The One Where I Learned What I Already Knew.

I have composed this post and recomposed it so many times. I do my best blogging in the shower. I’m brilliant, funny, clever. And then I sit down in front of the computer to write it out, and moths fly out of my ears. Don’t say voice-to-text. My next blog post would consist mostly of “Who took my tweezers? I put them RIGHT HERE! If you don’t like it when Mommy has whiskers, DON’T TAKE MY TWEEZERS!” and “Who flushed the toilet? I lost all the water pressure!”

This post is a bit of a departure from my normal doings. It’s less about humor or endangered species and more about real life. It’s about my smallest one, the child formerly known as Squish. He was horrified by this nickname and demanded that I change it at once. By his decree, he will henceforth be known as The Destroyer.

dp cucumbers help puffy eyes

One of my favorite goofballs

We’ve always known that the little critter marched to the beat of his own drummer. I love that about him. All of my kids are weird in their own wonderful ways. Weird is good. Weird suits me. I wouldn’t want to change one thing about them. This right here is one of my favorite stories. He’s kind of hilarious, and he views the world in his own special way.

I can’t say that the news was unexpected. We’ve seen it coming for a long time now. Since he was eighteen months old, we knew there was something different. Something a little… off. He was evaluated as a toddler for speech delay, but the delay wasn’t significant. Just something to keep an eye on. And I saw when he was in preschool that he tended to play alone. I talked to the teachers. Oh, no, he’s fine. He has LOTS of friends! The list of signs grew longer. Anxiety. Hand-biting. Running in place when he was overwhelmed. Tantrums that didn’t fade as he grew older. Panic attacks. Fears about weird things while daredeviling with stuff that could actually kill him. We suspected. We worked with teachers, worked together, trying to make a plan that would keep his development moving forward. His teachers have been phenomenal, always brainstorming about things that could help. We have been so, so fortunate.

We avoided having more evaluations done. We didn’t want to change our kid. We were so worried that a doctor would put the little guy on meds for ADHD. He is a busy little person, but we can work with busy. We did okay.

I am not even totally sure what caused us to pull the trigger on it and seek out additional evaluations. I think it was when the medication for his anxiety backfired and sent him into unexpected rages every evening. So we got a referral, we made some calls, and we waited. And after a grueling two-and-a-half hour appointment, we learned what we knew. The Destroyer is Autistic.

We knew it. We’ve been constantly developing work-arounds since he was a toddler. I’ve run the zoo’s camp for Autistic kids since we first offered it. I know Autistic kids, and I love them. In some ways, having my own kid’s autism confirmed is like being given a golden unicorn, a priceless gift. He sees the world in such an incredible way. But no one else ever saw him like I see him until we went to the specialist.

In other ways, the diagnosis was overwhelming. We left the office, and we didn’t talk a whole lot. It was Halloween, and we had a party to get to and lunch, and lots of fun things planned. But suddenly this little person was a stranger. After hours of picking him apart behavior by behavior, I had lost the gestalt of him. Suddenly I couldn’t reconcile the child in the backseat with the little boy I had yelled at that morning for throwing his football in the house. He was a stranger.

“He’s the same kid he was yesterday,” my brain told me. “And they said you’d done great with him.” And it was true. The therapist told us that we had been creating interventions all along that aided his development, and that if we hadn’t, he would be a much different kid, he would have more difficulties than he does. But her words didn’t help. We did the right thing. But which thing was that, exactly? Out of the blue, I no longer knew how to parent this child. I felt like I was walking on thin ice; one false step and I would break him. I did not see my son as my son, but instead a collection of neurodivergent behaviors. Yesterday the only thing on our schedule was church choir, and now we’re looking at Speech Therapy and Occupational Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and who knows what else. And I’m tired. We were doing okay before, right? Is all this stuff necessary? And how do I handle the time off work?

I’ve made a million phone calls. Some are answered, most are not. It’s hard to get an appointment with a specialist apparently. I’ve shifted things around, talked to the insurance company to see what’s covered, done all the grown-up things. I’ve ordered books and special Chewelry so he has something to gnaw on. I’ve gone through the steps without feeling them, checking off boxes one by one.

