The Chokey-Pokey

Something strange is happening to me as a mom, and it’s rather uncomfortable.  Twice last week I ordered Stella to kick some boys’ asses – one kid academically, and the other for real.  Sort of.

In the jungle of 3rd grade, the great divide has appeared: boys vs girls.  I get reports all the time about how mean the boys are.  Poor Stella doesn’t get that that usually means the boys like the girls, they’re just really dumb about it at that age.  At a recent awards ceremony, her primary nemesis won more awards than she did.  After listening to her whine for a while, I finally just told her to work harder and kick his ass next semester so that SHE would get more awards.  See?  Simple.

Then I kind of felt bad.  Aren’t we supposed to pat our children on the head and tell them that everyone is wonderful and a winner?  Am I supposed to be encouraging the kicking of ass even in this arena?  Should I have put it a different way other than saying “kick his ass?”  I don’t know.  I do know I got her attention, though.

The next occasion was after jiu jitsu class.  There is this creampuff kid that she often spars with.  He’s a big boy, but she could take him.  Instead, he always ends up behind her, putting her in a choke hold.  Every. Damn. Time.  It could be a looped video.  They shake hands, he slips behind her, he puts her in the choke hold, she drops, she taps out.  Now I don’t go crazy in class.  I’m not that mom.  But after?  You bet your butt I’m on her.  Dammit, Stella.  I don’t like seeing that creampuff choke you out.  Do something different.  Take him down.  Trip him.  Knock him over.  Kick his ass.

And oh my glob I’m encouraging my child – children – to be physical with other kids.  Y’all.  This goes completely against all of my mom training.  We keep our hands to ourselves.  We don’t push.  If those rules are broken then consequences rain down.  And now I’m encouraging my kid to be more violent.  And yes, I know.  This is a martial arts class and this is what they’re supposed to do.  But it still feels weird.  I kinda like it.

The best part of it has been Felix.  This is a child that has never had an aggressive bone in his body.  At play school, he was always the kid getting bitten.  He got bitten a lot.  I’ve seen a cousin of his come up to him and hit him square in the forehead with a wire kitchen whisk and he didn’t retaliate.  But in jiu jitsu?  He’s 37 pounds of pure fury.  It’s a hoot.  I never would have guessed.

Don’t get me wrong.  I encourage both of them and offer feedback and suggestions as we drive home at night:  Felix, stop staring at the fan and pay attention to the coach.  But you’re doing amazing during the sparring!  Stella, you’re doing awesome on your warm ups and practice.  Just kick so-and-so’s ass, ok?  They’re both eager to improve and always want to know who’s doing better.  I swear they’d fight over used cat litter.   Now if and when they start earning stripes on their belts, THAT will open up a whole new can of worms in the world of sibling rivalry.

 

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The Guilted Lily

“Mom, I don’t think many kids want to hang out with me.  I don’t think I have many friends.”

That’s what Stella said to me earlier this week.  My mom-heart has been a little bit broken ever since.  I stayed calm and neutral during the discussion, asking why she felt that way and for specific examples, hoping there wouldn’t be any.  There were plenty of examples, and candidly, I’ve seen some with my own eyes, especially at Girl Scout meetings.  She acts like a spazz, sometimes.  She gets agitated and whines or yells.  She behaves in a way that is much more immature than her peers.  Even when she’s happy and excited she gets too happy and excited, waving her hands in people’s faces and such.  It’s off-putting.  People don’t like it.  They don’t want to play with her or have her in their group.  They don’t care that she can’t help it, that her brain just misfires.

And let’s be real:  kids are dicks.  They aren’t dicks maliciously, but they are dominated by pack mentality.  They look for the weak and will pick on that weakness.  If one laughs at a kid, they all will.  The different kid will be shunned.

I’ve known this sort of thing was coming for Stella.  I’ve seen the looks she’s gotten plenty of times, it’s only she didn’t care or notice then.  She does now.  And she’s sad about it.

