Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Not Me! Monday... er, Tuesday

Hey, I'm not late posting my "Not Me! Monday" post. Nope, not me. I'm never late.

That certainly wasn't me at the grocery store last week, buying fresh donuts at the bakery counter. I'm watching my weight, so I don't need to buy donuts. I prefer carob-chip cookies and sugar free ice cream. So obviously, that wasn't me you saw in the produce section reach into the donut bag and wipe out two chocolate-frosted delights. First of all, that would be a disgusting lack of self-control. And secondly, it would be embarrassing for me to have to pay the lady at the checkout counter for an empty bakery bag. She'd probably give me an odd look and shake her head. So I'm glad I didn't do anything like that.

For sure, I would never take my children to a free summer kids show like "Bee Movie" and cry at the end when, you know, Barry the Bee unites the bees of Manhattan to re-pollinate all the flowers in the city. It would be ridiculous to need a Kleenex for something as cheesy and predictable as that. Of course, it would also be ridiculous for me to spoil the end of the show for everybody who hasn't seen "Bee Movie" yet.

So glad I didn't do that.

You know that wasn't me at the park on Saturday with my four kids, either. I don't lie around on a picnic blanket and block out my kids' screaming by staring blankly up at the clouds. I certainly didn't tell Emily to drop trow and go pee-pee behind a tree because I didn't want to have to pack up and go find a bathroom. That would irresponsible and unsanitary.

And thank heavens I would never, ever rip my shirt off and run around topless in my backyard. What an embarrassing situation that could be for my father-in-law if he was, say, working in the side yard and saw me. After all, I've seen "Bee Movie." I know that when a bee flies down my shirt, it doesn't mean any harm. Stinging a person - even when angry - shows the rest of the bee world an embarrassing lack of self-control. So it's a good thing that bee didn't sting me and I didn't have to streak my neighbors.

It's nice to know that bees and I have that it common: a sense of decency and self-control. It's not helpful for writing humorous blog posts, but it sure makes me feel good. I think I'll go reward myself with a nice big glass of rice milk...

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Perfect Parent

Ty knocked himself out last week.

Knocked. Himself. OUT.

And shaved a good two years off my life.

Of course I was only standing about 10 feet away when he did it, which proves that the concept of "keeping an eye on the kids" is totally overrated. Ty was pushing a truck on the hardwood floor with his foot when the truck rolled forward and he flipped back. And knocked himself out.

I have to give myself credit for not freaking out. He came around after only an eternity a few seconds and started crying, which I took as a good sign. 9-1-1 was already punched in, but I hung up and speed-dialed the Children's Hospital nurse hot line instead. I don't know why, but I like that they know me by name over there. Anyway, Nurse Janet sent me packing to the nearest emergency room, which received us in record time. One lengthy exam, one CT scan, and three packages of graham crackers later, Ty was discharged home under a clean bill of health. Praise God.

It seems His angels are putting in some overtime around our house these days. I have to tell you that the week before Ty's frightening fall, we had an even more terrifying incident occur. Before I share though, you have to know that I NEVER move a car without all of my children accounted for - either in the house or buckled into their seats. It's a good rule anyway, but the accident that killed Steven Curtis Chapman's daughter last year in her own driveway has given me a healthy sense of paranoia. So I NEVER move a car when my children are outside. And isn't that the way all accident stories begin?

A few weeks ago, it was pretty clear that something was going on with the transmission in the minivan. I was not in a good mood, since we don't exactly have the money to fix a car that should run just fine. Instead of pulling the van all the way into the garage like I usually do, I pulled in only part way so I could check the transmission fluid. By the time that job was done, our neighbors, their son, my husband, and our four kids were all out in the driveway talking and playing. Around here, three adults to five kids is a pretty good ratio. So I counted all the kids, made sure every child was accounted for, and walked back into the garage to pull the van forward the last three feet. And then muttered a few inappropriate words under my breath when I couldn't find the keys.

That figures. Nothing's ever just easy. Can't even pull my car in the garage without it being a production...

I got out of the car, slammed the door, and stormed towards the kitchen to find my keys.

Just as Ty toddled around the front bumper of my car.

I am not exaggerating this at all. If my keys had been in the ignition where I was sure I'd left them, I would have pulled that car forward three feet and crushed my son. Our garage is a very tight space, and the car would have either rolled over him or pinned him to the wall.

