Brownies and band-aids and freezing cold temperatures…oh my!

The oversized rat wasn’t lying…Winter is just NOT leaving.  When I tell you it was cold today it’s because it was really, really, really cold.  J not only put his hats on when he got off the bus this afternoon, he also pulled up the hood of the reversible down-filled jacket that we bought him not a moment too soon.  When we walked into the house, he closed the door, drew the curtain and blocked the gap under the door with the draft-dodger I made out of an old, rolled-up blanket.  We’ve had colder days, but not in the heels of a warm, sunny, “look!  It’s almost SPRING!” weekend.
After we got home, it was a merely an hour before Dada and TGG blew in (yes, it was windy, and they did blast through the door, promptly gathering curtains, dropping draft-dodger) from work.  Shortly after everyone got comfortable and felt warmer, J started asking about SCHOOL and the YELLOW BUS.  I told him that unless the weather turns nasty in a hurry, there shouldn’t be any delays or cancellations tomorrow.  I’ve checked the weather several times; Monday looks iffy, but tomorrow should be fine…SHOULD being the operative word.
This evening we had chicken wings in a satay sauce with white rice and lentils.  J really liked this dish.  I basically cooked the chicken wings for six hours, then put them in a casserole dish with a satay sauce I made (and to which I added pureed carrots,) and into the oven they went.  They were not only very tender, but the sauce was just perfect.  I had hoped for leftovers they could take for lunch, but the three vacuum cleaners I feed every evening didn’t leave a crumb to spare.    After dinner I made the batter for tomorrow’s breakfast pancakes, and they require no eggs so it’s totally safe to store it in the fridge overnight.  Those have sweet potato puree and cinnamon…the color alone is lovely, and I’m pretty sure they’ll be consumed with a great deal of enthusiasm.
Last weekend we bought a set of cubes for our dining area.  We felt that our cookbooks and food-related magazines were not in an accessible-enough spot, and I wanted to bring into the dining/kitchen area more of the small appliances I use on a regular basis.  The pantry, as you might recall, is in the garage, and it is a thing of beauty.  I had used some shelf space there for small appliances, but then decided that moving the books opened up some storage space, and things got shifted around.  It is infinitely easier to simply use, wash, and store in this new arrangement.  Our cookbooks are beautifully dog-eared from constant use; some of these I’ve had since I married TGG’s and J’s father in 1988.  The man claimed to love cooking, but when it came down to who got the cookbooks and who got the CDs, he jumped at the CDs.  Since Dada and I married fifteen years ago, our cookbook collection has expanded, and not a single one has gone unused, and not a single one is lacking in flaggies, post-its, or other bookmarks (even sprigs of rosemary find their way to mark a page around here.)  The same goes for our magazines…our favorite Thai Shrimp Curry dish comes from the April 2011 issue of Bon Appétit.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that we now have two new go-to cookbooks in this household, and they’re both by Jessica Seinfeld.  That her recipes have added a new slant to J’s eating habits is undeniable.  The kid dances when he sees her French Toast on the griddle.  The Green Eggs and Deviled Eggs are a hit, and not just with J.  The most persnickety individual in this household is not necessarily our autistic son, but rather his older brother…TGG has never met a dish he didn’t look upon without suspicion.  Correction: TGG only looks at food without trepidation if it’s in the shape of a hamburger or a pizza.  This particular Greek chorus has a very tedious refrain:  “Is that green?”  “Did you put lemon in this?”  “I taste something…it’s not cream or milk…it’s got an aftertaste.”  “I think I found a twig.”  “What kind of meat is this?  Is this like some wild animal, or something?”  “Are you trying to trick me?  Is this like something healthy?”  “This is a dead bird of some sort or another.  Is it?  It kinda tastes like pork.”   In spite of TGG’s natural (and obstinate) reluctance, Ms. Seinfeld’s books have provided us with things that TGG will eat without much ado…after the first reluctant bite.  At first I wouldn’t tell him AT ALL what was healthy about what he was eating, and he sniffed his food as if he could possibly isolate “health” by taking a breath.  I am a Puerto Rican mother; I can GUARANTEE that this no-longer-a-child ate EVERYTHING when he was little.  He ate every type of bean, pumpkin, rice, plantains in every shape or form you can imagine.  After a certain age TGG developed an aversion to food that didn’t come from a fast-food joint, and our relationship became rocky.  I confess to resorting with TGG to a tactic I NEVER have used with J: “if you love me, you will taste it…”
Guilt.  The gift that keeps on giving.  The first bite of anything from Ms. Seinfeld’s cookbooks came with that particular harking-back-to-our-pre Inquisition-roots.  Now I have the nearly-23 year-old brat asking “so…when are you making that lo mein with the sweet potato puree in it again???  It was good.  Is there any more?  Can I have a snack before dinner?”  Thwack!  Back, you glutton…BACK!  There’s a lot of “playing with food” going on around here lately.  Yes, I still go to my Lidia Bastianich books, my Thai cookbooks (yes, that’s a plural,) my Food and Wine, Bon Appétit, and so forth…but the truth is that the “kids” are stoked about these books, and are actually coming into the kitchen to help me…and eating what we make…and, in J’s case, giggle like crazy when they know something has gone into something we’ve made that will definitely surprise the other inhabitants of our household.  Today we leaned against the counter and I showed him a chocolate chip cookie recipe that had him sounding like Vincent Price…
Anyway…if you’d like to try the brownies, here is the link to Ms. Seinfeld’s Do It Delicious page.  It’s in the blog.  There are other recipes there.  Trust me…I don’t mess around with food.  Food is serious business around these parts…

