No Good, Very Bad Day

My hands smell faintly of shit.

Let me back up a bit. T was warm when we put him to bed last night. This morning he clearly had a fever, how high I didn’t know because the damn thermometer only gave a reading of 97 or 98. He also had a sore throat.

I have vowed to be the kind of Mom who sends her kid to school unless the need for an ambulance is involved. On the 4th day of kindergarten I broke that vow. C had his three year well visit today at 10, so I brought sick T along for the ride.

sick t

In the doc’s parking lot. He was passed out at 9:45am. And no, I have no idea what is going on with his tongue.

Let’s just say that getting a nearly catatonic kid plus a kid having a tantrum on the scale to grab their weights was quite the workout for the nurse and me. It was also loud enough for the occupants of the waiting room down the hall and around the corner to have a blow by blow of events, which I’m sure they appreciated. Because they got to feel good that their children were not embarrassing them in public.

T doesn’t have strep. And I’m really bummed. Not because I’m a raging asshole. (Oh who am I kidding, I am a raging asshole, but that part comes later in the post) If he had strep the antibiotics would ensure that he would feel better tomorrow. And that he could go to the birthday party he was looking forward to. Along with his first swimming lesson since he was about one. Instead I can’t do anything to help him. He is going to feel like total garbage for the next several days.

I’m sure C will catch it in time to miss his first day of school preschool on Monday. Speaking of C, he has rocketed up the growth chart from the 3% in weight one year ago all the way up to 5% today. This kid is so painfully thin that I’m scared people will think I’m starving him. If we manage to get him up to double digits in weight by the time he gets there in age perhaps I’ll stop obsessing that Child Protective Services is going to show up at my door demanding that I prove I’m giving him three square meals a day.

We got home and ate our lunch. The boys finished first and T collapsed back on the couch while I gave both boys a marshmallow, a bribe for making it through the flu shot at the doc’s. And yes, the doc gave the all clear for T to get the vaccine. He’s fever was only 100.5. And yes, the nurse and I had to hold T down together while he thrashed and screamed in anticipation of the shot. And yes, I cried a little.

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Poor sick kid couldn’t bring himself to eat the marshmallow.

I settled back at the table to bolt the rest of my lunch before taking C up for his nap. Two minutes later C walked into the room and proclaimed, “I pooped!”

I whipped around. There was poop on his thigh and leg. There was poop hanging off his butt. There was poop all over both his hands. In what feels like slow motion I watched him put one hand and then the other in his mouth.

“NOOOOOOOOOOOO!” I screamed. But it was too late.

“DO NOT MOVE!” I’d scared the hell out of him. He wasn’t moving, but he was also weeping.

I carried him to the bathroom by his shoulders. He tried to reach out for me and it was like a demon with a voice several octaves below mine has possessed me. “DO NOT TOUCH ME!”

He cried harder.

I used baby wipes to get the chucks and streaks of poop off of him. The crying continued. I was focused on not puking, therefore I was unable to provide comfort.

We awkwardly climbed the stairs with me holding his wrists. I used an obscene amount of soap all over him, washing his hands about six times. I finally thought they no longer smelled like shit.

When I got him in bed for his nap I notice his hands still smell like shit. As do mine.

He sniffled and asked to go downstairs to pick out a toy that he could sleep with. In perhaps my worst parenting moment of the year I tell him that he can only have a toy to nap with when he figures out how to poop in the potty. Ah, there is the part where I’m a raging asshole!

It would be fair to call him potty trained when it comes to pee. He wears underwear whenever he is awake. The pee accidents are few and far between and usually my fault for not reminding him to go. And here is where my denial of a toy is even more assholic. Please, feel free to judge my shitty parenting. He is scared to poop in the potty.

I have no idea how to get past his fear. I feel bad for him. Most days I have more patience with the shit accidents. But I am so fucking sick of it. I am sick of cleaning crap off the floor, off his body, I’m sick of the ground in shit in his underwear. I’ve actually thrown several pairs away because I cannot face trying not to puke in the utility sink while I scrub.

