Thursday, April 26, 2007

And What About the Children?

I do sincerely believe that children are not given enough time these days to just daydream. Daydreaming is undervalued. In a society where new parents scramble to make geniuses out of their kids with Baby Einstein videos, and designer toys that were drafted by some developmental scientist in Sweden, one has to wonder how we as a society survived and flourished for so long on nothing but a rattle and our fists.

Really, some of our greatest thinkers and inventors were bored off their cloth-diapered asses as children. They were left alone for hours while parents toiled in fields, homes, and factories with not much for entertainment but the world at large around them. It was their world, all they knew existed, so they figured they'd better make the most of it.

By the way, I didn't mean to imply that these innovators' parents were negligent and physically left them unattended to fend for themselves. What I meant was that they weren't shuttling Jr. Genius around to Gymboree. They weren't plopping them in a musical chair that buzzed and lit up in front of a 60 inch big screen with surround sound so they could watch dancing shapes announcing themselves to soporific tunes. Parents were too busy then to obsess over their children's cognitive development, and thankfully great thinkers and ponderers flourished.

Oh I know parents mean well, and they want to do what's best for their children. I probably would have been drawn to those brightly-colored, whimsical playthings when my kids were little. Fortuitously this childhood consumer conundrum did not launch until after my youngest was already toddling around bashing his head in trying to keep up with his brother and sisters.

Furthermore, I am all for safety. I was quite the safety Nazi when my kids were little, but really a helmet on a tricycle? If your toddler has the ability to drive that vehicle fast enough to crash and cause a serious head-trauma, and you can't keep up with her, maybe she shouldn't be let out of the house!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

You've Got to Have Friends

Why is it that most men maintain ties with the same buds for decades, and women let their friendships slip away into oblivian? There's college, the boyfriends, the husbands, kids, careers. They all put little roadblocks up on the highway of friendship, or at the very least some serious detours.

So your childhood pals, and highschool homegirls are gone; what do you do now? Where does an adult woman make friends? If you're a mom, you could try making friends with other moms. Might work, might not, might work for a while till one of the moms goes back to work, moves away, or starts dating the wrong guy, and you can't stand to see where she's headed.

Sometimes friends turn around and come back to you. You bump into each other at a concert, or you two have a mutal friend that reunites you. Time goes on, everything's great, and then the reason you lost touch in the first place rears it's ugly head, and once again, she's gone.

Women tend to come with an awful lot of drama too. You don't see men carrying on the way women do about being "soooo busy....", or ignoring their friends because they are making asses of themselves. No, men just say, "Hey, come over my freakin' house already, bring the kid with you." or "Hey dude, you're making an ass out of yourself; knock it off!"

Women also let some more serious things errode their friendships. One is infertile for years, while the other pops out baby after baby, year after year. Another is constantly dieting, while the other is trying on new bikinis. The marriage of one presents years of increasing bliss, while another's crumbles. One gets sick, and the other doesn't know what to say.
Whatever it is that makes it so hard for we women to make and keep friends, we need to knock it off, maybe even (gulp) take a lesson from the men. We need each other. We should be sharing our joys and woes, kicking back and getting silly drunk together, or even.........what?.......oh never mind. The point is love your friends, be open to the possibility of the treasure that lies within a new friend. Make time for your friends, because that is making time for yourself, truely indeed. That is recognizing that individual part of yourself that is not "mom", "wife", "Director of Human Resources", that is just you being you, and someone else appreciating it.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

I Must Be Doing Something Right

Wednesday night, I couldn't muster up the effort to make dinner. It was getting late. I was bummed because my husband, Randy, got called in to meet a customer at his part time job. As if 2 nights this week weren't enough to miss him, now we we were on our third in a row.

So, my two boys and I headed out the door and drove up the highway and into the "country" to this nice diner nearby Randy's job. We popped in, said "hi", found out his customer hadn't come in yet, and proceeded on to dinner at the diner.

The Rayanne diner is seperated into two rooms. One has a counter and booths, the other small tables of 4 all lined up in rows. This is not the place to go if you want an intimate dinner. We were seated right in the middle of a very crowded dining room full of seniors, families, and assorted "regular looking" folk.

