Thursday, October 4, 2012

Today Was the Day

Today was the day. I had been planning it for the last month. Finally, the rolling Jewish holidays were mostly over, the kids would have after school activities twice a week. Time. To. Myself.
For the days leading up to it, I fingered the calendar- October 4th-with my un-manicured index finger, practically giddy with the secret I kept. This was to be the first of twelve weekly glorious eight hour days to myself.  Crafty Me.

The Plan
Part One: Husband takes kids to school. LOVE Husband for taking the kids to school.
Part Two: Continue three day gym streak with day number four-possibly take additional dance class.
Part Three: Begin Operation Write the Fucking Book Already-the idea is in place, software is installed,  what is the hold up?
Part Four: Open the garage and face the hideousness. Possibly call that chubby Aussie TV personality to assist.
Part Five: Organizing=Porn for Women. Cue seventies music....boomchickaboomchicka..let's do it every room in the house...Office, Playroom, Kitchen, Closets, Bathroom Cabinet...oooh  baby....pant pant ...pant..
Part Five: Mundane-car wash, grocery shopping, tidy up, bills, clean fridge, do laundry.
And still have time left over to take a shower and put on something besides yoga pants.
Yee fuckin' haw.
If you don't fully appreciate my use of this copious and valuable free time, let me explain. While I don't have an income earning job, I do have the Sisephyean task of trying to keep our lives as a co-inhabitants of the same house going in a forward, relatively clean, kind of organized direction. That takes up a large part of any average SAHM's day, but in The House of Bedlam where I am outnumbered three to one, it's sort of like putting a Fellini puzzle back together while on LSD. Cleaning up is one thing, but in my world a lot of tangential issues arise is all I am saying. It is never ending. Fascinating? Nope. Marginally Interesting? Not really. But someone has to do it and, based on the track record of my house mates, that person is me.
My older child, Big, loves the concept of "organized" but doesn't grasp it in practice. I discovered an  entire drawer meant for nighties that is filled with scraps of paper, tape balls and pieces of string. After momentarily wondering if I should have her assessed, I stared at it for about a minute and shut the drawer. I guess it is better than finding a bag of crystal meth, right? My younger child, Little, is going through the "let's take a piece from every doll set, game and baggie full of tiny toys that Mommy spent hours meticulously separating into like groups so they can be played with and put it all together in a giant gift bag and carry it from room to room adding items as we go" phase. How mean is that? I can't even look at it. It just sits there, daring me to put it all back again, the giant Barbie head on the side of the bag smiling vacuously.
My husband, the Grand Poobah of Pandemonium, has multiple crusty old duffel bags that reside in the closet, garage and behind the chair in the bedroom. All of them filled with old receipts, business cards,ticket stubs, dry cleaning bags, expired gift cards, hotel room keys, photos from college, leaky pens, sticky cough drops, single gray athletic socks, old phone numbers, scripts, expired medication, used toothpicks,  random euros and pennies. Each is its own slightly disgusting time capsule for that particular period in his life.  In the beginning, back in 1996, I tried to cull the first duffel bag of hoarding magnificence and was accused of trying to throw away valuable and irreplaceable "memorabilia". I stopped. Now there are nine. I am simply too afraid to move the overstuffed chair from his side of our room because the sheer volume of stuff that lives on it has nowhere to go and will inevitably end up on my side of the imaginary line that separates sanity from madness, and,well, I'd prefer not to go all Joan Crawford on him if I can help it. Plus, he works his ass off and having all of his socks paired is probably the last thing on his mind.
So here we are. One against three in the race to avoid having the premises condemned. And today was my breakaway day, where I was going to lasso the mess and bring the chaos to its knees AND exercise for an hour AND drink eight eight ounce glasses of water AND write at least fifteen hundred words. I was feeling very Robin Williams in "Dead Poets Society"-minus the poetry, the East Coast and male dominated cast- but you get the idea. Inspiration is a rare bird in these woods.....
"Ugh, Mom, I feel sick". Big, lying on the floor. No. This cannot happen. Today is the day.
No fever, maybe a little pale. She is going to school, goddammit. Today is the goddamned day.
We took two cars to school, and half way there I caught a glimpse of her sad little face in the rear view mirror. She looked sick, probably caught what I had yesterday. I did a U- turn and went back home. She is now watching "James and the Giant Peach" while I write this, not a book but something.
P.S. Her condition improved after resting at home (watching TV for a couple of hours while I brought her items she requested from the BRAT diet (bananas,rice, applesauce, toast)), and she made it to school in time for lunch. I had four and half hours left by the time I got home. No, I did none of the important things on my list, but I did donate to a friend's charity and got to some of the mundane stuff. Quasi Carpe Dimidium Diem anyone?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Hey there, hot stuff...