Help me friends. Help me. How do I convince him that he doesn’t need to be scared of pooping in the toilet? Also, if you know a trick for getting the smell of shit off of C and my hands I’d love to hear it!

c cupcake

I love him. I feel terrible for losing patience with him. I want him to shit in the fucking toilet.

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Toy Section

We were at Target and had some time to kill while the pharmacy filled a prescription. Naturally T asked to go to the toy section. As we walked to the aisle with the Transformers I noticed the family already there. The father was a mountain of a man, physically intimidating. The mother was his opposite, a tiny slip of a woman with a hard face. Not kind judgements, but I’m trying to tell this story honestly. There was a baby in the shopping cart and a boy between the age of my kids walking around. The boy was being downright nasty to his parents and the Dad was getting angry. Frankly, the Dad was scaring me a little.

I turned the cart and headed for the lego aisle instead. The family made me uneasy. Again, not very kind. I was making a snap judgement, an unfair judgement, a judgement I try to prevent T from making when he looks at strangers.

The boys were having a blast looking at the Star Wars legos. I was having a pretty big internal struggle over avoiding the other family. The kid and the Dad were audibly bickering, but suddenly the father erupted. His shouting was so violent that my heart started pounding and I had goosebumps on my arms. “I AM SICK OF YOUR FUCKING SHIT. WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU? YOU FUCKING PIECE OF SHIT.”

T looked at me questioningly. I was frozen to the spot. I wasn’t a little scared anymore, I was terrified. If this man would talk to his three year old that way he might rip the head off a stranger who suggested he should tone it down.

T knew something was wrong, he looked at me for help and all I could do was stare blankly at him.

Listen, I know on this blog I swear like a sailor. But the truth is I try not to swear in front of the kids. I nag Z not to swear in front of them either. It isn’t cute to me when a kid says fuck or shit. Call me old fashioned, call me a raging hypocrite, but I don’t want my kids talking like that. And I try not to swear in anger. I try not to yell, “Fuck you!” at Z when we fight. To me swear words are fun, screaming them at someone equals loss of control loss and poisonous vitriol. I certainly have gone there in my life, more than I’d care to admit, but over the last nearly 16 years I’ve been with Z I try my damndest not to.

The poor kid being yelled at. I felt sick for him. What three year old deserves to be spoken to that way? Of course he was being a brat when I saw him earlier. He was clearly modeling behavior.

Z and I yell at the boys. Lately T has gotten a bit mouthy with me. Is it because I yell at him? Am I creating a monster? How different am I from that Dad? Is it just a slippery slope? How can I judge that man when I engage in a toned down version of the same behavior? Do I think I’m a better parent because I don’t yell in public or swear or lose total control? Is he actually more honest than I am?

The yelling stopped and I heard the family move away. I suggested T follow me in the opposite direction as I pushed C in our cart. Eventually we made our way back so T could salivate over his beloved Transformers. But I felt uncomfortable, ashamed, dirty even for the rest of our trip. Should I have spoken up for the poor kid? Who is going to protect him? What should I have said to T? He looked to me for answers and I gave him nothing. How dare I judge the family in the first place? How dare I feel momentarily vindicated in that judgement when the man freaked out?

Smart friends, what would you have done? What do you do when your kid is exposed to behavior you find abhorrent? What should I have done?

The most important task I have as a parent is to teach the boys to be decent humans. Yesterday I felt like a failure, a fraud.

chocolate drool

How about a funny picture to lighten things up? How about some post-dessert chocolate drool from my sweet mess of a boy?

Kids Being Kids Part 2

The afternoon following T’s haircut I posted this on facebook: Quote of the day from T, “Um…I forgot to tell ya. I’m not a fan of short hair.” Oh dear. I told him he can grow it back if he wants….

After a bit of digging it became clear that he wasn’t a fan of short hair because someone told him his hair looked ugly.

Listen, it would be easy for me to be mad and defensive that T’s feelings were bruised. I love my kids so fiercely that anytime they are hurt I see red, it is a biological response.

I let myself have that pang of anger. And then I let it go.

Because as we were having our conversation I could imagine another family in that very moment having a similar discussion about something T said that hurt one of his classmates feelings. And I bet that those parents were seeing red and thinking all sorts of terrible things about my boy.

