Friday, July 29, 2011

Lesson #16: When In Doubt, Make the Call

It seems simple enough: your child is sick, call the doctor. Yeah, the thing about that? If you call the doctor, they will tell you to come in. And I've schlepped everyone off to the doctor's office and paid the cold hard cash only to be told "It's just a virus, there's nothing we can do" more times than I care to recall. Because of this, my current method of dealing with sickness is the "Wait and See" method.

The "Wait and See" method is pretty self explanatory: your child is sick, you wait and see if he gets worse. Then if he only gets a little worse, you wait and see how much worse he gets. If he doesn't get any worse but he doesn't get any better either, you start talking to your spouse and your mother about whether you should call the doctor's office. Hubby and Mom tell you to wait and see. So you wait a little while longer. Then you decide that you'll just wait until after nap and if the child's not any better after nap you'll definitely call (but surely he'll be better by then so it will totally be fine). Then when the child wakes up from nap and he seems about the same, you think "Well, he's not getting any worse..." So you wait just a little longer. Then by supper he's still not better yet and you start thinking that, gee, he's been sick for X amount of time and doesn't seem to be getting any better, so maybe you should call after all. So you get back on the phone with your spouse and your mother, and by this point you've decided that the child just isn't himself and you definitely need to call. The spouse and mother confirm that, yes, you definitely should at least call. So you call. And the doctor's office is closed for the day. And then you end up taking the child to Walk In Care (or worse, the ER). See? Easy, peasy!

This is what happened to me last weekend. It had been a long, hot week and I had planned a fantastic Saturday. We were going to pack the cooler, find a beach, and spend the day outside enjoying the weather, instead of cooped up in my 90-degree living room.

The day started out fine-I even got to build a blanket "cave" with my 3 1/2 year old! But around 10:30 my perfect little Saturday started to unravel. The 3 1/2 year old said his side hurt. This usually indicates the need to drop a serious deuce so I immediately took him to the bathroom in hopes of avoiding any poo-related incidents. Much as he tried, it was a no go. From that point on, he laid on our recliner, refusing to eat or drink, and crying about his belly hurting. I tried everything, to no avail. At first I thought it was simple constipation, but as they day wore on and I went through all the phases of the "Wait and See" method, as described above, I began to get scared. What if it was more than constipation? What if he was having kidney failure? What if he'd swallowed something I didn't know about? What if he had an intestinal blockage? Needless to say, we ended up at the Walk In Care.

Now, mind you, this child is always on the go. He has two speeds: fast and manic. He's always playing with something or getting into something or asking seventy bazillion questions about something. For him to have spent the day lying around, doing nothing but crying, was pretty major.

As soon as we pulled into the parking lot, I swear the kid perked right up. He started in, asking all kinds of questions and pointing out different vehicles as he skipped along beside me to the door. Skipped. I asked him if his belly still hurt, and he reported that it did. Reluctantly, I led him into the clinic. At the desk, he turned into a freakin' Chatty Cathy, asking the registration girl what her name was and why she was typing on the computer, pointing out Mommy's purse, and showing off the bag I had brought (packed with coloring stuff, books, Hot Wheels, and a drink and snack, of course). I found myself explaining to the registration girl that he really was sick and had been all day, I swear! I'm sure she thought I was a total fruit loop. I asked him again if his belly still hurt, and it still did.

We went to the waiting area, where he played with his toys with great enthusiasm. I asked him if his belly still hurt, and it still did. When the nurse pulled us into a side office to do a preliminary investigation of the belly pain (to make sure he was well enough to wait the two hours it would be until he could actually get treated), and he pointed to three different spots on his stomach-all of which were not anywhere near the spot he'd identified repeatedly earlier in the day-I began to have my doubts about this whole expedition. I asked him if his belly still hurt, and it still did.

About forty five minutes into our wait, the little dude said he had to go potty. In my haste to pack activities to keep a small child occupied for what could be hours, I had not grabbed The Bag (I know, I know!) so I hustled him into the restroom tout suite. Lemme just tell ya: the kid let out mammoth turd. It was the biggest turd I have ever seen. I'm still not quite sure how it came out of that little body of his. All I could think was "No wonder his belly's been hurting!"

After that, he asked for his snack and downed the whole thing, then started drinking from (playing in) the water fountain. I asked if his belly still hurt. It didn't. Surprise surprise. Then he said, "Mommy let's go home!" So we did.

Note to self: get some prune juice to keep on hand for emergencies.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Lesson #15: It's All Over When the Baby Learns to Crawl

Moms are always proud when their babies reach milestones, but I'm especially proud of my babies when they do it. Being born at 29 and 30 weeks, respectively, ain't easy (that's about 2 1/2 months TOO SOON for those of you who used to yell "And don't tell me in weeks!" when asking how far along I was). My little 2 lb 10oz-er and 3 lb 5oz-er had rough starts in this life and it's been amazing to see them grow and thrive as they have. When your baby starts life with a breathing tube, a feeding tube, a temperature gauge, an IV line, several leads stuck on him, cloth "sunglasses" over his eyes, wearing diapers the size of panty liners, you get a little teary eyed when almost a year later the little dude finally starts crawling around the floor!