I am so fucking hot. Hotter than any Kool and the Gang or Buster Poindexter song, hotter than that indescribably lame socialite and her trite co-opting of the word itself, hotter than July, hotter than a Naga Viper Pepper, hotter than straddling two white Jaguars in a negligee circa 1987. I am so god damned hot that I can barely stand myself, and I may a stay this way for another decade.
According to the experts, I might have gotten off the fertility bus a tad early and decided to walk slowly down Perimenopausal Place, strolling along toward the inevitable hairy chinned, moustached hunchbacked Erica Jong sound-a-like that is my future.
This is inevitable, obviously, but not necessarily imminent.It is a possibility, because even though they can reattach some one's FACE after it was torn clean off by a gorilla and grow a HUMAN EAR on a fucking MOUSE'S ASS,  they can't figure out the whole female thing.
Apologies for the tone:  one of the perks of perimenopause is that you pretty much go through puberty again- hormonal rages, wacky periods, break outs. Loads of fun. A joy to be around, as well.
I went to the lady doctor to get some answers and, after waiting for thirty minutes while everyone else in the waiting room was called in, I became nothing short of apoplectic. With this wicked brew of hormones coursing through my veins, it took me several minutes to calm myself enough to even approach the woman sitting behind the frosted glass window and say, only marginally politely ,"Is the nurse practitioner going to see me soon? I only have an hour on the meter." It came out all slurred with rage, like I'd had a mild stroke. She looked at me, smelling my wrath, and said, "Oh, well, you'd better go feed your meter." I paused, swallowing a little bile, and visited the subject of the nurse ever seeing me again, ever so curtly. The woman gave me a wide eyed look and told me in a most condescending tone that she'd check in a minute, after was she finished with the person standing next to me, who had come in twenty eight minutes after I did, as if I was asking her to do me a favor.
I sat back down, seething, and tried to compose  myself. I silently talked my self through the various scenarios where I go all True Blood on her and the nine other people back there cackling and blabbering and not doing their jobs, and how that would probably mean finding another gynecologist. I think that security would quickly be called, and I would be standing on Wilshire Boulevard, ala Frances Farmer, surrounded by chubby rent-a cops. I quietly reminded myself that I had been coming here for more than a decade, and that these people had seen my two children born and that a wait was not uncommon. That quickly translated into the more entitled- "I have been coming here for ten fucking years and this is the abominable treatment I get??!!
Despite the perfect storm within, I actually had every right to be pissed. I had made a last minute appointment on purpose because the nurse I had been speaking with for weeks on the telephone was able to see me quickly because she wasn't as busy as my doctor. I could also hear her voice in the hallway, behind the door where all the people kept going in as I sat, fuming. 
She was there, and she was available, but for some reason, the receptionist from Planet Dumbass wouldn't call me in. 
I wondered how crazy I would seem if I flouted the "No Cell Phones" policy and called her from the waiting room, to loudly announce that  I had been sitting there for forty five minutes. Every time the frosted glass slid open to acknowledge the herds of  new patients filing in and being called in moments later, as I should have been almost an hour ago, I looked over at the world's worst receptionist adjusting her mauve scrubs, trying dress up my abject rage in mildly annoyed clothes. I was really mad.  I knew that someone had forgotten to check me in, but I was too mad to deal with it. I was afraid to go back up to the window because I was worried about that I might say. Thanks so much, hormones....
At one fifty five, depleted from all the internal drama, I approached the window.  I inquired, emotionless, if the nurse was going to see me.  This time the woman looked up at me as if this were our first interaction,  asked my name (which I had written on the sign in sheet an hour ago), asked why I was there and determined that the other woman who had greeted me had not checked me in and that I had been sitting there for an hour. Brilliance.
She did not apologize or acknowledge that it was she who had cock blocked me over a half an hour ago when I tried to impart this information to her. She faux rushed to open the door and hurried me into the inner hallway.She pointed me toward a nurse and disappeared. I stared at the nurse for a beat, and she cocked her head and asked me what I was doing there. I resisted the urge to say "trying not to commit mass murder". I told her, holding back a lion's roar worth of rage and frustration, that  I was there to see the nurse practitioner. She handed me a plastic cup, and I  went into the bathroom. Once the door closed, I became a mini-Chernobyl-a heaving, sweating, sobbing, peeing mess. I went through the scenario of me exiting the bathroom in hysterics-howling heaving sobs echoing through the office apropos of nothing? Yeah, even in a medical office dedicated to the care of women, they'd think I was insane. 
I pulled it together, put sunglasses over my beet red eyes, handed the nurse my pee, put on the paper gown, saw the nurse practitioner( who mercifully did not question my obviously agitated state, but patted me on the arm as she left and told me to hang in there). I was done within ten minutes from start to finish. 
I exited the building, feeling uncharacteristically hopeful.  Being female has its pros and cons, and I am lucky to have experienced it all, good, bad and ugly. I am also lucky that  I did not get a parking ticket that day after over staying my welcome by twenty agonizing minutes. I am extra lucky that the nurse practitioner solved my hotness issue with a prescription. It all worked out, and I feel a lot better, although a voodoo doll wearing teeny mauve scrubs may come with me to the follow up appointment. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Do Trojans come in a 4T?

