Category Archives: Uncategorized

I thought I’d get serious and write something I would think is profound, but life is already too damn serious, what with death looming. I mean not that it’s looming closer than it was the last time I wrote, which is when I updated with the news of my dad’s unexpected death. It’s just I simply have to accept that right now, I mean RIGHT. NOW. is the youngest I will ever be for the rest of my life. And shit, I’m getting old!

My daughter, Aitch, constantly asks how old I am. I make her guess. If I don’t like her number, I tell her to guess lower. On the other hand, if she’s lower or close, I congratulate her for getting it right. Unfortunately, with all the math she’s learning in the second grade, she’s figured out that there’s no way I can be 45 one time and 43 the next.

Speaking of school, Dood, my son with ADHD, is already counting DOWN how many more years he has left in school: 4 1/2. He’s got facial hair. Just this weekend I told my husband it’s time to show him how to shave. If he doesn’t, I will, and seriously? I’m pretty sure that’s not the memory he wants to have in his head for the next twenty years until he reaches that point where he thinks, “Damn! My MOM taught me how to shave!” Frankly, between Sparring Partner and myself, who is more qualified: The guy who shaves once or twice a week the area of a sheet of paper, or the woman who shaves at least four times a week the area of six sheets of paper? Duh.

My MIL still walks/rolls the earth. My mom does too. Both women are the center of a their own familial tropical storms. Too deep and complicated.

I’ll be celebrating my one year anniversary at work. Every day has been so challenging, and many times I not only questioned my decision to accept the position, but I’ve literally questioned my superior on HER decision to hire me. She’s a good boss.

Oh, the most exciting thing that happened these past recent months is that Aitch broke the big bone in her lower arm (radius) when she fell from the school’s monkey bars and landed with her arm under her. She told me that she knew she had broke it when she heard it snap. She underwent two surgeries: one to implant a bone rod; one to remove the hardware. I think she would have healed more quickly without the surgeries, but hey, my medical degree is limited to reproductive endocrinology, and even those facts I remember very little of.

Until the next time, which could be tomorrow or it could be another year: Later, Bitches.

Funny

Funny how I said I was going to update my blog more, and then I didn’t. Actually it’s not funny.

You see, my dad died unexpectedly in February. No chronic illness or condition that gave us time to prepare for the inevitable, unless you count life and aging, which as you may or may not know, continues only up until you die.

My father was in his 80s. I won’t go into too many details because while the trend continues to become less and less anonymous on-line, I still keep this place as much as a retreat as I can. I add more and more in-real-life acquaintances, co-workers, neighbors, classmates, etc. to my Facebook friend list and find myself posting less and less for fear of offending or alienating.

I found out my dad died when my mother, who if you’ll remember has Alzheimer’s, called me while my car’s hands-free system was active and my kids were in the car to tell me that he’d “been sitting in the chair all day and I think he’s dead.”

It’s “funny” that even though I told my mom to call 9-1-1 that once she hung up with me, she forgot to do so.

It’s “funny” that I had to call my sister-in-law and ask her to do this favor I can never repay and that’s drive the five minutes to the farm to see if my dad was indeed dead because I couldn’t.

It’s “funny” that my husband happen to be out of state attending his uncle’s funeral.

It’s “funny” I had to use Facebook to finally get a message to my husband’s family that if someone sees him to call me about a family emergency because he wasn’t answering his phone.

There’s been both your typical and atypical family drama that comes with the patriarch’s death.

And to make things really interesting, I accepted an executive staff position, which is at the minimum, full-time. Simply making a transition back to full-time has been hard enough, but the endless projects and responsibilities are…well…endless.

Plus? While the finishing of our basement project started off strong, it has ground to a near-halt because my husband, Sparring Partner, couldn’t be bothered to look at fixtures. There’s a light at the end of that tunnel, and I hope by June 1st when they set the island’s countertop, it is the end of phone calls and appointments and decisions. I swear, even choosing the shape and color of the outlets left me feeling overwhelmed.

