Camp-O-rama

Published July 8, 2017 by sarcasmica

We are set to go camping for four days starting tomorrow. We have not packed anything into the travel trailer as of 5:52 the night before…. and the camper is housed at a location other than our driveway.

Preparing for camping always boggles my mind. I have about a million moments of, “But we have that at home already… why are we leaving our house?” and “if we stay home, we can do that so much easier!”

But if we stayed home, we would miss out on the sunburns, the family bonding, and teaching the kids all those fun four letter words that inevitably fall out of mine and/or my husbands mouth at least three times per day.

Camping is really forced bonding with your children. Forced bonding in close quarters until the smell of all the stinky bodies forces you to go back home.

And dammit if campgrounds and parks aren’t getting better and better wifi signals! If I think too long about the long hours ahead without a television, xBox, or my couch I could easily talk myself out of going, but let’s face it.. i’m always happy we did it once we’re back home to our own shower and beds.

Truthfully we are spoiled these days. After two summers of tent camping, the final straw was packing up the campsite in the rain. We opted for a travel trailer. I have awful back issues and my husband has fused disks in his neck. The days of our overpowered, aged, broken bodies rolling around on the ground in the name of “sleep” are over. Let’s face it, for me they were never here. The trailer makes it all so much easier!

I have prepared our camping menu and shopping list and now as a borderline diabetic, I must admit. Carbs and sugar make up 99% of camp food! What the hell? Who wants to grill vegetables after a day of kite flying and sunbathing?

Not this heiffer.

No s’mores?! No cinnamon rolls cooked over an open flame?! No camping hashbrowns?!

Nope. For me it’s eggs. Eggs, with a side of fruit & eggs, followed by more eggs and some veggies. I guess I should be thankful I’m not dairy intolerant at this point.

Bon Voyage!

 

Balancing Act

Published July 6, 2017 by sarcasmica

Moms. Moms are badass jugglers. We have a running list in our head at all times that ranges from renewing meds, to which bathroom needs toothpaste, to dentist appointments. It’s constant. Somewhere during one of the newborn stages of our offspring we learn how to prioritize that shit. 

Bill payment due? Is it already beyond the grace period? No worries, it’s still on time. Laundry done? No, but we still have those too-small period undies so we’re still good for another day. 

Once in a while I max out on shit I can compartmentalize. Sometimes it takes the form of reorganizing a kid’s room, other times it looks like a Weight Watchers membership. Today it looked like overspending on something frivolous like hair. Yup, hair. Something about my neglected appearance I can control. Something that is instant. I tried a trend three weeks ago, and though it looked amazing for 48hrs and I loved it, it was just too high maintenance. So I went today to get it done properly. Safely. Low daily necessity.

It’s what we do, right? We make shit easy for everyone around us. Fuck what we actually want. Filling an obligation for ourselves is right up there with the Pap smear, cleaning under the couch, and dusting behind the refrigerator. 

Six months ago my husband had surgery on his foot. Nasty, invasive, complicated surgery that made him 100% reliant on me. I put what I needed and wanted aside for what needed to be done for him, and all the things that needed doing for the kids from us both. I was not Sharra for the duration of those doctor’s appointments and follow ups and ER trips and nightly bed-making needs. I was the nurse, chauffeur, drug dosed and appointment maker.

Admittedly I am not the ideal applicant for care taker. I’m opinionated and impatient and I could use a little empathy. Also, my eyes roll back in my head at regular intervals so it’s good I was caring for someone on opiates most of the time in the beginning. 

I was kept going by, of course, my husband feeling better and recovering 100%, but also the secret fantasy of getting to take a small, minute, tiny vacation when it was all over. I needed a reset after that crash course in moderate nursing. I just wanted a refresher, to be able to come back and see my family for what they are- a blessing. Not the heavy obligation they were feeling like. 

Selfish? Totally. But it’s honest. It also did not happen. We sold our house and bought in another city instead. 

 I’ve struggled with feeling like I have lost my own purpose. Stay at home moms probably understand this. You are everything for everyone and that becomes priority. Why would you need new shoes when jr has worn his through to the black top? Why would you spend money on a bra when your kid has outgrown yet another size? 

But also, why don’t you want to have sex anymore or smile and laugh like you used to? What do you mean you don’t feel sexy or in control of your feelings when you are covered in everyone else’s issues and demands and body fluids? 

