Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Etiquette, according to Ryan

"Mommy?"  Ryan follows me into the kitchen.

I'm making breakfast, and he is the first one dressed.

He's always the first one dressed, which is funny, as he is the last one I wake up.  I just can't bring myself to unfold his little seahorse shape from under the covers first.  I go after the "aw, Mo--oom" big boys instead,  they of the "OH!  Don't turn on the light!!" pleas. 

"Mommy, did you know, that if you are in a meeting or something like that, and you have to fart, or you fart, that you should look at someone else and say their name?  Then everyone will look at them, and they won't think you did it."  He giggles.

He's gone in a flash, to go torment his brothers into hurrying up.

Well.  Guess I'll have to keep that in mind, you know, as I attend so many meetings these days.

I'm assuming he'll file that one under "Life's Lessons" as I don't think that it is officially on the curriculum at school. 

And it's the things we learn while we aren't at school that are sometimes more important, right?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Mid-night fighting words

My kids have been sick, on and off, for about a month. 

I have to say, it's easier when they all get sick at once, then for one to get it, and rotate it through the others.   Better to suffer a few days of torment,  then have weeks of the vicious circle that is one well, one sick, oops, back to kid #1, now it's kid #3.....

And it's worse when my number finally comes up.

Ben was on steroids for five days, which was just enough to help him over the coughing hump, but also just enough to suppress him and he caught a cold...which he passed on to me. 

I was sick all last weekend.   It was pretty mild, and I still went to work.  Every third coworker was sniffling, so I wasn't exactly introducing everyone to something new.  

I found a new appreciation for the Quils.  Quil of the Day, and Quil of the Night.

I also found that I am capable of homicidal anger, even in my sleep.

I can count on the fingers of one hand, the times I've been so mad that I wanted to seriously hurt my husband.  A couple might not count, as they were due to childbirth, which technically, is half my fault.

We generally get along well.  Give, take, whatever makes the machine run smoothly.

The other night, however...

I feel someone pushing my shoulder back and forth.  Back and forth.  Hard.  WTH?  I wake up, startled..."what?"  "You're snoring up a storm, hon."  "Sorry."  I am about to drift off again, but not before I realize I have to use the bathroom.  And get a drink of water.  And blow my nose. 

I settle in again.  I'm just falling back asleep, drifting, drifting....when my hand is suddenly bouncing off the mattress.  Twice.

"WHAT??"  I hiss through clenched teeth.  I know what's next. 

"You're really going at it again."

DAMMIT.  No, no, no.  I'm tired.  I'm sick.  I'm not dealing with this all night.

I jump out of bed, grabbing my fuzzy socks up off the floor, snatching a pillow, and feeling my blood start to boil as I stammer out:  "I'm sick.  I can't help it.  STOP WAKING ME UP."

I stagger down the hall, stopping only to put on my socks.  I head for the magic chair, pull the blanket over me, and am just mad, mad, mad.  I listen to see if he followed me.  I'm half hoping he did, but not disappointed that he didn't.  

I'm reclined, and I am awake.  The dogs start shifting around in their crates, because they hear me and now they need to get comfortable again.  It's a while before I fall asleep, so there is plenty of time to contemplate, stew, plan Spy vs. Spy forms of retaliation. 

If you're gonna be waking me up in the middle of the night with that much persistence, it better be for something involving nudity.  Not for snoring.

Especially since my snoring is nothing really new.  It just varies by degree.   You'd think I'd be able to catch some "oh, she's sick" slack. 

I know he meant no harm.  But what was he thinking, that I have some magic 'stop-snoring' switch, like a reset or something?  I was already on my side, so I don't think shifting positions would've helped.  Usually, he is the one who leaves the room, I just beat him to it this time.

I woke up to the sound of the alarm.   I thought I'd turned that off on my way out of the room last night.  Hmmph. Serves him right, I'm thinking, to have to jump over my side to turn that puppy off. 

Beep, beep, beep--why is it still going??

Because it is sitting next to me in the living room.  He moved his little clock by me.  I can't even see to turn it off, I'm just pushing buttons blindly until it stops. 

He called later as I was making breakfast, to make sure I was up, the kids were all up...and for a brief, childish second, I considered not answering the phone. 

It's taking a while longer than I thought, but I'm getting over it.

My cold, I mean.  

Friday, February 17, 2006

Under the influence

I blame the Pantene commercials.

You know, the ones with the perfect, straight, shiny sheaths of hair, that the models twist and turn this way and that way, sometimes, into a smooth, not-a-split-end-in-sight knot?