The brownies with the green stuff in them…no, not THAT green stuff!

J and I made brownies yesterday, and we did it before Dada and TGG got home so we could surprise them with a) there’s dessert!, and b) what’s in the dessert.  TGG walked in first, and eyed the snack with suspicion, but that was only because they didn’t look like brownies made from a mix, and the kitchen was clean as a whistle.  He ate a brownie, liked the texture, said they were good, and then asked “what’s wrong with them?”  I told him.  He was stunned.  He ate another one.  “Are you SURE?”  J giggled, and ate one…and then another.

Everyone was sworn to secrecy.

Dada walked in next.  Long day at work.  Ready for a rest.  Ready for a glass of wine with dinner.  Ready for a brownie.  Yum…and another one.  “These are good?  From scratch?”  Yes, and J helped make them.  A giggle rose from the stairwell, and J came up to greet Dada, and take another brownie.  I cut them small…no fear, people, these were bite-sized brownies.

“What’s so funny?,” Dada asked.  TGG sat on the steps and asked him “good?”  “Yeah, why????”  Dada then proceeded to praise the chocolate-y-ness and fudge-like qualities of the brownies.  J giggled again…

Spinach.  Spinach and carrots.  No milk.  Only egg whites.  Lots of spinach and carrots.  Dada stop mid-bite…”really?”  Yup.  J danced down the stairs, giggling all the way.

Seriously?  Seriously.  The only hint that this might be laden with vegetables is a slight aroma of something very organic when you open the plastic container where we stored them.  “Is that what soylent green smells like?,” TGG asked.  No, I said, taking in the scent; “soylent green is people, right?  This doesn’t smell like people, does it?”  Well, TGG said, maybe the people in this house will smell like that later; have we figured out how much gas these will give us?

I admit pondering this is justifiable.  With vegetables and fruit (some of these previously non-participant in our kitchen) turning up in every single meal, digestive processes have become a topic of conversation.  The most frequent conversation opener is “oh, my GOD!  Did you hear that?????”  Worse yet is when you don’t hear it; if you suddenly feel the urge to run out of the room because some silent passage of gas has taken place, there is no way to be funny about it in situ as self-preservation is an instinct that kicks in (hopefully) immediately.

We survived the brownies, and some of us (I’m not naming names, but the distinct clinking of spoon against bowl as I type this should tell you it’s not me…I don’t type with one hand…) have taken to having these with strawberry ice cream and a glass of milk.  My husband is having spinach and carrots for dessert.  Wonders never cease.

The brownie project was a little pick-me-up for my friend J.  He was still upset about the incident on Monday, and we’d spent the whole morning putting bookcases together, reorganizing the garage, working on shapes and  colors…I figured we’d go into the kitchen and prepare something while I talked to him about how things are never as grim as we think they are.  This morning he requested a band-aid for his forehead before he left for school.