I snatched Ty up and about hugged the breath out of him, while getting on my knees and thanking God that He is a better parent to my children than I am. Not just in terms of their safety - because clearly I can't keep them safe even when I am watching them - but in terms of their complete and total well-being.

I regularly beat myself up for all the ways I've failed as a parent. And I am terrified that my kids are going to grow up, move out, and never speak to me again, because I consistently fail to meet all of their needs.

When did I start thinking I was God?

I can't meet all of my children's needs. I will never be able to meet all of my children's needs. I succeed in keeping them from physical harm well enough, but not perfectly - as the bumps and bruises on their elbows and knees will attest. I try to keep them happy, but not all that effectively - which is clear to the public at large every time I take them grocery shopping. I hug them and kiss them and love on them every day - but I still manage to yell at them several times a day, too. I am so not a perfect parent.

But thank God He is.

He loves my own children even more than I do. Infinitely more so, because He was willing to sacrifice His own Son for a relationship with them. He is capable of giving my children more joy in their lives than I can because of the relationship they can have with Him. And He is even more capable than me at keeping them from physical harm; clearly so, because Ty is safe and healthy and with us today.

And I am so grateful for that.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Dear Doctor

Thank you for sending home an informational pamphlet in preparation for Ella's tonsillectomy. It's always helpful to have a sheet of bright orange paper to reference when one's child undergoes surgery. Unfortunately, I find that it isn't as thorough as some parents might prefer. I'm writing to suggest some changes you may wish to make on future pamphlets.

First of all, I'd like to recommend you add a paragraph to your pamphlet that informs parents how their child is to dress the morning of surgery. In our case, I suggested that Ella wear her pajamas in order to feel comfortable during her post-op stay. She disagreed - as I'm sure you noticed, since she accessorized her jammies with a tiara, tutu, and ballet slippers. Did this distract you at all during surgery? If not I'm glad, since dancing down the hospital corridors provided such a nice diversion for our daughter prior to her procedure. If it was a problem however, I would encourage you to be more specific about hospital dress code in the future.

As far as post-operative concerns, I find your pamphlet only moderately informative. For example, the section labeled "Diet" suggests that tonsillectomy patients should drink 4oz. of liquid every hour and includes a handy little sticker chart to help motivate the patient to drink. Are you aware, sir, that some children do not like sticker charts? That some children will, in fact, refuse to do anything asked of them, regardless of bribery and rewards? To make matters worse, you advise patients to stay away from milk the first few days after surgery. How exactly are parents like us supposed to get our child to drink anything? Ella doesn't drink anything but white milk, even when she's healthy! It's not like we can take her to Sonic, which boasts hundreds of drink combinations, and expect her to find one single drink she might enjoy. She won't. Granted, you allow Popsicles to count towards liquid intake. Unfortunately, Ella does not particularly care for Popsicles, as she considers them "too cold." Frankly, we could have used a little more direction from you in this area.

In fact, the entire "Diet" section should be re-written, as what you suggest conflicts entirely with what my daughter requests. You seem to think that jello, pudding, and ice cream are well-tolerated and even enjoyed by 5-year tonsillectomy patients. I am sorry to inform you that this is indeed NOT the case. My child would prefer to eat M&M's and pretzels - foods you specifically deny her, according to your pamphlet. Perhaps you would like to come over and prepare Ella's meals and snacks for the next two weeks?

Which, incidentally, is the amount of time your pamphlet directs us to moderate Ella's play. NO "vigorous activity?" NO running or biking? NO SWIMMING? My daughter came home from the hospital and immediately requested we walk the 1/2 mile to our neighborhood playground. As I write, she's pumping herself on the swing so high she can "touch the sky." Yet your pamphlet offers no alternative suggestions for activities. Nor does it indicate if I can tie her to a chair or bed without being questioned by the Department of Child and Family Services. Again, this would be helpful information to have.

Finally, your pamphlet references a post-operative condition known as hypernasality. According to the information provided, "it is normal for your child to have a higher voice...immediately after surgery." What it does not tell me it this: Are my ears supposed to be bleeding? It seems possible - indeed, probable - that my daughter's voice has ruptured my ear drums. Therefore, I suggest that if you decide to respond in some way to this letter that you do NOT pick up the phone to call me. A letter of apology will be sufficient.

I hope that you are not offended by the tone of my letter. I simply want to help you do a better job in the future of preparing parents. Hopefully you will find my suggestions useful.