I'm obsessed.  I want hair like that

Pro-V, shmo-V, does that exist anywhere in nature? 

My hair has always been really short.  Gosh, since before Nolan was born.  The last time I sported a sheath of long, beautiful hair, I think I was in the fourth grade.

I cut it short because I wanted to be different.  Aside from sidetrips mimicking Dorothy Hammill and Lady Di, it's always been a little different from my peers.  My Mom is lucky I didn't start messing with the color until after I left the house.  

Well, not if you don't count the high school disasters Jen and I put ourselves through  courtesy of Sun-In.  Oh, my, God--what a bad idea...brunettes, with wannabe blonde highlights that were actually just this side of cockroachy red-orange.  At least our tans were fabulous.  I've even endured a couple of bad perms, but who hasn't?

Never again, I swore, the last time I got all that mess out and finally got my own color back.

Enter the hairdresser. 

A good hairdresser is like your best friend, sister, family.   She knows of your hair's sins; has seen your true, unmadeup visage squinting at her from the chair; and still, she convinces you that you are, indeed, beautiful, if only for a moment.  Part confidante, part magician, you can't help but be seduced by her charm into believing it.  You don't ever want to lose her, once she's found.  Really.

Some of the greatest traumas of my life have involved finding a new hairdresser.  (Ladies, you know I'm not being melodramatic.)

The one I'm seeing now I've been going to for not quite a year.  We're still getting to know each other.  She is nice, dependable, and adorable.  We even share the common thread of our husband's professions.  By some strange coincidence, they work for the same city and their paths have crossed a couple of times.

And when I leave her capable hands, I feel fantastic. 

I told her a while ago that I wanted to grow out my hair.  She's been encouraging, which is helpful, because I was prepared this time to go in and beg her to cut it off.  I was this () close to going back to the short-short. 

But we talked about it, and she trimmed it up instead.  ("You look younger with it longer."  Sold!)  I had some Hair 101 to go over, as I was having some trouble styling it.  It's got a wave that doesn't cooperate that I have never had to deal with before. 

It is fab-u-lous.  I love it.  Oh, it's still short, but I can see it going somewhere from here. 

While it may not look like the Pantene commercial, it feels like it when I'm driving with the window down and the wind is rushing through it.

I'm ready for my close-up, Mr DeMille.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The other extreme

When I get home from work, I'm usually in a good mood.

Being away where people recognize my name is not just "Mommy"; having conversations that don't start out with "Because I said so"; and driving home listening/singing along to whatever I want are just bliss.  

In a nutshell, I am restored and happy to be back home, anticipating planting a big kiss on Mr W and seeing the happy faces line up for the "She's home!" parade that occasionally happens when the garage door is heard going up.

Saturday was no exception.  I came in, and walked down the hallway, looking for Mr W.  I ignored the clues that something was up.  Nolan's concerned face, some items in the hallway, my partially-closed bedroom door, the broom in the hallway...all should have given me a heads-up, but nooooo, I was too intent on seeing my beloved.

And I saw him, alright. 

Sitting on a footstool, hunched over, dustrag in hand, Pledge in the other.  The room, vacuumed.  He was dusting our dresser.  Holy cow!  I felt a rush of warmth, because, frankly, who wouldn't feel a rush of warmth at the sight of a man cleaning, your bedroom no less; and he looked over his shoulder and said these words to me, these words that ordinarily would make some women swoon:

"I'm hiring us a maid."

I did not swoon.  I felt all my warmth extinguish, and actually heard a voice in my head say "breathe" while I sputtered out "I need to use the bathroom."

I put myself in timeout. 

Now, I will be the first to admit that things have gotten a lot busy around here.  Between ferrying children to and fro; and things I do for the school,  not to mention the mere work it takes to ensure that everyone is not only fed but that there is indeed food to eat, I've been a little (okay, more than a little) lax  in some of the housekeeping. 

Something's gotta give, and frankly, I've got better things to do after the kids go to bed than clean toilets.  I'll admit that I was thinking the other day that the level of dust in this house is doing nothing good for anyone's allergies.  But I hadn't had a chance to get to it. 

If I spend my weekdays doing all kid-duty, all the time, and my weekends working then going to my Mom's; when exactly am I supposed to be cleaning beyond the bare minimum to keep us from feeling like we live in a frathouse? 

I groused to myself in the bathroom, pissed that he said it, pissed that he couldn't even say hello first, pissed, pissed, pissed. 

I found myself reacting in a way that is a little unusual for me.  I said nothing.  I came out and went on about eating a little lunch, and left him cleaning our room.  After I calmed down a bit, I went in there and put some stuff away that he had no idea where they went, and said nothing.

