There are days when I feel like I’m running the Manhattan Project…

Valentine’s Day (that overwhelmingly commercial holiday) was reduced to a fun-size Snickers bar, a fun-size package of Fun Dip, a regular pack of gum (that, according to the label, was the longest-lasting gum EVER!!!! and yet was empty by the time it came home,) and two small Valentine’s cards: one with puppies and the other with the Jonas Brother no one ever really cared about.  Within thirty seconds of running up the stairs to change his clothes, puppies and Jonas Brother were dead to J.  They sit on the kitchen counter this morning, forgotten…unloved…about to go in the trash.  The Snickers bar was ignored, but the Fun Dip was consumed judging by the tell-tale green tinge all over J’s face.  Either he ate the Fun Dip (dipping his whole face into the bowl in the process) or he is going all Method on auditioning for the role of Elphaba in Wicked.  My money’s on the Fun Dip.

We don’t affectionately refer to J as The Junkie for no reason.  He relishes candy.  Not frequently, but he relishes it.  The only fully-sanctioned consumption of candy is as camouflage for his Risperdal.  The pill, we’ve heard, is rather bitter; Mary Poppins, as we all know, taught us that a spoonful of medicine makes the medicine go down in a most delightful way.  Since rum punch is not something I’d be inclined to offer J, Pixy Stix will have to do.  The beauty of this is that, once we’ve started weaning him off the meds, we can still maintain the routine of a very small amount of candy powder as a placebo, and then hope that the bitterness in the middle (or the absence thereof) won’t be catastrophic.

The Snack Box Solution works well.  Every day J knows that he can consume whatever is in the box.  Everything in the box is carefully measured, and we’ve even found some rather tasty treats that come in 100 calorie packs.  According to some calorie calculators, for J to lose weight he needs to keep his caloric intake to less than 2400 calories a day.  He’s already consuming less than that so I have to confess that the pill, the darned pill, the blessed pill, the friggin’ pill, the helpful pill has got to go.  Cue the trepidation, fear and hair loss.  Yes, I do have that little bald spot on the right of my forehead that just screams I’m stressed out every once in a while.  If you remove the extra padding that seems to have crept and nested on top of J’s actual body shape, he’s not a fat person…he’s inflated, and it’s obvious it’s not his actual state of physical normalcy.

Mind you: the kid is big.  I would not, for all the money in the world, claim he was intended to be waif-like.  J is sturdy and you can tell, from the thickness and strength of his legs, that he is a big guy.  The part where you see that he is big, but grown bigger due to the pill’s influence is in the stretch marks that appear all over his abdomen and hips.  I think, without the pill’s intervention, J would have been a leaner, trimmer, definitely not-skinny, self-injurious bundle of nerves, aggression and anxiety.

Cue Jeopardy theme…as I ponder which option is more palatable to me.

I’ll take the distended J for the time being.  I know it’s not the healthiest alternative, but we had to clear out the part where he’d crack his head open and bite his hands while writhing miserably on his bed so that we could work on the emotional wellness that reigns now.  For the time being, until we are ready to dispense with the aid of the meds, we’ll have to work on keeping J as lean as circumstances allow.  Easier said than done, yes, but not impossible…never impossible.

The expectations we have about our children before they are born are far removed from what we get…and what develops over time.  I will admit that The Great Gonzo is my favorite child; that whole thing of I love all my children in the same way is hogwash…I love them each for different reasons, and The Great Gonzo is the Chosen Child; The Great Gonzo is the kid I savored from the moment I knew he was squatting on the premises.  He is the child I truly yearned, planned and prepared for; he is also the one who garners the least attention and has the greatest weight laid on his shoulders on an everyday basis.  Being the Chosen Child is not easy.  J is my Golden Child; he is the one who, by designs of destiny, is in a position to receive the greatest amount of attention, impart the greatest amount of enlightenment, and test our mettle with greater frequency.  The Great Gonzo tests our mettle, our sanity, our patience, our willingness to let him live…but not in the same way as J.  I KNEW what I was getting with The Great Gonzo…I still have NO IDEA what I get with J.

In my entire time as a parent, I’ve never been bored.  Leave it to my kids to make sure I’m either entertained or horrified.  When I went back to school to earn my M.A. (in Liberal Arts…yes…pointless, I know!,) my children were a valuable point of reference.  I remember telling a tutor (during an oral exam) “the problem is that people think William Shakespeare, Isaac Newton, Aristotle, Martin Luther sprang from the Earth fully-formed and developed as adults.  I can guarantee you that Shakespeare’s mother is likely to have said ‘Billy…must EVERYTHING rhyme?'”  The population that surrounded me, being younger and childless, often thought I was the “kooky lady who’s always talking about her kids.”  And I was.  But there was a point to it…the world is new to me…every single day.  I live experimentally…every single day.  Just when I think I have something figured out…it changes.

(There’s a reason famous people dread seeing their mothers give interviews.  Think about it.  We know things that will cause dread even in the baddest-ass person out there.)

The sense of cluelessness that seeps into everything around here is overwhelming some days and refreshing on others.  I wish I could say I know what I’m doing and mean it, but the truth is I am constantly trying to figure out if my kids are turning out OK within the parameters of reality (their reality, our reality, the world’s actual reality) or if they are sinking fast within the parameters of I don’t want to feel badly about the job I’ve done, what if it’s all been pointless?


Yes, J is big…and fat.  It’s the pill.  It’s also his unwillingness to work out consistently.  The Great Gonzo is almost 21 and has a full-time job and a decent income, but hasn’t yet started college in as much earnest as he should.  I yell a lot.  I roll my eyes and wish I didn’t have this bald spot a lot.  I keep trying to come up with a different formula to chemically create water…  I know: good luck with that.  I’m still going to get up and prove that Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity was correct: I will do the same thing over and over again, and expect different results.  What do you expect?  I’m a parent!!!




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