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All posts for the month January, 2016

Swim Meat

Published January 29, 2016 by sarcasmica

I am a tall chick. I’m 5’11. It’s not news that i’m big. This body and most bathing suits do not mix. The tankini, while probably designed for a slim marathon runner, is the ideal suit for me because one pieces simply do not work. They just aren’t long enough. We have pants that are “T” (tall) why can’t we have a one piece spandex body suit that is supposed to cover your nethers and your uppers available in a proper length as well?!

Truth be told, the plus size stores may have the right length, but the tops of those things are nowhere near fitting my body. Someone in the fat lady design department decided all plus size women are 5’2 and have 42DDDs.

This is not me.

The steel-lined, padded strapped, quadruple pronged fasteners simply hang on my inadequate decolletage. One could build a canoe out of the uppers of a plus size bathing suit in an emergency.

The point of this ramble is that my husband and I joined a gym. I’ve been on a quasi health kick since mid 2015 and needed an extra something to motivate me to do more than the once/week workout with a trainer. I told him I wanted to go somewhere with a pool so I can swim for aerobic exercise. You know … something where you don’t have to feel the sweat and smell the stink.

In order to properly swim in the pool, however, I needed a one piece bathing suit. My billowing tankini would just slow me down. I ran to Target today with my croupy congested 5 year old so she too could pick a suit. (I have also signed the kids up for swim lessons)

Finding a bathing suit in Washington mid-winter is challenging, to say the least. I had one option. One. The rest were all two pieces.

My daughter began screaming that her ear was hurting, so I didn’t have a chance to try it on. I grabbed it, grabbed one in her department, and we left as she was howling and crying and generally making a scene. People were offering her stickers, giving me ‘is she abducting her, or just an unfortunate mom’ looks.

I decide tonight would be the night to try out the gym swim routine.

I park and sit in my car in my stretched-to-the-max new suit underneath stretch pants and a sweatshirt.

My brain: “What the hell are you doing? You have some freedom right now after a week of hell. Why are you not at a bar?! DRIVE TO THE BAR!”

Me: “No. I can do this. I can’t wear flip flops, stretch pants and a Jack Skellington sweatshirt to a bar. Go. In. … oh look, an email.

Brain: “Ok, but make it quick.”

I enter the women’s locker room and find a gaggle of junior high girls all finishing up after some kind of practice or swim meet or something.

Like 20 of them.

Nothing is as intimidating to an overweight stay at home mom in an uncomfortable hideous Target one piece as this scenario. The only thing worse would be walking through the Sports Illustrated swimsuit shoot.

I almost left. Instead I hid in a bathroom stall and tried to work up the courage to just look at the pool. Afterall, these girls weren’t paying attention to me. One good thing about a mom in the midst of a bunch of barely-teens is that they are pretty invisible.

I found a locker, stashed my purse with my wadded up tank top and chonies to change into after and headed for the pool… just to see if a squad of high school swimmers was waiting out there.

Thankfully it was nearly empty.

I headed back into the locker room, stashed my sweatshirt, took a deep breath, and headed for the pool.

It was actually quite nice! The water was a perfect temperature, the pool was competition sized (since they have actual swim teams at this location) and there were 2 lanes available.

I was trying not to focus on the creepy old dude hanging out in the jacuzzi. What is it about the jacuzzi that attracts old creepy hairy chested men? I was also trying to keep my tiny ta tas from flopping out into the over chlorinated pool. It seems the Target designers also believe the tops of their one-pieces should allow space for a semi-supported pair of watermelons. Being as how I was only sporting small cantaloupes large peaches, every back stroke reach was a gamble.

After one length of freestyle swimming, I was feeling pretty smitten with myself. I can do this! Halfway through the swim back, my heart began telling me a different story.

But I kept going. I did a back stroke for another four lengths. I had to ignore the panicky water pressure feeling I always get in a big pool. I think in a past life I was on a sinking ship and was eaten by a shark. Sharks terrify me. Big and/or deep pools give me serious anxiety. Masks make it worse, snorkels require hours of rehearsal. But I get through it. I’ve learned large predators do not fare well in chlorine. … except the ones in the jacuzzi.

