Thursday, September 1, 2016

Dress down

The Boy is full of personality. You may have noticed that before. He's funny and energetic and creative and dynamic. One might be worried that BeYoYo would get overshadowed by the largeness of his personality, and that would be a fair concern.

But hear ye, hear ye, BeYoYo shall not be underestimated. 

This child has just turned two, and the potential for his shenanigans is only starting to shine forth. Yesterday, at our house, was delivered one plus-size-stud-trimmed maxi dress. That BeYoYo ordered from Amazon. On my phone. On my work account. For $58. 

I realized the error the same day, and tried to cancel the order but it was too late, it was already on the way. It showed up today. I bet you're wondering how this happened. I found a really cool dress at a thrift store and I was looking it up on Amazon. It was the same brand as this "stud trim" number you see here, and he had the phone right after, so click click, here we are: 

You'll note the bag says "ready to ship"

I'm on a local buy/sell/trade group for parents, and I tried to list it there for resell before I have to pay for return shipping. 

So far, it's gotten plenty of likes but no one is interested in purchasing it. Can you believe? 
And the darn thing is SOLD OUT, meaning BeYoYo really has his finger on the pulse of women's fashion. They're flying off the shelves! So who needs a stud-trimmed dress? 

Maybe BeYoYo will help you find some accessories that match. 

Monday, August 29, 2016

Balancing Act

Yesterday at church our sermon was about balance. Not getting your life all balanced, but being spiritually balanced and being willing to give up some of the things we have an abundance of. Our preacher preached, and a mom of four talked about her own balancing act of having three kids and then having a fourth born with special needs. The pastor joked about an online article claiming the healing power of crystals that could help us find balance.

Yesterday I was signed up to be an usher. That means we greet people when they come in, give them a bulletin, and then pass the offering at the end of the service. Sometimes kids help with passing the offering, so I'd asked The Boy if he wanted to help. He did. I think it's great that our church allows kids to be involved in an important way, and I like the message they get that they're a valuable asset.

Near the end of the service I went to his class to get The Boy. Since our church is small, he and BeYoYo are in the same class. I cracked the door open to call The Boy to come, but he didn't hear me the first time. I opened it bigger and said his name a little louder, and he came. I waved to his teacher to let her know. Then BeYoYo spotted me and said "I go! I go!" I told him I'd be back for him, but he cried and cried and screamed, thinking I'd never come back for him and I'd take his brother home to live and he'd have to go live in an orphanage and eat slop. Big alligator tears overflowed from his eyes and dripped down his chubby cheeks and he wailed incoherently. Not wanting him to feel abandoned, and not having time to comfort him or clear up the situation, I told his teacher he could just come too. He stopped crying as soon as he was in my arms, but continued to do some sobbing breaths for good measure, so as not to let anyone think he was manipulative.

I went back to meet the other ushers. We were standing outside in the narthex, and someone was making announcements. Or maybe prayers, I don't know. I explained to The Boy what we were going to do. He had a storm trooper of sorts he'd brought from his class, and he sat on the floor to play with it while we waited. I held the offering plate, and BeYoYo gestured toward it and said "I eat!" I told him it wasn't food, and showed him the empty red felt bottom.
Then The Boy asked to hold it. I complied, handing it to him while I followed BeYoYo around the narthex asking him to use his inside voice. He has no idea what that means. The Boys rolled around on the carpet, hugging and not-quite-wrestling in the floor. The other ushers watched the boys' show of physical prowess, likely reflecting on the times when their own kids were younger and acted like fools at church. I smiled my apologetic smile. BeYoYo said "I go home." I asked if he wanted to go back to his class and play, and he said no. I asked him if he wanted to take his hat off before we went in the sanctuary, and he said no. Actually he said "NO!" in a way that let me know he'd have been fine with it if it were his idea, but since I suggested it, it wasn't going to happen. 

I asked The Boy to take his storm trooper out of the offering plate, and he said "Awww, it was hot lava! He was trying to escape." My apologies to you and the storm trooper and Jesus. 

