Archive for the ‘Monday 2’ category

5

Special Needs

Family Blog Nosh Magazine{Originally published on The Big Piece of Cake}

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before – but my three year old son, Oliver is weird.

This is at least partly due to something called SPD (sensory processing disorder) that causes him to engage in activities that “feed” his need for a lot of sensory input. His teacher explained this to me by saying, “remember that kid in your class who just couldn’t stay in his chair? The one who would fidget so much that he’d actually fall out of it sometimes?” Well yes actually – I do.

I remember several kids like that. They were the ones who ate paste in kindergarten, fell into the pond on the second grade field trip and consistently got in trouble for “touching people” in more or less every grade through middle school. And now, as it turns out, I’ve given birth to one.

This shouldn’t be too much of a surprise since we speculate that my father was like this as a boy, AND after reading up on the subject, my husband says that he was definitely a sensory seeking SPD child. Thanks guys – you’re the best. The inability to walk past a puddle without lying down in it was one of the qualities I prayed for every night when I was pregnant with Oliver. Right up there with ten fingers, ten toes and the immediate ability to sleep through the night. (I’m just kidding about that last one of course. No first time pregnant woman worries about something as silly as their child sleeping through the night. They’re too busy obsessing over baby names, nursery themes, and important registry items like educational mobiles.)

Oliver also has very delayed speech, and adds a lot of jargoning (the official word for jibber jabber) to his special needs quirkiness. So yes – I have one very odd little duck as my first born. I have of yet to meet any almost four year old like him. And the truth is – I love him for every single bizarre behavior he throws my way.

I don’t just think he’s “special” – I think he’s FABULOUS. No one – and I mean no one – shows enthusiasm for preferred activities like Oliver. He doesn’t just hug you – he flings himself at you. He doesn’t just watch DVDs – he acts out the stories. He doesn’t just finger paint – he body paints. He doesn’t just say “please” – he proclaims PLEASE! He loves to be tickled and will beg you to keep going until even you can’t stand it anymore.

His exuberance makes me smile, then laugh, then cry from laughing so hard. And I think my heart might break when I worry about the people who won’t understand him or appreciate him. The people who will hurt him or bully him. Or make him feel any less than the very sweet little soul than he is. Because that will happen.

Instead of wasting my time on worries though, I prefer to plan for tomorrow, next week and next year. I work with his teacher on figuring out where this speech delay originates and strategize about how to correct it in the short and long term. We have more or less ruled out autism with a pediatric neurologist and are on to having his ultra-waxy ears cleaned out for a hearing test so that he can be assessed by a developmental pediatrician. As Miss Erin (or as Oliver calls her, “Miss Smerin”) likes to say, he is a bit of a puzzle. There seem to be several issues at play and all are fairly elusive…

But I really don’t spend too much time thinking about the problems and the boy that he was “supposed to be.” I’m far too busy enjoying the boy that he is. I recently spoke with a close childhood friend who has an autistic son and we agreed that not only is this better for them, it’s better for us. In describing her own son, she said, “every day, he makes us laugh. He’s just his own little person. While the other boys are in time outs for fighting over what to watch on TV, he’s busy figuring out the remote controls.”

This makes me happy just thinking about it – the fact that it’s okay like our kids for being different. Who got to decide that there is only one way to be anyway?

But the hard reality is that there is a standard for “normal.” That’s the reason that there is a special needs label. And it is our job to take our special needs children and try to teach them how to navigate a world that wasn’t set up with them in mind. It’s hard. And it’s scary. For all of us. But it’s not impossible.

I could so easily fall into despair over the “what ifs” associated with Oliver’s future – but what good does that do either of us? He deserves better than that. I’m the grownup and I set the tone for our house. If I am an emotional wreck over the things I can’t control, then everyone suffers for it. And at the end of the day, he’s not responsible for my feelings – but I am responsible for his.

So if he finds a ball of yarn entertaining, and wants to spend his quiet time unraveling it and then lashing all of the furniture together…fine. I’ll clean it up later (but only after he’s gone to bed since its disappearance could usher in “the end of the world”). If he wants to bring 12 straws to bed with him – or possibly all of the kid toothbrushes we own – who am I to judge? Perhaps this is soothing to him. Maybe he likes the way they feel in his hand – or just the fact that he can hold “all” of something in that one hand. He jargons reasons to me and I just say “fine.” I may do a little struggling first, but in the end, I let him decide. No one ever died from bringing straws to bed.

And every day I see progress – and his beautiful smile. And I know that it will be okay. Even though I understand that he’ll never be the easy going child that glides effortlessly through life. Or…maybe he eventually will. I’ll never know if I don’t do everything I can to help cultivate his self confidence. And his confidence in my own unwavering support.

My son is the greatest gift that I have ever been given. All of my children are. And I refuse to squander any of this fleeting time with them on anger or ingratitude.

I’m not a particularly religious person, but I consider each one of my children to be miraculous. And their current challenges and oddities just make them all the more unique and special. I need all of them as much as I need food and water. I need them to be safe and I need them to be happy. I need them to grow and laugh and love and know that there is nothing more important in this world to me than their existence. And if they have their own special needs – then I will meet them. I will be there from the time that they are unaware of these challenges to the time that their own personal demons emerge. I will always be there for them. Because in the end, I need them far more than they could ever need me.

