Monday, March 21, 2011

You can thank me by sending Boogie Wipes

I am definitely going to win an important prize for this.  When I do, I promise not to forget the little people - and by that I mean Sweet Girl and Little Man - who made this all possible.  See, I have made a great scientific discovery.  Even more shocking, I made said discovery at an hour early enough that even Oreo wasn't interested in being present at this sure to be always remembered moment in science.  And his existential crisis of late has made him more of an accessory than a pet, so being apart means it was too early indeed. (I have no proof, but I think someone told him he was adopted.  This has caused great angst and feelings of abandonment.  Oh, and shedding.)  I have discovered the origins of one of the world's great mysteries; the Man Cold.  Well, not how the actual virus originates but more whether or not the Man Cold is a form of operant conditioning or is embedded in genetic code.  Whew.  I know.  You didn't realize I was this smart.  Let me back up so you can all revel in my glory.

If you are unfamiliar with the Man Cold, it's one of the most difficult and strenuous things (short of losing all his fantasy football draft research) that can happen to a man.  Most women are impervious to the Man Cold because, well, we don't have time for them.  Though I have noticed a concerning trend in which my facebook news feed is cluttered with complaints of minor malaise from both genders.  For the record, it's allergy season.  Clear drainage from one nostril does not a facebook status make.  Regardless, while women may get a cold or even something worse, we still manage to go about our day in a reasonable fashion.  Jobs are accomplished, children are looked after, homes are maintained.  But during the always-longer-than-necessary Man Cold, the world stops. 

If you haven't experienced it for yourself, then here's a video of a Man Cold to help you understand (thanks to Amy for sharing it with me).  My very own Great Defender of Democracy has fallen to the Man Cold.  Some guy who worked down the hall from Sean once sneezed at work, so Sean came home, took some NyQuil and slept for 13 hours.  On the other hand, when I had my gall bladder removed and a needle broke off INSIDE my stomach and floated around until they had opened me up in enough places to find it, Sean was still pretty sure that was only outpatient worthy. Never mind the 10 month old baby girl at home that needed her mother to pick her up constantly if/when she saw said mother, Sean thought I'd rest well at home.  And by rest he meant get back to doing everything I normally do.

So when Little Man began wailing at 4:30 this morning, I thought something seemed familiar.  He's teething so he's been more restless than usual overnight, but that's not what this was.  I went into his room to, you know, be a mother and when I picked him up I noticed some drainage.  Then as I rocked him he kept melodramatically throwing his head from shoulder to shoulder punctuated with periods of great nose wiping and heavy sighing.  Ah, he has a Man Cold.  I rocked, he dramatically flailed, and Sweet Girl slept through it all just down the hall.  This is when I had my great scientific realization.

At first I thought a Man Cold was the result of operant conditioning and societal norms.  Little boys get sick, someone tends to them, they grow up and become men who are little boys when they get sick.  They would learn this from watching other grown men during their developmental years.  Girls get sick, someone tends to them, they grow up and realize they still have stuff to do even if they're sick and get on with it.  Both Little Man and Sweet Girl have been sick this past weekend.  Sweet Girl with a nasty stomach virus and Little Man with his Man Cold.  Sweet Girl is a tough nut and has a tendency to not be brought low by meager intestinal distress.  And Little Man has had actual illnesses that have required doctor visits, all during which he was less dramatic than he was this morning.  Sweet Girl is pretty much impervious to societal norms, and Little Man has had no influence from his father-and not had any other male influence- on this particular subject (he's really only been sick in Sean's absence).  Leading me to this: I can now assert that the Man Cold is genetically programmed. If my petri dish of a home can produce these results, I'm pretty sure they're universal.  I've placed a call to the Genome Project and I'm sure they're splitting a helix trying to tag the Man Cold genome as we speak.  Clearly it's not the size of the man that determines how he deals with a cold.  It's the sequencing of the DNA that determines that it will be a Man Cold.

Great Chicken Impasse Update
She still won't eat chicken.  I cooked one in the pressure cooker last night.  It was lovely.  Little Man ate half the bird.  Sweet Girl ate....a hot dog.

