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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Breakfast of ADHD Champions

Every morning I turn into the Hulk before we make it out the door for school. By the Hulk, I mean the witless giant with raggedy clothes and violent frustration that compels him to speak in single syllables. Here we are, just under two months before school ends and my boys manage to botch our morning routine every - single - day.

Honestly, I give up. An hour is more than enough time to have breakfast, get brushed, cleaned, dressed and out the door, wouldn't you agree? But no, thirty minutes are spent engaged in the breakfast battle with my four-year old.

"Eat breakfast!" I say, while my mind is pleading, "need coffee."

He scrutinizes his food and decides it's time to smell his toes.

No matter what I give him, he acts as if I've just served him poop on a plate. The only other people I've known to get so violently repulsed by breakfast have been chain smoking alcoholics. I should see if my four-year old would enjoy a Bloody Mary and a Winston instead of chocolate Cheerios. Why not, after all everything else he ever asked for is inappropriate breakfast food anyway: lollipops, cookies, a slice of American cheese. Really, that's the breakfast of champions - with ADHD.

The event that follows our Guantanamo Bay breakfast special is washing up. By the time I check in on their teeth brushing progress, they've had ten minutes. I walk in on this: two boys making funny faces in the mirror while the water is running like a geyser. Knowing that the New York Water Board just approved another water bill hike, I turned off the faucet and cried over spilled HO2.

"Brush teeth!" I ordered. Of course, they interpreted it as "En Garde" and start their toothbrush joust.

But truly, the most difficult task is getting dressed. Something about the male testosterone loses every ounce of intelligence and restraint when he's in his underwear. My guys go ape. After seven months of getting dressed for school, you'd think they could do it in their sleep. Instead I find PJ's strewn across the room, one guy mid-leap off his bed targeting to land on the other, followed by a mad chase to retaliate by smacking the leaper's butt - it looks like a Congress meeting.

"Pants! Shirt! Go!" I boom.

Inevitably, they get one or all of their clothing on backwards or inside out. Whether they do this as a joke or because they're genuinely inane, who knows. All it means is more time off the clock to get re-dressed and not a chance in hell for me to steal another sip of my tepid coffee.

Socks, shoes and jackets round off our preparation but by this time, my boys are spent. They actually lie down on the daybed like they just got home from a night shift. Five minutes putting on shoes and then putting them on the correct foot plus ten minutes tying the laces and finally...finally, finally we're out the door.

Friday, May 13, 2011

I Kick Myself

In the past, I've established that my six-year old is a klutz. At best, it can be entertaining like watching Buster Keaton only without the awe for grace and fluency of a genius. When my son has one of those spastic moments, like picking up his backpack upside down with the zipper open or missing an open door by a foot, smacking into the wall instead, all I could do is throw my arms up in the air and hear Archie Bunker in my head as he called his son-in-law "Meat Head".

It's a phase, I know - been there, done that. Hopefully, he'll grow out of it sooner than I did. As a matter of fact, there are times I wonder if I grew out of it at all.

The other day, I stuffed my son's pockets with a wad of tissues for his allergies. As I was doing it, I thought, this is a bad idea. One, because I knew my son would never use a tissue on his own and why should he - he's got sleeves. Two, there was a strong possibility I'd forget to check his pants pockets before I threw them in the wash because really, when have I ever done that?

So ten minutes of picking out wet tissue bits from the washer, I'm thinking, at least this isn't as bad as the time I accidentally washed a disposable diaper (please tell me I'm not alone in making that stupid mistake).

As much as that warranted a "Dumb Ass Award" followed by kicking myself in the butt, it would take second place to what actually inspired it. It was a failed attempt to change how ill-prepared I am because I'm always without those things a mother should carry for emergencies. I get embarrassed when other mothers whip out their purse sized Bactine sprays and a band aid for my son's scraped knee. Why hadn't I thought of that? Look into my purse and you'd think I took tips on what to pack from Dora The Explorer.

Girl, what do you need a rope for other than hanging yourself?

So, two weeks back, my son had a nosebleed at the bus station. I searched my purse hoping that tissues would magically appear - I wouldn't even care if they were clean. There were some old receipts from CVS, empty gum wrappers and even a miniature Transformer toy! But that wasn't going to do the trick. When the blood started dripping like a leaky faucet, I noticed the old woman sitting next to him had started searching her purse for a tissue.

Time was of the essence. Though it was a nice gesture on her part, I'd inevitably feel like a bad mother who carried worthless bits of paper and transforming toys that are so complicated, I can't even tell they're broken.

