Category Archives: parental fear

My Thoughts on the Presidential Address to Congress

The other night after putting my children to bed, I settled onto my couch with my laptop and switched on MSNBC. I was ready to hear from our President. I was looking for hope, for answers, for any sign that there will be a light at the end of this very long and difficult tunnel. Homes in my neighborhood stand empty, friends are losing their jobs, funding for my son’s education is being cut drastically and I’m getting nervous about affording even groceries right now. This speech needed to assure me that eventually everything is going to be alright. And did it? Here is my reaction to the President’s address to congress.

After thunderous opening applause and a quick introduction by Pelosi, President Obama launched enthusiastically into his speech. Right away he recognized just how bad it’s gotten. He explained that he didn’t need to rattle off any more statistics about this recession since we are all experiencing it first hand.

With my arms folded and my heart sadly resigned, I certainly agreed. As much as I support our President whole-heartedly, I know the reality and can’t help but worry the obstacles in front of us are impossible to overcome.

He then reminded us that we are all responsible for our economy, for our environment, for our children’s futures. After years of excessive spending and with no regard for the consequences of bad loans or oil dependence, we’ve wound up where we are. His words were strong, he spoke plainly and he spoke right to me.

All this time, I’ve been smugly blaming the previous administration and everyone else for this mess. But it was at this moment when I realized that this problem is all of ours. We have all played a part in this mess and we all need to make an effort to fix it.

“Now is the time” he demanded. Ok. You’re right. I’m listening.

He then went on to explain this recovery plan will do the following:

  • Create 3.5 million jobs
  • Give 95% of Americans a tax cut by April 1
  • Give families paying for college tuition a $2,500 tax credit
  • Allow unemployed Americans extended unemployment benefits

Honestly? These promises practically make me giddy with hope. I was ready to leap to my feet during this part of his speech faster than Pelosi herself. But I didn’t. I was still holding myself back. These are promises and certainly look great on paper – but I am still waiting and seeing.

Obviously, this recovery plan means that a lot of money (read: trillions) will be floating around. Considering our reckless past, I appreciated the President explaining that careful tabs will be kept on every dollar spent. Americans can go to recovery.gov to see where our money is going. This is good. Actions and process have to be kept transparent if we want if regain any economic confidence.

The next points he brought up were about banking, credit and loans. The message came across loud and clear that our money in our banks is safe and that we cannot stop loaning to individuals and businesses. This will stop economic growth in its tracks. Clearly, trust needs to be rebuilt again.

He also pointed out that “responsible” families struggling to hold on to their homes will be assisted. He said that:

“…the average family who refinances today can save nearly $2,000 per year on their mortgage.”

For a family like ours who followed the rules, bought a home within our means but are still scraping to pay our mortgage – this was very encouraging to hear.

Further into his speech, I was thrilled to hear the three priorities of the recovery plan:

 “…the budget I submit will invest in the three areas that are absolutely critical to our economic future: energy, health care, and education.”

He explained that ignoring these areas will change the future of our country if we do not give them immediate support and attention.

This was where my cautious “we’ll see” grumblings gave way to affirmative exclamations. I was emotionally on board then. All I could think about was my child’s school staying open, my $150 co-pays to treat my son’s flu that never responded to his $25 flu shot, and the empty homes scattered all over my neighborhood. Maybe? Could it be? Well, it seems there actually is hope.

As our president concluded his speech, he mentioned the stories of individuals who have made differences in their communities. He then introduced us to the young high school girl who reminded our congress that “We are not quitters!”

You see, that is exactly it for me. I am scared right now. I am nervous that from the bottom of this economic hole, these promises are just too good to be true. I want to hide my head in the sand and wish it all away. Or maybe just wait for someone else to fix it. But we are not quitters. No matter what side of the tracks you fall on: get up, get out and do something. This is everyone’s problem. Not just Wall Street’s or Congress’s or our President’s.

No doubt about it, our President is a fantastic speaker. But he is also an extremely smart and capable leader. The impossible is ahead of us but instead of moaning about what can’t be done, I will follow his lead and consider all that can be done. He is inspiring me to take responsibility, move forward and do my part. It was an excellent speech and I’m excited and ready to see what our future has in store.

Cross posted at Type A Moms.

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Filed under Communication, Economy, Getting green, Government, Inspiring people, Obama, parental fear, Parenting, Partisanship, Politics, Raising Awareness, Reality check

Morningside Dad: Thoughts from a Liberal Father

I am guessing that by now you are fairly familiar with my perspective as a liberal mom. Well, how about a father’s perspective? What is it like to be a liberal father raising children today? Wouldn’t you know it, my husband just happens to be a liberal father. So I sat him down tonight and asked him what his thoughts were on freedom of speech, equality, stereotypes about white men and the future of the Supreme Court. Come see what he has to say, his answers may surprise you.
brad
Now to give you some background about my husband, he is a 6 ft, 4” white college athletics coach. He grew up in a privileged town in Connecticut; he just completed his MBA and might be one of the smartest people I know. We’ll call him B. for the sake of this interview.

