Strollers at the Zoo

It’s been a hell of a life lately. The boy has been busting his ass in therapy and it paid off; he is now officially almost 3 years old, literally and figuratively. No more delays. Still a lot of quirks and a sprinkle of jackass here and a dash of OCD there. But overall, his therapists, teachers, and parents couldn’t be more proud of his stunning success.

The husband is now officially an extern for 4 months at a lovely hospital. He bust his ass at school and made it. Now he has a real job, sort of. We just have to make it to February, and he is done. An accomplishment that I couldn’t describe to you in any language, on any blog, on any planet. Too big.

Now, that leaves me. Yeah. Well, I was up to my ears in diarrhea today, since the boy had been on some strong antibiotics and insisted on eating more than his share of fried onions. You know, the kind you put on that gross green bean casserole? I coughed so hard this morning I peed myself. My eyebrows are now very similar in shape and form to Larry King’s. Only I don’t have a desk and microphone to hide them behind. I had a dinner today that consisted of a lot of bacon and red meat. My job and firm have both positioned themselves beautifully in between the 6th and 7th level of hell, and I have acne behind my ears. I suppose that I could be grateful that I don’t have it on my face, but they hurt. Obviously you can tell by now I am in the mood for some self-reflection.

It’s October here in the midwest, and all signs point to family togetherness, pumpkin farms, carving, and moms in nice jeans and boots wearing crisp shirts with fashionable scarves, holding their equally fashionable child in one hand while lovingly embracing a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte in the other. They have already taken their wonderful fall family pictures, and their homes are filled with Febreze Fall Amish Acorn Apple Pie Cashmere Scented Decorative Shades and they used all of their coupons at Michael’s Crafts to construct an aerodynamically politically correct black widow spider to sit on their porch with their whimsical jack o’ lanterns. In the meantime, I just tossed the last of last Christmas’ candle because it got too dusty and I am fairly certain there is a real spider living in the boy’s play kitchen. Hell, I can’t keep my own kitchen clean, now I have two to clean? And one of them doesn’t even have real running water? And besides, these festivities of which I speak aren’t really ever a success for me and the family anyway. Why you ask?

My husband is kind of tightly wound. He just as well would not go anywhere if he doesn’t know what’s in store. He himmed and hawwed for a good two weeks when I said I wanted to take the boy the zoo. Knowing him as I do, I finally got the bottom of his hesitance. He was worried about the stroller. He didn’t know if there was a spot to put your stroller when you went indoors, so he just plain ol’ thinks we shouldn’t go. Yes. That is what I chose, quite deliberately, to marry into. And trust me, every second of my life with him is pretty much exactly the same. I will go anywhere, do anything and try it all. But this is the life I chose, and part of the special nature of my relationship and marriage is seeing his eyes kind of light up when he ends up having fun doing something he is forced to do. Example: he was petrified, and I mean petrified to go to Mexico with me; until that is, he realized he could have two plates of food and all of the beers he wanted because it was all-inclusive and the trip was paid off months before. Now he wants to live there.

However, one doesn’t realize how complacent one becomes until that very personality that you have become accustomed to gets handed down genetically to your offspring. Which leads me to the boy. He looks like me through and through. But he is very much his father’s child. Actually, given all of his issues and delays, it kind of leads me to think his father had his own undiagnosed and ignored issues as a youngster himself. In fact, I know it now. The boy isn’t a sheer joy to take anywhere. I mean, he isn’t a hunchback or anything. He doesn’t wreck the place like a crackhead. But it took a long time before we could figure out where we could take him, and which one of his quirks would wreak havoc on our time out. Just when he became socially pleasant to be around and we dropped our guard….it happened.

He became his father.

He is picky about where we go. He flat-out refuses to try certain things. A simple day out doing something fun, and productive, and “normal” becomes an earth shattering disappointment. There are tears, and tantrums, and regret that we even stepped out of the house. And that is just from my husband. Ha. But really. I get angry and disappointed because he isn’t laughing and running and enjoying himself like all of the other kids. And my husband is saying “we shoulda…(insert plan B) or we shouldn’t have (insert leave the house here.) And all that is left is me. Mad at a 2.5 year old because he can’t enjoy himself, and mad at his dad for being who he is, and mad at myself for not thinking about the power of genetics when I allowed myself to fall in love with a roughneck at a biker bar 14 or so years ago.

Mostly, this is about my expectations and how they are just too high at the moment. I have socially awkward people who need my love and sense of humor. Because that really is the only thing that I have going for me right this second. And I don’t want the boy to grow up with that kind of anvil in his gut. Something inside of him stopping him from doing things because his brain can’t sort out what the outcome will be. The good news is that the husband doesn’t want him to turn out like him either. See? He recognizes. That’s all that I can ask for in life.

