Monday, August 26, 2013

You can Do what you want- BUT you are doing it WRONG!

Last night I sat with my husband trying to get a little current musical education. We don't watch MTV much anymore- most of it being entirely inappropriate and generates uncomfortable feelings all around. One can only have so many jumping off points for conversation with kids about drugs, sex, and poor choices. So- having missed the initial airing of the MTV video music awards- we chose to watch an instant replay on VH-1. Phil and I were the only ones who appreciated that irony.

The first commercial had us agape as a caricature of a human being aka posterchild of all things that can go wrong in plastic surgery. I do not watch reality tv. I see commercials for housewives of various locations and professions and can't tell anything apart- and considering they all subscribe to the hideous Saw- clown face ideal of facial characteristics- how could I? But even the kids were slack jawed- what is wrong with her face? I momentarily wondered if the show's producers planned on letting her die on tv from anaphalaxis, her lips were so big.  The show- something about a monkey in Miami. Now as someone who uses the moniker, monkey - I was horrified lest my nickname be tarnished by this.

Lady Gaga opened, leaving everyone slightly Gaga about her lack of Gaga. Her many wardrobe changes mid stage seemed rushed and I was distracted by the unevenness of the wigs and ultimately watched just to see if one would go flying off. I wasn't shocked or particularly offended by the thong baring- you pretty much expect it in this caliber of show. I was more bothered that she wore it to watch the rest of the show in. I can't even remember which theatre it was in- but I definitely support the use of disposable seat covers now, ew.

Kanye- was Kanye. Way too self important, arrogant, trying too hard to be something. Which actually was a good lead in to the artist formerly known as Hannah Montana. I get that Miley Cyrus feels compelled to shed the Disney image and do what she wants to.  I get that she is trying to grow up and be edgey. I am not crazy about the lackadaisical approach to life- we all are responsible for our footprints.  But in the words of my ever astute husband- SHE IS DOING IT WRONG!  Before she even performed, he paused the show and made me watch the actual video so he could watch my facial expression and/or prepare me for what was ahead.  It was not shock- it was more confusion. It left us collectively scratching our heads and wanting to bleach our eyeballs. We googled her age- 21.  Not an uncommon age for kids to take those big gigantic steps away from parents and start forging their way. She is doing it wrong.  Kiera, freshly showered, had quietly slipped onto the couch-escaping our notice. Phil pushes play- the display of atrocity begins. I realize Kiera is there as Hannah Montana is bent over twerking on Mr. Seaver's son.  I look at Phil in horror. He pauses. If we ever- EVER -  she is giggling uncomfortably and realizes she's dismissed to bed hopefully not while visions of rabid teddy bears twerking dance in her head. Over and over- Miley is just doing it wrong. Lil Phillip sighs and says- I think this is a cry for help. I have to agree. Unfortunately I think the party in question is the only person who doesn't know where this trainwreck is headed. Even the camaramen seem embarrassed to watch.

The redeeming quality of the show came with a message of acceptance from Macklemore with introductory words from a really tall dude who seemed slightly out of his element as he presented the argument  judging a person for sexual orientation is no different that judging a person for their skin color. Unfortunately logic doesn't generally transcend the world of bigotry. The meaning and emphasis slightly and ironically lost when shorter dude goes on to announce that "He stand up for everything he believe in as far as everybody being equal, color, homosexuality,  white boy- Macklemore". Really? One step forward, 2 steps back. I don't care what your message is- articulation is a key element. Fortunately we were left with Macklemore's performance.

God Love Justin Timberlake for the mini concert and further earning hero status by reuniting N'sync.  Watching Gaga quiver in her seat like a preteen - a little comical. Yet a good example of how to perform- that being good at what you do will create genuine awe. JT- visibly uncomfortable with the attention and willing to share glory with his former bandmates- who without- his journey to success would have been very different. A far far cry from Hannah Montana- disavowing all connection to both her father and brand that created her. We are left with Miley- a caricature of a girl who might some day become a woman if shed can she the maniacal fluffy teddy bear of her own creation that seems to be strapped to her back.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

All that Glitters

I am not much of a girly girl. I am pretty convinced that is why I have been blessed with 3 girls.  Marrying a guy who grew up with 5 brothers gave me a pretty blank slate in the womanly wiles training category. It's bitten me in the bum a few times- example- Kiera was prone to particularly mean diaper rash. Despite the male half of our partnership continuously boasting of his world record holding times for diaper changing- application and removal of diaper ointment suddenly became a game changer.  After 2 calls to apply- and 1 call to assist in the tub for removal- we bebriefed the impracticality of the situation. His defense- I'm pretty sure there are laws against this- my question- against what- bathing your daughter? I'm pretty sure there are negligence charges in store if you don't.  After a particularly wise and experienced neighbor heard me talking about Kiera's rash and our challenges- she supplied me with a bottle of cornstarch and instructions that the bottle shouldn't last a week if I'm adding enough to each diaper- and after a week it should no longer be a problem. She was right- crisis averted. Until next time.

