Entries Tagged 'Panicking' ↓

Watching Us

The thing about kids growing up is that they get to be a lot less difficult to have around. And when it gets easier, I think they may be paying more attention to us than ever before. And it scares me.

ListeningI have always loved having my kids around but, you know, when they are 3 and tantruming up a tornado of crazy, they might just be a bit more “work” than they are at 10. When they are 3, you are on duty and always watching with your guard up and, when you put them to bed at night, you admit so much relief because you have a few hours to be you and not some hard-core routine enforcer.

At 10 (and even 7), it’s different. You can relax some. Suddenly you can sleep in, and your kids can get what they need out of the frig. The tantrums come less often and conversations become more two-sided. In fact, your kids aren’t as much work as they were before and you can kind of “do you” while they hang out do their thing.

You let your guard down some. You don’t feel so “parent-ish” ALL the time. When the kids are quiet and cool, it feels OK to be more true to who you are and what you do. And suddenly, in that moment when you are most relaxed and laughing and talking to the people around you, you look over and realize that they are watching and listening to you more than they ever have before.

Oh shit.

We recently went to the beach with a group of friends for an over-night. We had a great time and the kids tagged right along. I was saying to my husband later that it didn’t even feel like we had “kids” there because it just wasn’t hard work. They never complained, they laughed along with us, they enjoyed the beach, the hung out with our circle of friends in the water, they watched TV when we did, they came along to dinner and sat patiently (ish) when dinner was late, and they went to bed quietly, probably listening to all the grown-up talk outside the window just like I did when I was a kid.

But here’s the thing. We all sweared. And enjoyed a few “adult beverages” around them. We said what we said and I am not sure we censored ourselves drastically. I don’t think we talked about too much that was very inappropriate but what if I said something off-handed about a person’s really bad tattoo as they were walking by. (I’m not sure that I did but I know I have, the beach has some bad tat art, it’s always something to behold.) What if I was a little bit mean? My kids were there, saying very little, careful to be considered part of the group, and they were eves-dropping the entire time.

I think now is a time when we need to be very, VERY careful.

If I think that I am my most influential as a parent when I am lecturing them about the ideals of right and wrong in the car while we go to the grocery store… I AM WRONG. That’s the stuff that they tune it out.

My kids are watching how I treat people when they serve us dinner in a restaurant. Or when I lose my temper over a broken grocery bag and swear. Or when I talk on the phone about another person on the porch and they are beside me reading a book. They are watching every move, drawing so much less attention to themselves now and getting closer to the person I REALLY am. And they are archiving it all away as an example of how to be.

People, when your kids get older, they see you for who you are, to the core. You won’t be able to bullshit them. Don’t think that you can. Don’t think you can tell them some tale of how kids should be and adults should be and try to convince them that you don’t swear or make fun of people’s bad tattoos WHEN YOU DO.

I love that my kids are more grown up. I love getting to know them as older people who suddenly have opinions and reasonable suggestions and remind me about appointment dates and know directions to places. That’s cool! They are so much less work and so much more fun.

But I can’t let the fun fool me. And I had BETTER not let my guard down and try to play the “my kids are my best friends” routine. It’s easy to do, they want you to be their friends. And you kind of can be. But, ultimately, you are their example and their compass for right and wrong. As they grow, I can NOT take this for granted or forget that when they are good, and sitting nicely… they are listening to and watching everything. EVERYTHING. So I had better make it count. And be the person I want them to be. I can’t tell them how to be good human. I can only show them how to do it. And showing someone how to be GOOD, when parents are so damn fallible in every way, is a very scary reality to face.

So, maybe it isn’t easier. This is a stage of parenting that challenges the person I have decided to be. And I think that’s how it always will be, even when they are adults.

OK then.

*Checking moral center and game face in the mirror.*

This whole parenting thing just got real.

 

The Priviledge of 40

I am turning 40.

Yeah, yeah. I know.

“Do not regret growing older. It is a priviledge denied by many.”

I’m on Pinterest. I see that quote all the time. And I agree with it 100%. But still, you guys. I’m staring at 40.

In the months leading up to this, I’ve been very resigned about it. It’s no big deal. Just an age. But now… IT’S HERE. You know as well as I do that all the “40th birthday” decorations in the Party Store involve being over a particular hill and gravestones and senior-related things. It’s totally dumb and I’m far from gravestones. But this birthday has a certain reputation still. So, before I freak out unnecesarily, it’s time to write myself a list of why 40 is juuuust fine. No biggee.