As for me. I need to figure out what I can do on my own. For myself. I need to figure out where I can find my own sense of who I really am on the inside. I need the cash to get my brows done. These two socially inept nut jobs need me. And besides, the boy didn’t totally become his dad. He memorizes music like no ones business. He fixates on certain cool songs and his face is full of sheer enjoyment and thought when he sees someone singing something he likes. He is also pretty hilarious. He has a bit of my genes too. And I shouldn’t let you think I am perfect either. This kid has a huge chance of becoming kind of a slut, a little crazy, a drunk, or a Republican. Yes, we have a little bit of everything on my side.

Mostly though, I just want him to be his own set of genes. Make his own decisions about what he likes and how he lives. I don’t want him to be a slave to his genes, or his environment. I want him to breathe deeply, smile, and not worry about strollers at the zoo.

Bebe

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Hundred Acre Won’t!

I have always fancied myself a relatively average gal by nature. I don’t really have too much of a hipster vibe. I enjoy some out-of-the-way things.  I listen to a specific radio station that doesn’t specialize in playing the latest Miley Cyrus or Taylor Swift over and over again, but I don’t own an IPod. I dress pretty plain, have an average sense of belonging, and I am only quirkier than a few people. I live in the burbs. I drive an SUV. I commute every day. I don’t shop at Whole Foods. Not because I can’t afford it or think it’s bushwah, but because I don’t live near one. I don’t like sushi. I don’t like fish, period. I exist right down the middle of life.

When I had the boy, I did want to try to stick to fresh foods, organic baby food, homemade baby food, baby food made lovingly by indigenous tribes of brown children blessed by the hand of God Himself, who live on a commune of unicorns and gluten-free fields of gold. That lasted all of 6 months or so, when Costco brand diapers and formula proved far less expensive than milk and honey from Euphoria.

So when I compromised on what he began to eat, I thought I would hold my ground and only expose him to off beat and smart music. Acoustic guitar, instrumental versions of Smashing Pumpkins music and awesome Pink Floyd solos. Then he became enchanted with the theme song from King of the Hill. It’s rock-a-billy, so I can handle that. Then came Wheel of Fortune and oddly enough, The Golden Girls. Apparently I gave birth to a 70 year old man. All in all, his music tastes are pretty acceptable, even though his dad sneaks on dance music when they are alone in the car. I guess that’s better than letting him eat Doritos all of the time, or teaching him to smoke.

I didn’t want the house to be full of generic corporate Disney stuff. I mean, Handy Manny is pretty cool. He is a Mexican handy man who teaches Spanish, lives in a perfect little town called Sheet-rock Hills, has a gay neighbor who owns a candy shop, and he is secretly in love with the hot chic who owns the hardware store. They also feature a lot of Los Lobos music. He is in. But the other stuff, not so much.

Same goes for books. I had the classic Disney stuff around when I was a kid. The big vinyl records with the books to read along. The politically incorrect drawings. The good stuff.  There is a series of books about a pigeon that I think are rather funny, and when he is older, Jamie Lee Curtis actually puts together a great book for kids, when she isn’t talking about constipation and yogurt on her couch with random women.

When the boy started walking around with Winnie the Pooh and the Windy Day, I am a bit dead inside. Pooh always seemed the lamest and somewhat creepiest of all of the Disney family. I just never got the appeal. He wasn’t really edgy or funny, and he was just that stereotypical baby nursery character that everybody had. I assumed we were cooler than that.

Fast forward a few weeks. The boy and his speech therapist are BFF’s. He is making great progress and every day he looks at things in a new way. He opens his Pooh book, points and says “Pooh”. Then later, he says “Eeyore”. Most recently according to my husband, he said “Owl”. The phrase that pays here people is HE SAID.

And now my heart has melted and I have taken Lulu’s advice and embraced the Pooh book. But not without a fight, and not without questions. First off, why do they call him Pooh, when his name is Winnie? What is a Pooh anyway? And furthermore, is he a he? If he is a he, why is his name Winnie? It’s a vicious cycle here people. Why is Tigger basically a crackhead, and why does he have mass appeal? What will become of Eeyore, who obviously needs to get off of the downers and start with some Wellbrutin or Prozac ASAP? Does Piglet know how good bacon is?

I stand by these questions. I know they may never be answered, which I guess is fine. If my son wants to yell their names across the house day in and day out, I will be more than pleased to hear them. I would even move to the Hundred Acre Wood, provided there is a decent radio station and a Whole Foods nearby.