I ended my panting boob-gambling session with one more free style length and then a slow back stroke back. All in all the 8 lengths took me 15 minutes. I don’t think Michael Phelps needs to worry , but at least I did it!

As a reward, I headed over to the jacuzzi trying not to feel like an elephant in a loin cloth. I ignored the creepy dude and only lasted 5 minutes in the hot tub. My eyeballs were beginning to implode with all the chlorine fumes. I walked into the steam room, inhaled the eucalyptus, and turned and walked out after seeing the thermometer read 150 degrees.

I showered and left and felt very proud of myself for tackling the first maiden attempt at swimming for cardio. Next time I will wait 10 minutes longer in the parking lot and hopefully avoid the jr high gaggle, but all in all it was a great little workout! Go me!

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The Quest Continued

Published January 28, 2016 by sarcasmica

The quest is ongoing, really. I’m looking forward to it being complete, but I have a feeling with an ADHD kid, it’s never complete. It just keeps morphing. My anticipation is that we will finally get the right medication dialed in, and then he’s going to start puberty .. and then all hell breaks loose. In my mind there’s a raging party of hormones and smoke and cups filled with equal parts glowing energy drinks and questionable contents.

Forgive me, i’ve not slept much this week, and it’s just adding to the overall “Hell Week” vibe.

“Last week on Sarcasmica…” My son had a 3 month cough. I was in and out of the doc office with him and we saw multiple doctors. Sort of a round robin approach of getting to know all the pediatricians in the practice. One doctor recommended we see an ADHD specialist at a nearby location. BINGO! Jackpot. (I’m still getting over the whole, “Why didn’t the 1st doctor mention this option?!” quandry)

“And now, currently on Sarcasmica”
We actually got an appointment set up in the same month. Talk about hitting the lottery.

While waiting for the new appt, we continued with the Intuniv Rx suggested and waited to see if the mysterious cough would disappear. (from Vyvanse)

It only took a day or two to see a huge lessening in the cough. Relief!

The downside was that we started a new prescription and it was a veeeeeery low dose, so he’s basically not really on meds right now. Not. Ideal.

After two three-day weekends in a row, it hit me, “Wow. It’s like he’s not even on meds.” My 9 year old child is all back talk and negative speak and put downs and grumbles. Like me without coffee or sleep for weeks, essentially…. but it’s every. single. day.

For anyone who has typical children I can only imagine how this is interpreted: “My kid is a 9 year old boy who just needs more activities and structure.” Right? Simple!

For anyone who has an ADD kiddo, i’m sure you can feel my pain. It affects everything. It’s like living under a storm cloud. Sometimes it’s snowing, sometimes it’s a downpour, and sometimes it’s lightening and thundering. You just don’t know, and the more gear you pull out to help it, the more the weather changes.

This effects everything around it. Imagine a literal storm cloud inside your house. This stretches from toys to siblings to friends and parents. It touches all of it.

Anyway so this week begins on Tuesday when he blessedly goes back to school. HALLELUJAH! The next morning my husband and I meet with the new doc. We discuss my kid’s entire life from infancy to now. We discuss signs, treatments, consulations, tests, school experiences, medical history, eeeevvveerrryyyttthhhiiinnnggg. At one point I cry because… why not? It’s totally normal to break into tears mid-sentence in front of a doctor you’ve never met before, right?

So normal she had to go on a hunt to find a kleenex box, and then she had to actually open it up. I was a little shocked by this considering she deals 100% with ADHD diagnosed kids. Am I the ONLY parent to break down in her office?

After this emotionally draining and emotional consultation, I go to the grocery store where I get an email from my son’s math teacher:

“Just a short note to let you know that {The Child} has had a difficult time completing his math homework.  He tells me he doesn’t work on it because he is too busy at night.  I told him I was going to send you a note to see if we could come up with a game-plan.”