1. I am very much alive and well. My ticker runs well enough, my mammograms have been clear, all systems are status quo and I am actually somewhat in shape (ish). (Don’t count the chips and wine and cookies and shit I enjoy daily from time to time.) I count my lucky stars for all of this.

2. I have been bountiful. I’m not saying I’m some supah-stah and I certainly haven’t found a cure for cancer and I’m not saving starving children around the world. But… I have produced two children. From my body. And I they have been fed food everyday and they are potty-trained and can read books. Excuse me while I go take my victory lap. That stuff is BIG.

3. I am a productive member of society. Again, I know I am not shooting out the lights as some big-wig exec, nor is my name actually IN lights, but I am in the process of rebuilding my career after 8 years at home, I am doing something I enjoy and I am providing for my family the best way I know how. Boom.

4. I know more stuff. At 23, I had no idea. Yes, I was college educated and full of self-indulgent, super woman piss and vinegar. I thought I knew stuff. Kind of. But deep down I was very insecure and had no idea about bills and life and death and talking to idoits who are trying to sell you a load of crap. A lot of things that used to freak me out just don’t anymore. I LIKE not freaking out and knowing how things work.

5. I know my future. Well, for the most part. Back to my early 20s again, that was a time of all sorts of stress and fear of the unknown. What am I doing with my life? Where should I live? Shouldn’t I get married soon? When should I buy a house? How could I ever afford to buy a house? When do I have kids because I have to have kids and I am 7 years from 30 which is ANCIENT and I need to plan because I have to have kids OH MY GOD I want to have kids and I don’t know when I’m going to have kids!!! I don’t have to deal with ANY of that crap any more. I have been blessed with a great partner and kids and a house and it’s all good. (Phewphewphewphewphewphewphewphewphew. Phew.)

6. It’s a little bit, sort’ve my turn. I spent the majority of my 30s tending to my children. No complaints at all, it’s what I spent my 20s freaking out about working towards. But, now they can kind of self-sustain long enough that I can sleep in a bit on the weekends or write this blog post. I don’t expect that they will get “easier” per se. (Wait a second. Cue that 20s freak out over their upcoming teens years. And let me rethink my “I know stuff” swagger above because I’m not sure what I will do when they sneak my car keys and crash the car and say mean things and decide they don’t want to go to college. I don’t know anything about THAT stuff. At all.) But I do think there is more room for me to have a moment from time to time. Maybe with my husband. Maybe I can be a wee bit more selfish in my 40s. Maybe.

7. I waste my time less. Let’s get back to those Pinterest quote posts.

“The trouble is, we think we have time.”

Time runs out. Our time is not forever. This is an important thing to know. And it’s something I embrace and know for a fact (my mother died 23 years after she turned 40). So I try very hard not to waste my time or energy on things that just don’t matter. Or on people that suck the life right out of you. Or worry over things I can’t change. Or really care about drama. No time people. Onward.

8. The glass really is half full. No, really. People, there is a lot of stuff left to do. There is still so much to see. It’s not over! I can practically hear all of my friends and family over 40 shaking their heads and telling me this is no big deal. Get ON with living. There is so much left to go. Stop fixating on this number. It’s time to put my big girl panties on, get out of the junior section in life and proudly own the years and experience I have aquired. I lived 40 years and I did it pretty well, right?

So. What’s next?

Peas, Carrots and Picky Eaters

My guess is that feeding a child may be one of the most complex processes in parenting. There is so much wrapped up in it, you know? It was the first thing we were instructed to do as parent after all. Feed your baby. Make sure he eats and then poops and thrives. If you can’t make that happen, well, what good are you?

But then they grow up and get notions and opinions about their food. How dare they. And we become crazed with the possibility that they will fail to thrive if they don’t eat their carrots. Oh yes, we are quite sure that their lack of carrot servings, and the resulting cases of scurvy and the rest, will reflect on our abilities to parent.

We insist that they eat.

They want control.

And there you have the ultimate child-parent stand-off. Well, after potty-training and before anything to do with puberty at least.

