brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

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Nikola, almost six, is an only child who never attended day care or much in the way of play groups. Pre-Kindergarten and its broad swath of germs and viruses hit him hard. Kindergarten is hitting him less hard, but that’s like saying getting struck down by a golf cart is better than being flattened by a fast moving freight train. You’re still on the ground counting your bones and wondering what hit you.

Niko has a gross cold that leaves him snotty (although he’s finally figuring out how to blow his nose) and with a nasty cough. I kept him home from school yesterday because the cough was disrupting his sleep and he was on edge and poorly. Then last night his cough progressed to triggering vomiting. Thankfully he knew what was up and called me in to help him and we kept the mess pretty contained, at least physically. But he doesn’t enjoy vomiting, or coughing excessively, or feeling out of control, especially at 1:30 in the morning. I mean, who does? So the coughing till he pukes events usually progress to crying till he coughs more and then pukes again. One of my mom jobs is to calm him down when he gets worked up (even when he’s healthy, as he has asthma) because crying can lead to coughing can lead to grossness.

I cleaned up the puke, got him calmed down, helped him blow his nose and drink some water, cranked up his humidifier, fluffed his pillows, and did everything else I could to help him sleep comfortably. I gave him the last of the liquid benedryl we have on hand because it can shrink swelling in nasal passages and dry up postnasal drip, helping ease coughing and make breathing easier. He declined the codeine cough syrup we have for him (it tastes like fire) but if he’s coughing this much again tonight I’m going to insist he take it. But other than that, there’s nothing I can do. I mean, I can sit up on the couch with him, supporting his body so he’s not lying down, and hope that helps his cough. I can push fluids into him during the day, and feed him chicken soup. I can take him to the doctor (where they’ll say “yup, that’s a cold, keep him hydrated. that’ll be $25 please.”). But I can’t really make him better.

Most cold remedies don’t work any better than a placebo, while also having some pretty severe side effects, especially for children. There’s nothing I can give Niko to make him all better. If I could pull the sickness out of his body and endure it myself I would. All I can do is try to make him comfortable and be thankful this isn’t Pertussis.

Pertussis, also known as Whooping Cough for the whooping sound of the coughs, or 100 day cough because of how long the illness usually lasts (10 weeks or longer, ie, over 2 1/2 months), is a highly contagious bacterial infection. It causes coughing so extreme that people wit it vomit, can break ribs, or become utterly exhausted. After coughing they can pass out; during coughing they can wet themselves, tear open arteries, burst capillaries in their eyes, or develop hernias. Infants don’t always develop the cough, sometimes they just stop breathing. Complications include pneumonia, encephalitis, and seizures. Despite the fact that a Pertussis vaccine was developed in the 1940s and has been proved resoundingly effective and safe, people are still rejecting it out of fear and misinformation. And so a disease that could be completely eradicated in the USA has pockets where it lives and strikes those most vulnerable to it, hospitalizing many of them and killing some of them.

Nikola will be sick for a week or two. He’ll probably miss 4-5 days of school (a school week). He’ll be gross and miserable and he’ll probably get this one or two more times this school year, and hopefully will get it less often next year. We’ll continue to treat him kindly and gently and help him use his inhaler so he can breathe better. He’ll be miserable and I’ll be miserable and I’ll lie awake at night listening to him cough and worrying, and listening to him NOT cough and worrying about THAT.

But it’s not Pertussis, at least.

That’s something.

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DELUGE

Friday, 6 June 2014 18:16
brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

I think Niko’s getting sick (again) which is unfortunate because he’s on the tail end of an irritating cold and only has one week left of school and would like him to actually attend school for the entire week. But he’s been extra cranky and tired lately, and last night there were… problems.

I woke up at 2:30 in the morning (why does that time even exist. why. WHY.) because I thought I heard someone banging on a door. Who could it be? Was G watching a movie just loudly enough I could hear it? Were the tenants upstairs having (another) emergency that could only be solved at 2:30 (alarming!!!)? Was it someone trying to gain entry? The banging droned on, accompanied by moaning. It was very zombie-like and I was more than a little creeped out. I put my glasses on, which always makes me feel more secure, and went to investigate.

It was Niko.

I opened his bedroom door, which was neither locked nor stuck, and he stumbled out.

“I peeeeeeed my paaaaaaaaants a liiiiiiiiiitle” he sobbed at me, which was a LIE because he peed his pants A LOT. He stumbled into the bathroom, sobbing, and unleashed a torrent of additional pee (HOW BIG IS YOUR BLADDER, CHILD?) and then stood there crying, the back of his pyjama pants and shirt both soaking wet.

“Alright, take your clothes off,” I instructed him.

“I caaaaaan’t take off my clothing, it’s too wettttttttt” he wailed at me and then tried to fight me when I started peeling it off him. I honestly considered cutting it off of him, just to get it off and done with, since he’s outgrowing them and they only have a few wears left anyway and they’re all pilled and nubbly, but figured that would only traumatize him further. I got him naked and herded him back into his bedroom and helped him dress. He was still crying, loudly enough that Nesko came to see what was going on. Niko was upset about standing around (???) so I told him to huge Nesko, and he did, walking over to him and hugging him and leaning against him and almost drifting off again. His bed was soaking wet, including one pillow, and everyone was tired. So I just stripped everything, brought Niko into bed with us, and left the making of the bed for later.