All that being said, I'm pretty sure we are truly in for it now. This is only the tip of the little boy iceberg that I'm pretty sure is going to sink our parenting ship: two rambunctious boys on the move!

Our 3 1/2 year old is finally at the point where he can pretty much be trusted around the house, and we got kinda comfortable with that. Once the baby finally learned to sit up, it was all good: we could sit him in the "baby corner" of the playroom that is our living room, and he'd sit around playing happily while we went pee or put water on to boil. Not so much anymore. Hubby called me at work to tell me little man was crawling all around the place and I asked if he was really crawling or just kind of crawling. His response? "I set him in the toy area, went pee, and when I came back he was across the room chewing on a sandal!" So really crawling, then.

Now that he's on the go, we've had to remove the braided throw rug from our living room floor because no matter how many times you vacuum that beast, dog hair WILL get stuck all over his hands when he crawls on it. And what gets stuck on his hands WILL end up on his face and in his mouth. Ewww. The best part, though, is when he spits up and crawls through it. That's super fun! You'd think I would learn and just keep a roll of paper towels in the living room, but I never think of it until I NEED them. Even when I pick him up right away to prevent smearing, he somehow manages turn the living room floor into a road map of puke every time.

I'm actually a bit afraid that the little dude has some kind of magic powers or something. I mean, the kid literally learned to crawl overnight. Sunday he could get up on his knees and maybe move one knee ahead but that's it. Monday he could get two knees forward but nothing close to actually crawling. Tuesday morning-BAM! He's launching a sneak attack on sandals. What's next? I wake up tomorrow and he's running laps around the house? This weekend he's taking the car out for a spin? By Monday morning he's smashing beer cans on his forehead? I swear it could happen! He was already up on his knees holding onto the door of the entertainment center, eyeballing the Wii! Pulling himself up can't be far behind.

With two little boys on the move, we definitely have to step up the man to man defense a notch. I figure we're safe as long as they don't know they have the upper hand. We can't let them smell our fear! As long as they don't realize that together they can wreak the sort of havoc that drives people to drink we're all good.

And if worst comes to worst... there's always Mimi and Papa's house!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Lesson #14: We Will Visit the WalMart Restroom. Every Time.

Lesson #14: We Will Visit the Walmart Restroom. Every Time.

I swear, WalMart has freaky voodoo powers that cause young children to either act like psychos or have to go potty while trapped within its walls. I hate going to the place too but it doesn't make me crap my pants. Sheesh.

The first time we took my son to the bathroom there, he was totally freaked by the huge toilets that emit  roaring flushes at random intervals, and wouldn't go. Of course, five minutes later he swore he had to go and promised that he would try. No go. Five minutes after that it was Pooey Lewis and the Ewws in the underpants. Shoulda figured. Luckily (I guess) he was still wearing Pull Ups whenever we ventured to a public place then. Unlucky for everyone that we forgot The Bag at home and had nothing to wipe him with or change him into. Yay for the Parent of the Year award I am sure to be receiving soon.

Last week my sister in law and nephew visited from the left coast. One day hubby and SIL decided they needed to stop at Walmart and look at covers for the new iPod Touch that SIL and BIL had gotten us for our anniversary (do I have the best in laws or what). They had my older son and nephew with them, and sure enough, the Poo Voodoo struck again. My husband came home and announced grimly that my son had pooped his pants at Walmart, then went on to say that he'd forgotten The Bag at home and once again had nothing to wipe the child with or change him into. He wears underwear all the time now, so I had a feeling I knew where this story was going. I feigned horror and said, "Ohmigod what did you do?" He replied, "We went back out into the store, I bought some new underwear and threw out the old ones." Yep, just as I suspected. What he didn't purchase, however, were wipes... Hm. Ew.

Since having two kids we've found that grocery shopping is much more easily done with two adults: either one kid in each cart or one adult at home with two kids while the other shops. Yesterday we were loading up the ole family truckster to head out to Wally World (you see what I just did there?) to get groceries when hubby, clearly pleased with himself, held up The Bag, declaring, "Better not forget this!" He's such a smarty pants. Sure enough, about ten minutes into the grocery run, my 3 year old had to go potty. "You're taking him this time!" hubby called out as he snatched the list and raced off with the baby.

Lucky for me, homeboy hadn't poo'd this time, he just had to do numero uno. I thought about taking him into the handicapped stall so we'd have a little more space but the toilets are sometimes taller and I didn't want him to totally freak so we squeezed into a regular stall.  The problem with this is that you really can't help a kid get his pants down without your booty hanging out under the stall door. Awesome. At least I wasn't wearing a skirt. Why do they have to make those things so dang tiny anyway?