I am NOT one of those brilliant mothers who has managed to have my child consume foie gras and smoked salmon before he could talk. Some moms can and do this. Yay for them. But this has not been the case in my household. (And I am sure it has nothing to do with the fact that I can’t stand foie gras and smoked salmon, either.)

My six year old started out his toddler years detesting bread. And then he didn’t. He detested meat of all types. And then he could do processed nuggets. And then we banned nuggets and he swallowed down REAL chicken with ginormous swallows of water. Such. Torture. Then he liked chicken.

6 years of this. He always kind of, sort of comes around… after many, many torturous tries.

And tonight, it was Shepherd’s Pie.

HOW DARE I.

Sure, each item (meat, potatoes, simple veggies) are tolerable apart. But together? WOE! DRAMA! TEARS!

“You’re going to make me dead with that food!!!!!” His exact words yelled at me while I stood there, still in rumpled work clothes, pans deep in the makings and hair standing straight out from the steam from the boiling potatoes…

Cue daggers springing from my eyes and muttered prayers to hold me back from putting my child out on the curb with the recycling.

So here we go. Let another stand-off commence. My child’s job tonight was to eat this. (And YES, if he did, he could eat a left-over Valentine’s day treat that I had meant to chuck out weeks ago.)

Oh. The horror.

And then I sat in front of him. Eating my own DELICIOUS serving. And taking pictures of his reaction for you all to enjoy. Consider it my revenge for the hour long whining while I slaved over that hot stove (because I DID, dammit).

So. Guess what? After a little time and numerous attempts… he liked it.

He ate the whole damn thing. THE WHOLE THING.

Ha-HAAAHHHHH!!!!! Mommy SUCCESS!!! Let me enjoy this moment. He did it! He will live and thrive another day!

…while he eats a nasty pack of fun-dip (shudder… the devil’s food… gah) and rots all those new little kid teeth right out of his head. But they rot away with PEAS AND CARROTS IN HIS BELLY.

*highfivehighfivehighfivehighfive*

Letting My Kids Out Of The Car

When I got home on Friday, and folded my boys into my arms, my youngest wrapped his fingers around one of mine — like an infant would. It felt so unbearably familiar and dear. I have loved them both fiercely since that was the only way they could hold on. It’s instinctive. It’s rooted in our deepest connection. It’s all I know.

****

I don’t think it was just me. In the restaurant that night, I think every parent clung to their child while waiting for a table. My kids got chocolate milk and coins for those damn machines and anything they wanted on the menu. And then, after dinner, we walked around the Christmas trees and laughed and loved and actually sang Christmas carols and held hands. So did everyone else. I don’t think it was just me.

****

It’s like they just knew. They both bounded into our bed early on Saturday morning and trailed us to the kitchen. They demanded snuggles. They sat by us. They wanted to play cards and games and wrap presents and do whatever we were doing. At one point, I had both children (6 and 9!) on my lap while I did work. They hugged so hard I had to tell them to stop because it hurt. We kept the news off this entire weekend but it’s like they knew.

****

The school superintendent called this afternoon. He said the schools were safe. He said there are resources for discussing it with our children. He said we needed to go back to our routines tomorrow. He said guidance counselors would be available all week. He said the school staff will take care of our children. I hung up the phone and watched my boys chase and tackle each other in our backyard on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.

****

I let my oldest watch President Obama make his speech in Newtown tonight. Our president explained how our children are our nation’s dearest treasure. I want my son to know his safety IS valued by our president, by our entire country. He watched and wrapped his arms around me. I think he was trying to comfort me.

****

I lost nobody on Friday. My children are perfectly here, breathing and complaining and laughing and wonderful. But this stopped me in a way only very few tragedies have. However I can from afar, I am grieving deeply with each of those parents. DEEPLY. This tragedy has rocked me, and just about everyone I know, to the core.

I have nothing to offer here, no lesson learned, or respectful understanding about the laws of nature right now. Nope.

I just know that tomorrow, I will tell my kids it’s just another school day. And I will pack them into the car. And make sure science projects are ready and reindeer ears are in place for holiday activities. And drive onto the school grounds. And get in line with the other cars. And then, I will let them step out of the car and away from me. As they do every single day.

We are doing our very best. I know that. All of us. Parents, educators, first responders.

We are blessed by amazing faculty who don’t know me but would do anything to protect my babies from “the bad guys”. I know that and I find real comfort in that.

