Thursday, February 23, 2012

I'm THAT Mom

I hate to admit it. But, I suppose if I'm honest, I have to admit that I've always been that mom.

As I sat on the park bench enjoying the warm summer day while watching my son play, another mom waved to her child in the sandbox and took a seat next to me. After a moment, she leaned over and said, conspiratorially, "Johnny just loves the sandbox. He seems to have a real knack for building things. He'll probably be an architect or an engineer when he grows up." She gave a little self-satisfied smile and waved to her son again.

I peered at my son who was eating sand and gave a nervous little laugh.

The woman raised an eyebrow then continued telling me about her boy. “Just look at the way he plays with those cars,” she gushed. “He’s pushing them along the little roads he built in the sand! He’s just brilliant!”

I looked at my son who was reenacting some sort of demolition derby, cars plowing into each other, flipping on their backs, flying through the sandbox, and crashing into piles of twisted metal.

Ms. Perfect Mom cleared her throat and gave a feeble, plastic smile as if to assure me there was still hope for my derelict son and my subpar parenting although she wouldn’t be willing to put money on the odds.

“How old is your son?” came her seemingly innocent question.

“He’s four,” I responded.

“Johnny’s four-and-a-half,” she said triumphantly as if being born six months earlier made her child superior in some way.

I simply smiled at her then turned my attention back to the kids.

“When Johnny was four, he started reading chapter books. What does your son like to read?”

I glanced at my child who was now purposely walking into the poles supporting the swingset. Repeatedly.

She gasped at the sight and asked me, her voice laced with horror and a hint of disgust, “What is he doing?”

I shrugged and offered, “Trying to get brain damage?”

At this point, she excused herself, murmuring something about Johnny’s violin lesson and barely stopped to scoop up her son while beating a hasty retreat from the park.

Yep, I’m that mom. I have those kids.

Most recently, my oldest son bleached his hair out white. Then he started spiking it, molding it into some sort of Flock of Seagulls ‘do. That wasn’t freaky enough for him so next, he took it upon himself to pierce his ears with safety pins. Yeah.

I hate to admit that I’m that mom because I know that normal moms wonder about me. Normal, minivan-driving, soccer-going, whole-food-shopping, card-carrying-members of the PTA kinda of moms. Moms who say things like, “My child will never do that.” Normal moms. Yeah, those moms who whisper behind their perfectly manicured hands, pointing out what a veritable failure I am.

And who could blame them. I mean, a person’s parenting ability is judged on their kids’ successes, right? If your child get straight As, you’re a good parent. If your child is an all-star athlete, you’re a good parent. If your child is a music prodigy, you’re a good parent.  If your child is clean-cut, well-groomed, and looks like a model, you’re a good parent. If, however, your child eats sand or has safety pins through his earlobes, you are most definitely that parent.

Still, my son with his, um, freakish, unique look knows how to think. He knows how to make a decision based on principals and not peer pressure. He thinks about other people; the earth does not revolve around him. He doesn’t have a sense of entitlement. He has common sense. (Okay, we’re still working on that one.) I guess I’d rather be that mom and have that kid than to have one who excels at everything he does because I’ve ensured that outcome by insisting he gets a trophy simply for participating, by making sure he’s invited to every birthday party, by fighting with teachers to make sure he gets credit for mediocre work, by protecting him from any and every possible hardship, and by drilling into his brain the idea that he deserves whatever he wants.

I guess I can live with being that mom.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Into the Tunnel of Darkness: My Colonoscopy

After having two bouts of diverticulitis in less than a year, my doctor urged me to get a colonoscopy. At the mere mention of the word colonoscopy, my butt cheeks involuntarily clenched. From what I'd heard, I knew that colonoscopies were only slightly worse than being stretched on the rack, getting buried alive, or taking your kids grocery shopping. I decided to make an appointment, but the whole "diarrhea of epic proportions and a camera shoved up my butt" thing held me back. After procrastinating for the maximum allowable time, I finally picked up the phone. (The maximum allowable time is different for men and women. Since I'm a woman and therefore not a big baby, I could only procrastinate for a year. Men can procrastinate for more than 10 years.)

When I had my consultation, the nurse explained the procedure and gave me a couple different options to prepare for the test. Prepare for the test. This is where the deception starts. In my world, prepare for the test means study and memorize how to conjugate irregular verbs in Spanish. But that's not the kind of preparations or tests they're talking about.

One of the options she gave me was to drink some concoction called GoLytely. Go lightly. Well, that sounds nice. It's the name of Audrey Hepburn's lovable character in Breakfast at Tiffany's. Lightly. Go lightly. It sounds nice and calm. Deception number two.

