Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Adventures in Orthodontics

With braces in her (very near) future, Bear has been crabbing nonstop about how she sees no need for them.

I get that braces aren't exactly something to look forward to, but how can you argue against the benefit of a correct bite and straight teeth? I've talked to her about how your mouth is one of the first thing people notice about you - first impressions and all that, and I've mentioned her uncle, whose bite had to be corrected in his 20's with a horrific surgery that involved breaking his jaw. Still, she crabs on.

Finally, the other day, after a lengthy whine about how unfair and mean we are to make her get braces, I snapped.

"You want to know why you're getting braces? It's so in three or four years, when all your friends have their braces off and have perfect smiles, you won't be embarrassed by your crooked teeth and never smile and never, ever get asked on a date and DIE ALL ALONE."

Not, perhaps, the most politically correct or feminist-minded argument for orthodontics, but she has not brought up the subject since.


Yesterday, Tom and I had The Meeting at the orthodontist's office. You know the one I mean? The one where they show you the x-rays and photos of your children's teeth, then outline the care plan they've developed for each of them. Finally, at the end of the meeting, they slide a print-out across the table with a number on it. A BIG number that makes you flinch involuntarily and hold your purse just a little tighter.

THAT meeting.

We walked into the conference room with the office manager, and as she pulled up various teeth photos on the computer, Tom said (mostly) jokingly:

"I feel like I should mention before we get started here, that based on my daughters' behavior this morning, I'm not going to be willing to spend very much on their mouths."

The woman laughed and said, "Bad morning?"

"Oh, dear God. Bickerfest 2010," I said fervently.

"Well," she said, "It might help if you try thinking of the braces as a sort of torture device."

Tom looked thoughtful. "Interesting. Tell me more..."

Friday, May 14, 2010

Week? Gone.

It has not been the best of weeks. It really started with Bear coming home from school last Friday with a fever, and spending the weekend disguised as a little grey lump on the couch. Monday night, I succumbed in grand style. And Wednesday, Bug was sent home from school with a fever. Whee!

This is the first time I've been on my computer since Sunday. Usually my slavish devotion to weather.com alone is enough to have me logging online two, three times a day. This week I was unaware of what day of the week it even was, let alone that there was weather happening outside my window.

Two words: Stomach flu.

Puking, fever, chills, stomach pain ... all the standard cast of characters. And let me tell you, my inner hypochondriac had a fricking field day. Although I'd like to go on record here by saying that while I play along with the whole "hypochondriac" label, I prefer to think of myself as "medically well-informed."

So Monday night, I'm laying in bed with horrible upper-right abdominal pain and a fever, and I'm forcing Tom to look up the location of both the spleen and the gall bladder in our medical book. True story. I'm groaning and clutching my stomach, trying to decide whether I need to throw up or do a C-section for the alien trying to emerge from my abdomen, and he's reading me all the encouraging bits he can find about things like "ruptured peptic ulcer", "pancreatitis", and I'm roaring, "I don't care about that. Find out where my goddamned spleen is!"

At some point, in between the groaning and the clutching, I also found strength to tell him the plot of the latest Grey's Anatomy where the woman was having a major heart attack which presented solely as a stomach ache and vomiting. And she died.

It was quite a party. Then I threw up. The end.

The spleen's on the left, by the way. And I'd like a bit of credit for not diagnosing myself with appendicitis, which is usually my go-to for any form of stomach disturbance. A true hypochondriac would never have been that discerning. I'm more like an amateur doctor, but instead of going to med school I just watch a lot of House, Grey's Anatomy, and own a copies of both The Physician's Desk Reference and The Mayo Clinic Family Health Book. You can learn about many, many alarming things that can kill you from these sources. Tip: skip the pages that illustrate skin diseases if you ever want to sleep again.

On the upside, I've basically been eating ice chips and Jell-O for four days now, and that's gotta be good for at least a pound a day, right? Because otherwise, all I've gotten out of this week of puking, aches, chills, and night sweats is a lesson on spleen geography. And if that's true, I'd like my week back, please.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Lessons from Motherhood

It's hard to believe that tomorrow I'll be celebrating my fourteenth Mother's Day as a mother.

Motherhood is the ultimate trial by fire. There's no practice runs and no do-overs. You learn to think fast and react quickly. Thanks to my girls, I've learned to how to deal with a wide variety of life experiences, many of them involving vomit and/or belligerence. Sometimes both.

When your baby pukes large quantities of minced beets all over her darling pastel Beatrix-Potter themed crib... Grab the baby and offer to bathe her while sweetly suggesting that perhaps your husband could "maybe clean this up and just toss the bedding in the washer." Move swiftly toward bathroom while suppressing your gag reflex.

When your toddler emits constant ear-piercing shrieks at the grocery store because you won't let her suck on an empty produce bag... Leave. Immediately. Do not be The Mom With the Air Raid Siren in Her Cart Who Blithely Continues Shopping. Nobody likes that mom.

When your toddler vomits all over your shoes at Target... Flee. If you see an employee, mention that you noticed Aisle 13 needs a clean-up. Do not break stride.

When your preschooler ambushes you (in front of the kid and his mom) for a playdate with the one kid whose mother you cannot stand, the one who smokes in her car in the preschool parking lot and uses words like "sexy" and "hottie" to describe her three-year old... Pleasantly agree to have the kid over to your house, but be ready with a long list of excuses why your child cannot go to his house. Ever.

When your first grader refuses to listen to her teacher's corrections to her math homework and steadfastly insists to the teacher that "No, I'm right. You're doing it wrong." ... Die a quiet death of mortification when the teacher calls you, then begin the three hour process of forcing The World's Most Stubborn Six-Year-Old to apologize.

When your preteen moans that everybody else's parents let them do X... Explain calmly that, yes, they probably do, but because your main goal here is to help her survive to adulthood/ruin her life, she's just going to have to deal with it. Or come up with a better argument, because that one? Didn't work twenty-five years ago when you used it against your parents.

When your children arrive beaming at your bedside around 6:30 a.m. bearing a cup of warm juice and a plate with two pieces of toast, each slathered with approximately one jar's worth of grape jam... You sit up and eat every bite. Despite hating grape jam. And even though warm juice makes you want to Brillo your tongue.

It's been quite a ride.

Bear and I, circa 1998.
Bug and I (with my Aunt Donna), circa 2001.
Over the years, I've picked up many tips and tricks from my own mother, my mother-in-law, my mom friends, moms who've written books, and moms who write blogs. Happy Mother's Day to all of you mothers out there!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Siren Call

I've been one wretched excuse for a blogger lately. It's just that I find it impossible to stay inside, when the outside has finally clued into the whole "Spring" concept. It's gardening season, baby. (You wouldn't be hearing from me today, but it's rainy and buggy outside. Feel special?)

My birch is finally leafing out. The sight fills me with joy. It fills Bear with itchiness. She's allergic to it. I'd cut it down out of motherly love, but she's also allergic to pretty damn near every other tree in the state, so it would be kind of a pointless gesture. Dramatic, but pointless.
Random tulip and variegated hosta. Last year, after The Summer of the Neverending Torrential Rain, that hosta looked like swiss cheese due to the ongoing slug convention in my garden. I took great pleasure in sprinkling salt on the little terrorists and watching them writhe. It's possible that I'm not as nice a person as I pretend to be.
Chives! And a rock!
Tulips: Pretty. Super-crooked horizon line in back of picture: Indicative of one too many cups of coffee.
I even like the dandelions in this picture. Cheery! Yellow! (Then I went and yanked them out as soon as I put the camera down).
I do have loads to tell you about, so I'll be back soon. Promise!