I unzipped my secret compartment and found it - the only thing in my purse that came close to tissues - a panty liner. Of course, my son didn't know what it was but the lady sitting next to him certainly did. Regardless, it did the job. Now I have this fear that whenever he gets a bump or a scrape, he's going to ask me for a sanitary napkin.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Clean Spleen

It's a known fact that hypochondriacs don't actually get sick because diseases, like money, tend to stay away from people who want it. It's the irony of life. It's why the chain-smoking boozer gets nine lives transplanting his liver or heart before he finally dies of old age and why the Pastor I knew, who didn't smoke or drink, died before he was fifty from lung cancer.

To elude serious illness it seemed safe to be somewhere in the middle - between the McDonald's and soda aficionados and the dehydrated vegans who oddly suffer from ADHD. Clearly, a reasonable compromise is one that considers pizza a food that contains three of the four food groups; add Buffalo chicken topping and voila, you have all four.

Until recently, I treated my body more like a rented apartment than the temple they say it is. The main reason was because I never saw myself as a candidate for cancer. Stress, a prominent factor in developing cancer, is an intelligent person's trait. Smart people know what's going on, they understand the consequences of living recklessly and take their responsibilities to heart.

Me? I'm clueless. Too stupid to catch a cold, they would say in Japan.

But I got my wake up call in the form of an enlarged spleen. I didn't even know what a spleen was and now I was taking orders from it. Suddenly, all the joys of life: iced coffee, beer, steak and Buffalo wings became history. No more summer days lounging in the beer garden or weekend barbecues and cook outs. So long to raw foods which meant sayonara to sushi, salmon roe or a big Cobb salad for dinner.

This is like death row and I'm innocent.

I thought I was too young for this shit to be happening but apparently, I'm just about the right age. Mid-forties, baby. That's when the warranty expires. As if being a woman wasn't hard enough physically, I had to get a good scare to practically stop having fun altogether.

In the in end, I lucked out. My blood work and ultrasound results showed I was in good health. Just needed a kick in the butt and to get quality sleep.

Quality sleep. That's an oxymoron for any parent no matter what age their children are. The restrictive diet, I can handle but a good night's sleep in my household requires team work. Who'da thought?

If my dad were alive today, he'd be silently gloating on his day bed saying, I told you so. He was the Master of Moderation and he never missed a day of exercise. Of course, he had my mom and I paying his bills for him so he could spend two hours at the Y, but that's besides the point.

He had his rules to enjoy life within limits and he never wavered. Even if Satan or Robert DeNiro or Al Pacino tempted him with a luxurious open bar and a mile long buffet, he would find the strength to restrain if it was his "non-debauchery day" and my dad always tried to instill that in me.

"You're a Karate man, Dad. I'm a Rock n' Roll guitarist - there's a big difference." I'd reason.

It took an organ - a small, unsuspecting organ - to drive my dad's lesson home. I could picture him smiling now, where ever he is. The dandy dressed neat-nick with an iron discipline that could be mistaken for O.C.D. or hypochondria. Hope he's happy up there knowing his daughter's got a clean spleen.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day 2011

This is going to be a glorious day - it's off to a good start anyway. A beautiful day, a semi-quiet morning that was still enough for me to get an extra hour of sleep and dream about....Ben Ten? That must have been the television filtering through.

Happy Mother's day, moms of the world.

Here's your card in the mail. Artists are age six and four and they draw for cookies or juice boxes or toys - oh, who am I kidding. They'd do it for a hug and a kiss, too - which is exactly what they got.

Hope the day is as beautiful as you, Mama!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Good Start

Yikes, has it been that long since I posted a blog entry? I placed it on the back burner and forgot it apparently. It reminds me of Gabriel's perfect boiled egg. Gabriel - a dude I worked with - decided to follow a recipe for boiled eggs that required turning off the heat after the water came to a boil and having the eggs sit in the hot water for ten minutes. Naturally, he forgot all about the eggs because what New Yorker gives an egg ten minutes to cook when he's only got thirty minutes to get out the door? A week later, his partner asked him, "What's with the eggs in the pot of water?"

Before my blog wound up like Gabriel's eggs, here are the events that kept it in still waters.

The "Time Machine" tour: Rush at Madison Square Garden. I thought only Hippies took their kids to rock shows but the times, they are changing. When my husband and I heard Rush was set to play the Garden, we said let's bring the kids!

We figured any show at the Garden would be the same price as buying a small country, so why waste it on "Disney on Ice" or "Dora The Explorer" or shitting elephants in a circus? Give the boys an opportunity to see a legend in their own time. Maybe one day, when they're all grown up and comparing battle scars, remembering girls they've kissed and bands they've seen, my boys will be able to say, "Oh yeah? Well I've seen Rush play Moving Pictures in its entirety." Then again, they may not remember a single moment of it.