And I feel like shit because I haven’t been there as much for her this year at school.  I’ve spent most of my extra time and energy at Felix’s school because quite frankly it needs it more, and I felt as if my eyes and attention needed to be trained on him.  Whereas for the past several years, I’ve had lunch with Stella at least once a month and never missed a field trip or school event, I’ve been missing those this year.  There are 2 events coming up in the next week that I won’t be there for.  Granted, I’ve always managed to find a sub – Will or Oui Oui, but I haven’t been there.

So I have to do better for her.  I need to drag my ass up there to sit and eat with my daughter even though I’d rather sit home in my pajamas on my telecommute days.  I have to hope that Felix makes it back in to the magnet school next year so that I can be as present for both of them.  He’ll be taking the damn screening test soon, and I want to puke just thinking about it.  I don’t know how I’ll take it if he doesn’t get in again.  He’s got to get back in.

So we’ll keep chipping away. We’ll keep taking our meds and studying hard.  They’re loving jujitsu and I’m hoping it helps them in all sorts of ways.  Maybe she’ll make some new friends there.  I’ll try harder.  Or at least I will once I quit sniveling and pull up my big girl panties.

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Lime of the Ancient Mariner

Do y’all ever have weeks that are just strange?  I’m coming off of one of those.

For starters, we have officially survived our first full week of jiujitsu.  I had originally only planned on sending them twice a week, but they liked it so much we went three times.  The studio is one of those places where you pay a flat rate and then can go as much as you want.  Given how much we’re paying, we may as well go every day.  The deal is, as long as they do what they’re supposed to (i.e. school and coming home and eating quickly with no nonsense), I’ll take them.  Stella is into it, and Felix is the most formidable 40 pounder you’ve ever seen.

I ceviche’d my mouth.  Yep, you read that right.  For weeks my lips had been burning as if they were chapped badly.  I was using balm like a freak but nothing helped.  I woke up Wednesday and looked like one of those bad plastic surgery/lip filler memes.  I finally figured out I was likely using too  much lime juice in my gin and tonics and had burnt my poor lips.  Sure enough, I laid off the juice and I’m back to normal.  How weird is that?

I have a new favorite thing: my electric lunch box.  Yep, you read that right.  There is such a thing.  They’ve clown-car’d us so badly at work that it takes about 16 hours to get to a microwave at lunch.  It doesn’t help that you have the fussy food heaters that insist on microwaving their shit for 45 seconds, then stopping to stir, then microwaving another 45 seconds before stirring some more, rinse, lather repeat.  Just cook your shit for 2 minutes and get the hell out of the way, right?  Anyway, one day I flew into such a rage that I finally decided to eat my chili cold (gross) and spontaneously started looking for USB-powered food warmers.  Of course there really isn’t such a thing, but there are electric lunch boxes.  I love mine.  Now if only there were tiny ice-makers, I’d be set.

And we’re selling cookies.  Sales are slow, candidly.  I don’t know if people are just bummed or pissed à la government shutdown, etc,  but we’re way down from last year.  Regardless, our video rocks!!  Check it out, even if you don’t buy.  Have a fantastic weekend!

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He Said, She Shed

I am generally a pretty energetic person.  I’m task-oriented and like to get shit done.  One of my all-time favorite sensations is scratching things off lists.  I have a hard time relaxing at night until all my “stuff” is done: clothes laid out, kitchen swept, counters and sink reasonably tidy, lunch box notes written, having food ready to grab easily for said lunch boxes, and everyone clean, fed, and with homework done as necessary.  I got really behind on my house stuff with so much company and holiday going on.  I’ve been chipping away at it, but it’s way too slow for my liking.  I wish I could just take a couple of days off work to stay  home and work on it.  Employers ought to consider that: sick leave, personal/vacation leave, and “let them get shit done” leave.