Niko snuggled right in and slept until 9:45. He usually wakes up around 7:00, so that was a big lie-in. When he woke up, he complained about smelling “a big stinkness” and admitted it was him. I gave him a shower, which he cried and yelled through. He wasn’t too keen on breakfast, or lunch (which was pizza! what?), and has spent literally a total of about 4 hours (so far!) having tantrums and crying and yelling and waving his arms and legs around and kicking things today, which is about 3 hours and 50 minutes longer than he usually has tantrums on any given day.

He spent, literally, half an hour yelling and crying and kicking and flailing various limbs and lying on the floor and repeating over and over that he JUST NEEDS A DAY OFF and he’s TOO TIRED and he CAN’T WALK FOREVER and he JUST SERIOUSLY REALLY NEEEEDS A DAAAAAY OFFFFFFF WHY CAN’T HE HAAAAAAVE ONNNNNNE. Did I ask him to clean the bathroom? Wash dishes? Fold laundry? Go grocery shopping? Take a long walk? Do many jumping jacks? Join the Foreign Legion? No, no. Gentle reader, I instructed my thirsty child to walk down the hall to his bedroom and get his water bottle so he could have a drink. In the time he spent thrashing around about THE UNFAIRNESS OF IT ALL, he could have gotten the bottle and drunk it dry, twice. He did not handle it well when I pointed that out to him.

Today’s not too fun. Here’s hoping tonight and tomorrow are better.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

For those of you who’ve been following along for a while, Nikola has a baby doll named Baby who he dotes upon and loves. He “changes her diapoh” and “cleans her dirty BUTT” and tucks her in for a nap and feeds her and burps her and celebrates her 1st birthday about one a week, complete with “cake” and “wrapped presents” (random crap he drapes paper or t-shirts or tissues or something over) and a card that he makes for her.

Lately, Baby has been displaced in his affections by… Spider-Man.

Nesko’s parents had a mini-family reunion and I got to meet like 50 people who were total strangers to me and mostly didn’t speak English (I am monolingual) and that wasn’t terrifying or awkward for me AT ALL and I made lemon cheesecake and turtle bar cookies and rice krispy treats and they were all big hits so yaaay. But Nesko’s culture has this thing where it’s common for visiting adults to bring presents, candy, and/or money to the kids they visit. One of Niko’s scores was a pretty big Spider-Man toy with a Spider-Copter or something. Spider-Man is his New Love and he’s been taking Spider-Man to bed with him and cuddling him and toting him around.

DID YOU KNOW: Spider-Man likes bacon, and he likes sausage, but he hates ham. Steak is ok, but pancakes and eggs are right out. His favorite breakfast consists of a croissant, donut, banana, and potato (??). We went out for breakfast the other day and Niko ordered a pancake for himself and a plate of bacon for Spider-Man. Niko set Spider-Man on the seat next to him and fed him bites of bacon and afterward he requested two lollipops… one for him and one for Spider-Man. (Niko also scolded me for being rude and mean to the waitress, so I explained to him that I was ordering a BELGIAN waffle, not a BELCHING waffle.)

Let me tell you what kind of parent I am: knowing that he was making a bold grab for two dum-dum suckers for himself, at the cash register, I said yes.

In the car, driving to Home Depot, Niko crunched away on his sucker and then piped up “Since Spider-Man isn’t really REAL, can I just go ahead and eat HIS lollipop TOO?” I said yes, of course.

In other news, we’re repainting Niko’s room and it’s taking longer than expected. He’s sleeping in our room while we paint. I hope we get done soon. Really. Seriously. And that he transitions back to his own bed quickly and easily.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

We were at the playground the other day and one of the kids there… well. He’s a bit of a dick. He’s 7 or so and enough of a bully that the other kids have completely turned on him. It came to a fever pitch a few weeks ago when every single kid on the playground (maybe 10?) cornered him, chanting a name-rhyming-taunt. His behavior hasn’t improved since then, and has included stealing Niko’s shoes, shoving him down, and slapping him on the back of the head in passing. One of the most difficult aspects of this is that 1) his mom doesn’t do ANYTHING about his behavior other than mild “now now, CHILD’S NAME, that’s not how we act” (when, uh, obviously it is?) and 2) Niko gets along with that kid’s younger sister and likes playing with her.

So anyway, most recent playground outing, those two kids were there with one of their babysitters (and their babysitters are much more hands on and disciplinarian than either of their parents) and Older Kid was being a real terror including chasing people around and kicking them. Like, kicking them in the chest/arms, aiming for their heads. Babysitter pulls him aside and starts trying to reason with him. “You shouldn’t kick and hit your friends!” “Oh, it’s ok, he’s not my friend.” “So you were just… you were just attacking him? Child’s Name, that is NOT right.”

