You Take The Good, You Take The Bad…

A few weeks ago, Dave and I met with a psychiatrist that works with Joe’s school. It was our first meeting. You know, kind of an informational session…these are our concerns…the pediatrician thinks it’s Asperger’s, the therapist thinks it’s social anxiety and there’s a two-year wait for the specialist that will eventually give us the real skinny.

Anywho… Joe has actually been doing much better. We recently switched his ADHD medication for a new one. No sleep issues and his appetite is better. Most importantly, there have been no psychotic and completely out of character mood swings. Just a little guy with a super busy brain who can now sit through six hours at school without major issues. It seems to me that his social anxiety has improved a bit too…which leads me to conclude that he might not actually have Asperger’s but hey, I’m no doctor.

So now that I’ve caught you up a bit on Joe’s state of affairs, let me tell you how the meeting with the school’s psychiatrist went.

It went well.

I think.

He asked if Joe had ever been subject to physical, emotional or sexual abuse.


Though, there was that time I spanked him for biting Gwen’s cheek four years ago. Or that time last year he kept saying “piss” at school and the teacher called me repeatedly so I finally brushed a tiny red pepper flake on his tongue and then felt immediately guilty and still wonder if I’ve scarred him for life. But, no…no emotional or physical or sexual abuse…beside that red pepper flake.

I vaguely recall Blair from The Facts of Life being on the Today Show and defending Tabasco Sauce as discipline for children. As I watched that show, I also recall thinking, Jesus…that
Blair’s a real hard ass! I would have pegged Jo for that kind of abuse…her and her black leather jacket and motorcycle. She had a real chip on her shoulder when she showed up at Eastland.
Fast forward a couple of years and the memory of Blair and her spices filled my mind after good old soap failed to do the trick. I know, I suck. No need to send hateful mail.

There I go again, getting off the subject entirely.

So, the psychiatrist writes a note in his folder and moves on.

“Is there any history of alcoholism in the family?” he wondered, peering over the top of his bifocals.

Here’s where Dave and I looked at each other, snorted, laughed and said, “Uh…yeah! It’s rampant, man!”

Here’s also where the doctor chuckled along with us then stopped to look at us as if we were crazy. So we back-peddled.

“Uh, well…I don’t drink anymore and she’s…,” Dave says, waving a hand in my general direction.

Did my husband just tell this child psychiatrist that I’m a lush with a vague hand gesture?

My mouth hung open in astonishment. “Yeah, well a glass of wine at night…but JESUS, my parents… whoooo wheeee!”  (Sorry, parents but Dave started it and I needed to deflect so I made it appear that you are the ones who are complete lushes. I assume that one day, my children will throw me under the bus in a similar manner. I hope you understand. Then end.)

That's my wine...served up by my husband.

Minutes later, we were asked to fill out a form, the last two pages of which were very important. I checked off two pages of questions like, does your child pick his nose? Dude, he’s seven. Until last year, there was a boogar wall behind the bunk bed.

Does your child use tobacco? Dude, again… he’s seven.

But seriously.

I was trying to be serious.

You see, Dave and I have a habit of being serious, on our A-game, but little snips of our humor can’t help but squeak out. It’s like needing to fart to relieve some pressure. We can’t stop ourselves. For instance, when asked if Joe had ever been subjected to physical violence we adamantly replied no then Dave added, “Nothing abnormal…you know, ‘go to your room’ and
maybe some yelling…”

“Yeah, we try to hold off on electric shock and cattle prods unless things get really crazy,” I laughed. We all laughed. Then the shrink abruptly stopped laughing again and made a note in his file.

Why do these idiotic statements flow from my mouth like verbal vomit? I mean, really. School psychiatrists don’t normally appreciate the dry and twisted humor of parents attempting to help their child through the social minefield that is first grade. Do they?

Now, by the end of the meeting, Gwen and Kate were losing it. Did I mention that our sitter wasn’t available?

