Thursday, January 26, 2012

Crap I Say

Utensil, not toy
I think everyone has moments that seem to make sense in context, but upon further review can confirm the suspicion that one's life is just this side of normal. Sh*t My Dad Says went from blog/twitter feed to tv show based on that premise. Now there's a slew of memes easily found on the Internet with the exact same concept. It's funny cause it's true.  Most of us become so accustomed to what happens in our surroundings that we don't realize we may have a manner of speaking (or certain phrases) that doesn't apply universally.  We become so used to our surroundings that we don't realize what we say would justify a psych eval in different company.

I've experienced several of those moments before I became a mother: I was a teacher and America's youth is never at a loss for absurdity. I was once part of a group of people shouting "Drop the ice cream! Drop the ice cream and the monkey will leave you alone! Drop the ice cream!" to a student who was being purposely pursued by a Barbary Ape after our tunnel excursion on the Rock of Gibraltar. We had been told not to buy any food stuff of any kind as the apes have lost their natural fear of humans and are fairly aggressive about acquiring food. This apparently was lost on a student and the student in question held the ice cream up in the air, Statue of Liberty style, while the rest of us encouraged dropping the treat and our guide and mini-bus driver did their best to shoo the ape away.  Fortunately, all involved escaped unharmed including the ice cream.

 On this same trip, our group was standing in the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles when I heard the common teenage refrain of "This is SSSOOO boring." Before launching into a lecture on how the number of important-to-the-world conferences and treaties that happened in alone warranted our attention, or how amazing it is that most of the Hall had remained somewhat intact during the French Revolution as the masses went around destroying any symbol of excess or corruption (raiding the homes of lesser nobility is one thing, but things got even more awesome when they went after the Catholic church by chopping off the heads of statued saints: those French, they know how to have a revolution let me tell you), I said the first thing that came to my mind. "See that shiny thing up there? (points to chandelier made in Italy and gifted to France in the sixteenth century) It's older than the country in which you live. Focus on the shiny things and be quiet." Not exactly graceful prose or a very important lesson, but at least the complaints moved away from me.

So I should be used to living in situations where "normal" phrases don't cut it. And yet in the last week, with the help of my children and my dog, I've really pushed the limits. One would think that after 4 plus years of pee, poop, phlegm, vomit, and other assorted perks that go with small children that I wouldn't be surprised by anything I have to say/do/witness. But my kids are exceptional.  For example......

"No one touches the dog vomit until I can get the meat fork out of the chair cushion."

I'm making dinner (which means I'm making dinners because my children eat organic, gold-plated, free-range, sparkly nuggets while Sean and I eat generic spaghetti o's) and Little Man trips over his own two feet in the living room. Not to worry, he caught himself. With his head. And the wall. Little Man is not one to quietly nurse wounds, so an immediate response is required from me. I put the gfcf, flash-frozen, platinum-encased rainbow strips on a plate to cool while I tend to brave, but not quiet about it, Little Man. In the meantime Sweet Girl finds a meat fork and is using it to swat imaginary bees away from the picnic she and imaginary Clifford are having on the kitchen floor. Child Services, please note that we've had the "meat forks are not toys" (yet another phrase that would qualify as somewhat unconventional) conversation approximately 6,000 times (this month) and I routinely hide the meat fork and YET she manages to find it every time. One of these imaginary bees is a bit of a nuisance and requires additional and intricate swatting choreography, which I would have stopped had I not been tending to Little Man the Wounded. Sweet Girl succeeds in conquering the bee, which means it must have perished when she skewered the teeny tiny space between the chair cushion and the actual chair, lodging the meat fork securely into the kitchen chair. Take that bees! 