The first two choices she gave me entailed drinking some sort of vile liquid. I knew I wouldn't be able to get down, let alone keep down, any kind of disgusting drink. I had flashbacks to the many glucose tolerance tests I've taken while pregnant. Take my word on this, the technicians do not like it when you throw up on them. I asked the nurse, "Do you have a third choice? How about an xray? A blood test? Anything less um, icky?"

She said, "Well, since you're young and healthy, you could take pills instead, but we'd need to do bloodwork first to make sure your kidney function is okay. And if you opt for the pills, you need to take 32 of them and you'll need to drink 8 ounces of water every time you take the pills."

"Water I can handle," I said, relieved I wouldn't have to drink any foul fluid. Sign me up!"

So, the day before my colonoscopy comes and I begin my prep.

4:00 PM – I’ve had nothing but water all day, figuring the less in, the less out. I swallow the first 4 pills that I'm pretty sure are actually those little salt pellets you use in your water softener. I down my 8 ounces of water and wait, poised outside the bathroom door, ready to make a dash. I’m not sure how long it will take before I begin to experience the, um effects. Fearing it will happen instantaneously, I refuse to move from my post next to the toilet.

4:15PM – I feel fine and prepare to take my next 4 pills, followed by an additional 8 ounces of water. Waiting is scary. How long will it take to kick in, I wonder. Will I really be locked in the bathroom for the rest of the evening or had my friends and family exaggerated when they spoke of their experiences?

4:30PM – As I look at the clock and prepare to swallow my next four pills, I begin to feel some bubbling and gurgling in my tummy. For those of you who are new to the whole colonoscopy experience, take heed. That bubbling means – Get your butt on the toilet NOW!

4:35PM – I grab my book and head for the toilet. I can't help thinking of the Seinfeld episode when George takes a book into the bathroom with him, is forced to buy it, then the book is flagged so George can't return it. I wonder how many library books have undergone the colonoscopy prep. Then I think it’s probably better not to ponder that. (This was not a library book. I promise.) I decide this isn't too bad. I’ve had worse gastrointestinal viruses in my life.

4:45PM – I finish my business and wash my hands. As I take my next 4 pills, it hits me again. And by hits me, I mean, I not only do not have time to dry my hands, but I very nearly don't have time to pull down my pants. Oh. My. Gosh. I had no idea my body could hold that much. I see things I ate when I was five years old come out. All the partially digested pieces of grape Hubba Bubba I'd swallowed when the teacher caught me with gum in high school came out.

5:00PM – I manage to choke down pills 17-20 and pray for death wonder when the "effects" will let up. My legs are numb from sitting on the toilet. Great, I think, I'll get up and have to crawl out of the bathroom and heaven forbid the urge hit me again because there is no way I'll be able to get back to the toilet on these rubber legs. I wonder if my kids will be scarred for life if they find me lying in a pool of "effects" on the bathroom floor. I make a mental note to start saving for their therapy just in case.

7:00PM I leave the safety of the bathroom. It doesn't last long. But now I can manage to go 5 - 10 minutes between effects (effects sounds so much nicer than explosive diarrhea, doesn't it?).

8:00PM – At this point, my colon is clean enough to eat off, not that I recommend eating off colons or anything. However, those 20 salt pills didn't get the message that my colon is empty; they're still working. Since there's nothing left in my entire digestive system, my internal organs liquify and come running out instead. I've only consumed about half a gallon of water, but somehow, once in my body, that 64 ounces turned into 87 gallons.

8:30PM – You know how babies get diaper rash after having poop on their butts for a period of time? Yeah, well six and a half hours into my preparations, my butt actually burst into flames. It’s okay though, the veritable Niagara Falls that continued to flood from my body doused the fire. For the moment anyway.

9:00PM – I nearly vomit as I try to choke down the next 4 pills. Then I wonder what on earth these pills are going to do to me. I'm empty. I’m afraid if I take the final 8 pills, what’s left of my body will drain out my butt and nothing will remain of me except my earrings.

12:00AM – The hollow shell of skin that used to be me gives up, crawls to bed, and passes out, knowing I won’t need the bathroom for the next 5 weeks because there’s absolutely nothing left in me.

10:30AM – I arrive at the doctor’s office and take a seat in the waiting room.

11:00AM – I consider slapping the person sitting next to me, popping her gum, and talking loudly on her cell phone.

11:30AM – They finally call me back to a room and ask me a litany of questions.
“Is there any chance you’re pregnant?” I laugh so hard, I snort.
“Do you wear glasses or contacts?” No.
“Do you have dentures?” No.
“Do you have a hearing aid?” What?
“Do you have a hearing aid?” What?
“Do you have a hearing aid?” I decide this nurse doesn’t have a sense of humor and give up.
She has me change into a hospital gown so they can have easier access to violate me, and starts an IV.