That being said, despite the gnawing urgency in my belly to get all the shit done, I find that I’m being unusually plagued by negative people, and  it’s really eating at me.  Worse off, I think it’s killing a bit of my momentum, or at least I’m allowing it to.    I understand that people have problems, people have depression.  Dammit, it’s just tough to be around sometimes.  Then I feel selfish and it all just snowballs and I don’t even know what I’m trying to say.  Just wish I could fix it or inoculate myself from it.  Yeah, that’s it.  There needs to be a shot for it.

Stella and I seem to be butting heads lately.  She’s been off somehow.  I can’t explain it.  I was hoping it would settle down once school got back in session, but it hasn’t yet.  It’s funny – she and Will are exactly alike in that regard.  Sometimes they both just get maudlin and cantankerous for no reason, and they usually do it together.  It’s almost enough to make me believe in the power of stars aligning or some such crap.  It also makes me want to build a mom shed in the backyard where I can get away from it.  So yeah, they’ve been a blast the past few days.  Anyway, she needs to chill because it’s almost here: Girl Scout Cookie Season!

Y’all, I’m really into it.  I know it’s crazy, because it is a lot of work.  But it’s fun!  The videos we make are always a hoot and they help Stella sell a LOT.  We’re working on this year’s as we speak.  I was thinking this morning, though, wondering why I get so nutty about it.  Maybe it’s because it’s allowing Stella to be really good at something that she can be recognized for (not because she’s not good at stuff, it’s just stuff that isn’t typically noticeable or eligible for awards).  Because of the way she’s wired, she’s not likely to be named student of the month or other such honors very often.  At least she has cookies and the bazillion patches and T-shirts and stuff that goes with it.

Still shots from last year’s video. Felix stole the show!

Last but not least, I’ve persuaded my husband to allow me to try signing the kids up for martial arts – jiu jitsu.  We tried tae kwon do with Stella a while back, but it was through one of our park’s rec centers and the instructor was just flaky (and looked a bit like an Oompa Loompa, which damaged his street cred in my book).  After a month, 3 classes in a row were cancelled and she just never went back.  Anyway, I’ve always read how such things are very good for ADHD kids for teaching discipline, self-control, and even helping with executive processing skills.  Will isn’t happy about the cost – and it isn’t cheap, but my mom-gut (the intuition one – not the flabby one) is screaming that it’s the right thing to do.  Any of y’all ADHD or otherwise moms out there have experience with that?

A quiet non-dramatic moment with Felix and his teeny-tiny whisk

 

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Get Your Fix on Routine 66

I’ve written loads before on how my kids have ADHD and that during holidays and summers the lack of routine can wreak havoc with our entire household.  To this day, I’m a bedtime Nazi, and we rarely go out and do anything at all after dark.  This past holiday was no exception, although to be fair it wasn’t quite as chaotic as it has been in the past.  Age and maturity do help, I’m happy to report.

Stella started her break with a YouTube moratorium.  She ended up with a C in one of her subjects.  Oh, and it was turning her into an asshole.  No lie.  She actually took it fairly well.  She was allowed to play Minecraft, and she had her tablet with other goofy little games on it.  She also had plenty of books to read and art supplies.  She wasn’t suffering.  After about a week and a half or so, I relented – mainly because before yesterday, it rained for 40 days and 40 nights and it was a whole lot of Togetherness and we all could no longer stand the sight or sound of each other.  And now?  Now I have the ultimate weapon.  If she so much as shows the barest whisper of assholery, she knows that YouTube will disappear for an eternity.

But back to the whole out of routine thing: I’ve gotten to where Stella is reading to herself before bed so I can read more age-appropriate things with Felix and work on sight words.  My husband does not seem to notice that she’s still awake at 8:45 or 9:00 when I come out of Felix’s room (and that’s gotten later for reasons I’ll address shortly).  Rather than sending her to bed himself, they just flop on the couch together with her reading or on her tablet and him playing some video game.  Dude.  Really?  To be fair, that’s when his ADHD and complete lack of time-awareness comes in.   I need to rent one of those old timey town criers to just walk around and holler out what time it is.  Anyway, that shit stops NOW.  School starts again Monday.