Kids are mean. Because they are trying to figure out what they can get away with. Because the concept of “social niceties” are way beyond their comprehension. Because they didn’t get enough sleep the night before or they are adjusting to a new sibling or they are having a growth spurt.

I’m more interested in talking to T about how he felt when his feelings were hurt than worrying about the other kid. I want him to remember how he felt the next time he decides to say something mean to anyone else. And people are going to be mean to him for the rest of his life. The sooner he develops some tools to deal with it the better.

We talked about how the person that said his hair was ugly might not have even meant it. S/he might have been having a bad day, or s/he might have been confused that T looked so different, or s/he might have not liked that T was getting a bunch of attention. We talked about how we need to feel bad for someone who is being mean because they are often unhappy themselves. We talked about how important it is not to be mean to people. And by “we talked” I mean I talked at him. Remember, dude is 4. We will probably have the same conversation a million times before it even begins to sink in.

T and this kid seem to bring out the worst in each other. I’ve watched them interact and been shaken by T’s behavior. A couple of weeks ago I mentioned to Z that at least they won’t be going to kindergarten together. Z pointed out that there will always be that kid in T’s class. Even if it isn’t the same kid. Hell, T will be the that kid for someone else’s family. Zeke was right.

And I was really ashamed of myself for wanting the easy way out.

Shouldn’t we face dealing with the realities of how kids treat each other (and again, T is culpable. His behavior in this relationship has been unacceptable at times) rather than hoping the problem will go away when the kids don’t spend time together anymore?

Smart parent friends: how have you handled this with your kids? Seems like I am lucky enough to know a ton of people with compassionate and loving children. How did you parents do it? You guys are my fucking heros, by the way.

short haired boys

All my boys watching a movie.

big kid legos

Does he look older with the short hair? Or does he look younger? I can’t seem to make up my mind.

hotel view

The view from our hotel patio last week. Man, do I miss being warm.

Even More Questions For My Smart Friends

Question One

Woke up on the mend health-wise. The boys even let us sleep in until 6:30, so Z and I were scrambling a bit to start the day. In order to save time I didn’t do my usual stretches before heading out the door for my jog. Ok, so my chest still is a bit tight. I might have hacked up a violently yellow and nearly solid luggie (sorry) and blown an alarming amount of snot out of my nose. But really, I am feeling better than I was. And I did skip an extra day of jogging to I could recuperate.

So smart exercising friends of mine, can you tell me why I developed the worst stitch of my life about a tenth of a mile in? At first I thought I would just slowly jog through the pain (located on the right side about a third of the way up between my pelvis and bellybutton). Less than half a mile along I found myself walking even though I was very clearly telling my body to stop being a baby and continue jogging. The pain started to ease a bit, but I knew Z was late to work already and I couldn’t add a bunch of extra time to my work out. At about .6 of a mile I turned around and headed home, rather horrified by my defeat. Halfway home I tried jogging again, did not make it far before the stitch came back and the sharp pain was too much. Walked the rest of the way with my tail between my legs. What the fuck, smart friends? Was it skipping stretching? Still being a little sick? This is my first stitch since starting the exercising. And at the beginning I was drinking a huge cup of coffee before heading out. I’m pissed, kind of embarrassed, and I really don’t want this to happen tomorrow.

Question Two

Hey smart friends who are shampoo free! Hi there fellow hair hippies! Here’s the deal. November will mark two years since I’ve stopped using shampoo. While the baking soda/apple cider vinegar combo is not perfect I’ve been happier with it than I have with regular shampoo and conditioner. And I have really loved getting into the habit of only washing once or twice a week. Until I started exercising almost three months ago. When I exercise I sweat. Like a whore in church. Who has just jogged two miles. My hair is wet and gross and just rinsing with water does not cut it. I jog five days a week so suddenly I am using baking soda/apple cider vinegar 5 days. And my hair feels disgusting. I’ve tried less baking soda and less vinegar. Still gross. My hair feels like it has a film on it and it is really dull. What gives? I am so close to throwing in the towel and going back to shampoo and conditioner. Because if I need to choose between the two it is the shampoo free that is going to go.