And I started to reason with myself, that I should not take it personally, as in "honey, you're horrible at housekeeping and we live like pigs" but try to accept that maybe a little help couldn't hurt, and he is just doing what men do--seeing the problem, and fixing it.

Even if it rankled me, I should see it as a positive thing. 

I was still pissed, but I was feeling it ease up a bit as I pondered that he was, in essence, just trying to help, and not holding me up to some unlivable, model-home standard. 

Eventually, I was forced to talk about it, or at least listen, as he mentioned what he had in mind.  I tried not to glare at him, and that was easy as he said, "you're really busy, with the kids and the school, and work, and whatnot, and I'm busy too, and there are four kids running around making messes here and there, so let's try this..."

How could I stay mad at that?

I'm letting him deal with it.  We'll see what happens.

While some people (jen) might point out to me that I could teach my kids to do it, I have to say now is not the time.  There are too many of them, and all those little helpers would make me much, much crazier than having a maid would.  I will teach them, don't worry, to do what needs to be done.  It's just not something I have patience for right now.

My feeling of warmth eventually returned.  Especially that evening, as Ryan ran his hands over our cleaned, polished dresser top and said, "Daddy cleaned this.  He cleaned this for you.  Wasn't that nice of him?"

"Yes, it was."

Seven-year-old wisdom.  You just can't beat that.

Non verbal communication

We were driving down the road the other day, on the way to my Mom's. 

I was chatting with Mr W and I was wondering where he was headed. 

The freeway is that way, I was thinking, and although I rarely do this, the words "where are you going?" escaped before I could check them.

He barely lifted his index finger off the steering wheel in response.

In my best documentary voice-over voice I say "He indicates with a mere lifting of his finger that he intends to drive on to the gas station up ahead, and stop for fuel before continuing on his journey."

We both start to laugh.  "See?  We communicate so well, we don't even need to speak to know what the other one of us is saying," he said.   He was half-kidding, teasing me, but also half-serious, too.

"Oh, really?"  I respond.  "What am I saying, right now?"  I throw him the look, slightly raising an eyebrow to illustrate my point.  (Sometimes, you have to tease back.)

He can only shake his head.  The kids were in the van with us, so he can't say it out loud.  But he knows, he gets me.

And that is all I need to know today. 

Thursday, February 9, 2006

Walk away

I could hear my husband get exasperated, and yet I walked away.

Traveling with Audrey lately involves any number of toys, dolls, lippy, etc. that she has to have to function.  Woe to the person that tries to spirit one away when she's not looking.  She knows her inventory and will catalogue the item missing with a wail that could stop traffic the second you are a couple of blocks from the house.

Limit her to one, and she merely stuffs the backpack or bag she's carrying when you are not looking.  She hauls it to the van herself, so you don't even know until you've reached your destination that she requires a luggage rack. 

Maybe I'm just spoiled by the sweet compactness of video games, but really, do I need to bring the doll stroller?

Oh, yes.

"I need to push my baby."

I guess if it means I'm not carrying her, it's okay, I think, as I fold it up and put it in the van.  Luckily, she's left it at home this week.  Last Friday, it came with us to the mall.  If you think it's fun having a toddler walk along with you in the mall, try having a toddler walk along pushing her own stroller. 

I'm sure she didn't mean to knock that old guy in the shins.

Anyway, yesterday, I walked away when it was time for her to de-van, and let Daddy deal with it.  Because sometimes, they need to experience these things for themselves.  And I need proof that I am not the only ridiculously lenient person on earth.

I hear her Daddy say "no" and close the van door.  I am clearly the most lenient person on earth. 

Sure, she brought her usual bag of tricks, but the beloved bear that we got on our Friday trip to the mall was left behind.

Shall I get started on the evil that is Build-a-Bear?  Perhaps another time.

Daddy said "no," and suddenly the pitter patter of little feet, along with the sniffling "mooommmmy" was behind me.

Sigh.  Foiled, yet again, by the man they call Daddy.

The whimpering began.  I put my foot down, in solidarity, of course, not because I didn't want to make a trip back to the van to get it.

She wanted to be picked up.  Sniffle, sniffle, pout.  

I had my hands full already, so Daddy stepped in.  By the time we got to the citrus trees and he posited tossing her up into its branches so she could throw some oranges down at us, she was fine.

Behold, the power of Daddy.

Mahvelous, dahlink

There was a little foot poised perfectly in midair in front of my face.  "I want purple!"  the voice above me commanded.