Now on to Felix.  Something spooked him over the holidays.  I have no clue what it was or is.  It started with some anime thing on Netflix, I think, but for a while now he’s talked intermittently about some blue monster with spiral eyes that comes at night. Until now, I’ve always been able to talk him out of it.  (He’s also raved about a commode chasing him around at 3 AM, so clearly the imagination is alive and well.)  Anyway, long story short(er), about a week ago, he  simply would not sleep without me.  I’d have to stay in his room until he was asleep and try to sneak out.  Even then, he’d come and find me in the middle of the night.  Will would get annoyed, but I could tell the Dude was legit freaked out.

Logic wasn’t working.  He could not be talked out of this.  So I made a cactus shirt.  He’s had a love affair with cacti forever.  He has about 10 of them – all named.  There’s Spike, and Darth Vader, and Puffball, and Hedgehog….  He knows them all.  I clearly don’t.  But do y’all remember how I had bought that stuff to make him a superhero – Cactus Man – for school, then he didn’t want to wear it?  Well, this was my chance to use it.  The cactus shirt is magic.  The magic keeps the “spines” soft so that they don’t hurt him or me, but if any kind of blue monster with spiral eyes or wandering toilet try to get him in the night, they will be stuck horribly.  I also demonstrated that he has the safest room – the only room with its own smoke/carbon monoxide detector, plus locks on the closet and 2 on his windows.  Oh, and there’s magic powder in the corners (black glitter).

Now bedtime has become a ritual, and I’m not sure how I feel about this – if perhaps it’s not doing more harm than good.  He wears the cactus shirt to sleep every night since I’ve made it.  Every night before bed I have to demonstrate the locks on the doors and windows, show him the black powder, and we have to wait until we see the green light on the detector blink so he knows it’s working.

Things seemed a bit easier last night – the first night since the holiday season began that all company was gone and things were “normal.”  I’m hoping this all just melts away and becomes another silly memory one day.  It’s just such a strange world.  I have one child who is completely literal and isn’t afraid of anything, and another who gets freaked out watching certain cartoons and has an imagination the size of Canada.  Damn, y’all.  As parents, how do we not screw at least one of them up?

I think I am about to sign them up for martial arts.  I found a proper studio which comes highly recommended, and has more than a few ADHD students.  Maybe once Felix learns some skills we can get rid of the cactus shirt. He can learn to kick a toilet’s ass all by himself.

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The Taming of the New

So happy new year and all that.  What’s new?  What’s old?  What’s happening?

I’m a pretty logical person, I think, unless swept up in the throes of extreme sleep deprivation or hormones.  I think resolutions are bogus.  I used to scoff at the “New Year, New You” signage we would haul out every damn year when I worked at the bookstore back in the Mesozoic.  I mean, really?  You mean to tell me that you’re going to hang a new calendar up on your wall and voila: you’re going to be thinner, more muscular, richer, and happier?  Wow.  That’s some powerful magic right there.

As I’ve gotten older, however, I scoff just a wee bit less.  No, that’s not right.  I still scoff at the Kool-Aid-drinking, self-help book fanatics that really believe that things can be different if they read a certain chapter or promise to take the stairs once a week.  What I don’t scoff at is taking any opportunity to take stock, reflect, and perhaps make some different choices.  When it comes down to it, a new year is just one of those times when that feels appropriate.