-Bebe

Talking Heads

My son was recently diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder. In simplest terms, he is unable to take what he hears and feels and process it into thoughts and actions. As you already know from earlier posts, he has been in therapy, doesn’t say much, and has a compulsive attachment to doors and buckles of every kind. The SPD is something the professionals thought could be borderline but soon it was clear that it wasn’t, and he needed more help. We had a change with our speech therapist and at first, I was pretty sad. But this woman is a breath of fresh air and she was able to get the boy to a whole new level in a matter of 3 sessions. Change isn’t always bad.

So starting in about a week or so, he will be spending 4 days a week getting occupational, speech & developmental therapies. That and 5 days of good old-fashioned day care. That boy is busier at 2 than I ever was in my lifetime as a little person. He has a great attitude about it and loves his therapists. He gets pissed when he has to work, but who doesn’t, right? I want to report to you that I see this fantastic change in him every minute of every day. But I don’t. That’s not to say that he hasn’t improved. He really truly has. He mimics us a bit now. I imagine Daddy and Mommy should curb our swears and random ridiculous conversations starting soon. We got into this ridiculous and hilarious argument in the car this weekend and he sat in the back, laughing his ass off. That smart ass kind of laugh where you could totally tell he thinks we are both assholes. My boy might be a little slow in the head, but he ain’t stupid. He knows assholes when he sees them. We were laughing and yelling at the same time, so it’s not like we acted like Ike & Tina or anything. But my point is, he knows.

I don’t always see his improvement because now, he acts out the most with me. I arrive at the time of the day that is hardest on him. He is so over excited to see me that he cannot take in what is going on around him. Nothing is routine with us, yet everything is. It is literally our routine for him to spaz out when I walk through the door and have him screech and get frustrated. We have a lovely time in the bath tub but when I am drying him off, I get smacked and kicked. Hard. Until recently, I didn’t really know how to help him down from that. Now I know to take my glasses off, hold his arms down a bit and give him a good strong hug. I sing the 50 states in ABC order because I learned them in the 5th grade and never got the song out of my head. And it actually helps to calm me down. This doesn’t work on him all the time. But the few times that it does really helps. I don’t feel so out of control. And as badly as it hurts my feelings and my self-worth when he is knocking the shit out of only me, I feel that much better when only I can calm him down.

I am unable to sleep in on weekends now because the second I walk down the stairs, his morning is in shambles. He isn’t used to seeing me all day. He had a morning routine with dad and while he loves that I am there, he is physically and emotionally unable to convey that he wants me there. So in other words, I have a 2-year-old teenager. “Oh look! There’s mom!! There’s mom!!! I love her soooo much!! However, I don’t know how to deal with her presence or my feelings, so begin breakdown before she hits the bottom stair. Annnnndddd GO!!!”

We have to work with the therapists on how to help him on weekends. And I guess on how to help us. I stayed home all last week on what was supposed to be the great clean up of 2010. Instead, it was the 2 year old’s great ear infection of 2010 and he stayed home with me all week. Nothing I planned went right. Not one thing. I had some good moments with him. I really did. But others, not so great. I had to keep telling myself that I am here for him, not the other way around. I had to keep telling myself he was very sick, and in general, even those “normal” little kids are jerks when they are sick. But all I wanted to do was run away or go back to work. Until a couple of things happened.

He pretended to talk on the phone. He babbled his heart out and even said “buh” before he hung up. This shows that he not only knows his own place in society, but he also wants to talk to other people in his world. That guy was saying something to someone on the phone!! Most likely he casually mentioned his fat ass mom hasn’t gotten out of her bright red bath robe in days and she was starting to kind of resemble the planet Mars. But fuck it. I will take that. Besides, that shit is true.

Our friends gave us some special sensory specific toys. He took to them straight away, and even sat down with us, and more specifically me, to play with them. It was a family effort and it went swimmingly. It was the end of the longest most unsuccessful week I probably had in ages, and here we were, playing as a family unit. I felt just about as calm as he was. And I guess that sometimes even when I am not realizing it, I am probably just as spazzy as he is. Something for me to think about the next time I am helping him out of the spiral.

