I haven't dropped off the face of the Earth. I'm in Alabama. Well... maybe that's the same to some!
Limited internet and NO cells service. Yes, I'm going kind of nuts. I'm essentially...unplugged.
Will be back on hardline Friday.
This started last summer... we were at the River with Eric skipping stones and Eric told tales to my boys, tales of rafting and tubing down rivers. And the boys were all wide eyed and said, "REALLY?"
Flash forward to four weeks ago, as this summer's plans were congealing, I heard from one of them, "Oh! And Mom! Tell Eric we want to go TUBING this year!" to which Eric, upon hearing this emailed back, "Are you SURE?" and to which, my being a "Hell Yeah! I'll try anything ONCE kind gal" said, "Hell Yeah!"
And as Eric found a place for us to tube/raft, a place he was familiar with, having rafted there last summer, he said again, "Are you SURE?" to which I now, a bit nervous of the question coming again said, "Sure! It'll be fun!"
And then there was the email last week that said something like, "Just so you know, the water is 55 degrees...and I'm not tubing... I'm getting a raft for me... and you have to be 12 to get a tube..."
Or something like that.
So then we realized that Bones would be rafting with Eric, and so I said that I'd definitely raft with Eric, tubing NOT sounding all that fun to me, in particular in 55 degree water, and the older boys would be tubing.
And to add a little background here, when Ringo and Mr. T get together, there are times they are a lot like Crash and Eddie, those nasty little opossum from Ice Age 2. They're all noise and mischief.
We get the raft and the two tubes and the boys get to the river and set a toe in it, look at each other and said, "We'll raft...", so Eric tied the tubes to the raft and we all got in, with the tubes tied to the back. And although the water was so dang cold I was hunting for icebergs in the event we might... hit one... it was also hotter than three hells, so 15 minutes into it, Ringo dropped into a tube. All but 10 minutes later Mr. T joined him.
Now Eric informed us it was a 2-3 hour float. The woman at the raft place told us that we were always to stay to the left of any island we couldn't see around, because to go to the right meant you'd get stuck on rocks because the rapids were shallower and there were more of them.
And I guess it was probably after hour one that the not so better part of my personality came out. I know it... I know I'm high strung, overly competitive and 'too assertive' at times. I know it. I'm working on it. Really. For my boys...
But here is the difference between Eric and my personalities. He appreciates his surroundings. I get consumed... by time.
This was an hour into our rafting excursion, with Thing 1 and Thing 2 tethered to the back of us, carrying on, banging into each other, screaming up to Bones to pass them beef jerky and what not.
An hour into our rafting excursion where we had already gotten stuck on rocks, had to cut the boys away at one point, only to join up with them later and retie them to us.
An hour into our rafting excursion where my arms were already starting to hurt.
Read his in a slow Southern drawl. Read mine very fast and high strung with a light Gulf Coast accent.
Eric (remember, read laid back): Would you like to switch places sit so you can look out and see how beautiful everything is?
Me (read this FAST and assertive): Nooo. I want to figure out how long its going to take to get the hell out of here!
Or later... out of the blue:
Me (fast and assertive): So you said this is a 2 to 3 hour float. Where do you think we are? Are we paddling like a 2 hour float or a 3 hour float? Is a 3 hour float just floating? Do you think we'll do this in 2 and a half hours?
Then there was the time we were floating and I was just... Toast. I was done. I finally flopped into the boat and said, "I'm done..."
Eric said, "Right, we're on strike until there are better working conditions..."
Which was GREAT, until we all started floating into a bank, under some trees into not good territory. Good feeling gone!
I think what was funniest though, was when we were looking for this big green tent thing which was the end point, that we were supposed to be able to see for a LONG LONG ways away, and finally it was JUST THERE and I realized that we had been on the right side nearly the ENTIRE way... which would definitely explain all the times we got stuck on the rocks... which was A LOT. Remember the part about the water being iceberg cold???
A good time was had by all. Really. The boys had a blast and I learned... that next year we're going back to the other river to skip rocks.
Holy crap. I'm beat...
So we're all hanging out with the baby and I think we've all become 18 months old.
Take this picture... I call this: One of These Things Just Doesn't Belong Here.
She looks pathetic doesn't she, holding her little weed? She cracks us up.
Mo and I were talking about movies to rent to watch with the boys, movies they'd not seen. I said, "You know, there are a TON of great movies they've never seen that we loved! I should look them up on the 'net..."
Mo: You do realize, that is the equivalent of our watching movies with Nana, movies from the fifties.
Me: Yeah, but those movies were 30 years old... wait...
Regardless, I decided to look up old movies to see what they might like. Mo nixed a couple of them. There were evidently some things I didn't remember in some of them, but Mo did and upon hearing their names she'd say, "Mmm... right. Not that one..."
So today we rented... Airplane! Benign, right?
Until just now, and think back in the recesses of your brain when you saw this movie in 1980....
Everyone is sick in the plane. There is a blow up autopilot and he starts to deflate. The stewardess is on the flightdeck and she calls ground control to tell them the back up autopilot is deflating... to which they tell her there is a blow up valve under him, which happens to be between the legs.
I sat there thinking, "UH oh..."
Nobody said anything, Mo and I sat there quietly. Ringo absolutely knew what was going on and not a peep came from his side of the couch.
And at the end I heard Mr. T say, "Why is he smoking a cigarette now?"
I heard Bones say, "Because back when this movie was made, they let you smoke on airplanes..."
Mo and I sat there with eyes wide saying nothing...
It's hot. It's summer. It's not as hot as Afghanistan and I'm not wearing full combat fatigues in an 112 degree oven. For that I am thankful... even more thankful for the men and women who do.
I'm in an air conditioned home watching my three boys run around after an 18 month old baby; she's screeching and laughing. When they catch her, she gets big kisses on her chunky monkey cheeks.
Monkeys are her favorite. She has a Curious George she calls "Ahh Ahh". That would be much like the sound a monkey makes. There are many monkeys in this house.
Sometimes she'll hand you Ahh Ahh and let you hug him, but then she'll take him back.
She has a box she loves to sit in. It's a big box and she'll take her shoes or books and sit within the box and contemplate her baby world. She laughed when Mr. T folded himself up and managed to sit inside the box.
I can hear the pitter patter of little feet on wood floor as she runs. They run flat footed at this age. She still puts her head first as if a gas pedal. Run faster? Put the head down more. Sometimes the arms go back, instinctively making herself more aerodynamic?
She has animal sounds and actions down pat. Kangaroos jump and butterflies flap wings. Her little legs hop hop hop and her arms fan to show a butterfly flying. Lions roar with little fists close to their face like claws, and I've just taught her a rabbit, which makes not a sound, but scrunches up a face.
I'm sleeping a lot. Loving on a baby. Watching my children play with a baby.
Life is good...
My husband is still living in a hell, but his sister came in from California to stay for a week. She is in the hospital all day, trying to get an accurate assessment as to where Pop really is. Pop may say he is doing wonderfully, but we can find out later, all is not as it seems.
She will get it right.
Rehab starts Monday. She will practically live at rehab. She will be there the week. When I get back with the boys, the course should be charted.
My husband joins us next week.
Life will be good for him too...
We are in Atlanta. We were at dinner tonight when Bones and his brothers informed their Aunt Mo that the loose skin on your elbow is numb, right in the center... in particular if you lick it. (No clue why they know this...)
And the following conversation occurred to the best of my recollection:
Bones: And my brothers aren't allowed to do anything to me if I lick it and they don't feel it.