We haven’t had problems with homework in a long time …. and it directly correlates with his medication in my opinion. I write back:

“Very interesting. He has told me that he has completed his math at school and that’s why he hasn’t had any to bring home. Thank you for telling me. He is absolutely available for homework. I will let Mr. Important know his schedule is wide open.”

There are some emails back and forth about what a good mom I am, and I assure her he wont have the same feelings. I questioned him teasingly about it at pick up. “So, what are our big plans this evening? I hear we are VERY busy!”

He did his homework which miraculously appeared, he did his sister’s laundry, and his own, and never once complained. I was equal parts proud and slightly disappointed he wasn’t mad about it. Considering we were all running on very little sleep from the evening before filled with bad dreams, coughing, nose blowing, and general “let’s see if we can turn mommy into a monster” ness, it wall went splendidly.

Then last night my daughter began the slow decent to croup…. AGAIN. She has had this at least once every year since she was 2. Every year for three years I hope it’s the year she outgrows it. So far, no go. She had a cold and I waited for a fever all day but it never happened…. until 7pm. I drug her, I tuck her in, and the barking begins. The cough/bark madness goes until TEN THIRTY at night.

My husband is trying to prepare for a flight at 8:30 the next morning, so suffice it to say he isn’t a lot of help. I try and stay up with the patient, but considering the lack of sleep from the previous night, I cannot  be awake a minute past 11. I re-tuck her in, settle her down and kiss her goodnight. Somewhere in a foggy mid-sleep I hear coughing and crying that turns to screaming. I only woke because my husband got up to investigate.

Imma let that sink in. My husband responded before I did.

….

I get up to take over, and she’s standing in the hallway screaming that she has throw up on her leg. “WHERE DID IT COME FROM, MOMMY?!!!!”

I’m still asleep, technically. I get a wipe and deal with it, sit her on the toilet and move back to the bedroom where……. a giant puddle of chunks is awaiting us from the middle of her bed.

The silver lining? It landed in the middle of all the pillows and stuffies. The blankets did not fare as well.

Strip the bed.

Try not to curse the walls down.

Reassure child she is ok.

Nothing is permanently damaged.

We are both only mildly awake still.

Settle everything back down, sit in steamy bathroom, then put her to bed.

Beyond this, I cannot remember the night other than she came in and out of the room all night to have her nose blown and cough in my face some more. You know, all the sweet nothings.

Husband got up and left for the airport and I went into a mini coma.

Sometime later I groggily pick up my phone and see that it’s 8:45am. My alarm didn’t go off, but somehow the “touch for snooze” option was on my screen… so did it go off? I have no effing clue. I clamber out of bed, call my son’s school, get him ready for our 9:30 appointment that’s 25 minutes away, and slap some clothes on my body.

My son sits and meets the new doc for their portion of the process and we leave.

I’m running on a basic survival level right now, squeezing my burning tired eyes shut every third blink just to hydrate my eyeballs  because now I have to run off to my therapist appointment.

Maybe she’ll just let me lay down and nap for an hour?

 

To The Parent of a Newly Diagnosed Kid

Published January 23, 2016 by sarcasmica

Dear Parent,

Good job! This is never said enough to us. Good. Job. You followed through with something there is no road map for. You found the answer. Something wasn’t right, so you found out why on your own, put it in the face of someone who went to school and studied it and now gets paid a lot to know about it, and you made them acknowledge your child and family.

That is no small feat.

Acknowledging that your child is not typical is an emotional throat punch.

So you caught your breath and did what you needed to do to help your kid. Whatever that may be, counseling, therapy – occupational/physical/behavioral. Maybe just sitting back and assessing the situation. You made progress.

Once you begin the process of a diagnosis, things become clear and scary and threatening. You question your parenting choices, you question yourself, you question your partner, you blame everyone. Your child is most likely this way because that is who he/she is. You cannot expect a brunette to turn blond, and just because someone says she’s “brunette” doesn’t make anything different. Her hair is brown either way.