Caroline: As a liberal father, what issues are most important to you?

B: I am pretty straightforward about my values. I believe in civil rights, civil liberties, freedom of speech and every citizen having an equal opportunity to succeed.

C: And what about how your values relate to raising our children?

B: Well, our sons are part of a privileged class as two white males. I just hope I can raise them to have the same values I do.

C: So what about being a white male? What are your thoughts on affirmative action and our son’s future’s as white males?

B: It’s a topic I struggle with. I mean, why am I the bad guy? I know my race and gender give me a certain privilege but I wrestle with legislated equality sometimes. I realize sometimes we have to manufacture equal opportunity – and I get it – but I’ll admit that I struggle with this issue.

C: What have been some challenges for you as a liberal father?

B: I think I am most frustrated with the assumptions people make about me. I am a white, male coach – stereotypes are immediately drawn up. I mean, come on, even on the most progressive college campus, the Athletic department is assumed to be the last conservative bastion. As a result, comments are made around me since folks may presume I may have a certain value system which I don’t.

C: So how do you deal with that?

B: If I am at work and someone says something that I disagree with, I usually walk away or say nothing. I’ve got work to do and I am not going to start something then, but my silence usually clues them in. If I am outside of a work environment though, I do usually say something or try to start a constructive conversation about the topic. I make no apologies for my politics, take them or leave them.

C: With the new administration, what is the most important issue for you as a liberal father?

B: Apart from the obvious issues of establishing economic and global security for this country (and in turn, for our family), the appointment of the next Supreme Court justices is an extremely important issue for me. The current liberal appointments are not getting any younger. Whoever Obama chooses will leave a lasting impression on this country – probably longer than his own administration will. Do you know what kind of Supreme Court justices I want in there next?

C (smiling because I already know – and love – this answer): Tell me.

B: I want a purple haired, pierced nosed, extremely bright, straight talking lesbian from Northampton, Massachusetts appointed next. In fact, I want three of them in there!

I paused here to give him a big ol’ kiss. I love this guy.

C: Ok well gay adoption is illegal here in Florida. And you’ve heard all the threats about how legalizing gay marriage would ruin our marriage. What are your thoughts as a liberal father?

B: What in the world does my marriage have to do with two gay individuals who decide to be married? The success or failure of our marriage is strictly our responsibility. I have yet to hear one good cognizant argument against gay marriage. It is an equal rights issue that needs to be granted finally. If my sons grow up and decide that they want to love and marry another man, that is their right and I think it should be recognized, supported and protected.

C: Any final thoughts about being a liberal dad?

B: Florida is an interesting place. As far as I can tell in our area, I would say that being a liberal father is not particularly common. One morning a few days after the election, I was sitting at a red light. I mean, here I am, a white guy, with my kid in his car seat, on the way to kindergarten drop off with an HRC and Obama sticker on my bumper. I just don’t see that too often around here. All of the sudden, a guy in the car next to me (with his own collection of Obama stickers) started waving and honking at me, giving me the thumbs up. I saw that he too had kids in car seats in his backseat. I think it was a unique moment to see another guy like me so fired about this election. It was an interesting moment for me.

Cross posted at Type A Moms.

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Filed under Boys, Equal Rights, Fathers, Florida, Marriage, parental fear, Parenting, Politics, Presidency, Racism, Raising Awareness, sons, Teaching kids

Kindergarten Mom or Crazy Lady: You Decide

When it comes to my son and any accessment about his education or development, I seriously lose my mind. No I mean it. I’d like to think that with most things in my life, I can keep a fair, rational, logical perspective on things. I don’t cry too much. I am realistic. Whatever, I can be cool. But for some reason, when it comes to my son and school or anything to do with how he’s growing up, I completely and utterly lose my frigging tree. A crazy lady, frothed and pleading, takes over my brain and there seems that nothing can be done. Are you relating to this? Or are you fanicated by another parenting train wreck post from me? Well, go ahead. Read on. I’m warning you though. I’m a nut job and I’m going to prove it.

When my wonderful Aunt S. was raising her son, she used to tell me about this insanity thing that happens to moms. My Aunt S. is a speech pathologist. And apart from being super smart about children’s development, she just kind of “gets it”. She is surrounded by amazing resources and she has been blessed with a very level head about raising children. But she used to tell me all the time that when it came to her discussing own child, all reasoning went out the window and some crazy lady took over. She would just kind of… loose it.