Sorry for the selfish and boring “help me!” post. Picking up my parents at the airport this afternoon, so posting is going to be on the light side this week. Not that no posts over here is going to be crushing to anyone, just thought I’d provide the info….

daddy home

Look who’s home. He forgot to pack a razor and didn’t shave for the whole trip. Looked like a stranger when he got home.

nothing to see here

The face of a child who has been up to no good.

piano percher

Perching on the piano. No pants, of course.

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Here’s the hair unfiltered. Also not really combed and not fully dry from my shower, but personal grooming is not my forte. I’m super excited about the new sweater I’m wearing, though. Yay JCrew clearance sales for 75% off the original price! Yay trompe l’oeil! Yay Peter Pan collars!

Sorry to Bug You Smart Friends….But…..

Got a behavior question for you guys. T is sort of confounding me. Dude is able to express his feelings so clearly, but being able to express them and actually expressing them instead of acting out are two different things.

A perfect example is Friday afternoon. He is allowed to watch TV when he gets home from school. He is pooped by then, so it’s a good time of day for him to veg a bit. He doesn’t nap anymore, we call it his siesta. After a while I told him he needed to pee. I said he could wait until the commercial, but if he didn’t pee I’d turn the TV off for the rest of the day. Dude hates to take the time to pee. He holds it until a tiny bit dribbles out and then he hightails it to the bathroom. So we’ve got to tell him to go. He clearly was annoyed that I was making him pee, but he stomped off to do it.

A few moments later he called for me. I assumed he pooped, he does still need help in that department. But nope. He had extravagantly emptied his very full bladder all over the floor. It had splashed onto both walls, the puddle completely surrounded the toilet. I was speechless. When I regained my composure I asked him what happened.

“Well,” he said, “I tried to pee in the toilet and I missed.” “Wow,” I replied, “I don’t believe you. If you tried to pee in the toilet and missed there might be a little pee on the floor. But there is zero pee in the toilet and all the pee on the floor. You did this on purpose. And you have to stay in here and help me clean it up and if you miss part of the TV show that is your problem. I’ve got to tell you Dude, I’m really very angry right now.”

He cried as he sat on his little stool and begged to go back to the sofa. He really couldn’t clean up the pee without getting it all over himself, so I just let him sit there as I sopped it up. I know you aren’t supposed to ask why they did stuff at the age, but I couldn’t help myself. He looked right at me and replied, “Mom, I was really frustrated at you for making me pee. So I peed on the floor.” I told him I understood where he was coming from. He is allowed to be frustrated at me, I get frustrated at him all the time. But he needs to tell me, or he can bang on the floor or the sofa to get the anger out. He absolutely can’t do stuff like pee on the floor.

Listen, I’m grateful he can tell me what is going on in his head. It rocks that he has the ability to express himself. But I sort of thought that if he was able to let us know how he felt he wouldn’t act out by, you know, pissing all over the place in anger. He’d go ahead and tell us he was angry. Am I crazy? How to I encourage him to tell me he is frustrated BEFORE he takes punitive action aimed at me? I knew he was annoyed when he headed to the bathroom, but I had no idea of the level of frustration he was feeling, it wasn’t a particularly contentious conversation.

Friends who have a background in early childhood development what the hell am I doing wrong here? How do I get to a place where we are less frustrated at each other? Or should I just start emptying my bladder on his bedroom floor to demonstrate that I’m angry at him? Just kidding. Sort of.

Post about T, pictures of C. Doesn’t make sense to me either, but I don’t have new pictures of T. Dude is still recovering from his sick and was taking it easy today, so there weren’t a lot of kodak moments. C, on the other hand, was hamming it up. There is bacon above his head in this shot and he was begging like a puppy.

He figured out how to knock his Dad’s hats off their hooks. He put this one one and started pushing the stroller around the house. He was responsible for the jaunty angle.

And then he traded for a cap.

Hey Smart Friends, Need a Little More Help Over Here

Friends. Smart, smart friends. I’m bugging you again because I need help. Clearly I can’t to this parenting thing without a ton of backup. So can we talk about pacifiers?