Editor’s pick by Amy Turn Sharp of Doobleh-vay: I love Kate’s blog so much. She is so funny and refreshing as she writes what she wants and she is honest and charming. She is a very engaging blogger who really loves her community and wants to connect. I loved this post about her son and found great love in her words. I love Kate so much because she tells it how it is! Subscribe to her blog today!

1

Miracles in the Flaws

Overcoming Adversity Blog Nosh Magazine{Originally Published on Lizzie’s Home}

When I was nineteen years old, I found myself taking a front-row seat in an honest-to-God, wish-I-could-bottle-that-feeling miracle.

j-in-phototherapy-unit.jpgAfter a twenty-eight hour labour, an ugly, red, scrawny mess of arms and legs was twisted from my body, four weeks before his due date. The conehead my son sported from his prolonged journey down the birth canal was very pronounced and truly awesome to behold. His Apgar scores were low. He was whisked away for some oxygen.

At that point, I didn’t care where he went, as long as he was being cared for appropriately and I could cover up the bits of my person that in any other circumstance would never be displayed. It is amazing how the most prudish of women can become the most liberal when in the throes of childbirth. There were bits of me that were irreversibly altered by the birthing process but in the end those particular battle scars would fade, and new ones would take their place.

On the second day after his birth, J turned an alarming shade of buttercup yellow which had the doctors scrambling for the big scary humidicrib with fancy lights and cords. You know, the type with holes in the side where distraught parents are permitted to insert only their hands to stroke babies they should, by rights, be cradling in their arms.

My little six-pound-nothing imp modelled a hastily cut blindfold of black vinyl almost every moment of the first week of his life. We were allowed to remove him from the phototherapy unit for feedings and changes only. The rest of the time he was to lay naked and sunbathing, save for his Zorro mask, under special lights designed to speed up the expulsion of the bilirubin from his blood. There’s a reason why babies are meant to be covered up. Meconium poops are legendary, and more so for babies undergoing phototherapy. We didn’t even have the luxury of a nappy to contain it. Every time J wet or soiled, his entire bedding arrangement had to be changed and sometimes, there needed to be a thorough disinfecting of his crib. But this was a good sign – the more explosive the soilings, the less yellow he appeared and the faster he got better.

My then-fiancé and I finally took this tiny creature home one week after the birth. To say we were unprepared for life as parents was strikingly apparent about four hours into our first night at home. J did not sleep. Breastfeeding was difficult. We had borne this child smack dab into the middle of a heat wave in a South Australian town noted for its perpetual red hue and blisteringly hot summers. Sleep deprived, emotionally exhausted and just plain stupid, I managed to convince myself that bottle feeding was the far better option and so J was slurping down artificial sustenance even before his official due date rolled around.

The next two years were surprisingly ordinary. We conceived another son, ran away to Bali to get married, saw Kuta in all its muddy wet season glory – not what wedding dreams are made of! – and consequently came home unmarried. Our second son was born in due time and the wedding eventually occurred on home soil, much to the delight of the parents. Later that same year we had a daughter, rounding out the scorecard to three children in three years.

I was barely 22 years old.

Autism snuck into our lives quietly, set up shop without us realising it, and eventually manifested itself in physical symptoms in our son, whom we had diagnosed by a child assessment team at age 3½.

Those first few years were excruciating. We agonised over every small decision concerning our J’s welfare. Every single behaviour, word spoken, instruction performed, everything. At diagnosis, J was developmentally on par with fourteen month old children. Essentially, his two year old brother had overtaken him months beforehand.

But we got through it.

When the Department of Education psychologically assessed him during his kindergarten year at age four, his report was prefaced by the following ‘encouraging’ information:

Half of all students will score in the Average range. Thirty percent of children will either fall in the Low Average or High Average range. Eight percent will score in the Well Below Average or Extremely Low range.  We also calculate a child’s percentile rank – if your child scores in the 24th percentile, it means that if we tested 100 children of the same age 24 would test lower than your child.

Our son had an overall score on the first percentile.

When he started primary school several months later and a government grant had to be secured in order to buy the hydraulic ‘doctor’s bed’ needed to create a changing area in a female staff toilet, I swung wildly between despair and indifference. In public, I was a hardened special needs advocate, but in private, I sobbed at the thought of my five year old son still needing nappies in the playground. He would be six years old before we were finally rid of that particular curse.

But we got through it.

Also at the age of five, a speech assessment saw J score between just the first and the fifth percentile for communication – and that was after two years of extensive speech therapy.

But we got through it.

We waded through all the NEP meetings and the special ed classroom tours and the birthday parties comprised solely of children who by no fault of their own, have problems being social. We dealt with the misunderstandings of the condition, the stares, the meltdowns, the accusations, the generalisations. We learned not to take to heart the sixth party or event in a row that we hadn’t been invited to. We dabbled in dietary intervention but forewent medications or strict behaviour programs. We cried and cried until no more tears came.