I know he’s trying, and it means the world to me.  I also know his teacher is keeping a close eye on what develops over there.  Today, she told me, J wanted something and when the ST told him he had to wait, he looked at her and motioned as if to ask “should I hit myself?”  The ST simply kept walking, J shrugged his shoulders and the situation was diffused.  Of course, it has to be taken into consideration that J actually LIKES the ST, and that she has had her trial by fire when they first started working together; now she knows what to do when these things happen. If J can hang in there and control his anxiety for the next few weeks, maybe we can come up with a viable solution when his IEP meeting rolls around.  Finding a way to re-assign him to another aide is not viable, but perhaps finding a way to re-direct him to tasks that he can work on more independently is something we can figure out.

We’re down to 21 days to spring, and 24 days to J’s next appointment with the psych.  In spite of this animosity he feels against the aide (because I can’t just put the onus on Tiffany, can I?,) I still believe we can reduce the med another quarter-milligram.  The fact that he asks for band-aids to remind himself that he hits and it hurts, and the fact that he will be redirected by just about any other person he works with tells me we can do this.  Is it going to be easy???  No, probably not, but I was worried about the first reduction, and about overhauling his diet, and so forth…things have been a lot less dramatic than I (who have a penchant for pessimism) had ever imagined.

We keep plugging away at everything that pops up.  We do our best to keep a healthy sense of humor, and we gently jab at each other with love and advice.  Yesterday, for example, TGG sent me a picture of his horoscope with a message that read: I think I’ll follow this advice.  The horoscope said something along the lines of “news you recently received have caused you great concern, but agonizing about it won’t help.”  When I didn’t reply to his message (because, as usual, I was staring at the screen in that sort of disbelief that mothers know all too well,) TGG called and the same voice that announces Kierkegaard’s calls announced his.  “I am legally changing my name to Horoscope,” I said.  Huh?, TGG said, sounding confused.  “You are going to heed your horoscope when it tells you the same exact thing I’ve been telling you ALL MONTH?  I’m changing my name to Horoscope.”  He made a derisory attempt at laughing, and later admitted that, yes, I’ve been sounding like a broken record all month…

“Here…have another brownie with green stuff in it,” I said, “it’s good for you.”  Yes, Horoscope, he said as he climbed the stairs.  I called out to him, quoting my beloved Erma Bombeck: just wait ’til you have children of your own!!!!!  Yes, Horoscope.  I’ll tell them “grandma used to put green stuff in our brownies…and I’ll WINK!  One look at pictures of J walking around with boxing gloves, hats, Slinky…oh, they’ll believe it!

 

Tuesday, Tuesday…

A thin layer of snow has fallen since earlier this morning.  Rather than the heavy blanket we’ve often felt being dropped on us, we are currently like sweet Mallorca rolls, dusted liberally with confectioner’s sugar.  It’s not at all bad; it doesn’t feel like Winter is throwing a tantrum and needs a time-out.  It feels like Winter is reminding us of its presence, but it’s tired, and this is just a cameo appearance.  For a winter-weary population, this feels like a nuisance that we have to humor (Uncle Winter had too much to drink again, and we’re listening to the abridged version of how awesome he was in high school.)

Cause for concern: we met with very little resistance from J when it was announced that he had to stay home today.  The cold is pesky, and he is congested, and complains of a scratchy throat.  He looks tired, but not so much so that one would say he needs to sleep.  Maybe he is just weary from all the confrontation he feels compelled to by this one person who makes him uncomfortable at school.  He knows, of course, that hitting himself is wrong, wrong, wrong, but he also seems to be inclined to think this is the only option for him in that situation.

We are in slippery-slope territory with this matter.  I’ve tried to get around it, and I can’t seem to find a reasonable solution that will help J more than minimally, and -trust me- I KNOW that J is responsible for his own emotional well-being and has to learn to manage himself when he’s put in close proximity to someone who doesn’t rub him the right way.  At the same time, when your kid (ok, your grown-up kid) comes home with an abrasion the size of a silver dollar on his forehead every time they have to work with one particular individual, you have to take a step back and consider the possibilities.