T wasn’t a pacifier guy. From day one he showed little interest. When C was an infant he didn’t use them either. Then one day last spring he was fussy while our lovely babysitter was over. She found a pacifier somewhere in the living room-it came home from the hospital with us when T was born. I know, gross. I should have thrown it out, you know, several years ago. But the damn thing shut C up.

I know people have strong feelings about the use of pacifiers. I am not one of those people. T didn’t like them, so I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about them. C was very late to using them, they provided a lot of comfort for him so I really didn’t give a shit. An added bonus was when he went through that stick-every-fucking-thing-you-touch-in-your-mouth phase the pacifier blocked him. It was hilarious to watch and he didn’t get dirt and grass and stuff he could choke on in his mouth.

A while ago our pediatrician told us she was totally cool with pacifiers, but she warned us that kids start to really get addicted to them at 18 months and the habit becomes difficult to break. He is 18 months at the end of February. We decided we’d “wean” him from the pacifier when we got back from our trip down south. But when we got home he was still a sick little boy. Also, you know, breaking him of the habit is really hard. I think the addiction boat sailed a little early with our guy.

He has the pacifier in and out of his mouth all day. But at night he needs it to sleep. And when it falls out he freaks and cries. And he really won’t go back to sleep unless I nurse him. There have been nights where I’ve nursed him 5 times, although the average is 2. He is going on 17 months old. It’s fucking ridiculous. And not to be completely selfish, ok who am I kidding, I’m always completely selfish. So yes, to be completely selfish, I fucking want to sleep through the night. I’m tired. C’s tired. Z’s tired. T is fine, totally well rested. Z and I resent the shit out of him.

So what do I do? How to we get him off the pacifier? Do we just pull the bandaid off? Do we take it away during the day and let him have it at night for a while? Do we put him down without it and give it to him when he wakes? Should we just give him to gypsies? What did you do with your pacifier addicted child? Did you send him/her to rehab? Was it expensive? Did the quite in your house while s/he was gone heal you and make you into a functioning human again? Can we send both of them to rehab? Please? HELP ME!

Yes, he also climbs inside the cabinets. I think that is a separate post.

Daddy and C doing a little early morning facebooking. Oh, guess what? He’s walking almost all of the time now. Guess I just should have written about it months ago….

And and old one of this guy. He is going to be serious trouble when he gets older. I just hope he doesn’t figure out how damn good looking he is. 

Monster Under the Bed

There was a flat crocheted Holly Hobbie figure hanging from a light pull in the middle of my bedroom in New Jersey. I was 2-4 when we lived there, I’m not sure how old I was when it became a focus, but eventually it scared the living daylights out of me. I was sure it was going to come to life in the middle of the night and kill me. I devised a safety plan. If the blanket was tucked all around my body and over my head the evil Holly Hobbie couldn’t get me.

I’ve had problems with nighttime for as long as I can remember. In 3th grade we lived outside Boston. I remember starting to feel sick to my stomach as soon as it began to get dark every single night. By the time bedtime actually rolled around I’d be seized with terror. In the morning I’d be fine, but each day was a long slide towards dread and fear. In 4th grade we were in Fairfax, VA. My fear had morphed into a faceless intruder coming into my room to kill me. I decided I’d be able to crawl under my bed and into a hole in the mattress to safety. Inside the mattress I imagined I would discover a tunnel that led to an underground world of tunnels and burrows where a population of people hiding from the world came together. I spent a lot of time in my head with those people. I could lose myself in their world and finally relax.

The terror eased when I became a teenager who wanted to sleep all the time. As an adult living in apartments in cities helped. I never felt alone even when Z was away, people surrounded me on all sides. I could faintly hear them living their own lives and it comforted me. Our home in Syracuse is the first single family dwelling I’ve lived in since I left for college in 1995. We moved in the week before T was born. It seems like he didn’t sleep that entire first fall. Very quickly nighttime became sinister to me again. When it would get dark my anxiety would skyrocket. I was so tired and while I wasn’t scared of things that go bump in the night I was filled with dread that once again I wouldn’t be allowed to sleep. And if I’m honest the other kind of fear has also returned when Z goes out of town. I admit it. I’m scared when I’m alone in charge of the kids. A while ago I told my Mom about all of this. She asked why I didn’t tell her I was so frightened when I was a kid. It confused me. I thought that I did. And who knows what really happened? Now that I’m a Mom I can guess. She needed me to get in bed so she could have a fucking tiny little break and I fought her. I probably frustrated the hell out of her.