Last year was a mixed bag.  A lot of good, a lot of bad.  Then again, aren’t all years mixed bags?  I think we all have the tendency to dwell on the extremes in either case, letting that color the entire experience, and I suppose as I sit back and think, what I want to do is to focus on those good things – the people that are still with us, the victories my children experienced, the laughs.  I don’t want to remember 2018 as the year a bunch of people I love and care about got sick or sicker, or the year my son got discarded by his previous school and my fear at not knowing what in the world I was going to do.  I don’t want to remember the stupid shit that went down at work.   I want to remember having both my father and my mother visit me during the holidays.  I want to remember how those holidays were pretty much free of drama, leaving only happiness and excitement.  I want to remember how proud my daughter was when she sold so many Girl Scout cookies.  I want to remember traveling to Virginia, Texas, and Florida.  I want to remember my son rather matter-of-factly telling his previous teacher that she was “obnoxious” and hissing at the Evil Villain when he passed her in the hall.

This year I want to continue to find more balance – to try new things, cook new recipes, make more stuff with my kids.  I want to laugh more.  I want to stop worrying so much about what I look like.  I want to spend less time with my face in some kind of screen.  I want to try to nurture the new friendships I’ve made and perhaps gain some new ones.

And yeah, I know that some days all that will seem and feel like bullshit, and that’s ok.  I can always wake up the next day and try again.

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I List a Girl

One of my most favorite bloggers Joey, (http://jolenemottern.com/) just threw this list thing up on her page.  Of course I read it, as she makes me feel like I’m having a real off-the-cuff, witty-banter Gilmore Girlish kind of experience.  Then I decided to do it.  Not because she told me to (she didn’t), but because I was just sitting at my desk trying to sort out my thoughts about Christmas. 

It was a good one, y’all.  A really good one.  Next to no drama.  Lots of family.  Togetherness without the capital T (which you know makes it a longer version of a 4 letter word in my book).  Sifting through the memories of yesterday along with the ghosts of my Christmases past, answering these silly little questions made me happy.  Feel free to join in.

Which Christmas carol makes you change the radio station in five seconds or less? Which one makes you turn the volume all the way up so you can sing along? Glob, y’all.  I ABHOR Paul McCartney’s Wonderful Christmas Time.  That and It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, especially as performed by Johnny Mathis.  Both of those make we want to club kittens with Xmas tree stumps.  I hate both of those songs so very much.  My favs?  Wow.  Lots.  Leading the pack are Nat King Cole doing The Christmas Song, Judy Garland’s version of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, and U2 doing Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).  Fortunately, there are loads more good ones than bad ones.

Loose tinsel, garland tinsel, or “hell no, you’re not coming near my tree with that tinsel stuff”? I adore the look of the loose stuff, but alas my dumb cats would eat it and then promptly crap and barf foul-smelling sparkly bits everywhere but most likely my bed.

What one tradition do you really have to have on Christmas Day for it to feel like Christmas Day? It used to be watching at least one or more of my favorite movies, and it still is.  But now I’d have to add in feeling very tired by 7:00 AM after all the gifts have been opened and my children are in full-tilt, picking wrapping paper up off the floor and mentally going over my oven schedule for dinner prep, all the while with one of those headaches you get behind your eyes.

Have you ever spotted something in, say, March and thought, “Gee, that would be perfect for so-and-so’s Christmas present, I’ll just pick it up.”? Yes, and I advocate that thoroughly.  Years when I DON’T so much are pretty brutal.

Have you ever found a Christmas present years later that you bought early then totally forgot about until you were searching for just one more roll of wrapping paper in the back of the storage room? Not years, but yes.  Stella got a bonus book this year, as it had fallen behind something else in my closet last Xmas.  And holy moly would I love a “storage room.”

Have you ever regifted a present?Well, yeah.

Do you have more than one Christmas tree in your home? If so, do you decorate them differently? Yes, although only one of them counts.  We have a rather small kids’ tree: light teal with teal and pink lights, which they are allowed to decorate (but not with my good, breakable stuff).  I do truly need another tree.  I’ll be on the lookout for that this year, as well as more clearance lights and inflatables.  Go Griswold or go home.

What food or drink do you associate most strongly with the Christmas season? It’s not Christmas until I buy a small container of egg nog –which I love – then throw it away after it goes bad because I’m afraid of the calories it contains.

