La La How The Life Goes On

Archive for May 2010

Toddler Tsunami

Posted on: May 19, 2010

My dad always said, “Do NOT have kids unless and until you are okay with everything important to you being broken, lost or destroyed.” As usual I was like, “Yeah, whatever old man.” And as usual, he was right. I’ll spare you the details of my yesterday afternoon, but suffice to say that I had to google search, “How to get poop smell out of microfiber couch.”

A good friend sent me this site to make me feel better, and it is HILARIOUS.


Twice is Lice

Posted on: May 17, 2010

I will now confess to you–and only you–that Bambina has had lice four times in the past 2 months. Four times. I sh*t you not, friends. I have done so much laundry and so much vacuuming that I can’t even see straight to spell Nix. We have gone over and over how this can be happening, and it turns out that there is a mini-epidemic at her school. The school nurse says it’s a constant, uphill battle to stem the tide of Pediculi because someone will invariably always have one viable nit left in her head, which will hatch, which will lay more nits, and then will climb onto someone else’s head and lay some more. You’ll notice that the pronoun I used there is “her” and let me tell you why. Only one boy in Bambina’s class has had lice in the past two outbreaks. ALL the girls have come up parasitic every time. So-the further why? Because apparently my daughter and her friends love to hug and kiss each other.

I am a fan of girls hugging and kissing. My friends and I always hugged when we were kids. I’m for it. But after the past few nights of being up late picking nits, laundering stuff AGAIN, and researching our friend the Pediculus Humanus Capitis, I am so freaking exhausted that the rule has been set: no more huggyhuggy with your friends, Bambina. To which she replied, “Can Phoebe and I still kiss?” Followed by, “By the way, it’s already not allowed by the teachers, but we do it sneakily.” Me, glossing over the fact for the time being that my kid apparently loves sneakily kissing her girl friends: “I think we should avoid the kisses too, just until the lice situation resolves.” B: “Okay, fine. But that will be no fun.”

It’s pretty amazing how something as small as a sesame seed and as harmless as…something really harmless…can make grown adults freak the hell out. I understand that lice do not carry disease, cannot truly harm my daughter, pose no real risk to any of us beyond itching and whatnot. But oh my lord when you ever look at your kid’s head and see bugs crawling around? Something in you just activates, and it’s off to the freaker mommy races.

The first time Bambina was buggy, I was in the hospital so I missed the “fun.” This time I was ready. Because I discovered the lice in the evening we had to begin the shampoo at 8pm which is usually Bambina bedtime. She hates getting water in her ears so the entire experience was drama with a capital D. She was mad at me for wetting her ears, I was mad at her for refusing to sit in a chair at the sink and opting to stand making it hard for me to not wet her ears, she was obviously tired because she should have been in bed, I said some inflammatory things about haircuts that probably could have gone unsaid at the time; you can see how the evening (and mother-daughter relationship) went. But I was on a mission. I was going to kill every last one of those nasty things infesting my beautiful child’s sweet head even if I had to knock my child’s sweet head to do it.

So now we’re on day 5 of no lice, but seemingly endless hidden nits. I did the nit combing right after the shampooing (another hour beyond Bambina’s bedtime, so you can imagine how loopy we both were), but you will be amazed how your eyes miss them even with a flashlight and a magnifying glass. And like I said, you only need one viable nit out of hundreds to have another infestation. So every morning and every night I have been checking her head with a zealot’s ardor–and removing another 2 or 3 nits each time before they can reach their nymph stage and start moving and hatching.

The Dada thinks I’ve gone insane: “Why are you using all of your special time with your daughter to pick nits?” Me: “Because I will beat the lice. I, Mrs. Jones, will be victorious over this parasitic vermin! This time it’s personal.” And it is. I am on a mission to end the scourge of lice infestation in my house once and for all, and if I have to torture my kid day and night to do it, well friends, that kind of adversity builds character–and job prospects. I recently became aware of The Lice Ladies in our town who charge $200 an hour to remove nits from your kid’s hair. I recently therefore wondered whether this might not be just the job for me: I get to come to your house, bring my obsessive anti-nit zealotry to your kid’s head, then walk away 200 bucks richer. Which will be just enough to cover the therapy I’m going to need if we have one more lice outbreak.