Ringo: Yeah, but he always misses.
Mr. T: Yeah, he hits us here (pointing to the side of the elbow) or here (pointing above it).
Ringo: He always misses.
Me: Or gets caught.
Mr. T: We catch him a lot. He breathes. We can feel his breath on our elbow too.
Bones: It's the air from my nose.
Mo: Really. Maybe if you're going to do this, you should quit breathing.
Me: Ringo and Mr. T will be walking ahead with their Dad and Bones will run up to lick them on the elbow, only to have them turn around have this wide eyed kid with his tongue sticking mid-air... ready for a lick.
Me: Mo, it's insane. The kid is constantly trying to lick our elbows to show we can't feel it. Do you have any idea what it's like, that no matter where you are, when you turn around, there is this kid bent to elbow level with his tongue out, perched, ready to lick your elbow?
Mo didn't say anything. It was a *blink* moment...
I have a sister in law arriving Saturday to assist in finding a rehab center for my husband's father and a new living situation. The doctor is alluding to a nursing home, but we're hoping to stave that off for two reasons: 1) expense and 2) most of them are hell holes. Oh and 3) his mind is sharp and it will be our own personal hell to have to deal with if he doesn't want to go.
It is inevitable, however.
His drugs seem to be good. We will see.
Ringo is volunteering at a local hospital in the IT department. He and a girl that works with him, crush the boxes, straighten the office, and ghost computers. The ghosting of the computers takes the longest... evidently they have to sit there awhile.
And evidently said girl got bored and decided she'd straighten Ringo's hair.
Girls carry flat irons with them everywhere they go? Really?
Evidently. I picked him up with his hair as straight as a board. He was grinning.
I'm not sure if it was from how much he likes it when his hair is straight or from the fact he'd spent off and on all day with a really cute blonde haired girl's hands running through his hair.
And speaking of boys with crazy curly hair... my nephew is 14 months old and has the curliest hair I've ever seen on a baby. AND, the kid has a lot of it.
On Saturday night, when the Hallucination fiasco happened, I carried him around while his Dad helped my husband talk Pop out of the tree.
At the end of the night, the dude was all sweaty and ready to go to bed. His hair was even curlier than normal with the humidity and I'd been walking him outside trying to keep him quiet.
As he was being held by his Dad, I could see the dude looking in his peripheral vision, noticing a curl dangling beside his face. He grabbed the curl with his pincher fingers and chubby clubby baby hands and pulllllllled it straight and then SPROING! let it go.
He did this over and over, slowly puuuuullling the curl and then SPROING! letting it go.
It was as if it was the first time he'd ever noticed he had curly hair!
I never had curly haired babies. My babies were bald. So it was dang funny to watch this 14 month old play with this one little curl.
We see the Chuppa tomorrow. The boys are beside themselves.
I gotta get out of here. Everyone is in agreement I need a vacation. Even the guys at work are saying I need the two weeks. I don't think I remember the last time I've been so stressed out and busy. I'm sleep walking again.
We're up early and out tomorrow. I've literally been so stressed I've been unable to make any plans. It's as if I'm paralyzed by anything other than what I MUST get done in the moment.
Mo has called me with ideas on things to do and I've just said, "I... can't deal. We'll figure it out."
My aunt called me to see what day we were getting together with family and I had to explain I meant to call, "But... couldn't. I couldn't deal..." She understood.
I've not called anyone really with where I'm going. I'm going to start making calls tomorrow.
I need... to detox from life. My life has become toxic.
I'm probably not going to post much on this anymore. The last two days have been huge learning experiences and I feel the need to share... in the event someone can learn from what we've seen.
First off, he is going to be fine. They nearly OD'd him in the rehab center. I'll get to that later.
Pop has been taking Parkinson's meds now for... probably five years. He wanted to stave it off as long as possible because he said when you start taking it, they only work so long. True or not, that's what he did.
He is of the % of patients that tremor. So when the tremor became bad enough that he couldn't eat or function well, he started taking a single drug. It worked.
And true to what he said, over the years, they've had to change his meds, add meds, increase dosages, to keep a quality of life.
As the years have progressed and his meds have changed, we've seen changes in him, not positive. He'll spontaneously fall asleep, for one. He says he's drowsy.
Pop may live in assisted living, but there is nothing wrong with his mind. He goes to the doctor by himself, he knows what is going on, he knows his meds. So none of us go with him. We just see the end result. We rarely speak to the doctors.
This is what we've seen over the last 18 months: drowsiness, sleeping sitting in a chair as if a narcoleptic, food doesn't make it easily to his mouth (we no longer serve spaghetti), he drools out the left side of his mouth, his tongue seems thick, he has difficulty with speech, walking has become exceedingly difficult and he's moved to part time wheel chair usage.
This has left us all looking at each other saying, "Wait. Why is he taking all this crap that puts him to sleep if he has all these other issues? Is it working? Is he taking sugar pills?"
Seriously, that's been our thinking.
Until this event.
The rehab center he was at screwed up BIG. BIG. And they gave him too much of a drug he was already having issues with... Amantadine. They were giving him anywhere from 33% to 50% more than he should have taken, hence the whackiness. So when he got to the ER, and the neurologist got hold of him in all his catatonic glory, the doc put him in ICU and they took him off everything, not knowing fully what they were dealing with. Stroke? Just an old guy with Stage 5 Parkinson's? Biological issues?
And what we found was... when the drugs were out of his body, when he was fully off his Parkinson's cocktail (he was now on three drugs), he was laying in bed, twitchy, stiff, unable to speak at all, thick tongue in tremor, inability to eat, arm tremors, inability to swallow.
THAT is Pop off his meds.
And suddenly lights came on and we realized, the drugs ARE doing their job. They are giving him a quality of life that may seem sucky to you and me, sitting here doing our thing without issue, but to someone in Stage 5 Parkinson's, its dang close to glorious.
As another neurologist said to my husband on the phone on Sunday, "Listen, it's a balancing act. We have side effects, but they give a good quality of life. When the side effects are worse than what they give, then we move to something else. There is no cure... just balancing."
That's where we are. The doc is trying to find an equilibrium Pop can live with. He's trying to find drugs where the side effects aren't miserable, but the quality of life is good too.
And it's tough. The brain is tough. And God Bless these two neurologists... this one guy in particular who is constantly in Pop's room, trying to get it all right. A guy who is stunned by what he's seen... babbling, to catatonic, to some lucidity but still stiff, to... last night when Pop sat up and said clear as day, "The problem is, they over medicated me. I kept telling them, but they wouldn't listen." And evidently so stunned was the neurologist by the huge and sudden change in Pop (which by the way, came after his favorite Italian priest came in and gave him the annointing of the sick), that the doc sat down, grabbed paper and pen and said "Ok, let's talk" to which Pop laid it all out very clearly and logically.
But as the other doc said to us on Sunday, sometimes when you get to the point that you are using multiple drugs, hallucinations are inevitable. It's just flat out a side effect that you have a choice of either crap quality of life or hallucinations... and at that point they add another drug to his regime, one that prevents him from hallucinating, but will make him really really sleepy.
As it is, he's on a drug to keep him awake. Early on in all this, when he was admitted for peripheral edema, one doctor asked, "Are you a narcoleptic?" Pop's reply was, 'I'm on three Parkinson's medications and they make me sleep all the time. That drug you're talking about keeps me awake..."
Balance. It's a tight rope.
So... where are we?