Crisis 2. Nail polish.  When Kiera was about 2- I tried painting her nails. Other girls we knew had their nails painted- I thought it was what you were supposed to do. So I did. Kiera, preoccupied from an early age with being like her peers and pretty, shiny things- sat unusually still through the process. When completed- she proudly held up her bright pink nails for her brother to view. He promptly came to me with a pudgy 3 year old hand held out and asked- Me too? It wasn't really a dilemma- although Kiera favored girly and pink- I always encouraged her to try whatever- let her play cars and trains and baseball with her brother. I would have let him play dolls and lord knows she asked him plenty- but he would take his matchbox cars and retreat to a quiet space.  Why should it be different for him- not a big fan of nail polish on boys- but maybe a toe or two and he wouldn't feel left out. After 2 toes, his dad walks in from work and suveys the situation- boy on table- fat foot in hand, bottle of nail polish in my other hand. Boys DO NOT wear nail polish- he said. Both kids look at me, lil Phillip's face falls and pulls his foot from my hand.  Conceeding that my knowledge of boy stuff was equivalent to his of girl stuff- I knew I had made a game changing error. Kind of like one of Phillip's first diaper changes- before my husband briefed me on the shield, swap technique for boys and their problematic little firehoses. You only have to make some mistakes once.

The instruction manual for girls should have 5 chapters devoted to glitter. Where it is, how to avoid it, how to rid yourself of it once you have been attacked, how to contain the wayward gifted glitter and an entire section on glitter cards and other sneaky places glitter is hidden. No manual can prepare you for the utter joy glitter brings most 5 year old girls. It is inexplicable. Glitter makes everything better, shinier, fancier, prettier. Most of us learn the maintenance of glitter is far more annoying and spend the rest of our lives focusing on containment. A few incorporate it in to daily use with careful selection of profession. Birthdays and holidays are particularly problematic in the containment. At times you just conceed and grab the vaccuum. So when one inadvertently grabs not one- but 2 packages of PAAS eggs dyes that have glitter in them- one knows the universe has aligned to get you. If one sets aside said glitter in hopes that the 3 princesses might not notice- one would be shocked at how quickly 2 of the princesses can find the entire collection of lost and mourned scissors and wield them in a manner only tinkerbell might be proud of.  So this year's Easter festivities included glitter egg dye. Phil surveys the cups- the top layers shimmering with pretty goodness. Is there a blue  dye WITHOUT glitter in it?  Nope. Remember our discussion in September and how I disapproved of both the NCAA and NFL injudicious usage of glittery goodness on football helmets? Apply that to your egg design- if it's gone as far as football helmets- there's no turning back. He carries on with his traditional decorating scheme- pleased that at least an orange and green cup were left unglittered so at least his football egg could retain its matte dignity.

So today, I am cataloging said Easter pictures and I get a call from his work number. I am slightly nervous- as he is supposed to be flying and I do not like calls from the work number on flying days.  I say hello and there is a pause- I have an emergency... I hear laughter....I have an emergency funny story I have to tell you- Phil tells me.  I sigh and look at the clock- he hasn't even taken off yet- I don't know why I was worried. --SO you know how I brought a hard boiled egg in for a snack. (yeah- I made sure it made it into his bag- as yesterdays snack sat on the counter all yesterday morning leaving me to erroneously try to figure out which child did not finish their breakfast)  Well the question came up in the brief as to why I might be covered in glitter this morning. And suddenly dealing with all the glitter for the past 3 days is TOTALLY worth it. SO what did you tell them?  No time to shower after the club last night.  Good save- after all that's what parenting is about right? 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Everything Happens for a Reason

Sometimes everything has to go wrong for you to see that everything is going to be all-right.

It has been one of those weeks. Actually last week was one of those weeks and it keeps trickling over to this week. It honestly feels like Groundhog day with a vengeance in surreal alter reality. It has been one of those weeks that I prayed years ago that I would get to have. And as a result I would like to offer up thanks that my prayers have been answered and enter for consideration a revision of my prayer that involves the synonyms uneventful and perhaps a little boring.

Without going into too much detail into any of it, because really the details aren't the important bits- it's the lessons learned. I've been working. I work at home. I work at the kids school. I work in the car. I do all of it for no pay, which make it volunteering. I think it matters, so I gladly do it for no pay. So when the stress of these endeavors zaps the enjoyment from it- we must reconsider our direction.

I have this, well I had this amazing phone. It was, well I guess it still is, I just no longer have it-a brilliant little touch screen smart phone. And it was smart. Too smart. It went where I went, spewing out google facts- sending emails with a flash, receiving emails from various locations while checking social networks sites, downloading pdf's cross-referencing facts. It also had a calculator. And games- which keep the kids busy when we have to wait for more than 3 seconds- cause what on earth would we do if all movement ceased for 4 whole seconds? It knew my schedule and reminded me when meds were needed, which days I needed to shuttle who, where and for how long. And then it was gone. Like that. Gone. Tomorrow marks a week that my little Evoh(said like Wall-E) and I have been separated. It has not been easy. A chain reaction of events was caused by this separation that gave me momentary pause to question the very meaning of my existence here. I mean without google-maps- how could I even be certain that I was HERE at all. I could be anywhere. But I could also be nowhere. And no one could reach me- which was hugely terrifying. When you have 2 kids with medical needs- not having a phone is a HUGE stress. What if, what if , what if?? And yet the world did not stand still. I managed to get by. After my husband was nice enough to reactivate my old blackberry- I got to physically prove the recent yahoo article about why these dinosaurs are becoming obsolete. The 1,5 and 7 buttons rarely work, the talk button works sporadically and the ringer quit this morning- while I was using my son's former phone to locate it. Not a finer moment.