A diagnosis is a tool. Nothing more. It’s the key to the gate of getting help and no longer being solely responsible for your child’s success. It’s using language to get the massive team of people you will need to be on the same page for what is required for your child. That’s it. We do not fret over allowing a teacher to teach our child math, why agonize over a doctor offering insight to managing a diagnosis? They are the professionals. More importantly, they are unbiased professionals who have (hopefully) loads and loads more experience with the matter than just a parent. While a parent is an expert on their child, the professionals are experts in the area of concern. This experience is another tool to find the right solution.

I hope you find a community of parents who can understand your journey. I hope you have a network of friends who, while maybe can’t relate, can listen and appreciate what goes into life with an atypical child. I hope in these friends you can appreciate how your child is accepted and loved and encouraged just to ‘be’.

Mostly, I hope you recognize that though we have more doctor’s appointments and have filled out an encyclopedia’s worth of behavioral assessment forms, researched and read more parenting literature than most parents, we ultimately have extraordinary beings we get to experience life with. Along with an atypical child comes radically advanced gifts. We get to experience things with and through our kids that a typical parent misses out on …. but that will just be our secret, ok? If that secret gets out, then we will see a true explosion of diagnosis!

Ultimately know that it gets better. Life doesn’t stop because you have a kid with a learning disability or behavior disability. Life just alters course. It also helps you appreciate the typical kids in your life.

Good luck with the process. Keep moving forward, even if it’s just a shuffle.  You are doing an amazing job.

Sincerely,

A mom in the trenches … holding the vodka

 

 

 

 

 

My Assignment

Published January 21, 2016 by sarcasmica

My shrink gave me an assignment, so naturally I will complete it here. Why not make everything you think public and available for public consumption?!

(One of the reasons I do this is because I have benefited greatly from people who are candid. It has made me feel understood and not as alone as I was convinced I was. This applies to everything. Parenting, Wifing, Humaning, so I continue the process publicly in the event I can somehow pass this favor on)

I will attempt to work on this process while sitting here the morning of my follow up appointment, trying to keep my 5 year old busy and happy and not feeling rushed. (HA!)

So recently I heard from my long ago step family. This did a number on me, to say the least. It was frustrating and infuriating and hurtful, so I talked to my therapist about it all. She had an interesting take away. She said, “From some of the things you’ve said, it tells me you haven’t fully accepted what happened.” She drew up the stages of grief on her handy white board and I sat and looked at all the numbered stages.

1. Denial and Isolation

2. Anger

3. Bargaining

4. Depression

5. Acceptance

Looking at all the stages, I realized that I could name all the people I watched go through each one and who was stuck in a certain space, but I truly feel I have accepted my father’s death. (It was 15 years ago)

Digging deeper, I realized that the problem is not my acceptance of his death, my problem lies in the lack of any support, empathy, care, or just concern I felt from my own family while I was the one helping my stepmother arrange, manage, and deal with the logistics of someone dying.

I’m definitely stuck on anger still with this. Maybe it’s even fermented into bitterness.

My family is not an overly communicative bunch. My older brothers lived an entire life before I really got to know them. They were not at all close with our dad, and thus had a very different reaction to his death than I did. However, this did not mean we all became closer at that time. It meant they went into isolation mode. They disappeared until the funeral.

My mom and dad were divorced. They had been high school sweethearts and were married for 17 years when they divorced. It was not as if his life did not matter to my mom, but that did not mean we sat and had heart felt conversations about him. I don’t remember her dealing with his death at all.

My stepmother was front and center for me, however. I sat with her the day he died. I cried with her and the visitors that came to give their condolences – to her. I had strep throat, so I had to do it from a distance. I was with my step mother for all the planning. I had to drive her to the funeral director. I helped plan my dad’s funeral with her, made decisions she couldn’t, wrote the obituary, and helped plan the service. In other words, took care of her. She has three children of her own much older than I who were nowhere to be seen during that time. It was up to me to take care of her during the loss of her husband.

