Monday, July 28, 2008

Code Harper

Thursday afternoon Aaron came home from daycare with a fever of 103 something. Friday morning, it was up to 104.7, and he was really out of it- confused, disoriented, talking nonsense. That freaked me out, so I called the pediatrician and they told me what to do, what to look for, and what would warrant a doctor visit. So I drugged him up all day Friday and we hung around the house. Saturday morning he woke up, another 104.5 fever, drugged him again. Sunday morning, more of the same. Once he hit 72 hours with a fever, we needed to go to the doctor, so this morning I took his temperature, and again, 104.6. Called the pediatrician, got an appointment, and rushed getting Harper up and in the car, throwing a pop-tart and some milk at her to keep her quiet. Nothing like keeping her on a healthy diet to keep *her* immune system up, right?

Aaron was kind of enjoying this attention- the breakfasts in bed, the back scratches, the limitless popsicles, and finally a doctor visit that revolved all around him. Once we got to the doctor, he changed his mind about enjoying his patient status once he realized there was going to be a needle involved. My ears are still ringing from the hysterics.

I should note that at this point I'm going moderately insane. I've been stuck in the house with the kids for three solid days, and the best I can tell, they're training for the Screaming and Arguing Olympics, in which they would surely take gold. With each new chorus of "NO, I'M NOT!", "YES, YOU ARE!", I can feel my brain liquefy just a little bit more. I was tempted to withhold the Tylenol and ibuprofen from Aaron just so he'd get all feverish again and maybe calm down.

At the pediatrician, after swabs and questions and bloodwork and an hour and a half of keeping the littles occupied in an 8x10 room, we had no answers as to what is making Aaron so sick (although miraculously not lowering his volume). I was given a prescription for an antibiotic, off to Target we go.

Of course the mindnumbing bickering starts before I even get them into their carseats, and driving to Target I felt like I was in a fog, and starting to really get depressed that my role as a parent seems to involve nothing more than fixing meals and saying "stop it. ignore her. come back here. leave him alone. be quiet." Waiting for the prescription confirms this, because as I spend approximately 60 seconds talking with another mom, they manage to get unruly to the point of literally dragging each other around on the floor by their arms and running behind the counter at the snack bar. (And, of course, screaming. Always the screaming.) By the time I go to pay for the prescription, I'm absolutely numb. So numb I feel like I barely even registered the shock of how much the antibiotic cost. But I must have been somewhat shocked, because for a half second I apparently gave all of my attention to the ridiculous number on the register at the pharmacy. And when that half second was up, I looked up, and Harper was gone.

Aaron said "she ran off! she went down this way!", and I start looking down aisle after aisle, calling her name louder and louder each time. Within a minute, I'm calling so loudly and frantically that the Target employees (whom I like to think of as family, I'm there so much) figure out what's going on and I hear them call through their radios that there's a CODE YELLOW, and I can hear it echoing through all of the radios around me. Other customers are coming up to me and telling me they just saw her, she went that way, so I head that way, and someone tells me they saw her go the other way, and it seemed like everywhere I turned someone was telling me they had seen her somewhere else. At this point, I am in full on panic, and halfway afraid I'm about to black out. I'm screaming her name and hysterically crying, to the point that when someone asked what she looked like I couldn't even speak, except to choke out "she's little, and she's got a little ponytail on top, and she's without me". I'm just walking down the aisles, sobbing and yelling her name at the top of my lungs with Aaron running next to me asking why I'm crying, and a Target employee right behind me, assuring me we'll find her. I hear crackles over the radios that "we've found her in the men's department", and then "she's in electronics", and then "oh, wait, now she's in the infant section". If you're as familiar with Target as I am, you should know how far those sections are from the pharmacy, and part of me is absolutely horrified at how far she got in that short amount of time, and some little tiny part of me thinks "yep, that's definitely her". I finally walked up to infants and there is a human dragnet of Target employees trying to corral her. When I saw her I went from hysterical to absolutely mortified, although way in the back of my brain I was thinking "see? you guys had a hard time pinning her down with 12 of you! do you know how hard it is with just one of me?"

Harper was thoroughly annoyed that her adventure was over. I picked her up and carried her out, still crying (me, not her), embarrassed at how hysterical I had gotten, and sobbing out thanks to every Target employee I saw. (And at this point they're all still ridiculously nice, offering me help, offering to get me a cart, patting my shoulder and telling me it's okay. I should send them all a Target giftcard.)

