Monday, June 30, 2008

My Great Ideas

You know the saying, “The road to Gehenna is a well-worn cobble-stoned pathway full of travelers who have great ideas.” Or something like that. My list of things I’d like to do, am going to do, and have to do are getting so long I figured I’d better start writing them down. I’m beginning to forget. Which of course is the crux of the problem, because if you have an intention to do something, and forget you need to do it, it never gets done and remains just an intention, and you end up walking down that path I mentioned a moment ago.

So here is a small sampling of things I have been intending to do, and why to this date I have yet to do them. We’ll start small.

Drink more water.
It’s a no brainer really. We all know that one needs to drink at least 6-8 glasses of water daily to remain hydrated and healthy. But honestly I find drinking water a pain in the ass. Mainly because water seems to go right through me and I end up needing to use the restroom every 20 minutes. Other liquids do not do this. My usual beverage intake in a day is: 2-3 cups coffee in the morning. I do add cream to my coffee, so that counts as my dairy requirement. For lunch, an iced tea or Coke. To be fair I add ice, which counts as part of my water requirement. For dinner I usually down a beer or glass of wine or two (especially seeing as how it’s summer and my children are home which makes me need a drink even more). I will admit I have a glass of water by the nightstand in case I wake up with cotton-mouth at 3 a.m. Coffee, tea, soda, beer, wine. Wasn’t there an article published out there awhile back that said your body is able to absorb the water in other beverages, such as iced tea? That once upon a time they thought that caffeinated drinks didn’t count, but now they do? I’m sure I remember reading that somewhere. Water is so bland. It’s just water. It’s not fizzy, doesn’t help keep me awake, doesn’t help me tolerate my fighting children and only makes me urinate. I have other things I need to get done in a day besides hang out in the bathroom.

That said, I’ve been complaining about headaches lately. I’ve had one for weeks now that never fully goes away, so either I have a brain tumor and need an MRI, or my body is dehydrated. My husband suggested I fill a big water bottle and just drink out of that all day so I know how much I’ve had. It’s a great idea. I’ll never do it because I’ll feel overwhelmed at how much water I need to drink and how often I’ll be on the pot so I’ll fill the bottle and let it sit on the counter. I’ll use it for plants at the end of the day. I know me. I get that I need to start drinking more water and I can hear my mother’s voice, my doctor’s voice, (even your voice) in my head chastising me for my beverage choices. Which is why, drink more water, is on my list. I’ll do it. Right after I finish this cup of coffee.

Go to the Dentist.
I do not have a problem with the dentist. What I have a problem with is making an appointment for the dentist. This includes making appointments for my children and husband to visit the dentist as well. It’s been probably 5 years since my husband or I have seen a dentist, and 3 years since my children have seen one. Pick your mouth off the floor. We’re all fine. Apparently I missed the chapter in the “How to be a Fabulous Parent” book that says you need to visit the dentist at least bi-annually. I figured that if there was a problem with our teeth one of two things would happen:
1) that I would notice the black/brown rotting teeth in my (or my children’s) mouth or
2) that I (or my children) would be so consumed with pain upon chewing that it would be fairly obvious we needed to see a dental specialist.

These things have not happened. I look in the kids’ mouth regularly, if not to check for fecal matter, then to look at their teeth for black spots. My children brush with occasional regularity, like when their teeth turn orange from all the crap accumulating on them. Yes I tell them to brush every night. No, they don’t do it. My husband has not complained about painful teeth either. Mine are fine. I have yet to have a cavity, not even one. I don’t say this to brag, it’s just the way it’s been. You’ll be proud to know that on this front I am making headway. I have actually called the dentist and my entire family has a scheduled cleaning and checkup. I can hear the dentist now.
“How long since your last appointment?”
“5 years.”
“How often do you floss?”
“Every night after I eat steak and corn.”
“You know these aren’t really teeth at all, don’t you? They’re really just stumps of tartar that look like teeth. And by the way, your gums are receding and you have bone loss. You’ll need a full set of top and bottom falsies. We’re running a special, only 50% of your 401K. Don’t worry. You can set up an automatic withdrawal when you leave.”

The dentist will look into my children’s mouth. He’ll make a note in his folder to call CPS when I leave. She’ll shake her head and ask how often I floss the kids’ teeth. What?