The whole process and logistics involved when someone dies is so alien to me. The logic of it makes zero sense. The people closest to the deceased have to make all of the decisions immediately after hearing a giant hole has been punched from their lives and hearts and souls. Why are we expected to do this? Everyone speaks in a low voice with a cocked head and lots of nodding happens. A lot of soft squeezes and gestures. It’s like a sudden movement or loud noise may spark consciousness at any moment and all planning momentum will screech to a halt because none of it makes any sense.

I never felt my family come together during this horrible time. We all did it like we do everything; separately. No one pulled me aside at 25, sat me down, held my hand and just said, “I’m so sorry I couldn’t help with the hard stuff. Thank you for doing that for your dad, for the family, for those of us who couldn’t pull it together to pitch in.”

I was never told, “You were so amazing to have handled that with your step mom. That couldn’t have been easy. How are you doing?”

“How does someone have words to write an obituary for their father at 25? You did an amazing job, and I went ahead and saved a copy for you.”

“I see that his widow is being taken care of and sat with and things done for, but you have lost your father. You are the youngest of his children, and you are managing to do the jobs of everyone else. Thank you.”

It didn’t occur to me at the time, of course, that I needed any of this. Having to relive it all recently has made it all clear now, though. If anyone did anything resembling the above, I do not remember it. I never felt like I was checked in on or taken care of. Admittedly I’ve never been good at letting people take care of me, but you don’t know what you need when grieving the loss of a parent until you are in it. People react so different to death. Most people just get uncomfortable and don’t like talking about it. Lots of people try to change the subject. Mostly people want to make you smile, but that’s the last thing you want to do at that time.

I watched my uncle get stuck in Anger. He was so mad at my father for not taking more control of his health. I watched my brothers try and deal with their guilt and anger and confusion. My heart broke for them. I watched people numb their way through it and never actually deal with it.

I can honestly say I’ve accepted his death. Hard not to when someone spends their life ignoring massive health concerns. It was inevitable. I was so blessed to have a rare heart-felt conversation with him the night before he died. I have held onto that conversation this whole time and it’s truly helped me accept it all. What I have yet to accept, however, is the lack of acknowledgement, appreciation, and just plain recognition for managing this massive life event with zero help or support from the people who were all supposed to come together for each other in the name of love and respect to say goodbye to someone who admittedly meant something different to all of us.

I will say this for my family; the funeral was beautiful. Everyone was supportive and emotional and showed up for the burial and service. I like to think we all remember the moment standing in a circle around the casket while a hawk circled above us. That moment was one that will be with me always. We had our arms around each other and we were smiling. Smiling because if my father failed at everything else in his life, the one thing he excelled at was making the people around him smile.

If someone in your family passes, go beyond your own grief for just a little while and put yourself in front of each other. You don’t have to commit to an amount of time. You don’t even have to commit to a duty. But be present to witness the grief your family shares with each other. There is nothing degrading or embarrassing about grieving a family member. So much goes into the days following a death, and you don’t know what level of acceptance everyone is at. People will tell you, “It’s ok, don’t worry about it.”

I’m saying to you now, worry about it. Go to their house. Be there. Bring them coffee, or tea, or Xanax, but bring something to get in the door, and then just sit there. It will be uncomfortable. It will be sad. It will be painful. But those feelings will be there whether that person is alone or in front of someone. Just for a little time, it’s nice to feel you aren’t alone in your sadness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Medicine Cont.

Published January 10, 2016 by sarcasmica

The medicine struggle wages on.

My kid has been coughing since October. This is no exaggeration, sadly. He had a cold, after the cold he got a cough. Common enough, right? Only it never stopped.

We’ve been on an expedition to find the reason. Allergies, post nasal drip, developing a tick. I’ve medicated it all.. sometimes twice. His lungs have never been clearer.

I’ve whittled it down to grasping at straws and now we are trying a different ADHD medication. He was on Vyvanse. The docs assured me the only side effects were appetite loss. For my skin and bones son, this could have been a problem, but it never really altered his eating much, though.