The latest to-do in the Jones house involves puppets. Yup. Puppets. Bambina’s kindergarten class is going on a field trip to a local puppet theater this week and Bambina has announced that she will not be attending. Why? Bambina is terrified of puppets. Not all puppets; she’s totally fine with the “muppet” kind of puppet, you know, all fuzzy and googly-eyed and clearly not intended to be human. But any puppet that is remotely person-like freaks her out, not to mention the notion of having to go sit in the dark near them without Mama, since I cannot chaperone this trip due to my ECP therapy.

So now I’m torn. On the one hand, I don’t want to indulge her fears by not making her go on the field trip. On the other hand, I kind of feel like the school isn’t entirely making this easy, because the teacher doesn’t know what the specific show will be. I therefore can’t prepare Bambina in any way (is it Aesop’s fables? Something with a dragon? Will there be an evil stepmother queen?). In addition, I feel like Bambina has been such a star this year (friends will recall the Transition-to-Kindergarten anxiety of late 2009, now completely resolved, as well as her truly remarkable guts in dealing with all our recent upheavals including a new sister and a sick mother), that I’m not feeling particularly inclined to make her “man up” for a one-hour puppet show I know nothing about. Another girl in her class is also not going for the same reason: major puppet issues.

When this first came up my inclination was to just make Bambina go and to privately think, “Oh for heaven’s sake, child, they are just puppets!” But then I remembered being 5 years old in Scotland. I was in the hospital over Christmas, and a genius there thought it would be uplifting for the kids to have some clowns come through. Oh my god, I am still not over that day. Hear me now and believe me later: clowns are not funny and clowns are not uplifting. Clowns are creepy, ghoulish and scary, especially to kids. Of course the grownups around me were poo-pooing my abject terror, and I hated them for it. Like, okay, I get that this is not at all scary for you, big adult person, but I’m 5 and these guys are scaring me beyond anything I’ve ever felt in my life. Does my fear have to make sense to you to be valid? Or can you accept that I’m scared and help me, whether you think it’s stupid or not? I looked at the puppet theater website and the puppets are precisely the Mr. Rogers WhateverLand creepy person kind that make Bambina freak. You know–the Madame kind, with the big oversized noses and ghoulish features, even the ones who are supposed to be not evil.

So that’s my dilemma. I’m thinking about not making her go and perhaps using the summer to get her okay with puppets so we accomplish both objectives: not scaring the bejesus out of my 5 year old in the short term and not allowing a small fear to become a big one in the long term. What would you do?

Life Goes On

Posted on: May 16, 2010

This weekend has been going swimmingly. Unlike last weekend when I spent another night in the hospital as a result of some late night atrial fibrillation. Luckily it was apparently a result of my previous myocarditis from the pneumococcal sepsis last month. So, a little drama but no big deal, thank god.

At one point on the Saturday I was sent for a chest x-ray, where I languished for 40 minutes waiting for someone to wheel me back to my floor. I was royally irritated because I knew the Dada and girls would be there waiting for me. When I finally arrived back I had to navigate through a crowd of very active people and devices in and outside the room next to me. I thought, “Oh wow, drama in there” but then immediately switched my focus to my family waiting for me in my room, wondering when I’d actually be discharged, and pretty much getting back to me me me.

Later in the day as I was walking out to meet my family upon my discharge, I got in the elevator with a guy my age who had walked out of that next-door room. We nodded hello and he blurted, “My father died today.” I said I was so sorry to hear that, and truth be told, I was. It hadn’t occurred to me for one second while I was being all pissy about my wait at radiology and being all me-me-me when I returned that a person was at that moment dying in the room next to me.