…and breathe out

...and breath out
…and breath out

I never would have imagined that at some point I would be able to move beyond the cement shoes of grief and anger, but slowly I’ve noticed I’m floating to the surface. My kids are…kids, I guess, and there’s no denying that babies have left the building. Not to say I don’t think about it, probably more than one should at my age and history. A couple of weeks ago I almost convinced myself that I was pregnant, which would have required the type of miracle that happened two-thousand and thirteen years ago. I bought a package of pregnancy tests even. Before I confirmed the negative results, I told myself I was being incredibly foolish because if by some act of divinity it had happened, any baby would be dead by the time of the first ultrasound, and if not, the nuchal test would tell me it should be.

Cynical much?

Actually I write that without the cynicism of old, because there’s no “hurt” carrying over. I daresay I was relieved that the test was negative. I never even mentioned it to Sparring Partner.

My incentive to write here again isn’t to get back into blogging, nor is it to create some kind of swan song. I thought it was important though to just let the people know who might have stumbled here from some kind of infertility and miscarriage loss, especially if recent, that eventually it really does get a little better. For me, I think it’s the kind of wound that calloused over, much like my melanoma scar. I know it’s there. I see it, but when I touch it, it’s like touching someone else’s skin.

I remember that very singular moment the ultrasound tech told me my baby had no heartbeat like it was yesterday when all I can do is pray I’ll eventually forget. In fact, it still makes my breath catch in recollection. However, I can no longer remember what Aitch smelled like as a newborn even though I buried my nose into her hair a thousand times over telling myself “Don’t ever forget this.”

But I have. I’m OK with that, too. Forgetting both good and bad events from the past years strikes me as being more “normal” than reliving just one or the other. On the other hand, while things are better relatively, they certainly are not perfect, what with SP’s dad gone; my mom’s hastened spiral into dementia; and Doodicus being on the cusp of puberty mixed with teen rebellion and brazen attitude.

I can’t even hazard to guess if I would feel this “OK” if I hadn’t had the successful donor cycle. Without being overly dramatic, I think I wouldn’t be AS much so or that it would have taken longer. Her healthy birth and what seems to be fairly normal development is an added salve to the end of any crappy day I might have. She will also be the one reason the wounds will never fully disappear. She’s the reminder of the hell on earth I walked through for. I couldn’t and wouldn’t have it any other way.

For now, I hope to continue that float up. Not too quickly or too soon as I fear once I break the surface, it shall mean I have died. It’s not too bad here. It’s OK.

November 1 – Unemployed…Again

Today I became officially unemployed. 

I want to give being a stay-at-home-mom a chance, but I worry that like my most recent position, which ended after two-and-a-half years because the surgeon retired, that I will become disenchanted within a year. Or, even worse, I will be a enormous failure to my children, my husband and of course, myself, and will be forced to give myself the ax.

This recent change in employment is also why I thought I would write this post, my own inaugural for NaBloPoMo 2013. I should have plenty of free time, at least according to my husband, who worries I’ll spend the day shopping for shoes or re-watching Walking Dead episodes (I totally get why Carol did what she did…). I’m not going to say that’s NOT going to happen, but I have some ideas what I’ll do with all that “extra” time: 

  • Organize the mud-room closet and make room for all the past school supplies. I realized this year that I buy giant packages of pencils and notebooks and all kinds of school-crap and then forget about them by August.
  • Get rid of lots of baby toys, specifically the ones I’ve hidden in the basement for the past two years. I need to find some way to pay for next botox treatment.
  • Cook more at home. OK, I’ll admit that I didn’t need to add the “more” to that statement.
  • Volunteer at my childrens’ schools. Aitch’s teacher sent home a note from school that she must have created in a document several years ago. She whites out the date and handwrites the new one in its place and makes photocopies of that. I’m also guessing that she often uses the term “xerox” in lieu of “copy”.

And there we have it, Day 1. Please hold your applause until we reach the end of November. Thank you.

Nutshell of Spring 2013

My mother’s dementia has significantly worsened in a year.

My MIL is making everyone nuts with her whining and demands. Yes, she’s grieving, but really? That doesn’t excuse anyone from just saying “please” and “thank you”, does it?

