Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Rites of Manhood: What a Gas

My son is my life. He’s as beautiful as an angel, as smart as Einstein, and as creative as Michelangelo. Truly. Sure, there are moments when I am a little less convinced of that, but all in all, Kiddo is perfection. The one thing is, he’s growing up. Oh, and he’s a boy. 

Being a boy, it was inevitable that he would decide certain things are hilarious. Like bodily functions. Yep. He’s decided that gas and other assorted emissions are the funniest things in the universe. 

He has developed a talent for burps on demand. Much as my countless younger brothers before him have done (yes, I have lost count of my many siblings), he can discharge a string of belches for minutes on end. And does so. To his own and no one else’s amusement. 

He has developed a sense of humor about burping. After one spectacularly loud expulsion, I yelled, “What do you say?” He responded with, “There you go!” 

Yes, here we go. Someone help me. 

If belching is funny, then farting is hysterical. No one can pass gas in this house without Kiddo falling over laughing now. After a certain hour, I can gauge how well dinner is sitting on Hubby’s stomach and how long I should wait to join my family just by the decibel level of guffaws coming from the den. From both of them. I have learned men do not outgrow this homegrown source of personal joy. 

It’s not just the act that makes for great comedy in the Jock household. The mere word is the height of wit. Just the other night, I tucked Kiddo into bed with the usual kiss and a heartfelt, “I love you.” 

In return I got the giggled, “Fartfartfartfartfartfartfart.” 

Well, it had to happen. The XY chromosome will not be denied when it comes to a boy being a boy. I guess I should be grateful that Kiddo is fiercely typical for his age in many respects. I remind myself of that each time he snuggles in my lap, gives me his angelic smile, and says, “Fart on your leg?” 

With my own angelic smile, I say, “No, go fart on Daddy’s leg.” And he obeys.  

That’s my boy.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Sight for Sore Eyes

I’ve had bad vision for as long as I can remember. Nearsighted, I’ve been wearing glasses since I was nine. I probably needed them some time before then. I remember putting glasses on for the first time and being amazed. Hazy stretches of green passing the car resolved into individual blades of grass I’d only been able to see if inches from my nose. It was like a miracle.


I can see! Now it's time to watch Magic Mike.

Years of teasing and growing vanity caused ol’ Four Eyes here to switch to contact lenses in 8th grade. Now instead of skinny, gawky, and Poindexter-ish, I just looked skinny and gawky. At least it was one less thing for my shaky self-esteem to bemoan. Then I started to finally fill out a little, taking care of the too-thin issue. Much to my delight and my mother’s concern, boys started to notice me. Between puberty and shedding those oversized plastic owl frames, I was also shedding long years of ugly duckling-hood.


I identify

Since then, I’ve enjoyed only wearing glasses when I first get up in the morning, until my bleary orbs are ready to accept me poking corrective lenses in them. I’m a nerd to the extreme, but I’ve never appreciated looking like one. Yes, I am ridiculously vain. Awkward socially and called ‘the ugly girl’ throughout childhood, I’ve had a few demons to slay when it comes to feeling good about myself. Thank heavens that I’m finally getting to a place where the opinions of others are not quite so vital to my oft-bruised ego. There are some perks to getting older ... like learning that when others are hurtful it has everything to do with them and nothing to do with me.

I respond with my newfound maturity: screw them.

Ah, but age has its downsides. I find that it’s not so much sneaking up on me as it has ambushed me. As my near vision fades, I’m relying on magnifying glasses to read things closer than half a football field away. Every exam by the optometrist brings the dreaded question, “Are you ready to concede to bifocals yet?” 

Ugh. Back to glasses. But my unhappy attitude is not because I’m worried about my physical appearance. Nope, it’s got more to do with my inability to keep up with anything in my house. 

