Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Terror Twins First Day of School

Silence.  Beautiful silence.  


[sahy-luhns] noun, verb, -lenced,-lenc·ing, interjection
1. The complete lack of screaming, whining or crying for more than the thirty minutes one's brain needs to recover from chaos
2. The ability to hear oneself think, often followed by the sudden realization that one is capable of thinking of anything other than responding to the aforementioned screaming

I'm dropping the twins off today for their first day of school, having already dropped Blue Eyes off for his day, and all these moms are taking pictures and one is video taping their baby's first day of 2-day-2's.  (I mean, at what age is considered the official "first day of school" anyway? To me, this is more like Mother's Day Out twice per week)

Meanwhile, I just stopped at the curb for quick in-and-out action.  I didn't even bring a camera.  It didn't cross my mind to cry.  I'm a little ashamed.  

What I did do was skip, hop and jump back to my empty car to wile away the next four hours with no entourage.  I didn't do anything special.  I went to the gym, I went school supply shopping (yeah, yeah, they're a little late), I dropped into another store to look around on a whim.  And I enjoyed every minute of it.  Because I was alone.  

There was joy in pursuing the isles of Target taking all the time in the world that I wanted to compare blunt-tip child's scissors.  I was able to meander down extra isles because I felt like it.  My internal scream-o-meter was turned off.  What is my scream-o-meter?  It's like a countdown clock that runs on maternal instinct- an approximation of the amount of time I have to finish the current task before the terror twins start screaming and fighting and necessitate my leaving the store/ restaurant/ public place as quickly as possibly.  

When time runs out, all hell breaks loose

I got to walk into the YMCA without worrying about my children running in front of cars in the parking lot, or spending an excessive amount of time trying to herd them to the childcare room as they dart all over the place.  For once I got to skip the routine battle about how the lollipops were for when we're leaving, not now. There was also joy in the simple act of running on the treadmill without worrying whether the child development worker would be coming up the stairs looking for me before I've finished my workout.  "Sorry to interrupt you, but Guns has stripped naked and we can't get him to put  his clothes back on." (That happened a couple of weeks ago) Though, I'd be lying if I didn't admit that some small large part of me didn't think that I was breaking some unwritten rule about not using my precious alone time torturing myself on a treadmill.   

Then, the coup de grace, I got to take a shower without any toddlers climbing in.  

Don't get me wrong, I'm not judging the mom with the video camera.  First of all, I'm impressed with her ability to locate her camera and a tape, charge the camera and remember to get it out the door with her.  That right there is a feat that I would not be able to accomplish without difficulty.  In fact, I'm a little jealous.  Maybe if I weren't so darn overwhelmed so often, I'd enjoy videotaping more or something.  Maybe she has those mythical children I've heard of that are compliant little angels.  The kind that started their life sleeping in their carrier no matter where they were and matured to the kind of three year old who enjoys doing what Mommy says, the first time she says it.

Or at least that's what I choose to believe to excuse my non-filmingness.  

In my defense, as we near the terror twin's third birthday, I have to look back and acknowledge that it's been a rough three years.   I got pregnant 9 days after Macho Man returned from a year long tour in Iraq.  That was not exactly the plan.   Don't get me wrong, we wanted more children, but Blue Eyes was only 18 months old, and we didn't even get to slide into new routine before the next big adventure was coming up.  It was a rough pregnancy.  I had early onset "pregnancy Induced hypertension" that evolved into pre-ecclampsia and pre-term labor.  Let me tell you, hospital bed rest is not even a fraction as relaxing as it sounds.  Not to mention I was miserably uncomfortable 24/7.  Next comes the NICU for two weeks and pumping and making bottles in addition to spending weeks and months teaching the wee ones to nurse.  They each woke up every three hours.  Not three hours from the time they fell asleep, but three hours from the time they woke up last.  By the time I tried to nurse, warmed and fed a bottle, burped, got them back to sleep and pumped I had about an hour to sleep if they were on the same schedule that night.  

I continued to battle with severe feeding issues with Lil' Bit until she's about a year old.  She turned out to have "hypotonia" from what is fortunately, in retrospect, a minor birth defect.  You may have heard of it as "floppy baby".  She couldn't hold her head up until she was five months old.  Her suck was weak and ineffective for a long time.  Frankly, the only thing between Lil' Bit and a feeding tube was her ex-pediatric dietitian mother's dogged determination.  She also needed physical therapy until she finally walked at 19 months.  What a beautiful day that was!  Guns on the other hand was a great little eater, but had wretched colic.  Just like his older brother.  If you've had a child with colic, you know how awful that is- the incessant screaming with no relief.  It's just soul-sucking.  Gun's colic always peaked between 1-3 am.  

