Stories from October 2009

The Agony of Defeat

Becca Sanders

It’s a cold fall morning and I’m getting the kids ready to go outside. Though autumn came early, I have yet to unearth all of our cold-weather clothes. They still sit in the plastic bins I shoved them into last spring. I dump one onto the couch and rummage for scarves and hats while the kids wait impatiently (is there any other kind of waiting? not in this house).

Then the music in my head starts – eerie, distorted – and my vision wavers and blurs. I’m having a flashback to a scene from three years ago: kneeling down to help H. get dressed for a romp in the snow. I’m struggling with something. I sweat. I grit my teeth. Finally I emit a string of language so foul, it would make cable executives blush.

Slowly my vision comes back into focus: my nemesis, there on the couch. Blood-red. Biding its time.

How could something so innocent cause so much pain? Knit by grandmothers – emblematic of childhood itself – the poor discarded orphan lying on a snowbank or in the Lost and Found box at school. Even the name is precious. How could it? But it does.

Soon daughter F., who knows me as the patient woman who only smiles ruefully as F. throws herself face down on the floor for want of a seventh cheese cracker, will see another side of me: face distorted, voice choked with frustration.

“Put your thumb in the little hole, F., into the little hole! No, the LITTLE hole! The…the little…here…let me…there! Now let me get the other – no! Don’t take it off! You have to leave it ON, leave the mitten ON your hand (Read more…)

Ladies Man

Angie McCullagh

Milo, my six-year-old, has a little trouble making friends. Okay, a lot of trouble.

It’s not that he doesn’t have buddies. He does. But they are kids with whom he hasn’t had to work to earn favor. Kids like our neighbors. Who are just there. Ready to play. Kids like the sons and daughters of my moms’ group. Once again, present every Tuesday for him to joke around with at will.

At school, it’s a different story. He has to compete with naturally gregarious first graders. With children who are athletic, who brag about lost teeth, who play with Transformers and watch Star Wars.

None of this is Milo’s style. He’s quiet. He has a good throwing arm, but isn’t into the ball games that other boys play at recess. When he loses a tooth he keeps his mouth shut, a small, embarrassed smile playing across his face.

He finds Transformers and Star Wars too intense and violent.

Milo, as it turns out, seems to gravitate toward the girls. I know he would like to engage boys. And my mother’s heart breaks a little every time I see him veer toward a group of them, only to dodge away at the last minute. But girls, at this age, seem more empathetic. More willing to extend a hand to Milo and include him in their hopscotch.

I’ve taken to calling him Ladies’ Man, which makes him guffaw. But he accepts the label. Maybe even likes it a little. (Read more…)

The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree

Kate Chretien

My dad likes to tell me how much I loved French fries when I was little (not that this has changed). Apparently, I was quite fond of the ol’ fry (I was also no stranger to its delicious cousin, The Pringle, as documented by an old picture of me caressing a large tin of Pringles while only wearing a diaper. So many things wrong with that picture.) Whenever we walked by the neighborhood Roy Rogers, I used to say innocently to him, “Daddy. I don’t want any French fries. Don’t get me any French fries!”

Of course, he could hardly help but crack a smile and go right on in to buy me some grease love.

Meanwhile, in the past week, I’ve caught Elise saying:

“We can’t have McDonald’s for lunch.” (This after having McDonald’s for lunch the day before. What? Don’t judge me.)

“I can’t have another fudge bar.” (This after just finishing one whole ice cream fudge bar. What? It’s Healthy Choice! And she had a nap!) (Read more…)

Things Come Up… and Out

Laura De Veau

When it came to vomit, I was living on borrowed time.  Somehow, Spicy Girl had managed to get through her first 22 months with us without ever having thrown up.  And this was ok, because, frankly, I don’t “do” vomit. And I’ve been worried about exactly how I would respond if and when this situation were to “come up.”

But last week, my time ran out. And it ran out with such a bang that I was wishing I’d had some earlier preparation.

It all started with a call came from Spicy Girl’s daycare telling me she was sick and needed to be picked up. When I got to the school, I found her on her little cot sleeping under her ladybug blanket, dressed only in a clean onesie.  “We had to take her out of her clothes, because they were covered in her lunch. And her ‘extra outfit’ didn’t fit.”  

(Apparently, I had been delinquent on packing a seasonal extra outfit for her preschool cubby.  The one that was there was a size too small and more appropriate for a sunny 97 degree day in July, not a rainy 55 degree day in October.  Fabulous.)

Once home, I have her some medicine to treat the fever, put her in a clean pair of P.J.s,  and gave her some juice as we cuddled on the couch.  She sucked down every drop, then proclaimed that her tummy hurt and she needed to throw up.  (OK, now how the hell did she know this?  She’s only done it once!) Seconds later, a geyser of fluid erupted from her little head—all over her clean pajamas, the cushions and me. (Read more…)

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This Weeks Tip

You would think at our age that we wouldn’t have to worry about these things. But, as Kate will attest, even at *ahem* 27, untimely breakouts can (and will) happen. What to do? Apply an ice cube for 30 second. Then soak a cotton ball in eye drops and press it to the “spot” for 3 minutes. The theory is that the ice and drop combination will cause blood vessels below the surface to contract—leaving you looking, well, a little less like Rudolph.