I’ve been hating my job. Well, not so much as my job, but the people. The one temp puts the entire office on edge and has made me realize I never want to supervise other people.

My son, who recently turned 11 (AND-A-HALF!) is on summer break. It took some serious hard work, but aside from an 86%, all his scores were 91% and above.

My daughter turns five next month.

We leave for a family beach vacation next Saturday. Maybe then I’ll feel up to writing.

Grief by Proxy

Around midnight last Thursday, my FIL died peacefully in his sleep with my husband and his sister by his bedside. He lived an incredibly full and rich life in the nine plus decades he had, but his loss has profoundly affected Sparring Partner who spent more nights than not in his room over the several months at the rest home watching either football, baseball, basketball and even the coverage of the 2012 Presidential Election.

My first official date with Sparring Partner started with us going to his parents’ house where they were having a major party to celebrate dad’s 70 birthday. It was a big deal because family flew in from the east coast to surprise him. When I walked down the stairs to the basement where the family had gathered, I was instantly immersed in the sounds of what I imagined would be similar to a noisy pub in Boston. The laughter (braying) and the *clunk* of full beer glasses which followed the din of "Cheers!" are still fresh in my head as if I had heard it last weekend, not 20-plus years ago. Maybe it’s because even when there were no extended family members around, my FIL still could summon that impression just by sitting at the head of any table.

However, even with as much personality as my FIL had, we just didn’t click. It’s not because he was ever standoffish or boring, as confirmed by the sheer number of sympathies we have been extended, which were always extended along with an amusing anecdote. I’ve had time to think about the relationship I had with my FIL and to wonder why it seemed like little more than strained politeness. Everyone around me adored him! Even from the first moment my own father was introduced to SP’s dad, they struck it off like peas in a pod.

I think much of my inability to simply LIKE him had to do with the fact he was such a boisterous and unabashed bigot. I was furious the first time he dropped the N-bomb in front of Doodicus when he was a toddler. His prejudice would come up when simply watching a football or basketball game since it would seem that most players are not Irish Catholics (who knew??). The slurs he wouldn’t even bother trying to whisper should have sent people away from him. But not here in conservative, Republican, Christian, Nebraska. My FIL would even refuse to eat Mexican dishes, because "it might affect my eyes!" Of course, then there was the time early on when he referred to Middle Easterners as "sand-n****s", and I angrily told him that I didn’t appreciate that, especially as my brother-in-law is Jordanian. He simply poo-poo’ed me with the excuse "that was different. Jordan is politically neutral."

He had a brilliant engineering and designing mind, for that no one could argue. He was considered a respected leader in our community, and a generous benefactor for the Catholic and Lutheran schools, not to mention the hospital actually dedicated a family room in their name (which was incredibly insulting personally to me as that had followed right on the heels of me being fired from the very same hospital) ("Oh, thank you Mr. and Mrs. Bigguy for the enormous financial contribution! Should we mention that we fired your daughter-in-law?"). For me, I just couldn’t get past these offenses and simply like him as everyone else seemed to do.

I will miss him, but I had to honestly admit that my emotional responses to his death have been largely triggered by Sparring Partner’s need for comfort and support, or by the children’s tears and difficult questions about why grandpa had to go to heaven. I am grieving by proxy.

Sometimes, Cancer Isn’t Cured with Stitches

Yesterday I found out that a young woman who I was introduced to via social networking shortly after I was diagnosed with Malignant Melanoma had passed away from her cancer. She was only 40 and left behind a husband and two young sons, and her name is Dawn.

While my mole was simply removed with a wide-margin surgery, her treatment was to take out a couple of her lymph nodes in her groin to biopsy them as well along with the mole removal. Dawn’s treatment was considered successful after her second lymph node surgery, CT and PET scans in the winter of 2009, a full year before my diagnosis and treatment. She was instructed to get a mole check every three months; I went in every six.

Last February when she told her doctor she’d been having pain, he proactively ordered a scan even though she’d been given the all clear by her dermatologist. That’s when they discovered her cancer had returned. Then after some chemo treatment, they performed surgery just three weeks ago and basically found the tumors were inoperable. Last week she came home and began “planning visitations and playlists“.