I constantly lose stuff. Thumb drives get swallowed in some black hole in my home and never return. Too carefully hidden Christmas presents turn up in May. My cell phone is perpetually getting misplaced. Since I hate talking on the phone, it doesn’t get looked for until the battery is dead and I can’t hope to track it by its ringing. By now, most of my family and friends know that their calls and messages won’t be returned until 2045. I am hopeless with that thing. 

I resist bifocals simply because they are expensive. I cannot buy enough of them to keep me seeing properly when I need to. Cheap magnifying glasses have been my crutch for two years. I buy them by the gross and scatter them all about the house. I do this in the hopes that I won’t be left squinting at stuff as if staring into the sun from five feet away. Even so, I never seem to have a pair on hand when I need them. They disappear like everything else, migrating to places I never intended them to go. 

Yesterday, I found a glasses convention going on in the living room. Three pairs had made it to my work desk. Funny thing is, I had taken yesterday off from writing ... so why were the glasses there? I’ve found similar clandestine glasses meetings going on in other parts of the house too. I think they’re plotting against me.


So we agree to slide down her nose every two seconds until she cries from frustration?

And yes, I have performed the typical act everyone over the age of 50 laughs nervously about ... searching for my glasses while they are perched upon my head. I laugh too and secretly consult Web MD about the warning signs of dementia. Then I go out and buy another half dozen replacement pairs of reading glasses because I couldn’t read the stupid screen in front of my face. Where are they disappearing to? Do I have an infestation of house imps stealing them? Maybe they’ve got my cell phone too. They’d better not be using up all my minutes.

So that’s what those creepy things do when Christmas is over.

 Nope, I’m not ready for pricey bifocals. I can’t see well enough to search for them when they go missing too. Plus they might be powerful enough to rally the other glasses to act on the plans they’ve been making at those bizarre meetings they keep having. 

Next Web MD question: Is imagining rogue glasses a sign of dementia?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Like Pulling Teeth

Kiddo just had a dentist’s appointment to get his teeth cleaned. We’re still recovering. 

Few things are commonplace when a child with autism is in play. Until recently, haircuts were a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions. Kiddo hated getting his hair cut. He fought us all tooth and nail over it. Barbers were covered in nicks and blood from their own scissors when it was over. And do you know how hard it is to trim a straight line when most of the hair is covered by the headlock Mommy has to put on him?
All right, young man, Mommy wants a nice, clean haircut.

I think the issue stemmed from his first few haircuts, which were inflicted on him with humming electric clippers. Being sensitive to certain sounds and sensations, Kiddo simply cannot cope with clippers. Only scissors are allowed around his hair. 

Unfortunately, there is no out when it comes to getting his teeth cleaned. He must endure the mechanical hum of the tool in his mouth, which only makes it louder. He hates it with passion. He fights it like the heavyweight champion of the world. And he lets the whole world know just how miserable he is. 

We can’t even get him to sit in the chair willingly. All hands are on deck when the time comes for torture. You wouldn’t think a skinny 8-year-old could put up much of a fight. And yet it takes at least three full-grown adults to pick up this struggling, shrieking bit of mayhem and pin him into the chair.


An artist’s rendering of the child we’re trying to contain.

I can’t even imagine how the other kids feel watching the drama unfold. This is a pediatric dentist’s office. In the spirit of keeping things warm and playful, the hygienists’ stations are in a big, open area with brightly painted murals. The kids can see each other getting their teeth cleaned and take encouragement from everyone around them. 

Then there is my poor son, lost in his sensory hell as his world becomes a chaotic maelstrom of buzzing, vibrating insanity in his mouth. His screams pierce every eardrum as he is held down against his will by vainly cooing grownups. There is terror on all the other children’s faces as they no doubt wonder if this is their eventual fate. I bet they all end up with OCD, endlessly brushing and flossing their teeth in order to avoid whatever horrendous procedure my son was apparently undergoing.


“Die tartar, die!!!”