(Anecdote Alert: I remember when I first joined my book club, and all the mom’s were talking about their kids and dental care. I didn’t know them and they didn’t know me, so I was joking about how often mine don’t brush. “And can you believe that the dentist actually asked me if I floss my kids teeth?” I joked incredibly. “I mean, my kids barely brush, let alone let me floss their teeth. C’mon! Who actually flosses their kids’ teeth?” I was laughing, trying to make a good impression. Well, turns out that quite a few of those women do floss their kids’ teeth. And they said so, there in those few seconds of nervous silence. And the score officially was, Book Club Moms 1. Newcomer 0. Damn.)

Be More Organized About Summer Schedules.
This summer I swore I would try to be proactive about the amount of tv watching, video game playing and complaining that my children inevitably do the second school is over. My great idea? Type a list of things to complete before 10 a.m./or going to play with fiends, whichever comes first. This list will be laminated and hang on the door of each child’s room with a dry erase marker. They’ll use this marker to cross out the things they have completed, which will be easy for me to check and follow through with. The list of things include:

  • Read for 20 minutes. Video game instructions do not count. Nor do words on the commercials on tv.
  • Complete three pages in the summer workbooks I bought so their brains don’t turn to mush.
  • Complete chores. This includes organizing their bedrooms, a quick wipe down of bathrooms, and each child gets to pick up a living area.
  • Spend 20 minutes practicing their keyboarding skills. I bought a computer program to have them learn to type. You laugh, but do you want to spend time typing their reports as they progress in school? It’s either that or listen to them whine incessantly about how long it takes to write their name and date at the top of a document as they hunt and peck with their extended index finger. It’s brutal. My kids are going to learn how to type. (Although, it turns out the program I bought sucks, even I hated using it which is why it was probably on sale…)
  • Eat breakfast. Yes I have to put this on the list or it’s 11:00 and they want popsicles and cookies. Since I can’t remember my own name most days I let them eat it because I assumed they had a healthful breakfast…
  • Spend 20 minutes researching a topic of their choice on the new kid’s browser Kidzui. They’ll need to find 2-3 facts about said topic and write them down (in cursive for my older child) in a notebook which will be labeled, “Summer Research.”

These lists will keep them organized, my house clean, their brains fresh, and maybe they’ll get scholarships to college with all the useless factoids they’ll learn from the internet. They will know what to expect each day, which will eliminate the 7:30 a.m. complaining and yelling about the tv. My house will run like my classroom did, way back when I had a professional job and actually got paid to organize ideas like this. My house will be efficient and I’m going to do it. As soon as I have a day to type out the individualized lists, take them to Staples to laminate them, buy a new package of dry erase markers and sit down with them to explain our new family SOP’s. I’d also like to take this opportunity to remind you that I came up with this idea last year. I’ve had time to work out the kinks.

The list is much longer than this, but it’s 11:14 a.m. and I haven’t eaten breakfast yet. I’ve had 3 cups of coffee though, so I should go down a glass of water. I think the kids had a yogurt for breakfast, so it’s unlikely I’ll find any leftovers to nosh on while I do the dishes. I’ll have to actually make a meal for myself, and you know how much I love getting the kitchen more messy. Sigh. Maybe I’ll throw the kids in the car and head to Staples. But I’ll need to type the lists for the kids before I head there…Since I’m already on the computer I might as well… but I’m hungry and the baby is going to wake up soon…where are my other two kids…
“ARE YOU GUYS STILL WATCHING TV?”

Monday, June 16, 2008

Potty Mouth


10 minutes before we needed to leave for the bus this morning, my son shouts, “Mom! The baby’s mouth smells like poop!”

I deep sigh. Even given the fact that my son tends to be somewhat of an attention seeking-hog, this announcement is not good news.

I wander into my son’s room , who is still yelling “Gross! Nasty! She ate poop! Oh man that’s disgusting!” and try to figure out what is going on. Sure enough, there is a teeny tiny turd on the carpet at her feet, and after doing a quick sniff… yep her breath smells like doodie.

“Where did she get a turd?” I yell. I look at my other two children. Their saucer eyes light up with that it wasn’t me look. But since the cat kicked it last December, I have no one to blame but the five people living in this house. Apparently random turdletts fall from our shorts without us noticing. And leave it to my baby daughter to find the smallest, tiniest bit of excrement possible and then enjoy it like a tootsie roll pop.

My third child is unlike the other two in a few ways. Mainly, the amount of things she can find to stuff into her orifice knows no bounds. She can and will put anything—I mean anything—into her mouth and chew, suck and try to swallow it. In fact I am wondering if she was born without taste buds, because I have found nothing that makes her turn up her nose, nothing she shudders and spits out, nothing she licks and leaves. My other two children were never ones to put much in their mouth, preferring to play with odd objects, or squish things. Even when my son found some aspirin on the floor, he took one lick, gagged and spit it out. Such a good boy.

