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.


Gwennie’s Little Helper

As I get ready for ten days away from home and Narragansett No. 7, I thought about stopping to write something funny. I’ve got nothin’ today. That could change, but for now here’s an oldie but goodie.

I have two glasses of wine each night. Don’t judge.

After consuming my two glasses of bottled relaxation, I’m generally sufficiently exhausted. If I am able to successfully shirk my evening dog walking duty, I generally drag myself up the stairs and leave my wine glass behind on kitchen counter. Sometimes, I leave a few sips behind too.

I used to do that. Until last Sunday morning.

Gwen sat at the kitchen table on Sunday morning looking rather teenage-ish with her hair piled on top of her head and wearing pink silky pajamas. Have you ever noticed that sometimes you catch a fleeting glimpse of what the kids are going to look like in ten more years? It happens here on occasion and it never ceases to make me stop dead in my tracks and hold my breath for a moment. It’s magical to see your pre-schooler momentarily looking so mature as she sits with her head resting in one hand and twirls a strand of hair in the other. She dutifully sat waiting for her breakfast, made courtesy of Daddy who happily prepares the morning meal each Sunday.

I continued watching my beautiful girl as she noshed on her preferred breakfast of bacon, eggs and toast. She caught me looking. Her face brightened and she opened her mouth to speak. “Mommy, you know?… I was thirsty in the night so I got a drink and I wasn’t even scared!” Gwen speaks with her hands, so the ‘wasn’t even scared’ part was punctuated by a chopping movement with her right hand.

I took a moment to ponder her extraordinary claim of bravery. There is a mug in the kid’s bathroom that they use to rinse their mouths after brushing, so though out of the ordinary, her story seemed plausible. “Wow, Gwen…so you went to the bathroom all by yourself in the dark?” I was impressed. She’s normally terrified of the dark. I’m talking about shrieks and panic if the lights go out…it’s that bad.

“Nope”, she said as she noisily chomped on a piece of bacon, “I came down here to get a drink.”

I was skeptical. My right eyebrow raised and my lips pushed out in thought. Thus began my line of questioning.

Gwen nonchalantly described the happenings of the prior night as she licked the butter from her toast. I cynically listened as she recounted the details. It seems that she woke up in the wee hours of the morning feeling extremely parched. Despite her normal reticence to even stick a toe into a darkened room, she saw fit to leave the safety of her cozy pink bed piled high with the protection of her ‘special animals’. She then descended the dark stairs and walked through the gloomy, silent house to the kitchen to fetch herself a drink.

I wasn’t buying her story.

I asked her how she could possibly get a drink downstairs when she couldn’t reach anything. As she noisily munched away at her second piece of fatty, nitrate filled breakfast meat Gwen told us that she was sooooo thirsty, but she couldn’t find a ‘kid’ cup. Being a resourceful little gal, she spotted my abandoned glass of wine on the counter and figured what the heck?

So, my four year old bellied up to the bar, err…kitchen counter and commenced sipping pinot grigio from a stemless glass. By herself. Well, not technically by herself since Stella was probably watching from her crate.

As she described her nocturnal wine consumption and general distaste for pinot grigio, my eyes wandered to the glass. It was empty.

Joe helpfully pointed to the box of wine in the pantry that was left behind by my mother. “Next time why don’t you just get a drink from the wine maker, Gwen?”

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Perfectly Insane

The monster snowstorm is about to descend upon us. This morning’s news blared that the “biggest snowstorm in 40 years” has begun to lay its deadly blanket across the country. Soooo…Mr. News Anchor? Is this one going to be much worse than the other 30 “Storms of the Century” that have occurred over the past 10 years? Just wondering.

I’ll admit it. I’m kind of excited to hunker down tomorrow because chances are, David will be hunkered down with us. Please God, dump enough snow on us to keep him home tomorrow. I beg of you, have pity on me. Don’t leave me here alone with these children for another snow day. Should that happen, I’m quite sure that I might finally lose my faltering grasp on sanity. Can’t you see that I’m already teetering on the edge of  lunacy? One more single-parent snow day is going to make me crazier than bat shit. Clearly, a few screws have worked their way loose.

Last week I stood outside marveling at the beauty of our freshly fallen snow and wondered if I had finally plunged into the pool of insanity. Normally, I despise anything cold. I was comforted when, an hour later, I was back to cursing the slushy roads.

Yesterday afternoon I realized that I’ve been humming ‘Sunshine and Lollipops’ to myself for days. It’s true. In moments of stress, I’ve taken to singing it out loud even though I don’t really know the words. I can only imagine what it sounds like, my off-key and slightly psychotic version of ‘Sunshine and Lollipops’ sung over and over and over again. Scary.

Evidently, not scary enough to effect the children because they continue chipping away at my patience and testing the strength of my hold on lucidity. Faithful readers, you know I don’t feign perfection as a parent. I’m far more likely to blog about the latest calamity than what goodie I baked yesterday afternoon. Sure, I bake with the kids. Sometimes I even manage to capture a few photos that provide the illusion of an idyllic afternoon. But that would be lying. I would never attempt to deceive you with contrived photos of squeaky-clean children smiling and filling their bellies with warm, gooey chocolate chip cookies. The truth is, one or all were probably picking their noses or sneezing over the bowl while I murmured ‘Sunshine and Lollipops’ over and over and over again and fantasized about showering.


I’m sure that there are vast amounts of women for whom life is just perfect. Let’s pause here and take a moment to reflect on their perfection. Their children are angels and they bake cookies together every day while their latest snowman glistens outside in the winter sun. Their macaroni replicas of the Mona Lisa are drying in the craft room and later, they will all hunker for a nap in the family bed. Well, kudos to you perfect women (insert hand-clapping here)! Keep blogging about it, because I am positively riveted. I can’t help but wonder what really goes on at your house. 


Here’s a snapshot into the reality of our house over the past few days.

Dave carelessly left a poop-filled diaper on the window seat in the kitchen whilst running to the aid of another child. Stella, that cute and fuzzy Jack Russell Terrier ate it. Here she is post-poo consumption. Notice that Gwen seems to take delight in Stella’s choice of gag-inducing snack. Stella looks ashamed. Remind me not to let her lick anyone. Ever.

Kate has decided that breakfast is best eaten in the aforementioned dog’s crate. I don’t know why. Perhaps she’s giving Stella a preview of what’s to come. Maybe she’s waving that half-eaten pancake in the dog’s face and saying, “Hey dog, you can have this later, but not until I’ve digested it.”

On Sunday, Gwen was enjoying a much needed bath in our Jacuzzi tub, and why not? Someone should use the Jacuzzi tub since I rarely have a chance to relax in it. I momentarily left the room to grab some clean towels and re-entered to find that Kate was now flopping around in the bubbles as well. “What’s Kate doing in the tub?” Gwen’s gaze sufficiently expressed her belief that I might be slightly idiotic, “Well,” she said. “She needed a bath because her cooter was stinky.” Oh…my…God. I have nothing else to say about this.

Sunshine and Lollipops. Sunshine and Lollipops. Sunshine and Lollipops.

Please God, give us enough snow to keep David home from work tomorrow.

p.s. Could you please send a bottle of pinot grigio? I don’t think I’ll be able to get to the store.

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