My phone walked out of the volunteer office at the kids' school. I was good to her- so I knew she must have been coerced. The 18 year old volunteer who was there that day, claimed to have seen a few 6th graders in the office. By the time I realized it was gone, she had left for the day. Once all 6th graders were accounted for, the picture became clear- I knew who walked off with my phone- now to prove it. Mostly I just wanted EEEE-voh back. She knew my schedule- allowed me to text, email and google with mere swipes instead of jabbing broken keys and learning new levels of frustration. It was comfortable if not complacent.

I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. And once I get burned- that scar doesn't fade. I trust my instincts and they have been on fire for a week. I have singe marks everywhere- mostly on my heart and a few calluses on my fingertips from trying to use an old blackberry. Even the police officer I filed the report with looked at the thing and commented it was probably time to upgrade to an iphone. I gave the poor misguided youth ample opportunity to return Evoh. But who knows what dirty hands she is in now. I can't save them all- just saving my own is 4 full time jobs.

So what does one do in this day and age with out a cellular device? One commandeers their 12 year old's cellular device. Then one finds new chasms of frustration that one never knew possible. One also gets tired of a 12 year old girl's photo on the screen so one goes in search of a new screensaver. One immediately wishes one had left well enough alone. But one knows that one has to continue the illusion of being a good parent, which one certainly is not or one would not have a child's phone- with this. Relief sets in as realization is that this was sent to one's child. Now abject horror. Now nausea. One now has a moral obligation to contact another's parents. One just wants to take one's sinus headache and chartreuse secretions and climb back into bed. One is angry and frustrated and embarrased. One looks back at the countless hours worked, the distractions, the stress and realizes- I should have seen it coming.

SO I begin to deal with it. I deal with the man-child who has been demoted to boy-child and may henceforth be referred to as cave-boy or prisoner. I begin the calculated detective work to piece together the puzzle. I sift through half truths and diversions and suddenly it hits me. This is common practice for youth. This is what they do- not so unlike the 3 year old testing boundaries. They are being kids. Kids are not smart, even if they have smart phones.  And they are getting away with it because adults are too distracted by their work, their phones, their toys to engage. These devices that tout bringing us together have created a wedge of superficial existence that people can not tell what's real and not. The bells go off- the volunteer was lying- and she will continue to do so unless I hold her accountable. My child was hiding things that he knew I did not approve, yet I was too distracted to find. So many of us are too distracted these days to see the truth, to see life, to live. I am guilty. I have logged so many data whatchadoodles on my phone, I am embarrased to add them all up and give them an actual number. I am constantly checking on this and that and who and what , that the this and that and what and who in my own home have gone off the deep end. Here for months I have been banging my nugget against the wall trying to find the spark. It was the piece of crappy technology that I held in my hand that was that wedge. His and mine.

There was much talking. And a little more for good measure. And then I turned the talking over to the husband and when he needed a break- I gladly filled the space. Like talking to a wall. So we start at the beginning. Like a prisoner who has been locked in a cage- we are reintroducing the cave-boy into society. It has been eye-opening, mind numbing- emotionally and gut wrenching work. I wanted to put everything on hold and yell at the world to stop for a flipping minute- I am trying to deal with this. But the world kept going and so did we. It was easier to deal without access to every email, text and task at my fingertips. I had to venture to my computer to check email and I just didn't have time. The world did not stop, nothing imploded. And I dealt with the most important thing- my family.

I have yet to be able to stop and reflect as with everything in parenthood- it's an ongoing process. Yet tonight, between getting dinner on the table, fielding work emails, calls, police reports and various responsibilities- Kiera comes to me with a look of panic and requests to talk to me now in private. I wonder if I can possibly handle another crisis right this second, if I could possibly have anything else to give or fight for.  "Have you ever made a mistake and wanted to make it right but dont know how and are really afraid?"  Yeah. "what exactly?" I have made so many mistakes I can neither recount them all or remember them. The good news is that they do get forgotten, but you can't forget about it until you make it right. What do we have to do to make it right? As the tears stream down her little face, I do no more than hold her hand while she figures out and starts taking steps to correct her mistake. In the grand scheme of things it is so trivial- I seriously have to fight so I don't laugh when she tells me what she did.  And then it overwhelms me so suddenly that I am so flipping proud of her I can't stand it. She came to me and she messed up and she was terrified- but she was going to make it right. And all I needed to do was be there because there were a few times, years ago that I was stressed to the point of being sick that she was on the wrong path and we redirected her and fought with her and felt like we just weren't getting through. And tonight as one child struggles with his path, I know the other is on hers, even if only for a little while and I know that all in all I am moving in the right direction because I am still on that path with them. And like that tonight, when so much has gone wrong, I realize it's going to be alright.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Still Here....

Ok, Ok, OK. I'm still here. I won't lie, it's been a busy few months. I appreciate how nicely multiple parties have been in saying that you miss my posts.