We walked out to my car and as I'm tightening the straps on Aaron's carseat, I realize he's been silent for almost 5 minutes, which is unheard of. Probably because no matter what that poor kid does, Harper manages to steal the show.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Nipped in the Bud

Harper has all sorts of "skeeter bites" on her legs and arms. She spends time counting them and showing them off to anyone who will look. The other day she was sitting on my lap with no shirt on while counting her skeeter bites, and looked at her chest and tummy to see if she had any there.

I should add here that I hate the word "nipples". When I was in middle school we had to read out loud in health class, and I got the section where I had to say- in front of a class of 7th graders- nipples. I hated the word before then, but I think that really sealed the deal.

So Harper looks at these two unusual patches of flesh on her chest, and asks "what's that? what is that on my chest?"

Maybe because of my disdain for the word, and my reluctance at hearing it come out of the mouth of a two year old, I couldn't decide if I actually wanted to tell her what they were. I've never been a parent to use proper terminology for body parts with little kids. I'm sure I'm harming them in some way, but I don't really care, because I don't want to hear anyone other than a gynecologist say "vagina", and even then it makes me uncomfortable.

So I asked her "hmm, what do you think they are?"

And she thought for a minute, and said "I think it's schmutz. One, two schmutz", and I laughed out of relief that I got a cute story as opposed to having to say the word nipple.

The next day we were at the pool, and I'm watching Harper from a few feet away have a conversation with one of the dads that was sitting in the pool. She was looking at him pretty closely, and as I walk over to stop her from interrogating the poor man, she leans over and pets the man on his tummy, which is already weird and bordering on inappropriate.

And as I'm a step away, she reaches up and grabs his nipples, and tells him "Look! You got schmutz, too!"

Monday, July 21, 2008

Mea Culpa

I'm a very good apologizer. If Jason were standing next to me right now, he'd shove me off my chair and type in here "NO, SHE'S NOT! DON'T BELIEVE HER! YOU CAN'T WRESTLE AN APOLOGY OUT OF HER WITH A CROWBAR!", but that would just be him being dramatic. Because when you hear an apology from me, you can be sure that I am 100% sincere in my apology, and really feel badly about however I've wronged you, and I am owning up to my own culpability. And if you don't hear an apology from me, well, you can figure out how I feel from that, too.

A couple of months ago Jason and I were getting into one of those hissing, clenched teeth arguments. As usual, it was entirely because we were in a public place and our kids were acting like complete fools. We were tripping over ourselves in embarrassment at our kids' behavior, trying to contain them, trying to make the people around us comfortable (or rather, "less uncomfortable") by not arguing in front of them, and convinced that the other person was handling the situation poorly (me being the correct one in that assertion). After enough hissing and sneering at each other, we separated the kids and got them calmed down, which dissipated all of the anger between us. He came up to me a few minutes later and said sweetly "I'm sorry", to which I responded "thank you".
"'Thank you?' Your response is 'thank you'?"
"Well, I appreciate your apology."
"You don't think an apology back is appropriate?"
"No, because I'm not sorry."

And really, I wasn't, and even though I don't remember what the argument was about, I remain steadfast in my conviction that I was in the right, and therefore didn't need to deliver an apology. I told him thank you, and ended by telling him that I was glad we were finished arguing and that I loved him. And he gave me a kiss and smiled and rolled his eyes at me, and that was that.

A few weeks ago, we were all driving to a friend's house when (of course) the kids started acting like crazy people. Jason and I were already tense from rushing to get out of the house, the kids' screaming and arguing compounds that tension, and then I made a fatal mistake: I let him drive. I am certainly not what ANYONE would call a reckless driver, but letting Jason drive is like letting your nearsighted grandma drive. If that grandma were from a country where they drive on the other side of the road. His driving ability (or lack thereof) is one of our favorite arguments to hash out every few weeks, and always ends with him saying to me "THEN WHY DON'T YOU DRIVE?!", which always wins that argument, because it's not like I shouldn't know this after spending the last decade complaining in the passenger seat. He definitely has a point.

So the car ride over consists of everyone getting increasingly hostile, what with the bickering kids and Jason and me scolding them and my increasing frustration with Jason's driving. I try to bite my tongue regarding the driving, but it's really just building up pressure, and eventually we start sniping about that, too. By the time we're unloading our family from the car, we're flat out arguing; hissing snotty comments to each other while barking at the kids to stop hitting each other. We walk into the party and plaster smiles on our faces, and after a few minutes of pointedly ignoring each other, Jason comes up and gives me a kiss and quietly says "I'm sorry". And I said "thank you for apologizing. I don't want to argue".
He smiled and raised an eyebrow and said "Thank you? Seriously? You don't think you have anything to say 'sorry' for?"