And now I empathize with her. Because T sure does frustrate the hell out of us. Some nights he makes bedtime into a torturous process, other nights he is completely cooperative and asleep for a solid 10 hours moments after his head hits the pillow. Lately he has started to talk about monsters. We aren’t sure where the fascination came from-we aren’t showing him movies with monsters, we don’t talk about them. When we were traveling last week he was having a hard time settling and Z lost patience. So we traded off and I climbed into the bed with T. He asked for a song about the Monster Owl. I had zero idea what he was talking about. But I made one up about a good monster owl named Harry who protected kids from bad monsters and who everyone wanted in their bedrooms. T dug it, he’s been talking about it since. Unfortunately I can’t remember how it went.

Z and I just want to get him to sleep so we can decompress a bit before starting this whole parenting thing again the next day. But I’ve been wondering if he’s been scared. Last night he woke up crying in the middle of the night for the second day in a row. He was up even earlier last night-at 1am. When he cries in the middle of the night I go in, Z is on C duty. Last night he confirmed my fears, he told me he was scared. I explained that he was safe and he told me there was a monster under his bed. I guess that cliché exists for a reason. We certainly haven’t put that idea in his head. From the time he first got up until 7 (a major sleep in for us) he was in and out of our bed, we were in and out of his bed, we had the light on in his room so he could play. He was completely unsettled and clearly very scared and not interested in sleep.

My heart aches for him. But at the same time today is going to suck ass because I’m so tired. I need my sleep, I’m a really selfish gal. These are the facts, I wish I was a better mother/wife/person. I just want my kid to fucking sleep so we can fucking sleep. My love and hopes and dreams for him are able to pierce that selfishness enough to fill me with worry. I don’t want him to grow up with a fear of nighttime just like mine. I do not know how to help him.

Z and I brainstormed a bit this morning. We asked T what was scaring him specifically and he told us the monster was an ugly doll that has been in his room for almost his entire life. He kept calling it Bobby, which was weird, but we figured out what was going on. The doll has historically been one of his favorites and it is called Beep Bop. But it has sort of fallen out of favor, it isn’t in the bed with him anymore and we haven’t referred to it by name for ages. I guess Bobby is what he remembered. We told him that Bobby was a good monster and he protected people and we’d really like to have him in our bedroom if T doesn’t want him around so he can make us feel safe. T loved that idea. We are also going to do an under the bed search tonight to show him there are no monsters there and perhaps a stuffed animal can stand sentinel to protect T. We wondered if there was another stuffed animal he wanted in his room that would protect him. He asked for the fish snow man. Which is actually a stuffed ghost some kind vendor gave him at the flea market ages ago. I quite enjoy the irony of a ghost protecting him.

Have any of you dealt with this? What did you do, Smart Friends? How do we teach our kid not to be scared of the dark, of night, of monsters? How to we help him get through the night while also getting sleep ourselves so we have something left over for C and laundry and making dinner and work and each other? T needs sleep, he is exhausted. Dude was a major dickhead this morning. Kept throwing wooden blocks at his brother.

It kills me that fear is already part of his emotional vocabulary. Did I do this to him? Does he see how I struggle to get through the day? Is he learning anxiety from me? Did he inherit it from my genes? Was I irresponsible and foolish for sharing my DNA with my children? Those questions tourment me. I don’t think I can handle the answers.

My grumplestiltskin. Jesus, though my haze of sleepiness I hurt for him. I just don’t want him to be scared. I want him to know he is safe here, that his Dad and I will protect him.

And the well rested kid. I’m still confused by the fact that my anxiety-ridden body produced such a content human.