Right now I’m in a foggy stage of life where I’m trying to take more control of my negative talk. I’m aware I have two kids who are of a very impressionable body-aware age. My kids are more independent and capable and I’m left with a little extra time to deal with me. I haven’t seen that person in a while and it takes some time to get reacquainted. Things have changed, I find value in different things than when I was 30. I feel differently. 

Today I got test results placing me firmly in the “pre-diabetes” range. Having a father who was insulin-dependent nearly my entire life, a mom who was diagnosed as a senior citizen puts me at higher risk. It’s a big fucking deal. 

My dad died when I was 25 from congestive heart failure 4 years after a quadruple bypass surgery at 49. 

I get the severity of lifestyle choices. 

So instead of freaking out and losing a little of my mind, I quietly decided to eliminate a major food group for myself- carbs- and try to look better than I felt about myself on the inside by having a professional fix my hair. 

I am working very hard at this moment not to let my anger and frustration determine my attitude. I am working very hard to deflect shit that is not mine to take on, and try to find a quiet corner in my house where I can rock happily in a corner and hum along to the voices in my head. 

Fault Lines

Published June 27, 2017 by sarcasmica

I’ve been reading a book lately. Not a fun book or an entertaining book or even a book by my own choice. This book was recommended by our chiropractor and it breaks down a pretty heavily supported theory about neuro developmental disorders, why kids have them, what it does, and how we can potentially “fix them”.

“Disconnected Kids: The Groundbreaking Brain Balance Program for Children with Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, and Other Neurological Disorders”
by Dr. Robert Melillo

Great light reading, eh?! Fun beach book companion.

Not.

In all seriousness, it is far more manageable than some of the others I have tried to read. This one, while not filled with chuckles, has been very easy to follow and understand. Granted, I’m only 15% of the way through it, but it has been enlightening.

A brief synopsis of what i’ve read so far is this:
The brain develops beyond birth and beyond toddlerhood. As it develops, it does this one hemisphere at a time. Each child has a dominant hemisphere. As each one grows and strengthens, activities and milestones occur causing both sides to connect and create a bridge between both hemispheres. The developing body has a way of repeating a motion until the connections are made.

Once the developing hemisphere is satisfied, the other hemisphere grows and strengthens, and more connections are made across the brain. The only way these connections can be made is if the developmental milestone occurs at the right time, each time, simultaneously across both sides.
(but how can something connect simultaneously if only one hemisphere is the one developing? Science. The brain is an amazing multi tasking machine)

Anyway, so if the wiring isn’t done evenly to connect both hemispheres, one side eventually weakens and that is the start of all the problems.

Here are my thought stages while reading through it:

1. Wow.. that is so totally my kid
2. Shit… it’s all my fault
3. Ok, there’s something I can blame the husband for
4. Nope, it’s all me. I suck. I was an irresponsible pregnant mom, and an irresponsible toddler mom, so my kid now has issues
5.Why didn’t anyone turn down my application for my kid?!
6. It’s all my fault.

I know this is not the goal of the book. But as a mom, it’s my take away so far. At some point I’m supposed to get to exercises to work the less developed hemisphere of his brain that is causing the lack of communication between both hemispheres. This will theoretically “cure” him.

I’m not holding my breath, but I am looking forward to helping him fully connect and grow and if he ends up going off medication and not needing any more intervention, that will just be the cherry on top.

But I can’t help but go through this text and just feel like i’m completely responsible for how he developed.

My own hormone situation isn’t helping me be rational about this, either. Thanks, middle age and a wonky thyroid, for making it all so much more exciting.

School Fools

Published June 23, 2017 by sarcasmica

This is not going to be the most eloquent, charming & optimistic post i’ve done. I’m a frustrated mom of a kid who often gets overlooked, harrassed and left behind at school.

The reasons are not always his own fault, he’s a quiet kid in a shool setting. He learned early on that if he is invisible, no one will have an expectation of him. When teachers dare to challenge him, however, they are surprised by his demeanor, charm, intelligence,  and creativity. He makes people work to see the real kid. 

Because he gets extra support and stands out as needing more than the others, it makes him a bit of a target. He has had to endure harrassment and teasing a lot this year. 

Today was the end of my tolerance and rope. I’m done. Today was the recognition of all the 5th graders “graduating” to middle school and moving onto 6th grade. A new level for the district. 

For my son, however, he wont be. We moved and this changes our district. The new school will still be elementary capping out at 6th grade. (Next year he will get to graduate again)

That said, he wasnt all that invested in the ceremony. Still, he was being respectful and sitting quietly beside his friend. The whole time a row of four boys behind him were poking at him, teasing him, messing with him. 