And then something miraculous happened.

One day, many years into our journey, it suddenly occurred to me that autism was not the first thought that popped into my head when I woke up each morning. I no longer introduced my son to strangers and then, when he was out of earshot, hastily added the “he’s autistic” explanation because I felt as though I should apologize for his indifferent gaze or funny hand flapping. I no longer saw the autism before I saw him.

People are a bit hesitant to talk about miracles these days. We only have to look around us to find all evidence in the world that miracles don’t exist. Children die from cancer. Others are abused. Still others are stricken by horrible disfigurements and left in orphanages to suffer out the rest of their days. Yes, life is unfair.

Most of us prefer logic over faith. If we can’t prove it, they don’t want to know about it. It is no miracle that my son was born. Millions came before him and millions are yet to be created. People endure far, far worse illnesses, conditions, or situations than we have ever had to cope with. There are no miracles in my son’s frustrated howls or in his catch-it-when-you-can affections. People often ask me how, after all the struggles we’ve been through and are yet to face with J, how I can still consider this flawed child, his wonderful yet slightly altered existence, miraculous.

But the miracle doesn’t reside in him.

It’s that I am proud to have been the vessel that bore him.

And the miracle is in that pride.

* This is the first in a series I’m calling The Mama Bear Files.  Originally written January 2008.

Editors Pick from Michele of Sparks and Butterflies.  I first found Lizzie when I was researching Special Needs blogs for a gig I had, and I was hooked.  Lizzie writes about her everyday life with her family in Australia and gems like this entry a spattered throughout.  Her wit is not to be missed.  Check out her blog, the original post, subscribe to her feed, and follow her on Twitter!

3

Two Years and Counting: A Father’s Perspective

Blog Nosh Magazine Pregnancy Birth Adoption

{Originally Published on The Playpen}

You know, there are a lot of articles, resources and links these days for expectant mothers, new mothers, old mothers, you name it. One of the things I realized when my daughter, Frankie, was born eight weeks prematurely was that there weren’t many resources available to dads. Even the books for new dads are all about how to keep your wife happy. What’s the deal with that?

I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t know (still don’t know, come to think of it) the first thing about parenting. This is not a “how to” article by any stretch of the imagination. Its simply me, a young dad, looking to get some thoughts out there and maybe provide a little comic relief to other dads at the same time.

As I mentioned, my daughter was (is) a preemie. And she was little….real little. My wife had an emergency C-section after some difficulties with her pregnancy. Lets start there. Going through that process was no picnic. Getting your thoughts in order is virtually impossible. “What if my kid isn’t okay?”  “What if something happens to my wife?”  “How come that doctor over there looks unsure of himself?” “I didn’t paint the nursery yet!”  “There’s a LOT of equipment in here…this is going to cost a TON.”

So you’re dealing with that side of things while at the same time trying to provide reassurance to Mom who, yes its true, is freaking out worse than you. Not an easy situation. As I was sorting all that out, and as I was sitting in the operating room, I made the biggest mistake of my life.

“Do you want to see your new daughter?”, my wife’s doctor asked me, apparently completely unaware that I was about two seconds shy of a heart attack.

“YEAH,” I said, and stood up from my stool, eagerly peering over the sheet that was placed over my wife’s mid-section.

Looking back on this now, it’s crystal clear to me that the sheet was there for a reason. New dads, exhausted from sleep deprivation, starving and dehydrated, are NOT meant to see what’s on the other side of that sheet. Remember the scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark where the guy’s face melted off? Pretty terrible right? Not…..even….close. The reason doctors make so much money is because they have to see things that most of us, especially guys, are NOT prepared to see. Most of my daughter’s delivery is a blur. Not that moment.

I quickly sat right back down on my stool. Okay. I saw what I saw. Too late to do anything about it now. My mind raced and the room spun. I was losing it fast. My poor wife was being a trooper. Our doctor was working with a cool efficiency that I will never forget (I think in some way I fell in love with her that night). The anesthesiologist was cupping my wife’s face in his hands and looking into her eyes, offering reassurance. At one point I think I heard Aline’s doctor say “Oops,” but I wasn’t sure.

The next thing I knew, Frankie, my baby girl, was being lifted from my wife’s belly. Yes, she was blue (which they don’t tell you ahead of time, by the way), but she was beautiful. My eyes welled up as I watched my wife, medicated and exhausted, utter the words, “My beautiful baby,” kissing Frankie in the nurse’s arms. A moment that no man, no dad, will ever forget. It’s the moment that sees me through the fights, the tantrums, the family problems, everything. It’s what I live for.

I was shuffled over to a brightly-lit table with various dangerous looking medical instruments on it. My wife peered at me, bleary-eyed from the operating table. Again, the room spun.

“Do you want to cut the cord?” the nurse asked me. I agreed, and picked up a pair of scissors that resembled something I had used to dissect a frog in seventh grade. “Okay, cut right here…just do it quickly and don’t think about it.” I positioned the blades as precisely as I could, and began to apply pressure.

….to be continued.