It has been tough managing 2 kids with additional medical requirements. It bothers the hell out of me on so many levels. Throw in 2 more kids with normal kid goofiness and my days are full. On one hand I am so beyond grateful to have the little cretins and on the other hand I have felt the great loss of normalcy as I once knew it.  I have written multiple times and been unable to publish it because I could not find the "up" side. One of my personal goals when I started blogging was to use it as a therapeutic way to find the reason and the positive in the things that were thrown in my path. I have been stumbling over those things a lot lately. Some, I can't even see around them and I have been tempted to turn and run the other way or just slump down where I am and become a hermit. Neither one of those is productive or will make me feel better so I've just been hanging out. Not in the -sitting around eating bon bons kinda way- but the -treading water and hoping you don't get eaten by sharks kind of way.

We have gotten to do some amazing things over the past few months. The kids are all doing well in school and we have a bevy of activities we keep up with after. I have been working very hard at getting the Li Fraumeni Syndrome Association off the ground and helping at school and friends whose needs are greater than mine. Along the way, I got too busy to write- which has always been the biggest part of my healing. We still go to Tripler almost weekly for "routine" stuff for one or more of the kids. I am a huge advocate of mental health healing. You cannot possibly heal the body without healing the mind and soul.  When my dad died, my mom made me go to counseling. At the time I resented the hell out of it. Yet it gave me something to resent and put me in the office of someone who could help me deal with the multitude of feelings and side effects of loss. I know my kids will see the wisdom as well down the road.

I guess everyone gets to the point where enough is enough.  You get to that point and have to decide which direction you will go. I have been here before and I think part of the issue is knowing I will be here again. It's like when you have this huge mountain in front of you and you finally get up the courage to climb it only to find there are even bigger and scarier mountains beyond it. Some choose to hang out by the lake in the valley, soak up the sun and enjoy what is around them. Some march right on to the next climb and then the one beyond without really stopping to reflect. I kinda stalled for awhile. It's hard to start climbing when you know there's going to be another hurdle. It's tough to start planning your route when you know there will be storms and obstacles you just have no idea what. But I also know that you can't truly appreciate the sunrise or sunset from the valley and there are some amazing things to see along the way.  Even when most of it is the backside of kids you are chasing, or the backside of your best friend(one of the great views) who is kind enough to chase after the kids so you can take a break or just hold your hand. Sometimes you have to take a step back and realize there is a grand design, you aren't in control of it, you are only in control of your choices and you can choose to just stay on the path and have the faith it will get you there. And sure it would be a helluva lot easier to climb those mountains without 4 kids in tow and all their associated baggage and sometimes they trip and it starts a chain reaction that lands us back at the bottom, or sometimes I lose sight of the direction we are supposed to go because it is so steep. But then I remember those times that I wish I could bottle their energy and let them pull me along so that when they get tired I can carry them and when we all get tired- we stop and just be. There's going to be another mountain. There are more mountains than us. We don't have to climb them all, we just climb the ones we can. As long as we do it together, that is direction enough.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

It's Elementary my Dear...

Ok. I'm not over it. I'm not over what an awful experience we had at Keoneula Elementary. Here's how I know.

 Case example #1. Whilst walking home from the post office with my husband we take a detour so I can finish my in depth analysis of how wonderful Iroquois Point is compared to the "old school"  detailing everything from the carpool lane to the parent participation, to extra curriculars to having soap in the bathrooms. An hour later I notice my patient walking buddy keeps steering me towards home and I realize that he hasn't said 2 words for the entire time.

Case Example #2. Whilst walking one morning a month ago, a woman stops me and asks if I am from Colorado.  It seemed like a bizarre coincidence until I realized I had a ginormous ralphie on my shirt. Case closed, right- no she asks me if it ever goes away? Missing Colorado you mean? Yes she says- and I dang near burst like the dam road and I tell her the honest answer- no, no it doesn't. She's got a little boy and he's wearing a Keoneula shirt- but it's school time, he should be in school. She tells me she has a daughter in Kindergarten there, he likes to pretend. She doubles back and starts walking with me. I ask her how it's going. Not good she says, but she doesn't know what to expect since it's her first child in school. Did I know she couldn't even go have lunch with her daughter? Yep. I knew that.  She said she checked in on her child and that she is not real happy that the class spends an hour sitting and reading, an hour sitting and writing and very little instruction. Yeah I know- they call that "workshop". The kids who do well are bored, the kids who struggle get help- the kids in the middle stay in the middle. She likes her house in the neighborhood but says she is considering moving on base because the school seems so much friendlier and more well rounded. Do it- I tell her. Don't think twice about it, don't look back- you will be a lot happier for the next 3 years if you do. I tell her our story and the battles I fought just to be allowed to volunteer. About how I felt unwelcome on campus- that parents had tried repeatedly to get involved only to be turned away.  Then I told her the piece de resistance- my fun interactions with the principal. She must have taken my advice because our paths haven't crossed again.

Case Example #3. I volunteer on Wednesdays. The school has these cool red folders that only go home on Wednesdays with all the relevant communications, fundraisings, events, whatever in one place on one day. It's awesome for those of us who can't keep track of things anymore. I take care of  stuffing the red folders for the first grade. The teachers say Thank you every single time. Today I planned ahead and picked up Subway on the way to school so I can have lunch with the girls.  I check in with the office and I get called in to the school counselor's office to sign some additional paperwork on Lily's 504 plan. We spend and entire hour chatting about schools, kids, life. An entire hour. Most of which I relived our negative experiences at Keoneula and Ewa Beach and cancer and diabetes. She tells me specific things she has noticed about my kids. She knows them by name. I question again why I didn't move my kids to this school sooner. But the important thing is they are flourishing now she tells me. And that is true. I don't know if I feel good or bad that I just spent an hour in therapy with a school counselor. I need to get a life. But then I think about it and these kids are my life. I shouldn't feel bad about wanting the best for them and checking to make sure they get it. I won't feel bad about regretting letting someone treat them less than what they deserve. At some point I have to let it go but I also wish that there had been a parent who had been there to warn me. I don't want anyone else to suffer if I could prevent it.  Because right now we are doing better and the school is great and the kids look forward to going and are learning so much. That's how it should be, it's elementary my dear.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Blessed Limes

I don't know why I try to cook. It always turns into a last minute dash- that stressful time you see on those fun chef wannabe shows where everything has to come together in 5 minutes and you are 7 minutes behind. That's the story of my life right now.