What a luxury. All I have to do is let my kids out of the car tomorrow. That’s ALL I have to do. While elsewhere, in Connecticut, dozens of parents will bury their children. So, without question, my kids will get out of the car for every single morning theirs cannot. This is their gift. This is their right. This is their life and routine. Not mine.

Why I Voted For Obama

I guess I feel like it just needs to be said. No, I doubt very much that I will change any minds. So much of this country has already decided. But I still feel like I need to share why I am voting for Obama this year. Take it or leave it, really… but I voted last Thursday in Florida and now I am saying my piece here. After that? As my mother would say with a shrug of the shoulders, N’chala (an Arabic phrase that means “God willing”).

The Economy

Who are we kidding? Could any individual president have fixed this mess in four years? Nope. (No math wiz here but didn’t it take 8 years to screw it up?) Will either presidential candidate independently fix this mess? Ha. NOPE. That takes all of us, it means we ALL collectively need to be responsible and stop pointing fingers and looking out for ourselves above all else. I truly believe it will get better, it already is, but don’t you DARE kid yourself into thinking either guy has all the answers and it will or should change with the flip of a presidency.

Side bar: Taxes

WE NEED THEM. Don’t be greedy. Shut up and pay your fair share. Good grief.

Equal Rights

THIS is what is comes down to for me. Well, there is other stuff… sure. But THIS. I pick the guy who thinks women and men are equal. I pick the guy who believes any human being should have the right to love any other human being. Choosing the guy who DOESN’T would mean I care more about empty campaign promises than I care about my gay friends having equal rights. It’s really as simple as that. For me. My conscience is clear with my vote. And that’s that.

The Supreme Court

We have some supreme court justices who are likely to retire this coming presidential term. I know my beliefs. I know which rights I want to keep. I know I don’t want to see any delicate progress we’ve made slide dangerously backwards. As my husband says, I hope our next supreme court justice nominee has purple hair, a tattoo sleeve and a nose ring. Oh, I make generalizations, don’t I? But let’s get real, people. Do YOU see yourself represented in the supreme court? Just make sure that you do.

The Environment

Warm winters, blazing hot summers, melting ice caps, SANDY. Don’t even BEGIN to tell me you don’t think that global warming is for real. Is it. We need to deal with it. At the very least, we need to stop being so dependent on oil and oil companies and consider alternative energy sources. Yes, yes, there is so much controversy with what works best and what messes with things… but don’t throw in the towel and ignore it because it’s just more comfortable and convenient to do what you’ve always done. Getting comfortable and greedy is what screws us every time (see above under “economy”).

Trust

I didn’t trust Romney and his cardboard cut-out smile and un-smiling eyes when he was Governor of Massachusetts years ago. And I certainly do not trust him now. This man said that he couldn’t be bothered with 47% of this country. HE said that. Do I honestly trust that he is looking out for the middle class? Do I honestly trust that he will protect my rights as a woman? Do I honestly trust that he cares more about moving our country forward than protecting rich people’s money? No, no and NO. I do NOT trust that man. At all.

And there you have it for me. I feel better now. I got it off my chest. Again, I doubt very much that I have changed anyone’s mind. But it seems that NOW is the time to pull up my rickety little soapbox, get up on it and say my piece in this public space. Get up on yours. Let’s all have a holler about what we want and what we believe. Who knows, maybe we agree on more than we disagree and maybe, after Tuesday (and after a few wounds have been licked), we can get our asses in gear and come together. Maybe.

Here’s hoping.

We’re down to hours now, people. Make them count.

How I Lost My Mind When My Kids Went Out To Play

I woke up this Sunday and I thought to myself: “My kids need to get OUT.” Not forever (bite your tongue), just for the afternoon. But our kids are still kind of young and we are a little new to the whole “let-the-kids-out-to-play-in-the-neighborhood” thing. Sure, we did it as kids, but the rules have changed… haven’t they? So… what exactly ARE the rules now?

We are lucky enough to live in a neighborhood where my kids know other kids. Most go to their school and, with our little homes all in a row, lined by wide-open sidewalks, it’s easy to get to one another.

Perfect, right?

Well, up until this year, my kids and the kids in the neighborhood haven’t reached out to one another very much. Why? Because the rules with young kids are that you don’t play with other kids unless the moms know each other and set up an official play-date. Unfortunately, my favorite moms have moved away. Then I went back to work and that’s been about that.