Now it's always an adventure taking my sons out. They're not exactly the quietest kids. You think it's something taking toddlers out to a restaurant? The toddlers would be staring at my kids, maybe wishing they'd sit still, eat their dinner, and lower their voices.

Picture my two sons. "Big Red", as he's been dubbed in his crowd is 15, as tall as me and still growing, has a shock of long, curly red hair, and a comical demeanor. My little guy, AJ, who's 11, tries to keep up with his brother. He can upstage him sometimes, but usually comes across as the typical annoying little brother. AJ also has long hair, but it's mostly wavy/straight, and blond. Both my sons are real lookers- if I do say so myself. You just have to ignore that their hair is seldom combed well, they're often wearing ripped or spotty clothes. (Because those feel the best.) Also, as far as Big Red is concerned, the only color shirt one needs is black, as in a black concert shirt of a heavy metal genre. I don't know which one I like better-the Slayer shirt with the big Pentagram, or the Metallica shirt with the skulls.

I get a little self-conscious sometimes when I'm in a place like Rayanne Dinner-a place frequented by Mennonites and other conservative people. It's smack-dab in the middle of Mennonite country. I tell my sons to be discreet, lower their voices, watch what they say. Usually, we are quite liberal in the lack of censorship of our children's rhetoric. Big Red and AJ were doing their typical impersonations which are a combination of their friend's Bi-Polar dad, Big Red's former guitar teacher, and....

the two boys in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure?

Big Red, especially regaled me with the most hilarious stories which are something straight out of Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, or The Sandlot. "You should really write all this down, Red; it's great material for a story". The stories are mostly of a PG-13 nature, and at that I am getting nervous that we may offend some of the other diner patrons.

Then I stopped worrying, enjoyed my children's zany conversations, and relaxed because all of a sudden I realized....

My 11 & 15 year old sons are babbling on to me-their mother! They were sharing their lives with me, as most boys that age would not. They knew I'd laugh, reprimand them, say motherly words to temper their musings, but they kept on chattering away. So we enjoyed our meal, and if we offended anyone sitting nearby, I'm sure we also made some other people chuckle. It wouldn't be the first time. More than once I've had a little old lady pass my table, and tell me what wonderful children I have. And if a little old lady can look at two long-haired, boisterous-yea, sometimes obnoxious boys wearing ripped pants, & black shirts with skulls and Pentagrams, and tell me how nice they are....

then I must be doing something right!

Friday, April 20, 2007


It seems like a lifetime ago-someone else's lifetime. The memories are not of me, but of someone else that I hovered over, observing, knowing the wrongness of it all. Even way back, before the blowout, I do not know that person. The memories are there, they're my memories, but I was a different being. Fractions of myself presented themselves, but the personage was irrational, with a fight-or-flight nature.

And Randy, who was Randy? He was my protector. He infantilized me, sheltered me from the trappings of adulthood. A mother-but not an adult, that's what I was. I didn't have to fill the car with gas, or pay bills, or do taxes. He enjoyed taking care of me, that's what he always said, and I, in my cynisim saw it as his way of controlling me. As long as I was dependent on Randy, I could never abandon him, the way his mother had so many times. And he-he let me mold him and control him in little ways, as he knew was my need.

As time grew on, my life became entangled in a relentless barrage of adversity. Motivation was not the problem, not at first anyway. No, it was the lack of inate ability to figure out what was the right thing to do in each drastic situation, and then do it. Of course, I think most people would lack those abilites traveling down my thorny path. That is when Randy slipped away, or was maybe pushed away. He could not relieve the pain I was going through, and could not quell his own demons.

That person, that incompetent, disjointed, hurt soul in me imploded. She died; she died of pain. Randy, shell-shocked, rose valiantly, taking charge for both of us. Led like a little child, by the hand, he resurrected that good part of me. We both were reborn. Then the toil began to become not what we were before the hurting time, but the mature loving couple we'd imagined we'd be way back in our genesis. And too, we fashioned new minds, hearts, and lips. Our minds were the minds of wisdom. Our hearts beacons to each other and our brood. Our lips became the passageway to freedom, whether they expressed passion or pain.