Over time, the skin on J’s forehead has become rather fragile.  If you look carefully at the area of his hairline where he has the habit of hitting himself, there are faded scars, and the skin is thin and shiny.  Doing damage there is not difficult.  J knows this; he is aware that hitting himself is upsetting for everyone around him, but (emotionally) he still feels compelled to do it when he is extremely upset.  There was a time when J would hit himself if he didn’t get his way; this is no longer the case.  J now hits himself when he has reached a point where nothing else he has done has yielded the desired results.  This is how we know that this particular person distresses him more than he can handle.  It is a quandary, and we have to work through it, don’t we?

Yesterday seems to have been a pretty rough day.  J came home distressed, and apologetic about having hit himself.  The note in the book (written by the individual with whom he has issues) shed no light on what had happened.  We later found out that the situation was played down in the note.  When we realized that J wasn’t feeling well it was because we walked into his TV room and found him teary-eyed, wanting a hug, and complaining of a scratchy throat, a cold, dry lips, dry eyes, you name it.  This was more of an emotional malaise than a physical one, and it was upsetting enough to him to sit through a rather long visit to the Urgent Care.

I’m not trying to read into this more than there is, but I have to read what there is…and the first incontrovertible fact is she has been present for all the other major incidents J has experienced this school year.  As Sherlock Holmes says: “eliminate all other factors, and the one which remains must be the truth.”  We’ve eliminated regression, lighting, noise level, petit mal seizures, attention-seeking, skin rashes, a nervous tick, that it’s part of his “routine,” and all that’s left is (let’s call her) Tiffany.  Other students have had, over time, similar issues with Tiffany.  I don’t know Tiffany, but I get the feeling there’s something about her that the kids sense doesn’t quite empathize with them.

Are teachers and aides supposed to empathize with the Special Education population they serve?  Yes, I think empathy is the right feeling as opposed to sympathy.  No person can truly understand how a developmentally-disabled or handicapped individual feels unless they have been in the same exact situation.  I, for example, can try to understand how J feels, but only from the standpoint of someone who observes him closely, has lived with him his whole life, and actually puts effort into comprehending J as an individual, and his Autism as a significant factor in how he behaves, thinks, feels, and so forth.  A classroom setting isn’t the most conducive to this kind of interaction, and I don’t think we should expect any more than is humanly possible when you are trying to empathize with a dozen students with varying degrees of difficulty in different areas.  I know this, and I want to be fair to J and to this person, but the only one I have any influence over is J.

There was a time when people chose fields of endeavor based on vocation, ability, skill.  Now, because there are so many of us populating a vast world with dwindling opportunities to shine according to our inclination, we tend to choose because a certain occupation has opportunities galore, is about to boom, pays well, requires little training.  I come from a family of teachers; my aunt was a much loved History teacher; my grandmother was an extremely efficient Spanish professor; my uncle was amazing at teaching future teachers; my other uncle taught Shop, and I never saw him saw a straight line in his life so I wonder what he was like molding future carpenters.  I tried to be a teacher.  I failed miserably.  I loved the subject I was teaching (English,) but I hated the rest of the undertaking; I had no patience for the whole thing.  It figures that I would find myself trying to teach the most basic skills to one of the least malleable individuals I’ve ever come across, and that patience is the daily bread I must have an endless store of…

Does Tiffany like her job?  Does Tiffany feel overwhelmed by what she has to do?  Does Tiffany even understand what she’s supposed to be doing, and how the mind she’s clashing with day after day after miserable day works?  She’s done this job for a long time, but that doesn’t really answer any of those questions, does it?  Albert Einstein, whose intellect I wouldn’t dare to say I understand one bit, is quoted as saying “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  I don’t know if this applies to Tiffany, or if it applies to J.  It could even apply to me, or Dada.  Some step in the process is being repeated, and it’s  yielding the same exact result over and over again.  The question remaining is: how do we deal with that particular step without anyone being the worse for wear?

For the time being, I will continue to put band-aids on J’s forehead to remind him of how it hurts when he hits himself.  I will continue to remind him that there are better ways to deal with this kind of stress.  I will count with him the days remaining until the end of the school year, and I will see what can be done to alleviate this situation without ruining someone’s career, or impacting their job security.