And then out of the blue, I *got* this kid. When our mornings are rocky, I realized, it is usually because I have not been clear in my instructions. He wants to do the right thing (mostly, he is 10 after all). He’s not trying to get on my nerves. It’s just that I haven’t made myself clear. Now I am rethinking the structure of our morning and the things that I say. And it’s easier. Because I *get* him now. I am learning to put myself in his shoes because he does not yet know how to put himself in mine. And the speech therapist will go to his school. When she told me that, I felt like a weight had been lifted. One less thing to schedule around. And we’re doing it.

I still have a lot to learn. I have to weigh the pros and cons of different therapies, and I have to learn all the lingo. There’s so much that I don’t know. But it’s pointless to expect that I’ll learn it all the first week. Or the first month. Or the first year. Baby steps. This month, we’re concentrating on National Novel Writing Month. He’s writing, I’m writing.  I’ll read a little on cognitive behavioral therapy and do a little research on games and things we can do at home. Baby steps. If he’s doing well know, imagine how much better he will do with additional therapy.

I still don’t want to change my kid. Autism isn’t a bad thing. It makes him who he is. He is funny and bright and driven and sweet. He doesn’t need to change. I do. I need to let go of my fears of the future and let the pieces fall into place. Adventure awaits around every corner, and I am so here for it.

He set up this shot. He has the most delicious sense of humor!

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The Introverted Activist: We Shouldn’t Have To #MarchForOurLives

I don’t want to write this. I am tired. I’m worn out from daily gun violence across the country. I’m exhausted from fighting to make my voice heard in this whole debate about gun reform. And I am SICK and tired of the rabid folks who want to spin school shootings as just one of those things when literally no other nation with our kind of wealth and power has thousands of people die each year from gun-related violence. And that want to reframe all attempts at reform as “Them libs wanna take all your guns.” Because that’s garbage.

  • If you can’t log in to social media without seeing reports of gun violence, you have a gun problem.
  • If it is more difficult to purchase an R-rated movie than a long gun, you have a gun problem.
  • If your child has ever lain on the floor of their classroom during an active shooter emergency, wondering if the footsteps in the hallway are those of a gunman coming to kill them, you have a gun problem.
  • If your third-grader has ever come home distressed because their assigned spot in an active-shooter drill seems way too obvious, and they speak matter-of-factly that when a shooter comes (not *if*, but when), they will be shot first, you have a gun problem. Third graders in our country have to think about where they are going to hide when a shooter comes to their school. America, friends.

I’m going to suggest that, perhaps, these cold-blooded murders are not simply the cost of doing business in a free country. We have to do something differently if we want a different result.

To those screaming “2nd AMENDMENT!” I call BS. In 1934, the National Firearms Act created a list of firearms that are illegal to possess. Machine guns, short-barreled shotguns, explosives, silencers. So there is a precedent for restricting certain times of firearms. So now is the time to make some additions to the list.

Do I want ALL THE GUNS? Um, no. I take no issue with hunting, or with people having hand guns as personal protection (though I will not send my kid to a school where teachers are carrying handguns on premises). I do want:

  • military and police-grade weapons and certain long guns (AR-15, I’m looking at you) banned, along with large amounts of ammunition.
  • gun owners to carry liability insurance for each firearm they own.
  • more extensive background checks.
  • loopholes for gun transfers and gun shows closed.
  • concealed carry permits granted only to military and police.
  • people found guilty of domestic violence lose ability to own firearms

Is this a liberal agenda? I’d like to think it’s more one of common sense. I consider myself more middle-of-the road when it comes to politics, but if being sick of seeing children die of preventable violence at school, well then, call me a liberal.

Here’s an incredible video my son shared with me about common-sense gun reform. And it uses cats as a fabulous example.

To the folks talking to the streets in protest tomorrow, I am so proud of you! And I am with you in spirit.