12:00PM – I’m wheeled into the room where the magic happens. I look around for the buttcam and see some ominous-looking tubes. The anesthesiologist comes in and takes my blood pressure. It’s 612/438. “Are you nervous?” he asks. “No”, I reply, “I do this every couple weeks for fun.” The nurse tells me to turn onto my side (you know, for easy access), and the anesthesiologist injects his drugs into my IV. The last thing I remember is hearing Secrets by One Republic playing in the room, and thinking it’s a good thing they aren’t playing Baby Got Back.

12:30PM – A mean nurse is trying to get me to wake up. Apparently, she’s been trying for a while because she seems impatient and frustrated that I won’t open my eyes. I want to tell her to go away and let me sleep. I’m a single mom to six kids, for crying out loud. I need this rest! But I can’t wake up enough to form the words. I feel the need to pass gas and think to heck with being a lady. I'm afraid if I hold back I'll likely explode. At some point, the doctor came in and told me that although I have diverticulosis, it isn’t too bad and there are no polyps or any other scary things in there. Then he tells me I don't need to come back until I'm 50. I've got 8 years and 1 month to prepare for my next preparation.

So folks, the moral of this story is - just do it! Make the appointment and do it! Yeah, the preparation sucks, but look on the bright side, you'll lose a few pounds, have something to blog about, and will be able to put your mind at ease about colon cancer. Colorectal cancer is one of those things that's curable if it's caught in time. Suffering through stage 4 colorectal cancer is much, much worse than a colonoscopy. Oh yeah, and buy some diaper wipes and maybe even some Desitin for your prep. A butt on fire is not a happy butt.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Math Sucks

For those who have read my blog for any amount of time, you know that I’m not mathy. In fact, I think I may make Jimmy Buffett’s Math Sucks my theme song. And this is my favorite cartoon ever.

I barely passed math in high school and now I have to help my students with math more than any other subject. Some days, I can understand why we teach it. Some days, I can tell my students, “Yes, you really will use this in your adult life.” I was helping my sixth graders learn how to set up proportions and figure out tax and tips and discounts. It was stuff we use all the time. I could honestly say with certainty that they will need this knowledge later in life. I mean, you don’t want to waste money on the buy-one, get-one deal for generic canned tomatoes when the coupon for the name brand tomatoes is the better deal. You need math to figure out this stuff. Unless, of course, you marry a rich person who takes you out to dinner so you don’t have to buy tomatoes at all, which is clearly the best solution.

And then there are times, like today, when I was helping my eighth graders solve two-step inequalities and graph them. When was the last time, you thought to youself, “Hmmmm, I must graph the solution to -6x – 18 > -12. I simply need to know the answer immediately!”? Have you ever, in your adult life, needed to graph an inequality onto a number line? Ever? Of course not!

I’ve gotten pretty good at faking it though. Today, a student asked me, “when you multiply or divide by a negative, aren’t you supposed to flip the sign?” At the beginning of the year, I would’ve looked at them, completely dumbfounded, and said something like, “How the crap am I supposed to know?!” Today, however, I looked at him and said, “Is this what your math teacher told you?” When he nodded in the affirmative, I concurred, “Why yes, yes, you do.” Then I frantically searched through the book to double-check. My students are none-the-wiser these days. They think I’m brilliant. (Yes, it does make me feel good to know I can hold my own with twelve-year-olds, thankyouverymuch.)

So today, while I was helping my students study for their test on solving and graphing two-step inequalities, they asked me, “Why do we have to know this stuff?”

I answered, “You don’t. But I had to learn this garbage in junior high, so now I’m making you learn it too just so I can experience a little vindication.” They merely stared at me blankly until I had them look up the word “vindicate” in the dictionary, thus effectively moving us on to Language Arts. Voila!

The Top Ten Reasons Why Valentine's Day Sucks

I’ve never been a big fan of Valentine’s Day. When I was single and dating, I never knew what to expect or what was expected of me? Should I get my boyfriend a card? Homemade cookies? Something more? Cologne? How much should I spend? I don’t want to go overboard and make him feel bad if he just got me a card. I don’t want to do too little if he spent a lot of money. (It can be very nerve-racking.)


Friday, February 10, 2012

I'm REALLY not cut out for Dating

I’ve been on my own with the kids for over two years now. I’ve been officially divorced for a year and a half. I’ve been thinking about dating lately. I mean, I’ve been thinking about it in theory.