The only fortunate thing about the cleaning of Kiddo’s teeth is that it’s over so quickly. The hygienist goes in grimly, polishing at light speed to get this over with. She is aided by the fact that you can’t scream without your mouth wide open, so she gets an all-access pass to those teeth. In less than five minutes, it’s over.  

My son accepts his free toy and toothbrush from the hygienist, hiccupping the last of his sobs and ready to be grouchy about everything to do with the rest of the day. Even when his appointments are first thing in the morning, we do not send him to school afterward. There is too much trauma to overcome, too much doting by a guilt-ridden Mommy to be done.

Then we get the news: a cavity to be filled. Oh heaven help us.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Bracing for the New Year

2014 was not my greatest year ever. I only released two new books as my alter ego and none as myself, the least I’ve done since I first got published. My mom had a major health scare and nearly died. School for my son got off to a rocky start. 

I pretty much feel like I’ve been treading water all year. I’ve managed to keep my head up, but I’m haven’t really gotten anywhere. So like so many others, I’m making some resolutions to get things rolling again. 

This is something of a big deal for me. I’ve always resolutely resisted resolutions. (Try saying that out loud five times fast. Great. With all those sibilants, you now have plenty of water to mop your holiday-mucky floor. You’re welcome.) 

Yes, resolving to not hold myself to any standards at the beginning of the year has always been my game. Why set myself up for failure? In the middle of February when everyone else has stopped going to the gym, when they have begun to carb themselves silly once more, when only one hour of Facebook is back up to eight, I’ve been smug in my refusal to attempt accomplishment at all. While all the rest look guilty, I have already gained acceptance of my lack of progress. There is peace in consistent mediocrity. 

However, I do feel a drive to do better this coming year. I will probably regret this small burst of ambition. Indeed, I have tried to ignore its call. Yet it is as insistent as my son wanting a cookie. It will not stop badgering me. So for 2015, here are my New Year’s resolutions: 

1. I resolve to see my floors at least four times this year. 

My house is in a state of perpetual wreck-titude. It wasn’t always this way. I used to keep a nice, clean home. Then a cute but sloppy man-child entered my life. We got married and had a son, who is also very messy. At some point, I threw in the towel, and my home went into permanent ‘looks like a tornado hit’ mode. 

Not that removing the obstacle course of toys, musical instruments, wires, and old popcorn will make matters much better. The layer of dropped amusements, food, and Angry Birds underwear hides battered and stained linoleum that was new in 1972. I think that floor is a major part of why the vacuum cleaner and mop are gathering dust. It’s nice to forget that only a contractor can make my house look like decent people who give a darn live in it. 

2. I resolve to get out among other humans more often. 

I work at home. My son despises school activities, so we never attend anything beyond his regular school day. Almost all of my friends live out of town ... most live out of state. I am not one to go out on my own, so my social life pretty much consists of Hubs and Kiddo. I sit in my house working, raising the boy, and generally being a hermit. 

Most of the time, I’m perfectly content with the way things are. After all, writing is real work that is mentally exhausting. Plus Kiddo takes a lot of time and energy. I’m usually a limp noodle by the end of the day. Yet there is the gnawing feeling that something is missing. Like fun. Yeah, I remember something about getting out and laughing and expanding my horizons in some fashion. It’s there like some vague hazy dream someone else once had. 

So this year, I’m going to poke my head outside my door from time to time. I’m going to see what all those other people I supposedly share the planet with are up to. Maybe I’ll take a class. Maybe I’ll just go for walks in populated areas. Maybe someone will talk to me. Maybe I’ll talk back and have an actual conversation that doesn’t consist of, “Hey! Stop throwing popcorn on our ugly floor. Pick up your underwear! Tell your son to stop goofing off and do his homework!” 

3. I resolve to drink lots of coffee. 

Okay, so I already do that on a championship level. But there has to be one thing there that I know I can succeed at when I join the rest of you in the mid-February Guilt Hunch. 

Happy New Year, all. I hope you have a wonderful 2015.