Oprah Update
I dropped off my food bags for the kids last Thursday after I picked Sweet Girl up from school.  We took them into her old classroom where she promptly turned to me and said "Bye, Mommy!" and took off to find her favorite dolls.  I greatly disappointed her by staying.  So I'm trying hard not to disappoint Oprah as well.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Difference

We had a truly wonderful weekend.  Little Man was blessed to have his great-grandparents, Nana, Papa, and Aunt Carrie here to celebrate his birthday.  We even got to see Sean through the magic of Skype.  There were a lot of smiles, much laughing, and some happy tears.  It was a really great way to make some memories.  It was also a great way to make me think about how things have changed;  how I've changed, how Sweet Girl and Little Man have changed, how our lives have changed ultimately, and what made the difference in between then and now.

Little Man is cruising.  He is breaking hearts right and left and he isn't sorry about that.  He started out (relatively) tiny and has grown into a hamburger-eating, big-smile-flashing, belly laughing toddler.  I'm loving watching him grow and explore.  Um, well not necessarily loving the exploring of the dog's bowls but you get the picture.  I often joke with Nana that she is welcome to take him home with her.  And I think she would if she thought I really needed the break, but to be honest I'm really just joking because he is funny.  He chases Oreo like they're longtime battle buddies which I'm pretty sure is giving Oreo PTSD.  It's fabulous.  For Little Man, time, nourishment, and love have made the difference between being a helpless infant and an actual small person.

Sweet Girl is opening up.  She and I actually have been battle buddies for awhile, so our bond was already pretty secure.  But this past weekend she sat on Aunt Carrie's lap, and when Aunt Carrie told Sweet Girl she had missed her Sweet Girl busted out "I missed you too, Carrie."  I was across the room and very close to crying.  Sweet Girl has loved her family but has never been able/comfortable enough to express that.  I know her aunts, uncle, grandparents and great-grandparents understand that, but I also know they're (almost) as happy as I am that she is starting to express her feelings now.  She cuddled right up to her great-grandparents on the couch and was a general nuisance to Papa as she constantly demanded tickles, "jumps" and taught him how to really play Angry Birds on his iPad.

Then, she told her dad that she missed him when she saw him on Skype.  I was right next to her and couldn't stop myself from crying. It's possible that she was scripting from a tv show.  It's also quite possible I couldn't care less.  She understood what was being discussed and provided an appropriate emotional response.  That's big progress.  Sweet Girl's been walking around the house the past couple of days saying "Nana and Papa go home."  She misses them (probably because her mother is terribly mean but that's neither here nor there).  I would be sad about that if her awareness and expression of feelings didn't make me so happy.  For Sweet Girl, a diet, some supplements, pre-school, a change in geography, and a lot of hard work on her part have made the difference between an anxiety-riddled toddler and an emergent social creature. 

So we had a great weekend and while I was thinking of all of this, my mind kept thinking of some children in Sweet Girl's old school  class.  Mrs. Sara had told me about their field trip and how these kids had seemed to have a big appetite.  She told me some other things (nothing that would get her in trouble with privacy or about their educational roadblocks - I don't even know their names and couldn't pick them out of a line-up which I pray I never have to do) which led me to believe these kids don't go home to much in the way of nourishment.  My bleeding heart began to bleed a little harder and the former educator in me mentally reviewed Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs approximately a million times.  The basic premise is that to reach the highest actualization (problem-solving etc.) one first has to fulfil certain needs.  Physiological needs, like food, water and sleep, are at the very bottom and until those needs are met it will be very difficult to move up the hierarchy.  Which makes sense to me; it's difficult to concentrate on ancient Rome - or even pre-school centers -when you're worried about whether or not you'll get to eat that day. 

Sooooo....these children who already have a couple of strikes against them are working with another strike as well.  I decided that I'd start a little project for myself.  I'd donate bags of easy to make/eat food so the kids would have something to eat over the weekends.  While school is in session their breakfast and lunch are taken care of, but judging by the amount they eat at school, they're not getting much at home.  Maybe they don't get much because their parents don't care, or are lazy, or use their money on things they shouldn't.  I don't care.  I haven't always done the right thing and it has taken the help of others to help me even know what the right thing is at times.  Who knows where I'd be if I didn't have a great family and friends to help me?  Those kids didn't ask, or do anything, to be in that situation. Maybe the parents won't be grateful for the donation. I don't care. How many times have I overlooked the color purple and not thanked God? And he still sends me way more than I can measure or deserve.  A couple of different decisions could be the difference between their situations and mine.

