Thursday, May 31, 2012

Go to Bed Angry

In a recent "Dear Abby" column, a soon-to-be-married reader wrote in to inquire how to ensure a lasting marriage.  Abby responds that a good rule to live by is to "never go to bed angry."

I can't tell you how many times I've heard this phrase over the years, and I still think it's terrible advice.  I mean, let's be real here - few things sabotage the possibility of bringing an argument to a reasonable and fair conclusion like trying to do so while you and your spouse are both dead tired.

Is it nice to go to bed in love and happy and forgetting that you've just had a blistering argument about the fact that your husband puts the forks in the dishwasher upside down?  Sure.  But it's actually nicer if you just go to bed, get a good night's sleep, and then wake up in the morning with the ability to realize that you are a complete idiot for caring about such a thing.  (To quote my sister, "It is my policy to have no objections to any volunteer act someone else takes on.")

Sleep is magic in that regard.  Small arguments over petty things (really, ladies, upside-down forks?  Can't you just be grateful that your husband helped with the dishes?) somehow evaporate or seem less important once the sun rises. And big arguments over important things are better hashed out once you've both had time to rest and cool off. Not to mention it is harder to be sensitive to your spouse's feelings and point of view when you are both exhausted. Better to say, "We are both too tired to discuss this right now. Let's talk it over in the morning."

Sometimes forks are just forks, not instruments your spouse is using to deliberately torture you.  And it's easier to see that with a good night's sleep under your belt.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Zero Sense

Over the years my things-to-blog-about queue has been occupied by an abundance of articles on Zero Tolerance policies and the misguided idiots who promote them.  But most of these posts sit gathering cyber dust, grouped together for a future post that gets pushed aside because I open up the articles and get so angry I can't blog about them.  A few incidents from my files (at least a dozen of which are about kids bringing "weapons" to school to do such dangerous things as "cut apples", repair lacrosse sticks", and "slice birthday cakes" - the horror!):  A 6-year-old boy brings a combination fork/knife/spoon to school and gets a suspension plus a stint in reform school,  another 6-year-old boy gets suspended for "sexual harrassment" after he sings a line from the chart-topping song, "I'm Sexy and I Know It" to a fellow student,  and a 14-year-old boy gets suspended for hugging his best friend.

Then there are the ones that really make me irritated, like a student getting suspended for more than seven weeks for keeping her prescription antibiotics in her locker.  Or the one where a student gets strip-searched over Advil.

It is madness, I tell you, madness.  And it has all made me very, very angry.  But none more so than this recent horrifying incident, wherein a 17-year-old student nearly DIED because his mother hadn't signed the proper paperwork allowing him to have access to HIS OWN DOCTOR-PRESCRIBED INHALER, so when he began having difficulty breathing, the school nurse did the only logical thing: she DENIED him his inhaler (packaged with his name on it and everything), IGNORED the fact that he was passing out, and LOCKED HIM IN THE ROOM BY HIMSELF! 

Whew, sorry, I just can't stop yelling.  It makes me so angry I feel like I'm about to morph into The Hulk and demolish my way through the internet until I can find this woman and strip her of her nursing license myself.  I don't care what school policy is, when someone is having trouble breathing, you do not leave him alone, you do not deny him medication that has been prescribed to him by a doctor, and you do not hesitate to call 911.

I don't care if his mother didn't sign the forms.  A 17-year-old can drive a car, for crying out loud.  You're telling me that someone who is legally allowed to climb in a vehicle and launch it down the freeway at 80 mph is not qualified to know when and how to administer his own medication?  It is absolutely ridiculous that any forms should be required for a teenager to handle his own medical issues.   

Frankly, even an elementary school student should be allowed to handle his own emergency medication.  Things like asthma inhalers and Epi Pens should not be stored with the school nurse, they should be stored in the student's backpack, regardless of whether a parent has signed some ridiculous form.  Even non-emergency medications should be allowed to be kept in lockers or backpacks or wherever they need to be kept.  A girl who can handle the hygiene requirements of her period can certainly handle a bottle of Midol without interference from school officials.

The inability to see a difference between Advil and heroin, immaturity and harassment, a pocketknife and a loaded gun, is destroying the safe environment it purports to create.  It's not Zero Tolerance, it's Zero Sense.

And it's killing us.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Two Toddlers and a Funeral

First, the good news:  I did not burst out laughing in the middle of singing at the funeral.  However, sensing a need for some kind of outburst from the family, Leah happily obliged by announcing, "Mommy, POOP!" in the middle of the family prayer.  Then, after thinking about it momentarily, she added, "I hold it."

Oh, good. 