While this is happening, Oreo takes the opportunity to protest his dining options by stealing the still hot chicken nuggets from the counter. He eats them practically whole and entirely HOT, and almost immediately starts hacking them up in the living room which is actually what alerted me to the purloining of my children's dinner. Little Man's pain was lessened by the sudden appearance of canine regurgitation and I was able to escape to the kitchen to grab the necessary cleaning supplies. I notice that the gruel that was to be the grown-up dinner was quickly going from done to burnt, but there were more pressing matters at hand.  Before I could get back to the living room I heard Sweet Girl comforting Oreo, which meant she was about ten seconds from trying to clean up what was once her dinner. She's enthusiastic but she's not efficient, or really even that accurate, when it comes to cleaning up. Little Man was making motions that were WAY too interested in the contents of the dog puke as well. What was already a pretty ugly situation was seconds away from being pretty disgusting. So I hurried into the living room sweater got caught on the meat fork sticking out of the kitchen chair. The short people I live with were getting closer and closer to the mess that should have been their dinner while I was literally stuck to an imaginary bee skewer.  So I yell:  "No one touches the dog vomit until I can get the meat fork out of the chair cushion."  Poet Laureate is not on my resumé.
I'm not inviting them to our house
again until they learn to clean up
their messes.

This of course all happened within the span of about three minutes and things ended well enough.   The second-hand dinner was cleaned up, the kids got (different, non-pre-chewed) chicken nuggets, and I managed to save the adult meal from burning to oblivion.  All in all I was pretty proud of how we came out on the other side of the Meat Forked Incident.  Of course when Sean returned home from work, his first words were: " It looks like a Guns and Roses hotel room in here."  Dude, you have no idea.  And watch out.  I have a meat fork.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Today I Cried at the Doctor's Office...Again

Yep.  That's how cool I am.  I was tearing up at the doctor's office and I wasn't even the one that was there to be seen.  And there were no shots, but I cried anyway.  Cry may actually be too strong a word.  My eyes leaked again.  It's been happening quite a bit lately. I should really get that looked at.  Of course, I wasn't alone in the waterworks department; I had Sweet Girl and Little Man there to keep me company.  Sweet Girl was in tears because she hates all things medicinal that touch her.  That makes an examination particularly difficult as you might guess.  The doctor has always put her already elevated anxiety levels into orbit and consequently Dr. B and I get a lot of crying and yelling.  Though today was a bit different.  And Little Man was suffering from sympathy tears and an acute case of NoOne'sPayingAttentiontoMeitis.  Careful, it's contagious.

We were at the doctor because Sweet Girl (and in his defense Little Man too) hasn't been feeling well since the Friday after Christmas.  She's had a weird rash, congestion, stomach issues, and a fever at the onset of all of this.  While most kids like to lay low when they're not feeling well, Sweet Girl likes to take her malaise to a whole other level of loud, belligerent, whirling dervishness.  I knew she wasn't feeling well, tried to cut her some slack, and continue on with our plans.  But this past weekend in Gatlinburg it all came to a head.  She was emotional, demanding, whiny, and obstinate.  Aunt Carrie can tell any of you about the "FRENCH FRY!!!!!!" story.  If I tell it, I'm liable to send her to her room now even though it happened three days ago.  That wouldn't be confusing for her.  At all.  Anyway, last Saturday night/Sunday morning in the wee small hours, Sweet Girl woke up crying. I got her and put her in bed with me.  She couldn't settle down.  She tossed and turned and whimpered.  Finally I took her out to the living room of the lovely cabin in which we were staying.  I put her on the couch and asked her what was wrong.

I didn't expect much of a response.  I've been asking Sweet Girl "What's wrong?" for years, and though we've progressed to an echo of a reply ("What's wrong, Mommy?"), I never really get any closer to knowing what ails her as I did before I opened my mouth.  It's been a great fear of mine that she will be in pain with appendicitis or something internal, and I'll only be guessing as to why she's not herself.  I'm pretty sure she had a urinary tract infection for a week last year, but the doctor wanted a urine sample to confirm my suspicions and she wasn't potty trained yet.  So for a week she cried every time she peed and walked around with a pained expression on her face.  That doctor told me he needed to have her tell him or get a urine sample.  I told him that she was verbal but didn't have the communication skills for that and she also wasn't yet capable of peeing in a cup.  He said that was all he could do; he couldn't treat autism.  We don't see him anymore.  One of the stories in the book All I Can Handle (by Kim Stagliano; she has three beautiful girls who are on different places on the autism spectrum), involves a child breaking her arm but the mother not realizing until she was hugging her to put her to bed.  That could be Sweet Girl:  fall, cry, don't answer when I inquire, be whiny, go about her business until I feel the extra bone in her arm while hugging her.  That's why one of the goals I have for her is to learn a script for common illnesses.  Or for her to start telling me what hurts, like she did last Saturday night/Sunday morning in the wee small hours.