Attitude of Gratitude. #BloggersUnite

This is a good post for me to do today. It’s only the second week of January and already this year is trying to eat me alive. It’s way too easy to focus on the negative. I don’t want to do that. I have it pretty good, and I need to remember that. I am grateful for:

  • The disaster that is 2018. God knows what we all need, and he shapes us. The way to mold silver is with fire, and without the heat, I’ll stay the same sad shape. I have needed my series of unfortunate events because it has forced me to do the thing that is hardest for me to do – to ask for (and accept) help. I am an independent person. I can do it myself. MYSELF, DO YOU HEAR ME? And then suddenly, I can’t. Yesterday alone I had to ask for help five times. Yeah, I hate being helpless so much that I keep track. And it’s good for me. People want to help, just like I want to help people. From getting a lift home to getting someone to drive me and a giant aquarium across the zoo because I can’t carry it myself, I have humbled myself.

This dog.She makes me laugh, she gets me off my bum to go for walkies, she keeps the kitties in their proper place.

Lumen wearing her “Where’s the cookie?” face

  • And this guy. Here he is all ready for the eclipse.

    This is just a joke. The animals don’t gaze at the sun, so they don’t need eye protection. But doesn’t he look fly?

And in gallery format:

  • Friends who make me coffee
  • the Women’s March
  • those days when my students really seem to get it and engage in the material
  • writing
  • chocolate
  • possibilities on the horizon
  • a car that needs a new engine but will still get me to work
  • my church family
  • My God who is bigger than all of this and who has the whole world in His hands.
  • Students who won’t stop talking to each other because they have discovered some cool science experiments they really want to share their friends.
  • My job.
  • Good books.
  • Music.
  • My computer, even though I hate Windows 10.
  • All my kids.
  • Plants! All the weird and wonderful plants!

There’s more, but my brain has entered shut-down mode, and I can’t be all that effective. I need to Post this today so I can be a part of Dawn’s link up.

What are you grateful for? Share the joy.

How to join in: write your own post and publish it. Copy the link from the post. Then click on the frog below, and follow the instructions to add your link. If you have any trouble, please let me know, and I’d be happy to help. I will also add a link to each post on my own blog post, as they are published. For extra fun, please add the hashtags #BloggersUnite and/or #50HappyThings… because, well, everyone loves a hashtag! The link-up expires January 15th at 11:59pm.

Click here to link 

Don’t forget to visit the other linked blogs! And visit Dawn at Tales From the Motherland. I was remiss in adding this link earlier.

 

Stuff My Kids Will Never Understand

Now I really do sound like my mother. But this isn’t a rant about the good old days and how the world is headed South in a Longaberger basket. That would be my great-grandmother, and I’m not turning into her (yet). I’m learning that few things make me feel older than saying “Well, back when I was a kid…” and having them stare at me, slack-jawed, eyes glazing over like a monkey presented with a computing problem. As if the minutiae of my early years isn’t riveting. It’s just kind of a shame that all of my vast life experience is fading into oblivion. Here’s the weird stuff I remember:

  • Gum. Lots of it! In the 80s, bubblegum was a HUGE thing. Our neighborhood convenience store had a 2ftx8ft section DEVOTED to gum. And I’m not talking the stuff the old ladies enjoyed in church a half-stick at a time, either. I’m talking bubblegum. Every imaginable flavor. Strawberry and banana, sure, but also blueberry and cherry and a variety of fruit punches. Bubble Yum Fruit Punch was the best ever. Gum achieved its nadir with chocolate mint flavor. Ugh. The market never recovered.
  • Because bubblegum bandages aren’t gross at all. Photo credit: Dinosaur Dracula

  • Records were the cheapest form of recording. If you wanted the album on a more portable medium, the cassette tape cost about 30% more.
  • Having to buy an entire record for one song.
  • Requiring an elaborate set-up to convert record to cassette tape. This exercise involved special cables and moving furniture around to get all the components to connect to one another.
  • Hating DJs for talking over the song you were trying to record.
  • Song Hits Magazine – It had the LYRICS, man! THE LYRICS! To the cool songs! So we knew what Cyndi Lauper was actually saying.
  • Benetton and Swatches – and don’t forget the Swatch guard!
  • Halloween, Christmas, Valentine, Last-Day-of-School PARTIES!  Like, at school. With candy and cupcakes and stuff.
  • Film strips. And the substitute teacher who was ALWAYS one frame behind.
  • Reel-to-reel movies in the classroom. In elementary school, we watched The Cat and the Hat and The Red Balloon once a year.
  • Sticker collections– mine is quite impressive. Yes, I still have it. Shut up!
  • Seeing a movie in the theater or not seeing it at all. Because once it left the theater, it was GONE. No purchasing it a few months later. Because there would be nothing to watch it ON! No DVD player, no VCR. Not even laser disc. This tidbit blows my students’ minds.
  • The Wizard of Oz came on once a year – And every year I thought the movie was broken because it started out in black and white.
  • Three channels – and all of them signed off at midnight with the flag.
  • Garbage Candy that came in an actual tiny garbage can!