Editor’s pick by Deb from Missives From Suburbia. Matt’s right. There aren’t a lot of resources and blogs out there about preemies. I’m hoping with his help and the help of a few other great bloggers, we can shed some light on this aspect of childbirth and parenting and share both the challenges and joys that parenting a preemie presents. For more about Matt’s experiences and to read the post in its original form, visit The Playpen.  (Part 2 is coming soon.)

6

The Travis Street Circle: Personal Thoughts on Gay Unions

Politics Blog Nosh Magazine {Originally Posted on Clotted Cognition}
When my mother moved back to Dallas in 1989 she bought this town home. It’s a gorgeous place, one that almost takes your breath away when you walk in. The street was one that had been taken over by architecturally designed town homes that were mostly higher end and populated by people without children. In general, the people in those town homes were older, retired, or better off young professionals. It was close-ish to the predominantly gay area in Dallas, so there were several gay couples as well. The street was named Travis Street and it was also the street on which my first home stood, 40 years ago last month.

We used to see one of those gay couples out walking every day. Well, one would walk and push the other in a wheelchair. Their love and devotion to each other was clear and I remember thinking that I hoped I would find that sort of devotion someday, too. Unless you’ve experienced what it’s like to take care of a once healthy partner, I don’t think the sacrifice is truly imaginable. This couple continued to take their walks, to slowly make their way down the street to get a glimpse of the life outside, traveling the street as any couple would who had been together for a long time.

And then, the man in the wheelchair died. This was sad enough and devastating, I am sure, for his partner. But the sadness was not to end to there, nor was the devastation going to be small. Instead of being allowed to grieve in his own home, surrounded by his own memories of times had in loving company, the family of the man who died, the man who owned the home and its contents in legal name only, unceremoniously kicked the grieved partner out onto the street. How could they do such a thing? Easy: with all legal recourse. They didn’t care that the man they were throwing out onto the street has cared for their relative when they were nowhere to be seen; he had assuredly cleaned up after the inevitable failures of the man’s body and had still found a way to push him down the street every single day. They didn’t care that the man they were throwing out had loved their relative as they clearly never had, nor did they care that this man was a human being. No, what mattered most to them was that they had legal right to their relative’s property and they were finally allowed to force their sanctimonious judgment onto the man who had deeply loved someone they were a part of through biology. It was more than sad, it was heart wrenching.

I was 20 when my mom moved into our Travis Street town home, and so very glad to be back in Dallas. I had so much family here, you see. Not “blood” family, but adopted family. These were people I had known my whole life and had loved deeply for as long as I could remember. Two of those people were a couple that had come to define the truth of lasting commitment and love to me; coincidentally, they had lived on Travis Street when I was a baby and had also moved back to Travis Street when I was in my teens. These two people had helped raise me when my mother had no idea what to do with a teensy baby, and they had loved me as their own when I was a lonely kid without brothers and sisters. They had always taken an interest in me and my life, and there was never a harsh word from either of them in my direction or anyone else’s. When I married, Uncle Jack gave me a piece of his mother’s crystal since they did not have any children of their own. It meant more to me than any other gift we received, and I am afraid I was not able to adequately put that feeling into words when I saw Uncle Jack at my wedding.

That was the last time I saw him. We went back to Santa Fe then moved to Montana, where I learned that Uncle Jack had died. It was as if someone had punched me in the gut and then kicked me repeatedly when I heard the news. Unfortunately, I was not the only person left to mourn for Uncle Jack, far from it. Aside from the multitude of friends they had made and loved through the years, there was the person who meant the most to him and the other half of the couple who had taught me what it means to stay together because there is more love in the world united than there is apart. This partner of Uncle Jack’s was my darling, wonderful, Uncle Travis.

I still think of them as “Uncles” because they were closer to me than any of my blood relatives. I’m far too old to call Travis or Jack “uncle,” but it still comes to my mind first when I think of either of them. I am ashamed to say that I don’t know how Travis has been outside of the odd cursory email, though I think about him often. I owe them both a huge debt of gratitude for being such a large part of my life, especially the formative years of my childhood. I don’t know if I would have turned out to be as accepting and compassionate if it had not been for Jack and Travis. I certainly wouldn’t have had an intimate portrait of true commitment since my parents and the parents of just about everyone I knew divorced when we were kids. Not Jack and Travis, though; they stayed together through it all.

The ironic part of the commitment shared by Jack and Travis is the fact that they were never allowed to legally marry. They were never recognized as loving, devoted partners by the country in which they lived, having to rely on the grace of their friends to understand the deeper meaning of the love they shared. They didn’t need a legal ceremony or recognition to share that love, but they should not have been forced to do without it by people who did not have a stake in their lives. It is deeply shameful to think that we live in a country where something as sublime and rare as lasting love is treated with such contempt. Love is not the weapon; love is the only salve.

Going back to Travis street, there was another gay couple who lived on that street whom we knew and still know. I won’t name them as I do not know if they would want me to, but they are still together, still in love, and still living on Travis street. They are another testament to the power of love over the power of rejection and hatred from people who clearly do not know better. I’d like to think that the people who would condemn any of these men (and women) I’ve known would do so simply because they do not know better. I’d like to think that if they had the opportunity to know a Jack or a Travis or any of the others from my life they would be better for it, and their lives would simply be more filled with love and happiness.