What do I do with the ashes of my doppelganger, whose memories I must contain? Can I wish them away into the wind? Or rather, should I keep them close as a reminder? I intern them to the deepest recesses of my being, for they can not be discarded.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Wistfully Removing the Wallpaper

I moved to my current home in the Philadelphia Suburbs in 2000. That summer I had wallpaper hung in my dining room, and the matching border in my living room. There was also paper hung in the front hall, upstairs hall, and stairwell. I got a great deal on the paper; I was working at a wallpaper store at the time. The wallpaper hanger was expensive, but he did a flawless job. My beautiful rooms gave me great pleasure-for 3 days.
It started at the top of the stairs, sheets of paper were just peeling right off the wall. Could this be the heat causing this? To my horror, there was nothing wrong with the paper, or the installation of that paper, but with the origninal builder's paint from 1972. I was to find out later, that all of my neighbors had the same thing happen to them. The paper peeled off and took every layer of paint ever on the wall with it, down to the drywall.
So with great sadness, I had the worst taken care of immediately. The hallways and stairwells were stripped and redone. I was in denial about the dining room, as it still looked perfectly sound. Woefully, I watched as every time the heat swelled or grew very cold splits appeared in the seams of the wallpaper. Resentfully, I explained the situation to every visitor in my home that told me to just "Get some seam repair." Having worked in a wallpaper store, I was well aware of the existence and use of seam repair, but seam repair does not hold down 30 years of paint with vinyl wallpaper on top.

Finally the other day, I broke down and started pullling the paper off the wall. It was spontaneous, as most of my projects are. It started with vacuuming the dining room. I reached down and just pulled off a very loose piece. In about an hour, I had most of the facing of the paper off and had scraped off quite a bit of the old paint.

So now I am scraping the rest, which is just the paper backing, and agonizing over my loss. I still LOVE the pattern on that paper. York still makes it, but not in the cheery yellow I had selected. I'm not going to choose another color because A. My living room is bright yellow, and thank goodness, that border is still in tact & B. I bought a lovely yellow, red, and green couch, amazed that I had even found that color combination in a couch.

What's going up now? A mural. I couldn't find any paper I liked nearly half as much as what I had, so I went in a different direction. It's a quaint view of a Tuscan villa. People will probably think it's cheesy. I am afraid that I've run amok with the wallpaper and borders, but that's what happens when you sell wallpaper at 3 different stores in 6 years.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Are the Women Doing the Laundry or the Men?

You know that nostalgic Clorox commerical with the women all doing the laundry? The laundry room changes through the decades as they show great-grandma, then the grandmother, then the mother doing the laundry.

Last night while DH and I were in bed this commercial came on.

"They all did the laundry....maybe even a man or two."

DH: Did they say "a man or two."

Me: Yes, "maybe even a man or two."

DH: "They couldn't have said that!"

Me: "That's exactly what they said."

DH: "The moms *did* a man or two?!"

Me: "You perve! They meant maybe a man or two did the laundry, aside from all those women who had to do it!" "They weren't talking about the women doing a man or two!"

DH: "Well I don't see how that statement could be taken any other way."

Me: (Turning over and rolling eyes in the dark), "That's how your mind works."

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Piggy Movie = Moment of Silence

"PIGGY MOVIE!!!, PIG-GEEEE MOVIEEEE!!!!" G is hysterical, Jac is looking at me tentatively, binky in mouth, as if to say, "I'm good, just put on the stupid piggy movie if that's what he wants, as long as I get some quiet." I expeditiously scan the room for the VHS cassette of Babe. Most of my children's movies are on VHS. DVD's didn't become popular till my kids were out of the kiddie movie phase. It's still in the VCR, the last VCR we bought, a kid proof VCR that cost $99 and either was built much better than any other we've owned, or is still alive due to the fact that we bought our first DVD player not long after.

Babe is, in my opinion one of the best children's movies ever made-seriously. It is much more digestable than most of the crap Disney's churned out.

I blanket the moppets down one more time, and plead with them to stay laying down. I rush back to Jules to finish off her bottle. Wistfully I pray to the sleep gods to lull everyone under 3 into a short coma so I can monitor Holden Caulfield's Algebra.

"Why don't you let me just do it by myself, and then check it when I'm done?"

"Because if you do it wrong, you'll have to start all over."

We compromise; I watch HC do two practice excercises correctly, and release him to his room to finish.

Baby Jules, tanked full of milk is slipped into her portable baby swing, and rocks blissfully to sleep.