He kept his cool while I continually fought the urge to jump up and threaten each boy’s happiness and ability to walk. 

My 11 year old handled it better than I did because he’s used to it. 

Why does he have to be used to it?

While my husband coached me through sitting still and leaving it alone, we watched our kid alternate between standing up for himself, to laughing it off and ignoring it.

The assembly was 45 mins long.

I have so much guilt for causing so much change and flux for our son with all of our moves. Honestly we had good reasons and intentions every time we made that choice. 

Today I watched him handle a situation far better than I or his dad did. 

No teachers were nearby monitoring their students. After the assembly there was chaos and mayhem as his teacher had no clue what was happening. First there was an additional activity, then there wasnt, and then “Ok, i guess it’s happening”. No one was directing the parents or kids – in a school parking lot no less.

The whole thing just solidified our choice to GTFO of there. Mind you, this school is mainly for advanced kids in the district (so they can pump up those standardized test scores) and will become mostly advanced placement next year. 

I will say it is definitey a special school- but more short school bus-special, not remarkable-special.

Happy to take my own remarkable kids elsewhere.

Reproduction

Published June 14, 2017 by sarcasmica

A couple weeks ago my kid’s school sent home a note saying that “The Health Talk” was coming up. My son happened to be pretty sick with an on and off fever that week, coincidentally. His friend told him, “You’re lucky you missed it.”. My friend and I were trying desperately to figure out from the broken incomplete sentences from the boys what exactly was taught since no other information came home about it.

Turns out the big reveal was this week. We had another notice – this time on gold paper – come home that they would begin covering “Puberty” and “here are some follow up conversations you can have at home.”

F*ckety freak frack. Seriously? He was just potty trained like a year ago.

(not really, but how is my child looking down the barrel of puberty already?!)

I don’t know if anyone has noticed, but I don’t really know what I’m doing quite yet. I figure the parental instincts will kick in eventually. For what it’s worth, I am on point with the second kid. The first continues to be mostly training wheels.

So I took the suggestions from the work sheet pretty loosely. The school district can barely manage my kid’s IEP. I doubt they have a better handle on hormone functions and sperm than I do. The only thing I took from the paper was to make sure if things feel awkward (“IF” ?!?! IF ?) you let your child know it’s awkward for the parent as well …. I agreed to a certain extent.

Anyway, after my daughter was sent off to brush teeth and get ready for bed, I figured i’d delve into it. I was more concerned with friend info and what the playground conversations were that resulted from the curriculum, to be honest.

I guess I should say here that my husband and I have always had a pretty open door policy on information with our kids. They are quite aware of what body parts are, what their functions are and if there are questions, just ask us and not friends. This has resulted in some pretty hilarious random questions from my 6 year old daughter the last few weeks. The first – on the way to school – was “did they have to cut open your pee pee to have us, mom?” which led to an even more colorful conversation. The very next day she had a follow up question; “What happens to the milk in your boobs, mom?”.

Needless to say, the discomfort level was laid out early and paved the way for the more possibly awkward conversation with the 11 year old of hormones, puberty, and erections.

Now I will freely admit that biology talk has always been quite uncomfortable for me. I get through it, I try to hide my discomfort, and I realize it’s my own hang up. But you know what? It doesn’t matter to your kid. If they want information you have, they will water board you, pull your finger nails out, or perform Chinese water torture to get that information. (or is that just my kids?) I anticipated this conversation to be excruciating, but I managed to go into it nonchalantly and just see how it would unravel. I had no idea how much info I was going to give, and I had no plan. (big surprise there, right?)

While my son was occupied, I asked if the talk had begun at school. He told me yes, and we went on from there. I was surprised at how comfortable it was to communicate with him about this. It seems we had laid the groundwork already leading up to it by being honest and open about biology.

Don’t get me wrong, it was not a cake walk, but it was less painful than a Minecraft monologue.

One thing that surprised me was how interesting he thought it all was. He told me in class he didn’t find it embarrassing or weird, but he had to act uncomfortable “like all the other kids so they wouldn’t think i’m weird because I liked learning about it.”

My son has always loved science and how things work and operate. It shouldn’t surprise me that biology would be any different for him, but I guess it did.

I think it’s unfortunate he didn’t feel like he could safely behave in a way that might even model positive behavior for his classmates. Instead, he had to camouflage his curiosity and interest to avoid social mayhem. (and how many other boys felt they had to do this? Were they all secretly comfortable with it and just interested in the science of it all?)