Her story is both frightening similar and altogether different from mine. I don’t compare my situation her hers to bring attention to myself, but as a simple reminder to that I don’t believe that fate has anything to do with how our lives turn out. It’s simply luck, whether good or bad. I didn’t “deserve” getting cancer, and Dawn certainly didn’t “deserve” to die. A roll of dice has left me cancer-free (as far as I know), but her death has shaken me to the quick. In another six months, my diagnosis could be as equally dire. Like her, I look back on past symptoms (the severe breast pain; the bone-melting fatigue) and wonder if the doctors really did weigh in my past diagnosis.

I don’t want to harp on you, my friends, the seriousness and dangers of tanning, whether by bed or sun, but if my story of survival doesn’t convince you that you need to be sun-conscious, I hope that Dawn’s life and her legacy does.

Her (My) HERO

Before I share a story with you that would confirm to all of you that I can be a truly heartless person, I first just have to say this: I’ve read thousands of blog posts over the years (going on eight years). Many of them have either made me reconsider how much I share about my personal life, including my children’s OR they reaffirm that exposing intimate details about myself is nothing to be ashamed of. So I guess that just means your posts expressing either opinion give me pause, and I that’s a good thing, right?

I waffled between not sharing this story (because it painted me in a bad light) and just having to share it (because it makes Dood shine) for the reasons stated above. Also, I am not a perfect parent and while that pains me in some ways, I’ll never be accused of blowing smoke up someone’s ass.

Yesterday was just a mentally stressful day. Some days just are that way for me even though nothing specifically will trigger them. I chalk it up to my untreated depression and run with that and a pair of scissors, pointed ends up. My work schedule allows us to have Tuesday afternoons off to make appointments and run errands that we can’t normally do during the rest of the week. While my contract is "7:30 – 4:30", it’s really just more a guideline. Working for a surgeon means I get to work before clients arrive, and I work until the last one leaves, and that sometimes means 6:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. So, yeah, Tuesday afternoons are a wonderful respite.

By the time I get the errands done on Tuesdays, it’s time to pick up the kids. Yesterday, I finished early so I picked them up early. I was doing them a "favor", releasing them from the drudgery of daycare and afterschool programs….yeah, right. Before I could even get the second kid to buckle up, there were screeching, snarling and whining at, over, to, over, each other. It makes me want to open both doors and roll their asses out within a block. I hate that 20 minute drive home.

Once I got home, I set Doodicus to task on his homework and tried to give Aitch some busywork. Of course they have to do all of that within 24 square inches of each other and the screeching, snarling and whining only perpetuates. I hid in my bedroom and tuned them out, i.e. ignored the little assholes. And then I heard Dood yell at Aitch, "Get that out of your mouth!" (The boy can focus on every little thing SHE does but he can’t get his name written on his homework assignment. *sigh*)

A couple days ago, Aitch swallowed a small washer. She often puts rocks, coins, squinkies, etc., in her mouth and she’s repeatedly told not to do so. We didn’t have this issue when she was a toddler, so now she seems to be making up for it. After she swallowed that washer, we gave her a good dress-down and the dangers of the habit, so when I heard she had something she knowingly wasn’t suppose to, I blew my top. She tried as desperately as a four year old can to keep me from taking the item away, which happened to be an elastic hair band, the kind that looks like a gummy lifesaver. I easily pried her fingers away and held up the offending object and said, "Watch me." I walked to the deck door, opened it, and flung it out and over the rail. I slid the door shut, locked it with a flick, and turned to watch Aitch break into tearful sobs.

Well, of course I fell like an utter dick, but dammit! I’m sick of telling her not to. I’m sick of Dood telling her not to. And I’m sick of the two paying more attention to what the other is doing that they shouldn’t!

My son, who doesn’t often display empathy, turned to me and said, "That was really mean, mom." I said nothing and walked away.

A couple minutes later I overheard Dood, "See? Look. It’s that blue thing right there," and I peaked around the corner to see the two of them sitting on the windowseat that faces the backyard. Dood was looking through a pair of small binoculars. Without them realizing I had heard them, my son told his sister that he would go out and get it back for her. He put on his shoes and bundled up (it was nasty cold yesterday), and went out on the deck, down the stairs, and located this ridiculous hairband in the grass. Aitch stood at the deck door and watched him return with it and deposit it triumphantly into her outstretched hands.

