Keep your enemies close… so you can chop off their arms during show and tell

17 01 2009

In her infinite wisdom, Neener and Roo’s teacher, Ms. D, rearranged the classroom seating after Christmas break. Let’s forget about the fact that Neener and Roo had both taken the exciting leap of making “best friends” at their respective tables. And forget about the fact that unexpected change is not always a cake walk for kids on the autism spectrum. Or for kids with high anxiety. Or both, as the case may be. But let’s, for a moment, remember a mean little imp by the name of Brandee C. And let’s remember her obvious fondness for tormenting Neener. And let’s think about the worst possible mean little imp to seat beside my sensitive little angst-meister. Thaaaat’s right. In an even grander display of her infinite wisdom, Mrs. D put Neener and Brandee side by side.

In an effort to not look like a hyper-protective hover-mother, I resisted my impulse to swoop down to the school and bite the teacher’s face off for springing this kind of thoughtless change on my children, and demand that Brandee be moved to a more appropriate location. Like a reform school for mean little imp girls. Instead, I decided to play it cool. Give it a chance. Who knows, maybe Neener and Brandee could resolve their differences and become BFFs over milk and cookies and long conversations about the Tooth Fairy, and Junie B. Jones books. Maybe they’d learn to get along, and develop a friendship of convenience if nothing else. Maybe Neener could teach Brandee to read, and Brandee could teach Neener how to…make fun of other kids and cackle like a nasty little witch. Or maybe Brandee would target Neener with a smarmy little game of  ‘Wanna play Echo?’ And go out of her way to bond with the other two girls at the table, because it’s way more fun to exclude someone than it is to just hassle them. Or maybe she would snatch things from Neener, and refuse to give them back until Neener erupts in a volcano of angry, frustrated tears, and Ms. D, in her infinite wisdom, has to go figure out what Neener is crying about. And all of a sudden, I’m sharpening my teeth and going into hover-mother swooping mode, and forging the signatures of whoever spawned that mean little imp on applications for reform schools in Mongolia. Or Texas.

When Neener finally opened up about what Brandee was saying and doing, I had no choice. I told her under no uncertain terms that Brandee was a mean little snot, and that she did not have to put up with that kind of crap. I urged her to be brave, to stick up for herself, and to tell me, and Ms. D whenever Brandee started giving her a hard time. Then, last night, in the moments before bed when Neener and I like to cuddle up and talk about what’s on her mind, this conversation happened:

Neener: Mommy, what’s Brandee’s phone number?

Me: I dunno. Why?

Neener: I want to call her and ask her what she’s afraid of. I think she’s afraid of bats.

Me: Baseball or the animal?

Neener: Hmmm. I don’t know. Maybe I can bring them both to school and see which one scares her more.

Me: Pfffffffffffttttt. (Which is the sound of me stuffing a pillow in my mouth in a shoddy effort to hide the evidence of my hysterical laughter.)

Neener (slowly and thoughtfully): I need a sword too. A real sword.

Me: Why?

Neener: To bring to school for show and tell.  Maybe I could show it to Brandee.

Me: Brandee big on swords or something?

Neener (grinning like a Cheshire cat): No. But I’d show it to her. And the next time she teased me, maybe I could chop her arm off, and she’d be all, like “Hey! Where’d my arm go?”

Me: Pppppffffffffffffffffttttttttt.

Part of me was alarmed. These were by far the most aggressive words and thoughts I’ve ever heard Neener express. For all my threats of biting off body parts, and my kickin’-ass-and-takin’- names bravado, I’ve gone out of my way to shield my kids from ideas and images of any sort of violence as much as possible. And another part of me was sad. Sad that she feels so helpless. That she’s trying to figure out how to be brave, how to defend herself, and how to push Brandee’s buttons the way Brandee pushes hers, and that the best she can come up with is flying mammals and/or sports equipment, and bringing medieval weaponry for show and tell. And still another part of me was overjoyed that at least she was not content to wallow in a mire of victimhood, that she was at least thinking of ways to fight fire with…bats. And that she was discussing it with me first.

Maybe Neener’s new found blood-lust is all my fault. Maybe I should not have expressed to her my opinion that Brandee is just not a very nice person. Or maybe I should not be encouraging Neener to talk so honestly and openly about about how she feels. Or encouraging her to stand up for herself. Or maybe, if there is any blame to be laid, it belongs squarely on whoever spawned the evil little imp who started picking on my daughter in the first place. In which case, maybe I should find out Brandee’s phone number. And ask her parents what they’re more afraid of, Mongolia or Texas? I’d hate to forge their signatures on the wrong reform school application.