Oh. Seriously. You would not BELIEVE how I get what she was saying now.

Ever since the day my son was born, I have hung on every word any “specialist” might share with me. As I’ve mentioned before, my son had a pretty rough start. So if I am talking to ANY variation of child expert (and I mean ANY kind), I kind of loose it. Friends or family that happen to be teachers, substitute teachers, doctors, nurses, speech pathologists (I’ve got two in my family), or even just moms… or even people that have maybe even seen a kid before… once, I babble endlessly to them about my son. And I can’t stop. When they ask “How is school going”, I know they are expecting a quick “fine” back. Huh. Well, not me. My mind simply sees a green light, social norms fall away and I just… go for it. I launch into a detailed account about his social and educational development. What this teacher said, what friends I think and hope he is playing with, what test score he got, what I think is REALLY going on, after all I know best, I’m his mom. Right? RIGHT?!?!?!!! And as they quickly try to change the subject, I corner them into telling me that T. is doing “Great. Just GREAT. Really. He is.” And I calm my panting, wipe my brow and scramble to get a grip.

The irony? T. is a pretty smart kid. He really IS doing great.

(I’m holding back here. Really. I am. Don’t go on about Caroline. Don’t do it, girl!!!)

So yeah, he’s a smart kid. But that doesn’t satisfy me. And it’s not *HIM* that I am pushing (I don’t think?) it’s everything around him. If he is acing his reading, I wonder if the school is challenging him enough. If he is struggling with subtraction, I gasp and shake my head and fold my arms and ask my husband outright “Who the hell thinks subtraction is a good idea in Kindergarten? I mean, Come on!!!”

And what did me and my crazy lady within get to experience last week? The first parent-teacher meeting of the year of course. (Bum, bum BUM!!!) So there we were, early for our appointment. I paced out front, the children tackled each other on the sidewalk, and my husband stood there with his hands in his pockets, kind of breaking out into hives about being anywhere NEAR a classroom. (A brilliant man, but clearly he’s never been a fan of sitting still for class. Did I tell you he’s a college coach?)

When they called us in, all I could think was “Be calm. Be normal. Be NICE. And most of all. DON’T BE THAT PARENT.” We sat down, them across from us, record books cracked open, guarded smiles on their faces. And I know exactly why they were guarded too. Because they have dealt with freak after FREAK of parents marching in and demanding and flipping out and gushing about how THEIR kid is so uber amazing. Poor teachers. How annoying. Not me, not this parent, I GET it.

“So yes. Mr and Mrs. Morngsidemom, T. is doing very well. Very quiet. Pays attention….” And on it goes. But the more they talk, the more I butt in “Yes, did I tell you about his birth trauma? Oh, she knows but you didn’t hear about it? Maybe its just good you know, just to give you some context.” or “Hes very quiet because he is a ‘LISTENER’, thats how he PROCESSES the world (Heh, like I’m some expert.). He may not respond right away because he is LISTENING and is taking every bit in, I promise you.” “Mmmm, hmmmmm….” they say. 

But c’mon. Even *I* know better. I know he’s off thinking about light sabers and speeders and which Star Wars episode is his favorite. But its like I can’t help it. There is some strange urge within to justify everything he says or does. To explain it. To tell them he is BRILLIANT DAMMIT, BRILLIANT. And by the time I have jumped into hyper-speed talking and gesticulating and demanding and flipping out and gushing about how MY kid really IS uber amazing… I realize, the teachers are just sitting there. Blink. Blink. With guarded smiles plastered to their wonderfully patient faces. Oops. I did it YET again.

So then, when we got back home from the meeting, per the Math teachers suggestion, I calmly (nervous laughing as I type this) sat down with T. and his subtraction homework. “Hon, maybe a number line is a good idea. You think? Here’s how it works! Stop coloring. Pay attention. Hey. Think dammit! A number line. Ok. Count forward or backward… ARE YOU PAYING ATTENTION??!!?!! YOU’RE SUCH A SMART BOY YOU CAN DO THIS!”

Ok, I swear, I am not like that. Ask my husband, he sees “homework time” go down. But thats what the freak show, crazy lady, jumping around in my head is saying. Fer real.

Anyway, so I showed him the number line. And we worked on it together. And he got it and sailed through his homework. And that was that.

However. Have I wanted to harass his lovely (really, shes so wonderful) math teacher with a little follow up email??? Oh ho, yes. I wanna so bad. I bet it would go something like: “I printed a number line for him, it really works for him, if you’d just make sure he has one when he’s doing his work, that would really help, because he really understands the concepts, he’s such a smart kid, really, I swear, its just the WAY he PROCESSES things, a LISTENER, remember? I’m his mom, I know, so could ya get him a number line? MMM, thanks. That would be greeeaaaat.”