Those two fight constantly. It’s what siblings do. They have each ratted on the other resulting in loss of many privileges, more so as Aitch becomes impossibly independent and vocal. But yesterday, Dood became a Hero to Aitch, and I was the Evil Villain. She did not come running to me in tears because of something Dood had done. Dood rescued something of hers, selflessly. knowing that the only reward would be seeing Aitch no longer sad.

And this is why I write about the personal moments, because for every ugly and raw moment that makes me believe I am doing everything wrong as a parent, there is something breathlessly beautiful and heart-soothing to remind me that my children are getting it right.

Separation

I dropped the S-bomb the other night after a particularly long and frustrating day that ended with Doodicus raging and screaming and crying in his room and his dad thundering and threatening and punishing. I’m not talking the Shit-bomb, either, but Separation.

When Doodicus was born, the love I felt for Sparring Partner was intensified to the point I thought it must be what fairy tale love must feel like. I realized that I not only loved the man as my husband, but when I saw him be a father to my son, I would nearly swoon with emotion. He would come home from working all day and find me a raging, hormonal, unshowered and a frazzled mess who would nearly lob Doodicus off to him in a lateral pass before the garage door could come down just so I could have ME time. He never once gave any indication it wasn’t exactly what he had been looking forward to all day. When Doodicus got older, SP would let him sit on his shoulders and go for walks around the block, just the two of them and I could hear the laughter the entire time as I sat on the deck chair. One of my favorite sets of photos is of the two of them lazing on the bed and Dood is trying desperately to put his fingers up daddy’s nose and the only thing missing from the photos is the sound of the his peeling, little giggles.

Remembering these moments makes me nearly swoon again. It’s been a long time since then when I’ve last heard my son laugh uninhibited.

After this latest row, I gritted through my teeth to SP, "Why do you hate him so much?" and I meant it. When SP tried to defend himself, I went off. I told him how he’s already had 11 years to try to build a relationship that wouldn’t result in bitterness and dislike and that he’s not doing such a wonderful job because in less than 10 years, Dood will be gone and if he never comes back, I will be unforgiving. I dug deeper and ripped harder: SP and his dad didn’t have a good relationship when SP was a teenager and I said that now that he’s dying from cancer, he thinks he can fix in a year what had been damaged for the past 40 by sitting around and watching TV every night in a nursing home. And while he’s trying to mend that relationship to assuage his guilt, the one he has waiting for him at home continues to unravel. That’s when I said IT.

Not only did I say that I’m not happy with where we are now in our marriage, I turned my back and walked into another room to sit in front of the TV and fold clothes as if I had just announced we were out of milk. The constant bickering and battling of wills has left me numb, but I’ve realized that if I had to make a choice on whose side I’m taking, it will be my son’s.

I also know damn well and good that there shouldn’t even BE sides. It’s not suppose to be the parents vs. child, but right now that’s what it is in our house. Even thought it’s been almost a year of regular counseling with the child psychologist, neither of us seem to be much better at parenting a child with ADHD. A week after an appointment, we forget the advice and exercises and that the rules for parenting a child like Aitch are contradictory to parenting a child like Dood in most of the fundamentals situations, i.e. "Thank you, Dood, for putting on your shoes before leaving the house! You’ve earned 15 minutes on the iPad!"

The next morning, I quietly woke SP who decided to sleep on the couch, and apologized profoundly. I don’t want a separation of any kind (and there’s no intent so don’t write us off ), but I told him it pains me deeply to see and hear the two men in my life fight so bitterly that I imagine terrible things happening when Dood gets older. I again brought up that in 10 years Dood will be 21, and while that makes him a full-fledged adult, it also makes SP on the edge of 60 and ANYTHING the two of them might have in common now will have long ago disappeared. Dood won’t see his dad as Dad but instead will see an old man who did nothing but demand conformity from him while under his roof. I concluded with this thought: when SP is on HIS deathbed, it’s not reasonable to expect Dood to leave HIS own family behind to spend every night at Sparring Partner’s side trying to make up for decades of family division. SP knows that no matter how much time and effort he puts into these final days, he will always feel he didn’t do enough or try harder to get along while his dad was alive. That’s not a legacy that we should knowingly pass on to our children. We need to make it right. Right now.