As I pulled back the sheets and readied my flashlight to peer into the gently spread cheeks of my sleeping five year old's backside, I wondered if she'd end up on the therapist's couch, recalling this monthly ritual as an aberrant invasion instead of the vain attempts of her panicked mother to remove the pinworms from her ass.

Yes, you read that correctly. I said  "pinworms from her ass".

I am no pervert, just a desperate parent who happened to see a white wiggling worm the size of a staple swimming in the toilet earlier that day: there was movement in her movement. Sounds like it should be the beginning of a Ricky Martin chart buster, but what it really means is that a bunch of parasites were doing the Merengue in my daughter's colon:

Mother doesn't take kindly to freeloaders.

Not to mention that I had successfully removed a combined total of nine enormous live adult lice from the heads of my offspring the previous evening. I know.We are disgustingly human, and I'd even venture to call us Third World if political correctness hadn't just descended upon our social circle in all of its humorless glory.

All I can say is that I simply didn't notice.  To my bewilderment, I-the self proclaimed "Lice Lady"-had completely missed a post Spring Break full blown Deep Water Horizon style explosion of lice on Little's personal melon sized head AND a month's worth of friendly enough looking worms in her pea sized tush-AT THE SAME TIME. I suspect that the lice came from a movie excursion with friends, some of whom had the same level of infestation as we did, and the pinworms, well, they take a month to notice, so that could have been from anywhere. The poor kid was under siege and, despite my penchant for squinting and clenching my jaw, I'm no Steven Segal.

The truly confounding thing is that I have actually been paying pretty close attention. Somehow, my much bragged about, as-religious-as-I-ever-hope-to-become, weekly lice prevention comb throughs that produced nothing in the last year but some mysterious red fuzz, an aching shoulder and two irate children with amazing, shiny, unsnarled hair had failed. The war on bugs-much like the war on drugs-was a total waste of time, money and resources. And the pinworms are impossible to detect unless your child is digging in their itchy butt, which mine wasn't.

I lay awake that night, itching everywhere and listening to the frogs croaking in the yard next door. I  wondered if they might be ankle deep in our house by morning, followed by locusts, a pride of lions and a face full of boils. Passover had recently passed over, and I was beginning to wonder who I'd offended and how? Perhaps, as a precautionary measure, I should have used His name in vain a whole lot less? Or was it the potty mouth? The uninspired matzo ball soup straight from the box for the first Shabbat dinner we have ever hosted in the six and half years we have been "Jew-ish"? I am certainly no Job, so what was the deal?

Before I drifted off amid wafts of the tea tree oil emanating from my slicked back bun, I 'd surrendered to the fact that I would need to give a professional with a punny name the equivalent of a luxury car payment to come de-louse us: who would it be? The Hair Fairies, The Lousy Nitpickers, The Hair Whisperers, Lice Schmice or the  Lice Lifters? The business of lice removal is evidently hilarious, really expensive and will never want for clientele. I resigned myself to the unpleasant truth that I would spend the next twenty four hours doing massive amounts of laundry, changing bedding, bagging beloved stuffed animals(one of which is the size of a Smart Car) and scratching at phantom itches. I would NOT be snickering at "Fifty Shades of Grey" in the privacy of my empty house, exercising, contemplating the layout for Big's Lorax themed birthday party or shopping for organic vegetables at the Farmer's Market. Nope. I'd be running interference between the The Squabblers  - home from school with a case of Acute Gross-itis.

I also had the uncomfortable task of notifying the school and both children's nearest and dearest so that they, too, could peer into their children's sleeping anuses and squirmy scalps and discover for themselves if they'd unwittingly joined my nit and worm filled club. I emailed quippy, contrite factual accounts of the unpleasant discoveries I had made in the last twelve hours and hoped that they wouldn't be waiting at the gates of the school with HazMat suits  and pitchforks to run us off to the Silkwood Spa.

I felt lucky that this wasn't the pre-email experience of the-usually-reserved-for-college, dreaded courtesy phone call:

" Hey!____(insert name of fraternity member/afterschool playmate's parent)Just wanted to say thanks! Had such a great time hanging out with you the other night/day. Uh, here's the thing,though, after I got home, I started scratching my (insert body part) and I think I might have (adults-insert acronym for mortifying live creature driven disease or lifelong infertility/birth defect inducing disease; kids- insert lice, pinworms or ringworm). Heh, heh,yeah,  it isn't that big of a deal, very common, but I felt like I should tell you so you can go get checked. Yeah, I guess it is really contagious! Who knew?? And hey, what was that recipe you used for that cheese dip? it was delish......hello? Hello?"