Why don’t they still make this? I liked the fish skeletons the best! I think I have to do a favorite candy edition because we had the best candy!

  • Floppy Discs – It’s funny that the “save” icon is a picture of something most kids have never even seen in real life. And remember when they were actually FLOPPY?
  • Cutting edge computers with memory measuring in the kilobytes. I didn’t say ALL the old days were good ones!
  • Pong did not involve beer.
  • Saturday morning cartoons – the ONLY time cartoons were available. No Cartoon Network,no Disney Channel. Cartoons started at 6am with the old black-and-whites and ran all the way until noon with O.G. Readmore. He’s a reading kind of cat.
  • After-school TV specials – I always learned something. Or pretended to. These came about right around the time it became apparent that television was becoming a babysitter.
  • Suntan lotion and suntan oil – but no sunscreen. I had more blistering sunburns as a child than my dermatologist would like to think about because the only thing to prevent sunburn was zinc oxide, and only the dweebs used that crap.
  • Lawrence Welk – I could never WAIT for this show to be over so I could watch Hee Haw. Hey, I never said I had great TV taste as a kid.
  • Cracker Jacks – yeah, they tasted like garbage, but they had a PRIZE! And it was sometimes a TOY!
  • Cereal – like gum, cereal had its hey day. Anybody else remember when literally EVERY box on the shelf except for the high-fiber crap had something free in the box? And remember when Cocoa Krispies was represented by Tusk the Elephant?

That’s it for this edition. Now, get off my lawn, you darned kids!

What are you sorry to see go?

A Candidate I Can Get Behind

 

It took 15 minutes per page, and there are four pages. He is prepared.

It took 15 minutes per page, and there are four pages. He is prepared.

I found this speech on my counter today, written by a young candidate who had been sent to his room to think about things.  Allow me to translate since some of these words haven’t made their appearance on the second grade spelling list yet.

“I here by decree I will make NO groundings, and I will make New Years Eve movie nights (Done and done!), and on the weekends movie nights, and on Christmas, you get what you want, and if you don’t get what you want on Christmas, then everybody else shoots them with Nerf guns (Nope. Vetoed, along with a brief chat about how Christmas ain’t about presents)., and on Easter we have Nerf gun battles (Because nothing says resurrection of our savior like being pelted with foam darts), and football games on Saturday (mostly if the Vols are playing, and I’m fairly certain that this administration will ensure that the Vols are ALWAYS playing),

Go, Vols! But you had better win! This administration will ensure the Vols always win by pitting them against local high school leagues. Maybe Pee Wee leagues.

Go, Vols! But you had better win! This administration will ensure the Vols always win by pitting them against local high school leagues. Maybe Pee Wee leagues.

and on Sundays we have to to go the pool, and we will have pizza and pancakes and Belgian waffles (because we’ll need to carbo-load after all that swimming. I am totally on board with this one.) And we will have Tacos for Tuesdays (Thank you, Lego Movie)

And I think I should be President because I will make the house more smooth (I choose to believe he is speaking of Congress here), and Saturday and Sunday we’ll play Nerf guns and go out to eat on Saturday and Sunday.”

Our candidate thanks you for your consideration.

And wait until you meet his running mate.

Run? I don't even want to walk! I'm his carried-in-arms-like-a-Queen mate.

Run? I don’t even want to walk! I’m his carried-in-arms-like-a-Princess-mate. Or how about benevolent dictator, except forget the benevolent part.