“I will build peace…each day.”

February 14th, 2013. Valentine’s Day.

It’s also the two-month anniversary of the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. I want to do something special for the Valentine cards that my daughter can share with her friends and teachers at her preschool; something in tribute to the Love, the loss, and hopefully to the Peace we all desperately need. I haven’t been able to come up with anything that would be especially meaningful and respectful as I don’t want to be overt in my intentions. I also am taking into consideration her school is participating in the PeaceBuilders(c) Program . Here is their daily pledge:

"I am a PeaceBuilder.
I pledge to praise people;
to give up put-downs;
to seek wise people;
to notice and speak up about hurts that I have caused;
and to right wrongs.
I will build peace at home, at school,
and in my community, each day."

Would you like to help? If you have any ideas, please share.

When the Clomp Clomp Sounds Like an Angel’s Chorus

I’m realizing that socks are the devil’s own benign design when it comes children’s delicate and sensitive feet. They’ll happily wear a pair on their hands as long as it’s to play super hero or some mock-boxing, but to wear for the purpose has been a recent source morning trauma. We’ve even seen a full-on mental breakdown, which may have included falling to the floor in a limp, frog-like pose and scooting head-first on the carpet to the bedroom to hide, minutes before heading out the door to a school’s winter concert while wearing a freshly pressed dress and having a mom spend more time on daughter’s hair that morning than she ever would in a week combined!

Socks with their tiny, toe-slicing seams are hard to work around. Not too long ago I figured out that if I turn the sock inside out, it FEELS better, but Hello Kitty looks every-so-slightly demonic that way. It took longer than I expected for Aitch to develop a "thing" about socks, but once it hit, it hit us all hard. In a moment of desperation (and maybe a little bit of spite because I don’t like it when my husband tells me what I can or cannot do), I bought a pair of UGGs for Aitch. I had some store credit plus they were on clearance. I have no idea if that’s because they are an obnoxious color (periwinkle!) or if they were down to one pair in that size.

Anyway, when I got them home and showed them to her, she oohed and aahed over their gaudiness. I did have some guilt so for almost two weeks they went unworn, until I had had enough with the socks! I explained to her that with THESE boots, she wouldn’t have to wear socks. She slipped her feet into their warm fuzziness and we headed to school. I knew she felt self-conscious about them as I escorted her to the preschool room, but once the teacher did her own ooh and aah, Aitch was sold. She even proudly announced that she didn’t have socks and that her shoes didn’t need them.

She’s worn them everyday since. There’s no sock battle in the morning. The color goes with nothing, but yet goes with everything she wears because she’s always dressed in mismatched and heavily saturated colors (her coat is salmon pink which has an apple green inner jacket, for heaven’s sake!). At this point, I could almost believe that if I had paid full price, they would have been worth every penny. I’ll hold off that final call until she can no longer fit her feet in them. But no more whining about the phantom sock knives, tacks and stickers and no more cries, "My toes feel WONKY!"

So now I’m one of Those Moms who puts her kids into the ugly UGG. For me, they are as beautiful as if she had strapped two adoring angels to her feet and bound them with the braided manes of unicorns.

Getting Unstuck

After our last appointment with Dr. Rita, Doodicus’s pediatric psychologist, I realized that it had been almost three months since I had made the trip myself as Sparring Partner has handled the prior two appointments. It was a stressful drive with lots of rain on the way down and unbearable fog on the way home and almost all 200 miles of it driven in the dark.

One major concern I had to address was the topic brought up during the last appointment with Sparring Partner and Doodicus, and that was the possibility of there being an OCD diagnosis. Dr. Rita clarified that he does not believe Doodicus has OCD in addition to his ADHD, but instead he has a "rigid way of thinking". And my god, he hit the nail on the head with that one.