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Famous Last Words

16 12 2008

“Well, that’s about as easy as a root canal can get!” she chirped. “It might be a little tender for a day or two, but after that you’ll be good to go.” Right. A week later, the only place I was “good to go” was straight back down to the dentist’s office to clobber the chirpy sadistic liar who turned my mildly sensitive front tooth into a constantly throbbing, aching, bitch-inducing hunk of torture.

And that, my friends, is the underlying reason why I’ve been M.I.A from this blog for a while. It also seems that when my evil little bird of a dentist blocked up my tooth’s root with gutta percha (see, at least I learned new words – fancy dentist words – while I was away) she also blocked up my creativity. Pain has a way of doing that. As does sleep deprivation, caused by the aforementioned relentless toothache, as well as the relentless restlessness of one Baby Squiggles who is having tooth issues of her own. Add on to that, a creative crisis triggered by no less than three of my potential writing projects falling through in the span of a week, and a serious bout of hypochondria triggered by the fact that I am a serious hypochondriac. And not in the cutesy way, like “Hee hee hee, I keep forgetting to wear a bra and underwear! I must have Alzheimer’s! I’m such a hypochondriac!” No. Like, in the past two weeks I’ve convinced myself that I might have ALS, a pituitary tumour, throat cancer, a heart infection,  a heart attack, sepsis, strokes, antibiotic resistant strep, hypochondria, and an infected failed root canal that’s going to require seriously invasive surgery and a $3000 dental implant right before Christmas. Before I’ve made enough money and gotten enough published to qualify for a PWAC membership and insurance plan. That, my friends, is a whole lot of reasons to let my husband take over this blog for a while.

But pituitary tumour or not, I’m back! Before I get back to my usual rantings and ravings, here are some Blister family highlights from my hiatus, a couple of snippets that have yet to be erased from my memory by the raging case of amnesia I think I’m coming down with:

Baby Squiggles and the Sibs study

A few weeks back, I took Squiggles to the 12 month visit for the siblings autism research study. And as crazy as I might be sometimes, it’s nice to know that I’m not completely crazy all the time. It has been confirmed that Squiggles is, at the very least, weird. How weird, we do not know. But weird enough that they video taped her little leg-paddling-bum-scootching mode of transportation, did some cognitive assessments far beyond what you’d normally try with a one year-old, and brought the study’s lead doctor in to see Baby Squiggles in all her baffling developmental glory, and meet with me because I’m just so damn interesting. Apparently, we hypochondriacs are very observant, and we know a lot of medical jargon, which makes us fun for doctors to talk to.

The School Holiday Concert

I don’t know what was the most fun about Neener and Roo’s Holiday concert: Me, my mother, Neener and Roo, all dolled up standing in a massive line-up outside for 15 minutes, waiting for The School to open the doors so we could get out of the chilly night wind, drop the kids in their classroom, and claim our two-tickets-alloted-per-family seats; or the rousing performance of ‘So This Is Christmas” that opened the show. Because you know, nothing says holiday celebration like an a capella  rendition of the most depressing Christmas song ever written, sung by a bunch of tone deaf kids in the key of guilt flat; or the grade six band, who, god love them, really thought they were playing a song. In actuality, they were being used by The School administration as part of an evil plot to confuse and disorient the crowd with so much random honking and tooting that no parent would be able to hold their video camera still, and would thus be forced to shell out $25 for a dvd copy from The School. But for real, the finest moment – hands down the best part of the entire concert – came when, of all 371 kids in that school, one little angelic-faced girl on her way off the stage suddenly darted to the mic, put it three milimeters away from her mouth, and shouted “But nobody could do that!” Unbeknownst to her, Roo singled-handedly delivered a lot of people from the mind-numbing monotony of Holiday concert hell with that classicly cryptic little line.

There. Now we’re all caught up. Finally, I’d like to thank my Mr. for stepping into the blogging breech when he was needed. Like you, I have an endless appreciation for him, and his remarkable talent for melding dumbass observations with smartass wit. And thank you, readers, for giving him such a friendly yet appropriately tepid welcome. I’m sure you realize that if you’d been all giddy and swooney over every word he wrote, I might have gotten all  sulky and huffy and said “Fine! Screw you guys! Way to kick me in the sore teeth when I’m down! It’s all fun and games now, but you’ll be sorry when he starts writing about the proper way to test for oil or latex paint, or starts posting his illustrations of how to replace divots on a golf course! Drawn on a Magna-doodle!” Lucky for us all, it didn’t come to that. And as long as I can keep this potentially life-threatening case of what I suspect is carpal tunnel syndrome at bay, it never will.