He is in ICU, but will probably get out in a couple days. He'll go back to a normal room where the staff will get him back to where he was last Wednesday. Then they'll discharge him to rehab and I already gave my husband a name of a place he needs to look at in town. It's a Jewish rehab center that has a damn good reputation.
My oldest sister in law is coming in town on Saturday to help find a new place for Pop to live. We found a Catholic assisted living facility that Pop thinks he will love. Its further away, but if the care is good and Pop is happy... then life will be easier.
Meanwhile, I'm out of here on Friday with the kids and I can't wait. I'm so sick of this place I could scream.
I'm counting down.
This is a follow on to last night's post. We are all at a loss...
Last night at around midnight, my husband said Pop just snapped out of it and started to talk. He was thirsty.
So my husband went to find the nurse that was their main nurse, and for some reason I think my husband knows this man already. I need to find that out. There is one male nurse at the hospital my husband knows pretty well and I think this was him.
He says to the nurse, "My Dad is really thirsty. He's not had a lot to eat or drink today. He's asking for a glass of water, is there some place I can get him one?"
And the nurse said, "YOUR Dad is speaking? He ASKED for a glass of water?"
To which my husband replied, "yeah..."
And the nurse said that in all his years of working, he had absolutely NEVER seen anything like this. One minute my father in law was babbling, they took him to nuclear and he went into a full rigid unresponsive state, and then five hours later, he's babbling again and not stiff.
The neurologist is running tests. The nurse said to my husband to keep dogging this down, he really really thinks it's meds. He also said to us to really watch the rehab places, it's not uncommon for them to give the wrong meds or the wrong doses. My husband asked if there was a better rehab place and the nurse shook his head and said, "No. They're all the same."
That leaves us feeling kind of helpless. We may have to go to 24/7 private nursing care while he's in rehab just to make sure they get his meds right.
So... we don't get it. I suspect he'll be on a rant today. Evidently I've slighted him by not having him live with me for the last 10 years. Ask me if I feel guilty.
You can guess that answer...
Pop is dying as we speak. My husband is with him. My brother in law has dropped his family off back in Lauderdale and is driving back to sleep in the hospital at his bedside.
And I didn't see this coming.
The psychotic episode of yesterday, we thought completely passed, picked back up today. When we arrived at 1:30, fully expecting to see him in his normal state, talking about physical therapy kicking his butt, we found a man in a confused state again, and heard from staff that he'd had a psychotic rage in the morning, kicking his food out of the nurse's hands.
When it was just Pop and me in the room, I realized then he was hallucinating again. I told him we were listening and we believed him.
"You can come out now", he said.
He got stonefaced suddenly, as if he realized he said something he should not have said.
I continued, "Pop, you have to tell me who you see and what you see, so I can tell you if it's real or not. Who is it Pop?"
"He's under the bed. He's talking to me. He keeps talking to me. He needs to come out."
I bent down, and I put my hands to his face and his chest and said softly, "Pop, I promise you, there is no one there. Something is not right, the medications, something, but it is just us now. I promise."
He looked into space again, stonefaced, as if by not making eye contact, I wouldn't be there.
"My pants are on inside out," he said as he fingered the side seam of his pants.
I looked at his pants. They were on fine.
"Pop... your pants are fine."
Looking at me, '"Can't you feel the seam? I need to take them off so they can put them on right."
I put my hands on his face gently, I stroked his hair and said quietly, "Pop, your pants are fine. Look, here's the button and the zipper. Look at the side buckle. If they were on inside out, you'd not see any of this..."
He looked at his pants, I put his shirt back down, and he stared straight ahead again, stonefaced, as if willing me away, willing the person under the bed to come out, willing his pants to be right.
He continued staring ahead, speaking to the wall, 'I know it's happening, Bou. I know these things aren't right, but I can't make them stop." He looked up at me and said, "They have to fix me. I know my brain is OK, there is nothing wrong with my brain, but I can't make it stop."
And that was the moment I realized... he knew he was losing his mind, he was completely cognizant and unable to stop it.
It made me sick.
We had him transported back to the hospital. My husband took the kids home to get Ringo started on the yardwork, and I went back to the hospital to wait for Pop to be admitted.
I got in to find him in an odd state, staring at the ceiling, empty eyed, slack jawed. He looked like a stroke victim, more so than normal. Parkinson's patients lose all facial expression over time, and their jaws hang open in a relaxed state, frequently giving them a stroke victim look, but this was worse.
There was a vacancy in his stare now, no thinking, just blank.
I walked over and took his hand. He snapped back into focus and looked at me. And that's when the nastiness started to pour out. All of it, pouring forth, anger catalogued for the last 10 years, things I couldn't even go into... all aimed at me.
My husband suddenly appeared and told me to go on to our dinner plans. His brother, all the grandchildren, all of us were to go to dinner. I looked at Pop, turned to my husband and said, "Right. OK. Good luck with this. He's in one of his angry states. If you put your hand on his chest and tell him to lower his voice, he will."
I left. My husband joined us for dinner an hour later. My husband and his brother went back to the hospital while my sister in law and I took the kids for ice cream, knowing the wait to see their Pop would be a long one, and trying to fill the time with something other than pacing a waiting room.
Pop was in nuclear testing.
When he came out... he was totally catatonic and has been in that state ever since.
There is no blinking. No movement. He is rigid. A half closed stare into a space we do not see. We think he hears, but there is no response.
We took the kids in to say goodnight, it might be the last, and they are a mess. My children ache with the hurt of losing someone they love, who has been there their entire lives, good or bad, he is theirs.
And so the waiting game goes on. Nobody knows what is causing it. Nobody knows how to fix it.
The brain is a tough organ. My kids need a 2nd chance. He needs to pull through so my kids can tell them again that they love him, knowing he can hear them and respond.
He may be ready to go... but my kids aren't ready to let him.
We shall see.
I did not see our day ending like this. One minute there is a man under the bed, the next he's ranting at me, the next he's catatonic?
Mr. T needs a 2nd chance more than anything... and God has always been good to him. Let us hope...
Consider this my good deed for the day:
Should you or someone you know suffer from Parkinson's disease and if you or this someone you know suffers from any sort of mental illness or is suspected of suffering from a mental illness, under NO circumstances should you or the person you know take Amantadine.
I just spent three hours in hell with a complete psychotic.
Don't even think you can begin imagining. Unless you've been there... You can't.
Consider myself having done you a favor.
Tomorrow will be a better day.
OK, this crap only happens in places like Palm Beach. This JUST happened today... holy crap.
So I was at work, swimming in fire again, when I realized that Sunday is Father's Day. It was a big "Oh Sh**" epiphany. The boys and I really need to do something nice for my husband, alone, without Pop or my husband's brother, just us, because this week... if it's been hellish for me, it's that times 10 for my husband.
It's been bad.
Sitting at my desk, I thought, "Oh! I know! I'll take him to brunch at some place really fancy and nice, some place we would NEVER go on our own, some place we really can't afford, but I know he'll appreciate."
So on the 'net I went, googling Sunday breakfast brunches in Northern Palm Beach County when I thought, "Hmm... I bet The Breakers has a GREAT brunch!"
The Breakers is known for their brunches. Hell, The Breakers is known for EVERYTHING. Sitting on the beach, on Palm Beach, it is a 5 star resort, that is the bees knees. Amazing.
After I got off work, I called The Breakers and this is pretty much what happened:
Me: I'd like to make a reservation for FIVE on Sunday, for Brunch.
Breaker's Woman: Ok, five. Any children?