Last but not least, something else entirely caught me by surprise. My husband started school the same week I was home. He was highly overwhelmed and emotional, but fiercely dedicated and steadfast. I had some music on. The boy sat in my lap on the living room floor playing with his new keyboard. Daddy was walking around reading medical terminology flash cards. I had slightly homemade Bisquick shortcakes in the oven and berries in the refrigerator. I kind of looked up and saw that moment for what it was. It was exactly what I have always wanted for myself. An evening with my family. No yelling. No farting. No cartoons or sports or empty television. No squeals of frustration from my son who lives in his own mind. Music, baked goods, education, culture and affection paid a visit to my home. It was genuinely who we were that night. It was a lovely moment and I am blessed beyond reason to have had it, and grateful beyond measure to be able to notice it.

My shitty week and sweet weekend ended today with the boy leading us in the song Itsy Bitsy Spider. It’s been one of his favorites for as long as I can remember. He would look intently at us and laugh when we over exaggerated the sun with interpretive dance. Only this time, it was his idea to start the song, and he did the movements with us. When he wanted to do it again, he used his sign language and asked for more. So of course, we did it again. My 2-year-old teenager changed back into a 2 year old boy, and when we put him down for bed, he yelled “BU BYE GOGO” He then reached out of his crib and slammed his door shut.

We have no idea what BU BYE GOGO means. But it’s cool. I am sure he will tell us someday.

Bebe

Inflatable metaphors for life.

We had a birthday party to go to today. It was at one of those places that has inflatable castles, obstacle courses, slides, and games for the kids. We were so excited to get up early and get the boy out with other kids. His social anxieties have improved so much, and he has always loved a good bouncy castle. Hell, so do I. I once played in one for almost two days straight, and that was just 3 years ago.

The boy sleeps in today, which is not like him in the least. He is all about routine, this one. And today he ignored said routine and opted for a sleep in. I should have known that the rest of the day would not be as peachy as I had imagined it. But hope, much like hemorrhoids, springs eternal. So I put on my best smile and we headed out to the door.

We get there and there are tons of kids, lots of balloons, and of course, inflatables everywhere. But who needs inflatables when you have doors? Awesome doors abundant like milk and honey. For every 5 minutes he spent playing and bouncing, we spent 15 minutes prying him from a door. Given that he is now asserting himself a bit better, he throws a tantrum every time you whisk him away to greener bouncier pastures.

I tried to maintain Zen about it. To allow him to just kind of be who he is. But he just kept running outside, crying, hitting, squealing, and crying some more. At one point I threw him over my shoulder and tossed him into a castle and almost demanded that he have fun. I went into a quiet spot and cried a bit out of frustration. I looked at the kids there who were younger than him who grasped the concept of climbing, bouncing and running back and forth. They all yelled “mommy, watch me!”. Mine squealed and ran out the door.

Daddy came and got him from me and took him around the room. That didn’t work, so he came back to me. He climbed up on my lap and he put his cheek to my chest and I covered his other ear and rocked back and forth. He sighed with relief and we stayed there for about 20 minutes. My dear friend came around and sat next to me and rubbed my leg. She shared her problems with her youngest son, who has severe allergies and asthma. He had similar problems with speech and being behind like our boy. But his were medical in nature and medication has changed his life. But she had been there and she knew I was hurting and she simply came and rubbed my leg.

After about 20 minutes I was starting to see why the boy was so overwhelmed with the place. It’s an open warehouse but strangely so claustophobic at the same time. He kept yawning and was most comfortable when I had his ears covered. It was chilly in there and there was a lot of screaming, white noise coming from the air conditioners and the air compressors, and loud music. No wonder he wasn’t having any fun. I wouldn’t have either if I were him.

He got up and walked over to this enormous slide. I mean, enormous. You climb through this tube and climb up this wall and then slide down. I decided to go in with him knowing he wouldn’t be able to do it alone even if he did grasp the concept of it all, which he didn’t. But I saw other parents doing so I said what the hell. Let’s go, kid.

So first off, let me explain that I am about 5 feet tall and I am shaped like a beach ball with feet. I have been doing a lot of random sweating lately, and my hair was sticking up all over the place from static and bad hair. I plucked my fat ass through the tube opening, thinking that on the inside of this giant contraption would be a little walking around, some stairs and at the very least, an escape route. No problem, right?

HA! It was impossible! The boy was crying, then laughing, then crying. I had to throw myself down little tubes, giant holes, curved hills and then through an area of giant upright cylinders. By this time word got around that I went for it, so all of my husbands friends and their wives all stragetically set themselves up to view what could have been the most hilarious sight in the world. The wives, most of whom I love dearly, set themselves up at the bottom of the slide. The husbands walked around the perimeter of the slide and yelled at me from the open areas. They followed me like one would follow a golf game, only they were laughing hysterically.