It gave me pause, because while we may not always assume that our death will be notable, it never crosses our minds that someone might at the hour of our passing be just steps away and unaware of the magnitude of what is happening.

As you can probably imagine, I’ve had the dubious opportunity to ponder my mortality more times than I care to count. It’s led me to a place that is rather difficult to express to anyone who hasn’t had to do similar unpleasant mental housework. The difficulty does not lie in the fact that it makes me uncomfortable, but in that it makes other people uncomfortable. I think they feel like they have to talk me out of my worldview in order to be a good friend, or perhaps it does seem so relentlessly depressing to someone who hasn’t prepared to meet his or her maker that they can’t see that realism–not depression–is the operating factor involved. I’m not sure. But here’s my worldview:

All of you parents who picture your child’s bar mitzvah, high school graduation, college visits, weddings? You imagine what sweet Freddie will look like in a cummerbund? Can picture little Amy in her middle school soccer uniform? Imagine what your grandkids will look like at your Thanksgiving table? I don’t. I used to, but now I don’t. I’ve learned that life (or perhaps more accurately, MY life) is too fragile for such musings. I’ve learned that every bit of energy and time I’m putting into noodlings on wedding fashions circa 2032 is being stolen from my life today. To put it bluntly, I mostly hope to live in some degree of good health at least until my kids are out of high school. Whether that happens, as we’ve all witnessed, remains to be seen.

I recognize that my worldview sounds like Perky Blogger Deathwatch 2010 to everyone but my compatriots at Dana Farber, but hear me out: I once had this totally hot male nurse, Andrew, at NIH. He was funny, gorgeous and–it turns out–exceedingly smart. He told me back in 2002 when first rumblings of a transplant were being heard (do it while you’re under 35 and otherwise healthy, ie, the exact opposite of how it actually went down!), “Esther, do not get a transplant unless you are at death’s door. Believe me, you will get a transplant and then you will spend the rest of your life managing the effects of that transplant. Be sure the tradeoff is worth it.”

Well, Andrew, you win the grand prize for prescience because that is precisely what is unfolding as we speak. And that is why I think the way I do. Sure, part of me imagined that I’d get a transplant and life would go back to normal–or become some fabulous, Hollywood new normal–and I’d get to leave all this health crap behind. But the realistic part of me always heard Andrew’s voice (and pictured Andrew’s doe eyes and hot lips…err…what? Never mind!) warning me about the lifelong transplant connection, discussing GVHD, and I somehow figured it would bite me in the ass sooner or later. Which it did. And damn if the fucker ain’t still biting. Which is why I consider my worldview to be precisely the opposite of depressing, even though I know it’s hard to hear anything but despair in “I hope I don’t die before my kids are 17.” Because I don’t imagine future halcyon days when my kids are 10. I don’t picture all the great things we’re going to do in three years when the girls are older. I don’t spend a single minute pondering how awesome it will be to see Bambina open her art studio with performances by The Rolling Stones and the sole surviving members of The Traveling Wilburys (although that’s pretty well thought-out for someone who hasn’t given it a second, no?). Why? Because I choose to spend my thoughts and time and energy on things in the here and now, on things that matter to my kids today, on activities and experiences that will make them who they will become whether I get to see who they will become or not. Or, put another way, I don’t procrastinate on our happiness; I don’t fool myself into thinking that there is some future date out there when things will be perfect. I just live every day, grateful to be here, however ludicrous I may look and however dramatic my life may seem. I try to feel the joy even when my house is a sty, my kids have dirty faces, and perhaps a certain Mama has yet to shower at 2pm, not because I think, “Oh damn, I might die tomorrow, boo hoo” but because I know that the only guarantee I (and really all of us) have is this minute right here, the one we’re living right now.