It was a rainy day and I have a great pumpkin soup recipe from my cousin that involves some really yummy black turtle beans grown organically at her farm called Breakneck Acres. Now pumpkin items can go either way in this house, but I am going to give it a go in the spirit of rain and fall and insanity.

I give myself plenty of time and allow the soup to simmer. And simmer. And simmer. I am about to heap it into bowls when I realize it's missing something- the last minute lime zest and juice the recipe calls for. I grab my limess and begin to zest one right into the pot. I am zesting, I am zesting. My zesting gets away from me and the little green orb loterally is zested right into the pot. Shit, I whisper under my breath and reach for the ladle. Mom! Phillip scolds me, then I feel a little hand patting my back.

"It's Ok mommy, Bless you."  I am blessed indeed- Bella will probably spend the rest of her life wondering why I sneeze so much in the kitchen. Someday I will tell her- it's the limes.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Monkey Bar Malfunction

I would like to point out that for 5 years, we had a swingset in our back yard, complete with monkey bars. It was a playtime staple. The weather wore it down and when I spent more time removing splinters from various unmentionable body parts, we decided it was time for the beloved swingset to go.

Yesterday was an average day of chaos, filled with average challenges and average weather. The youngest 2 monkeys begged for me to take them to the park where Kiera has soccer practice, so we all went. The past few times we've been there, various middle school students were trying out their parkour skills over a half wall by the bathrooms. Bella joined in. Not great for the maternal nerves, but I survived. So did she.

Bella is not known for her grace. When a friend visited recently, I briefed her that she might hear random lumps and bumps- followed by "I'm Okay!" That would be Bella. She seems unable to master the art of stairs. Or walking around walls. Or objects. Or just walking. Good thing she is bouncey. She rebounds pretty well and is unusually tough for a little mighty mite. We spent the first couple years of her mobility wondering if she had one of those rare disorders where you don't feel pain. As I learned last night, she does feel pain and rather loudly.

We arrived to the park and had been stationed less than 10 minutes when Bella runs to me- I can do the monkey bars! Come watch!  I watched as she scaled the length of bars, jumped down and shot me a thumbs up.  I am mid call, trying to invite kids over for Phillip's birthday. He informs me he can handle the task via text, but as a mom- I still like to know parents are involved- so I take it upon myself to call the parents. It's rather tricky to invite pre teens over for a movie, video games and a sleep over with the vocabulary restrictions that have been imposed by the soon to be 12 year old. I am not allowed to use the words birthday and party together, under no circumstances utter the word "sleepover" and never ever ask if they can stay to "play". It's taken me 2 days just to figure out how to communicate our plan.

I have finished call one and I hear a distant scream. I know that scream. I scan the park by the monkey bars- I know how this is going to go. She isn't there- in her pain, Bella has decided to run a lap around the park.  Her right arm is limp by her side. Oh here we go. I have flash backs of Kiera in Burger King- me telling her she was okay over chicken nuggets while I watched her shake her head and her elbow swell.

I pull her into my lap and feel the length of her arm as I hug her. She doesn't fuss. She is whimpering, but she is probably more scared than anything. After 10 minutes, she calms down enough to brave the playground again. She takes one step and screams. Oh crap. I give her tylenol and try to distract her. She wants to go home. Her elbow is swelling. Bella is tough and she still has tears streaming down her face. If I hurry, we might be able to make it to the acute care clinic and back by bedtime. Oh who am I kidding?

The acute care clinic used to be my pocket ace. It apparently is everyone else's now. It's standing room only, with kids coughing up green stuff, fevers, vomiting and about 4 babies who have fallen from half a foot, whose mothers have decided they need a full work up for brain damage. I hate to tell them it's a hereditary problem they are facing, but the red headed monkey is phasing in and out of pain induced delerium outbursts. The toddler sorts are running around and chucking sippy cups like footballs. I park us by the antibacterial dispenser.  3 hours later, 3 trips to the radiology department and back(resulting in only 2 xrays) I have decided that this is futile. The lowest common denominator is working tonight in every department so I tell the nurse that we are to speak to Dr. Lewis per request from the radiologist. It was a gamble- Dr. Lewis was the doctor the very caring but incompetent radiology tech said ordered the tests when she phoned her superior to say that Bella was guarding her arm and getting a full set would be problematic without sedation or heavy pain meds. We head back to the waiting room and the nurse assumes we are done, I don't correct him and tell him we were instructed to talk to Dr. Lewis immediately. I have promised dinner, ice cream and a treat to get us through. I figure we are going to get an appointment to ortho, a splint and we might be home by my bedtime. No such luck. Mid discharge- the doc gets a page with instructions that she is NPO and needs to be seen in at Tripler immediately. WTFO? The nurse who just rounded the corner with a celebratory popsicle for the monkey has to literally pry the orange ice from her hands- as it is now 9 pm and we have missed dinner, dessert and bedtime.