Kids were running past us, the boy was exhilerated but terrified. I looked for an escape route. None! I let another mom go past me. I just kept breathing and I kept trying to keep the boy calm. I was sweating and laughing at myself for doing this. I wanted to turn around but even if he wasn’t going to understand it at the time, I wasn’t going to let my kid down and turn around go back. Not for him, or for me. He could cry it out, I could make a fool of myself and get laughed at, but that bitch was going to get tamed. And we were the two people to tame it.

Then, I get to….the wall. Yes, the wall that went straight up about 10 feet I think. The wall with little ass square pegs to climb on, and a couple of handles here and there to grab. The wall to the top of the slide. To the top of my pride, my son’s anxieties, and the top of the giant freefall below. I honestly didn’t think we could do it. The boy weighs 35 pounds. And I weight much more. Muchhhhhh more. I wouldn’t have been able to do that wall at the age of 15, let alone at the age of 35 with a 35 pound Forrest Gump on my hip!

Then I remembered my mother in law bringing in a fucking pizza to Thanksgiving dinner. One step. All of the therapy my son has to take and how trapped he must feel sometimes. Two steps. How I sometimes just feel queasy living in my own skin and work soooo hard to change that almost every second of every day. Three steps. My husband not working for two years straight but still holding on the best we can. Four steps. My husband and our friends behind me giggling their fat asses off, yelling for the little girl up on the top of slide to grab the boy and yank him up. Five steps.

As corny as this is going to sound, and believe me, it’s corny. I took a deep breath and said out loud to my son “Life is always going to be hard for people like us. Let’s finish.” Six steps.

Then, there we are. He is crying and confused. I am holding off having a heart attack, and I can’t feel my fingers. I sit my fat ass down at the top of the slide and put him on my lap. He instantly stops crying and holds on to my hands. I could actually feel him smiling even though I couldn’t see him in front of me. I take a deep breath and yell “CANNONBALLLLLLLLLLLLLLL” and down we go. About mid-way through I feel how fast we are going, and see all of our friends at the bottom of the slide waiting for us. Flashing lights from the cameras, slow motion clapping. I scream. We hit the bottom and the boy giggles his heart out. I block traffic at the bottom because I can’t move. All of these little kids start piling on top of me.

My husband helps me roll off the bottom of the slide. My son may be slow, and I may be fat. And we both had a hell of a time getting up that bitch of a slide, but we did it. We have a picture of it and everything. We scored one for fat moms and slow kids everywhere. I hope he is glad we followed through. I am.

Bebe

“Juicy” is not a description that should be on my butt

One of my favorite places for inspiration on the subject of being 1.) a mother and 2.) a real live human being with real emotions is Momversation.com.   So a post I had been thinking about came to the surface tonight, while I drank my beer and ate my burger and watched Are Little Girls Clothes Way Too Sexy? at Momversation.com.

One of my friends completely innocently included a bib in a gift at my baby shower that said “Hottie” on it.  It was in a large pack of other bibs, so I’m not saying she was making some statement or is behind this sentiment, but man that thing stuck in my craw.

I thought I threw it out, my first battle in the war on sexism for my daughter, but there it was again in the pile of things as I packed to move last month.  “HOTTIE” written in purple across a white bib.  Really?  A person that needs such a bib is under the age of one and we already assigning this cringe-worthy slang word to them?  I mean, sure she’s cute but wait…why are we already talking about her physical beauty!?  She still shits her pants!

Sure, I may be a little too indignant about this, but hell…I work all day and come home and run all night.  Allow me my little wars.

So as I watched this episode, it hit me: Oh Holy Moses on Mt. Sinai, I’m going to have to deal with the length of my daughter’s skirts from grades 5-12.  I’m going to have to be the fuddy duddy that tells her to respect herself and not make the entire 10th grade Math class her gynecologist.

How do you teach girls to respect themselves?  To not be on display for boys or other girls?

I assume I teach her that by the actions of myself.  Hell, that shouldn’t be a problem then because hopefully she will look to her aunt for fashion tips, as lately my wardrobe has included v-neck t-shirts in all colors and one pair of men’s jeans from The Gap.  Then again, maybe by the time we’re having these arguments in front of her closet I will have had more than 10 minutes to shower once a week, so hell, maybe I’ll have been able to throw on a short skirt too. Providing I will have resumed shaving my legs in 2021.

For now I’m just going to use that bib when she eats really awful stain-inducing foods like peas and carrots and the dog food (have I mentioned we reached, The Crawling?).  Then I’m going to wipe her ass with it, hop in my car, cruise the mall and leave it in the dressing room at Forever Slutty-One.

Hurrah!

-Lulu