I have hope for our future as an accepting society of autonomous individuals. I have hope because I’ve seen what we can do when we need to and when we want to. It is for Uncle Jack that I will never stop fighting for the rights of all people. It is for Uncle Travis that I will never stop proclaiming that civil liberties are not liberties if they only apply to some people. It is for every gay couple who has been harassed and told their love was not true because it was not “traditional” that I will continue to hold onto the hope that we are good people; we are people who will learn. We will learn because we know what it is to have to hope, and we know what it is to see our hopes turn into actuality. I have this hope because I’ve known Jack and Travis. I call the hope they gave me love.

Picture credit

One more coincidence that occurred to me after I posted: that town home was later bought by one of my older childhood friends. It was an odd coincidence.

One other coincidence occurred to me as I was checking for misspellings: When we bought our first home we coincidentally and unknowingly bought a home three doors down from another long term gay couple who are friends of one of the Travis street couples. Not just that: one of the couple has had a stroke and taught at the college where I teach. Whether you or anyone else wants to admit it or not, we can’t avoid each other or our extreme connectivity. We might as well allow a little bit of love to prosper unheeded by our own failures.

Editor’s pick by Liz at Three Bright Stars.  Liesl teaches philosophy at a community college.  While her insights reflect her professional orientation, her blog is usually personal and down-to-earth, often right down there with the roots of plants encroaching too near her home.  You can read more thoughtfully sculpted blog posts, along with some humorous depictions of the primal conflict of man vs. root, on Clotted Cognition.  It’s a good one for your reader, so subscribe.

7

Remember

Family Blog Nosh Magazine {Originally published on The Extraordinary Ordinary.}

“You’re not going to remember any of it anyway,” was what she said. I felt like she had just socked me in the stomach. I hadn’t really thought about it before, but forgetting makes perfect sense. I do it all the time.

But this? I’m not going to remember this? I guess she would know, she’s been through it.

The sleepless nights, the loads of diapers and laundry, the tantrums, the baths, the food flung across the floor. Those are the things she was referring to, saying I’d forget all of that. She was meaning to encourage me. And yes, I don’t really mind that I’ll forget all of that. I will enjoy my hindsight rose colored glasses when they arrive years from now.

But I would gladly remember all of the stress and strain, fatigue and frustration vividly if it meant I would remember all the rest just the same.

PatacakeBecause it makes me sad to realize that I’m also bound to forget the beauty of these years. That fresh out of the bath smell. That toothy grin. The way Miles says ‘careful’ about five different ways, all of them hilarious. The wiggle of Asher’s shoulders as he does a little dance. The pudgy little fingers holding tight to that blankie. Those pouty little lips. That laugh. Oh, that laugh from the gut that surrounds me and makes me feel hugged. I will miss that. I don’t want to forget.

She said that even though she had pictures and videos, it wasn’t the same. She still couldn’t remember on her own. The pictures were reminders, but not experiences. The videos seemed to be of a child she no longer knows, because she can’t remember.

I suppose it’s like my own childhood memories, vague and a bit fuzzy around the edges. Some more vivid, but always fleeting. Like a dream you wake up from and try to get back to by quickly closing your eyes and willing yourself to remember. Most of the time you can’t. I suppose it’s like that.

I wish I was going to be able to remember it all. Miles and I running through puddles in a down pour at the Farmer’s Market, splashing and laughing. Miles a little unsure at first, then looking at me, reading my face and relaxing, letting himself have fun in the rain. His drenched hair and wide eyes. The slap-slap-slap of his shoes as he ran. The smell of rain, herbs and flowers in the air as I listened to the thunder and my son’s laughter. Oh, how I want to remember.

“You’re not going to remember it anyway.”

I thought about forgetting so much after this conversation. I thought my heart would break at the realization that I’m going to forget.

Then I thought about the future, pictured myself sitting there trying to remember. I imagined it and realized that the mom in that photo in my mind wasn’t sad. This Future Me wasn’t sad. Because these two boys were still there, making new memories with me. They were 6 and 8, or 16 and 18. They were 30 and 32. And I imagined how I will still be there, wanting to eat up every moment, pouring my love on them and watching their lives.

Even if I’m not going to remember it all, I want to live it all. There’s not a thing, good or bad, I want to miss.

Maybe I’ll be blessed with a good memory in this regard, maybe I won’t. But that will not stop me from living fully aware of the details and fine lines, the tones and the under-tones, the expressions and vivid moments full of life and laughter. The scrunched up nose and crocodile tears. The look in their eyes while they make new discoveries. The feel of their skin. The sound of their voices. Right now. Today.

I am living what I might forget. But I am still going to live it. As long as they are mine to hold in this life, I will live it with them. That makes all the sad thoughts of forgetting turn to happy thoughts of living, eyes turned toward today rather than yesterday. And a heart filled with joy in the expectancy of tomorrow.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t hope that I’ll remember.