When the prayernouncements were finally over we opened the door to walk into the sanctuary. The usher on my side and I made eyes that said who was going on which side. BeYoYo became nervous and suddenly wanted to be held. "Up pease!" he shrieked. I have a sling on my left arm, but held him in my right.  His hat perched upon his head. The Boy held the offering plate and walked beside me as we processed down the aisle. Feeling hot eyes on us, I made a note to myself not to invite these people to help with this again unless I have two working arms. 

The Boy and BeYoYo and I walked around the front of the church to the right side by the windows. I showed The Boy where to start passing the plate, and receiving the one that was being passed in our direction. He was intent and engaged with his mission, and BeYoYo clung to me like a baby monkey. Then BeYoYo saw our friend Jill sitting near the front and he said "I get down! I sit Ji-ull." I released him, as he was sliding down my body like a firehall pole. He ran toward Jill. You'll remember her from this post. I had to assume he'd be okay. The Boy and I had to turn slightly to get a few rows of people in the side alcove. That's when things went awry. The Boy passed the plate to the first row of congregants, and then he noticed something shiny in the window and ran off, abandoning his mission. 

I received the plate and passed it on to the next row. I whisper-yelled to the child in the window to come with me, and he ignored that as he looked at some small flags placed in a vase there. Who was he standing beside but the mom of four who had just spoken about balance. Then BeYoYo appeared beside him, apparently distracted and lost on his way to find Jill three feet away. The two of them were enamored by these flags. Even a mother spider with her eight arms could not keep up with these children who went off in one direction, and the offering plate that was going off in another. In a split second I had to decide whether to abandon the offering or the children. They were no longer on the same path to the back of the sanctuary where I could juggle them all. Knowing Jesus said "Let the children come to me" but unsure where Jesus stood on the passage of offering plates, I decided to ignore the children dismantling the centerpiece in the window, and to continue with the offering. The show must go on and whatnot. 

As I continued walking I saw Jill get out of her seat and go attend to my children. Holy God in heaven IT TAKES A VILLAGE and there are SAINTS AMONG US. I made a note to myself to not invite these people to help with this again until they are grown. Now I'm passing the plate to my friend E.J., who also loves my children. She was also starting to get up to help, but saw that Jill had beaten her to the punch. She whispered to me "We're talking back here and we can't believe you're doing this in heels too!" Once I'd made it to the back of the sanctuary, I scanned up front to see if I could see The Boy. He was standing in the outside aisle, clearly looking for me. And he was holding a small Mexican flag. I do not know why. 

I motioned for him to come back and join me, and he broke into a full sprint down the outside aisle, waving his flag the whole way. I tried to sign to him to slow down, but he was all Cinco de Mayo  and he was too thrilled. By this point people in the back of the church were unable to hide their laughter. They had the joy, joy, joy, joy down in their hearts, I suppose. So The Boy gets to me, and presents the flag he's stolen from the centerpiece, as well as one of those clear marble things that are flat on one side that people use as vase fillers. And then BeYoYo appears, I'm not even sure where from. Surely Jill brought him to me, but it's all a blur. 

So at our church once the offering is collected, the ushers carry it back down to the front of the sanctuary and deliver it to the pastor for a ceremonial prayer.  I had one arm in a sling, a child on the opposite hip, and I whispered to The Boy that it was time to take the offering to Mr. Joel. He balanced the plate in one hand as he withdrew his marble from his other hand and placed it in the offering plate. All the parallels to theology came through my head- that offering is our way of giving back to God what is already his, that we bring what's important to us to offer, that we lay down the crystals the world tells us will help us balance. I was proud of him and basked in the teachable moment. 

We waited for the music's cue and headed back down the aisle again. He nearly spilled the plate a few times, but we made it back down to the alter, and he thrust the offering plate at Joel. Joel took it graciously, said his words, and we ushered back out. The ushers all ushed back to the back office where we turn the money in. Before one of the other ushers put it in an envelope, The Boy said "Wait!" and reached back in and grabbed the marble out. So much for laying it all down. It IS really hard to give things up permanently, even if you know they weren't yours to start with. I confirmed that he didn't remove any change or bills from the plate, and everyone witnessed. 

I sent the Boys back to their class as I went back in the sanctuary for the last of worship. I was already tired from that offering adventure. I slid into my seat beside Jill and she didn't even say anything. No laughter, no anger, no looking for an apology, not even a smile. It was business as usual. Because that's what a village does. If I hadn't shown up with my chaos and my deficits in patience and organization (and arms), these friends of mine wouldn't have been able to share their excess of patience and kindness and I wouldn't have felt their love. And suddenly I understood that message of balance. 

