my dad had all of his guns in his gun room and I knew I couldn’t go in there and when I had friends over they were not aloud in the room and it was never an issue.

KY: We have guns and they are locked in a gun safe. I wouldn’t be offended if someone asked me about it but I have never asked, nor have I had anyone ask us. We have lots of sleepovers.

KA: [Yo-yo Mama], the more I think about this, I had to add that A LOT of things make me nervous about sleepovers. (Older siblings, drugs, other safety concerns, and so on.) I think for me, it comes down to how well do I know the family, how comfortable am I with them, and do I have a high enough level of overall trust for my son to be in their care for any amount of time? When I lived in Boston/Cambridge, guns probably would not have come up. Living in rural NH, I tend to assume that almost everyone, regardless of political leanings, likely has a gun. I went to get a permit myself recently, and had to go back, because the PD has run out of applications. I don’t currently own a gun, but I wouldn’t be offended if I was asked politely if I did, by a concerned parent.

CC: Yep. And if I wasn’t comfortable with the answer, my kid wouldn’t go over to that friend’s house. I’m the mama. I don’t give a fig about the other family. There are houses that are off limits to my children because I think the people are too stupid to be responsible (with and without guns). There are houses that are off limits to my children because I know drugs are present. There are houses that are off limits because the parents allow movies and videogames that my children are not allowed. My job is to do what I think is best for MY family…not be politically correct. And how I handle it…I’m honest with my kids about it.

JF: We have a lot of potentially dangerous medications in our house. For my child’s safety and the safety of those visiting our home, we purchased a medication lock box. We keep all of our daily meds in there (the scary stuff – not the vitamins). I think it was $30 but it gives us peace of mind. We also put it up high when we have kids over and our son does not know the combination (though he’s tried to get it out of us LOL)

KCN: Vitamins can be fatal too if ingested in high quantities. I would lock those up too.

JF: True [KCN] – they are kept out of reach as well. However, I’m more concerned with seizure meds and stimulants than vitamins and space is limited.

CMS: The harder part of your question is explaining it to your child. They really have no comprehension of the finality of gun accidents. If a parent is offended by you asking, I would wonder why. Shouldn’t they be just as concerned if the sleepover was at your place? I think an open discussion is never out of place.

KY: I agree that we don’t do sleepovers with people we don’t know very well – my son is just uncomfortable in that situation. So, with that said, we know the families and where they stand on the issue of guns. Now, one of my son’s best friends has parents that “act drunk” in his words, or leave the kids home alone often at night. He himself chooses not to stay at their home overnight.

KF: Do I have to let my kids go on sleep overs? . Never thought of that now I have another reason to be paranoid! . I am not sure if I personally would have the guts to ask but I wish I could! Good luck with that one!

KSB: Sleepovers aren’t what they used to be. I fear the older sibling or the older sibling’s friend or the creepy uncle who swings by for pizza. Medications, drugs, guns. I recognize that I can’t control every environment my children enter, nor do I want to limit their experiences. We haven’t reached sleepover age yet but I’m sure it won’t be long. We’ve already agreed that sleepovers aren’t allowed unless we are friends with the parents. Not just friendly. Friends. My nephew went to a sleepover and their house phone was turned off that night. The mother didn’t want to use up all her minutes letting the 10 yr old boys contact their parents, so my SIL had no way of contacting her son. The next morning the mom took the boys to a splash park without asking permission or notifying anyone. The police found my nephew in a parking garage outside the park. He was fine but terrified. Some if our close friends have guns. My kids could sleepover at some of their homes but not all. Not all gun owners are safe and responsible. In fact I am terrified that the house next door to us has four unlocked guns and two mentally impaired/unstable preschoolers. We don’t do play dates at their house. It’s likely nothing bad will ever happen over there, but why hang around to find out? I understand we will encounter tears and drama and “it’s not fair!” The first time W isn’t allowed to go to the big fun sleepover but I’m okay with that. It’s my job to keep her safe. Not keep her cool.

JLK:  It, coming from a no gun culture, scares the Willies out of me that people would have them in their homes. No matter how they are kept.

SR:  I absolutely would ask but I wonder how many people are going to tell you if they have guns but don’t store them properly? I didn’t grow up with guns and I’m scared of them but I know people who are responsible gun owners so I don’t think that anyone who has a gun necessarily is bad or irresponsible. As other people pointed out, there are so many things surrounding sleepovers that are troublesome for me but it all really boils down to how well do I know the parents (which I know isn’t a guarantee either).

ALH: Sigh. I would ask, if I was an American. Don’t know how I’d respond to a yes — and I come from a hunting culture and have handled plenty of guns.

JL: I ask, saying something like “you know how interested kids are at this age.” And he doesn’t go if I’m not comfortable with the answer. I also have a good long talk with him about what to do if the subject of seeing a gun comes up.