 

WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?!!

It’s fine if you politely decline to answer that question. If you know me in real life, you probably have an entire list. It’s cool with me if you keep it to yourself. No, I insist. Seriously, STOP TALKING!

So here’s my problem. I am home alone. Okay, that right there is not the problem. Home alone means getting stuff done. Or it should. I had a list of wanna-do kinds of things. I want to write some, do a bit of NaNo prep, work on my digital scrapbook, get some exercise, make a pizza, do some dishes. You know, nothing much.

But here I sit, bound, tied, gagged by anxiety. The worst part if it is, I don’t even know WHY. There is no single, logical thought that has become my tripping hazard. So in an effort to contain this prickly beast that feels like electricity in my chest, I blog. It’s a Sunday, it’s beautiful weather, people are busy with Halloween parties and their own NaNo prep, so I don’t even have the pressure of having people read this post. So it’s good.

If you have never experienced inexplicable anxiety, this is kind of what it looks like.

Why am I anxious? It could be because…

  • I haven’t processed the Padawan’s new diagnosis and made my peace with it
  • The Girl-Child is on a camping trip
  • The Girl-Child seemed ill-prepared for this camping trip
  • The Girl-Child may get eaten by a bear
  • If Girl-Child isn’t eaten by a bear, I have to drive her to Chattanooga when she gets home
  • The boys are on a hike without me to try to complete their 100 mile challenge
  • Their dad may poop out early and call it quits and they won’t get their 100 miles
  • I will be forced to rally the troops next Sunday and lead them to the finish line myself
  • If I am forced to lead them across the finish line, I will be missing valuable NaNo writing time
  • This is the first NaNoWriMo in which I have absolutely zero ideas speaking to me
  • What if I start NaNo and can’t finish for the first time ever?
  • What if I start NaNo and I struggle every, single night to get the words down?
  • I have not managed to stay awake past 9pm for the last 3 months. How will I complete NaNo?
  • I should be working on my mom’s scrapbook, but it means I have to upload photos
  • Once the photos are uploaded, I have to arrange them on the page
  • After the photos are arranged on the page, I have to CAPTION them
  • What if I die during the scrapbooking/NaNoWriMo/Hiking challenge?
  • Can I arrange to be eaten by a bear?
  • What if the baby kitties get fat?
  • Who you calling fat, lady? This is technically a ruff, not a double chin.

    Who you calling fat, lady? This is technically a ruff, not a double chin.

  • What if my cinnamon tree cutting dies?
  • Can I order cinnamon trees online?
  • What if it gets too cold and dies in transit and the company I bought it from refuses to refund me because I should have known better?
  • Can I grow cinnamon from seed?
  • If I grow cinnamon from seed, I’m supposed to plant them immediately because they have limited viability. But they aren’t supposed to be planted until Spring. And then it takes a month or more for them to sprout
  • What if the seeds are all dead and it’s too late to complain and leave feedback on Ebay?
  • What if I never own the Charlie Brown Funko figure where he’s dressed as a ghost?
  • Curse you, Walgreens exclusive! I missed you! And you remind me of the Padawan, and it makes me sad that I can't have you!

    Curse you, Walgreens exclusive! I missed you! And you remind me of the Padawan, and it makes me sad that I can’t have you!

  • What if I spend all day worrying and never get anything done?
  • What if I don’t get good pictures of the new Radiata hatchlings at the zoo?
  • Best egg tooth photo I have ever taken. Boss man hates the banana leaf background, though, and what if he sees this, gets mad, and burns my blog to the ground?

    Best egg tooth photo I have ever taken. Boss man hates the banana leaf background, though, and what if he sees this, gets mad, and burns my blog to the ground?

  • Speaking of new hatchlings, that reminds me I’m supposed to scrapbook for the department. I need to compile photos into a concise album to make that process easier. Easier? Suddenly it feels the very opposite of easy
  • Also speaking of new hatchlings… My new baby Neon Day Gecko – what if the parents eat it?Are there two new ones? What if they are eaten by spiders?
  • Phelsuma klemmeri, Neon Day Gecko. Extreme close-up. This kid is an inch long.