Needless to say, there was not a lot of sleeping going on.  There's a reason they use sleep-deprivation as a torture tactic.  It is more debilitating than you can imagine, until you're chronically sleep deprived yourself.  Let's not forget that I was dealing with my second go-round with post partum depression, and Macho Man was dealing with is own post-war issues.  

Meanwhile, Blue Eye's first indications of his Austistic Spectrum Disorder began to rear it's head.  It began with repetitive behavior.  He preferred to flip his cars over and spin the wheels ad nauseum.  He wasn't interacting with other children and would flip when he was required to transition activities before he was ready.  Mommy and Me class was a nightmare.  Heck, with the sensory issues that come with ASD, brushing his teeth was a nightmare.  

Oh, and speaking of rough times, I'm not even going to go into our moves (yes, plural, like 4 in three years) and another 8 month separation forced by Macho Man's job. 

I feel like things are finally starting to get easier.  We've lived in the same place for over a year.  We've made some good friends.  We're getting Blue Eye's ASD thing under control, finally.  Lil' Bit is about to outgrow therapy she's doing so well.  It's not so hard to go places, the five of us.  (Three on one is still a different deal...)  It's even fun.  Our problems are finally starting to be normal people problems, like how the terror twins fight all the time.  Sucks, but it's typical.  Typical is great.  

"Your twins are fighting like maniacs!"
"I know, isn't it great?"

So, excuse me if I drop my kids off at school and do cartwheels to the car.  It's not that I don't love my beautiful, sweet, adorable children.  Their giggles and kisses are the highlight of my life. The last three years have been completely worth it.  It's just that I've been looking forward to this moment since 2007, at four in the morning, promising myself that someday it will be easier. Chanting: "you can make it", "it will get better", "take it one day at a time and someday they'll be three and five".  I knew that things could be worse; that things can always be tragic- but at the time, that was less consolation than it should have been.  

I'll film their first day of Kindergarten.  I promise.  And you know, I'm not going to feel too bad about enjoying every moment I have of peaceful serenity this school year.  I've earned them.  And you know, three and five kinda rocks so far.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Disturbing 'cause it's true....

Macho Man comes home from work, and surveys the scene....

"This place is like Disneyland for Pedophiles."

Except minus the loin cloth diaper

It's true, my house is the pediatric equivalent of a nude beach.  My children are determined to be naked as much of the time as possible.  They find clothes to be, at best, completely unnecessary, at worst, a major inconvenience.  They will walk out of sight for 2.3 seconds and return stark naked.  I've thought of several possible rational explanations, but I'm still puzzling over the idea.  Here's what I've come up with:

1.  Maybe they're legitimately hot.  We spend a fortune on central air, but since our home is about as energy efficient as a Hummer on NOS we have to keep it pretty warm if we want a prayer of keeping groceries in the budget.  But yet, nudity seems to be a year-round phenomenon.  

2.  Economy of motion?  After all, every time they go to the bathroom it does require taking off the clothes, putting them back on.  Not so difficult for me, but then, I don't have the fine motor skills of a 2 year old.  Maybe they're just trying to save time and effort.  However, this hypothesis doesn't explain why they strip in the kitchen, or in the backyard, or anywhere else nowhere remotely near a potty.  

3.  Inherited exhibitionism?  There is a rather notorious story of Macho Man's mother entertaining guests, only to be joined by a Mini Macho Man in boots and a cowboy hat.  ONLY boots and a cowboy hat.  He was reportedly rather proud of himself.  I picture that scene at the beginning of 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall', but I think it's because I know him as an adult and have some difficulty imagining a young, innocent, Mini Macho Man.  You know, I may be onto something here- we already know he's passed down other strange traits.  He's also been known to hang brain in a bar after a couple of drinks.  No, you really don't want to know what that means- don't think about it too long.   

All I know is that I spend my entire day saying "where is your underwear?", "why have you not put on underwear yet?", "haven't I asked you 3,000 times to go get your underwear?".  Because, sadly, I'm happy if they even have that much on.  Underwear is such a battle, I don't have the energy to attempt full outfits unless there is an imminent departure planned.    

I'm convinced this tendency towards nudity is carried on the y chromosome.  Why else would the preoccupation with nakedness commonly persist into adulthood with boys, yet girls seem to grow out of it once female hormones begin to rise.  

This begs the question, on an evolutionary level, what was the advantage of preferring nudity?   Were the males less likely to be taken down by a saber-toothed tiger if there were no loin skin  trailing behind them in the wind to grab?  Is this kind of like the lesson we learned from The Incredibles; that superheros with capes were prone to tragic wardrobe malfunctions?  

Tsk. Tsk.  Rookie mistake.  

Were Neanderthal women into meat gazing? They only wanted to mate with the guys who could prove they had nothing to be shy about?  Maybe just the really trollup-y ones, I'll hazard to guess.  You know, the ones that evolved into those girls that hang out in country bars with their muffin tops hanging over their Rockies, or Ke$ha.  Not to mention, all that brain would get awfully dirty hanging out all the time....