But nope. I haven’t done that yet. (Restraint being my middle name and all…) Although, I asked T. in the car yesterday, “So!” (-all calm and relaxed like-) “Did you tell your teacher that you would like to use a number line with your subtraction?”

“No.”

“Oh! Oh that’s ok. So.” (Clearing my throat. Totally chilled out about the WHOLE topic.) “How was your quiz then?”

“Gottahundred”

“OH!!!!! OHBABY!!!!!”

(SCREEEEEEECH, my car swerved all over the road, I was filled with utter glee.)

“I am SOOOO PROUD OF YOU!!!!!” (beaming at that point, cars honking everywhere, but I. Am. BEAMING.) “But, uh, how did you do it without a number line?”

“I just used the one in my head. Mom? C. is picking his nose again. And wiping it on me….”

Yeah, well. THAT about sums it up, right?

Anyhow, for those of you who have made it all the way through this rambling post, this is only one small chapter in my epic novel of parenting madness. Someone needs to just tell me to frigging quit it. Someone needs to smack the crazy lady OUTA me. Someone needs to make sure I am not completely screwing him up at school. I don’t want EITHER of my kids to feel like they need to be perfect. I just want them to try to do their best.

And me. As a mom. Wondering (desperately, wildly, dramatically) how my kids will turn out, I guess they can’t expect me to be perfect either. I just am going to try to do my best.

(As for all you “experts” who I corner on a regular basis? My most humble, insanity riddled apologies. At least I am aware of the problem. Oh and by the way? C. hasn’t even started school yet… bum, bum, BUUUUUUM!)

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Filed under Education, Guilt and motherhood, Mothers, Panicking, parental fear, Parenting, Self-analysis, Teaching kids

Spank My Kid, Hate Myself

Yesterday, my 2 yo son was entirely too ripe for naptime. And he was pissed about it. At 33 lbs, and taller than ANY of his peers, he is a force to be reckoned with. Watching him stand there in a froth of tantrum and exhaustion, I came at him low – like a wrestler – to keep my balance and scoop him up before he took me out. As anticipated, the fight was on. Kicking, screaming, thrashing – I did all that I could to hold on to him and make a break for the bedroom. And as I was almost there, he took a huge swipe at me with unclipped finger nails. He scraped my face and it hurt. Anger flared inside me. And then, as I passed through the doorway to his bedroom, he thrashed out yet again and managed to push hard on the door frame with his feet. As a result, drove me – hard – into the door frame on the opposite side. And it HURT. So what did I do? I put him on the ground and swatted at his bum.

Horror.

I have NEVER spanked either of my children over the 5+ years I have been a mother. And I said I never would. But I did. NOT because I thought it was a good idea. NOT because I thought it would teach him something. I did it because I was really mad and wanted to get him.

Wow. There I said it.

Oh, my stomach clenches at the memory – I felt so terrible in that moment. I scooped him up and rocked him and whispered to him while those horrible waves of mommy guilt washed over me, seeping in, soaking everything.

How was he? Well, when I swatted him, he hardly noticed. I think he thought I was pushing him into the room. He cried no more or no less. He only slowed his crying once I started rocking him. He was so damn tired, that poor baby. So I put him in his crib, he laid right down, I rambled about a thousand “I love you”s, and that was that.

But that wasn’t that for me. After all these years, after all the thousands of temper tantrums that I have muscled through, why did that one drive me to spank him?

Ok, so lets talk about spanking. It’s really one of those hot button topics with moms. Some do it, some don’t. Either way, parents tend to feel strongly about why they do or don’t. And we can all get uppity and self righteous about why we do or don’t – but I don’t judge another parent’s choices on that. I just decide how I want to parent my own children.

And what are my feelings about spanking? I don’t think it works. I don’t think it particularly hurts a kid physically, but I just don’t think it accomplishes a damn thing. If anything, it sends a message that hitting for a bad behavior is ok. I think it tells your kid it’s ok to strike out physically in a time of anger. I am just not a fan of negative reinforcement. I have managed to get my kids to mind – or not – just fine without it.

(Until now. Gulp. Just swimming in guilt here.)

Now, I was spanked. Am I all screwed up because I was spanked? Nope. Did I learn to hit people because I was hit a few times when I really got in trouble? I don’t think so. So knowing that, I don’t judge anyone who spanks their kids – or I try really hard not to. I have just been pretty dug in about the fact that *I* don’t want to do it with my kids. Bottomline: I don’t want any hitting under my roof, I don’t care for what purpose, and that’s that.

So, I broke my rule yesterday, and swatted my baby’s bum. And, as I’ve mentioned, I am up to my nose in a sea of mommy guilt. But I have friends who are rolling their eyes so loudly right now, telling me to get over it. Telling me he needed a good swat, telling me to stop being so damn guilty all the time, telling ME to stop be so damn self-righteous. Telling me people screw up and none of us are perfect parents.