I looked into it online and found adults reporting an irritating dry cough that seemed to never go away. The trick was this shows up as a side effect after you’ve been on the medication for a few months.

*face palm*

Long story short, now we are trying yet another one. The real ass-kicker was that the last one was actually working really well. Great, even. Aside from the near-constant dry hacking gag-inducing cough, of course… no biggie, really.

Here’s my convo with his doc:
“We have to try something else.”
“Well, we do have a medication that will stop the tick (cough) but you give it at night because it will make him tired.”

(side note: the doctors could not agree on what his cough was, so the main pediatrician just started insisting this was a tick. This infuriates me and I couldn’t disagree more, but I can only bang my head on that wall for so long. Choose your battles, people.)
“I don’t want to give him a medication to fix what the first medication is causing him to do. I’d rather just change the medication.”
“Hmmm … ok… well there is another time released Rx he can try. There is a side effect of making him drowsy so start it at night, and then gradually work him up to the morning.”
“Drowsy is not ideal for him since his teachers have clearly stated getting him going is his main issue at school.”
“Right.. but it shouldn’t be a long-standing problem. Just in the beginning.”

I am meeting with an ADHD specialist at the end of the month. She will be able to look at all of his issues – not just the one single problem – and give me a more well-rounded outcome… i hope!

Today was my kid’s first day on the new script. (Intuniv aka guanfacine) Holy rabies infected hell hound, batman! It was bad. He got his dose last night, didn’t actually go to sleep until nearly 10, but woke up today fairly human. The closer it got to the afternoon, the fangs began to grow… the hair and claws sprouted.

He was playing with his sister right in front of me this afternoon. They were getting along fine. She accidentally whacked his hand with a wooden spoon. In all honesty, it was an accident. He, understandably, lost his shit. That crap hurts!

The problem with my child is how he reacts to an event. He obviously didn’t get in trouble for something she did, but he did begin spewing terrible things to her because of it. Reigning in a viper after it begins spitting is a very dangerous task.

I gently reminded him accidents happen. It hurts. It sucks, but blame doesn’t help, and taking a minute in anger can prove very helpful in the long run. There are plenty of times he’s accidentally kicked his sister in the stomach, hit her, injured her. He turns his anger on me and it all escalates. I kept my cool until he acted like he was going to hurl the brick of an ice pack at me. We used the type that you put in a lunch box. (because little sister has hidden the 2 I’ve already bought) Solid blue weapon of destruction when icy and held by a menacing 9 year old whose fingertips have just been smacked by a wooden spoon.

The second time he wound up with it as if to throw it at me he was sent to his room.

For all you spankers out there, keep your panties on. My kid does not respond to spanking. I know because we’ve done it. All it does is exacerbate the situation and make him a now demoralized, humiliated, angry and frustrated beast. Not a contrite one. I believe spanking can work in the right context and depending completely on the child.

My kid has some really complicated issues. Depression. ADHD. anxiety. Sensory processing issues. overly emotional.

You take a kid who is often run by his sensory input, someone who at a basic developmental level cannot respond other than with a life or death response to a surprising loud noise, light, or touch, and you spank him. What the hell does that gain for you as his parent?

It’s not fear. It’s not understanding. It’s not apologies or clarity.

So with this little darling my tools are communication, patience, logic, lots of deep breaths, and fighting every urge in me to scream back, fight back, yell, slam doors right back.

He’s taught me to grow up, not to take everything my child says personally, which is a very surprisingly hard lesson, and look at the long game. There is no instant anything with him ever. Anger is no different.

Couple that with more than one adult in the house. More than one child. It’s pandemonium. It’s managing everyone’s reaction to him. Making sure despite everyone’s personal beliefs, he is given the best chance at learning from the experience. Why? Because it’s an experience he’s going to have for the rest of his life. That’s our job as parents, right? To teach your kid how to succeed at life the best way they can.

My daughter will succeed much differently than my son if i’ve done my job. I don’t need to teach her sympathy and regret and apology. She’s got it. I do need to teach her how not to trust everyone who smiles at her, though.