Editor’s pick by MommyTime of Mommy’s Martini. Heather’s blog, The Extraordinary Ordinary, is a wonderful mix of stories about the day-to-day moments that make up our lives as parents and deep, beautiful sentiments like this one. She is someone I added to my reader almost instantly, as her writing never fails to lift my spirits. You can check out the original post and all her readers’ comments, or, better yet, subscribe now, so you won’t miss a single one of her funny or heart-warming stories.

8

How to Get Away with Buying a Playboy, circa 1970

Personal Blog Nosh Magazine

{Originally Published in Cafe Philos.}

It occurs to me this morning you might be wondering how someone would have gone about buying a Playboy in a small American town in the early 1970s — and get away with it.  Of course, that was back when buying a Playboy in a small backwards town could break your reputation, so getting away with it was key.

Now, I don’t recall how old I was when I bought my first Playboy.  Older than 16, at least.  So long ago some of the details that never mattered to me anyway now escape me.

I do, however, recall that I bought my first Playboy at Potter’s Drugstore, and that Old Man Potter himself rang up my purchase.  Old Man Potter owned and operated one of two drugstores in my pathetically small town of 2,000 people where it seemed everyone knew everyone else.  And here’s what I recall about buying that Playboy:

I recall I began sweating the moment I picked it out of the magazine rack, and I began blushing the moment I handed it to Old Man Potter at the check out counter.  The only two people in the whole store at the time were Old Man Potter and me — I had carefully seen to that — but I nevertheless felt like the eyes of the entire community were upon me.

For a moment, everything seemed to go smoothly.  I handed the Playboy to Old Man Potter; Old Man Potter took the Playboy; he looked at the price just like he would any other magazine: and then he entered the price into his cash register.   Smooth.  Normal.  I was almost about to breath again when suddenly he said, “I’ll be right back.  I have to make a phone call.” Then he dashed off to the back room with the Playboy still in his hands.

I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

I didn’t stop blushing.  I didn’t stop sweating.  I just waited.  Nothing like this had ever happened to me.  No one had ever before interrupted a transaction, leaving me waiting forever at the counter. I began imaging things.

I imagined he’d gone to the restroom.  I imagined he’d had a heart attack.  Worse, I imagined my aunt was about to walk through the door to the shop at the very same moment Old Man Potter came back with my Playboy.  For some reason, I could vividly imagine that, and the mere thought of it sent new waves of blood to my face.  By the time Old Man Potter came back, I was so red, I must have looked like a fire truck in heat.  Fortunately, my aunt did not appear.

The rest was uneventful.  Old Man Potter simply finished up ringing up my purchase, took my money, handed me the Playboy and wished me a good day.  I thought I detected a tone of disapproval in his voice, but that could have been pure imagination.

At any rate, I left the store with my Playboy and walked straight home.  I wanted to get home before mom came home from work so I wouldn’t need to hide my Playboy in the garage, instead of taking the risk of trying to slip it past her on my way into the house.

By the time I got home — thankfully, ahead of mom — I had been thinking about where to hide the Playboy in my room.  Mom was a great respecter of my privacy, and she was by no means a snoop, but I was taking no chances.  I wanted neither the embarrassment of her finding out that I looked at filthy pornography, nor the inevitable loss of my filthy pornography if she did find out, because I knew she’d make me throw it away with my own hands if she discovered it.  Finally, I decided to hide it in the bottom drawer of my dresser, beneath my Psychology Today magazines.  She never read my Psychology Today magazines, I thought.

Nowadays, it must be difficult for people who were not alive in the early 70s to realize just how scandalous Playboy was to so very many people back then.  I knew, for instance, that if word got around my school I was buying Playboys, nearly half the kids in my class would think I was either creepy, or a pervert, or both.  The only thing powerful enough to overcome my fears of the risk I was taking was, of course, testosterone.  All conquering testosterone.

Lucky for me, I got away with it.  I even went back to Potter’s Drugstore the next month and bought the next issue.  And the one after that.  And so on, until I left town for college.  It never got any easier:  I always blushed mightily and I always sweat profusely, but I also always waited until I would be the only one at the counter — and I always got away with it.

Or so I thought.  Several years later, I was back in the town visiting mom.  I don’t remember what we were talking about, but at some point she mentioned — as casually as if she were talking about the tomato harvest — that time Old Man Potter had called her at work to inform her I was attempting to buy a Playboy.  Then as my jaw dropped she went on to say how she had shocked Old Man Potter by telling him she thought I was of an age now when it was only natural I’d be interested in girls and that he had her permission to sell me all the Playboys he could.  As I sank lower and lower into my chair, she mentioned, with a wry smile, that some of her friends thought she was a bit radical once word got all over town I was buying Playboys with her blessing.  Last, she thanked me for not leaving my Playboys lying around the house.  It’d been her only real worry that I might.

And that, my brothers and sisters, is how you get away with buying a Playboy in a small American town in the early 1970s — you must first get yourself an understanding mother.  The rest is easy.