Our conversation lasted about 45 minutes, and I feel like we covered most of the important stuff. It’s always sort of a need-to-know basis, and every kid has a different level of maturity so no script is going to be 100% effective. Apparently if you go in with an open mind, not a lot of expectation, and honesty, it doesn’t have to be a painful experience.

The entertainment factor will help mask some of the awkwardness, also. The one exchange I feel I need to write down for fear of forgetting it later was this:

I was explaining how he’s already begun to notice some changes, especially in the mornings. He asked if that meant then that sex could only occur in the morning. I explained more, and also that it was just his body wiring itself, practicing functions, programming everything for when it would be necessary MUCH MUCH later in life.

“Oooh, I think I get it, mom. It’s like a video game. You have to start out practicing your abilities and begin slow. They don’t just throw you in a level and expect you to fight the Big Boss right away.”

Yes. I think I will let him believe that sex is like fighting a Boss at the end of a level. A big, mean, ugly vicious Boss. He wont be dating until he’s 30.

Tentative Two Cents

Published June 11, 2017 by sarcasmica

I kept hearing controversy about a Netflix series entitled, “13 Reasons Why”. If there’s anything I love, it’s to jump into a controversy and pick a side. Isn’t this the era for having an opinion and pushing it four steps further and being belligerent and righteous about it and expecting praise and glory?

So here’s my take on the ultra controversial show about a girl who commits suicide and wants to leave much more than a note.

DISCLAIMER: I *just* finished the show. As in we saw the final episode tonight. I haven’t neatly organized my thoughts or managed opinions. This is just my immediate review.

I have more than a couple views on this. I have always prided myself on playing devil’s advocate. Maybe I was a lawyer in a previous life, but arguing is a natural gift for me. When I hear an overwhelming lean from a majority, I have an automatic inclination to try out the other side first. This show is no different. I’ve heard how up in arms teachers and school districts and therapists are over this show. I wonder how many have actually watched it…? To hear the premise, it is easy to jump to a conclusion, but that is ignorant. If you are going to throw an opinion at a wall, you must have a catapult from which to toss. You cannot form an opinion from Cliff’s Notes.

So I did the time. My husband and I both, admitted old fogies, watched the first season over the last week. It’s definitely emotional. It makes you feel. It makes you question and it makes you think. I’m pretty sure that was the goal. I’ve heard the creators wanted to give parents a reason to open up a dialogue with kids about the topic of suicide. Parents of middle teens are encouraged to watch the show with their kids, even. This is a great idea, but it also feeds into a little bit of what the show chides adults for. Following the script of adulthood rather than just actually committing to paying attention. It’s not about checking boxes and having the reasonable answers. It’s about hearing what your kid is saying to you, even if it’s ugly. Listen to them, give them credit for being an intelligent human being, validate the struggle that is high school, and just be there.

That being said, I feel split about it. I watched as a current parent of two children whom I believe, of course, will grow up to be super heroes or presidents or sheriffs. I also watched it completely identifying with some of that dreadful teen loneliness and despair and hopelessness.

One big term being tossed around with this show by professionals is “glorifying”. They claim the story glorifies suicide.

I disagree whole-heartedly.

What I left feeling may piss some people off, but it’s my opinion. What makes me frustrated about this show, if anything, is the wide spread feeling and acceptance of complacency. Not in reactions of characters to a supposed friend, but in the expectations of the main character. If you haven’t watched it, maybe don’t continue reading. There will likely be spoilers because as I’ve said before, I have watched it all and this whole post is my reaction to it. Naturally things will be given away. I will not babysit and give any type of “alert”. Common sense is a dying art.

So. More than once, this desperate character says she felt one thing, stated a feeling, and then expected the other person to do the opposite. She “wished” the other person had “understood” how she felt despite screaming the exact opposite at him.

Huh?!

This character had a lot of moments of going through with an action and then having a soul crushing reaction when the person didn’t read through the gloom and haze and WORDS and push at her. This is a very dangerous game. I don’t think people need to go around with a neon sign declaring their opinion, but you damn sure need to say what you need, or at least express you are unsure of what you need and then at least attempt to muddle through it.

Aside from the casting of what are clearly adults and college students passing for high school sophomores, juniors and seniors, this show did an outstanding job with the actors. The perceived drama that followed some of the story lines left me scratching my head and feeling totally out of touch with what this show implies is reality.