The next few weeks at school was a hypochondriacal slow motion horror flick montage. We were clean, cured,significantly poorer and the picture of hygiene, surrounded by people still possibly crawling with ...well, you know. Big would run up to a friend on the play yard and they'd embrace, their heads mashing together, hairs entwining. Instead of "awwwing" like I should have, I restrained myself from ripping them apart , shaking them senseless, yelling "DON'T YOU KNOW THERE ARE LICE EVERYWHERE??!!!!". Anytime either  child so much as touched their face, I'd resist the urge to slap their hand away and tie it behind their back for eternity. Instead, I'd issue a friendly reminder about our recent run in with pestilence: pinworms are passed quite handily from dirty nails to clean unsuspecting mouths. And they are everywhere.......

According to my afternoon of  internet research, the two most common non-life threatening childhood diseases (let's call them KSTDs) that begin as soon as your kid starts going to any sort of daycare, school or group childcare situation are lice and pinworms. Lice has 6 to 12 million reported cases treated each year (imagine all the unreported cases), and the only statistic I could find on pinworms was 11.4 percent of the total population or roughly 35,000,000 people. I am unsure how many of those are kids, but it doesn't really matter because both are the  "pay it forward" kind of KSTDs- if one person has it, almost everyone gets it eventually.

That's a lot of gross to contend with each year, and, inexplicably, science has yet to catch up. There are old the school shampoos, like RID, that claim to get rid of the little buggers for good. But it isn't that simple, which is why there is so much recurrence. There used be commercials for RID(which is now considered toxic by most people) in the mid eighties with actors wearing Sally Jesse Raphael style glasses saying things like "I'll die if the neighbors find out" and "But she's always been such a clean child".
Typically American in its shame and ignorance, this commercial fails to mention that lice is an equal opportunity invader. It doesn't care what you drive or how many second homes on Cape Cod you have. Anyone can get them, and  the only surefire removal method is old school meticulous combing with a fine toothed metal comb for a couple of weeks.  It is as tedious as one can imagine, but it does work, while the shampoos really don't on their own. 

Here is an updated American commercial :

While it is not particularly informative, or realistic-a string of bleeped curse words would be better than the aneurism that she seems to be having- we have come a long way as far as stigma. We have yet to catch up with our lice carrying contemporaries in countries like India and Canada. Their ads feature kids scratching their heads and show images of bugs in the their hair:


Now, despite the likelihood that the oil they are selling is probably made from some dreadful Monsanto created FDA rejected formula that renders these kids infertile on contact(or hopefully makes their brains grow really, really big, accounting for the surge in Indian productivity in the last decade), clearly this is a culture that is unafraid of this particular reality. Even I, a thrice lice veteran, jumped a little when they all fell out of her hair. As repugnant as they are, the sooner we embrace the fact that  these harmless yet disgusting critters are here to stay, the sooner we can deal with them.
Pinworms do not discriminate either-they love everyone's colon equally.Where are the ads for pinworm medicine? Why no "I've fallen and I can't get up" style commercial featuring a mother almost suffocating under the bedsheets while she attempts to hold the flashlight between her teeth and spread her child's ass cheeks at the same time to look for pinworms? Yes, it may be a felony to film such a scene, but pinworms are an easy fix. It's over the counter and tastes like a bad banana milkshake. I ordered a case and plan on treating us on a regular basis, just to be sure.
In this "age of information", what we really need is actual, applicable information.  We need to educate each other by talking about it, sharing information and commiserating. And someone needs to invent a body condom......

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Other Tiger Mother

My kid got into trouble today, before school had even started. We were in the chaos of the assembly hall, and another girl from her grade asked her to "come see something". My internal red flag went up (the girl is a bit of a trouble maker), but my daughter was gone before I could distract her. A few minutes later the other girl returned, solo. I asked her where my daughter was, and she pointed and said "back there".

"Where", I thought, "hanging from a hook in boy's bathroom? Standing with her pants down in the broom closet?Covered in pig's blood in the gym? Sold into white slavery?WHAT DID YOU DO TO MY KID?".

I waited a beat, and there she came. She was clearly upset and buried her head into my fattened weekend gut. I asked her what happened. She shook me off, tears in her eyes. I asked what she had "seen". She shook me off again, avoiding eye contact. I knelt down, face to face, and demanded to know what had happened. She told me that they went to the classroom to see the coral.
Oh, okay, and that was upsetting because....? 
The teacher got mad because they weren't supposed to be in the classroom yet..and the other kid "made her go in".
Ahhh, here we go. The good old Twinkie defense. First, it's breaking the rules of classroom etiquette, next it's Lois Duncan's "Killing Mr. Griffin". Fucking peer pressure.
While punishments for bad behavior occur regularly at home, my child never gets into trouble at school, so this was new territory. I explained, briefly, that no one "makes" us do anything, and that we have to be clear about who we are and what we stand for with regard to "the rules". I explained about personal responsibility and how we don't blame others when we break said rules. I briefly touched on the importance of not feeling pressured to follow other people if we don't  agree with what they are doing. I know, most adults can't grasp any of it, but it was worth a shot. She sort of got it and went to get in line. I mentioned our chat to the teacher, who took a moment to explain to my kid that she was not mad, but that she has to uphold the rules. She stood, patted my kid's head, smiled at me and said "You are a good mom". I smiled back and thought, "isn't this what everyone does?"