Eh, I guess.

I still had to call my husband and admit my mistake. And while he agrees with the no spanking thing, he was hardly impressed. Just kind of “Oh wow… What was HIS problem?”

But I think the other thing that bugged me about the moment was my intention. Again, I didn’t spank him because I wanted to teach him a lesson and felt this would be a good method to do so. I did it because I was hurt and mad – and I snapped. Obviously, I hardly went crazy. This wasn’t child abuse, I know that. But it scares me how me – miss “anti-conflict, peace loving, can’t we all just get along” Caroline – could snap and want to hit her very own child.

I know I am not alone here. I know parents are driven to moments like this. I know friends who have had to walk away, lock themselves in their bathroom and count to 50, with their child pounding on the door outside. The everyday, monotonous, groundhog day, water dripping on our foreheads constant of whining, crying, hitting, kicking, throwing can just… get to us. No matter how much we love them. However, we should never NEVER act on that anger or frustration in the heat of the moment. Never.

No matter how unhurt he was (or even if he hardly noticed), spanking him in that moment (when I don’t believe in doing it anyway) was wrong.

So, yeah. I need to let it go. And blogging about it is my way of publicly apologizing for it I think. So this is my penance. Please don’t call child services on me. I learned my lesson, that’s for sure.

But you might want to call the Mother of the year Award committee and tell them 2009 is probably out for me too.

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Filed under Children, Guilt and motherhood, Mothers, Panicking, parental fear, Parenting, Reality check, Self-analysis, Teaching kids

Three Bee Stings and a Little Crazy.

A bee flew into a craft store. No, this is not a dirty joke. This is what happened – this morning. So this bee, he flew right on in. Oh! Bright lights, lots of colors and – whats this? Aisle upon aisle of beautiful, blooming flowers! Can you imagine this bee’s glee? (I’m loving that rhyme.) He was probably flying swoops in the air and doing a little bee jig. And then, maybe after smacking his little bee lips, he dove right down into those flowers – perhaps eyeing one of those lovely, seasonally appropriate sunflowers.

Wait a minute. Upon landing, that bee realized something. The lovely sunflower didn’t smell right. In fact, it didn’t feel right. Horror of horrors, after further inspection, that bee found not one trace of pollen anywhere upon that flower. Miffed, he tried the next one. And the next. And then he realized, they were all fake! This was all a lie! A conspiracy – bees everywhere were being made fools of! Zooming around the store, his senses overwhelmed by fake flowers with no pollen, with no way to get out to the real flowers with real pollen… this bee was livid, seething, utterly enraged.

And then he spots us. He sees my son C. and I wheeling through the sliding doors. Clueless, innocently entering this store in our own right, we wheeled right by the flower section.

Just as we brushed past the glittery mums, he made his move. Attacking, taking out his rage upon a sweet, slightly plump, 2 year old who was actually behaving today for his mommy. He was going to bring “the man” (and that bee was betting “the man’s” name was Michael) down for every lovin’ fake flower in that joint.

C. grabbed his neck. And then his thumb. And SCREAMED. I was at a loss. Did a plastic flower bramble just scratch him? Did some extra large glitter on those mums cut his neck a bit? I looked and found two bites on his neck, both a bit puffy. And then, the thumb, which he was waving madly for my kiss, had that same puffy punctured bite.

What the hell? Michael’s employees gathered around, recognizing that special pitch of a child’s scream in pain. And then one woman saw it. The bee, staggering around on the floor. Probably screaming up to his pollen gods, “Why… WHY?!?!!!”

Smooooosh. And his agonizing final day on this earth was over.

Meanwhile, you should know, I am a mother of a son with a peanut allergy. I am the daughter of a man who has fatal reactions to bees. I swell for days if I get one bite. And now my son has two? On his neck? So who SHOULD be the most prepared mommy ever – with benedryl and an epipen at the ready in case of emergency? On most days, me. Not today you ask? Nope, not today. My allergy kit was home, in the swimming pool bag. Today. Of ALL days.

And when I realized this, panic set in. His screams were ear shattering, but I barely heard them. I grabbed him and made a run for my car. “Wheres the closest walgreens, WHERES THE CLOSEST WALGREENS??!?!??!?” Um, down there. Screeeeeeech, my 97 Saturn (step aside General Lee) did a Dukes of Hazard peel out of the parking lot.

And can I just say? I am usually a fiiiine driver. Honestly. I have even been complimented on my skillz before. Oh ho, NOT today. ‘Scuse me, pardon me, get the frock over, I AM COMING THROUGH DAMMIT!!!!!!