The booklet of exercises he sent home with SP (What do Do When Your Brain Gets Stuck) was to help Dood when he has those sticky thoughts. Remember how I said Dood can worry and whine and complain for an obscene amount of time about something so mundane as being denied a candy bar? Those are the thoughts he grabs onto and doesn’t know how to let go. How are we suppose to help him?

Take the example of the candy bar. Once we get past the million Nos in the store (for which I do not obligate a reason. I don’t have to answer his plaintive "WHY??!" with a justification). That annoying response your parents gave you, "Because I said so," is actually true, and I only say it once. I ignore the repeats, except I might say, "I gave you my answer. Do you have a question about it?" Of course, he’ll continue on until we get into the car at which point he crumples, physically and mentally, into a pool of tears. This is when I can calmly ask, "Dood, if you do not get the candy bar, what will happen?"

I’ll give you a moment to soak that in. In fact, it bears repeating:

"If XYZ does/does not happen, what will happen?"

He may actually answer with something on the line of "The world will stop spinning!" if he bothers answering with anything initially, but it’s only then that he can see how big of a deal it really isn’t. It will help unstick that stuck thought.

This process isn’t as easy as you would think unless you have the patience of a Buddhist monk. The whining and crying and acting out and the disrespectful tone of voice over $.99 is simply ridiculous TO ME. It’s a matter of him getting his way, no matter the issue. He will argue with his teacher about the answer to a math problem, even when she works it out for him. He will argue with Aitch over the lyrics of a lullaby (WHO argues with a four-year-old AT. ALL??!!).

We have to get him to practice reasoning, because as Dr. Rita warned, we are really at a very crucial point in Dood’s development during these years. He’s been making some rather dangerous choices recently, i.e. not checking into the after school program at the Y so he ends up unaccounted for if we happen to call, and we cannot afford to let him ride out this "stage". If he can’t get into good thinking habits now, he won’t later.

Speaking of dangerous choices, when I told Dr. Rita about the email from the daycare director who responded about the open interent access: "They also have a policy for the students in which they feel that teaching them responsibility with the internet rather then locking it and them spending time trying to hack in is a good practice," Dr. Rita thought it was one of the most stupid and irresponsible responses he’s heard from someone involved in an administrative position of children. Apparently, my gut reaction was right on.

Hopefully, you will have something to take away from this post, regardless of your child’s behavior when it comes to not getting their way. Help them get unstuck. Ask them, "If you don’t get you that Hot Wheels car, what will happen?" "If you don’t get to play a video game on the Wii, what will happen?" Help them switch gears and not get trapped into a rigid way of thinking.

A Moment of Zen

Everything has been easier when it comes to my daughter, Aitch. Not necessarily because Doodicus is difficult, but it’s because we pushed ourselves to be The Best (or what we perceived as such) when it came to Doodicus. In other words, we’ve allowed ourselves to not be the Perfect Parents with Aitch.

One of the reasons she has been easier for us is that she acts more emotionally mature than Dood did at that age. For example, she’ll want some candy as we’re standing in a check-out and I’ll firmly tell her no. She may even ask again with that horrible whiney "pleeeeease!!" that’s like a rusty pick to my eardrums, but when I tell her no a second time, she’ll express her disappointment with an "awww" and that’s it. She moves on. Doodicus was, and still is, inconsolable the entire ride home once denied something.

Aitch knows what it means to "shake it off" and "let it go". So many times I see her take a pretty good knock to her head or knee that leaves me wincing in empathy. I’ll see the pain register on her face, but once the initial shock of it is gone, she often chirps, "I’m OK!" and she’ll go back to whatever she was doing. Gas pains will send Doodicus to his bathroom where he’ll curl into a ball on the floor in front of the toilet and keen for 30 minutes until it passes. He really is that intense.

So yeah, they are different, but she’s by no means an angel, in spite of what you many read and see on Facebook. Some of you may remember the major victory we had with her when she decided suddenly to actually use the potty for pooping. We thought it was a final hurdle, and we were finally free of diapers and messes FOREVER. Nothing is ever at it seems. While, yes, she has been most definitely mess free, we are not free of pull-ups. Every night she sleeps in a pull-up and I can count on one hand how many times she’s woke up dry.