Now here I am, crashed in front of the computer-my lifeline-my sanity, enjoying these few moments of quiet, and debating on whether it's wrong to eat a yogurt, after the hash brown, Toaster Strudel, and 3 cups of coffee I've had this morning. Guess I should go for something more substantial, but that would take more effort.

Well, can't have nanny mom passing out, so I'm going to try and eat something decent now.

Monday, April 16, 2007

For Pete's Sake

My dear husband is seeing a therapist. I've been after him for years to go, but he had a major distrust of mental health services. Actually, Randy has trust issues in general, which is one of the reasons he's seeing a therapist.

So, today, Randy's therapist started Gestalt Therapy with DH. The therapist had Randy make up a name for the side of himself that causes conflict. Randy named his alter-ego Pete. Then Randy conversed with Pete. The conversation went something like this:

Randy: Pete, we need to talk. You've been causing a lot of problems between Lily and me. You're holding on to things that I've let go of, putting negative thoughts in my head.

Pete: Hey buddy, I've always been there for you; I've gotten you through a lot of bad times.

Randy: I know you have, Pete, and I still feel like I need you sometimes, but as far as Lily goes, I need you to back off a little.

And so on and so forth.

Personally, I think I have a word or two for Pete.

I think this Gestalt Therapy is a good thing. Randy has obviously found a good therapist. Many of the therapists I've been to did little more than just sit there and have me talk on and on. When Randy is done with this guy, I think I'll give it a go. There's still some unresolved issues I could deal with.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Gio Likes to Push Buttons

I'm not used to this anymore. Little Gio keeps pushing the buttons on the TV, VCR, phone, computer, anything he can find.

Gio is also trying to push my husband's "buttons". It's taken 4 short days at my house for Gio's personality to appear. Gio is taunting my husband. First he took Randy's chair when he left the room, and proudly thumped his chest saying, "My chair." Then, since that wasn't enough, he stands next to me and says, "My girl." He's got the most devilish look on his face.

He really is a sweet kid, though.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A Good School District Part 2-The Journey to Homeschooling

After a year of rangling, and a less than encouraging IEP meeting, Red was on his way to another new school. Red rode 45 minutes each way. He was in a mixed class of 4th, 5th, and 6th graders, all with different DX's, lables, prescriptions, what have you...

Red was a "part-time" special ed student. Now let me explain to you what a P/T sped. student means. When the SD designed an IEP for my son that said my child would be in regular ed for 50% of his school week, I failed to realize that lunch, gym, music, and art would count toward that 50%. By the second or so month of school, it was recommended that Red do half of his science in his special ed class, after a few more months, they wanted him in there for math. Seems "regular ed" teachers don't have much patience for "special" kids.

To remind you dear reader, my son was in Emotional Support, because the lunk heads that evaluated my son found no prescence of any LD's. So, my son was with a potpourri of "interesting" children. One liked to sing lowly in class all day. Another liked to play hide and seek while changing classes. Others like to just constantly question the teacher out loud, at any given moment. My son must have been the star of the class, because he got a 20/20 on his behavior chart almost every day of 4th grade.

The teacher of the ES class my son was in was a dear, sweet, and probably gay gentleman named Mr. T. Mr. T was supposed to be my son's teacher for 3 years, basically the rest of elementary school. But no, the good old "Superior Suburban School District" had other plans. Seems they felt that it would be a good idea to move my son's ES class to another school, without their teacher, and cordially invited us to go "take a tour" to meet the principal and see the school. Oh, by the way, this generous invitation was sent out THE VERY LAST DAY OF SCHOOL. Nothing like being wacked with that kind of news right before summer vacation.

In case you aren't good with math, the change for the ES class meant that my son would be in his 3rd new school in as many years. I fought. I met with other angry parents. I called the newspaper. But what was I thinking; I'm merely just a tax paying parent.

To be continued again.....