And then I thought, hearing him howl and hiccup and surely gagging and almost dying, that I should go the other way to the Urgent Care right by here. Hiccup, gasp. Oh sweet cheese and crackers… HE’S DYING!!!!!

‘Scuse me, pardon… GET OUT OF MY GODDAMN WAY MY CHILD IS DYING!!!!!!!!

Oh shit, the urgent care isn’t over here. U-TURN!!!!! SCREEEECH!!! (“Just the good ol boys, never meaning no harm…”)

Back at the same pissing redlight. Should I run it? COULD I run it? Could I? Damn, fate hands me a cop car in the right hand lane.

Then, as I am pulling into the Walgreens parking lot, watching my screaming and drooling 2 yo in the rear view mirror, a faint little bulb managed to blink on in the haze of my panic. Call the pediatrician. Oh yeah…

Well, I handled that like a pro. “My baby… stung… will he die?” Sob sob sob. Calm down she said. He is fine if he is screaming. SOBSOBSOBSOB. She said bendryl, baking soda, make sure he keeps breathing, if he doesn’t, call 911.

Wha? 911?…. SOB!!!!!!!! WAAAIIIL!!! MY BABY!!!! WAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!

She shoulda been there. Really she shoulda. Because if I ever could have used a bitch slap, it would have been right about then.

So I hung up, grabbed my sweet bee punctured child, and ran for the pharmacy.

“BENEDRYL! ORAL SYRINGE! BAKING SODA! STAT!” Well, I didn’t say STAT but I should’ve, dontcha think?

I got what I needed, he got what he needed. The crying slowed. He was breathing. Oh lookee here, I was breathing. I even managed to fish a smooshed fruit bar out of my purse. Which he ate, smiling through boogers while caked bits of baking soda fell off his neck into his lap as he chewed.

We sang his favorite bumblebee song.

“I’m bringing home my baby bumblebee, won’t my mommy be so proud of me…”

He pointed to the scary monstews in the Halloween section and giggled.

All was well.

All was even better when he drowsily nodded off from the drugs in my car. I’ll be putting a mirror to his mouth to just make SURE I didn’t overdose the kid (I was a little shaky, maybe he got more than a teaspoon?) as soon as I press publish. (My priorities as a mom are right in check.)

But here’s my bottom line. It was a bee sting. OK, three bee stings. (And I am thinking maybe it was a wasp and not a bee, how can a bee sting three times?) But kids get stung. IT HAPPENS. And how did I deal with this fairly minor first aid incident? I flipped the FROCK out.

What am I going to do? When the stitches and the broken legs and the rest of it happens. (I have two boys, its not a matter of *if* , its a matter of when.) That epipen BETTER stay in my purse because judging from today’s complete and total over reaction, *I* will need a shot of epinephrine and a call to 911 more than my child with a broken limb will. I did a horrible job today. I screamed at stop lights, I panicked and drove all over the place, I cried as if *I* were the one stung when talking to the triage nurse. I looked like a craaazzeee woman tripping and running through Walgreens with my screaming kid, holding onto my shirt, now exposing most of one bra cup. What a fiasco. GET A GRIP WOMAN!!!

Maybe it takes practice. Maybe I need to read more stories of inspiring “keeping their shit together when scary stuff happens” moms likes this one and this one. Maybe if it were MORE than a bee sting but something really legit like a gaping wound, I would be cool, and totally together and summon the spirit of Miranda Bailey (my favorite Greys Anatomy character) and it would all be taken care of quickly, calmly and effiently. And I would even say “STAT”.

Who am I kidding. I am a fiasco in emergency situations, and thats that.

Thank God for triage nurses and 911. And vodka.

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Filed under Boys, Health, parental fear

One of those Moments: This Weekend.

“Sit down in my thinking chair and think. Think. Thiiink.” – Blues Clues

Do you ever have one of those moments? Those moments that make you stop and think hard, and you keep thinking about that moment long long after it has past? I have had three of those moments this weekend. I thought I would share.

Moment #1

At Target, I ran into a couple moms I know. I know them through my children. We are not particularly close but it’s always good to see these moms, say hello, chat a bit. And so that’s what we were doing. We had not seen each other much over the summer, our kids were in school, starting playgroups, bladdy bladdy blah… there was lots to catch up on.

I am not sure what we were talking about but suddenly, one mother lowered her voice to a whisper and said something like “that’s what a black person would do.” Before I could even think at all, I said “Well, gotta get going, I’ll see you ladies later!” And turned and left. Just like that. It was a gut thing. I just reacted. I didn’t like what I heard, I was offended, and I bolted.