She also made a song request right after the opening hymn by yelling, "Ring Around the Rosies!"  Then she got mad at Matthew for touching her sticker book and, for dramatic emphasis, loudly ripped a page right out of the front.  I spent the rest of the funeral in the hallway, wondering how much of the nonstop chatter from my children could be heard next to Grandpa's coffin.

At the graveside service my obedient little toddlers kept trying to touch a pile of bird poop on one of the surrounding headstones.  "Don't touch that!" I said about a thousand times, and then finally explained, "It's bird poop!"

"POOP!!  Mommy, it's POOP!  Yucky!" 

My apologies to the Grandma and the National Guard.  Hopefully the noise of the gun salute drowned out the noise of my children and their poop obsession.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Love at Home

Last night David and I sat down at the piano for a few minutes to practice a hymn called "Love One Another".  As we were singing, Matthew and Leah busied themselves trading jabs and pokes to the eye while Michael, sensing that the universe was not actively revolving around him, kept trying to jump on David's back to get his attention.  When that didn't work he started launching stuffed Angry Birds at his dad. After the third or fourth time of getting whacked on the back of the head with a hostile red bird, David said of Michael, through gritted teeth, "You know, it's funny that we're trying to sing a song called 'Love One Another' and I really want to punch him right now."

Cue hysterical laughter from Bonnie.  It's parenting sewn up into one telling little moment -- you're sitting in a room overlooked by a picture of Jesus, singing a song in remembrance of his admonition to love each other. Meanwhile your children start competing to see who can be the most annoying, and before you know it, you're struck with the urge to bop one of them into next Tuesday. 

The fact that David, a guy who can remain unruffled in the most irritating of circumstances, cracked enough to make such a comment made me feel instantly better about having to lock myself in the bathroom at least three times a day.

But it has ruined me.  Now I get halfway through that song and irrepressible giggles start squirming their way up my throat.  This does not bode well considering we have to sing it at a funeral tomorrow.  I don't think David's newly widowed grandmother will find it funny if I'm struck by a laughing fit right as we launch into "By this shall men know..."

Ah, well. Stranger things have happened at funerals.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Matter of Tackiness

I am a huge fan of breastfeeding, but I have a few stipulations:

1 - It must be mutually enjoyable for mother and baby.  If it is stressing either one of you out for longer than a few weeks (it does take time to get the hang of it, so don't give up right away), then it is not worth it.

2 - The benefits of breastfeeding are many, but if it is causing health or emotional issues for you or your baby, or if you are killing yourself off trying to juggle breastfeeding and work because "breast is best" and it is leaving you a guilt-ridden, frazzled mess, switch to formula.  Your baby will not miss out on his chance for Harvard Law because you didn't nurse him into his toddler years.

3 - Breastfeeding should be done discreetly - no flashing of boobs, no blocking an entire aisle of the grocery store and then getting angry and indignant when someone asks you to move to a more out-of-the-way location, and no rudeness. 

4 - No posing for Time magazine cover photos with your three-year-old hanging off your breast as if it were the ice cream dispenser at Dairy Queen.

Like I say, I am a huge fan of breastfeeding.  In many ways it is so much easier than formula feeding (nothing nicer than being able to pull your infant out of his crib at 3 a.m., latch him on, and then go back to sleep while he eats.  Seriously, Mother Nature is brilliant).  I think you should breastfeed as long as you and your baby want to continue it (note I said "baby," though I can understand why, in many parts of the world, breastfeeding continues for years).  And though I personally wouldn't feel comfortable nursing a child who is past toddlerhood, quite honestly, I don't care if you want to breastfeed your four-year-old.  However, I do care if your purpose in life shifts from doing something that is good for your child or practical for you to parading your breasts about like they are part of a crusade and daring the world to challenge your views. 

This isn't about what age is too old for breastfeeding; obviously, reasonable people can and will disagree.  This is about tackiness and shock value, neither of which advance the cause of encouraging more mothers to breastfeed, and neither of which facilitate kindness and understanding in people who are uncomfortable with mothers nursing their children in public.

That sounds like a failure to me.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Dear Michael

I can't believe how much you've grown up!  You are almost five-and-a-half now.  You are almost done with preschool.  You play on a soccer team called the Hippos, and I love that you have no idea that hippos aren't cool. 

When a nine-year-old boy recently asked you what your favorite movie was, you said without hesitation, "Sleeping Beauty."  He told you that that was a girl movie, but the truth is, a movie is just a movie, and I'm glad you like that one.  It's one of my favorites, too.

You are a great big brother and I love hearing you talk in a sweet little voice to your siblings, especially when they are hurt.  Often I will hear Leah crying and then hear you say in a concerned, soothing voice, "Can I kiss your owie, sweet girl?"  You get your brother and sister involved in your games and sometimes get a little frustrated when they can't live up to your standard of play, but you keep trying. 