"I'm sorry I let you drive".

Thursday, July 17, 2008

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Aaron and I went last night to pick out his backpack and lunchbox. For him to start kindergarten. Next month. Pass the valium, please.

It took him almost 3 entire seconds to select his backpack.


Then on to the lunchbox aisle. Big decisions to be made. What to choose?

Of course.

He was supposed to pick out a thermos, until I found out that they cost $15, and I imagine it would get used precisely twice before it was left behind in the cafeteria, or inadvertently tossed into a trash can. So instead of a thermos, he picked out an ice pack for his lunchbox. In the shape of? Lightning McQueen. This kindergarten preparation has been brought to you by Target and Disney-Pixar.

And maybe a few Kleenex for mommy.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Finest Care That Money Can Buy

We have Really Great Medical Insurance through Jason's work. If you don't believe me, you can ask our insurance company, because just last month when they had their annual meeting to explain why our rates are going up for the 5th straight year, they told Jason that our insurance ranks much higher than average in customer satisfaction. Then they offered a few ways to try to keep health insurance costs down, which namely includes not ever getting sick. Or pregnant.

I mean, sure, we've had a few issues. Like, we have a $500 cap on how much our insurance will provide for wellness benefits. So you have to prioritize whether you want a pap smear or the mammogram your physician recommended, because you can't have both in the same year. Well, I guess you can, but you have to ante up the money for it. It was problematic when Aaron was born, because by the time I was wheeled out of the labor and delivery room, he had already used up far more than his allotted $500 in well care. So to get those pesky immunizations or well-baby visits, you had to go out of pocket. Or you could do what I did, which is to take him down to the county health office for free vaccinations, where all the poor people go that can't afford the Really Great Medical Insurance that we have.

When Harper was born, I came up with a detailed schedule of well visits and immunizations to coincide with new insurance allowances. This schedule relied very heavily on begging her physicians to code her well visits as sick visits, or creating ridiculous excuses to have a sick visit. "She seems to be blinking a lot. I'd feel better if a doctor could see her", and then I'd ask "Oh, while we're here, could you measure her head and growth? Check her anatomy and see if you see anything unusual in her movement or reflexes?"

But those kinds of things are expected, even with our Really Great Medical Insurance. I probably wouldn't have given it a second thought, but since the complication-free, surgery-free delivery of each of my children left us with a bill of $1,800 (per child), I needed to get that paid off before I piled on more medical bills from my healthy kids.

Maybe next year in the cost cutting lecture the insurance company gives, they should mention that a great way to save some cash is to not allow anyone in your family to get boils on their butt, because those suckers are pricey. Of course, it wouldn't save the insurance company any money, because the ER visit is coded as something that our Really Great Insurance doesn't cover until I've met some requirements that I don't completely understand, but I'm fairly certain it involves mortgaging our house. I'm also fairly certain I could have flown with Harper on a plane, gone to Disney World, and bought her a Mickey Mouse doll from the source for less than the bill we just got for that boil. But still, it would be good information to get out there to the masses- save on your health insurance by not getting sick or pregnant, and by all means, remain boil-free.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Do they have scholarships for this?

Let me preface this post by saying that I have never been concerned about Aaron's physical development, meaning his (in)ability to pick up on sports. I never played any team sports and I feel like I'm moderately well adjusted, so as long as he eventually learns to do things like swim or ride a bike, I couldn't care less if his athletic prowess lies somewhere along the lines of George-Michael (fast forward to 2:45 to see the clip I'm referring to). That being said, I do feel a little badly for the kid when his friends come up showing off trophies from baseball, soccer, etc. Aaron has shown zero interest in playing sports, but does seem a little envious when his friends get to show off their little statues with the miniature golden soccer players. Unfortunately, the pursuits Aaron has chosen don't exactly lend themselves to trophies. Nobody's giving out a trophy for reading, or the most creative use of a pile of Lincoln Logs and Legos. The kid can get onto toy websites, download instructions for how to build a forklift, print the instructions, and build the forklift, but toss that kid a football and I'm not entirely sure he could identify it, much less catch it. I think Jason is a little bit surprised at Aaron's complete and utter disinterest in physical competition, since Jason is the very definition of a "team player", but hey, that kid's half mine, and the apple's going to fall close to one tree or another, right? Since I have no desire to plunk myself down on a bleacher watching sports, the fact that Aaron doesn't play any suits me just fine.