Again I'm presented with an opportunity to learn from my children. When we got home I noticed BeYoYo had a sticker on his back of a picture of Jesus. And he was upside down. He totally gets us. 

Thursday, August 25, 2016


I have always been sensitive. When I was three I told my mom that I wasn't going back to the babysitter's house because she'd snapped her fingers at me. Reportedly, I said "I can't handle it." For me, sensitivity is not just getting my feelings hurt easily. It's also about having feelings come to the surface easily, whether it's hurt or anger or sadness or joy.

BeYoYo has been doing a funny eye roll thing for probably about a year. At first we thought he was being a punk in response to something he didn't like, but then he'd do it at other times when that didn't make sense. We realized it wasn't voluntary. Google told us it looked like a Benign Paroxysmal Tonic Upgaze, a rare but harmless thing he'd grow out of. It has the word benign right in the title, so I read about it and didn't worry about it. At his two year check up a few weeks ago I mentioned it to our pediatrician, and I showed her where we'd accidentally caught it on video. She wasn't worried, but she said she'd like to get a pediatric neurologist to see him just to be safe.

Today was our neuro appointment. BeYoYo was pleasant, flirting with the staff and telling everyone about his horses he brought. (Their names are Bucker, Cowboy, and Latigo. He's a classic 90s Garth Brooks fan). They ate him up.

The first doctor came in, and we showed her his video.


She wasn't quite sure what it was, but thought it was likely a childhood steri-OT-o-pee. I'm guessing this comes from the word stereotype. The Husband asked about a Benign Paroxysmal Tonic Upgaze, and we apologized for googling medical conditions. She said the BPTU would be an example of a steri-OT-o-pee. Then she had her student intern watch the video, and after she examined BeYoYo, listened to his heart, checked his eyes and reflexes, and watched his gait as he chased bubbles, they had an additional neuro come in to watch it. He agreed that it could be a BPTU, or that it could be an immature nervous system, and he also suggested that it looked consistent with seizures. They all agreed that they'd like BeYoYo to get an EEG so they could have more information.

I use my mom's best friend as our personal nurse call when my kids have as much as a hiccup. She's a nurse practitioner, and I consider us continuing ed for her, always making sure she's up to date on childhood illnesses. I texted her throughout the morning to update her that we were getting an EEG and what the doctors thought. She looked up steri-OT-o-pee and sent me information.

We were able to get the EEG today as well, with just a minimal wait. They called us into a separate room for the test. BeYoYo only gets his pacie, which he calls his "boppie", at night and nap time. When we walked in to the EEG room and there was a full size bed he immediately asked for a boppie. Luckily I had a spare in the car. They needed my active two year old to lie still with electrodes on his head for 30 minutes, plus they'd need him to cooperate getting the electrodes on and off.  Kid could have anything he wanted.

I wasn't really worried about him. The neuro told us the fact that this eye roll happens infrequently was a good sign. But something about seeing the tech putting electrodes on his head was hard for me.  I settled down on the bed beside him and found an Elmo horse video on YouTube on my phone. We had told him they were going to put stickers on his head to take some pictures of his head, and when the tech placed the electrode gel on his scalp he said a quiet "ouchie" through his boppie. I moved the phone to the left and to the right so he would look in the direction she needed him to so she could place the electrodes. "Yeehaw!" said Elmo.

She proceeded to place about two dozen electrodes on him, and tape them down with medical tape. Then she placed a wrap around them, and a medical hair net/skull cap contraption around his head and chin to keep it all on. She told him it was a special hat. He used his pudgy little hand to reach up and gently pat the hat to see what it was about, and he didn't bother it again. He settled down with me in the bed to watch Elmo.

He looked worse than he was. He reminded me of the Shirley Temple's dad in The Little Princess when he had amnesia in the hospital after the war.

There he was watching Elmo with his boppie, looking very much like a baby, yet he was being much braver than I would have expected considering he couldn't have understood what was going on. Maybe that's why he was brave. I cuddled up beside him and kissed his cheek. And then I cried.