Me: What age ends for children?
Breaker's Woman: 11
Me: Then I only have one child. Four adults, one child.
Breaker's Woman: We have 1:30 available. I'll need your charge card as there is a $25 non-refundable fee since you're within the 48 hour window, should you cancel.
Me: Wait. I need to call back. This was going to be a surprise, but if it's non-refundable, I need to make sure that he really didn't have any plans and that 1:30 is good.
I hung up, called my husband, had 1:30 cleared, I did spill the beans we were going to brunch, but I didn't tell him where.
I rang up The Breakers again. Bones was with me so he could hear this conversation:
Me: Hi! This is Bou Smith, I'm calling to make a reservation for five, four adults and one child, for Sunday Brunch at the Circle restaurant.
Breaker's Man, who was VERY courteous: Excellent. We have a 1:30.
Me: Great. We'll take that.
Breaker's Man: Ok, then, I'll need your credit card and it's $90 per person plus gratuity and tax...
Me: *quiet gasp*
Me: I'm sorry. Come again?
Breaker's Man: Yes, that is $90 per person plus gratuity and tax.
Me: Oh! Ok, cancel that. I can't pay $90 for a breakfast let alone for kids listed as adults when they really aren't.
Breaker's Man: Oh no, you misunderstood. The Child is ONLY $45. It's only the four adults that are $90 per person.
Me: I really need to thank you for your time. I did hear you. I just have a kid, two actually, included in that count, that are barely over 11 and I can't bring myself to pay TWO HUNDRED dollars on breakfast for them. But... THANK YOU SO MUCH!
Bones screamed in the back, "OH MY GOD! NINETY DOLLARS! PER PERSON! MOM,mom, mom, mom... that was going to be like $400 for all of us to eat breakfast!" (And he thinks that he can't do math. Gold Star for Bones!)
I came home and said to my husband, "Cancel the 1:30 brunch. We were going to go to the Breakers, but they wanted over $500 by the time I added tax and tip and that's tuition for one month for one kid in Catholic school. We can barely afford that... let alone blow it on eggs. We're going to Barbie's. It's a Southern Greasy Spoon in Lake Park."
My husband looked at me wide eyed and said, "Yeah, Barbie's sounds GREAT!"
Holy crap. Can you frickin' imagine? What... do they serve brunch with platinum spoons and gold trimmed plates?
Barbie's: $20 bucks for the whole family. And we can even put our elbows on the tables.
Not in a good place. Not for the last two days.
BTW, I don't think suicide is a sin against God. Don't know if I've ever put it out there before, so there it is.
Come the sunset years of my life, if it is to go the way I'm currently witnessing, I'm ending it.
I'll leave my winnings to my children in my will.
I found this at Patti's over at Good Googledy Moogledies, a GREAT read. Oh wait until Christmas when she posts pictures of her great decorated house! (She laments her garden a bit today, but I love it.)
So... I had to steal this link from her.
For my Dad.
You are going to watch this and think, "WTF?" Why is my daughter posting this FOR ME?" (Well, you may not think "WTF?", but it will be similar.)
But like... halfway through it? You'll get it. Plus... dang, how can you pass up marching bands and ghillie suits? I mean, really? If this doesn't make you and Mom laugh, all hope is lost.
Your favorite Daughter.
P.S. Yes, OK Go is a real band. No, I didn't expect you to have heard of them before... and no, they aren't a marching band.
Today Mr. T and I dropped Bones off at his Drama Camp. T had never been for drop off, so he'd never really seen any of the kids who attend.
Standing out front was a young boy, probably 5th grade, wearing a pair of Crocs. One was purple... the other yellow.
Bones leaped out of the car with his music video wardrobe, yelled, "See Ya, Mom!" and was gone. Meanwhile, Mr. T looked back at me slowly and said, "Did you see that kid wearing the Crocs... each one was a different color?"
As I pulled away I said, "Yup. Welcome to Drama Camp. You would be amazed at what you see in there, what the kids wear."
Mr. T said, "Mom, I couldn't deal with Bones if he dressed like that. I mean, I hate Crocs. I hate them. And then... different colors? It's bad enough that he DANCES everywhere he goes, I tolerate that as it is, but with him wearing CROCS? DIFFERENT COLORS?! AND dancing? No."
Bones dances everywhere. Everywhere. It's like living with a little Gene Kelly or Fred Astair...but not so talented.
When we were away this weekend, I found Bones ahead of us as we walked around the atrium, dancing, hitting the small wall on the edge of the sidewalk, bouncing off kicking his heels. It was a mini Singing In The Rain.
I wish I was joking, alas I'm not.
We're not hearing the music he hears. But he's hearing it loud and clear.
And his logic... we laugh.
With Bones always dancing ahead of us, we've come to realize we could get separated. Usually I'm all over him about 'stay with THIS family' or as he wanders to another group of people, yelling after him, "Bones! THAT is NOT your Family!" I typically have a 'meet place' should he end up not with us. But in this big round atrium, I figured we'd find each other eventually.
Bones was not so sure. A couple hours into our visit, he looked at me and said,"Mom, we need a plan. Where are we going to meet if we get separated?" which translates to "Where do we meet if I dance too far ahead, turn around, and you're not there?"
And the following conversation occurred between Mr. T and Bones.
Mr. T: I think we should meet at Haagen Daaz.
Bones: That's a terrible idea! Why would we want to meet in a dark, cold ice cream store?
Mr. T: What? Are you kidding! You'd be surrounded by ice cream! It's a HAPPY place to meet!
Bones: Yeah, but you have no money, so you can't buy ice cream, so it makes it sad. And lonely.
Me: Fine. Meet in the lobby of the hotel...
Which... we actually nearly had to do.
He was too busy dancing to music we don't hear...
Do you remember how I said that Ringo and I have a running discussion about how Bones doesn't live on the same planet of the rest of us and that his world is butterflies and rainbows?
And how we wonder what it's like to be on that planet?
And how we laugh?
Well, Ringo has NEVER said a word about it to anyone and today one of his best buddies got in the car and said, as we were discussing Bones, "Mrs. L, Bones just doesn't live in our world. He's a funny little kid. I think his world is made of blue skies and clouds made of cotton candy..."
And at that Ringo and I looked at each other and busted out laughing.
Bones is in his drama camp this week and is in HEAVEN. Not only is there cheese pizza every day for lunch, snack twice a day, but he's acting like a... a... an acting fool! He's making a music video and is supposed to be in some dance production at the end of the week.
He's having a blast.
My Tech Lead and I have known each other for more than half my life. I tell people, "We grew up together." I spend more time with him than I do with my husband, but that's pretty common when you work, spending more time with the folks you work with than your spouse.
So my TL knows me pretty well.
Today was a sparse day at work. He's coming off a huge project that has absolutely kicked his ass, I'm in and out, trying to get stuff done, and everyone else is as well, if they aren't on vacation.
So when it's just my TL and I, just about anything is discussed. (We're not crude people... so don't go there.) And.. we're completely random. We don't even try to follow trains of thought when we're talking at times. We can both go all over the road and we just just... go with it.
We know each other as well as some brothers and sisters do, I suspect.
And we laugh a lot... together and AT each other.
Today we were in our respective cubes, and we had the following conversation as I heard his lone voice directed at me from his cube.
TL: Have you ever watched Myth busters?
Me, having no clue where this came from, and not caring: I have a couple times, but it's my BOYS' favorite show.
TL: I love that show.
Me: There are a few shows like that that they like...