My Monday with 3 Babies

" Borrowed Baby III" arrived yesterday. It's a boy, roughly 2o some pounds I guess. Gio will be 3 next month. He likes "cool cars" (Hot Wheels). He has an affectionate side; he spent a great deal of the day cozying up to Jules and giving her kisses on the head. Gio can hold his own in toy disputes. He likes to dance. He also has no problem making himself right at home.Yesterday was a really chaotic day for me. I had forgotten what happens when one puts two 2 year olds together! I'd say I handled things well, though, especially considering I had to strap the two 2 year olds, and the 3 month old into their car seats and take them to the orthodontist with Red. Instead of spending my lunch hour writing on the computer and chatting it up with Randy, I was scrambling to get everyone fed, changed, and ready to go out for Red's appointment. I anticipated the two 2's would take a nap by the time we got back home. They had other plans. By the time everyone left for the day, all I could do was zone for 15 minutes, then off to Big Box Mart for a 6 hour shift. I spent most of the night hiding behind my computer at work.

I learned something yesterday. I learned that 2 year old achondroplasic dwarf children can not be picked up the same way as average sized, typically proportionate 2 year olds. I went to pick Gio up, and his head started to dive. I hadn't realized how top-heavy he was! The center of gravity is entirely different. I've been picking up small children for years, so it really caught me off guard. Luckily I swung backwards and didn't drop the poor little guy on his head. Hmmm....I think there may be a physics lesson there.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Borrowed Baby Three

We've got a new baby. He's coming on Monday. 2 1/2 year old Gio was referred to me through Lee. He'll be here 4 days a week. He came over yesterday to meet us. He was a little shy at first. Then AJ pulled out the Hot Wheels cars and he started to warm up. Randy also "broke down his barriers", by laying on the floor and rolling a ball to him. By the time the visit was up, the boy didn't want to leave.

Everything is falling into place for our family. Randy's full time job is going well. He also has a Saturday and Monday night job selling used cars. I've got 3 children to take care of during the week for pay. It's a big turn around from this time last year. Being on track financially will be a big step into getting our family unit running smoothly.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Heart on a Sleeve

A heart on a sleeve

is a sensitive thing

It beats

for all the world to see

It bares and breaks

again and again

It aches; it aches

it can not mend

It bleeds; it disturbs

a discomfort to all

Cringes back with the pain

of all it can't solve

It wonders; it ponders

It braces itself

While others are safe

tucked away on a shelf

It waits; it longs

It reaches out

"Is anyone out there?",

one hears it shout.

A heart tucked away

is safe and secure

It hurts no longer

but loves

no more

It withers

and shrinks

away from malaise

The cavernous body

No longer ablaze

Monday, April 2, 2007

A Good School District-The Journey to Homeschooling

My family and I moved out of Philadelphia in 2000. We chose a home in a suburb with a "good school district". Aside from just wanting to get out of the city, we felt that our children, particularly Red needed services that their current parochial school could not provide. We actually moved in October, so I had to drive my 4 children back and forth to school, an hour each way for 3 weeks.

One child was in middle school from 8-3. Two were in elementary school from 9-3:30. And one went to kindergarten at the same elementary school from 9-12 noon. At the time, I was working two nights a week, and the weekends, so things were completely crazy. It's not easy packing up for a family of 6 to move, while shuttling children an hour away to school. I stayed up in my new neighborhood all day, since I didn't feel like driving 4 hours a day. After 3 weeks, I knew where the mall, libraries, fast food joints, and convience stores all were.

Now back to the subject of the "good school district". Well, this was my first experience with public schools, aside from nursery school & kindergarten. It was a big transition for everyone. My children's elementary school seemed quaint with it's small size. The teachers all seemed nice. Everything seemed great for the first few weeks.

It didn't take long before Red's 3rd grade teacher was handing me assignments that Red had not finished during the 5 hours he'd spent in her classroom. Having anticipated that my son might need some intervention, I asked for an evaluation. Red had been DX'd with ADHD, and had an evaluation done back in nursery school. To make a long story short, Red's 3rd grade teacher delayed the evaluation quite a bit playing tricks, because she didn't want her classroom being observed. Why is this? Red's 3rd grade teacher was that teacher that every school has one of, the teacher that's so bad that parents put in requests to not have their children in that class.

It took all school year till we finally got our evaulation and IEP meeting. An IEP is an individual education plan. Well, I don't know what yardstick they used to measure my son, because according to their evaluation, my son did not have a learning disability, so he must have an emotional problem. They thereupon referred him to emotional support, which they did not offer at his current elementary school.

To be continued....