"My ear hurts."  Say what?!  I must be hallucinating.  This girl is just start to directly answer questions and she NEVER tells me what hurts.  So I ask again.  "Yeah, my ear hurts."  At this point I'm amazed but not entirely sold.  I have asked her approximately 53, 000 times if her ears hurt during the course of her lifetime. This may just be echolalic recall on her part.  But, I give her some Motrin anyway and pop in a DVD for the ever-popular 3 AM screening of the Winnie the Pooh movie.  

The next day is pretty rough in terms of behavior.  She has to have a time-out.  She is once again stubborn to the point of reminding me of her only uncle.  We get back home and, I hope, get back to a routine that will help abate some of the less desirable behaviors.  She goes to school on Monday and when I pick her up, she's crying.  Her teacher said she had random bouts of crying throughout the day as well.  We get home and I ask her what's wrong.  "My ear hurts."  OK, fine.  Even if you're wrong, you need to be seen by a doctor to rule it out.  Not to mention get me something to take the edge off.  So I call and get an appointment for the next day, and suffer through some LOUD choruses of "Welcome Christmas."

That night, I prep her for going to the doctor tomorrow.  Sweet Girl does not like the doctor.  Though Dr. B is pretty cool and let her get a prize out of the treasure chest once.  But she still doesn't like people getting in her space and doing things like taking her pulse/ox level or her heart rate.  She understands that it doesn't hurt, but it makes her worried.  And we have a hard time just saying that aloud rather than demonstrating with yells and tears.  It's not an easy thing to endure; on either side of the stethoscope.

Sweet Girl is two and half years old.  We were given a referral to UNC Children's Hospital's neurology department to rule out any kind of seizure activity.  Today she will start a 24-hour EEG.  They will attach electrodes and sensors to her scalp and then attach the wires to a portable computer that will record her brainwaves.  We'll return tomorrow to remove the electrodes and leave the computer for the neurologist to analyse.  She has to be still while they attach the sensors.  She hasn't been still since she was a newborn.  The technician tells me that we'll probably have to put her on a board and wrap her arms down.  I tell her it's best just to start that way.  I've tried all I can to make her be still and calm during other doctor's visits to no avail, and none of them were affixing something to her scalp.  I tell Sweet Girl that we have to do this to make sure she's ok.  I tell myself that we have to do this to make sure she's ok.  She asks for the stroller (to go home) and I nearly pick her up and take her home.  And then, because I couldn't just let a stranger do it, I help the tech wrap her up with her arms to her side and lay her down on a board.  She starts crying as soon she sees the wrap.  She starts screaming as soon as she realizes she's powerless to move.  I look down in her face and tell her that it's ok.  She's ok.  I love her and we'll be done soon.  For two hours, the tech moves Sweet Girl's hair, maps out a grid on her scalp, and glues sensors on her.  For two hours, Sweet Girl screams in terror.  My eyes didn't just leak in a doctor's office that day.  I cried.