*conversation proceeded to all these various shows from Timewarp, to some weird show where mythical warriors fight to the death, and survival shows*
TL: So on Mythbusters they were asked what they wanted in the future. *laughing* Like every guy said, "flying cars". *laughs harder*
Me: *laughing* figures. Flying cars...
TL: But then they ask this woman and she says *in girly voice* "I want there to be chocolate with no calories and no fat, and full of anti-oxidants so it can prevent cancer". *laughing again* All I kept thinking was, "I work with that girl!* Bwhahahahahaha!
I thought that was hysterical. He's got me pegged...
Bones didn't want to leave of course. Mr. Drama told us, "Dad, we need to stay. It's the right thing to do...". Right.
I informed him I needed to go to work and check email for status on some projects I'm working on and that Pop is still in the hospital. We need to check on him. The longer he's in there the more worried we are.
Besides, our comp rooms are over! Time to go home!!!
I'm typing this on my husband's iPad. I have decided I like raised keyboards too much. I find the iPad unfriendly for blogging.
We are beginning to think that Pop has been suffering from edema for a long time and none of us was aware. He hasn't seen his feet in... 20 years? We're starting to piece things together and it's disturbing.
On Wednesday I stopped by his apt to pick up his mail. I decided to stop by the nurse's station. As I told my sister-in-law, I was just as pissed as I had been on Sunday night. That's really not a good sign. For me to be angry that long does not bode well for the recipient... Sarcastic and condescending doesn't even touch the surface. I said to Lee, "it doesn't matter how I play out the conversation in my head, in the end I'm frickin rude as hell and I have to resist the urge to punch someone in the face.".
I walked in and there sat the REGIONAL director of nursing. I took this as a sign from God that I had someone high up on the food chain to hear me out. I didn't want to blow it.
She seemed genuinely aghast, more so when I showed her the pictures I'd taken in the hospital. They are starting an investigation. As civil as I was, my parting shot to her when I left was, "And I want you to know that every single healthcare provider at the hospital that is taking care of my fil knows of what has occurred. I have made sure that I have told every doctor and every nurse that I have come across of this facility's incredible negligence. They seem suitably horrified.". And with that...I left.
We just passed a store front called "Louse calls" head lice removal.
Is there such a problem in Orlando that someone thought they could make a living picking lice from people's heads? Yuck.
My cousin came to visit us in the hotel with her sweet little babies. She has an 18 mo old and a 2 mo old. Both boys. I loved on them for two days and I have decided people need to just keep having babies so I can love on them all.
It was wonderful.
So... let's see... 2 years ago I was buying baby clothes for my sister's then unborn baby and the woman at the store asked me, "Buying for a grandchild?"
That was ghastly.
Then yesterday, as I put my cousin back in her truck, got the babies all situated in their carseats, I said to the Valet, "Please put this on my hotel room bill."
I received my hotel bill and on that day's charges it said, "Daughter's Valet".
My cousin looks like a young Reese Witherspoon. She's all of 4'10" and before children weighed 89 lb. She MIGHT hit 100 now. She is tiny.
I texted her about the bill and she said I really shouldn't worry, that most people think she looks 16 and since I have a 15 year old, it's OK. Besides, she said I should be more worried that I'm a bad parent that my 16 year old already has two kids...
... which really was dang funny. It was.
But in the back of my head I'm thinking, "Two points don't make a trend but..." I suspect I'm starting to look grandmotherly. It wouldn't bother me if I WAS one... but I'm not.
So yeah, it's bugging me a bit.
I'm eliminating white flour from my diet again. I added it back, gained most of the weight back and am also exhibiting early signs of arthritis in my hands. (Both my grandmothers had it in their hands... I view it as an inevitability.)
Given I evidently LOOK like a grandmother and both my grandmothers had arthritis, I figure, it had to start at some time in their lives, why not 44?
That said, I am wondering about the coincidence of adding flour and sugar back to my diet and the inflammation in my knuckles. I'm doing my own science experiment... let's see if taking it back OUT of my diet makes the discomfort go away...
I got 8 inches cut off my hair. I have a Mom haircut now. I'm still getting used to it. Yeah, I'll post before and after... you can tell me if I look like a grandmother.
Can you tell that's kind of irritating me? Just a bit?
I barely make it through a night without having to use the restroom. I have eliminated nearly all liquid consumption before bed, in particular decaf coffee, and I can usually make it to about 5AM.
At this hotel we were staying in, our room overlooked an indoor atrium. Right under our window was a waterfall. Let me tell you, it is TOUGH making it through the night without having to pee when you're hearing a waterfall ALL NIGHT LONG. Don't get me wrong, I slept well when I slept, but dang, I kept having dreams of having to pee.
I'll skip the waterfalls next time...
When you become a mother, you really appreciate all your folks did for you. You really do... the sleepless nights, the worry, the hardwork.
But, I think I decided this week, that what I appreciate most about my Mom, is how hard she has had to work to keep her girlish figure and to look as dang good as she looks.
It's a constant battle!
Yet it's a battle she has always won and I have a frickin' HUGE respect for her... just on that alone.
Then again, as my husband has been apt to say, "Bou, it's not fair to use your mother as a yardstick for the rest of the American Women. It's not fair to them. Your Mom just looks so damn great."
I'm obsessing over what car to get in 2 years. Since whatever car I get in 2 years is currently being built NOW (I buy used), every new car I see on the road, I wonder, "Can I see myself in THAT car? What kind of gas mileage does it get?"
Right now I'm waffling between a Ford Escape and an Audi A3 TDI (with a great warranty because Audi reliability SUCKs past 50K.)
And lastly, a gift for my buddy, Jimbo.
A little background... my husband's convention was at the Gaylord Palms in Orlando. If you click to the picture of the inside of the hotel, what you find is it's one HUGE round hotel and in the middle is an enormous atrium. It's very fun.
As you walk around the atrium you see all the special plant life they're growing, koi ponds... and...
For Jimbo. My Gator Fan.
Right smack in the middle of the atrium.
I told the boys... "This is for Jimbo..."
Love you, Jim!!!
Leaving for Orlando tomorrow night for a few days. My husband has a lecture to give so we're all going.
Pop is still in the hospital. He's in poor spirits. This whole thing appears renal related, but nobody is sure exactly what has caused his edema issues. Believe it or not, it is thought to be Advil related... we'll see.
My eldest is in NC with a buddy of his and his buddy's family, on vacation at a beach house. There are like 40 people there; it is an annual trek.
According to his short texts, he appears to be having fun.
There is a girl in attendance who evidently doesn't like him much. It would appear that at the beginning of the school year, he was at lunch with french fries and she asked to have some. He said no, not until he was finished. She got pissed.
She's hated him ever since. He said, "She thinks I'm snippy. I offered her the rest when I was finished, but she's still pissed."
I told him, "Don't sweat it. She just doesn't get it yet. Asking to share a teenage boy's food is like taking a dogs dish away from him when he's trying to eat. No good can come of it."
We have taken to calling her, "French Fry girl". Evidently things are patched up with French Fry girl now and all is good.
Watch him marry French Fry girl one day.
I'm exhausted and this is summer? I'm working split shift to get my hours in and its ragging me out. I need sleep.
I'm getting my hair cut tomorrow. Whether its long enough to donate or not, the hair is coming off. Last time she said I didn't have 8 inches. I said I did. One of us is mistaken as to what 8 inches looks like... and it's not me.
The hair comes off tomorrow.
