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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Poop Smears to Buger Picking...The Joys of Parenthood

Along my parental journey I have learned that kids make us extremely aware of our shortcomings, and are always finding new ways to embarrass and gross us out. Lets face it, kids are often gross, and tend to reflect back at us the negative qualities of ourselves, bringing them to our attention where we might have otherwise remained blissfully ignorant.  I'm a parent and my kids are no exception.

 Learning To Talk:
My son was a big binky baby (binky=pacifier).  Everything he did, absent eating or drinking, that binky was in his mouth.  When he was about fourteen months old, he comes strolling in the kitchen wearing nothing but a diaper, dad’s hat, dad’s shoes; binky in his mouth, sippy cup in hand, looking absolutely adorable.  About half way through the kitchen, the oversized shoes trip him up a little causing him to drop his sippy cup to the floor.  Without missing a beat, he snatches the binky out of his mouth and with perfect enunciation exclaims, “SHIT!!” My first thought…No he didn’t just say what I thought he said.  My second…he said it in the appropriate context with an impressive emotional emphasis.  My third…I’m a failure as a parent.  It was at this moment I realized I would have to make some changes in my preferred exclamations.

Potty Training:
Oh, what parent doesn’t have fond moments of teaching our children to use the toilet so we can be spared the responsibility of changing dirty diapers and the costs of buying them.  Potty training is more than teaching them to control their functions and void in the toilet, but includes instruction in wiping correctly, flushing and washing their hands. One disgusting thing I have found to be common in the potty training stage are poop smears on the sides of cabinets, behind the toilet, or anywhere else within reach of their small hands when the wiping goes wrong.  Their small undeveloped minds don’t think to wipe it on another piece of toilet paper, or wash their hands…all they see is poop on their fingers which must be wiped off immediately and on anything within reach they can wipe them on.  Often during the poop smear stage, the parent is unaware that the child has “made poo poo” until there’s been some terribly embarrassing moment, like discovering the poop smears AFTER the small town mayor pops in for a visit and uses the bathroom.

Nose picking:

Every small child goes through a nose picking stage.  Nothing like being in a restaurant eating and looking over to find your child knuckles deep in a nostril.  I had a very effective tool during these times.  When the kids were little and began going through the tickle their brain, nose picking stage, I recalled a poem I’d known as a child. From the children’s poetry collection by Shel Silverstein in the book, Where the Sidewalk Ends, the poem, titled “Sharp Toothed Snail” reads:

Inside everybody's nose
There lives a sharp-toothed snail.
So if you stick your finger in,
He may bite off your nail.
Stick it farther up inside,
And he may bite your ring off.
Stick it all the way, and he
Might bite the whole darn thing off.

As small children, the idea that there was something with sharp teeth living in their nose capable of actually biting off their finger acted as a powerful and very effective deterrent to their continued nose picking.  It wasn’t always effective, however, when dealing with other children.  My nephew, for example, spent about a year trying to catch it.

A child in my charge once had a very serious stomach virus causing extreme puking and diarrhea.  After a couple days of this and a complete inability to even hold water down, fearing dehydration, I took her to the hospital for IV fluids and medications.  Just before being discharged, she was prescribed a suppository phenergan to help with the nausea.  The idea of some strange doctor seeing her butt, much less inserting something into it was more than she could bear, so we talk the doctor into giving it to me and I’d administer it when we arrived home.  True to our word, the medication was administered much to our mutual discomfort.  About half hour later, this child, completely void of anything left to puke, makes a run for the bathroom heaving.  A few minutes later she comes out, tears streaming down her face, and tells me, “Trish, I think I just puked that thing you put in my butt.”  It took everything in me not to burst out laughing as she was obviously in anguish over the though.  I explained that it didn’t work that way and that the nasty stuff she was puking was bile NOT the butt medication.

Constipation induced oversized turds:
I’m not really sure which is worse…finding an unreported clogged toiled, or an unflushed toilet a while after the duty has been done.  There is something about the digestive tract of a child that is capable of producing turds which look like they should have come from the butt of a sasquatch, not a small child.  One day I enter the bathroom and am immediately assaulted by the pungent aroma which filled the bathroom like a heavy fog.  I lift the lid to the toilet and jumped back, temporarily startled at the monster hiding beneath it.  I’m sure the child tried to flush it, but it was too big to flush and was sticking out of the water like some water beast ready to attack.  I found myself staring at it wondering how on earth such a large, odorous object could come out of the butt of a child so small. 

Each day brings opportunity for new adventures; and with children, every day IS an adventure.  One thing for sure, you never know what hidden treasure's you'll find along the way. My babies are getting older, so hopefully my days of discovering poop smears and crusty bugers between couch cushions or on the corners of their bed sheets are over, but what treasures will I find next. Lord help me.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


After publishing the “Teen Solution” blog about putting teenagers in medically induced comas and teaching them everything they needed to know through strategically placed electrodes to their brain, I was talking with a couple friends about co-founding the “Teen Solution Foundation” (TSF).  We would revolutionize the world!  The more we explored the possibilities, the more we realized that if we turned this dream into a reality, the world would memorialize us in song, erect statues of us, and write our names in every history book.  We’d be revolutionaries forever changing society as we know it.  Kids would become more successful, parents would be less stressed, crime would dramatically decrease, the welfare system would be less stretched.  Every talk show in America would want the founders of TSF (being us) on their shows; hell, Opra’d even start a NEW talk show just to have us on it!  We’d be famous.