Luckily my new socks are one size fits all

What’s the weirdest holiday story you have from childhood? I don’t know if it’s weird, but it’s an egg nog story.  My dad and uncle used to make egg nog from scratch when we were kids.  Being young (maybe 10 or 11?), I didn’t really understand the significance of the whiskey being liberally added to the foamy egg mixture.  And I certainly didn’t understand why I felt so funny later that Christmas Eve and threw up.

Lights – big or small? white or multicolored? blinking or solid?Historically, I’ve gone for lots and lots of white lights. Elegant and beautiful.   But outside I’ve embraced any bright, obnoxious light of any sort.  But just recently I was waxing nostalgic about the old bubble lights my dad and stepmother always had on their tree. I might need me some bubble lights.  But I can put them on that other tree I’m going to get.

Tree toppers – angel, star, something else? My old college professor, mentor, and later friend brought me back a Waterford crystal tree-topper from Ireland.  I use that every year.

How do you know when it’s time to take down the decorations? If I had my way, they’d be gone now.  Look.  I love Christmas, and I’m usually one of the first people I know to be fully decorated with most shopping done and wrapped and cards mailed.    But once it’s done, it’s DONE.  My husband accuses me of being very “wham bam” with Christmas.  How rude.  But correct.

 I hope each and every one of you had a great holiday, and that your New Year’s Eve is happy and safe.

 

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Chairman of the Bored

I’ve always been a little different, I guess. In high school I ran with the “alternateens;” we were a group of emo- new wave- punk rock mashup kids, dressed mostly in black, smoking cigarettes and sullenly sneering at fans of pop music.

And holy shit I was thin and young. And young!

While the ADHD thing may not have been what I would have chosen, I’ve been very glad that my kids have always done their own thing, not necessarily mirroring what everyone else was doing. And ok, yes, sometimes that’s a lie, such as when the ADHD seems to be making merde feel pretty impossible. Those are days I find myself squeezing my eyes shut and willing him/her to just “be like everyone else, dammit, and stop talking/yelling/whining/freaking out.” But I do want them to be individuals. Y’all know what I mean. I want that balance.

Stella has always had her own ideas about style, as has Felix. Remember all his ponytails he insisted on wearing for several years? Or the Beethoven hair? Now, he tells me he wants to be “plain,” or worse yet, “boring.” This breaks my mom/alternateen heart. Recently he woke up with his hair sticking up and I suggested he spike it. Nope. He wanted to be boring. He had the opportunity to be a superhero at school last month, and I came up with a pretty amazing idea: Cactus Man (since he has a rather severe fixation on cacti). I even bought the stuff to make it. It would have been amazing. Nope. He wanted to go to school in his regular old uniform.

I mean, he’s still cute but….

This, my friends, is karma. It’s payback for all those times I pissed my mom off by hanging out the second floor window and smoking or dyeing my hair black.

In other news, “big” is the word of the day, or at least it was yesterday. Taking a walk at work I saw this:

I realize politicians want to grab the attention of potential voters, but damn. Wouldn’t it be better to have a rolling donut/coffee bar? What’s a life-sized elephant on a flatbed going to do for me?

And my amazing brother sent me the most fantastic present: a huge inflatable Star Wars AT AT Walker. It’s stunning. My only regret is that Todd and Margo – our snooty neighbors – moved.

Only 5 more sleeps until the fat man comes!!!!🎄🎄🎄

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Be Good for Goodness Stake

I’m not even going to apologize.  Yes, I’ve missed y’all – both reading your stuff and sharing my own.  But I realized that this blog – or the regular maintenance/contribution to it – was becoming “something else” for me to worry and stress about.  So, I’ll show up when I can, and write when I can, and read when I can.  There.