As I bent over, assuring my spinal demise, I gently held the foot in one hand, squinted, and tried to steady the other, the better to apply polish with.  Cursing is done silently, mentally, with abandon.

I have no one to blame but myself, that she is addicted to the shot of color on her toes.  There was a brief respite, when tights were fabulous, but they've fallen out of favor in the wee one's court.  It's so much easier to shuck off shoes and socks than deal with tights, afterall.

Try grabbing a pea and painting a bullseye on it, and you will know what I'm dealing with here.

I paint one or two toes, and present them for final approval before proceeding.  "Well?  What do you think? Pretty?"

I feel a pat on my head as she replies, "Yes, my dahrling.  Pretty."

As I look up at her, I can't help but wonder where she got her Zsa Zsa.

"You are the Princess of the House,"  she announces, "and I am the Princess of the World."

Mahvelous, dahlink.

But he's still sexy

We were watching the Grammys tonight.   Have to get my fill of eyeballing the musicians, you know. 

It was just before the kids were in bed, and they were doing their tribute to Sly and the Family Stone. 

Ryan was sitting in my lap, and we were shaking our groove thangs while we watched.   Steven Tyler came out to sing, and let loose a couple of high screeches like only he can.

I hear Audrey say:  "He sings like a girl."  She opens her mouth--" 'aaaahhhh aaaaahhh' like a girl."  And then she sniffed in disgust and shook her little head.

Of course, I cracked up. 

I resisted telling her that he although he is looking a little worse for the wear, he is still sexy. 

I'll just have to wait for her to figure out that rock star mystique when she gets older. 

Nolan, on the other hand, wondered "Did he lose a bet?" when Sly came out sporting that white-silver sky-high mohawk.

Oh, my boy.  <sigh>   You have so much left to learn.

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Things I hear

Audrey has decided that my bathroom is her bathroom.  She is the only kid that has done this, and I guess as long as she's using it, I can't complain.

The other night she came running in like always, and she semi-closed the door.  She is funny, she will plop down, and we'll hear her singing, or she'll start talking to us. 

On the night in question, she was campaigning for a bath.  I'd bathed her earlier in the day, and I had told her she was fine.  She was arguing with herself as she sat on the pot, babbling away:
"I ask Mommy to take me a bath and she say nooooo but I stink, I stink.  Mommy.  I stink.  I need bath..."

"No, you don't."

She commences again..."I go to school, I play, I go to 'kido, I ready, it's dark, I need a bath.  I stink.  I stink like a dog.  I stink like a smelly dog!"

Mr W and I look at each other, and we are trying not to laugh out loud, because she will hear us and not drop it.  It was hysterical.  "I didn't know smelly dogs smell like vanilla shampoo,"  I said to Mr W.

Then there was the night I had my back to the kids, making dinner.  I could hear Ben talking, and this is what made me pause:
"Then the man sticks something in the woman, and that's how the babies are made."

???  I perked up.  I had to know.

"Ben?"  I called him to me.

"Honey, what are you talking about?"

"We were studying fish.  And the male fish has to do something, let something over the female so the eggs will fertilize.  Gross.  It's gross."

"Oh."  I feel like I just dodged a bullet, got a reprieve, been given a pass.  "Fish, huh?  That sounds interesting."  I was really thinking, yeah, buddy, give it a few years.

Ryan lost a tooth recently.  He told us, "Did you know, that if you leave your light on, the tooth fairy won't come?"

I had to question that the next day, when he found three dollars under his pillow.  I looked at the tooth fairy and raised an eyebrow.  As we walked out into the hall, I said, 'Dude, aren't you raising the bar a bit high there?  Three bucks?  Are you nuts?"  "It was dark," the tooth fairy replied, "I thought I only had two bucks..."

Maybe Ryan knows what he's talking about, with the darkness.  The tooth fairy leaves more money when the tooth fairy can't see.

Now, that gives me an idea....

I'm part of the club

My hit counter got reset.

I feel like I'm part of the club now.

I think I remember what it was at before...

Does a cookie count?

I just had cookies.

For breakfast.  Shh.  Don't tell.

I'm sleepy, and goofy, and cranky. 

Saturday night, I spent the night in the ER with Ben.  Sometimes, Mom's shift doesn't end just because the sun goes down.  He was coughing like a madman, all my tricks weren't helping him, he started to panic; and who can blame him, breathing is important; and I was at a loss. 

Nothing says love like taking off your pjs, grabbing what you hope are clean clothes, and heading to the ER in the middle of the night.  

He better remember that when I tell him he can't have the keys to the car.