Frank is my nurse for my ECP treatments. Frank has college-aged sons, a salt-of-the-earth demeanor, and a sense of humor that can only be described as jokingly inflammatory. I think I feel positively disposed toward him because my Dad’s humor was similar (let’s see what I can get away with saying without looking like a total a-hole and still maintaining some element of actual humor)–and because Frank can always find my vein. For those of you just joining us, my veins are for sh*t. “Sclerotic” is the nicest way to describe them, which means they’ve been used so much that they are scarred and ugly (on the inside; they’re still smokin’ hot on my arms) and not entirely amenable to being poked with a needle. So the person inserting an IV has to be a professional; someone who can simultaneously use a monster needle to get through the scarring without blowing the vein entirely. Many have tried, few have succeeded on their first try. Miss Dixon in DF Phlebotomy can do it. The IV Lady at the Brigham (she has a name but I only ever called her ‘the IV lady’) can do it. A nice Ethiopian-accented man at Newton-Wellesley Hospital could do it. And now comes Frank, who does it like no one else. Another nurse started today and then called in Frank who, in his classic manner, said, “I could mess around with what’s here but I’m just gonna pull this nonsense out, stick you again, and we’ll go home happy. What do you say?” Two sticks are always better than one stick followed by deep veinous digging with a needle, so I said yes.

So now that you know that Frank is good people and that I have personally vouched for his bona fides, I do have to reveal that he has the most SNL-character way of expressing himself. By which I mean, he says something that sounds so terrible, to the point that you’re thinking, “What a complete jerk!” but then he finishes his thought, and it is the exact opposite of what you were thinking. For example: Today we were talking home improvement, how my contractor was an a-wipe, how his contractor was lazy, etc.” He made some comment about how they didn’t have this kind of trouble building the pyramids. Another nurse said, “Frank, that’s because they had slaves back then!” Frank then said, “We have slaves today; they’re called Mexicans.” I immediately felt revulsion for Frank, like, what a racist pig. I turned my head so I could figure out how to respond and then he followed up: “I mean, think about it, I pay my contractor eight grand, he pays these guys next to nothing, right? Who’s that money going to? Not the workers! Those poor guys are indentured! Working for almost nothing! Its a disgrace! So that’s why my sons are painting my house this summer. I don’t want any part of mistreating those guys.” So in the space of 8 seconds Frank takes you from hating him and his ignoramus beliefs to hearing about the plight of migrant workers.

Then he did it again with women. I can’t recall the exact line but it was something to the tune of, “Yeah, well, you know, that’s exactly what you’d expect from a woman, right?”….dot dot dot…”because women have been so devalued in the workplace from day one that…blah blah blah.”

I mean, they kept coming! Constant revulsion followed by a statement in total opposition to my expectations. By the fifth time I was learning to not get worked up, but it was just so hilarious; partly because it’s funny, and partly because no one else seemed to notice (or maybe they’ve already made peace with his rhetorical style). Either way, I do now know that power washers should not be operated by morons, that ancient garages built on the edge of your property should not be torn down lest you never be allowed to build them again with all that new coding and whatnot, and that sometimes the sweetest guys come in the frankest of packages.

For those of you not familiar with Facebook, there is an option to “become a fan” of a company. In doing so, you become eligible for exclusive discounts and special deals. With Baby Sister joining us, I fanned Babies R Us to get the deals, with the intention of un-fanning (de-fanning?) when I no longer needed them. Well, to hell with that plan, friends, because I am addicted to reading the nasty comments left on the BRU page by evil mommies.

One of the page’s features is Baby of the Week, in which fans are invited to submit a pic of their babies to be voted on by friends and family. Every week, without fail, a baby wins and the onslaught of bad sportsmanship begins, generally with a statement from “Theresa L of New Jersey” or “Marnie S from Utah” about how weird the winning baby looks and how she submits every week and her baby never wins so this up in here is a scam.

At first I was horrified, but then my horror softened to disgust, and then my disgust became amusement. There is something truly entertaining–although disturbing–about seeing a pack of mommies devolve into Lord of the Flies online behavior. I wonder what the dads think, and I also wonder whether these mothers ever consider that they are MOTHERS on a site about mothering acting like they’re on a Rock of Love reunion show: “Oh yeah?! Well you are a b*tch!” “I’m a b&tch?! You’re an ugly slut!”