She seems pretty calm as we go in the door.  She starts dancing around the waiting room, and just as she was about to get a time out for not listening (How many times do I have to say; "We need to be quieter and we need to sit down."?  I let you know when it's finally effective.) they call us back.  She calmly follows the nurse's instructions to get her height and weight.  She calmly sits on the exam table.  She gets upset when they wrap her finger to get her pulse/ox level.  There are some tears.  Little Man realizes we're at the doctor's office and gets upset because we don't have enough noise in the room.  But! Amazingly, she calms herself down.  Little Man is assuaged by some Fisher Price plastic, and all of a sudden we're having an examination in which I do not have to yell over the din of my children!  Dr. B comes in and takes a look in Sweet Girl's ears.  We have to do some cajoling, but not that much, and it turns out Sweet Girl has two infected ears.  She also has the "remnants of a nasty sinus infection".  There will be some antibiotics waiting for us at the pharmacy on our way out.  As Dr. B turned to ask me if I had any questions, my eyes started leaking a little.  She asked if I was ok, and I was, I was just appreciating the diagnostic capabilities of my daughter.  She was right.  Her ears did hurt.  She was probably in pain, but I was so happy/proud/relieved that my eyes were the ones leaking.   So once again, I cried in a doctor's office.  I hope it won't be the last time. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Oh, YouTube

Sweet Girl has been using my iPad as if it were her own ever since it arrived last May. She's an old pro at all Apple touch products. She understands the way they operate much like she understands that the best way to get the dog to move off of her chair is to sit on him. Don't get too complicated; look, assess, react.  I have Steve Jobs and the other geniuses in the development game at Apple to thank for many of Sweet Girl's words.  She used flash card apps until she was bored with them.  Then she did the same apps in Spanish.  She taught Papa how to really play Angry Birds.  This past weekend, Aunt Carrie and I both had to figure out how to play Where's My Water? in German.  There are some really great apps for Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), and Sweet Girl has mad pre-literacy skills thanks to a really cool Montessori app that she rocks.  And I certainly can't forget to mention all the potty-training apps that helped us get that challenge conquered.  She has her own iPod Touch and, well, I often wondered who loves my iPad more; me or her.

Recently, she discovered YouTube. She and her awesome BCBA have used it for alphabet and number songs as well as Magic School Bus clips, as rewards for completing tasks during ABA. The problem is....she's a fast learner. And when she's motivated there is little that can deter her from her goal. One day she was thirsty and I was distracted and not attending to her wants quickly enough. So she took three cushions (one by one as they were bigger than she was: I know this because I watched her clean this up not because I saw her do this from the beginning) from the couch in the living room, piled them up next to the counter in the kitchen where I keep our big water filtration tank/cooler/system thing, and then opened the spigot. While two and a half gallons of water rushed onto the floor, she got herself a drink. But she was still thirsty and I was still upstairs, so she opened the refrigerator and got a bottle of water out.  She couldn't get it open so she brought it upstairs to me, which is when I discovered she was soaking wet and so was the kitchen floor.  She was two years old at the time. And she has yet to prove any less determined as she gets older. So she has taught herself how to navigate YouTube on my iPad.

At first I thought she was only watching the featured videos which are easy to access from the main YouTube page. I was right. But today her favorite featured videos had been replaced by new featured videos. She wanted to watch her old stuff, so she just navigated on over to the "history" tab and found her old stash. I've never discussed YouTube with her, and I definitely have not taught her to look in "history" for something that was previously viewed.  That she intuited on her own.  My problem with this, besides parental controls cause she doesn't need to witness EVERYTHING on YouTube, is that she and I don't have the same taste in videos. Her current favorite is a computer-animated duet about making bubbles in the bathtub with an assist from dinner time beans. It's a catchy ditty set to the tune of "A Bicycle Built for Two" and comes complete with fart noises. She thinks it's hilarious. I do not. I was really hoping we'd just skip the developmental stage in which bodily noises equals endless amusement.  Guess not.  Today she found a new video of a baby singing into a microphone. A puppy comes running into frame and the baby shares the mic. Again, not cinematic greatness but she loves it. She laughs and laughs, and then she watches it again and laughs and laughs some more.  And that's why I let her watch. Not so she can learn to make fart noises or laugh on cue when someone passes gas.  I let her watch so I can hear her giggle.  And so I can take a video of her watching a video. Mostly though, I just love to hear her giggle and I know if I didn't let her watch she'd just find another way. At least this way there's no flood in the kitchen.