The next obstacle to overcome was the fact that the only place to stand as a potty spectator is directly in front of the toilet, which, as you know, is not in the safe zone when little boys are sitting down to pee. Of course, the toilet seats at Walmart, like many public restroom toilet seats, have an opening across the front. You might as well put a bulls eye on me.

I was trying to get him to do his thang as quickly as possible while touching as little as possible, when he started playing around with the door to the little metal receptacle for feminine trash, pushing it open and letting it slam shut.
The exchange that followed went something like this:
Him: What's this Mommy?
Me: Don't touch that!
Him: Why?
Me: Because it has germs.
Him: But what is it?
Me: It's a little garbage can.
Him: Why?
Me: Ok let's get your pants back up now, the toilet's going to flush!

And, of course, it did. It's never pleasant having your face a foot away from an automatic flusher in a public restroom. I don't care if it sprays or not, it's just gross.

Along with learning that we WILL be sojourning to the Walmart restroom on every visit, I think we've also learned these important lessons as well:
1. Don't forget The Bag.
2. Don't wear a skirt.
3. Always push the cart carrying the baby.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Lesson #13: "Double Stroller" is Code for "Instrument of Evil"

Lesson #13: "Double Stroller" is Code for "Instrument of Evil". Also known as "The Double Stroller Debacle".

So the other day it was wicked hot out (I'm from Maine, we use wicked as an adverb) so I thought I would pick up a frappe after work on my way to get the kids. That's when I got the brilliant idea that instead, I would pick the kids up, load them into the double stroller, and walk down to Dairy Queen where we could all enjoy an ice cream together. It would be so great: I'd get some exercise so it would totally cancel out the ice cream (work with me here), and we'd get some family time while the boys had a special treat. Brilliant!

Do you ever have an idea of how something is going to happen, and then when it happens it's totally the opposite of what you thought? I should have known things weren't gonna go my way when the first thing both kids did when I arrived to pick them up was crap their pants. I'm not even kidding.

We eventually got home and I went looking for the double stroller. I thought it was in the trunk of the car but it wasn't. When I finally found it on the enclosed porch I remembered why it wasn't in the trunk of the car: the thing is so freaking huge nothing else fits when it's in there. I wrestled it out of its corner, through the house, and out the front door, only to realize that I couldn't remember how to set the stupid thing up. After spending a good five minutes flipping it every which way I finally figured it out.

Then I realized that I still needed the canopy and the bar thingy with the cup holder that goes across the front. Which I then had to find. And figure out how to install. The canopy was no problem but the cup holder bar thingy was a whole nother ball of wax. It simply needed to be snapped into place; the problem was that you apparently have to be a bodybuilder in order to have enough muscle to GET it to snap on. I ended up flipping (throwing?) the entire stroller onto either side and pounding it on.

Once the stroller was assembled and we were all lubed up with sunscreen it was already 4:45 and I really should've been starting supper instead of spoiling it with ice cream but I had a vision, ok? I took the first step of our fun family walk... And the stroller didn't budge. In my hurry to find, figure out, and get two children into the stroller, I hadn't paid attention to where I had placed it. I had set it up on the front walkway, which is topped with pea gravel. Every try pushing anything on pea gravel? Not so much. I had to grab onto the cup holder bar thingy (good thing I took the time to hammer that baby on!) and haul the ginormous stroller with two kids in it down the walkway like a tow truck pulling a car from a ditch.We'd come that far, there was no way I was going to unload Yin and Yang just to move the stroller 10 feet.

Finally, we were off. I should tell you that we live on a busy road on the main drag and there are no sidewalks, just a wide lane on either side of the road where people frequently walk and bike. The thing about that? It means it's not completely level. There's a slight slant for drainage, which meant the stroller kept listing to the left the entire time. It was like pushing a grocery cart with a faulty wheel and 50+ lbs of cargo. My arms got quite the workout. By the time we got to Dairy Queen I was a hot mess. As I trudged up the drive, a shiny red SUV with a woman driver and a boy about my older son's age in the backseat was pulling out. I thought about carjacking them for the ride home in air conditioned comfort, but I hear law enforcement frowns upon that sort of thing.

We got our ice cream and sat at an outdoor table to enjoy it... For about two minutes. That's when the baby started fussing because he's not a real big fan of just sitting the stroller. I took him out so he could sit with me and gave him a little taste of my chocolate ice cream. He really liked it! In fact, he liked it so much that he started fussing because he just couldn't get enough. As I was tending to the baby, my 3 year old ran around the table, grabbed my ice cream, and ran away to another table to eat it. At that point I didn't care anymore. I told him he could keep it if he'd come get in the stroller (Lesson #6 again!)

Despite being a comedy of errors, the whole event was worth it.When I'm old and gray I'll think back and smile as I remember my babies' chocoatey smiling faces... And how much I got on eBay for that damn stroller.