I look at very delicate skin, and blood pooling under it, and I wonder how much more damage J can do until it’s too much.  That’s his brain getting jostled, jarred and shaken under there, and we have very thick skulls (literal and figurative,) but there’s a limit to what those thick skulls can do to protect what’s underneath.  I don’t want us to slowly inch back to where J’s ONLY resource was SIB.  I flatly refuse to go back there, but I have to figure out which path will lead us to a healthy and reasonable resolution.

If Vivaldi wrote sublime music to echo the emotions elicited by weather and seasons, maybe all this confectioner’s sugar will help…or, perhaps, a bowl of ice cream would be better?

 

 

 

Just a brief note to say…

J hit his head at school today.  His teacher was out for the morning and The Aide was working with him.  She was told to send a note explaining, and all I got was “he hit himself two or three times, and then was fine.”   Quite obviously he isn’t.  That abrasion is hardly the result of “two or three” smacks to the head followed by calm.

The tangle was unraveled.  He hit himself over ten times.  It shows.

After this, of course, J is walking around wearing a bandage, and I, of course, am watching him like a hawk.  This evening he had a scratchy throat and looked a little sad so, like the crazy, hyperbolic nerds that we are, we dashed to Urgent Care with him.  He IS coming down with something, and if he has a temperature we need to take him back.  He is well enough, however, to mention -casually- that he wants Five Guys for dinner.  I said yes.  It was already nearly 8 when we got seen, and even though we had chicken, rice and lentils waiting at home, I didn’t think we’d be in the mood to deal with a full plate of food after all this…

Anyway…I digress…

This is the noteworthy part of the visit to the doctor: since November 18, J has lost twenty pounds.  Yes.  He has.  Yes.  It shows.  Yes.  We’re over the moon with joy.  No, we’re not letting up…the Five Guys was a last minute solution to a major disruption (we were about to have dinner when J started complaining.)  So tomorrow, for lunch, J will have chicken, rice and lentils…

There you have it…

I hope that was brief enough…

And I hope you’re all even a fraction of how happy we feel right now…

 

From snow to slush to rain to mud…

The snow that accumulated over weeks of Winter assiduously behaving like, well, winter have melted.  Here and there a patch remains, but mostly laced with mud and debris the snow plows, cars and humans have churned up.  The sky is gray and moody, and this is but a short respite from a season that still has (officially) 26 days, 22 hours and less than 40 minutes of life left.  Winter if flailing about, but -like the trouper it is- it’s not quite ready to leave center stage…

TGG has survived his cold.  He has done this much to his chagrin.  He would have preferred to prolong the misery just to prove that, yes, the other morning he was at death’s door and we dismissed his concerns.  J has taken contagion with a lot more dignity than his older brother, and he, too, is improving by leaps and bounds.  This, of course, can only mean that Dada will be the next to have the cold, and the weekend will likely be miserable.  I won’t succumb to anything until everyone’s better, has gone to work or school for the day, and can impart the wisdom of “oh, you’ll be fine in no time, you’ll see!”

I can live with that.  I can live with curling up in bed after everyone’s gone, sipping a cup of tea and reading for a while in spite of a stuffy/runny nose.  I will consider it convalescence and I will laze about, luxuriating in the misery I’ve denied the leisure to marinate in to everyone else in the household.  I might even buy cookies to go with my misery.

The rainy, rainy morning has turned into a partly cloudy afternoon, and the same cats that ran outside to bring mud into the house are currently napping on top of any surface that will make the mud more evident.  This mock-spring we’re experiencing today will dissipate by tomorrow night.  That means there’s much to do before, once more, we close windows, turn the heater back up to 67, and complain about more snow.  There is, for example, a short walk to check the mail for us, and J will get a chance to stretch his legs and NOT step on ice or slush for the first time in weeks.  I think he’ll like that.

With each passing day I come up with more tasks to add to my SPRING CLEANING LIST!!!!  The weight and layer of winter that seems to have crawled all over us will be shaken off, and I can’t wait for the moment when I start shoving out the lassitude of this unusually cold, snowy season.  I am craving sunshine and warmth, and things that grow and air that hasn’t been circulating through the same square-footage for days on end.  I miss seeing my toes all day long, not just when I’m showering, changing socks, and so forth.