See, I come from the "get involved" school of parenting, meaning that if I see my kid behaving badly, I address it. I don't think that qualifies as good or bad, it is just part of the job description. If I see other kids spitting off the play structure or punching each other in the face, I tell them to stop. Perhaps this makes me overbearing, but I don't much feel like stepping in their spit, or blood, any more than my kid does. Not everyone does this. I have had many play dates where the other kid is, for example, hitting my kid with a wooden block, repeatedly. I will always step in, remove the offending block, and explain to the other child that hitting with a wooden block isn't nice and is actually kind of dangerous. The other parent would often say "we usually just let the kids work it out". "Really", I want to say, "no wonder your kid has dead eyes and zero charm, manners or social graces". 

You have to teach them how to behave.

Letting them "work it out"  sounds like a terrific modern parenting idea, but have you read "Lord of the Flies" lately? I have no intention of letting my child end up with her figurative head on a figurative stick because she needs to learn how to "work it out". She is only six and half, still believes in Santa and, despite my best efforts, thinks that heck is a bad word. How on earth is she supposed to "work it out" with a kid who has malice in his/her dark little heart and actively wants to do her emotional and/or physical harm? She wouldn't really understand what was going on until something bad happened( sort of like today) because she has no frame of reference for it. We don't tolerate that shit in my house. Cruelty is never acceptable. Meanness for its own sake is not allowed.

My kids are far from perfect, but, to the best of my knowledge, they are not Mean Little Fuckers.  I like to think that I would know if they were, and then I'd hover like a cheap Motel 6 blanket to nip that nonsense in the bud.  I did get a little paranoid recently talking to the parent of a notorious Mean Little Fucker, who was lamenting that her daughter's feelings get hurt at their school because the "other kids are so mean". I was astonished at the complete lack of awareness of her own child's Leona Helmsley-esque qualities, traits which have been apparent to everyone else since birth. Luckily, we have never had issues with her kid, but how can she be so blind? How does that behavior not make its way home? Has no one mentioned her child's penchant for making other kids miserable?

Perhaps that is the root of the problem: no one wants to point the finger, to say anything, to sit in judgment of other people's kids, to deal with it head on. They are all "just kids,after all, and kids can be mean". Well, yeah, but maybe kids wouldn't be so fucking mean if someone pointed out how shitty it is to be mean. Pretty easy concept, right? If your kid has a birthday party and you decide not to invite everyone in the class, do you want to know if he/she is teasing the uninvited kids about it? I DO! If your kid is actively planning to kill the Tooth Fairy, do you want to know that he/she is telling all the kids about his/her Spring Break trip to the Tooth Fairy's hideout, and that all the kids who still haven't lost their teeth  are in a panic? I DO!  If your kid is being possessive and aggressive on the playground and scaring the other kids, don't you want to know about it? I DO. I want to know so I can tell them to cut that shit out, NOW.

I vote for full disclosure and calling it what it is: MEAN. Not so much the Tooth Fairy stuff, which is kind of hilarious, but the "you're not invited to my party" stuff is just awful. Kids this age don't need to contemplate the complexities so humorously detailed in Mindy Kaling's book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) just yet. Most of them are still thrilled by the sight of a rainbow and about the prospect of getting dessert if they eat all of their dinner. Do we need to introduce them to the world of cattiness, exclusion and cruelty just yet? I have come to terms with the fact that other people I like are hanging out without me, and I am generally okay with it, but those people aren't circling me on the playground the next day and telling me about the amazing Indian food they had without me, either.

I think I am poised to become a playground vigilante, taking after a close female relative who often took things into her own hands. She once pulled aside someone else's mean five year old and hissed some vaguely threatening and deeply truthful things in her ear:
"Listen, you little bitch, you leave my daughter alone.You are just jealous because my daughter is prettier than you are and better at everything than you are". 
Now that's what I call a Tiger Mother.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Sudden Dog Syndrome:Part 3

The saga of dog continues....
He had a pretty good week.When Friday came, the trainer gave him the thumbs up.We all breathed a sigh of relief. Frankie was a keeper. It had all been worth it. In a few short weeks, with the help of a lovely patient trainer, he would be sitting, lying down, rolling over. He would not be straining at the leash when we took walks or lunging at diminutive Asian men who looked curiously at his barking rage as they passed, smiling that such a small, fat, dog could exhibit so much bravado.
He lay in his bed, post training session fatigue mixed with what looked like euphoria-finally, acceptance. He was official.
I went upstairs to run the bath, leaving Big downstairs while Little raced up in front of me. As the faucets turned on, I called for Big to come up for bath time. She let out a yelp and came up to the landing,crying.