It’s nasty and wrong and indicative of the ongoing American cultural slide into incivility, but I can’t stop reading it, if for no other reason than I hope it’s preserved for posterity so the kids can someday see who their mothers really are. Or better yet, let’s hope the moms re-read their posts, see who they really are, and make a change before their kids find out.

Mama’s Day

Posted on: May 10, 2010

Happy Mother’s Day to all the women who do the impossible every day. I trust you had a day of eating bon bons in front of the Oxygen Channel. I keeed! I know you only watch BRAVO.

My day began with a delightful breakfast in bed…from McDonalds. Bambina was so excited for me to enjoy her favorite foods in the comfort of my beaudoir. So there I was, eating a truly disgusting Egg McMuffin, smooshed in my bed between Bambina and Baby Sister dropping maple syrup and egg detritus all over my sheets, thinking, “This is simultaneously the most unpleasant and yet joyous experience of my entire week.” Unpleasant due to the McDonald’s food. I generally don’t mind McDonalds, but this breakfast was dire. The cheese was…how to say?…wet. It just tasted not good, like it was pareve cheese or something; no milk. And it was wet. Not melty: wet. There is a critical difference, as you can imagine. So in order to salvage the culinary joy of the experience I scarfed my entire hash brown (super greasy but nonetheless delicious) in about .09 seconds.

Then it was off to Lowe’s home improvement because I’d promised Bambina weeks ago that we’d create an American Girl World on her bottom bunk, and the only thing we needed to make it happen was plywood. Plywood I’d been meaning to buy for weeks but that never happened due to my various hospitalizations, subsequent attempts at digging out of my morass of a kitchen and laundry room, ongoing ECP treatments, and daily time with Baby Sister. A trip to Lowe’s just wasn’t on the list of things I could manage to get done. So we had decided we’d do it yesterday; only yesterday I spent the day in the hospital, so today had to be the day. I just couldn’t disappoint her one more time.

Then, the original plan was that I would spend the afternoon at some hippie local coffeeshop writing and generally being in a place where I did not have to answer a million questions in a 3-minute span of time, where I could not be importuned to “read to me while I poopy” or “mama! Waaah!” But you know what? I’ve recently spent too much time away from my Joneses involuntarily, and while it really would have been kind of nice to check out for even an hour, I concluded that my definition of a great Mother’s Day didn’t necessarily include being away from the people to whom I’m the mother, especially since I’ve been away too much. Not to mention that Gram was coming over for her Mother’s Day tea, and lord has this lady (and the Pop) been on double duty lately–again due to my ongoing medical BS–so I’m going to go have coffee by my awesomely relaxed self and wish her a happy day in absentia? I think not. That’s what our friend Diddy would call bitchassness, and if there’s one rule by which I live my life, it’s “WWDD?” You know Diddy would have closed down the recording studio and called me to the Bad Boy Entertainment offices for a serious camera-ready chastisement, and I just couldn’t have handled that.

And then it was on to errand-running, because I have another ECP treatment tomorrow, rendering my day essentially useless. So off we went to the library, pharmacy, bank, post office. And then mercifully, dinner and bedtime. The Dada left early to go to the Red Sox game, i got the kids to bed and ate cereal for dinner while watching Desperate Housewives, a show I have not seen since waaay before Eva Longoria ever met Whosiewhatsie Parker. I was ready to flip the channel, thinking Feh, when I saw the delicious John Barrowman (of Torchwood fame) playing some really evil guy and figured I could burn an hour of brain cells on a played-out show if only to see Jack Harkness be nasty.

So, like Kelly LeBrock used to say in the 80’s Pantene commercials: “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.” You wish you’d had my day; I can feel your envy oozing through the screen, and that’s okay. I get that a lot, what with all the fabulousness of being me.

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