So the fact that my youngest can digest handfuls of soil, small rocks, pennies, nickels, lint balls, leaves and flowers off house plants, soap bars, anything within reach inside a trash can, leaf mulch, tree pollen and now feces, with the same excitement and enthusiasm that she shovels down her cheese cubes and green peas, absolutely baffles me. I have pulled all these objects out of her mouth, which she vehemently refuses to give me, as if I am trying to swab the gruel out of a third-world-child’s cheeks.

My daughter also starts every meal by throwing a handful of food onto the floor. It’s not a sign that she’s finished or full, and after the first handful or so, she happily consumes what’s on her tray. But the introduction of a new food on the tray initiates the toss-over as well, and by the time she’s completed her eating escapade, the floor has more food on it than what found its way into her belly. This confused me at first, until, after taking her down from her snack chair and proceeding to the sink for a wet rag to clean the floor, I arrive back at the table to find my daughter hoovering up the remains of lunch as fast as she can grip the slimy bananas and old toast bits that she refused to eat any more of a moment earlier. In fact, I have come to discover that my daughter actually prefers to eat off the floor and under the table. There is not a crumb infested cranny, nor a nasty nook in my kitchen that is safe from the diet desires of my daughter. The older and crunchier the remains are, the better she likes it. Apparently throwing food from her tray is her small way of self-preservation. In the event that I stop providing meals for her, at least she’s covered.

My daughter can sniff out actual consumable food like an emaciated rat and has pin-point radar for ground debris. I should know not to leave her alone in a room, unless its padded and she's in a straight jacket. Why was I surprised that poop finally made the list?

I grab my daughter and proceed to try and wipey out her mouth. I consider giving her a shot of grain alcohol, or squirting some anti-bacterial gel into her mouth to at least kill the germs and rid the brown tongue, but I'm out of both. Since she can’t swish-and-spit, Listerine and soapy water won’t work. Tilex and Lysol Foaming Bath cleaner just seem wrong (but I am dealing with poop here), and while using those would probably secure them a book deal later in life and kill the germs, I’d probably be in jail which would leave my husband to raise three kids by himself, and well, he can’t braid hair. So, I’m just left with a little innocent wipey which isn’t doing much to alleviate the brown tongue. I have to sit in the bathroom and silently gag to myself knowing that poop germs are swimming in her system. At this point I should have just let her down and encouraged her to suck on the toilet, because as gross as that is, there is less poop on my commode than my carpets apparently. Who knew.

I call a couple neighbors and friends to ask if their children have ever eaten poop and what they did about it. Nope. Nothing. No one else’s child has ever eaten poop. Only mine. Mine mine mine.

I call the pediatrician, and ask to speak with a nurse. I’m not paying a $30 co-pay if I can get this info on the phone.
“All the nurses are busy, I’ll take a message and have them call you back. What seems to be the problem?” the receptionist asks.
“Well,” I explain, “My daughter ate a little turd this morning, and I’m just wondering if there’s anything I need to do.”
“Was it animal or human?”
I suppose this makes a difference, but at the moment poop is poop.
“Human.” (Of course no one has come forward to own this piece of crap, so I am assuming it’s human, and didn’t wander in on someone shoes, or, or…hang on I’m feeling dizzy.

The nurse calls me back an hour or so later. The baby’s poop breath is gone by this time.
“Mrs. Vidoni? I talked with the doctor, and he said there is nothing to worry about, your daughter will be fine. There’s nothing you can do about it anyway.”
“She can’t get ecoli, or anything?” I ask.
“No,” she quietly chuckles. “She’ll be fine.”
And that was it. Quick, to the point, and I saved 30 bucks.

It amazes me that a person can eat a piece of relatively fresh human fecal matter and have no ramifications from that, but I can’t buy a bag of spinach or fresh tomatoes from the grocery store without getting fifty diseases. How exactly does that work?

It’s been my prayer for some time now, that God might help me deal with my OCD issues. Leave it to His big sense of humor to give an extremely germ-a-phobic-especially-gross-things-from-floors-and-bathrooms-mom a third child who has a penchant for all things disgusting, grimy and previously-left-by-others. Who not only plays with these objects, but eats them. If my daughter’s behavior was supposed to be a way to try and help curb my worrying or lessen my anxieties, it isn’t working. Right after I got off the phone with the pediatrician, I called my doctor. I need to start taking Prozac again.