So while other parents clap and cheer for goals or homeruns or baskets, I find other developments far more exciting. Like last year when Aaron learned to lie. Obviously it wasn't something I encouraged, but when I noticed him starting to lie, it always made me chuckle, because frankly, I think it's just so smart. A kid who lies is someone who understands right from wrong, understands consequences for making the wrong choice, but figures he's found a loophole in the "consequences" part by employing a few easy fibs. Feel like whacking Harper over the head? Just do it, and when Mommy asks, say with sincerity "no, I didn't hit Harper", because it's not like she could speak well enough to refute him. All the fun of being bad, minus all the icky punishment! Obviously we disciplined for lying, and he's growing out of it (or he's getting better at it), but I still thought it was so interesting to watch those wheels turn in his brain.

That should explain where I'm coming from with this recent development I thought I was noticing, and was confirmed by Jason today.

My boy is sarcastic.

A couple of weeks ago we were sitting at my desk coloring, and he got to a dried out marker that had the cap only partially on. He looked at the marker a little bit in disgust, and said sweetly "Oh, I'm so happy that the marker's all dried out now. That was really nice of someone to not put the cap back on", and he picked up a new marker with a little eye roll at the same time, and went about his coloring. No dramatics for my benefit, no looking to me for approval, he just truly felt that sarcasm from his soul and let it out.

Last night, Harper was in rare form, and after what seemed like eons of her screaming at the dinner table, Jason took her upstairs to give me and Aaron a break. We could still hear Harper hollering in another room, but our eardrums were appreciating the relative silence. Aaron swallowed a bite of his dinner and said to me with devastating sincerity "boy, Harper's really in a great mood, huh? She's a lot of fun to be around when she's like that, isn't she?", and looked directly at me with a raised eyebrow, waiting for my response. I looked at this unbelievable delivery, the deadpan on Aaron's face, and I burst out laughing and couldn't stop. Uncharacteristically, instead of getting into hysterical laughter himself, he just flashed me a sly smile, satisfied that I had gotten the joke, and went back to eating.

Nothing could please me more. I'm absolutely elated over this development, whereas Jason brought it up to me almost as a cause of concern. Aaron and Jason had been driving home last night when a guy braked to let Jason into his lane. Jason, being Jason, explains to Aaron that it was really nice of that man to let them in their lane, and how it's good to be kind and considerate to others, and basically turned this random act of traffic into a life lesson for Aaron. Aaron said to him "You really mean that the man was nice, don't you? You're not kidding." Jason's story had me even more intrigued, because it shows that Aaron not only understands sarcasm, but is quickly figuring out that Jason is incapable of delivering it. So his little 5 year old brain is receiving "Mommy= read between the lines, Daddy=absolute sincerity".

I have to say I'm more than a little proud that my boy's trying out being a smartass. At least, I'm proud for the time being; I'm sure it'll drive me nuts eventually. Now I need to find him a trophy.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Right Before My Eyes

Just when you're ready to drop them off at the nearest bus station, they go and do something precious. Big day for a little man.

Again, just when you're ready to drop them off at the nearest bus station...

Thursday, July 3, 2008

This one goes to eleven

If volume was any indicator of health, I could have told you by Wednesday afternoon that Harper was feeling right as rain. A physician confirmed this morning that Harper is, in fact, fine, and everything's healing nicely. (And when I made my comment about volume to him, he replied "I don't think that's a good measure. She didn't seem to have any problems creating some volume the other day.") More importantly, he gave me clearance to send her back to daycare, and I practically peeled out of the pediatrician's office to get her there, pronto, since my ears are bleeding from 6 straight days in her company.

Her level of loudness is really only something that can be appreciated if you're around her. And it's not like Aaron is a shrinking violet, so the two of them combined are absolutely deafening. I have yet to meet a daycare teacher, babysitter, family member, person in line at the grocery store, etc. who doesn't comment on two things (and it's the same two things with both of them):

1.Wow, you've got a talker, huh? (And when I say sadly "no, I have two talkers", I always get looks of sympathy. Which I appreciate.)