When I put your siblings to bed you try to hide behind a crib or in the closet so you don't have to be parted from them.  And you are always surprised when I "find" you -- "How did you know I was in here, Mom?" you say, as if the giggling and sliding of the closet door weren't a giveaway.

You love to be chased around the kitchen to the tune of Hans Zimmer's "Discombobulate" and your favorite song to watch on youtube is Steven Sharp Nelson of The Piano Guys playing a Star Wars-themed cello duet with a lightsaber.  Most of the songs you like spend hours on repeat (like Lenka's "Trouble is a Friend") and I love it when you try your hand at singing along.  My favorite is when the Ghostbusters theme comes on and you sing, "Who you gonna call?  DUST BUSTERS!"  I don't think I'm ever going to correct you on that one.

You like numbers and don't want to be bothered with reading.  You love to ride your scooter, play Super Mario on the wii, and make sure everyone is conforming to the household rules.  You can do all your chores without any assistance, and you like to have things organized.  A few weeks ago you came home from preschool and said, "Wow, Mom, thanks for keeping the house clean while I was at school!"

You think your dad is the coolest thing since sliced bread, and I have stopped trying to get to the door for the first kiss and hug when he comes home from work because I'm always outrun by you, Matthew and Leah all skidding into the kitchen at top speed, screaming with delight, "Daddy's home!!"  You never get tired of being with him and I hope that never changes.  There isn't a better man out there than your dad, Michael.  I hope you grow up to be just like him.

I'm so happy to have you as my son, Michael.  I'm so glad you made me a mom.  I love you!



Monday, May 7, 2012

Things That Happen to Everyone

That awkward moment when you realize you can't get the first pair of panties off unless you remove the second pair...

Friday, May 4, 2012

It's a Criminal!

Jessica Simpson, sister to Ashlee mother-of-Bronx-Mowgli Simpson, recently gave birth to a bouncing baby boy named Maxwell Drew Johnson.  Ah, finally, a nice normal name from a celebrity.  I never thought I would see the day.

Wait, what's that you say?  Maxwell Drew is a girl?

Oy vey.

I know I'm in the minority these days, but if I could give any advice to new parents it would be this:  Think very, very carefully before you saddle your child with a name she will have to spend the rest of her life explaining -- whether that's how to say it, how to spell it, or that she is actually a girl in spite of the fact that her name reeks of testosterone.

Although, in the case of Jessica Simpson, I suppose I can be grateful for two things: one, she didn't name her daughter "Bronx Mowgli", and two, she didn't name her "Stapler Thunderstorm" or "Fiddle-Faddle Kazoo," as suggested by Ellen's hilarious Celebrity Baby Name Generator.  (To see the clip from Ellen's show, click here and fast forward to 4:58).

And at least little Maxwell Drew isn't destined for a life of crime, unlike the woman whose parents looked upon her sweet infant face 30 years ago and said, "Isn't she precious?  Let's name her Fellony."  I mean, can anyone really be surprised that this woman ended up behind bars, charged with, yes, a felony?

(No word yet on how her siblings Larceny, Battery, and Perjury are doing...)

But keep in mind that this is coming from someone who named her son "Michael", which was recently classified as one of the most hated baby names in America, so what do I know?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Exercise Impaired

I fell off the treadmill this morning.  I'm serious, it's not a metaphor.  I actually fell off the treadmill.  (I'm pretty sure the word "pathetic" is embarrassed to admit himself as my acquaintance right about now).

There I was, finishing up my 20 minutes of exercise with a nice, steady walk, weights in hand, when I decided to close my eyes and say a little prayer before I began my day.  This is what I learned:

Never pray.

Just kidding.  I think prayer is an integral part of exercise, especially in my case ("Please let this be over soon...") and I think God was listening to me.  I also think He had to stifle a chuckle when I hurtled off the treadmill and slammed into the wall.

But, I'm proud to say I stood up and got back on, in spite of my bruised ankle... and ego.

When I finished my workout (is that a legitimate word to use when a snail could outpace me?) I walked upstairs to stretch and shower.  David met me at the bathroom door and asked, "What was that noise downstairs?"

Ha ha.  Nothing, nothing.  Just my dignity getting beat up by a treadmill.  (Boy, if Pathetic thought we were friends before, I guess now we're like BFFs).

But I did manage to run for five-minute stretches instead of three-minute.  Well, jog.  Okay, okay, walk-at-an-almost-jog.

Gah.  Come on, Pathetic.  Let's go eat some ice cream.