    Phelsuma klemmeri, Neon Day Gecko. Extreme close-up. This kid is an inch long.

  • What if we are ALL EATEN BY SPIDERS?
  • What if one day while I am hanging upside down to do water changes in the big exhibit, the driftwood becomes so weak that it collapses and everyone sees me fall into the water?
  • What if NO ONE sees me and I drown and my face gets eaten by the turtles?
  • What if I can’t find all the fun photos I want to add to this post?
  • What if I do find them, but my storage is all eaten up and I can’t post them?
  • What if I have to wash my hair again tonight?
  • What if I am out of shampoo and CAN’T wash my hair tonight?
  • What if my ENTIRE family is eaten by bears? It’s bear season, and maybe my whole family put on their best acorn underwear for their big hiking/camping trips?
  • What if Sonic runs out of dark chocolate/potato chip/pretzel Blasts?
  • What if I eat the Blast and it goes straight to my bum and none of my pants fit me anymore?
  • What if it never gets cold again?
  • What if it gets cold and I am very, very sorry that it is cold because I wear shorts all winter and end up with chilblains?
  • What if I never learn what chilblains are? But spellcheck does, so I know it’s a thing
  • What if my headache/anxiety/neuropathy/memory loss never go away?
  • What if I never get an idea for NaNo and the muse has left me and I never got to write again and my new computer sits on my writing table sad and dejected?
  • What if I go outside to go for a walk and a walnut falls out of the tree, hits me on the head, and renders me unconscious in the middle of the road?
  • What if I go to the gym to work out because walnuts typically don’t fall in the gym, but the bean burrito I ate last night makes its presence known and all the other members die of methane poisoning and I go to jail for premeditated foofing?
  • What if I don’t make it to Target in time for the post-Halloween 90% off sale and all the pet costumes are gone and Ravenclaw and Pandora are stuck being naked for the rest of their lives?
  • Okay, so maybe they won't be TOTALLY naked, but bat costumes have limited use.

    Okay, so maybe they won’t be TOTALLY naked, but bat costumes have limited use.

    pandora_the_bat

  • What if I can’t figure out a super-cool Halloween costume?
  • What if we go trick-or-treating and kids come by our house and no one is home, so they egg the place?
  • What if we buy a million bags of candy and we have no trick-or-treaters, so I am forced to eat the candy myself because I take one for the team, and then I get fat?
  • What if the MRI costs $10,000 and insurance doesn’t cover it and we are stuck in debt again?
  • What if my chest actually bursts apart with the electricity that is building in it?

Is it too late to sign up to get eaten by a bear? Then I wouldn’t have to worry about a costume because I would be Winnie’s Poo. Also, now I want a hermit crab.

 

 

Hallmark Really Dropped the Ball Here.

Why doesn’t Hallmark have a “Dear Son, I’m Sorry For Peeing In The Gene Pool” card? They’ve missed the boat here. I owe the Padawan a greeting card at the very least.

So I got up last Friday to discover that the Padawan was already up. I should have seen a red flag waving right then. This is the kid who hasn’t willingly seen a sunrise since he became aware the earth actually revolves around the sun. But he was up.

When he asked his dad for “mutton chops supreme,” we made an appointment with the doctor. When he began hallucinating that his dad was light saber dueling with Squish, we went on the the Emergency Room. When he told us that Iron Man was abandoned by his parents at the age of one because they were billionaires and couldn’t be bothered to put him up for adoption, we were certain he was going to die. Kid knows his super heroes. Usually.

A billionaire says "Huh?" My parents didn't give me up for adoption, dude.

A billionaire says “Huh My parents didn’t give me up for adoption, dude. And also, where did your mother learn to draw?”

They ran a few tests. The first was an EEG. We sat in on it, eyes glued to the screen, pretending we knew exactly what we were looking at as the computer scribbled out patterns like the world’s most expensive etch-a-sketch. The computer drew graceful lines here, a few frantic scribbles there, every once in a while the cursor backing up the screen and marking places of interest. Sometimes the parallel lines intersected. Was that bad? Sometimes they were slow and sleepy, sometimes they bounced around like an itch his brain was trying to scratch.

