Monday, March 2, 2015

Syndrome

Las Saturday afternoon Olivia asked me, "What is a syndrome?"

I pondered how to answer this in words my eight year old would understand.

I finally told her that a syndrome is a combination of symptoms that people had in common.

I know. What a stupid answer, huh? What can I say? She caught me off guard.

She followed up the first question with a second, “Do I have a syndrome?”

I knelt down beside her. “You do have a syndrome,” I told her. “You have 5p- syndrome. It means that when you were born you were tiny, you had trouble breathing and when you cried you sounded like a kitten.”

Her eyes got big, “I did?”

“Yep,” I hugged her and then meowed in her ear a few times, eliciting some giggles.

Tom stood off to the side, listening to our conversation. When Olivia skipped off to do whatever it is that she’d decided to do, he nodded at me, gave me a gentle smile and went about his business too.

It was a sweet exchange between Tom and me. We’ve never actually talked much about O’s syndrome. It’s just part of who she is. It’s not all she is but it is part of her. I think that him being there for so many of her early therapies helped him come to terms with her needs better than he would have if I’d been the one home for therapies while he worked.

Olivia hears everything we say these days and she’s obviously heard me mention things about syndromes. I’m not sure she realizes yet that she’s different from her peers but that time will come at some point and we’ll try and be ready. Right now, she’s just happy to play in the snow with her dad and her sister, to drink hot tea and play with sparkly things.

I know that there will be more conversations about syndromes in the future. I hope I manage them a little better than I did this one but maybe with as much calm and reassurance. Having a syndrome doesn’t define her. That’s what I want Olivia to know.

It doesn’t label her; it doesn’t limit her; it doesn’t make her less than anyone else in this world. It’s just a syndrome, just a combinations of symptoms that come together to make her a little more special than the rest of us.

Today she’s wearing a shirt that has sparkly letters spelling out, “I’M SO FANCY.”

Truer words were never ironed onto a tunic.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

All Made Up

One of my daughers has been wearing make-up lately. In the beginning she didn’t wear it to school, she just came home each day and played around with it. I think she’s going for a look similar to Becca’s in the movie Pitch Perfect.

Yeah. It’s too much.

But when she was just doing it at home, it was not really that big a deal. I figured she was just experimenting, trying to get the right balance of a light hand and just enough definition.

The problem is that I realized one day last week that playing around with make-up at home had somehow morphed into putting on make-up every single morning and heading out the door with a fully done face.

No. Stop right there. Back right the hell up.

We talked last night about the make-up thing. I reminded her that she’s twelve. She needs to look twelve.

I don’t want to stifle her creative streak. I don’t want to stomp all over her individuality but I also want her to wash her face and stop trying to grow up so fast.

So we talked. Okay, I talked and she listened. She agreed to lighten up on the eyeliner.

This morning as she was getting ready for school, I offered to get her a washcloth for her face. I think she might have rolled her eyes but since I didn’t actually see it happen, I’m going to pretend that I know for sure it didn’t.

When she came into the bathroom and gave her eyes a very light rub with the washcloth, I managed to not roll my own eyes and said helpfully, “That old make-up is sometimes hard to get off, isn’t it?”

She nodded, probably hoping I’d let it go and let her go…to school with yesterday’s make-up still smeared under her eyes.

Alas, I’m not that cool.

Nope, I grabbed my Oil of Olay moisturizer, put a very small dab on my fingertip and told her to look at me and then look up. I swiped some of that moisturizer under each eye and then used the corner of the wet washcloth to wipe the old make-up off her face.

She instantly look three years younger. My sweet, innocent twelve year old was back.

She examined my handiwork in the mirror and when she didn’t say anything, I said, “Better, right?”

She nodded, though not sullenly, so I’ll give her that and went about her day.

It was refreshing not to be met with resistance in the make-up wars that I know a lot of mothers and teens/preteens wage. We’ll see how long it lasts but I’m warning the universe right now, I’m not backing down on this one. Now that the conversation has been had, I’ll continue to gently police my daughter’s eyes and wipe the excess eyeliner away myself if I have to do so.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Sponge

Olivia comes home with all kinds of brilliant ideas from school.

Just last week she announced, “I want to try crab legs. My teacher thinks I would like them.”

Oh. Okay. Except we don’t eat seafood in our house and we don’t go out for it either. Like ever. And I’m not taking her to Red Lobster and ordering a $19 + tax platter of crab legs just so she can try them because no one else would eat them and there goes $19 + tax into the garbage.

Lucky for Miss O, my mom loves all things from the sea and will take her adoring granddaughter out for crab legs at her earliest convenience.

Just last week I got home from work and Olivia was waiting at the door for me to come in from the garage. She didn’t even wait for me to take my coat off before informing me, “Did you know they make Legos for girls!?!”

I feigned surprise, “They do?”

“Yes!” she exclaimed. “My teacher told me they make Legos for girls and we need to get me some so I can play with them.”

Well, then, I guess I needed to add an item to my shopping list for Saturday.