Neanderthal skull before forensic reconstruction

After.  The mouth seemed to form the words "I heart naked brain"

All I really know for sure is that a naked kid just ran by.  

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Man, the kids are on a tear today

Holy Moly my kids are on a tear today.  I'm worn out.  Of course Macho Man is working.  

Lil' Bit has this nasty habit of joyfully pulling the keys off my laptop keyboard.  As far as I can tell it's a compulsion.  Kind of like if you or I were standing next to peeling paint we might have to resist the urge to pull it off.  Sometimes I get lucky and can pop them back on.  Other times one of the 12 important micro pieces are gone with the wind.   I currently am missing the letter 'K'.  At the time, I thought, no big deal- how much do I use the letter K anyway?  Let me tell you, enough to be annoyed when you don't have one.  I k (grr) know that she does this, and I take precautions, but she slipped past me for about 2 seconds while I was yelling at correcting the boys for something.  

Some of Lil' Bit's best work

Blue Eyes is just hyper as all get-out.  He also has decided that he's an alien now, and instead of addressing me as "Mommy" now addresses me as "the human".  Such as, "Guns, go get your own milk ($#!) from the human".  Again, something that has turned out to be more annoying than expected.  

But Guns takes the cake (#$@%!!), as usual.  First, he comes to me with wet hair.  Just the top of his head, and I'm thinking how did he swing that?  Exhibit A:

Blue Eyes cleared it up for me when I asked him what happened.  "He put his head in the toilet!" as he's convulsing in laughter.  So immediately I begin the walk of dread.  Let me explain.  I have three children under five using that bathroom.  And they're not so great at flushing.  In fact, the whole bathroom is disgusting all the time.  I would actually prefer an industrial bathroom with tile walls and a drain in the floor so I could just splash some bleach around and then hose it down.  But, really, I'm convinced that the only thing that could truly get it completely clean is an atomic bomb pulled out of cold war storage.  

What I'd like to do to my second bathroom

Sure enough, you guessed it- Guns had clearly been playing in the toilet (he had left a few bath toys in there) and the water was a dark yellow.  

Bath time.  

Soon I put them down for a nap, and I get a little work done before deciding to take a little cat nap myself.  Trust me, I knew this was a risky proposition, but I was exhausted.  About 45 minutes later I'm woken to: "Excuse me, human?  Gunner has gotten poop all over."  
Exhibit B:

My bedroom door.  Passive aggressive much?  

Guns, in fact, has gotten poop all over.  He evidently woke up from his nap with a full diaper and decided to do a little impromptu poo art.  In addition to the door, it was on the floor, on the nearby laundry hamper, etc, etc.

Bath time again.  Also, let me just say, it is not fun scrubbing dried poo off of a door and a wall.  It it amazingly resilient.  

As I'm taking the miracle eraser to the poo wall, I'm wondering about how much poo I must eat and drink, breathe and wear every day.  It must be everywhere.  I mean, the kids poop all over their clothes, and then I wash them in the washing machine- then later wash everything else in the washing machine.  Sanitary cycle or no, I'm pretty sure we're all wearing poo germs.   It's not like they sell antibacterial laundry soap.

Worse, I learned in a food science class in college that the FDA has regulations for the maximum amount of human feces, animal hair, bug pieces, etc. that is allowed in foods packaged for consumption in the United States.  So- think about it- that means that our government's foremost experts in food safety had to concede that all of those things are already routinely in our food, and had to settle for setting maximum allowable limits.  Grossed out yet?  Well, what ever the limit is for human feces, I suspect that we have far surpassed it in our home.  

If I really stop and think it through, it's inevitable.  Yes, I scrubbed the devil out of the poo I could see, but did I really get every last poo molecule and live bacteria?  Somehow I doubt it.  Not to mention, Guns probably touched all kinds of things after his art project that I can't see.  No amount of lysol wipes is going to get all that.  Not to mention the surfaces, like my leather couches, that I can't nuke.  The dogs and all of us are walking around on the floor.  Heck, the dogs are walking in the house from the backyard, so there's probably dog poo all over the place, too.  We're touching these surfaces that I can't locate and then climbing into our beds, touching our silverware and toothbrushes.  The kids drop food on the floor, then pick it up and eat it all the time.  And today's poo painting isn't an isolated issue for me- it's practically a national pastime at our house..  I clean poo all the time.  Therefore, I eat poo.  I drink poo.  So do my kids- every day.  I'm probably pickled with poo germs.  And bad news, if you have a potty training toddler, or a kid that doesn't wash their hands that great, or pets, there's a good chance you do too.  Sorry to point it out.  Now that I think about it, I wish our whole house had a drain in the middle of the floor.  

I think I'll be skipping dinner tonight.  Hope you've already eaten...