All in all I hope anyone curious about it just gives it a chance. The show is really well done and I was impressed with all of the performances. What I think needs to be talked about is not necessarily the topic of suicide, but all of the other issues. Why is it so hard to have a dialogue with a teenager? That absolutely goes both ways. Why is it so hard for teenagers to speak to their parents – preferably in complete sentences! If you haven’t said what you mean, how can you crucify someone for not coming through for you?

I failed to see the glorification of suicide in this show. What I did see was someone wanting to set the record straight when she felt she had no voice. She had the last word, and laid out what led her to such a desperate, horrible, unimaginable solution. I do not see how this would sway or convince people watching that suicide is a valid and enviable option for life’s troubles. If anything it should show that mumbling a nebulous thought under your breath is not enough to get help. You have to say the words. You have to beat adults over the head sometimes with your thoughts. You have to scream and fight to be heard, but if you can manage some form of that, it’s worth it.

 

 

Birthday Parties

Published June 5, 2017 by sarcasmica

Children’s birthday parties. More specifically, school friend birthday parties.

Did you get a little tummy flutter? Did you picture ponies and gift bags? Then you are not my people. Move along. 

Did you cringe and feel sweat bead up on your brow? Did you reach for a nearby cocktail? If so, read on.

It’s not so much the screaming over-excited kids that I mind. I dont even particularly mind the germy venue. The cold pizza and token veggie plate dont bother me either, it’s the chit chat. The chit chat with other people I only barely recognize from car windows as we pass each other at drop off all bleary-eyed and zombified. It’s figuring out how to start a conversation with someone I dont know and will likely never see again. (because after this school year we are switching districts) I’m no good at big parties, and i’m only marginally better at smaller shindigs. I’m more of a friendly suaree partier. If I’m in a known group of people, it’s fun and I have even been known to enjoy myself. Those conversations mean something. I know the parent they are bitching about. I understand the tantrums and attitude of the small human they are rearing. 

So today began with us preparing our newly habitated house for our son’s party next week. It moved onto my kid being snubbed out of a neighborhood birthday playdate, and ended with the school friend party. 

Last weekend our neighbors had an impromptu potluck gathering. We know this only because when my daughter went to play with Kid K, her mom mumbled something super noninformational about it in passing. Later on the driveway across from us was decked out in tables, food, and people from all over our street. After things got underway, and after my daughter and I were standing on the driveway obviously waiting for a “oh hey! Come on over” wave, we received an apologetic half assed invite to which my husband and I bowed out of as we already had plans to go to a friend’s BBQ. 

So today as i’m washing my car I notice Kid K and all but 1 of the kids my daughter has been playing with in the neighborhood for the last 4 weeks running all around and having a fabulous time. Tables are set up at one house and one kid excitedly shouts, “Thats so cool it’s actually her birthday today!” And they all scamper around the lawns together.

Three of the moms cozy up in chairs with wine across from my house….again…and I just minded my own business and washed my car.

I should have just swallowed my ridiculous pride, totally interrupted their guzzling, and just slapped a plastic smile on my face while overzealously waving and shouting, “Hello!!!” to all of them. 

I totally should have. Maybe next time I feel dismissed I will.

But my kid had a birthday party to go to she didnt have to crash theirs.

She had a great time at the class friends party. I, however, sat off on my own after an initial ‘Hello’ and tried to look entertained. After a few minutes i just hid in my cell phone. I began to wonder if the person who wrote The Hunger Games was inspired by a similar situation resulting in Sponsors. I would have done nearly anything to see a parachute drop a martini down to me at any point during that party. 

I was able to chat a bit, met a couple parents who said they had heard a lot about my daughter from their kids at home. I felt bad having never heard my kid talk about their children. 

It all ended well and good until the exodus. Everyone left and as I was holding the door for the person behind me, my daughter tuns at the same time I do and BAM! She twirls ear first into my hard nail head purse.

Fiery bolts of lightning charge from her eyes and green poison flies out of her mouth as she starts screaming at me and alternately wailing into my chest over getting hurt.

It wasnt a scene, it was the entire play.

One sweet grandma asked, “Oh no, what happened? is she okay?” and through the mist of fury I call out by accident she got whacked with my purse, but was fine.

That parking lot emptied faster than a box of Thin Mints. Tumbleweeds. I quietly, but hauntingly, explained the situation my kid just caused to the demon that had obviously overtaken my kid. At some point the horns broke off and my kid was returned to the front of the identities and we resumed our party exit.

I despise going to these parties and quite frankly may just be otherwise engaged for any more classroom invites.

In fact, I did receive one today and I think I may just RSVP no and say “I’m sorry, we have the exorcism scheduled for that day.” 

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