There we sat, amongst the empty water bottles and garbage people would rather slide back under the chairs and benches instead of throwing in the trash can 10 feet away from us, waiting, waiting, waiting....

I knew we'd be there for a while, so it's not like it was a surprise to be waiting.  But it wasn't easy.

He made me chuckle, because all the lights and noise of unhappy children made him antsy.  Yup, I thought, that 'tune out the crying' gene doesn't get activated until you've had a baby of your own.

We had a better time of it sitting outside.  We went out, and it was quieter.  But it was colder too, so we couldn't stay long.

Ben finally nodded off a bit, around 2 am or so.  Right when they called us back.

I was relieved, but as they hadn't done the second triage I was expecting, was not holding out much hope that this was it.

But it was!  Delirium set in as we walked toward our 'room' while I envisioned George Clooney stepping in to check out Ben, patting me on the back and winking at me while complimenting my maternal instincts.   Is this sweatshirt clean?  I asked myself...

We were in the room just long enough for Ben to plant his butt on the bed, when in came the dr and the registration tech.   I'm answering questions to verify we are who we say we are, handing over the insurance card, while Ben is talking to the doctor.

Excuse me?  He's nine.  He doesn't know what time it was when I medicated him last.  He doesn't know anything other than he wants to stop coughing. 

Helga the tech backed off long enough for me to answer a few of the doctor's questions, he took a listen, said xray would be by shortly and pending the results, he'd give us some meds and send us home. 

I think he was in the room five minutes, tops.

Ben got settled, and a nurse came in.  "I know the doctor probably asked you all this already," she says, (then why are you here asking me too?), "did you get triaged out there besides when they did it right when you came in??" "No." "Of course not," she muttered under her breath.  Whatever.  I answer her questions, and they are pretty much the same.  I hold my tongue. 

Here comes the registration tech again, with my insurance card in hand.  "Your card says you..."   "...have a copay of fifty dollars," I interrupt.  She seems relieved that I know this.  "I can process that now for you if you want."

Come on, you're not surprised, are you?

"Does it mean I'll get out of here without having to stop and talk to anyone on the way out?"  "Yes."  I hand her the check.

We wait for the xray for about another 40 minutes or so.  After she leaves, another registration tech comes into the room.

As she begins to once again verify we are who we say we are, I resist the urge to slap the clipboard out ofher hand and beat her with it.  I can take no more--as she says, "you live at..."  I say "I already paid my copay.  Is there a reason we're going over this again?"

She is embarrassed.  Apologizing all over the place, she leaves, explaining that we "weren't checked off that this step was complete."  Stop apologizing and just GO AWAY, I mentally command her.

At this point, it's 3:15 am.  I've lost all faith in the system, seeing that I've spent more time verifying my address than I have discussing my child's symptoms.  Grrr.  Write the fucking scrip already, George, I'm afraid I can't see you anymore.

We receive our prescriptions, (steroids and an inhaler), I sign on the dotted line, and we are discharged at 3:45 or so.  (Yes.  Ben is still coughing.  But hey, his xray was clear.)

He falls asleep on the way to the pharmacy.  I went to a 24-hour one close to home, I've used them before, but not in a long time, so of course, the chances of this going smoothly were slim.

So slim, I'm never going to Vegas.

"Your insurance isn't going through,"  the pharmacist says.

It's 4:15.  I need to medicate the boy. 

"Just fill it,"  I tell him.  "You can come back on Monday and have us try to run it through again,"  he tells me.  Great.  "How long?"  "Fifteen minutes, there is one ahead of you."  I glance over to my sleeping boy next to me, and it doesn't move the pharmacist.  "I'll be back,"  I sigh.

I would say I watched cars go by, but it's like someone rolled up the streets once it was midnight.  Not many cars to watch.  I park under a streetlight on the other side of the pharmacy, and read for fifteen minutes, patting Ben occasionally when he stirs.

We get home around 5.  I have to sneak some food into him to get himhis medicine.   Poor kid.  He's exhausted.  I'm sleepy too, and thankful Mr W is off today.  I had already called in sick to work.

He was coughing still on Sunday, so bad I called his pediatrician to ask if I should worry.  We went to see him yesterday, as he was still not sleeping well at all. 

Which means I'm not sleeping either. 

The coughing is relentless, and he's not been medicated long enough for it to abate. 

I have some hope this morning, though.  He's not been coughing as much.

But I'm still sleepy, and goofy, and cranky.

Which leads me to the cookies....guess I should have some milk.

~~~~~~~~~~P.S.  Went to the pharmacy and they were able to get it to go through--so I got a refund. Yay!