"HE BIT ME!!".

Exasperated and assuming it was another warning nip like the many that had come before it, I went down and said casually "Did he make contact?". She nodded. I looked at her extended forearm. I saw the bite marks, then saw red. I stomped down stairs and pulled Frankie into his crate, shutting the door, hissing "baaaadddd ddoooooggggg...." about a million times. He looked guilty and kind of contrite, but he was probably thinking about hot dogs. I took Big upstairs and put hydrogen peroxide on the  puncture wound, hearing my sister's words in my head "nearly 85% of dog bites get infected and require emergency room treatment". Frankie better pray that it didn't come to that because the idea of going to Cedars on a Friday night with two kids was as close to Hell as I never hope to come.
I let him out of the crate after a few minutes, primarily because his whining was really irritating, but mostly because it was serving no purpose to confine him- he'd forgotten all about it. How nice to be a dog-consequences are practically nonexistent since they have to occur in the nanosecond after the wrong to affect any change.
I sent a message to my husband,who was in Florida, and he called right away. I explained what happened and told him that Frankie probably had to go. This was technically strike two, though he had supposedly bitten several folks during the party we'd had the previous weekend. He asked me to wait to decide until he got back, but surprise, surprise, I had already decided. From the few Internet articles I had read, biting is a deal breaker when there are little kids involved. I also ran it by every single person I encountered for the next forty eight hours and not one person said " he sounds like a keeper". Strangely, Big was his greatest defender, insisting it was her fault that Frankie bit her. I guess we have a lot of codependent biting boyfriends to look forward to down the road?

Now, if you are on the side of keeping him, before you sit in judgement and think how lazy, thoughtless or casual we must seem with this whole rescue dog thing, let me remind you that we are not strangers to vicious beasts in our fold. We had a cat named Milo that wandered up one day a few years back, and he was quite possibly the meanest, most cunningly aggressive cat I have ever encountered. I found out recently that his attitude might have stemmed from run-ins with  a teen serial killer a few doors down who was supposedly dispatching the local strays in hideous sadistic killings that went largely unreported. Maybe he'd escaped Lil' Dahmer a couple of times and had become accustomed  to fending off human predators? All scratches, bites, attacks on in-laws aside,  we did not give up on him. He did remain an outdoor cat for fear of the inevitable Inspector Clouseau/Cato relationship that would develop with all of the hiding places in our house- and those claws were razor sharp since I couldn't get near him to pet him, let alone to trim his claws.
He died almost a year ago- a car hit him on a dark night right in front of our house. We miss him dearly, but more in theory than in practice- he was a pain in ass to have around.
The same will not be said of Frankie. He was not such a pain in the ass after all. He had become a joy to have around, his clackety clacking endearing, his barking appreciated (well, a little), but his hostility was too unpredictable. At least Milo was consistent, like a Great White. Frankie was more like a ,well, like a dog I guess....

Any unresolved or residual feelings about sticking it out were eradicated this afternoon when Big came crying up the stairs in an oddly deja vu like moment.


Exasperated and assuming it was another warning nip like the many that had come before it, I went down and said casually "Did he make contact?". She nodded, and I looked at her extended forearm. I saw the bite marks,then laughed. Not at her, but at the absurdity of the moment.

Oops, he did it again... (not to mention that he is chubby and blond like Britney, too......)

I reminded her that we should be glad that the rescue lady was coming to pick him up in a few minutes.
Big laughed with me, through her tears, and then went a wrote a note that said:
"Dear Mom, I am not going, Love Frankie". What the fuck is wrong with her?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Sudden Dog Syndrome: Part 2

Well,it has been an eventful few weeks since Frankie the dog infiltrated our lives. Since my last self pitying post, things have slightly improved, but only after it got a whole lot worse. Hang on, the dog is barking......FRANKIE! NO BARKING!

Okay, so first, I realized that my "me" time was much much more important to me than I realized: I really like-no, NEED my alone time, A LOT, and this dog is having none of it. He follows me around the house all day long, clackety clackety clacking behind me, sniffing or begging for food, barking at passing school children, squirrels and pretty much any noise of any kind. And he will never grow up and go to school or even just away like the other people who live here, ever......Hang on, the dog is barking......Frankie! No!