I’m far too busy and wouldn’t know where to start meeting people.  I’d feel too guilty leaving my kids to go out for the evening when it seems like I don’t have enough time with them as it is.  And I’m not keen on the idea of introducing anyone to my kids at any point in the future.  I can’t imagine anyone else becoming part of their lives.  Still, I guess I’m feeling lonely.  Well, mostly I just feel overwhelmed with responsibility.  I could never have imagined just how hard it is to juggle everything and be the sole caregiver to six kids along with being their provider as well.  No time off, no every-other-weekend breaks, not even dinner out by myself or with friends now and then.  My ex hasn’t worked in over a year.  I doubt he ever will.  So, yeah, I mostly feel extremely overwhelmed.  But now and then, when I have a minute to sit down and take a breath, a twinge of loneliness creeps in.

Those aren’t the only reasons why I’m only theoretically considering dating.  Another big reason I can’t imagine actually going out with anyone and getting to know them is that I don’t think I would like anyone who was idiotic enough to like me.  I’m not an easy person to get along with.  I’m impatient, I have no tolerance for stupidity, and I like things to be done the right way – my way.  I want help, but I want to do it all myself.  I hate being stuck in a rut, but I hate surprises even more.  And if a guy caters to me and is the most sensitive, thoughtful, kind, compassionate person, it irritates me that he’s too girly and I wish he’d just tell me off and put me in my place when I’m being a snot.  Then again, if he did that, I’d probably cry that he was insensitive and didn’t care.  So, really any guy who would want to put up with that neurosis has got to have some sort of mental disorder, so I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be interested in him.  Also, where I live, the guys I’ve seen tend to wear baseball caps, drive pickup trucks, say “all y’all”, and are missing several teeth.  Then there’s the fact that I’m old and fat and have six kids.  Anyone who’d be interested in this amazing hotness is clearly blind and on drugs.  I don’t think I’d want to date someone on drugs.

And even more importantly, let’s say I got desperate and decided I liked pickup truck driving, “all y’all” saying, toothless druggies.  What on earth would I have to talk about on a date?  Seriously, I just had a lengthy conversation on Facebook about how Ruby wouldn’t let Max use scissors or glue, or fly a kite because he was too little, but she sent him to the grocery store by himself to buy eggs for her.  I was discussing cartoon rabbits, for crying out loud!  How long could a conversation about Bubble Guppies, Sid the Science Kid’s annoying grandmother, and Dr. Doofenschmirtz’s latest ‘inator last?  I can just imagine the stupefied look at any potential date’s face as I regale him with SpongeBob quotes.  “Psst, Squidward, I’m working in the kitchen… at night!  Hey Squidward, guess what. I’m chopping lettuce… at night!  Look at me, I’m swabbing the bathroom… at night!  Ow, I burned my hand… at night!”

“Look, all y’all, I’m walking out the door… at night!” would be his response as he made a beeline for the exit.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Tweet from the Heart

Follow @DietCokeUS on Twitter and this Wednesday, February 8, retweet Diet Coke's Heart Truth tweet. For each person who re-tweets Diet Coke’s The Heart Truth® tweet on Wednesday, Feb. 8, Diet Coke will donate $1 to the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, up to $100,000, in support of The Heart Truth® and women’s heart health research and educational programs.

I work with a woman named Gloria Boisvert whose story was featured in 2009. You can read it/watch her video
HERE. This is a cause that's close to her heart, literally. And it illustrates that heart disease can hit anyone. Gloria is this tiny woman who is in good shape, yet she needed to endure an angiogram followed by angioplasty and placement of a stent, and then emergency coronary artery bypass surgery to restore blood flow to her heart muscle. She was one of the lucky ones.

Check it out and take a second to retweet @DietCokeUS's Heart Truth tweet this Wednesday!


Saturday, February 4, 2012

One Small Act of Kindness - Week Four

Here's another idea for my ongoing acts of kindness project. Donate blood. While running errands today, I spotted a mobile blood donation bus set up in the parking lot. I really wanted to finish my shopping and get home. I was tired from running all over the place for the better part of the day, and I was looking forward to going home, and vegging out with my book for a while. But something tugged at me and made me stop at the donation site. What the heck, I decided. I've been out all day, what's another few minutes?

I had Austin, Lex, and Brooklyn with me. When we stepped into the bus, a technician asked who was donating. I spoke up and then Austin offered to donate as well. We learned that you have to be sixteen years old with a parent's permission to donate. Austin's seventeen, so he happily signed up for his first time.

Unfortunately, I was deferred because my temperature was too high at 99.6. I'm pretty sure I'm not getting sick and the elevated temperature was due to the fact that the air conditioner in my van went out on the way to the store and since my window is also broken, it was pretty darn toasty in my car. But still, they can't take chances, so I couldn't donate this time. Austin, however, was able to donate.

I know not everyone is able to donate blood. That's okay. This is just another idea you can use. Or not. Maybe this will spark your own ideas. Take a minute to write what kind things you've done lately. Don't feel self-conscious that you're bragging about what you've done; do it to inspire others and let people know that it isn't hard to make a difference. :)

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