I have to admit, I was a bit apprehensive about bringing kids to a rock concert but when we saw the numerous other parents waiting in the beer line with their kids in tow, we felt at home. The clincher was a dude who traveled down two rows to tell us he was proud that we were getting our boys off to a good start. One likes to believe in the freedom of music!

Nose Bleed Seats! Yeah!

The altitude is kicking in!

Spirit Of The Radio

 Da Bronx Zoo: Pre-K classes visit puking animals.

I don't do Zoos. At least not voluntarily, so when the school arranged a bus to schlep a bunch of four-year olds to the Bronx to see cooped up animals, I was glad that somebody was willing to take my kid there.

Not only did the school's field trip gain admission with just the school bus parking fee, they also were admitted to the "Congo Gorilla Forest," which would cost the average visitor an additional five dollars. If it were my dime, I would have skipped it and that would've been a shame. After seeing live gorillas, it's hard to imagine how anybody could honestly question the theory of evolution - they're exactly like my husband, only with hair.

The gorillas watched us observing them and their expression was one of pity. Not because they were the attraction locked up in a zoo but quite the contrary - like we were the restrained species. In their primordial faces, I imagined what they were thinking, "Why'd you do it - evolve into humans? You shed your body hair and lost control of your toes for what - to join a rat race? Here I sit, enjoying the day while my cousin sleeps with his butt facing you. If you wanted to live like us, you'd have to be on welfare."

With that, the older looking gorilla sat close to the window and waited for all the children to watch him with awe. Then he puked in his hand and shoved it back in his mouth while the kids screamed with revulsion and enjoyment. Where's Sigourney Weaver when you need her?

Sleep farting Gorilla

The Puker

"Take it in, boy because Mommy's never doing this again."

Spring break 2011 posed a big problem: free time and what to do with it. I must've heard three different mothers refer to themselves as "Cruise Director." On the other end of the scope, many of our friends were out of commission due to some virus going around - lovely. On my own, I had to entertain two boys on a low budget. What else could I do except drag them around the city and hope they'd finally learn how to master the subway.

New York Hall of Science: Although the boys enjoyed the shadow wall immensely and was mildly entertained by a few other stations, I honestly think that one should only enter the Hall of Science if there's an underlying need to waste money on the kids. I paid the robbers, oh I mean cashiers, twenty-seven dollars for two kids and myself and that did NOT include access to the Science park or miniature golf. Next time, we're just doing the golf. And paying four bucks for the Science playground is ridiculous considering there's a huge playground nearby that's totally free.

The shrinking room

Watching balls spin around a vortex for ten minutes. Yeah - ten minutes.

At the Playground for All Children. Looks like an album cover, right?

Ancient Playground at the Metropolitan Museum: After my last fiasco with the Hall of Science, I was more than hesitant to bring the boys to the Met Museum but the Ancient Playground right next to it seemed a promising feature. Fashioned after Pyramids, the Ancient Playground is huge with plenty of crevices a kid can hide in. It's not great, however, if you can't transform into a midget to chase your kids through the three-foot high tunnels and if you're the least bit claustrophobic then you'll just have to yell at the end of the tunnel until your kids come out like a red neck looking for his dog.

While we ate our lunch, I asked the boys if they were interested in seeing what was in the big white building across the street. It was either curiosity or the cold that got the better of them - they enthusiastically agreed to visit the museum.

The greatest feature about the Metropolitan Museum is the suggested donation for admission - it means I get to keep my arms and legs and still get to use the bathroom. I don't know why I was so skeptical about the Metropolitan Museum because the boys had a blast. They loved the Egyptian mummies and the Asian art where my four-year old got to see an Isamu Noguchi sculpture. Having the same first name as the artist, it was a big deal.

My doggie comes out after I yelled his name for half an hour.

Climbed the Pyramid...BLAH!

Posing with Mummy...statue.

In front of Isamu's sculpture. Noguchi's that is.

Knights, fists, tongues and hoodies!
Finally, a sad separation as our good friends moved to the forbidden state of New Jersey. One by one, we've watched our friends move out of our metro area and though the distance is passable, it's melancholy just the same. One of the last play dates as neighbors was spent at L.I.C.'s Gantry Park.

Good Luck in Jersey!
So for all the family and friends who remain in our hearts despite the distance, I owe an apology for the lapse - it won't happen again. If it does, feel free to mail me one of Gabriel's eggs.