NOW, the kids are old enough to seek one another out WITHOUT the moms really knowing each other. Whoa. Of course, we track down phone numbers for one another but it’s not about the moms getting along, it’s about the kids finding their way in the world without us nipping at their heels, wiping their noses and asking them when they last peed.

This is a very brave new world for all of us.

So, off they went this morning.

My 6 year old plays with a boy across the street. His father is a paramedic turned police officer. And I’m not sure I’ve ever heard his mom swear. They are pretty much the nicest, most responsible people ever. Plus, my 6 year old isn’t a risk-taker. He knows his limits and might look both ways about 10 times (with one ear cupped, listening for a car’s engine in the distance) before he ventures across our little road. No sweat there.

The other, my 9 year old, is slightly more dangerous. You see, he’s gotten fairly sick of us on weekends. We limit (or, right now, 100% cut-off) his video game time (his fault). His brother holds his attention for shorter spans these days. And, my suggestions (“Why don’t you go read a book–how about those nice Percy Jackson books?!”) are rarely a good idea anymore. Cue 9 year old eye-roll. So, it’s time he ventures out more.

And, get this. His closest friend in his class lives about a block away. Score!

However, while dangerously desperate to flee our home, my son is also easily embarrassed. And, until recently, he was too mortified to make the social leap of walking down and knocking on his door and asking him to play.

He got over that only recently.

So, after wolfing down a Dunkin’ Donuts egg sandwich this morning, he threw on his shirt, opened the door and went out to play. I hollered after him, asking him to CALL ME if he was going to stay. And desperately throwing out a: DON’T TALK TO STRANGERS! He never looked back.

So, my husband and I spent about 3 hours at home today with no children… and no babysitter fees.

Amazing, right?

I got some things done. He went food shopping. I cleaned. I watched TLC. He watched football. But, mentally, I paced.

You see, when they are underfoot, they drive me bananas. But when they venture off and DON’T CALL, I feel verrry unsettled.

Of course, since he didn’t call us, my husband did a slow drive-by TWICE to make he sure was still in his friend’s backyard playing football. He was playing football the first time. And, the second, he was walking back from a local orange tree with a pack of kids. Perfect, right?

Yep. We know that logically. But my husband fretted, too. He of an era when “I played outside ALL day until I heard a dinner bell.” He worried and rationalized just as much as I did.

Because it’s not about what he did once. The rules HAVE changed.

The weirdos, the creepy guys who drive ice cream trucks, the kids that never get to where they were going, the possibility of so much horror… we picture every scenario. Well, we do until he marches back in the door, soaking wet, covered in grass and streaks of dirt, and demanding dinner… which is exactly what he did tonight.

I know, I know. SO WHAT. “Just wait until they start driving!” I hear many of you say. “Just wait until they go to college and you have NO idea where they are at any given moment!”

I had better get used to it. And I am. But it is a process. And I am trying to navigate this new set of rules. Because if I keep them indoors and out of trouble… I have become the dreaded helicopter mom. But if I let them out… what then? How long do I let them go? SHOULD I insist he calls home, no matter how embarrassing it is? Do I give a curfew? Do I set limits as to how far he can venture in the neighborhood? Do I really trust him… really? Do I call his friend’s mom’s house, even when she doesn’t seem too worried? Do I stalk him with my car the whole time he is out? I’m thinking yes to all of this.

I want to do this right. But it feels very panicky, fumbling and uncool so far. I feel like such a rookie.

Granted. That about sums up parenting, doesn’t it? We’re all rookies–panicky, fumbling and uncool.

So, now that they are home and bathed and about ready for bed, I shift my fretting from “Are they safe right now?” to “How will I keep them safe next time?” and “What else should (shouldn’t?) I be doing?”

It’s not easy to be this much of a basket-case. It takes a lot of over-thinking and hand-wringing to get to where I am. And panicking and fumbling and far too much uncoolness.

(Cue that 9 year old eye-roll one more time.)

Never Mind

So, Isaac didn’t amount to much here. I just went outside to see if I could even find a branch down or something impressive to post but… nope. Just a puddle. And a light breeze. Wow. We were VERY lucky. My thoughts go out to those who were affected. And to those who may still be in danger.

Back here in the bay area, it seems that Tampa and the GOP are faring JUST FINE according to this article published this morning.