I debate just taking her home and dealing with it in the morning. But I put my faith in the system and do what is supposedly best for my child. She is sound asleep as we pull into the ER. There is no parking at the ER so I carry her from the upper parking lot. I am grateful it's not Lily and my back immediately spasms in a genious stroke of catholic guilt and punishment. The receptionist is rude and so I am rude back. Before we can complete being rude to each other, a triage nurse appears and whisks us away to a symphony of glares from the waiting room patients. I hand her the note from the acute care doctor and we get to visit a section of the ER I am not familiar with. It is quieter and has the feel of the pacu or recovery room. I ask the nurse where we are- she is nice enough to put it bluntly- it's the ER for less emergent cases that are going to be here awhile. I am grateful that I had my ipod and book in my purse. She keeps telling us how she will need an IV, the doctor comes in and doesn't see an immediate need for an iv- but he does need more xrays. Off to radiology. Amazing how quickly and painlessly people who know what they are doing can get the task accomplished. We  go back in our holding cell. Bell is about to doze off when the nurse enters with iv gear. We have a terse discussion over the need for it. She poo poos me and says it is needed. I ask if the doc requested it specifically. No, but it is good to have just in case. Not my first rodeo- too tired to fight this battle-will deal with this later. Bella is a champ- and I'm sure other than the fear associated with it- the iv didn't hurt near as much as her elbow. The problem is she now has 2 sore arms and can't get comfortable to sleep.

 The doc comes back as she starts to doze. He tried to wake her. Do you really need her awake for this? I ask. I do need to know where it hurts. Ok- press on parts- if it makes her stir- you know it hurts. He looks at me strangely. Can she have something for pain? I ask him. Sure- she can have whatever she needs. Well since the nurse insisted on putting in a damn iv- I say give her something iv worthy- just for the hell of it- kinda like the iv. He honestly tried not to laugh- but orders morphine when the nurse comes in. She seems surprised that she gets more than tylenol and he quips- well she already has the iv in place. I like it because morphine is a slow push- she has to stand there and give it in tiny increments. Yeah- uh huh- not my first rodeo peeps. I wonder if I invite this nice doc over for dinner if we could go over the finer points of splinting and casting- these are probably skills I am going to need with boo.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Monkey in the Middle School

Yep. I have a middle schooler. sigh. clap. creak. That last one was the sound my joints make in the morning. In the afternoon sometimes too.  I took a moment away from shopping for depends to try and sum up my thoughts.

I was more scared for Phillip to start middle school than he was. Mostly that is due to having been there and experienced the sea of choas meet hormones driven decision making that plagues this age group. The first 3 weeks have been interesting and I've kind of been letting him float and see where that takes us. We had 1 trip to health room and some kinks to work out- but all in all he seems to be doing well. He repeatedly says he's got it- so I'm gonna let him run with it until I hear otherwise. I'm trying not to be overbearing and trust him because sometimes as an involved parent, that can be the toughest thing to do. I am trying to make the transition from hands on- to guided leadership. I find that I do have a tendency to micromanage, but I think we both are learning valuable lessons in our relationship.

I ask about homework, but I don't ask to check it over as I did in elementary. I offer to help. It is usually declined. The 3rd day after school I am with the girls- somewhere between Bella's gymnastics and shopping for Lily's new soccer cleats when I get a call from the Middle schooler. 

-Hey mom, what's local mean?

I resist the urge to spew my political commentary on the segretory version that pops up here and tell him- of or pertaining to a common area. Part of a community.  why?

-I know the definition, but what does it mean to be a local?

Here or in general? Why, what is this for?

-I have to write an essay for Social Studies on whether or not I am local.

At this point, I literally have to reign in the barrage of comments leaping out of my mouth. I wish I had a magic lasso for times like these that my wild stallion of a mouth(that one was for you babe) leaps over the fence and I have to go hunt it down. Ok back track, be civil, educational, not emotional. Try not to make this into more than a social studies assignment.  I explain that local means to live or be from a certain area and part of that community.

-But mom, are we local?

Well bud, that depends on who you ask. We are a part of this community and we work and live here and have for almost 7 years. But many people feel you have to be born in a place and have family there to be considered local.

-Lily was born here, is she local? 

See in Colorado they call it being native. Here they call it local- but it is more of a generational thing. It's really hard to explain. Colorado is my home, but Toledo is also my home- I am native to toledo because I was born there- and used to be local to Denver- but now home is where you and your sisters and dad are.

-Yeah yeah yeah, but do you think I am local?

Do you feel local?


I think it's more about how you feel than what labels other people want to put on you. You can be whatever you want to be.  Just make sure you address what your teacher wants and give a well thought out opinion and you can't go wrong.

-Okay- got it.