But guess what? I’m not writing this to either complain or get advise because it doesn’t faze me in the least. If the girl takes another three years to make it to the point of staying dry at night, we will still deserve kudos. Dood had so many issues with accidents for so long that if it takes her five or six years? Pffft and a dismissive wave of my gnarly, dry hand is all the energy I can bother expending over it.

Take heart, my friends, who are dealing with potty issues when other parents seem to be leaving you in the dust of Competitive Child Rearing. Having a child who not only struggled with enuresis and ADHD and now maybe even a compulsive disorder puts into perspective what issues are really long-term and deserve more attention than others. Then again, I could be just too lazy and tired to worry about it. Your child should not have to be perfect for any one else, because he or she is already perfect to you, right?

Unforgettable Gifts

So while my in-laws can be difficult to buy for, my parents, on the other hand, are as easy as a rocking chair. However, in all fairness, let me just say that my parents are vicious little trolls dressed up in bib overalls and sweatshirts with "Grandma’s Apples" with the names of grandchildren embroidered across it.

They really do think each unwrapped gift is perfect, even when it’s a box filled with new dish towels to replace the 40 years-old, swiss-cheese versions in the drawer; or a pair of leather and suede, adult mittens (rare as hen’s teeth, trust me), which will replace the pair that’s been wrapped a dozen times or more with duct tape. Even when they are ultra-particular with something they want, it makes gift-buying easy. For example, my dad is always, ALWAYS cold. Anything under 85 F is downright frigid. I suppose that’s quite true if you’re skin is as thin as tissue paper and you’re an adult male who weighs 120 lbs. There isn’t much there for insulation. So he likes long-sleeved shirts, all year ’round. BUT…they must button up, collared shirts. They must be snap-buttons (he has very limited use of one hand and cannot manipulate standard buttons). They must have breast pockets, which also must snap. They must be flannel – and not itchy flannel. They must be plaid. And lastly, they must be a men’s size small.

See? Difficult, yet oh so easy.

Shopping for my mom use to be much easier, but ever since the dementia set in and her Alzheimer’s diagnosis, she’s less social. She takes less and less joy in those simple things we use to buy her years ago. A new set of storage containers 10 years ago would have been THE gift! She would beam and parade them around with pride. This year, she nudged the box dismissively with her toe when I asked to see what kind my sister picked out for her.

The reality we face about us as a family buying things for my mom, is that a lot of it is given as a result of her Alzheimer’s. This year that meant a large clock that included not only the date but what day of the week it is because she no can no longer remember (she sent Doodicus two birthday cards, both very late as she had forgotten, and both cards had money in them (we joke (because what else can you do) that now is the time for the kids to ask Grandma for money, because she’ll forget she did a day later)). A new space heater for her bedroom (my parents haven’t slept in the same room for nearly 20 years now) to replace the one that shorted out and caused some sparks, which luckily was caught by my nieces who happened to be visiting. The saddest gifts we had to give her was all new bedding when for some reason yet unknown to anyone, she went to bed with a wet towel on her feet and turned on the heated mattress pad. Yes, she set her bed on fire "only" scorching the mattress but burning large holes in the mattress pad, sheets, and blankets. She said she was not injured, but really we only know what she’s either willing or capable of telling us. And finally, we bought some smoke detectors, during the installation of she complained bitterly because she did not fully understand why. That and probably a mix of guilt and embarrassment that it has come to this.

That means we are left wondering just how soon will we have to commit mom to a nursing care facility. When she was originally diagnosed almost two years ago, the neurologist said that as long as she can still drive safely, take care of herself and the home, she can remain independent. Starting an accidental fire in her bed changes the dynamics of the household drastically. It changes them in a way that our family can no longer think of in "ifs" but in "whens".

Yesterday, Doodicus asked about Grandma’s diagnosis. "Will she forget things?" "Yes," we answered.

"Will she forget us?" We could only answer honestly, "Eventually, yes." He will remember her, and that’s the most beautiful gift.