The FedEx man (yes, it was a man…I’m not being sexist) dropped off an order I’d put in of plastic vegetables and fruits.  J spent a good hour this morning working his way through flashcards, spelling names, sorting by colors.  All along there was a beautiful smile that indicates he feels productive on his face.  After a lunch of leftover orzo and steak, he happily bounced down the stair (sniffling just a little) to work his way through the alphabet for what seems like the umpteenth time this week.  I sat down to take care of some more of the pesky administrative stuff that seems to propel me day after day: I ordered more learning materials for J, and I organized my list for the weekend.  It occurred to me, as I was looking at my recent purchases on Amazon, and some of the e-mails they send with suggestions, that Amazon is totally convinced I’m shopping for a pre-schooler.  Based on the profusion of Katy Perry merchandise, preschool toys and learning materials, and books on menopause, Amazon is probably convinced that I had a surprise pregnancy in my mid-forties and am now raising a teenage girl and a toddler.  Like Carol Kane’s Ghost of Christmas Present in Scrooged, “I know something you don’t know!”

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This is true of many different aspects of our household.  In fact, this is true of any household; the mother usually knows where everything is, everyone’s comings and goings (even if she doesn’t WANT to know,) and what is or isn’t possible financially.  I tell everyone around here that if I keel over suddenly, they will have to go out and buy batteries, lightbulbs, toilet paper, toothpaste, a can opener and plastic wrap.  And that’s just for starters.  A good chunk of my time is spent pointing people in the right direction, reminding them of things they have to/need to/should do, and calculating how much money can be spared for a luxury that someone else thinks is totally viable.  Omniscience can be a burden, but it can also be pretty funny…Amazon thinks it knows, but…

Our lives have been sketched in databases using very broad strokes.  Target knows one thing, Amazon knows another.  The grocery store is definitely confused, and wonders if we are the same people now that used to shop there three months ago…never have they seen so many vegetables and whole grains being consumed by this particular “preferred customer” card.  I can just imagine the guys in the customer database department trying to figure out what is happening that, all of a sudden, we no longer buy mac and cheese, hot dogs, Pringles and margarine.  “It’s madness, I tell you!!!!  Replicants!!!!  Maybe we should call someone!!!!”

I think Winter is playing the same game as long as it can.  I think it’s been messing with us all along, and now it’s lowered its guard only so it can slam into us again.  Playfully, of course.  There’s not one mean bone in Winter’s body; it’s just an overgrown puppy who doesn’t quite know its strength.  It will get tired soon.  It will peter out and go to take its long, long nap when it’s quite done playing.  For now, well, we just sit and wait it out, enjoy today’s sunshine and the lessening of the common cold’s misery.

Now…to find something REALLY out of left field to further confuse Amazon.  And, of course, must add cookies to the shopping list…just in case!

 

If the common cold is the worst of your problems…

The only thing missing from TGG’s demeanor in the face of a cold is Eric Idle calling out “bring out your dead!” as he follows our first born around the house.  On average, human beings catch a cold (or what passes for one) once a year.  That means that TGG should know by now (his supposed 23rd cold) what this process is like.  All you get are palliatives…you’re going to feel like crap until the thing is done with you, and that’s all there is to it.  The pediatrician told me (back when TGG had his first cold in the summer of 1991) that we’d be passing the same cold around for the next 18 years or so, depending on how many kids I had.  It wasn’t just the cost of living and the responsibilities that come attached to being a full-time parent that made me stop at two kids…it was the common cold.  Once you’ve had a baby get sick with a cold, and you’ve experienced the alternating stuffy/runny nose, the cough, the crankiness, and the crying, you sort of tell yourself there’s only so much you are capable of as a human being.  