I tried not to look at the socks on his feet, the ones I had had to put on for him that morning because he was unable to follow simple directions well enough to dress himself. They were his brother’s socks,the only ones I could find in a hurry, too small for him, grey heel and toe not quite lining up, rather like the child whose brainwaves we studied with such intensity.

The boy in the bed was a stranger to me, like someone had been called on to impersonate our son but didn’t have the act down pat yet, words a little too sharp, expression guarded, as if he didn’t quite know who we were, either.v The lights were on, but no one was home. And at that moment, my biggest concern wasn’t whether he would survive, but whether or not I would ever get back the son that I knew.

God is good. All the stars were in alignment that day. Not only did they have openings for MRI and EEG (usually it takes a week or more to schedule each because they only have one machine), the neurologist himself just happened to be present for the whole test. He was the one responsible for the screen backing up at seemingly random points, and he saw what he needed to see. He came and got us in the middle of the test.

A seizure, he said, judging by the irritability of the brainwaves. Really? How is he different? Aren’t all teenagers irritable? Now we had an answer that begged another question. A seizure, but why?

We went back to the ER to wait for the MRI to tell us whether the Padawan’s rare blood disorder could have caused an intercranial tumor. I had to stop him from messing with the IV in his arm. He rolled his eyes and complained that I was fussing over him. For the first time in hours, he sounded like himself.

I smiled, the terrifying episode over.

“Awww,” he cooed suddenly. “Look at the leopard geckos on that guy’s shoulders!”

Okay, so not QUITE over. But mostly. The MRI was clear. No tumor. The ER doctor was patient and encouraging as he gave us our parting instructions.

Fast forward to today and our follow-up appointment. Epilepsy. Genetic. What? No one in this family has crappy genes. Oh, wait…

This smile is supposed to be ingratiating, not supremely creepy. Looks like I missed the mark here, too.

This smile is supposed to be ingratiating, not supremely creepy. Looks like I missed the mark here, too.

Will the real genetic train wreck please stand up?

The Padawan (in orange) is my not-so-mini-me.

The Padawan (in orange) is my not-so-mini-me.

Ummm. Let’s see. Things known to be inherited…

Who has asthma?

That’s me.

Poor vision? Worn glasses since kindergarten AND had an eye patch?

Right-o!

Depression?

Here.

What about severe allergies?

Yep, me, too.

Liver disorder with 50% rate of inheritability most people have never heard of that could cause… what is the word I’m looking for…seizures?

Me again. Can we stop now?

Thinning hair?

That’s – hey, wait. That might be his dad.

Looks like the Padawan got cursed with more than just my stunning good looks. ***

We ran a few errands today after the doctor’s appointment, then we got treats at McDonalds. I gave him my Happy Meal, though. If he’s going to get something deadly from me, it might as well be a cheeseburger.

 

***true story. He saw a photo of me as a little girl and said “Aww, a picture of little me! Wait. Why I am wearing a dress?” That’s how much he looks like me. Even he can see it.

My Parenting Philosophy in Three Words

Maybe I’m not such a great parent after all.

My parenting philosophy can be summed up in three words. “Keep Expectations Low.” I need that on a t-shirt. Because I’ve never taken them on vacation (Go ahead and judge me. I am TERRIBLE!), I don’t have to do much to impress the boys. They’re better off that way.

I could drive them around the block and show up at the YMCA, and they’d still think it an exotic vacation if they get to:

  • play video games in bed until 11pm.
  • enjoy cable TV – although Squish learned that having 50 channels doesn’t guarantee that there is something to actually watch. It was a hard life lesson for him.
  • get snacks from a vending machine
  • continental breakfast, whether it boasts a waffle maker or dog turd sandwiches.
  • swim in a pool – and let me tell you, size does not matter. Our motel pool is smaller than the double bed in the motel room, and they still think they are Mr. and Mrs. Howell.
Source: Gilligasisle.com I'll let them argue over which one is Lovey, but neither of them wants to get their hair wet.

Source: Gilligansisle.com I’ll let them argue over which one is Lovey, but neither of them wants to get their hair wet.