I will admit right here, that has not always been my reaction either. In the past, I have ignored statements like this but carried on the conversation like nothing happened. Or changed the subject. Or tried to find an out for my friend – surely they didn’t mean it the way it sounded – and have allowed them to use the famous disclaimer “not that I am racist or anything”. I have never been proud of myself in retrospect – where I try to smooth over and actually normalize the moment. I may as well have said it myself.

This time I couldn’t ignore it. But I didn’t say anything either. I didn’t say ” I found that remark offensive.” I just bolted. I guess the message may have come across that I didn’t like what she said. Or it could have come across that I just had to go. I dunno. I am not sure how I feel about my reaction and I can’t stop thinking back about it.

Moment #2

We went to Busch Gardens this weekend. We have “fun passes” and go fairly often. Theme parks are to Florida what the Smithsonian is to Washington D.C. We take for granted what people travel for miles with families to see and do.

Anyway, my 5 yo son T. and I were in line for the Flume. You know which ride this is – the log ride – with the big drop at the end where we get all wet. T. is dying to be old enough for roller coasters and this was his first time on a ride with a big drop. So we were really excited – giggling and chatting, we were all wound up about it.

As we were only a few people away from jumping onto our own log, I heard a violent thump from behind me. I turned and saw a woman, slumped back in her husbands arms, eyes rolled up in her head, and an enormous gash – maybe 6 inches across – on her forehead. She had fainted and hit her head on the stairs. Blood was everywhere. We yelled for help, the Busch Gardens attendants were unsure – radioing managers, grabbing paper towels, running, whispering, clueless. I saw the hands of the girl with the paper towels, she was shaking.

Since we were ahead of the woman who fainted, they ushered us onto the flume and off we went. My heart in my stomach: for T. who had never done this before and for this woman, and all the blood, and the moment she was in.

After an exhilarating splashdown, squeals of delight and “let’s do it agains” from T., we pulled back around to get off our ride. I then heard the announcement that the Flume would be closed due to “technical difficulties”. I stepped off and carefully helped T. off too.

And thats when I saw the two boys. They were maybe four and seven. They were huddled together on the stairs, quite a few feet away from the woman lying on the ground. Obviously, they were her sons. They were crying quietly, the older boy had his arms around the younger boy; now and then he would pat his cheek or rock him gently. Like Hansel and Gretel, holding onto to one another, in utter shock, their world had just turned upside down.

I looked to see who was helping them. No one. Their father was too consumed with helping his wife and talking to the paramedics arriving on the scene.

And we were being pushed along and asked to exit on the right.

But those boys. There was a large fence separating where T. and I were and those boys. If only I could have stopped and stayed with those boys. If only I could have offered them some comfort. They were alone, they were too young to know it was going to be ok, they were utterly distraught, they had seen their mommy fall, they saw so much blood. All I can think now is how they will remember that horrible moment for the rest of their lives. Their mother was fine, all would be well, children have seen worse, but my heart broke for those boys in that moment.

Moment #3

I was in Wal-Mart this morning. (OK, ok, I know. I hear your booing. I’ve already said my piece on that place before. With our meager, pathetic, shoe-string budget, it is what it is.) I can’t believe it’s September already, and naturally, my mind is starting to gear up for the holidays. So we were wandering the aisles in the toy section. C. was starting to feel impatient for lunch and I knew my time was running out.

Suddenly C. said “Oooooh, Mama. Baby. Toe TOOT!” (Translation: Oh, mommy, that baby is so cute!) He saw a doll haphazardly left behind on the wrong shelf. C. adores babies. He can hardly keep his hands off any of my friend’s babies. They light up his world, I mean it.

Well, a lightbulb went off in my head. How can it be this child does not have a doll when he loves babies this much?

So off I wheeled in search of a cheap, small baby doll for C. Where could they be?

Oh. Right. The “pink” section.

I have two boys. I don’t get to the pink section often. And I gather all dolls are in the pink section, the girl section. So, into the pink I wheeled. And bingo. There, between the hideous Hannah Montana dress up crap and the Bratz dolls (What the HELL are they about! Ah!), there was a small section of dolls. He played with a few. We picked one out. It has a little hat and a pacifier as accessories. And as excited as he was, he shocked me by being so gentle with that doll. Carefully cradling it, jibber jabbering little comments to the doll, giving it the pacifier, hugging it, patting its head. He played with it all the way to the register, had the doll sitting next to him in his car seat home, on the floor next to him during lunch and, currently, the doll is tucked in T.’s bed across the room from C. as he takes his nap.

So I am glad we found that doll. It’s perfect. 

But I couldn’t help but mutter how crazy it is that the only dolls to be found were in the PINK section.

WHAT. BOYS can’t EVER have a doll?

WHAT. BOYS aren’t ever NURTURING?

WHAT shouldn’t I be encouraging my boy to nurture small babies, to be a good parent some day, for crying out loud!?