I may have been panicking over nothing, really. But panicking is what I do here, I suppose. Especially if I’ve devoted an entire blog category to it. Ahem.

So, game on. The GOP can get back to losing their ever-loving minds and I can go back to wringing my hands over this election.

Thanks to our county and my office erring on the side of caution, the boys and I are home today. I’m working at my laptop while they tear apart the costume box and eat fig newtons from our hurricane food supply and play with the flashlights we had out in case of a power outage. Pretty sure forts are in their near future.

We’re safe and sound and out of any danger.

I’d like to think this guy may have had something to do with it. Costume box, FTW!

Standing Up To a Storm of Crazy

I’m looking out of my window right now, watching the first few light sprinkles of Hurricane Isaac begin. Folks aren’t expecting this storm to be as bad as it could be, but preparations are being made anyway. We have water, canned food, ice, batteries, a weather radio, board games at the ready, beer (hurricane party!) and our back porch cleared of projectiles.

While we anticipate this storm coming in, 50,000 GOP delegates are also arriving into Tampa for the RNC. Yep, 50,000 republicans are arriving into my little city while a hurricane gathers strength just south of here and city officials and security folks scramble, on high alert, madly shutting things down and battening down hatches and trying to make this place welcoming ALL at the same time.

How do I feel about all this?

I’m not from Tampa originally, but it has been my home for seven years. And right now I am feeling strangely over-protective of it.

I know. Florida gets a lot of crap for being… well… Florida. We are the butt of endless jokes. Some are deserved, many are not. I’m not sure what the hate is about, exactly. Every U.S. city and state has its nasty bits and its beautiful bits. But it’s as if Florida, almost like New Jersey, is allowed to be crapped on.

So, there’s that.

And Florida has had some tough times recently. Our Tea-party Governor’s approval rating is appalling (statistically, Lebron James actually fares better), funding for education has been drastically cut, empty homes are left everywhere, unemployment is a mess, on it goes… But we are trying to fight our way back and we’re seeing some good progress.

Now add 50,000 RNC delegates. And a hurricane.

Now cue MORE Florida jokes, GOP jokes and nation-wide cheers for destruction because that’s what they had coming to them. It’s FLORIDA, after all, with a bunch of republicans in it. HA HA!

Photo courtesy of Tampa Bay Times, Instagram.

Hey, I’m a democrat and I’m not super fond of what these folks stand for but, people, be nice. I even wrote a post about why I welcome this convention to our city. For crying out loud, our little city was just sitting here, hoping to host a party for one side of the political coin, trying to stake out a little spot in the national spotlight… and now all of THIS.

THIS could totally kick Tampa’s ass and give all those convention-goers a bad taste in their mouth when remembering their time here. And it could just keep the rest of the nation laughing at us and making more jokes and not taking Tampa seriously for anything. Because when you try to do something serious here, a hurricane will just wipe it out anyway. So, why bother.

Ugh.

Maybe the storm won’t be a big deal. Just a lot of wind and rain. Hopefully, it just makes for a good story and lots of good times and a whole bunch of hurricane parties. And the sun will come out… and everyone will cheer and see the good… and the damage won’t be so bad… and all will be well!

(My optimism = DENIAL.)

Yesterday, my family decided to spend our pre-storm time with some local beauty before it got crazy. We headed over to Clearwater Beach and took some pics in between periods of rainfall. It was beautiful. Because it IS beautiful here.

THIS IS A NICE PLACE TO LIVE.

I got your back, Tampa. Hopefully some of our visitors — and those tuning in to watch this crazy — will, too. Now, pass the warm beer and flashlights!

*drizzle, drizzle. gentle breezes.*

Er. OK, just pass the warm beer, then.

Poison Control FTW

I almost titled this post “Don’t hesitate, Poison Control is Great!” But, no. Even I know how much cheese a blog post can really take. Still, I am feeling some fairly enthusiastic love for Poison Control today, so I thought I would share. No, they didn’t ask me to write this. But I got to call them today.

Honestly, I was probably over-reacting. This morning, my 6yo had a fever. My husband and I thought we should give him some chewable Tylenol. Cool. While he was busy in the kitchen making coffee, I gave my kid a dose. And then when I was busy getting dressed, my husband gave him a dose, too. Double dose. And the Pedi’s office was still closed.