See, Olivia listens to everything going on around her and she gets all these ideas. She hears her teachers talking, she hears me talking to Tom and my mom and she takes it all in. She figures out when we’re talking about her or her sister and really tunes us in. She’s like a sponge; a sponge soaking up very expensive ideas.

But yeah, we got her some Legos last weekend. As we were browsing the toy aisle she found a box with a mom, a baby, a stroller and some blocks to make trees and benches and, well, other stuff.

She wanted it.

The box was labeled for 2-5 years old. The blocks were a little bigger than your typical Legos. I figured if she’d play with it, it wasn’t money wasted and she loves things like baby strollers and wheel chairs and wagons. So we got it.

When we got home, she opened her new toy and looked at the package asking,” What does the two and five mean?”

I saw Alyssa perk up, her eyes on me as she waited for me to explain myself. I could almost see the glee bubbling up in her as she waited to see if this would be a mom-fail situation. Brat.

I didn’t take too much time to think about it because Olivia can tell when I’m trying to concoct something to fool her. I kept pretty close to the truth. I told her, “The two means that kids under two years old shouldn’t play with these toys because they’re small toys and babies who aren’t even two might choke.”

She nodded wisely and then asked, “But what about the five?”

“Well, the five means that even kids over five years old will like this toy. You’re eight and you like it, right?”

Alyssa started to roll her eyes and I gave her such a mom-glare. She gave me a blank look. I continued, “Even Alyssa who is twelve, played with this toy-“

“I stole it,” Alyssa interjected.

“She PLAYED with it,” I told Olivia, again giving Alyssa a pointed look. “And that means that anyone who is at least two years old and even over five years old can play with and have fun with this toy.

Olivia accepted my explanation of the 2-5 rating on the Lego box and went about playing with her toys, enjoying making trees out the blocks, making the mom push the baby (who looks like a boy but Olivia insists is a girl because the stroller is pink) around in the stroller and rescuing random blocks from Alyssa who steals plays with them whenever O’s not looking.

Speaking of waiting for me at the door when I get home (I mentioned it several paragraphs up) O did that again yesterday (she does it most days) and as I walked in the door she told me, “Today, this afternoon, at school, the FFA people brought cherry pie and ice cream to the classrooms. Do you think they brought the cherry pie and ice cream for the teachers and the students or just the teachers.”

From the way she asked the question, I could guess the answer but I could tell she wanted the satisfaction of telling me herself so I replied, “I don’t know. Who did the bring the pie and ice cream for?”

She put her hands on her hips and declared, “They brought the cherry pie and ice cream for the teachers and NOT for the students.”

She was stunned by the unfairness of it all. How dare those future farmers of America bring CHERRY pie and ice cream to the teachers and not bring some for the students too? It was criminally unfair and all involved should have been prosecuted.

She asked me later if we had any pie. We didn’t. She asked if I could maybe pick up some pie when I was at work today.

I asked her if she wanted cherry pie, thinking she’d say yes because she’d been denied cherry pie at school that day. She requested apple, because it’s her favorite and as much as she’d have liked to have the FFA students bring enough cherry pie and ice cream for everyone (everyone knows that if you’re bringing a treat into a classroom, you bring enough for EVERYONE or you don’t bring any at all, duh!) if I was taking requests, she’s prefer apple, thanks so much.

So yes, I’ve already picked up an apple pie to take home to my pie-deprived first grader.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Why My Hair Looked Especially Awful Yesterday

So I’m just over two months away from the worst haircut of my life. That means my hair has had about eight weeks to grow out. I’ve had that much time to learn to deal with my hair on a daily basis.

I feel like we’re still about six weeks away from the time I can find a trusted, experienced stylist who can try and blend my current choppy, crappy layers into something decent. Right now it’s still short enough that to go to someone and ask for a ‘fix’ is to just ask for shorter hair and I’m not going to do that because, yeah, my hair is short enough right now, thanks anyway.

But yesterday was perhaps the worst hair day since the very beginning and yes, it was my fault.

Why was it my fault? Well, let me tell you why.

It was my fault because I was at the bottom of my list of priorities yesterday when it came to doing hair.

Alyssa asked on Sunday night if we could straighten her hair on Monday morning. I told her if she got up when I did, than we could straighten her hair. If she waited and got up even ten minutes after I did, there would be no straightening of the hair.

Lucky for her and unlucky for me, she got up when I did and so her hair was straightened.

After my shower, I did the rest of the morning routine, which is get dressed (duh), head downstairs where O should be done with breakfast, put her socks and shoes on her, brush her teeth, cajole her into trying to pee because she is facing a fifty minute bus ride, brush her hair, tell her I’m sorry I’m hurting her, brush her hair some more, tell her she’s not being killed DEAD and that we’re almost done. Then I usually braid her hair in an effort to keep the tangles at bay for the next morning.

Then it’s time to gather coats, hats, mittens, lunches and backpacks and wait for the bus.

During the wait for the bus (my hair is still wrapped in a towel at this point) I pack my own lunch.

Once the girls are on the bus I go upstairs to do something with my own hair and slap on a little makeup. I had about eight minutes this morning to dry my hair, make up my face and then try to smooth the frizz out of my hair before walking out the door to head for work.