For him, the big one is to teach him how to manage that lava flow of anger that erupts when he is on the shit end of the stick.

Does it require medication to take him down this road of understanding? Unfortunately yes. By all accounts of just one day, I can tell you that medicating your child is not the easy route. It does have the potential for being a fair route, though.

You cannot teach a logical response if a logical reaction is uncontrollable.

So we are still on our road to glory. I sure hope we find it soon because sometimes I feel like i’m on a dirt road heading for a cliff.

 

Chompers

Published January 10, 2016 by sarcasmica

I spent a week discussing bringing home a possible candidate for a pet bird from the sanctuary I volunteer every week with my son. He’s 9. He can get the big picture. My 5 year old is given information on a need-to-know basis.

We talked about keeping an open mind because we weren’t sure how the cat was going to receive a small loud feathered toy inside a cage. We weren’t sure if the feathered being was going to bite, scream, pluck, bite, scream, bite or scream.

We have a very unique opportunity to try out a pet. If it doesn’t work out, the pet goes back to the sanctuary where someone better suited for it can adopt it, or it will simply move onto the sanctuary where it will live.

This particular bird was young, less than a year. I thought it would be a fantastic opportunity for my son to literally grow up with a childhood pet. And one that might talk even! How amazing would it be to be in your 30’s and still have the pet you loved and took care of when you were 9?!

As I’ve stated many times, no I don’t think large parrots are a good pet. This particular medium sized bird was bought by a woman for her children. She didn’t realize the time demand a bird can be, and so decided to give it up. I’m sure this was not an easy decision, I am not at all judging what she had to do. However, this simply provided an opportunity for my family to possibly take in a relatively small pet that has the potential to be a great asset for us.

So we get to the sanctuary and the bird is in the home office. My husband and two kids were both with me. Originally I had just planned on my son and I going, but it became a family event.

This Quaker parakeet had been in it’s cage in a car all morning. As I later found out, it was driven to the daughter’s lesson, waited, then was driven to the sanctuary, cuddled and loved by a familiar face, then left in a strange room, with strange smells and noises with strange people making human noises, but not at all familiar to this little guy.

Then in walks a family. He lets out a Quaker squawk. My kids immediately cover their ears. Either i’ve worked too long in the macaw room and am now deaf, or just don’t have a realistic understanding of ‘loud’ because that noise was a lower decibel than my dogs’ bark.

I approach the cage and the bird says, “What are you doing?”. It was the cutest little voice ever. Unfortunately because my kids had their hands over their ears, they missed it. my husband and they are watching me stick my hand into the cage of this newly surrendered parakeet.

He bites me as he’s getting onto my finger…. but he is stepping up. Maybe that was just a nip. I bring him out and switch him to a more comfortable hand. He bites.

I try not to react. Everything i’ve read and seen and heard says not to give the negative behavior attention. … at the same time, this little f-er is biting the crap out of my finger. I waited it out. He sawed his beak deeper. I pulled it away. He leaned down and bit again.

It became a ridiculous dance of hopping, offering fingers, trying not to react, staying calm, and figuring out what to do.

At this point i’m bleeding. My daughter is crying because i’m bleeding. My son looks like he’s being forced to watch an execution and my husband is holding back an elated smile. (he does not at all want a bird)

The bird goes back onto his cage, flies onto my head, climbs up my arm, tries to get near my face, and he is just all over the place with that damned beak.

I could very easily see how with time and patience and band aids he has the potential to be a good pet…. for someone without kids. My fingers have been bitten and worn down enough to withstand an enthusiastic round of biting ‘get to know ya’, but my kids do not.

Once they saw the blood, they were out.

In the end, i’m bummed. I had thought this would work out but had kept an open mind in case it didn’t. If this bird has a chance to settle in some more and adjust before I try to interact with it again, I don’t know that i’d trust a first interaction between him and my kids…. i KNOW they wouldn’t. They’d go into it with a very nervous fidgety energy the bird would undoubtedly pick up on.