Actually, allow me to give credit where credit is due. Those two little girls sat quietly and patiently for an hour. They colored and played a game on the laptop. They were angels.

Yet, as is typical, in the last five minutes of conference room jail Kate lost her mind.

While we wrapped things up and said things like thank you and we’ll be in touch and yadda yadda…I tried to quiet Kate’s incessant repetitive whiny babbling question with an ill-timed, “Yes, sure Katie.” I really had no idea what she’d asked me. I fell prey to the mother of mothering mistakes – the inattentive, “Yes, honey” response. The one that comes out of our mouths while  we’re trying to engage in a serious discussion with someone like the cops or school shrinks.

We were still wrapping it up with the good doctor and, while Dave chatted with him, I turned to Kate and cheerfully asked, “So what should we do now?”


Between cattle prods, nose picking and knuckleheads, I’m pretty sure the shrink was left wondering what in the hell goes on at our house.

The good news? The authorities have not shown up.


Welcome, To Fantasy Island

Alright, so I just have to throw this one out there and set it free. Things are about to get absolutely bizarre at my house over the weekend. So bizarre, that it took me about half of a day to process and recognize the weirdness. Is weirdness even a word? If not, it should be. It applies to this situation.

Those of you that know me well know that I’m the product of a broken home. Yeah, yeah, it was the 80’s and, frankly, who isn’t the product of a broken home? (Humor me). Trust me reader-person, this isn’t going to be a tragic recount of the past 30 years and how my parents ruined my life. This is about the comedy that my parents unwittingly subject me to every few years.

Inevitably, some family event happens that requires Mom and Dad, sometimes along with significant others, to gather together and celebrate said event. My sister’s wedding in the early ‘90’s was the tester for behavioral problems. Luckily, we discovered that brief stints of togetherness are tolerable and, if the stars are properly aligned, quite entertaining. Okay, scratch the stars…mostly alcohol and music tend to do the trick.

Let me catch you up a bit. We are all lucky to have my mother staying with us for the summer. It’s been great. The kids love having a Grandma in the house, I love having Mom in the house, Dave loves that Grandma is in the house. Jeez, I think that the dog is even in love. We’re in Grandma Heaven around here.

So, a few months back my father sent a brief e-mail (he keeps it REAL brief) telling me that he’ll be in NY for his 50th class reunion…will be visiting my sister on such and such dates and then up to us in Maine on such and such dates…frankly, I just spaced because, well, I’m a bit spacey sometimes. Also, in my teen years he had a tendency to not show up, but I promised you that I wouldn’t go there.

Fast forward to this morning.

Scene: my kitchen.

My mother enters saying, “Your sister called. Your father will be here on Sunday.”

Pregnant pause while she waits for me to react. Of course, I’m absorbed in some minutia so lamely respond with something to the effect of, “Oh, really? That’s nice.” Awkward pause…“Oh wait, so where are you going to stay?!” Not exactly tactful, am I?

Mom responds, “I have to work, so I’m staying here.”

For some reason, my brain processes this tidbit as A-Okay. My mind says, “Hey, she seems cool with that…let’s go to the beach!” We went to the beach.

Fast forward to mid-afternoon. There I was, bumping around the lawn on the riding mower when, somewhere between the front porch and the playset, it hit me. My mother and father are going to be staying at my house. At the same time. They’ve been divorced for like, 29 years. How stinking funny is that?! Seriously.

This has all the potential to be like a bad Fantasy Island episode. Picture Mr. Roarke standing on the dock with Tattoo, greeting this week’s guests, when the fabulous 30-something woman (me) with baggage is forced into a “fantasy” where her parents reunite and kill/fall in love again/have crazy monkey sex with each other. They go through some kind of hellish/euphoric experience and then they go home (after pushing Tattoo into the lagoon).
The whole scenario is entirely fitting of the chaos that surrounds me and my growing family. Really. We need a film crew around here. And while we’re at it, I’m taking suggestions on how to explain this to the kids. Excuse me while I go look for my happy place.