I fume for quite some time. Is this teacher labeling my child or assessing him for his thinking skills?  I am not excited that the entire first year of middle school social studies is again being spent on Hawaiian Studies. I was so grateful for a substitute teacher his 5th grade year who devoted her 2 month stay to teaching states and capitols- which are not addressed in the elementary my kids formally attended. When she pre tested the class- less than 50% could name 5 states- she got answers like Chicago, Guam, Samoa.  Most 4th-5th graders in Hawaii can tell you Haole means without breath or what the ancient Hawaiian gods represented, but cannot name all 50 states much less their capitols. Don't even get them started on laws and government organization- it soon becomes self evident why I faced some recent problems with the DOE. I find that I am actually looking forward to the Middle School open house so I can get a feel for the school and this teacher.

The night comes, it is a whirlwind of families and zooming around to classes. The classrooms are hot- standing room only and many teachers remark at how surprised and grateful they are for the turnout. Many of us are coming from a school where parents were neither welcomed nor given a tour or open house- this is a novel concept and clearly appreciated. I have already communicated with a couple of teachers regarding storage of supplies and snacks for diabetic emergencies in class. See the law is nice enough to address diabetes here- so the first day of school Phil dropped off 3 boxes to 3 strategic locations and there were no problems. The school is very institutional and I think technically we are supposed to call it "modern" or "green" but as one mom said- it feels like a prison in here. It does. There is wall to wall shades of gray. Some might call them "clean lines". I say bare.  Lots of high windows to allow natural light, but not a lot of art or warmth. But for what the school lacks in architectual variety, it makes up for in staff. Phillip's teachers all seem to be inspired and genuinely interested in the students and their growth. I now have a better understanding of the advisory period which is called exploratory wheel. He has a caring, openminded advisor, who is also his math teacher. She is a bit soft spoken, but Phillip assures us she's not so soft spoken when kids aren't listening.

I am impressed by the language elective and it's function as in introduction to various languages and cultures more so than trying to impart vocabulary of a singular language. Later kids can choose which language they would like to explore. That makes sense to me. Informed decision making- brilliant. And finally we pile into the social studies room. And it all makes sense. The teacher prides himself in giving the most homework.  There is a lot of emphasis on reading the news. There is a lot of emphasis on written communication. Thought is encouraged. I can't argue with any of it so far, well maybe the homework part. Some of the homework is through computer programs and although the test can be taken to better the grade, he only accepts the 1st grade- so do it right the first time.  The unit is Hawaiian Studies. But included are world and local current events. He is very systematic and precise- and I have to agree with my husband's analysis- this is real world experience- the kid has to learn how to adapt to the different quirks and requirements of different people- it will be a good learning opportunity. And that's when it hits me. That is why middle school is so tough- you are barraged with educational learning- but it is also a time of immense emotional growth. The big transition. One teacher flat out says he doesn't grade on behavior- he didn't know how to act when he was 12 and that's part of this middle school learning process. He does expect the work- and he does allow kids to re do their work for better grades the entire time. Later in life it may not be an option- but here is the time to learn by doing. I am impressed. I appreciate the diversity among his 6 teachers and the varying levels of expectation. One expectation was always the same- they have to work hard. Some present it as quantity, others leave it up to individual determination for quality. A big part of learning is learning how to deal with people imposing the parameters. All in all it gives me hope for the monkey in the middle school and a little peace of mind that we are moving in the right direction.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Monkey School

The days of coaxing and cajoling everyone to simultaneously grin at the camera are gone. I am embracing the realism of my environment and this about sums it up! This is the 2011 First Day of School picture. I have been waiting for this day for a very long time.  Putting it into action is another thing entirely. Those curls don't brush themselves you know. And the owner of the curls just so happens to have the tenderest of scalps of them all- go figure. Then the red head is just hopeless and I let her embrace the tousled look because before we even made it to the car- I had sprayed and resprayed and tied her hair in a pony 3 different times. Nothing short of shellac would work for that one. Ironically enough- the boy is the most self sufficient in the hair department.

This year poses a new challenge for us- no uniforms. For the sensory sensitive of the crew- this is a big deal. Especially when her mom refuses to let her go to school in the holey bleach spotted sleep shirt that passes for a tshirt when we go to walmart. Wednesdays are spirit day, the one day a week they wear red shirts. Any red shirt will do. Lily monkey has 1, ONE shirt that will fit the bill. I told her Saturday when she wore it- that I would not be doing wash before today so she was going to have to wear a different shirt. After pleading with both older siblings for hand me downs- she had 2 choices to pick from. She had them both on at different points in the morning and she disappeared as I called them out for the morning picture. Lo and behold- she dug the darn thing out of the hamper and put it on. I asked the other ones to perform the sniff test and she got an "eh", a shrug and a "smells fine". Surely the wrinkles will fall out by the time we get to school. There weren't any obvious stains. It was be on time or fight the battle. Be on time won.

It wasn't pretty. Red's fourth pony was quickly losing purchase and she apparently owns only 1 of  no less than 6 pairs of shoes. Not 1 pair, 1 shoe of each pair- 6 shoes total- none matching.  Lily decided a headband was a necessary last minute addition but not all of her hair was allowed admission and Kiera suddenly decided she needed to memorize as many spanish words as possible in the 15 minute car ride- and her only source of spanish words was me. Of course Lily is convinced she speaks spanish and starts rattling off a combination of pidgin and gibberish- it's all the same really which frustrates Kiera and amused the heck outta Bella who is nervous as all get out for her first day but can only show it by random emotional outbursts. I look back and Bella went from giggling to what looks like either a seizure or anger- I wonder if I need to pull the car over then I realize she is trying to say Como estas.....which is unfamiliar to her so it requires the mobility of every single face muscle.  I distract them by pointing out the school sticker on the car in front of us and that if they do really well in school they will get one and I will put it on the van. Lily asks if she gets one can we put it on dad's car- I say sure- cause he's not here and he can deal with that fallout- mwah ha ha. Bella says- what about me? Hmm- we have no more vehicles- sure- we could put it on a bike- or better yet- Phillip's bum so people can see it when he walks to school. And of course that's a hit with the crowd and they are giggling like crazy. And in that moment- the drive to school just paid for itself.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

I think I broke my Aloha.