Even after reading the comments, I’m still not sure if it’s something I won’t feel awkward asking about, but it really is a question that shouldn’t be uncommon (“normalized”), and therefore shouldn’t be a question that anyone would find offensive. On the other hand, it makes me wonder how I would feel if a parent who was a hardcore NRA member refused to allow their child over to our house because I wouldn’t be the person willing to arm myself to save their baby in an event that would be a hundred (if not a thousand) times MORE unlikely than an accidental gun-inflicted injury.

And while we’re talking about accidents, it never occurred to me that we should have my son’s stimulants secured in a lock box, which we are now going to remedy. But what about the beer in the fridge? What about the carkeys on the hooks? What about the stairs to the basement? The toilets, kitchen knives and glassware? Sure, *I* know there’s a huge difference between a gun and a glass, but the difference comes in teaching Responsibility. For me, that is something I can teach and don’t have to have a gun in my hand to teach it. NOT talking about it isn’t going to make it go away or not happen, and that’s hard for me to remember because open discussions often feel as if I’m erasing innocence.

Tomorrow

Things have been not so good lately, but each time I sit down to draft it out, 600 words later I have deleted it and closed the window. One of my friends from Facebook posted on one of my wall updates how I never seem to be happy, and frankly, the words stung with their accuracy. I have not been happy.

It’s not because there is a sense of “buyer’s remorse” over our moving Doodicus from a private school to a public in the hopes he would have access to more…more what? Yeah, well, that’s hard to explain. And the remark about Buyer’s Remorse came from the psychologist, not from Sparring Partner, myself or Dood, but it kinda sums things up nicely.

It’s not because Sparring Partner’s dad is slipping slowly away in a too-small nursing home room. The giant man whose presence in any room could not simply be ignored – not just because of his size – but because his distinct Bostonian voice could drown any cacophony of Midwesterners, has become an almost empty, cancer-riddled shell. Or that my mom’s Alzheimer’s is progressing in what seems like light-speed ever since Aitch started going to school and we see her less frequently. Talking with her about how the kids are adjusting to school, or the home projects, or just little stories about day-to-day happenings is like trying to write on a chalkboard in the middle of a rain shower.

My unhappiness is not because my son had a crisis that shook us all to our very quick; that incurred a standing appointment with the behavioral health department every other week, that made me ache to go back in time and tell him a thousand more times a day that we love him more than anything. I should have hugged him more even though he always wiggled or turned away. Especially when he wiggled and turned away.

It is that culmination of emotional weight and stress and a feeling your life is spinning wildly off course even though there was never a course to begin with to follow. I know it will slow down enough so I can catch my balance. Yesterdays always seem much simpler, and certainly less of a burden. They are the days that no longer have long lists of things to-do and the things un-done. They are just simply the days that were. Tomorrows are hard because they are filled with expectations, anticipations, dread and worry.

I am hoping just for better tomorrows. Maybe even happier.

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??

*********

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.

The Other Half Needs an Ass-Kicking

I have to vent or I’ll not be responsible for bludgeoning my husband with this laptop…

If you have a child with ADHD, you know that sleep is an anomaly. They DON’T sleep well, especially when on any kind of drug regimen. While Doodicus heads to bed at 9:00 p.m., it’s not unusual to find him still awake by 10:00 p.m. And then he’ll be awake by 5:00 a.m. It’s not all the time, I’m just saying it’s not unusual. AND I GET THAT. It’s just how his brain functions.

Tonight, after Sparring Partner tucked Dood in, SP sat down next to me and told me he was talking to Dood and the Olympians getting up at 3 – 4:00 in the morning, every morning, just to train. Dood told him that sometimes he wakes up then, too. SP then said, “You need to tell your body to go back to sleep!”

I listened to this slack-jawed. “That just tells me you haven’t got a clue how his ADHD affects him. You aren’t listening to me. You aren’t listening to him. You don’t read the articles I send you about ADHD. You. Don’t. Get. It!

…so I’m sitting here steaming, watching the Olympics.

He then asks, “What do you think the temperature of the pool water is?”

I shrugged, disinterested.

He immediately flips open the iPad to google it.

He doesn’t want to use the resources available to him to understand how ADHD affects not just Doodicus, but our whole family dynamic, but he’ll look up the fucking temperature of the fucking pool water!

Don’t be surprised by tomorrow’s headlines, “Ritual Killing? Man Found in Quiet Nebraska Rural Community Strangled by USB Cable: iPad Duct-Taped to Genitals”.

P.S. By the time I finished writing this, I’m not as furious. Just fuming.

Shifting Gears

I do think Dr. Rita has some personal experience when it comes to ADHD (my response to a recent question left in the comments). I’ve yet to ask him if it was with himself or one of his children, but I do believe that it’s someone very close to him just based on a couple of things he’s said. I haven’t asked for two reasons, one being out of basic respect; and two, these sessions are for Dood. Sorry, if that makes me out to be kind of a dick, but for now I am being quite selfish about that 60 minutes we have been allotted.

The vyvanse? When it kicks in, it’s wonderful. When it hasn’t – or when it’s wearing off – he is painful to be around. Basically it amplifies all of Dood’s personality traits, whether they are bad or good. I wish I had a better way to describe it, but I’ll leave it at that for now.