It is 2014.  I should be done with all this by now.  However, because life and the universe have a sense of humor, and the current economy isn’t cooperating, I am -once more- surrounded by adults with colds.  This morning, with the smell of Vicks Vapo-Rub lingering in every room in the house, and with wads of crumpled Kleenex being paraded like flags all over the place by my children I decided to do a little positive thinking.  It took a while…I’m sort of still working on it.  I came up, so far, with “at least they’re no longer in diapers,” “50% of my children are very skilled at blowing their noses,” “I have enough Vicks and Kleenex to see an army through a bout with the cold,” “at least it’s not snowing.”  Feeble, I know…

Yes, J has -perhaps out of hero-worship, or simply because he failed to steer clear of his brother, Mr. Focus-of-Infection- a cold, too.  This morning I had so much trouble persuading him to uncurl from his preferred “I’m sick, can’t you tell????” position in bed that I opted to keep him home.  TGG, who is a full-time employee with benefits and a full-fledged adult with privileges, immediately wailed that he wanted to go back to bed.  I told him to find the Time Machine, switch it back to 2008, and -while he was at it- remind me that I REALLY want to exercise regularly  before I hit that troublesome spot called “the middle-aged point of no return.”  He was appalled that I would take this tack instead of sending him up to his room, and tucking him in…

“But I’m sick!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”  Well, boo hoo you…

The survivors of the sinking of the Titanic didn’t complain as much while waiting for rescue as TGG did this morning.  As a mom, I feel for him.  I see the three year-old with the Thomas the Tank Engine underoos clinging to my shoulders are he sobs because his nose is stuffy.  I also have reached the point where my reaction tends to be “suck it up, bud.”  

My children (yes, even J!!!) are appalled by my lack of sympathy for their melodrama.  “I’m not your maid” is my favorite response when J becomes overly needy.  “Well, you’re a grown-up!” is what TGG gets most of the time.  The only reason J got to stay home today is because when J gets sick it can be pretty nasty if we have to go to the doctor.  For the record, we’ve been working on school stuff since early this morning, and between sneezes and sniffles, he’s done his chores.  TGG called during his morning break saying a cup of tea had made him feel better, and then immediately added “I know, I know…you’ve been telling me this for ages!”  

I have.  I have been announcing adulthood and its (so-called) travesties since I can remember.  The common cold, sadly, doesn’t stop the world and all its workings when you’re a grown-up.  More often than not, grown-ups have to buck up with very little hesitation.

TGG is in a transition period right now.  This transition period was entirely initiated (although he was unaware at the time) by himself, and he has to segue into a new stage of life because of it.  A world of responsibility (that he wasn’t looking for) is being put on his shoulders.  He didn’t ask for advice so we gave him none; he didn’t consider consequences, so now he has to deal with what comes out of the grab-bag.  My philosophy (and it’s not springing from the well of meanness that he sometimes believes lies deep within my core) is that if he can’t learn to buck up when the common cold comes a-knocking, he’s going to have a hard time being a full-fledged, fully-vested adult.  All the kind warnings issued out of wisdom are now replaced by figurative slaps in the face to wake him up to the fact that it’s rough out there, and -at this particular moment- he is lucky to have a cold at home, with mom and dad standing by.  At one point or another, we all have to face our first independent, solo-flight, on-our-own, oh-God-I-think-I’m-dying, moooOOOOOOOOOOoooom-where-are-you??? common cold.  

There comes a time, in every individual’s adult life, when the certainty of rescue boats while you’re floating in a lifeboat among icebergs and debris is not as concrete as you would hope.  At one point or another, we all have to learn to row with whatever we can to get closer to rescue.  If, as in Life of Pi, you find yourself stranded and the tiger in the boat is not something you can handle, you will not be able to face all the complexities of life as you should.  The resident Pi has a boat he’s stuck in, and Richard Parker is circling, growling, menacing, threatening…he’s read the book…he knows the tiger is him.  Now he has to tame it, teach it, cure its cold, and choose to drift (or float, or row) to safety…

Oh, but the whining and complaining…they are made less intolerable only by the absence of soiled diapers…

Happy birthday, Slinky…

Last Saturday marked the one-year anniversary of the toothache felt around the world…  I can’t believe how far we’ve come since then, and how Slinky has managed to travel the whole distance with us.  A whole year.  More than 365 days because, well, Slinky the Current had taken the place of Slinky the Previous shortly before the Big Tooth-Do…(get it?  A play on To Do…  Never mind.  It sounded pretty funny in my head.)

A few days ago I was (almost obsessively) looking for an old picture of Dada that almost exactly matches a picture I found among the thousands of slides I transferred last year.  It’s quite silly, in fact, but I wanted to see them side-by-side.  In the very old picture, Dada is about eight, and sits at the dining table in his parents’ house, sipping juice from a cup with a funny expression on his face.  The picture I was looking for was taken the summer before last, and Dada is sipping a cocktail with the same expression on his face.  The only differences between both pictures are the amount of hair on Dada’s head, the alcohol present in the more recent drink, and that one was taken in California in 1970 while the other was taken in 2012 in West Virginia.  Aside from that…pretty funny.