A Good Old Fashioned Stroller Burnin’!

6 04 2008

It sits there, mocking me. It has become the bane of my existence. I should have known better, but this time I really thought it would be different. It had a cupholder and a storage basket. A cupholder and a storage basket. Music to my mother ears. And it wasn’t even the cheapest one. How bad could it be? The answer: Really bad. And now, I’m ready to take a flame thrower to Baby Squiggle’s stroller after only four months. How I loathe that stroller.

We have a painful past, strollers and I. The first one, a Graco Duo Glider, was o.k. It held Neener and Roo’s infant seats for the early months, and it handled reasonably well for a double stroller.  No cupholder, but it had cute lime green and pale blue plaid fabric. And it was on sale. Then, some arsehole stole it. Happens all the time in this neighbourhood, arseholes stealing strollers. Oh, but I hexed that arsehole, I hexed him good. However, that did not bring our stroller back (although it may have caused the thief to sprout Dolly Parton-esque man boobs, and a tail.) So we bought a new one. Another Duo Glider, this one an LE model with air-filled tires. Air-filled tires. More music to mother ears concerned about streetcar tracks and lumpy sidewalks causing whiplash.  Still no cupholder, and pricier than the last, but it made for a slightly smoother ride. Until the tires started to go flat all the time. And then started falling off. While we were crossing the street. I began to suspect that the stroller was out to get us. The final straw came when the left front tire hurled itself out in to the intersection, this time too far to be retrieved, as my two year old babes and I were hustling across a busy crosswalk. When we’d managed to wobble to safety, I hoisted the kids up on my hips and abandoned the evil contraption right then and there, only a little worried that it might try to follow us back home. 

Then I got a side-by-side jogging stroller that did not fit through any doors. It was promptly returned. A stroller that won’t fit through doorways? Sheer uselessness. Ahhh but then I found true love. The Baby Jogger City Double. It had tough tires, a storage basket, turned on a dime, and never met a door it didn’t glide through. I would never actually jog with it, but knowing that I could if I had to was enough. It cost as much as as much as a well-used car, and had no cup holder, but that didn’t matter. The year we spent together was the best year of my strolling life. Unfortunately, a double jogging stroller is no good for a single newborn. I’m actually supposed to be selling it, but I just can’t seem to let it go yet. I need to make sure it goes to a good home.

But back to the aforementioned bane of my existance, this Eddie Bauer “Travel System.” Turns out it has trouble traveling over anything. Streetcar tracks. Divots in the sidewalk. Puddles. Grass. All are serious whiplash hazards for me and Squiggles, as the wheels come to a grinding halt when faced with anything higher than a squirrel’s knee. Well, maybe we just have terrible sidewalks, surely it is fine inside. Nope. On smooth floors, the front wheels turn sideways and inexplicably jam that way. But the cupholder? Isn’t that a small consolation? Well, what use is a cup holder when any slight variation in terrain causes my Chai Latte to spew out in a steaming geyser of lost deliciousness. I might as well hold the cup in my teeth like I did before. Eddie Bauer may make parkas and bathing suits “that complement today’s modern outdoor lifestyle. “ But it makes lends its name to craptastic strollers.  Strollers that are afraid of the outdoors. And the indoors for that matter.

So I’m hoping, praying, that this post will miraculously be picked up by the Stroller People (not the scary kind, those half stroller/half human monsters..the kind that give brown nosing mom bloggers free strollers!) If that happens, you are cordially invited to a good ol’ fashioned stroller burnin’. I’ll get the permits and the gasoline, you bring the wine. That sucker is going up in flames. But, if a new stroller fails to magically appear, I’m not above taking matters into my own hands. Maybe that miserable stroller will accidently be left outside, maybe in a place where stroller stealing arseholes are known to lurk. Maybe a certain stroller stealing arsehole with Dolly Parton boobs and a tail will snatch it, thinking it’s a good stroller that will be easy to pawn. It has a cupholder afterall. As he’s pushing it across the street, it’ll jam on the street car tracks and give him a wicked case of whiplash. Then, the only person who will buy it from him is the crazy Asian lady down the street who uses baby strollers to take her plant for a walk. She’ll only give him a buck for it. Meanwhile, Baby Squiggles and I will get a nice new stroller. We will go jogging and 4-wheeling with it, and look hip and stylish while doing so. And everyone will have gotten what they deserve.