So, I looked at the box. Under Overdose Warning, it said:

Taking more than the recommended dose (overdose) may cause liver damage. In case of overdose, get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center right away. Quick medical attention is critical even if you do not notice any signs or symptoms.

I looked over at the couch. He was snuggled under his blanket, cozily watching Beyblades… WHILE HIS LIVER SHRIVELED WITHIN.

So, I checked in with Dr. Google (even though I know better). Well, he’s a big gigantic jerk because he just gave me repeated headlines that read something like “…death in child from acetaminophen overdose…”

I looked at my husband. “I think I’m going to call Poison Control.”

“For peace of mind…”

“Right.”

And I did.

I consider it fairly amazing that this has only been my second time calling Poison Control, actually. The first time was after my now 6yo ate an entire stick of lipstick at about 2. I had no idea what was in that stuff. WHAT IF, you know? So I called then, too. And I had the very same experience. There are five things that truly impress me about Poison Control:

  1. They are very calming and reassuring (basically, the nicest people ever).
  2. They NEVER make you feel like a dumb-ass.
  3. They know a LOT of about a lot of stuff. (Way more than Dr. Google.)
  4. EMS calls them on the scene for dosing advice and treatment suggestions.
  5. They won’t call social services on you for making a stupid mistake. (At least… not that *I* know of…)

So here’s my take-away. Did your kid eat something weird? Just call them.

It only takes a minute. Yeah, they will ask for your kid’s name and your number. Don’t stress. They just want to help. Your peace of mind is worth a whole lot more than wondering whether your child’s liver is slowly shriveling thanks to a Tylenol botch-up.

Or wondering whether they are about to go into toxic-lipstick-shock.

Nutting Up About Orchidometers

Where did you learn where babies come from? Well, I’ll tell you where I did. I was in third grade and I found out from my friend’s older sister who had just had her period and, feeling very mature and knowledgeable, decided to saunter into our Barbie playtime and school us on what was what.

I was mortified.

And then I walked home slowly only to avoid eye contact with my parents at dinner that night. HOW COULD THEY.

Fast forward 30 years… and here we are with a little boy who is about to enter fourth grade. I’m not sure what he’s heard on the playground about where babies came from but, when I said that babies DO NOT come from belly buttons (a theory I had heard at one point at his age), he cackled loudly… and a little nervously.

It’s time for the talk. Or the first of many.

And what do moms like me do when we need a few answers? Well, I marched right out and bought a book, dammit. MY kid is going to know what is what and what goes where. He is NOT going to learn from someone’s far too knowledgeable older sibling or some nasty kid spouting untruths under the playground slide, either. He’s going to learn from his parents. And it was going to be great and healthy, with trusting, open lines of communication and everything is going to be juuuust fine.

So. Back to the book. I got one and it was written explicitly for boys, too. Score! So, I marched home proudly to review it and decide where we would begin.

…And I flipped it open.

About 5 minutes later, I stopped in my tracks.

Oh no.

I am NOT ready for this.

Go ahead, call me a prude. Tell me I’m being immature and squeamish about perfectly reasonable and very important developmental information.

IT’S MY DUTY TO TELL MY CHILDREN HOW THEIR PARTS WILL GROW, DAMMIT.

But… but…. there were DETAILED diagrams and entire chapters dedicated to what makes boys sheets crunchy and how to put on a panty liner and what this little bit of skin may or may not look at different stages of life or blood flow.

(He’s 9…!)

And then there was this…??? WTF is this??

An orchidometer????

They have a NAME for this?

Yep, it’s what you think it’s for. It’s for measuring testicle size.

(“This drawing is life size.”)

Shit.

I need to get my head together on this. Or pass the book onto my husband and call it a day.

(Because who the HELL needs an orchidometer? Really?? I sure as hell didn’t have a boob-o-meter… And I grew up fine without one… probably because I would have ranked about the size of an 11 year old when I was 16 anyway…)

(And that’s the other thing, will my kid feel like crap if he ranks on one end or the other of this thing?? Ugh. I have no idea!!)

9 years into parenting and I clearly don’t have a clue about this stage of things. Just when you think you got this mom-thing figured out, life throws an orchidometer in your face and leaves you unable to grow a set and just TALK about it.

I’m working on it.

As my husband often says, “It’s time to nut up.”