Anyway…I digress.

While I was looking for THAT picture, I found -of course- hundreds, thousands of others that triggered memories.  Among them?  Slinky the First.  His reign was brief.  I believe he met his demise in a tangle, and had to be quickly replaced with Slinky the Second and so forth until we lost count.  After a while, Slinky the Current was the name we gave all of them until they were no more; they then become Slinky the Previous.  When I tell you that Slinky the Current is the Queen Victoria of Slinkys, you have to believe this.  Never before had we had such a long and stable reign out of one of these helical springs, and he doesn’t look like he’s anywhere near ready to give up his throne.  There are, count ’em, TWO Slinkys stored in a closet for “emergencies,” but J’s loyalty to Slinky the Current is solid.

I will remind you (or inform you, depending on how recently you started reading my stream of consciousness) that when we took J to the dentist that February morning because of his night-long (and long night) toothache, Slinky the Current was still in the first shine of his youth.  Recently removed from the box, he didn’t yet have that dingy dark gray appearance that permeates all Slinkys that have been in contact with sweaty hands for a while.  It was there, at the dentist’s office, that J (in his fear and anxiety) brandished  Slinky as a defensive weapon, and Slinky the Current suffered a noticeable injury to one of his coils.  Slinky the Current, no longer Slinky the Pristine, got slightly bent.

Perhaps it was that they’d been through a lot together that day, but J didn’t want Slinky replaced when we came back from the dentist.  He didn’t want him replaced when we had to go back for surgery TWICE in the span of a month.  Slinky waited for him, like a loyal puppy, while he was under for the whole dental D-Day J experienced last summer.  Slinky the Current has been left behind at home when we’ve gone shopping; Slinky the Current has fallen under furniture; Slinky the Current has gone to school, to the movies, to the doctor.  Slinky the Current is parked on the lid to our chest freezer while J does his Wii exercises.  Slinky the Current is parked on the “Slinky parking blocks” that are in the bathrooms, and on the kitchen counter.  J knows that there are two back-up Slinkys in the hallway closet, but he doesn’t want them…he wants Slinky the Current…

We lived through the affaire du coeur with the boxing gloves.  We know the hats are a fixture.  We are fully accustomed to Raggedy Ann, Minnie Mouse, Daisy Duck, and so forth.  In a household that has seen Slinkys come and go like the Playboy Mansion witnesses the arrival and departure of scantily-clad women, Slinky the Current’s staying power is a sight to behold.  He is a member of the family, as it were…

I know that, eventually, J will maybe outgrow Slinky…the Current, and all the others that will follow.  He outgrew the balloons, the boxing gloves…  Until this happens, I’m just glad that he didn’t let a bad experience and a kink on a helical spring ruin what has become a beautiful relationship.  I’m glad that J overlooked that one flaw (that he caused with his Indiana Jones-like antics,) and that there has been continuity with this Slinky.  I’m glad Slinky sits there while J has his dinner that now includes vegetables.  I’m glad that Slinky was there for the guardianship hearing, the psychiatrist appointments, the times when J has been in trouble and got a time-out.  I feel bad when part of the time-out involves handing Slinky over to me.  I am kind to Slinky…he is the nicest pet J has ever had! He doesn’t overeat and barf on the carpet; he doesn’t need a litter box; he doesn’t require being taken out for a walk.  He sleeps in J’s bed, and doesn’t push the boxing gloves out of the way because he’s humble and knows the more inanimate objects the merrier…

I won’t go so far as to bake a cake, but…if Slinky the Current could eat, I’d ask him what kind of cake and if he wants ice cream on the side.  I won’t try to clean him, or spray him with Lysol.  There is a certain dignity to his dingy appearance, and J loves him just the way he is.  So we will never have the pile of bicycles in the driveway and the tromping of feet on the stairs towards the basement; we will never see a car pull away with J waving distractedly at us.  But we have Slinky the Current, and that seems to work just fine…