Cleary, dolls are for girls. Found only in the PINK section. UGH. GAG.

I should probably mention one thing, however. You know, that the baby we got? He’s dressed in blue. I assume he is a boy doll. And who picked that color out? I did. What was my point? Did I think that having him play with a boy doll, assuming he is a boy because he is in  blue, makes boys playing with dolls THAT much more ok? Like “It’s ok, its a DUDE doll.” The blue doll assures that C.’s masculinity is still intact?

Eh.

So whats that say about me?

Clearly, this Monday, I am lost in my own thoughts. And once again, obviously thinking way too hard about stuff going on around me. But I am guessing these kinds of moments will happen again. And what better home for them but here.

I hope you have a wonderful and less “over thought” start to your week.

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Filed under Boys, Busch Gardens, Feminist tendancies, One of those moments, parental fear, Parenting, Racism, Toys, Uncategorized

Kids dodge bullets. Parents deal with it.

Yesterday, my son T. had a small shard of metal removed from his eye. That’s right, I said metal. And, yup, I just about fainted to the floor when I found out what it was. But here’s the thing. He had this shard in his eye for a couple days and it didn’t bother him at all. In fact, I saw it there and couldn’t figure out what could be on his eye and not bother him. So he went into the pediatrician yesterday and we were immediately sent across town to a pediatric opthamologist. After some tests and finally a good old fashioned q-tip, out came this teeny tiny but oh so pointy shard of metal. METAL. And it never hurt him. The doctor said it was “smooth side down” and he was very lucky. Another shocking part of this story was that my wonderful boy never even cried, ever! But once I had my boys strapped into the car and was driving back across town, I finally did.

For those of you who are parents, don’t you feel our children are constantly dodging bullets? I know I talk about fear and parenting a lot. Obviously I have issues. But, for real, it seems children are so often on the verge of possible traumatic injury. Everyday. They seem one step away from walking into traffic. One monkey bar away from falling and cracking their skull. One wrestle away from stitches or missing teeth. And apart from the everyday habitual fussing and panicking we are all guilty of, there is honestly not much more we can do to protect them. When I decided to have kids, I really had NO idea what I was signing on for, you know?

We are 6 days shy of celebrating T’s 5th birthday. It is also the anniversary of his most impressive bullet dodging feat ever. After having been born by emergency c-section, T. was not breathing. They were able to resuscitate him but, after being transferred to Boston’s Children’s Hospital, he started having seizures. There was clear evidence of brain injury. There was a shadow on his MRI. There were discussions about possible cerebral palsy and other developmental issues. We were signed up for early intervention and attended an infant CPR class while he was watched over in the NICU, hooked up to every tube possible, and deeply sedated by the anti-seizure medication.

In a matrix style, slow-mo, impossible-even-in-the-movies type of bullet dodging, T. fought back. And 11 days after he was born, his MRI came back clean. The stern, bow-tied neurologist admittedly said “We don’t use the word ‘extraordinary’ around here very often…” and he was released from the NICU, unplugged from everything and all ours.

T. has grown into something unexplainable but absolutely extraordinary. He knew his ABCs entirely by 18 months. At 2 years he knew his phonics and he was reading by his third birthday. He reads maps for fun, watches the classical music cable station (when he isn’t begging me to put on a Star Wars movie), and is fascinated with human anatomy (“Was the metal stuck in my cornea, mom? Cool.”) He is far too wise for his years, cautious as if he knows better, and truly my right hand man.

Not surprisingly, in my mind, he has a super hero quality. Able to stop speeding bullets with his bare hands. He has walked over a pgymy rattle snake that happened to cross his path. He only reacted with hives to a potentially deadly peanut allergy. And even yesterday, they tested his vision – its perfect. That seems an impossibility when he comes from generations of legal blindness, coke bottle lensed glasses and macular degeneration on both sides of his family.

Now of course, he is not a superhero. He is a boy and comes from a long line of insane boys. Did you know his father once dug a hole in his yard, set up a jump next to it, poured gasoline into the hole, threw a lit match in, and proceeded to jump his bike over that fiery pit until he was caught? Did you know his uncle (my brother) used to steal chemicals out of the school chem lab to make home-made pipe bombs to throw in ponds to catch fish? Complete and total insanity. And I’m not saying girls don’t do insane things too, but I expect regular trips to the emergency room in my future to claim either of my stitched up or freshly casted sons.

So, I really need a bottom line here. And, while seemingly in a perpetual state panic, I think I just keep coming back to the same conclusion. Danger happens. And -ok, parents, grasp this crazy possibility- maybe our children are better off for it.

Shit. I need a drink.

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” – Helen Keller

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Filed under parental fear, Parenting