If you happen to purchase for your child, the Banzai Cannonball Splash Water Slide, you MUST own an air compressor. It is suggested in the directions, but there is no suggesting about it.
I started today, blowing that sucker up with old fashioned air from my lungs. As I fiddled with it I realized.. it was going to take about 400,000 lungs of air to fill all the places up that need to be filled.
We had a compressor in the garage and it still took 30 minutes to fill.
And the directions suck. Mr. T and I deciphered them.
That said, the boys had a blast. Two thumbs up. Just make sure you have an air compressor.
I haven't been down to my fil's assisted living facility as I've not had time and I'm actually afraid I'll hurt someone. I need more time...
I'm beat. Good night.
Bones birthday was both wonderful and stressful.
Quickly, someone had asked, yes, special dinner as I always make a special dinner for birthdays! Per his request, homemade chicken pot pie, with yellow cake and my chocolate buttercream frosting, that he swears is the best chocolate frosting ever, and to which my reply is, "Anything with two sticks of butter, four cups of confectioner's sugar and chocolate, is bound to be dang good."
So it was hotter than three hells in my kitchen as I was putting dinner in the oven and my husband was making clams for an appetizer (per Bone's request) when Pop rolled in and the rest of the family followed. That's when I heard my brother in law say, "Dad. You're still all swollen. Did you see the doctor? What did he say?"
Now, it may sound like a brow beating, and it was, but it's because getting information from my father in law is like coaxing a conversation from a teenage boy. You know there are thoughts in that head, but they just aren't going to come out.
And I don't know what it is. I can't figure out if he does it for the attention? Is he trying to be some sort of martyr? He wants to seem sicker than he is so people worry and fuss?
I don't know.
But it irritates the ever living stew out of me.
But I'm taking note now of this conversation between father and son in my living room, because something sounds different and as crazy busy I am, I realize, I need to be collecting data. I hear this going on for quite awhile, my husband goes over and joins in and I continue to listen, until finally, I notice my husband is back in the kitchen, looking stressed and withdrawn.
I look at him and say, "You have to take him to the ER after supper."
He replied, "I went there mentally already..."
That's the beautiful thing about being married to me, there is no floating down any rivers of denial. I rip that bandaid right off. Tell it like it is. Blunt and insensitive. Put it out there so everyone can see it big as day.
He was in his 'trying to cope' mode as his life is crazy hectic too and now he's trying to figure out how he's going to fit an ER run into our lives, this being Bones' birthday, and with a HUGE lecture coming up on Thursday, and the business being rather busy, and... it would be all him. No other siblings would help him. As always... it would be my husband's responsibility to make things right. (I help. I went to see Pop three times today.)
At the end of dinner, I sat down on the floor and took off Pop's shoe and then peeled off his sock. His ankle was swollen to 3x it's size and his calfs and shins were so swollen and red, it looked that if you poked them, they might pop.
He had become the poster child for serious edema and how in the hell the health care workers that look after him hadn't caught it, left me speechless.
I rubbed his feet, checked for circulation, made sure he had feeling and no sores. I looked up at him and said, "Pop, this is terrible. You have cellulitis. The swelling... this is indicative of some seriously bad stuff. Look at your arms... they're bad too."
We'd been discussing it all night, potential for renal issues, congestive heart failure symptoms, but my sitting there at his feet, rubbing them, touching his legs, I was so angry. This had been going on for A WEEK!
He started to cry, "I don't want to go to the ER..."
I looked up at him, foot in hand and said, 'Pop, you have two choices. You can have him take you tonight or you have to wait two days when he has time. I think in two days they won't be able to fix you. So I guess your choice is... you go tonight... or you die."
Immediately the tears turned off and he said, "OK." And off they went.
I related this story to a girlfriend of mine who said she sees it too with her grandfather who is in in 90s. One minute he's saying he wishes he was with her grandmother (dead 20 years) and the next minute he's all panicked he's seriously sick.
I said to her, 'Oh yeah. "Oh Lord, why do you make me suffer?! I just wish you would take me now!" But dang, once that Grim Reaper's shadow even appears to be at his doorstep, it becomes, 'No! You go away! Come back another day! I'm not ready!"
And so he sits in the hospital, this being his 2nd night, hooked up to Lasex trying to get the fluid out of his body, kidney issues are questioned, congestive heart failure appears to be ruled out, big ticket items checked off the list as 'no', nobody really knowing what's going on, just agreeing something isn't right. (I have my suspicions, but we'll see what the real doctors think.)
I can't help but think we're seeing a window into the future of what will ultimately take him. It won't be the Parkinson's, it won't be heart, it won't be a stroke, but I get this feeling it will be a systematic shut down of sorts. He's 84... and I think that his innards are just worn out.
If that makes sense.
Hell, I could be wrong. It could be 20 more years, but last night... didn't look so good.
We shall see...
Today is Bones' Birthday. He is 11.
I laugh about his birth mainly because it was a 'been there done that' deal for me. The doctor had been to this dance with me twice before, but it was all new nurses. I wasn't in the least bit nervous with this one, although he promised to be bigger and give me many more issues.
A few highlights... I had one bad labor, one easy labor and then this one. I walked in having labored at home for quite awhile, the nurse said to me, "You're at 4 cm" and I looked at my husband and said, "Get me an epidural."
I knew what was coming and none of it was good. (The first one was drugs after 19 hours of hard labor, the second one was no drugs after about 3 hours and I saw this one coming like a freight train...)
The nurse freaked when my blood pressure dropped to 60/30. I kept trying to calm her down as all sorts of whistles and bells went off, oxygen mask around my face, people running in and out. I took her hand and said, 'Listen, it's going to be OK".
It wasn't my day to die and I knew it. I remember she was freaked and I was just like, "Whatever."
And the last thing was when they realized my baby was sunny side up, kind of lodged on my hip and... big. The new nurse I had was an older nurse (thank God). She said, "This isn't good. They like to do Csections for stuff like this."
It was just she and I in the room from what I can remember. I took her hand and said, "Listen to me, I have two babies at home now already. I don't have help. I don't have family here. I can't afford for anyone to be cutting on me, so you tell me what needs to be done to get this baby out of me and let's do it."
And so we did.
That's what I remember. A good labor. It had the potential to be scary, but it was my third and it wasn't. The bonus of having 'been there done that', you don't get all bunched up.
Bones has never been like the others. He's always been crazy active and funny as all get out. I think my Nana would have loved knowing him. I think about that a lot. My Dad likes to say, "He's a funny little kid."
He's always had that glint of trouble in his eye. He was my mischievous one. He's the one that at age 2 I would tell people, 'He's already been through 3 lives. If he's like a cat and has 9, I figure by this rate, he'll be dead by age 6.'
It was from him I learned... cellulose does not digest. (Southern Living magazine, photos of hydrangeas were found mixed in a diaper once. Outstanding.)
It was from him I learned that toddlers can bounce and ricochet. (Bounced OFF the couch, ricocheted off the sliding glass door and took out a table. Loved that.)
It was from him I have learned... the unending patience you can find for your own child, when you think you might surely scream and everyone else is done.
He has taught me more about myself, than any other person on this Earth. In 11 years... I have become a different person because of him and him alone.
He is my Bones.
Happy Birthday, Baby. Should all the children be so blessed to be as loved as you are… for if they were, I suspect the problems of this world would be so very different… We love you so.
This year was the hardest year of parenting that I can recollect. So much never makes it on here. I try to remember only the good, because I'm trying hard for the bad to not leave a mark upon my soul.