However, we also realized that there is a cost to fame.  We’d have fans following us everywhere, grateful parents always wanting to thank us for finding a solution to the teen problem, paparazzi at every turn, and even a couple haters now and then.  This of course would require us to have bodyguards…big, strong, handsome, muscled up, could break a neck with two fingers kinda bodyguards.  It would be awful, but such is the price one must pay for fame.  As we start in on the bodyguards, and their break a neck with two fingers requirement, my friend says, “but could you make sure they have ALL their fingers, cause they may have some down time and well…”and that’s how the conversation changed. 

No longer were we talking about revolutionizing the world, but about big strong men with big strong hands and what they could do with them.  I wish I could say that this is a rare thing, but I cannot.  It happens often with us.  The conversation rolled seamlessly from big strong men to the hormones surging through our bodies at this age, to our out of control libidos and the difficulty with being single with these raging hormones. Then my friend, a couple years my senior, drops a bomb shell on me saying, “Oh just wait.  You haven’t seen anything yet.  You haven’t even hit your peak.  Just give it a couple more years.” To which I replied, “Dear Lord, if it gets any worse I’ll be found dead, electrocuted in my bed with no pants!  I mean, batteries are expensive, and if it gets any worse I’ll have no choice but to move to electrically powered, but maybe not so waterproof means of frustration relief.”

As soon as I said it, the mental image which popped into my mind was both horrifying and hilarious at the same time.  I began laughing so hard I was wiping tears, but we knew then what I must do.  I needed to write a letter to keep on my bedside table; a DO NOT OPEN UNLESS…just in case of electrocution, goodbye letter to anyone who may find me in such a compromising position.

So yesterday, I wrote a goodbye letter, complete with a detailed description of the struggle I’ve endured as a single woman in my mid-thirties leading up to my unfortunate electrocution.  I put the letter in a sealed envelope and placed it on my bedside nightstand.  Written on the outside of the envelope is: “DO NOT OPEN UNLESS FOUND ELECTROCUTED.  If found dead of any other cause, please disregard and destroy IMMEDIATELY!” I pray the contents of this letter forever go unread, but in the event I’m found electrocuted with my pants down, I hope my finder will understand.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I Have A Dream...The Teenage Solution

When the kids were little I used to point at teenagers and whisper in their ears, “There’s a teenager…aliens inject something in their brains, turning it to liquid, making them act crazy until their brains resolidify in their early to mid 20s.”  I used to think it was hilarious to watch the children look at the teenager wide eyed with a sort of curious trepidation.  One day, while at a community event, my son (at about 4 years old) grabs my arm, points wildly and exclaims for everyone around us to hear, “Look mom!  It’s a teenager!”  The crowd looked at us quizzically, as I just burst out laughing.  Over the last couple of years, I have come to see the wisdom in what I started as a joke, because sometime a few years ago, aliens got a hold of my daughter.

I am a mother of a teenage daughter.  I’m fortunate that my daughter is better behaved than most, most of the time, but make no mistakes, she is a teenage girl.  Being a single mother of a teenage girl presents even more challenges.  There is there’s no man in the house to assist me in those trying times when she wants to challenge me for “Queen Of The Castle”, so to speak, nor is there someone to assist me in the disciplining of her during those times when I’m just too mad or disappointed to be an effective disciplinarian, and take up my slack.  It’s all on me.

I have talked with many other parents and realize that I am not alone in my frustration.  We, as parents of teenagers, all share a common bond of anxiety and sometimes almost overwhelming desire to strangle our children, coming to a full understanding of why some species eat their young.  

During moments of extreme anxiety, and sometimes blinding anger, I’ve often calmed myself with the daydream of a teen sleep center.  Instead of taking our children to their first day of high school, we take them to an alternative campus…a medical campus, where the children are placed in medically induced comas, and taught everything they need to know through electrodes strategically hooked to their brain.    Parents would have unrestricted access to the morality section of the brain, and could record things for regular introduction such as religious fundamentals, our version of skills they’d need to succeed in life, the code of ethics we’d like them to live by, and anything else we’d introduce that would screw them up in a way specialized to us as individual parents.  The best educators would create age appropriate lessons which would be introduced and absorbed by each child, free of distraction from things such as that good looking boy sitting in the next row.  World events of significance would be introduced to them in the form of a filtered news cast, so that when they awoke, not only would they be fully educated, provided a moral foundation based on each parents own, but they would be informed of what is going on in the world. 

Each day, us parents could come in, spend quality time with our child free of arguing, dirty “fuck you”  looks, or looks that say “you’re a complete dumbass and know absolutely nothing”, we can admire how angelic they are, and feel that overwhelming love we felt for them when they were so young and innocent, thought we were their heroes, and were completely dependent upon us.  We could plug the latest movies and music into their electrodes for absorption as we watch or listen along.   We’d never have to wonder where they were, who they were with, where are my car keys, or my car, for that matter.  Then, when the magic day comes along, we weep as we wake them and send them off into the world fully equipped with all the tools they need to be successful in life.

 I realized last night that if every parent who’s ever wanted to feed their teenage child to a wild animal or even just strangle them slightly into submission gave only one dollar, we’d have enough funding for the research and development to turn this dream into a reality. 

However, I also realized that big corporations would never allow it to be successful, as the pharmaceutical companies would lose billions in anti-anxiety and depression medications, the therapeutic market for counselors and psychiatrists would all but cease to exist, law enforcement jobs would be lost due to lack of teen related crime, welfare benefits would no longer be needed to support teen age mothers and children, and a wide array of other unforeseen consequences.  So despite the abundant sources of funding, this dream will remain a dream.