2. Whew! Nobody's going to ignore that one!

Which means not only is it THAT LOUD, it's THAT LOUD- ALL THE TIME.

We have a friend who comes to visit regularly who wears a hearing aid. It's a really nice hearing aid; it adjusts to the ambient noise in a room automatically and resets itself regularly to recognize new volume levels. I am not kidding when I write that he can't wear it when the kids are around- they're so loud that his earpiece starts giving feedback, and doesn't know what to do- adjust to typical room noise and adult voices, or the frequent screaming and yelling that's as loud as a jet engine? After 5 minutes in their company, the hearing aid just tilts and shuts down, essentially saying, "let me know when normalcy has been restored". If I were him, I'd just take it out entirely while the kids are awake. I think they'd be much more palatable that way.

This should give you an idea of how loud they are: we have motion alarms set on the sofa. When they're disturbed by a dog jumping up on the furniture, they give off a high pitched alarm that sounds for a second or two, to scare the dogs away. Occasionally if the dogs (2 sixty pound mutts) start on a barking frenzy (which only happens when something really awful occurs, like another dog dared to walk on the street by our house, or the postman had the nerve to actually leave mail in our mailbox), the alarms might go off once or twice from the sound. Harper sets those alarms off with her voice a minimum of 6 times a day. Even our 7 year old neighbor, the 3rd loudest kid on the block, dropped her jaw when she realized that. I could see the defeat in that 7 year old's eyes when she realized she couldn't ever hope to achieve the earsplitting shrillness my 2 year old has mastered (having spent the past 28 months being tutored in loudness by her older brother).

A couple of months ago a friend of mine took me to a shooting range to teach me how to use a handgun. He let me use his ear protection, which was a fancy set of headphones that had a microphone worked into it somehow, so when he would speak to me, I could hear him perfectly. When anything louder than a speaking voice sounded, the microphone cut off automatically, so that gunshots were muffled. I can't stop thinking about those headphones lately. I crave them. I need a pair to wear around the house. If they sold them at Target, I'd already have them (and in fact, I'd be wearing them right now). It was the first time I had ever shot a handgun, and I think I did pretty well (and I hope he doesn't post here and contradict me). I'm convinced it's because compared to a day in the company of my children, a room full of weapons firing is relatively soothing.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Boil Watch 2008


Regardless, Harper went to the pediatrician this afternoon and had her packing removed. She screamed herself hoarse, although this time it was Jason on duty. Mommy's nerves needed a break. Oh, note for the future: tylenol with codeine does not equal automatic naptime for Harper, which is really depressing. She refuses to let us take off her "blace-lek" (the hospital bracelet). Fine, suit yourself, I'll do anything to keep her from screaming and crying any more. We're not even going to discuss what her diet's been like the past couple of days.

She had no fever at all, which is definitely good. The doctor said it looks better, but still pretty bad. He didn't replace the packing. She has to go back in Thursday morning so (his words) "we'll have time to get a surgeon Thursday afternoon before the weekend if we need one". Yikes.

Her wound bleeds like crazy as soon as you take the bandage off. We have to sit her in a warm bath to soak it a few times a day, and I spend most of the bath on a stool with my head between my knees trying not to lose consciousness from the sight of it.

I try not to think about how much therapy she'll need in the future to overcome this fanny trauma.


This is how Sunday started:

And this is how it ended:

And it all started with a pimple, which Harper has been happy to tell everyone.

"Hi! I have a pimple on my bottom. (insert dejected martyr voice here, and downcast eyes with a pout for days) But I'm okay."

This little pimple on her fanny from last week developed into a massive boil, and by Sunday evening, Harper had a raging fever. We called the pediatrician and they told us to go to the ER, so we now have "first hospital visit" off our list of stuff to do. I'm exhausted and don't feel like writing much, but the summary is that I had to hold her down while they cut her bottom and packed it open, and she screamed the entire time. At the end, she got a popsicle and a new Mickey Mouse doll (which she hasn't put down), and they didn't even offer me a shot of whiskey or anything.

She's still going to the doctor every day to monitor it and change the packing, I have somehow been elected the Person In Charge Of Changing The Grody Bandage On The Screaming Child. I'm hoping and expecting this to just resolve over the week, but I'm still pretty worried and stressed.

I will say that the worry and stress about this big zit has me in absolute awe of any parent with a chronically ill or special needs child, or the parents of children who have had to go through real surgeries or hospital admissions. Hats off, and hearts out.