Tears spilled out of my eyes to see this child hooked up to a machine. Not sobbing, weeping, worried tears. Just a few rolling, escaping, silent tears that are hard to explain. I knew this was minor and precautionary, but suddenly I was sad for every child who has to go through medical tests, and every parent who has to watch them. No kid deserves a life like that. I thought of all the kids for whom this is a normal part of life, and thought of their parents who held their phones up with no concern for their numbing arm or their data usage. In my head I wondered about what my own parents went through when I had heart surgery as a child and stayed for a week at Egleston. A tear rolled out for St. Jude commercials and families that need them, for kids with cancer who might not have another birthday, and for those who will make the most of the second chance they've been given. I thanked God for the opportunities my kids have to play ball and argue and run in the grass, to go to birthday parties and play dates and preschool. I sent positive thoughts to all the parents, who through no fault of their own, worry about blood counts and tumors and failing organs instead of snack calendars and bug bites and carpools.

He did really great for the whole EEG. Once he sat up and asked for a snack, and the tech said we could appease him with two cheez-its. Other than that he laid still the whole time, and The Husband and I told him he was doing so great. He winced when she took off the electrodes, and said it hurt. He also got some of the gel on his hand and asked "mommy clean it?" Even though I knew he wasn't in much pain, I wished I could have done it in his place.

When we were done we checked out and loaded in the car. BeYoYo immediately asked for his barn for his horses, and we gladly complied. The Husband asked him if he wanted something for lunch and he replied "chicken nunnets!" so we headed to the Chick-fil-a drive through. I sat looking at this boy, with his barn in his hand, his boppie in his mouth, and electrode gel in his hair, and I was overcome with emotion. Thanksgiving that this is not our norm, compassion for the kids and parents who have to do this all the time, and gratitude that there's likely nothing serious wrong. I was so grateful that we get to take him home, and that we get to get him chicken nunnets. So grateful that he gets to hold his barn, and that I get to hold him. I wiped tears away.

Sometimes The Boy's slow pokiness makes me want to pull my hair out. And I'm wearing a sling on my arm because I dislocated my shoulder pulling BeYoYo from playing in the toilet. But Lord, today I was so grateful for all the messy, tiring life that I too often take for granted. And tonight when I got home from work I loved on my kids and listened to what they had to say, and really appreciated getting to sit with them at dinner and tuck them into bed. I paused this moment in my head and held it with gratitude, before sitting to have a drink with The Husband on the porch. I may not remember it tomorrow, but today I am drunk with gratitude for the life which I have done nothing to deserve. And sometimes that's what it's like to be sensitive.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

An Almost 2 Year Old

Today is BeYoYo's second birthday, and The Boy started pre-k. Today I have all the feels.

This child. He is sweet and sensitive and stocky. He loves all food, except guacamole. He says "sorry" to people when he walks by them on a sidewalk, and he waits for a hand to hold before he goes down steps. He gets worried when there's conflict in cartoons and needs to be assured everything will be okay. He sings songs and dances, and he's the happiest child.

He loves his brother with everything he has, and he always wants to do what his brother is doing, say what his brother is saying, and play with what his brother is playing. He calls The Boy "Hussy", and The Boy calls him "Roo". I'm not making that up. This is the way he looks at his brother:

Don't be mistaken: he's sweet but thou shalt not cross him. He's come into his own this year, and he has no qualms about hitting his brother or showing his annoyance. He even bit him on the butt this week.

He's proud of himself when he does something big, and he does not like thunder "nunder" because it is "woud". He loves his pacie, which he calls a "bop". He's only supposed to have it at nap and nighttime, but he sneaks into his room and gets one and grins and runs with it, enjoying a few minutes of it the way smokers enjoy a cigarette.

He jumps into the pool with no fear, yelling "cannonball!" even though he has no idea what that means.

He likes trains and loves horses. He doesn't like to get his hands dirty, and he can ride a scooter a little bit by himself. He doesn't like heights, as evidenced by the fact that he loved the rides at Dollywood until they went up in the air, and then he cried. He loves to wear a hat, and asks for one regularly.