It has been that kind of morning. A morning where my neighbor volunteers to drive the girls into school so I offer to give the preteen a ride to school. So I end up sitting at an intersection for 25 minutes that has a 9 way stop with a mix of functional and non functional lanes and no light. So between those who deem their time more important than everyone else's and those who just have no regard for the law, I am beginning to lose patience. I beg my kids to put on their earmuffs as I know where this is going.

I am 5 cars from the stop sign and a white van pulls next to me on the median and waves like that makes it ok. Around here, they call it driving with aloha. You can cut someone off- but if you wave while you are doing it- it's all good. So I smile and pull forward. Just slow enough so the guy behind me can keep on my bumper- which he does. He has been behind me the entire way too and we have just watched a dozen cars zoom by on the right and cut over. The car behind him does the same, and so on and so forth. White van with too many gold bangles gets tired and flips us all off and makes an illegal right turn. I finally make it to the light at school. Guess who pulls up next to me at the light?  I smile. White van with gold bangles mouths "Fuck You". She might have said it- so I rolled down my window- so she could hear me loud and clear. "What's your fucking problem" she yells. "You. You broke the law. " I yell back. "So what?" she yells"you (inaudible)bitch."  The light turns as I remark that she is an idiot. It may or may not have been loud enough for her and the entire intersection to hear. There may or may not have been an expletive. I am immediately ashamed and outraged. 2 of my kids are in the car and this is not a good example.

What did she say? I asked- because I'm pretty sure it was a racial commentary on the fairness of my skin. "She called you the b-word from the katy perry song" Phillip offers. I know that- the other word- "I don't know, I don't know what it was. " Good. No, not good. Bad. Very bad. All around bad. If I wanted this type of thing- we'd live in a major city. Not in a suburb on a dinky island in the middle of the ocean. Sure the crime is lower here. I'm beginning to think it is just a social experiment on the positive effects of laziness.

I don't know what the solution is. Me yelling at every idiot who breaks the law is not it. That intersection is unsafe and has been so for 3 years. I have written HPD. Periodically you will see an officer monitoring it- generally after a kid is hit- because there have been a couple of those incidents. The solution is to put one of those electronic message boards that blinks"slow down. Let people cross". I shake my head every time I see it- because the people who are not slowing down to stop at the stop sign and who don't care if they maul kids trying to get to school are not the sort of people who are going to take the time to reflect on the finer points of the suggestion of a blinking sign. It's us poor law abiding fools who are forced to sit there for 20 minutes while the flashing sign taunts us- as the other half of society blows by.

So was this morning about some idiot lady in a van trying to cut me off??? Probably not. It was the cumulative effect of a series of rather blatant injustices regarding race, policy and law. If I hear, that's just how things are done here one more flipping time... I can't listen to morning radio for 5 minutes without being barraged by one racist comment after another. Just because you are an equal opportunity offender, doesn't make the act any less racist or any less wrong. I'm tired of stupidity and ignorance being excused. When my 6 year old tells me that kids at her old school called her a fat bitch- I try to rack my brain for a reasonable way to explain this. He was wrong. It is wrong. It is even more wrong to me that there is no consequence. Just as you can drive on medians and make illegal turns, 6 year olds calling each other names is no longer a disciplinable offense. It's only wrong if you get caught mentality. They are just words right?  Despite the 6 notices I receive each year(filled with lots and lots of official words) about title 19 and bullying and how it includes words and discrimination and that there is zero tolerance in any school for such behavior. I have not seen this in practice.  Words are the foundation of our beliefs. The same words can convey very different things in the way they are used. The word aloha is a perfect example- hello, goodbye, love, peace, acceptance, let's get drunk and party(as in aloha Friday).

All I can figure is that the problem is in fact me. Somewhere I either misinterpreted aloha or broke my aloha.  There are many who do believe in aloha- the true spirit of aloha.  But they are the rare gem being over taken by beaches. I believe in aloha. I was not born nor raised here- so there is a contingent who will say I cannot possibly understand true aloha. I prefer to believe that we are the exact demographic who truly can understand aloha- because it is a choice not an obligation. The aloha spirit is one of love, compassion and acceptance. Acceptance of friends, family and strangers alike. After all strangers are just friends you have not met yet. The true spirit of Aloha is carried on the peaceful breeze, the constant tide and the suns rays. Yet as the breeze turns to gale, the tide to tsunami and the sun a burning force- the spirit of aloha can be taken under. The true spirit of aloha could be what allows people to let people over in traffic- but the true spirit of aloha is also waiting your turn so others don't have to wait for you and doing the right thing even when no one is watching. The true spirit of aloha is recognizing when your aloha is broke and trying to fix it. My aloha is broke, but I don't think I can fix it alone.