Yeah, my hair needs more than eight minutes to look even half-way decent. Today it was way less than half-way decent.

Talk about not putting the oxygen mask on myself before others. (I know, not the same thing at all. I KNOW!!)

For the record, today is not much better in the hair department. I…I don’t want to talk about it anymore.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Playing Favorites

It may seem, when reading the stories I share here, that I favor Olivia over Alyssa. I know I share way more about O than I do about A.

There’s actually a reason behind that, a reason that has nothing to do with my favoring my younger daughter over my older daughter.

It’s just the fact that Alyssa is growing up. She’s building her own on-line presence and I these days I want to respect her privacy as much as I can as an over-sharing mother who adores her children and thinks the rest of the world must think they’re as awesome as she does.

But I know that Alyssa and her friends are on-line more and more these days and I don’t want to share things that might embarrass her should one of her friends find this blog.

I suppose they could google Alyssa Ordinary and find all kinds of things she doesn’t want them to know but at least the most current stories are more amusing than embarrassing, at least as far as I’m concerned.

These days I do ask her before I write about a specific story that involves her. Usually she’ll roll her eyes good-naturedly and then say, “Sure,” when I asked if I can blog about something.

She’s one of the good ones and I want her to always know that I think that. I also want her to know that I respect her need to keep some things to herself and that’s the main reason stories starring Alyssa J. Ordinary are fewer and further between these days.

Olivia K. Ordinary, on the other hand, is only eight and still very much my baby, which means her stories are all up for grabs by the one called Mumzy in our house.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Hard and Fast Rule

Anyone who knows me in real life knows I’m a pretty easy going mom. And by easy going, I mean that I don’t have a lot of hard and fast rules for parenting. Wanna wear a princess dress to town? Go for it.

Wanna play on your tablet while I make dinner so you’ll not lay on the kitchen floor directly behind me? Sure, no problem, at least I’m not tripping over you while holding a knife.

But when Olivia tried to bring a blanket to the dinner table last week, I put my foot down. “You are not sitting at the table wrapped in a blanket,” I told her.

“But I’m cold,” she replied.

“So go put your pants back on!” I insisted.

She huffed and she puffed and she took the blanket back to the couch. She then went to the basket by the basement door, took the pants she’d tossed on top of the pile of other dirty clothes and brought them to me to help her put them on.

“Why do I have to wear pants?” she asked.

“Because, if you’re cold, you need to be fully clothed instead of bringing a blanket to the table,” I informed her. “Besides, it’s just good manners to wear pants to dinner.”

She rolled her eyes and went to the table, this time fully clothed.

Maybe I’ve crossed the line into ‘strict mom’ territory but I don’t think it’s too much to ask that my children wear pants to dinner.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Oh My Heck!

Last night on The Middle, Sue Heck (the daughter for those who don’t watch the show. If you don’t watch, WHY NOT? It’s an awesome show.) found herself engaged.

Her boyfriend bought a tiny house, presented it to her on Valentine’s Day and then proposed. She said, “Sure.”

The rest of the episode revolved around her trying to tell him that she didn’t actually want to get married. She’s a senior in high school, is only seventeen and wants to go to college.

It was a funny episode.

But oh, how it brought back memories of nineteen year old me.

Way back when I was nineteen, my long-distance boyfriend (a soldier in the Army) was home on leave over the Christmas/New Year’s break. I loved being a long-distance girlfriend. I wrote excellent letters, enjoyed the occasional phone call and really, really liked being on my own the rest of the time, able to hang with friends, watch what I wanted on television, study when necessary and sleep when I wanted.

That New Year’s Eve I found myself on a deck overlooking a lake with a full moon shining down on us as we stood on freshly fallen snow. So romantic, right? Yeah…well…then he dropped to one knee, pulled out a ring and slipped it onto the ring finger of my left hand.

And…I was engaged. I was a freshman in college, home for the break and suddenly I was engaged.

See, the problem was that I kind of knew even then that I probably won’t marry this guy. He was very nice and fun to date but I wanted to do more than finish school (honestly, I’m not sure he even wanted me to finish school) and get married. I wanted to live a little. I wanted to move to a big city, live in an apartment, enjoy life before I got married and had kids.

But I couldn’t tell him that in that moment because I knew it would mean we would break up and I kind of liked him. I liked being his girlfriend and having him as my boyfriend. I was happy with our life the way it was and didn’t want to mess things up by refusing his proposal.

I guess I figured he could call me his fiancĂ© for the rest of our time together even if I knew even then I’d never be his wife.

Was this wrong of me? Probably but I was young and kind of stupid and more than a little selfish. I’d like to think I’ve grown up a little since then.

I’ll give Sue credit. She told her boyfriend she didn’t want to get married right away even though she knew it would end the relationship. It was sad for both of them.

And for the record, when the dude to whom I was kind of engaged to came home for good, I ended our relationship pretty quickly. It turned out that when he was in actual visiting distance, he wanted to see me every single weekend even though it meant a four hour drive one way for one of us each and every weekend. Yeah, that didn’t work for me. Not at all. It was kind of sad for both of us.