He FINALLY stopped sleeping on the couch in the living room and mostly sleeps in his bed on the floor unless my husband has him across his lap on the playroom couch, where he usually spends the rest of the night snoring,farting and caking the faux fur pillows that live there with his very real and very sticky tape resistant blond fur. This same hair ends up on the black clad asses of every family member who happens to perch there, which is everyone, so we all leave for school/work/gym every morning looking like we slept in a barn. I already feel schlubby and disgusting most mornings from lack of sleep,too much wine and not enough exercise so being coated with dog hair certainly does ice the ugly cake. He usually tries to force his way into the car,which, if I give in, means I can't do anything after I drop off the kids except walk him, which I sometimes don't want to do. He panics if left alone in the car, despite having the radio playing soft rock and two of his favorite toys. I also can't figure out how to disarm the alarm, which means leaving it unlocked, which means he might escape if someone tries to open the door and take my car or anything in it.
 If I leave him home, he will stay in his bed quietly,which is vast improvement over the continuous howling and barking jag from week Two. He rushes me when I return home, leaping and yipping. He grabs a toy and runs after me, desperate for a playmate, attention, my soul. This adorableness is supposed to fill my clearly shriveled heart with joy-but it doesn't. It only reminds me of how I used to come home to a scentless, hairless house and get to be alone with my OWN thoughts and do my OWN thing for a few blissful hours, uninterrupted by my loving slightly demanding family....SIGH.....

Second, he peed in my fucking eye. It was morning number five, I think, and he had taken a shit on the dining room rug, while we were all home standing in the next room. After I discovered it, I yelled for him. He came, dribbling pee as he skulked in. I scared him, I know that, but when I went to pick him up to take him outside where he is supposed to use the bathroom, it squirted up in my eye. Now, this would have been hilariously funny if not for the small fact that it just wasn't right then. My husband had a guffaw on hold-his lips were pursed, trying not to let it out in the face of my abject rage. I glared at him, rapidly coming undone. He did not laugh, more sort of coughed and cleared his throat a few times. I herded the kids into his car and off to school, then went inside and sobbed hysterically for fifteen solid minutes. Frankie sat in his bed and stared at me.  I am not the weepie type, but the frustration with all of it had peaked with the pee in my eye and the distinct feeling that this experience of having a dog would be much harder on me than I thought. I recovered and got on with my day. I left him home and spent a few hours doing errands and looking up information about dog training, reprimanding dogs, why dogs poop inside,why are dogs so annoying, why do people even have dogs etc. Sorry the dog is barking, hang on a sec....NO BARKING!!!!..Frankie!

That afternoon, when I returned home, there was a lovely bouquet of flowers on the front step. I went inside and, as Frankie jumped,clawed, yipped and went to get his toy, I read the card.

It said "sorry I pooped on the rug-Frankie".

For the first time since he arrived, I felt understood. It actually made me like Frankie a little bit more and feel a little less morose about the whole thing. I ran around the house with him, throwing the stuffed squeaky duck and letting him chase me to get it back. He wasn't so bad for a fat, stinky, barky little guy, and my husband scored major points for sending flowers on his behalf.

However, and this is the third dog related item wedged nicely in my craw: we had a party, and he BIT a whole lotta people. Most of the people(a lot of them CHILDREN) were "nipped" because they mistook his chubbiness for friendliness and pet him in the "wrong spot".
What? Seriously? Well, excuuuuuuseee me you ungrateful little turd, but maybe the house where they fed you to the point of immobility is where you'd prefer to be?  
A friend of mine had seen him eating a chicken wing that he had nabbed off some one's plate. She thought it might be better for me if she just let him choke on it- terrible tragedy, mourn for awhile and go back to my life as it was? Sounded good to me and, if not for the broken hearted children, I might have agreed to look the other way. The second chicken wing he got hold of was confiscated by a brave soul who he sank his teeth into, leaving puncture marks on the fleshy part of her hand, just under  the thumb. She was incredibly cool about it but Jesus Christ, I used to watch Animal Rescue, and dogs that bite when their food is threatened are not considered adoptable, at least not in New York City.Oh, wait- is that what the adoption place meant by "he can get a little snappy"?.......SHUT UP FRANKIE!!!

Every time we have a set back such as the biting, the indoor shitting, or the excessive barking/hair/ass wiping on rug, I tend to return to my original mantra of "why on earth would we get a dog?", but, alas, it is simply too late. I have had a great time shocking and horrifying my friends, who all fall in love with Frankie on sight. I shrug and say"Frankly, I can't stand him....". It is kind of an homage to Louis CK and how he calls his kids assholes. Initially shocking, and probably true some of time, but deep down he loves them, so what is the big deal? Frankie does't speak English, and I am speaking the truth, sort of, though I can't really comment on the deep down I love him part just yet....NO BARKING FRANKIE!!!!

Anyway, so now, naturally,  the onus is on ME to fix this dog problem via expensive trainers and precious time spent focusing on his needs, wants and behaviors. Training this dog is now my pet project, primarily so we don't get sued by someone or incur massive plastic surgery bills because one of our kids wants her stuffed animal back.  And I resent the hell out of it. There. To be continued.....