Parenting is so dang hard.
This year, I swear I've never been so humiliated. Things I've never put out here, nor will I ever, making me eight shades of embarrassed, praying that the ground will just swallow me up. Things I share with no one... what happens in the family, stays in the family.
I have a coworker whose wife just had a baby. They make me laugh quietly to myself, so much control they think they have over their lives. You want a lesson in losing control? Have yourself some kids. You'll realize quickly that the Master of your Domain, you aren't.
He started with, 'Our baby is coming early' to which I smiled sweetly and said, "Robert, everyone thinks their baby is coming early. They don't."
It went to, "Modern medicine interferes too much. We aren't doing all that, we're going with a midwife." I smiled sweetly and said, "Yeah, it's a nice thought, but sometimes it doesn't work out that way..."
He said, "Oh we've planned our entire birth and how it's going to be..." and he described about it being at home with a warm bath and on and on. I smiled sweetly and said, "Yeah, I had my birth for my first planned out as well..."
Nothing ever goes as planned. Notice I didn't say I had my birth planned for my subsequent children. I'd learned. From the minute you find yourself pregnant, you might as well learn right then who's in control. Oh sure, you can guide and plan, but in the blink of an eye, everything goes sideways and you're looking for back up plans and Hail Mary passes.
Their baby was born safe and sound, a week past due date, by Csection, in a hospital, by a surgeon, no warm bath involved.
I said to my co-workers, "And let the games begin!"
My first birth going wonky was just the beginning and ever since I've been on some crazy rollercoaster, that I spend half the time relishing and the other half praying it will stop.
Lately I've been praying for stopping more often. This is the first year I've had to pray so fervently for strength as the scientific fight or flight had taken over way too many times, with flight nearly winning until the voice of reason needled in my heart, "Good Mamas don't run. They stay..."
Otherwise, I'd be gone. I feel certain. If I had an ounce of insanity within this brain, I'd have run. Far away.
But I'm here.
I spend a lot of time asking my boys, "What do you want to do? Where do you see yourself in five years?" I don't ask this of Bones, obviously, because the boy can't figure out what he wants in five hours, let alone five years. It's a combination of his being too young and there not being a linear thought in that flaky blonde head.
The child is a scattershot. Connect all the dots and you might as well be looking at the random travel stops of a fly. It makes no sense.
But my other boys, I get feedback.
"Mom, I want to go to Suncoast and study math science and engineering" comes one reply, and I try to set into motion, with push back from some school admin, anything that is required to make it happen, including him taking a course this summer with me as his personal tutor. I will go against my natural grain and try to be diplomatic and patient as I try to wheedle my way to make it happen for him.
"I have no clue, Mom. No clue. In five years? I want to go to school where it snows", comes one answer. I reply with, "Well, we need better grades if you're going somewhere where is snows." He remains thoughtful, "Do you think Son#4 still wants to go to Boston College? I could do that..." I look over at him, as we're in the car (of course) and say, "Mmm. Not sure. But, he has the grades to get into BC. Baby, you don't. You need to study more..."
"I want to go to Georgia Tech and study engineering, Mom", is another response. I set about doing research, where is the best place for him to go to high school and get into GT? What type of SATs are required? What does he need to do to help him test better, should he be reading more? I research what kinds of books he needs to help his reading comprehension and vocabulary. I talk to parents whose kids get accepted to GT and those that don't, and I look for a pattern.
"I think, maybe, I'd like to be a heart surgeon" pops out of the mouth of one son. I sit there thinking, mulling, pondering, "Well, you need more A's. You don't become a surgeon without more A's, son. We need to work harder and take more science." I start thinking about who to call for him to observe surgery. He's volunteering at a hospital this summer... I'm hoping I can see if he can observe on live TV or something.
"Mom, I want to get married out of college. I think I want kids around age 28" comes one off the wall reply one afternoon. I sit there speechless. He continues, "I want to be a young parent..." I think of my sister in law and brother in law who just had a baby at ages 44 and 47. I reply, "Well, I can't help you much with that. We'll have to see how that works out for you... "
"Mom, I've been thinking I want to understand the economy and how this stock thing works..." and he asks detailed questions wondering exactly what you do if you get your degree in Finance. I text a buddy of mine who has his degree in Finance out in CA and is sharp as nails. He texts me back, surprised at the details of the questions my son asks and provides a good long answer. I hand the phone to my son, so he can read and comprehend on his own.
With Bones, I'm at a loss. Every day... I'm lost. I try, my husband works with him at night, I wring my hands, I worry and I say to myself, "This is the kid who could fail out of high school. Will anyone help us?"
I already have him in the high risk category. I've gotten him the lessons to help him get into the school he belongs in, but we're so afraid he's going to fail out. I pray every night, "Dear Lord, please let us pass. Please let him remember to turn in his work. Please let him stay organized when he's out of our reaches. Please let the light turn on so he can learn..."
I call the ESE specialist already, paperwork in hand, trying to head it off. She tells me to wait until FCAT trials in the Fall... they'll reassess when they see how he does in the FCATs. They can get him help when they see for themselves.
I feel the sinking in my gut. My humiliation for him. He cannot pass a standardized test. He never has. I tell her that over the phone. She simply says they have to see it.
I take a deep breath and say I understand. They'll be hearing from me in the Fall.
And this summer we work on reading, and we work on finally hammering down his multiplication tables, and we work on fractions, and how they work, and I am the cheerleader when he says, 'I CAN'T DO THIS! WHY IS MATH SO HARD?" as inside I realize, he might as well be looking at heiroglyphics, numbers make no sense to him.
And I wonder to myself, "What lesson are you teaching me, Lord? Giving me a child that does not understand numbers is like giving Faulkner a child that will never learn to read nor appreciate the nuances of language."
And I pray for no phone calls next year. I pray that I get a teacher who wants to help instead of with her arms crossed over her chest wondering what kind of parent I am to have a child like Bones.
I want to scream at them how I love him to the depths of my soul and how I will die for him, that they have to look a little closer, a little bit harder, for they would see it too. They would see the goodness within him and want to help.
I pray an awful lot.
And next year will be no different.
This year left marks. I pray that next year... doesn't.
Nobody ever told me that raising children was so gut wrenchingly hard. Or maybe they did... and I just didn't get it.
I'm a believer now.
Let me start by saying that Mr. T won as Student Council President on Thursday! Woot! He was excited, never having won a race. It was a good day...
Now to recap this school year:
The end of school has finally arrived and it could not have come soon enough. There were great highs and lows... and it varied from child to child.
This was a learning year for Ringo. He'd never had semester exams before, for the first time he was with kids who were on the same plane with him intellectually and in classes that were being taught to his level. There was considerable maturity in realizing what he really has to do to make the grade at the level he wants to succeed in.
He took up the double bass, learned how to read bass clef, was accepted into the Jazz Band which was 9/10 Juniors and Seniors, he made great friends, was nominated by his BS Troop for Order of the Arrow, and made decent grades.
He created goals for himself for next year. He is aspiring... and it was a very good year.
It was a most excellent year for Mr. T. As I said, he WON as President for Student Council!!! Woot!!! He is so excited and has all sorts of plans. I'm sure it'll be blogged on more, but he's already talking about how to raise money for various philanthropies, getting the word out to students better, and polling them as to what they want. He's already mulling over things he'd like to talk to the Principal about, trying to get a better understanding of what can and cannot be done, presenting him ideas.