He eats an ice cream cone like this: 

And this is how he feels about chocolate cake: 

He likes to read books and he enjoys going to school. He will speak to everyone he sees, and wants to know strangers' names. If a stranger speaks to him, though, he'll get embarrassed and pretend to fall asleep. I took him with me to try on clothes one day, and I had him in the dressing room with me. He peered under the divider and into the next stall, where there must've been someone else trying on clothes. He looked back and me and said "I see 'body!" I acknowledged that I understood he saw somebody, and just as I was about to ask him not to do that again, he peered back under and yelled "hey 'body!" Luckily the woman on the other side laughed.

When he falls down he says "I okay!" to no one in particular. 

He is determined and strong. When something is difficult he says it's "heavy", and he calls dinosaurs "hi-whores" with a hard H, and he now says chocolate instead of "chock-shit". When he wants me to hold him he says "I hold mama." We keep telling him he's two but he insists he's four-five.

When I think about this guy's birthday I am filled with joy. My mom's best friend summed it up best when she said "it just seems like he has been here always." Amen. And we're so glad he is. Happy birthday, BeYoYo!

Monday, August 1, 2016

To My Child's New Teacher, At The Beginning of the Year

We met you today, with your blonde hair and your bronzed skin and your cute dress. We saw the classroom that you painstakingly set up, the details you fretted over, the placement of each name tag you cut out and laminated, the art center with each bottle of paint lined up. We looked in the cubbies you labeled and read the calendar wall you created.

I want you to know I appreciate the time you spent and the effort you took to make everything special, but I don't care about any of that. All I care about is the fact that when The Boy was nervous and trying to hide behind me, you got down on his level and spoke to him to help him feel more comfortable. That when he felt small in a big new classroom and was giving you some serious side eye, you smiled at him and said "I promise I'm nice" and asked him what toys he was interested in, then listened as he showed you.

New teacher, you don't know us yet. Let me give you a head's up that we're that family. When we're signed up for snack helper, there's a 50/50 chance we'll either bring cool something related to that week's theme, or we'll forget completely. If that happens, I'll run up to the RaceTrac and get some stale doughnuts for the whole class, or maybe some of the emergency packs of melted fruit snacks I have in the back of my car for just such an occasion. You'll have to send us reminders about lunch money, because we might forget that too. When you open the door of my SUV in the car rider line, Ninja Turtles might fall out on the ground, and there's a good chance I'll be in my pajamas, with little brother crying in his car seat. I don't know when teacher appreciation week is, and I might accidentally turn left out of the car rider line like we're not supposed to do. Sometimes I will forget to check the send home folder and I won't see that note you sent me. Also, our take home folder is going to be bigger than everyone else's because I thought the list said a one-and-a-half-inch notebook, instead of one half-inch notebook. My kid might have some toothpaste on his shirt and some breakfast on his chin. And the breakfast might include some form of icing.  I'll lose the list of important dates for the year that I got today, so you'll need to tell me again when 50's Day is, and what time the spring recital starts. His hair will be sticking up on picture day. I will forget to let you know my kid needs to stay for after school and I will urgently email you during the day, when I know good and well you have no time to respond. I apologize in advance. For all of that.

But teacher, we are also that family. That family who trusts you with our child. Who appreciates all the hard work you put in. The family who won't get mad if our kid isn't the smartest or fastest or best behaved one in your class. The family who will listen if there's a problem, and ask what we can do to help. The family who won't blame you for our imperfect kid or our imperfect parenting. The family who will teach our child to treat you with respect, even if he disagrees with you. The family who will say a prayer of thanksgiving for you every night, and who will send you telepathic kudos every time our kids start to drive us crazy after just 10 minutes of togetherness. We will back you up, and recognize your authority in the classroom and in his life. Our kid is about to spend 7 hours a day with you, and that's more time than he'll spend with us most days. We know you'll take care of him and love on him and laugh at his jokes and listen to his stories (oh, the stories!), and that you'll comfort him when he is sad and take care of him when he is hurt. We know that you won't tell him to shut up when he goes on and on about something, even if you want to (that might be the greatest superpower that God gifted teachers). We know that even as you are loving and teaching and shaping our child, you're loving and teaching and shaping 21 others too. We're that family that knows that every year our child is in school is another chance to add more people to his village. And if you haven't noticed, we need a village.

 So if you'll hand me that Ninja Turtle, we'll see you tomorrow.