Friday, January 20, 2012

Sudden Dog Syndrome

When I was old enough to start having babies, my mother told me this: if you accidentally get pregnant, don't even think about bringing it home to me. She wasn't trying to be cruel, but she was  letting me know that fuck ups of that nature would be mine alone to handle. The funny thing is,were I to arrive on her stoop with a squalling babe in arms, she was the last person to banish me to the Home for Unwed Mothers. She'd have thrown the kid in to whatever the mix was and kept on going. She has the energy of a thousand Huns.
Her warning did give me a sense of how important it was NOT to get knocked up before I was ready to take on the responsibility and have kids by choice rather than by unhappy accident, so I was rather vigilant about not making dumb mistakes in that department. I was acutely aware and relatively fearful of getting pregnant. Lots of people I knew did get pregnant, even if they thought they were being "safe". I was always particularly baffled by the stories about those girls who got a little hefty in high school only to unexpectedly give birth to a baby in a bathroom stall on prom night. Having been pregnant, twice, it made no sense to me that a girl could be that oblivious about her body, yet competent enough to maintain a decent GPA and hide the whole sordid mess from her family.
It continues to happen, once every few months there is a story on the news about a baby found dead in a dumpster. The lack of awareness is astonishing-denial is clearly not just a river in Egypt- but the shock, awe and sense of wanting to pretend it didn't happen? Yeah, I totally get that.....
You see, out of nowhere, based on some vague and entirely hypothetical conversation about the eventuality of getting one-we adopted a rescue dog last weekend( okay, so, really I got ambushed and was coming off a serious NO bender where I put the kibosh on a lot of stuff that I really didn't want to do, so I kind of had to say "yes" to this). Now, this may seem to you to be totally unrelated to giving birth to a surprise baby in a bathroom stall, but for me, it carries the same psychological wallop: I am now the extremely reluctant mother to a needy, smelly, whining, overly attached mid-calf high obese Beagle Daschund mutt that will remain the emotional equivalent of a two year old human forever (not my favorite age, frankly),who follows me around my once blissfully empty house all day, clacking his nails across the hardwood floors and licking his paws incessantly. I will never be alone again, and not in the good way. I can no longer leave the house after the kids go to school and stay out all day doing whatever I please. I can no longer plan a quick weekend family getaway without calling in a babysitting favor or spending more than the cost of our hotel room to board the dog at a local pet hotel. Welcome to dog ownership......
In the last five days, I have lost hours of sleep to barking, howling and whimpering. I have thrice cleaned up excrement from the rug in our playroom-one of the times was AFTER taking him on a freezing ten o'clock at night walk where he desperately tagged the sidewalk with pee. I have spent over three hundred dollars so far on the following dog related paraphernalia: an attractive enough dog bed(though he still needs to be asked to get the fuck of the sofa four to ten times a day), anti- shedding brushes (though my car still looks like Susan Powter shaved her head in the back seat), anti-smell spray(he began "scooting" almost immediately-otherwise known as wiping his ass all over the rugs in whatever room he happened to be sitting in), a stuffed squeaking duck(which he loves), a vet visit(had his impacted anal glands drained, bought expensive flea meds and had his weight checked),a portable water bowl and backpack for hiking(he needs to drop almost half his body weight,which makes me feel kind of thin by comparison, so it might be good for my self esteem to hike with him) and weight reduction dog food.
I am now a "dog person"- even though I don't really want to be one-much like those poor oblivious chubby girls are suddenly mothers. Everyone keeps saying "oh, you will grow to love him, dogs are great", and I hope that is true. I know that most of the girls that pee out a baby don't keep it, they throw it in the garbage, or hide it until it is to late. I have no intention of throwing away my new "baby". I am merely grasping at a little self preservation here, but I'm not a monster. I am not a teenager with my insecurities riding shotgun and expectation weighing on me like a lead X-ray vest. I am a forty two year old mother of two whose insecurities are back-burnered somewhere in a pile of crap I need to catalog right after I finish the kid's first year baby books and clean the garage. The only expectation I have weighing on me is that I will deliver what I promised to deliver: Me. Mommy.Wife. I am certainly mourning the loss of my former free wheeling daytime self, and probably feeling sorry for myself because I married  such a persuasive man with such a limitless amount of  love to give, and for  having raised two very persuasive, loving, kind children who really wanted to rescue a dog(as it clack clack clacks in to the room and rubs a nice smear of slobber onto my pants).  As we were about to adopt,we ran into a friend who also has two kids. I felt a pang of jealousy as she declared herself "too selfish" to get her kids a dog. Yeah, I am "too selfish" as well, but obviously also too chicken shit to back it up.
Taking care of things can be challenging and is extremely humbling, and I better get used to it because we can assume that at least one aging relative is coming down the pike.  Doing for others is actually quite important-it tends to force people to focus on something besides their own needs. Not that I haven't already been doing that for the past six and half years with the two incredibly adorable but  demanding children I already have, but I guess a gal can't have too much humility. Who knows, maybe the dog,whose name is Frankie,  will become my new best friend, and we will slim down together and enter the Mrs. America pageant. I can have dog obedience be my talent, and we can wear matching bathing suits while he pretends to roll over dead after I shoot him with my imaginary gun. Always wanted a dog that did that....