He made NJHS, was selected as Assistant Patrol Leader for his Troop, was nominated for Order of the Arrow, and really loved school. He truly loves his school although he wishes his Science teacher would get her act together, and I think it really showed.
He is growing in every way. He's nearly caught up to Ringo, so I've taken to calling him Stretch.
Overall, it was not a great year for Bones again. This is the 2nd year where he has left school with his teachers either frustrated or hating him. Last year at least one of his teachers (out of two) still loved him and wanted to do nothing but help, but this year ended with both ready to be rid of him and that's a tough pill to swallow for anyone.
He will forever remember these three teachers (last year's 4th and this past year's two 5th grade teachers) as the worst educational experience. If you ask him, he'll flat tell you he hated 4th and 5th grade, and then with an afterthought, he'll sing the praises of the one teacher... but I have to coax it from him, so angry he is at the other three.
In fairness, I place ALL the blame from 4th grade squarely upon the shoulders of the teacher, an absolutely loser lazy dirtbag *shudder* that makes my blood boil (yes, I complained, but he is protected), may he rot, but this year, I only place 50% of the blame on the teachers.
Bones is a tough kid. He wears people down. I get that.
That's why I'm hoping for next year, having different teachers all the time, will be great for him. They are on block scheduling so he has different teachers every other day. I pray it helps keep him from wearing them down so easily.
And of course that was the big news, his getting accepted to the Middle School he NEEDED TO BE IN!!! Big news.
And even more fun, there is a 90% chance he will be singing at Carnegie Hall this April!!! Woot!
This summer promises to be a lot of work for me. I'm not thrilled, to be honest. But I'm teaching Mr. T Algebra I as he takes it this summer to try to accelerate into the premier math and science magnet his freshman year.
I'm helping to deconstruct Ringo's handwriting so next year may be a better year for him. There is hope.
And I'm reteaching Bones all his math from 5th grade since he nearly failed the class. (His fault, not the teacher's.) Fortunately, the public school has resources for me to use as we hammer home long division and fractions. He also has a lot of reading to do, so we will be working on his reading too.
In essence, there is no 'real' summer, but it won't be as bad as the school year.
I'm looking to de-stress... there is hope.
First, let me THANK every single one of you who took the time to comment and leave your suggestions and/or empathy concerning our handwriting issue with my eldest son.
I'm taking all suggestions to heart. I'm laughing because three of my girlfriends who read went into absolute overdrive and I think we may have our arms wrapped around this. I am buying a special pen to see if it helps training his hand in holding a pen/pencil, I have a potential tutor and a book for practicing (I'll be talking to him about block letters for printing as he swears his printing is worse) and I brainstormed with my one girlfriend and realized... from where most of our problems stem.
She was aghast as we figured it out... as was I.
When my eldest was in 2nd grade, there was too much to teach, so the second grade teachers dropped the handwriting curriculum. It was pushed into third grade, where they spent all of one quarter on it, if that. By fourth grade, nothing was done. Come fifth grade... the new teacher who'd just come into the school and was the language arts teacher realized she had a class full of 5th graders who could not use cursive.
If you don't know how to write in cursive, how do you read it as an adult?
She was able to squish it into two weeks, teaching them what she could, because if you don't know 5th grade, there isn't time to be spent on frickin' cursive. They named that show "Are you smarter than a 5th grader?" for a reason. It's a tough dang year... on every level, from organization to a push into independent thinking.
It's middle school prep.
In all of that, where did you read about practice?
You didn't... because there wasn't any.
He essentially taught himself on the fly, making letters the way he thought they needed to be made, not the way we would make them to be legible.
I believe, they have stopped teaching handwriting in the public schools as well.
I was at the bank three weeks ago, moving money around in my son's college savings account and it required his signature because he is over 14. The teller said to me, "Can he sign this?"
I looked at her oddly and said, "Can he? Yes, of course..."
And she said, "No, I mean, does he have a signature?"
I paused and said, "Yes. He's 15. Of course..."
She smiled and said, "I'm sorry, Mrs. L, its just that you would not believe how many kids I get in here his age who do not know cursive and don't have a signature. They only know how to print."
What in the hell are we doing to this generation?
Odder still, when I was telling my girlfriend this, she said she had a similar conversation with a woman working with her teenage son's passport!
All THREE of my children have signatures!
Seeing a need, although cursive is now introduced again in the early grades, our 5th grade teacher has the kids currntly with a handwriting workbook. They PRACTICE their cursive.
Bones has hope. Mr. 'I have to do everything Perfect" T has great handwriting, as the curriculum had been changed already as he followed behind Ringo.
But Ringo will be spending his time with a tutor from a local private school who teaches 3rd graders how to write, and she'll hopefully be able to tell us where to start the deconstruction and with practice, help him get legible.
My other girlfriend who teaches with this woman said all the teachers she spoke to were appalled that nobody had honed in on this writing weakness earlier.
As I said to her, "By the time he got to middle school, it was too late. Middle School teachers don't focus on that." And honestly, that's not their place.
It's supposed to be ironed out by then.
So let's see what happens. I'll be keeping you posted. I'll find some dreadful stuff to scan in for you to see. His writing is small and cramped and you can tell the letters are malformed.
Works in progress... we are all works in progress.
Crazy end of school stuff. This is going to be a busy summer, with a lot of change for us.
But here is a question for you, my readers, and I ask you, please feel free to talk to your friends about this because I need some data.
My eldest son has the worst handwriting I have probably ever seen. It is something he cannot help.
We don't know why it's this bad, but he has a teacher in high school that has some theories.
Me? I think it's neurological. I think this is the way his brain thinks as it tries to assimilate from brain to hand to paper what it needs to do. I think it's how he's wired.
Normally, I'd not care and I'd blow it off saying, "Phew, Thank the Good Lord he's a man of the 21st Century with computers and not a man of the 19th Century! He'd be DOOMED!"
But... he may be doomed anyway because they don't use computers in high school. He still has to write essays, take notes, take tests.
And it is... killing him. He hates it. He's become near despondent about it at times. I'll pick him up from school and say, "How was your day?" and his response is a quiet staring out the window summed up with a "It sucked. My handwriting sucks. I can't read my notes. I hate this."
Nine times out of ten, his entire day is ruined by the fact he can't write.
He has tried tricks... printing, no cursive. Pen, no pencil.
But when it's as bad as his is, dang, it doesn't matter if the boy uses big thick red crayons to draw hieroglyphics, bad is bad.
So my summer mission FOR HIM is to get his handwriting or printing improved so that he and his teachers can actually read it. He's up for the challenge. That's how bad it is... he's so upset by it, he'll seek help if I tell him it will work.
I think I need to talk to an Occupational Therapist.
Do any of you have personal experience with this? Have you ever tried to change your handwriting/printing? Where does one start?
To tell you how bad it is... it's already affecting his performance in school. His Spanish teacher doesn't want to put him in Honors Spanish II, because she thinks he is lazy. (He is, but not in the ways she thinks.) She told him he never takes notes so he must not be interested.
He never takes notes because he thinks they are complete waste of time. He said, "I can't even read them later. WHY BOTHER?"
My response was, "BECAUSE YOU HAVE TO PLAY THE GAME! If you take notes, they think you give a crap. Plus, if you take notes, when your Spanish class is at 7:50 in the morning on Monday, it'll help keep you awake."
How many of us took notes from here until Sunday JUST to stay awake in class?! Good grief, between that and calculating the square footage and then the volume of a room, I'd like to have never stayed awake...
Anyway, so what say you? Advice? I'm collecting data...