Editors Pick by Dr. Karen Rayne at Adolescent Sexuality: Paul Sunstone, author of Cafe Philos, continues to draw me in with his insightful and thought provoking blog about everything under the sun.  And then, out of the blue, he comes up with something like this that leaves me rolling on the floor laughing.  Read more from Cafe Philos, and be sure to subscribe so you won’t miss out on what Paul has to say!  The original post does, of course, have fabulous comments that you shouldn’t miss out on!

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How to deal with trolls

Social Media and Blogging Blog Nosh Magazine{Originally published on The Bloggess}

Yesterday someone asked me how to deal with trolls and haters. I have no damn idea.

Trolls are just like you and me.  Only shittier.  Or more honest.  Or likely to murder gypsies.  Fuck, I don’t know.  I’m not a mind reader.  I don’t know the motivation of everyone reading your blog but what I do know is that in real life you come across assholes and weirdos and someone out there is selling computers to these people.  People like the guy who left me this comment:

“I was right, you aren’t that hot. Damn.”

I didn’t mind that some stranger thought I was un-hot but what was disconcerting was that in the photo the guy was referring to? I was seven.  And totally hot.

Or that comment I got on my I-invented-a-scooter/flame-thrower/cookie-warmer post which simply said:

“Your retarded.”

Holy shit, y’all.  “Your.”  This is a real fucking comment.  I laughed so hard I woke up the dog.  Who’s been dead for 4 years.  That’s not to say that it doesn’t suck when people write shitty things about you because it does.  Like recently I accidentally fell into a shitstorm and I was all “PEOPLE ARE WRITING HORRIBLE THINGS ABOUT ME!” and my friend Karen was like “O-o-oh.  You mean the stupid people.  You’re supposed to ignore those people.  Because they’re stupid.”  And I did.  And it was fine.  But when it’s happening it’s not quite so easy to just ignore it and then you get sucked into the everyone hates me/I’m not popular/I never get any comments shame spiral and that’s why I created these cards for people who are dealing with this kind of crap:

Meh.  They’re not all gonna be winners.

I guess what I’m saying is that trolls can actually be a good thing.  Yes, they’re evil but they’re also entertaining.  That’s why they’re in so many children’s books.  I mean, that Billy Goat Gruff story would be pretty boring if it was about a kindly old homeless dude under the bridge who gave out Jolly Ranchers and compliments to the billy goats.  I wouldn’t read it.  Look, I don’t know why trolls are the way they are.  Maybe they’re bullies who never grew up.  Maybe they were picked on in high school and think this will even the score.  Maybe they’re right and you actually are the anti-Christ.  I don’t know.  But what I do know is that in a way trolls are kinda good for everyone.  Except goats.

PS.  If you are still depressed about getting nasty comments you should email me and I will tell you that whoever is fucking with you is a lunatic.  And also you should watch this.  Because it’s awesome.

Comment of the day: You are totally hot in that picture. Pa would be able to put his hands around your tiny waist for sure (remember how in Little House on The Prairie Laura was ALWAYS FREAKING TALKING ABOUT HOW SMALL HER MOM’S WAIST WAS GET OVER IT ALREADY YOU ANOREXIC-WANNABE PRAIRIE PSYCHO?…. ahem. I have some unresolved issues there. Also I typed “Hose” instead of “House” and that was funny, because I am a 12-year-old boy.*)

*not really. 12 or a boy, I mean. It was really funny ~ Superblondgirl

Editor’s Pick by Megan from Velveteen Mind:  I broke our own rules in order to share this post with you, as it isn’t even off of Jenny’s front page, yet.  I thought it was the perfect introduction to her sense of humor, hilarious Photoshop tricks, and ability to find completely crazy YouTube videos, a skill which will come in handy as our YouTube Channel Editor.  Consider yourself warned: the first time I read The Bloggess, I stayed on the site for hours, reading her archives and crying laughing.

She gets tons of comments, which you will see on her original post, and they are usually just as entertaining as the posts.  A truly vibrant member of the blogging community, she chooses one of her favorite comments to tack onto the end of her posts as she moves on to her next one, so be sure to dive in and let her know what you think!  Don’t forget to subscribe while you are there, because you won’t want to miss an ounce of her awesome.

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September 21, 2008 | BN Channel Family, Featured 2, Monday 2

You Love Me

Family Blog Nosh Magazine{Originally published on Running Stitch}

When I was still in grad school (was that only last year?), someone asked me if Moo said “I love you” yet.  The answer was no. The asker had four kids, all of whom had said this phrase very early. I became overly obsessed with not caring about the whole thing.  (Notice a personality trait?)Logically, I know my baby loves me.  He doesn’t know how not to.  Yet.  But I started tossing out “I love you” a lot more.  Or maybe I started noticing when I said it more.  Some people say the phrase itself is overused but I don’t think it can be when it comes to your children.My heart often feels like it is going to burst with how much I love them.  I still wake up in the middle of the night and go upstairs to kiss and snuggle them a little bit.

While they’ll still let me.

Since that conversation, over a year ago, I’ve realized that it’s not important whether he tells me he loves me or not.  What’s important is that he knows I love him. In our everyday life of playing with trains, running the lake, playing at the playground, picking up toys, making bread and reading Curious George Goes To The Baseball Game (over and over and over again) it’s important that I teach him not just where the toys go… but that I love him.