I'm not telling you this because I want a million pats on the back in the comments (though I'd love a million comments!).  I'm telling you this because I set out on this project as my Lent devotion, but I'm hoping that I can do it through the end of school.  Maybe I can even do something similar next school year.  And Oprah says we have to talk about our goals so we make them happen.  And according to my extensive research, Oprah is seldom wrong.  I'm hoping that this is the difference between saying I believe in good works and being a part of good works.  It's easy to sit in a church pew during Lent and feel good about yourself but sometimes it feels even better to make a difference.  

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Letter

Dearest Little Man,
Today you have been on this earth a year; 365 days with a lot of big changes.  But you and me, we've known each other even longer than that.  We've been kicking it old school for nine months prior to March 10, 2010.  At the very beginning you made your presence known through persistent nausea.  You were unappreciative of almost everything I (tried) to share with you.  You were particularly snobby about coffee - which is perfectly acceptable in small doses so no one call Child Services - forcing me to abandon a well-loved friend.  Not an auspicious start to our relationship, apparently no one had taught you how to make a good first impression.  And looking at your father and I, I'm not sure anyone will successfully teach you how to do that.

You grew.  You began riding on my sciatic nerve and on my hip (This explains a lot! How did I not put this together before now?!)  You began inviting your friends over for raucous games of "Kick the Rib," "Jump on the Bladder," "Kick the Rib Harder," and "OK, Now Everyone Jump Together, One! Two! Three!"  You began partying at 3 am.  And though I'm not a fan of losing sleep, I did get to know the Dan Patrick Show pretty well.  Besides you, that's the only good thing I got out of that pregnancy.

You grew some more.  You got really, really comfortable.  You decided you didn't really want to move out.  As much as I love you, and it is beyond paltry words Little Man, I would have done just about anything to make you vacate that cozy studio apartment with the spectacular view of internal organs.  I all but offered you up as a gift to the mid-wife if she would do some sort of birthing magic dance to make you come on time.  She evidently saw my desperation (psychosis) for what it was and scheduled your eviction.  God bless her and her appointment book.

March 9, 2010, we began moving you out.  You were not what I would call a fast start.  It took about five hours of fluids and Pitocin to get you to start packing your things.  And even then it was like an episode of Hoarders where the hoarder in question has 36,000 bags of assorted debris, and they insist upon going through the detritus piece by piece.  Little Man, you were missing the bigger picture.  You were so slow the mid-wife decided she had plenty of time to make the church social she thought she would have to miss.  And guess what?  She was right.

Finally, after about 12 hours of sitting around, doing kakuro puzzles (That's right, my dorkiness knows no bounds.  I took a puzzle book to the hospital.  I still have the puzzles I completed that day.), and illegally using my Blackberry, the fun really started.  In one truly weird moment, I attempted to sit up in bed and I both felt and heard an internal burst.  You had finally pushed the button to call for the elevator and my water broke.  It was honestly the weirdest thing I have experienced bodily.  For a split second I was pretty sure my eardrums had burst from the inside out.  It scared the bejeesus right out of me.  And that's when things went a little sideways.

I spiked a fever.  Which is obviously what would happen, because as we all know our bejeesuses regulate our body temperature.  And since mine had been so frightened by the breaking of the water ordeal, my temperature began to soar.  As this nicely coincided with hard labor and the wearing off of the epidural, I began to question your moving day technique.  Rightly so, because we soon determined you had jammed too much into the elevator on your way out and you were stuck.  The mid-wife called in the doctor.  The doctor took a look around and in the gentlest way started to tell me that you were going to need help with the move.  I cut her off right about, "I just don't see how this is going to happen natur-" with a response "That's fine. Do whatever needs to be done."  They applauded my ability to adapt to the situation.  I thought they were wasting time by talking and not wheeling me to the operating room.

My favorite person (the anesthesiologist) arrived and I was suddenly calm.  After much finagling and discussion of how quickly they assembled an OR team after midnight (not fast enough, Little Man, not fast enough), your dad came in wearing scrubs, a mask, and a bonnet over his bald head.  Incredibly handsome and brave, as hospitals aren't his thing much less watching surgeries, he held my hand while the doctor asked, "Sarah, can you feel any of this?" "Nope!"  Two minutes passed.  And then I heard you, Little Man.  And your dad was speechless.  And you were finally here.  And I realized I was wrong; though 90% of my body was numb, I could feel all of it.  And it was amazing.

Happy Birthday, Little Man.