For now we are not bird owners. My husband nearly did a happy little jig on the way back to the car. The kids were just stunned and a bit freaked out by the whole thing. I was just nursing my wounds trying not to make a big deal of them in front of the kids. Bites are inevitable with birds. We all know this. I just don’t like the “bite first, and then see” mentality this little guy had right off the bat on top of his need and drive to be above my head – which is a pretty obvious domineering behavior.

Ce la vie.

As is the case with most sanctuaries, there will undoubtedly be another possibility sooner than later. … I guess we’ll all stay tuned

quaker_parrot

(image from https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d5/Quaker_Parrot.jpg)  – this is not my pic or the bird we looked at, simply an image of that breed. If this was my pic, that finger would be bruised and bloodied, and that beak would be inserted into my skin.

 

To Bird or Not To Bird

Published January 6, 2016 by sarcasmica

This seems a silly and obvious question given my Parrot Post . Obviously I don’t want to own a bird, riiiiiiight????

I’m not talking a macaw or amazon or african grey or cockatoo (or one… ha!) I’m talking cockatiel or a quaker parakeet.

I’m an animal lover. I used to say that of all the Tiny Toons, I was always Elmira. Don’t remember that awesomely obnoxious kids cartoon from the 90’s?!

Tiny Toons

And Elmira was the love-a-holic animal fiend. She had a hamster skull on her bow for cripessakes.

tumblr_mejlkmy5ac1r16d3yo1_500

Hardcore.

Growing up we had mice, rats, dogs, cats, snakes, lizards and until it flew off, a chicken. We didn’t have them all at the same time, but we had them. I’d been bit by a few of them, too.

Currently we have one 8lb mutt who loves barking at the cat. … until you actually put her in front of the cat. Then she refuses to acknowledge her or make eye contact. It’s ridiculous. It might be because the cat outweighs the dog by a good 6lbs. We also have a corgi mix who is currently recovering from back problems and the best dog in the world. Lastly, we have one overweight hairy gigantic cat. A cat who is inside only, and upon finding herself outside panics and short-circuits.

My mom takes care of the cat box and feeding the feline. The kids help feed both dogs and I periodically pick up the dog poop.

I like minimal animals. Admittedly, the lazier the dog, the better.

So volunteering at the parrot sanctuary has seriously tested my animal rescuer nerves. There’s always birds surrendered, sadly. Always. This sanctuary only handles macaws, african greys and amazons. They will accept the smaller guys, but only to rehome them with staff. The point of the place is to take care of the big guys for their lives because parrot ownership is not something that is reliable or attainable for the life span of the animal. (it’s hard to plan the future of a pet that can live 60-80 years. Especially when you figure a lot of people get a bird in their 30s or 40s) Rather than stress them out by placing them from home to home to home, the sanctuary becomes home.

Anyway, i’ve made it five months without taking home a bird. Recently one has become available again and i’m tempted. Small birds can be great pets for kids. Personally I feel cockatiels are the best, but the one needing a home is a 6 month old quaker parakeet. (also called a monk parakeet)

I’m debating and mulling and pacing over the right choice. I haven’t even met him yet. The person surrendering him/her keeps putting off the drop off. I can’t blame them. I know how hard it is to surrender an animal.

I keep going about my day in my house thinking, “That’s a good spot for a cage.” or “how about there?”  “would that be a good place?” and the other conversation in my head is, “Crap, would the cat kill it?” “can the cat knock the cage off of there?” “would the cat even care?”

I’ve been researching and reading and googling and instagraming. I’ve youtube’d vids and shown the kids what they look like…. it’s all making it worse, really.

I’d discuss it with my husband but he has just said, “No.”

He’s a bigger softie for animals than me, though. Not to mention all his traveling and the fact every other person in this house contributes with taking care of the pets more than he does. I think the caretakers should be the decision makers.

So we’ll see what happens. If I meet the bird and it’s bitey or uninterested in me, problem solved. If it’s a love and sweet and endearing, trouble.

stay tuned….

 

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