One night this week, I carried a bundle of tired boy (not baby anymore) up the stairs to his room and as I deposited him in his fort/bed, I said, “I love you, baby.”

And nonchalantly he patted my cheek and said knowingly, “You love me.”

Yes.

I do.

Editor’s Pick by Marilyn from slackermama . com.  I first met Brit at BlogHer ’06 and have adored her and her blog ever since.  She has a wonderful sense of humor and a warm and friendly heart. Check out the original post and read the comments on it at her blog and while you’re there, subscribe to her feed so you can keep up with her, her kids, her running and her wonderful sewing and quilting (this girl’s got it all!)

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September 9, 2008 | BN Channel Education, Monday 2

Home + School= Homeschool?

Education

{Originally posted on Straight Shooter}

Ever say something you didn’t mean in the slightest? Didn’t believe it for even a second and then it really
happened? That was me and homeschooling.

I remember the day I casually
informed a fellow public school teacher that if I ever had kids, I’d
homeschool them before I let them go to public school. Two very
important facts about me back then, 1) I didn’t plan on ever havin’ crumb snatchers of my own – ever. And 2) I would never, ever in a kajillion years want to be around them all day, all night, 24/7 if I did accidentally have any.

… and then it happened. Both things. Had a couple crumb snatchers and I homeschool. (Home educate for all you homeschool purist terminology snobs.) Guess what?
First Ever Public Fess:
I ab-so-freakin’-lute-ly love it! Homeschooling – that is. Well, I
kinda like the kids too. I guess it’d be a little weird without them
bitin’ my ankles all the live long day.
Here’s a perfect example of WHY.

Read more »

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The Infant Slim Fast Diet

Family

Originally published on The Newborn Identity

A couple days ago I said that, thanks to Rigby, I had cared for Madeline flawlessly for the most part. I’m not going to say this statement was untrue, but I will do my best impression of a contract lawyer and direct you to the statement, “for the most part.” Before you get too worried please realize that no babies were harmed in this production. Nonetheless, I may have made one pretty bad mistake while caring for Maddie that, when I realized what I had done, made me tear up. Wait. The contract lawyer in me has advised me to revise that statement. I didn’t tear up…dudes never tear up unless “Field Of Dreams” comes on TBS…I just inexplicably found that wetness had appeared on my eyeballs.

So, as you may know, Maddie is off the bottom of the weight chart for her age not only because she was a preemie, but also because she has been adversely affected by the media’s tendency to glamorize women of nearly anorexic weights. Okay. Maybe it was mainly because she was a preemie, but I’m pretty sure that re-run of “The Simple Life” I once watched while feeding her didn’t help.

Anyhoo, the first week I was left home alone with Maddie my wife left me with a million instructions on how to take care of her. There were ten steps to be followed when changing a diaper, elaborate demonstrations of how to swaddle her, heck, there may have even been a long discussion of how to even breathe around the kid. That last one may have been an exaggeration, but it gives you the idea.

At the end of my first week as Maddie’s day-time caretaker Heather came home and was very impressed with my work. Had I correctly instituted the ten step instructions on how to change her diaper? Check. Was I able to swaddle her pefectly in ten seconds or less? Check. Did I put two scoops of formula into the 110 cc’s of water every time I fed her? Check, er, what? TWO SCOOPS? I thought it was just one!

Heather’s jaw dropped. “You’ve only been giving her one scoop?”

I cleared my throat and said, “Um, er, perhaps?”

Heather was not happy. “That’s just great, babe,” she said (although she may have said something less loving than babe), “because our baby is already so fat!”

This is when “Field Of Dreams” suddenly came on TBS. I looked at my little Kate Moss baby and felt like the worst dad ever. After a few seconds, however, she smiled at me with an expression that said, if I wasn’t exactly the world’s best dad, I was pretty decent. I scooped her into my arms and smothered her with kisses.

Ever since that little hiccup Maddie has received two, if not two and a half scoops, in every bottle I’ve ever given her, and when “The Simple Life” comes on I change the channel and tell her that most men actually find Kate Winslet way hotter than Paris Hilton.

Editor’s Pick by Ashlee from Mama’s Nest:  As a fellow preemie parent I can definitely relate to intensity of packing on the preemie pounds. Mike’s hilarious take on his days as a stay-at-home dad and life in general will keep you cracking up and coming back for more. Read more of The Newborn Identity and be sure to subscribe so you never miss any of his crazy stories. Read the original post, as well as his readers’ comments about one baby’s unintentional diet regime.

***Update***

Maddie passed away on April 7, 2009.  The Newborn Identity and Maddie’s mom’s blog, The Spohrs Are Multiplying, may be up and down this week due to high traffic demands. Fellow bloggers are helping to stabilize the sites, but keep checking back. Regular updates are available via their friend Meghan, as well.

In the meantime, please show your support by donating to the March of Dimes or directly to the Spohrs via PayPal sent to the email address: formaddie@hotmomreviews.com

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