Today I turned in the enrollment papers to the public school. They will in turn file a formal withdrawal from the Catholic school Dood had attended up until now and request his transcripts. I wish I could brush off my apron and say, "And that is THAT," but Aitch is enrolled in the pre-K classes at the private school. Initially I felt a bit awkward about that decision, but right now I feel it is going to be a good decision on both parts.

Aitch is taking swim lessons for the second session in a row at the local YMCA. My son does not care much for swimming, and I’ve rarely seen him go into water higher than his knees, and never at the lake. Aitch, on the other hand, is fearless, and as such a danger to herself. She walks into the lake until there is nothing under her feet. I literally have to be within arms length of her at all times to scoop her up, and when I do, she just sputters a bit, squeals in delight, and wiggles her way back into the water. At the pool, she loves to jump off the side, go completely under and then leapfrog it to the surface. My heart seems to leap into my throat much the same way.

At the most recent trip to the pool she showed me a new "trick" by jumping off the side and then swimming under the water for a few seconds. The first time, I thought she had lost her footing and couldn’t get to the surface so I pulled her out, "Are you OK?!" "Yeah! That was fun!" and she jogged the best she could in three feet of water back to the pool’s edge, climbed out, and repeated. She popped up, gulped some air, and went back under. I could see her big, blue eyes beneath the water’s surface as she sought out my legs and reached out with her hands and kicked her feet in what one might describe as "swimming". That same night, she ASKED to go to bed.

And while Doodicus is not a swimmer, he did start getting the hang of doing handstands in the pool and I even assisted him in doing a somersault under water. Both kids have both figured out how to use a snorkel with impressive success. I think it’s Aitch’s skill and confidence in the water (as much an almost-four-year-old could have anyway) that has helped Doodicus overcome some of his trepidations. He is often ditching his friends at the pool to come play by us yelling, "Aitch! Aitch! Watch this!" and showing off for his little sister. They are so good for each other.

A couple months ago, I announced that I wished to go to Scotland next year for my birthday. Even though THIS year is a minor milestone, our trip to Disney in February pretty much tapped our vacation resources. I wanted the Scotland vacation to be just for Sparring Partner and myself; maybe the honeymoon we never had (15 years ago this month!). However, SP is not keen on the idea one bit. "I’m not an international traveler," he announced. I don’t even know what that means since he’s never traveled internationally. "Why Scotland?" he asked. I explained that while a vacation sitting on a beach all day drinking out of a coconut would have been my ideal vacation prior to my skin cancer scare, I thought a summer vacation exploring moors, lochs and circle of stones seemed like a rather pleasant alternative. And I know without a doubt, that he would love it. (see update below)

I let the topic drop until last night, "My sister said she would go with me to Scotland if you don’t want to." That statement was true. She loves to travel and as a matter of fact, just returned from her vacation to Peru. SP replied, "I don’t think THAT’S fair for you to go without me." "Does that mean you want to go WITH me?" "No. I don’t want to leave the kids for that long." I could only stare back at him incredulously. It wasn’t fair for me to go without him, but he thinks it’d be "fair" that I don’t go at all?

The prairie toads come out at night since it is much cooler. There are always a couple of them sitting in the driveway feasting on the bugs that gather around the outside lights. Last night, my husband got home from seeing his dad in the nursing home and it was already after dark. He asked had me come out and look at one of them. He was huge, like a baseball. And fearless, not even a flinch when I poked him with my flipflop. SP had backed the pickup into the garage to unload some things and I warned him to make sure there were no toads under the truck if he moved it. Sure enough, five minutes later, he comes in and sadly announces the big toad is no more. Worse, he informs me that he flipped the gruesome carcass into the nearby landscaping…where I walk around the house…where the kids explore. I chewed him out as if he’d run over the family dog and demanded he remove the remains and dispose of them properly. I am wondering why I had to even do this; he is 40-something-something years old after all.

ETA: I was sitting with my husband last night as he watched Feherty on TV and I was on Facebook. After a few minutes of listening to the interview I made the observation that Feherty is a Scot, not Irish, as SP has claimed in the past. "Oh, so now you want to go to Scotland?!" I looked at him as if he’d grown a set of thorny gonads from his ears, "What?" "Well, before you wanted to go to Ireland and now you want to go to Scotland!" "You asshole. For the past couple of months, I’ve ALWAYS said Scotland. I have never mentioned going to Ireland. No wonder you can’t get motivated to go with me when you don’t even listen to whatever the fuck I’m saying. Goodnight."

Keeping it in the Family

What I said (paraphrased for brevity’s sake): Make sure you put in your request for vacation the week of the 9th. We’ll leave for the Black Hills the day after my birthday and I figure we can drive back on Thursday. That will give me a day to make sure things are ready for Aitch’s party on the 14th since you said you were racing on the Sunday.”

What he heard: Vacation….birthday….racing.

What he said (a few days later): “Hey, I got the week of the 16th off since that is after Aitch’s party.”

Wait. Wha…?

My poor, dear, husband. How in the world did he think that was a logical thing to do?

Oh, yes, I know. He’s ADHD, too.