One day, maybe we’ll actually get cable at home, and then they will NEVER leave! NAH!

The One Where I Admit I’m Negligent

You heard it here first. I am not a good parent. I let my kids down in a big way.

I’ve never taken my kids on vacation. Like, ever. Not once. The Girl-child is 19, and she’s never been away on vacation. She has been away from home, of course. All the kids have. To grandma’s, to camp, etc. But never away to do fun things for more than a night. Until now. It’s road trip time.

It is for the boys, anyway. The Girl-child is staying home because she has a job. And I have, like, a million pets. We’re hitting the road for St Augustine.

Last night, it all seemed like a good idea, a great one, even. I was so excited. We went to St Augustine as honeymooners 21 years ago, and we loved it so much. There are plenty of places we haven’t been, but if we’re going to leap into vacation, we should go somewhere we know. Or think we know. Or whatever.

In the light of day, the shine has worn off this particular idea. I didn’t go on vacation much as a kid. Why should my kids be spoiled? Also? Kittens. How do I leave this?

Pan-DOR-able. How do I leave this face and stay gone for 2% of her young life? I don't deserve her love!

Pan-DOR-able. How do I leave this face and stay gone for 2% of her young life? I don’t deserve her love!

This morning,  husband loaded the car with way too much stuff. I will continue packing things into bags until there is nothing left but the bare studs and a few good memories if I am not bodily removed from the premises. The goal was to leave at 7am

6:30 Squish wakes us up

6:40 Finally get out of bed

6:45 Look around for the clothes I laid out last night. I swear they were *right here*

6:50 Find clothes in exactly the spot I left them last night. My bad, husband. I didn’t see them. Don’t look at me like that!

6:55 Learn that husband does not, in fact, like my orange Minions shirt and never has. It’s like our whole marriage has been a lie.

6:56 Begin existential crisis.

7:15 Ignore horn honking in the driveway and check Twitter

7:18 Go out to move car.

7:19 Return to the house to get keys.

7:20 Return to house to get coffee

7:21 Return to house to pee one last time

7:23 Insist that everyone else go pee also

7:35 Get in car

7:36 Return to house to replace kitten who mysteriously appeared in my backpack. I don’t know how she got there, so stop looking at me like that.

7:38 On the road.

The trip was uneventful. Husband found a route that takes 5 fewer hours than our last trip, or maybe new interstates have been constructed in the last 20 years. The only blip was a visit to a benighted McDonald’s with the least attentive servers in history and a child at the table behind us whose shrieks could have peeled the paint off the walls.

We got here in before dark, but I suspect it’s going to be an interesting visit. Instead of a magical stay at a bed and breakfast, we’re at the bad end of town in a motel who lists “toilet” as one of its amenities. I was all excited, but my enthusiasm waned with the daylight. Suddenly it seems like too much work to leave the room.

It’s not all bad. The kids didn’t want to leave the room, either. They opted to send Dad out to bring back a pizza. I’m pretending that it’s a money-saving move and not because I don’t have the energy to fight traffic tonight. Time enough for that tomorrow, right?

I can’t sleep without a kitten chewing on my feet. I do hope that one of the boys is up to the job.

 

The Best Question I Have Ever Been Asked

Zookeepers get asked a lot of questions. It’s part of the job, and honestly one of my favorite things.
Yesterday morning I was bent over unclogging a tube in the bog turtle rearing exhibit. I heard a family approach the fence, and the mom began reading the graphics aloud to her young son.

“Looking into this exhibit,  you may be looking into the future of bog turtle conservation…”

The little boy looked at me through the peeking window and said “Are you real?”

I assured him that I was. His eyes got huge as he took the words on the graphics to heart.

“Are you from the future?”

If Santa can break the space/time continuum, why couldn’t a zookeeper? We are made of magic and cat hair.
My forefinger. Check out that expression! the eyes look white, but that's because the pupils are contracted. At night, they dilate, and those eyes are solid black!

My forefinger. Check out that expression! the eyes look white, but that’s because the pupils are contracted. At night, they dilate, and those eyes are solid black!

It’s National Zookeeper Appreciation Week. Have you hugged a keeper yet?