It’s Xmas season, obviously.  As usual, we’re going and blowing.  I have a new mom friend – a villager – if you will, and it’s been so nice.  She has a son who’s not like everyone else, too, and it’s such a huge relief to be able to sometimes pick up the phone after the kids are asleep and just marvel at how ludicrous it all is sometimes.  I’ll admit, for quite some time my motto has been “I don’t have time for friends,” and while I still really don’t, this lady is in the same boat and understands that friendships now often have to be crammed into 3 minute increments once or twice a week, and most phone calls must occur after bedtime while standing outside in your pajamas whispering in the cold so as not to wake your barely-slumbering child.

There’s been lots of family stuff.  My dad came to visit, which was totally unexpected and wonderful.  Now my mom is in town for Xmas and to help over the kids’ break, which was totally expected but wonderful nonetheless.  Some of the other family stuff has been really good.  Some of it has been really  not so good.  I’m trying to focus on the good and hang on to that.

We’ve made more stuff this year than ever before, and that’s been a lot of fun.  I’m well aware that this is likely Stella’s last year as a “believer,” and I want to really savor it.  I think they’re probably the perfect ages, given their age spreads.  They’re old enough to do quite a bit but not young enough to lack that sense of wonder.

Don’t get me wrong.  It’s not Normal Rockwell down here.  They fight.  They fight like crazy.  We had my new mom-friend’s son with us for a few days after school (whoever came up with early dismissal days ought to be boiled with their own pudding and buried with a stake of holly through their heart, à la Scrooge) and by the last day the kinder, gentler Ms. Laura was out of the building and the “stop fighting if you ever want to have fun again in my presence” Ms. Laura was running the show.  I even asked Santa for a black and white vertical-striped shirt and whistle.  My glob, why do children argue and bicker so damn much?  There’s no number of wise men that could figure that merde out.

I may be back before Xmas.  I may not be. If I’m not and you still tune in to read my ramblings, please have a Merry Xmas – or happy whatever holiday you wish to celebrate.  This time really ought to be about that – celebrating and being with the people in your life that matter….even if they can be obnoxious.

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Eat, Drink, and Be Scary

I need to talk about something very uncomfortable.  I’m not sure why it should be that way.  It just is.  And I think I just need to talk about it today because I feel as if I might just burst from sadness.  Some of it needs to be let out.

Usually I write about ADHD.  Today I’m writing about alcoholism.  This is a disease that has impacted a great many people in my life.  In some cases, it has shown the strength and bravery that people can possess – that there is light after darkness.  In others, it has been and continues to be catastrophic.

I just got back from a beach trip with family.  We’ve had such trips before, with the understanding that alcoholism would also be joining the group.  It’s been present, but somehow we’ve managed to flow around it – knowing it was there but being able to exist with it by way of boundaries and the peace that can only come once you’ve really thought about things.  This time was different.  So different.  And it caught me off guard because I really had thought I had found the peace.

The affected person – and I’m not naming names or identifying which family member it is – has gotten so much worse.  They look like an Auschwitz survivor.  Their skin tone is just wrong – their arms are black somehow.  Their limbs are thinner than my 8 year old’s.  I don’t think this person weighs 90 pounds and they are 5’5″.  They are covered in bleeding sores, as their skin is constantly inflamed – no doubt from the body’s inability to process all the alcohol.  They barely eat.  Most of their calories come by way of cocktails.  People stare.

While that is disturbing enough, their behavior has steadily deteriorated.  They’ve always been challenging to live with, most probably affected by borderline personality disorder.   Now it’s worse.  They are verbally abusive, punishing waitstaff to the extent that their family begs them to stop and apologizes profusely.  No one wants to dine with this person.  And due to their erratic behavior, we spent most dinners eating in, not wanting to subject strangers to this punishment.

I’m lucky.  I don’t live day to day with this.  But its impact on the person that does is breaking my heart.  Their spark is gone, their humor.  The entirety of their days revolves around alcoholism and the ravages it has wrought.  Their world is so damn small and it shouldn’t be.  The vacation was not a vacation.  It was a wake of sorts.

And I’m still sad.

 

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