It was at this point that Niko butted in, all concerned.

“You know, Child’s Name, if you weren’t so HORRIBLE all the time, maybe everybody wouldn’t HATE YOU.”

While true, that’s not really an appropriate thing to say, you know?

Later on, that child tried to join in an impromptu soccer game. The other kids ignored him entirely as he chased them around, tried to hog the ball, and bragged about how long he’d been playing soccer on a team (again, he’s S E V E N, it’s not like he can possibly have been playing THAT LONG), eventually breaking down in tears when everybody managed to keep the ball from him. Every single kid in the group was one he’d physically harmed that day, as best as I can tell with no provocation whatever.

It’s kind of hard to watch. It’s like watching someone repeatedly bashing their head against a brick wall trying to get through the wall when there’s a door right there. Unlocked. Not even fully closed. Just push it open. I don’t know why he acts the way he does… is he acting out? Terrible at reading social cues? Ignorant? A massive entitled jerk? He’s in a Gifted school, so at the very least he… uh. Takes standardized tests well. I just don’t get it. And it’s hard to watch my kid deal with that, with him, with this out of nowhere aggressive and hurtful behavior. He wants to teach that kid how to be friendly and have friends and get along with everyone and I don’t think there’s any seven year old on earth eager to take social lessons from a five year old who insists his REAL name is Raptor because he has TOE CLAWS and IS A RAPTOR, DUH.

WELL THANK GOD I HAVE ALL THE PARENTING ANSWERS AND MY CHILD IS PERFECT, AT LEAST.

In other news, we’re finally repainting Niko’s room over the holiday weekend. We have all the paint and supplies, including spackle. We’d been putting this off because we want to gut his room, upgrade the wiring, and install soundproof insulation and possibly refinish his floor but… if we wait until we have the money and time to do ALL THAT it will never get done. So we’re going to screw the wall back to the stud where it’s pulling away (yaaaay hundred old buildings wooooooo), spackle everything up, and slap some paint on. It’ll look a lot nicer when it’s done.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Niko’s been watching some Princess movies recently (“Tangled,” “Cinderella,” “Despicable Me 2,” “Brave,” etc) and also talking with a friend of his who is very keen on Princesses in general. He’s been practicing drawing Princesses for her because she’s more interested in that than in dinosaurs and he’s trying to branch out a bit, and also talking about Princesses… including describing a show that he wants to see. It is a show about Princess Dinosaur.

“Is she a princess who is a dinosaur, or is she a princess who rides on dinosaurs?” I asked.

“She isn’t either of those things,” he explained. “She is a princess who travels back in time to STUDY dinosaurs.”

Which, I mean, if “Dinosaur Train” can feature dinosaurs who travel through time to study other dinosaurs, certainly there’s a market for a PRINCESS, perhaps with a cuddly animal companion, who travels through time to study dinosaurs as well? I’ll press him for more details and share some drawings with you as I can.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Niko’s been sick.

He hasn’t been take-him-to-the-doctor sick, but he has been two-severe-colds-in-a-row, miss-almost-two-weeks-of-school sick. His coughing-till-he-vomits has been way less than previous sicknesses, so either he’s growing out of that or he… just wasn’t that sick. I don’t know, but dang am I glad he only barfed once, although he did it all over a pillow that I made BY HAND and stitched BY HAND out of fabric I selected personally years before he was born. And it’s not the kind of pillow you can wash (too big, wrong kind of fill) and it was VERY soaked in barf, so… I put it in the trash can. GOOD BYE PILLOW.

So that’s the worst thing. Not that I had to throw out a pillow (although I miss that pillow. sniff.), but that my poor sweet baby has been so tediously ill. It’s really not fun being sick and starting to feel better enough to feel antsy and then feeling sick and ill again. He’s been a trooper through the whole experience, though, and hopefully we’re in for healthier times.

The best thing recently is that Niko has kind of leveled up in his art. He’s been bugging me lately to copy the art on some dinosaur flash cards he has, and then after I do so he critiques me heavily. So the other day I was all DUDE, DO IT YOURSELF and he was all I CAAAAAAAN’T and I was all DO ITTTT DOOOOOO ITTTTTTTTTT JUST TRY and he did and it was really cool! He impressed himself. So he’s been copying pictures HIMSELF and it’s super interesting to see what he picks up on as important details, and he’s started adding more details to his dinosaurs… which are essentially really stylized stick figures. But now they are really stylized stick figures with crests and feathers.

He also, and this is even more cool, has started making little still lifes and dioramas with his dinosaurs and plastic trees etc and then… drawing those scenes that he has made. That is absolutely the best and most awesome thing he’s been doing lately.

Well, other than coming up with Princess Dinosaur, but that’s a topic for another post, I think.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

I haven’t been posting too much to my blog recently because nothing really exciting is going on other than HA HA HA the most boring, tedious, developmental issues possible. Temper tantrums! Lying! Separation Anxiety! Not sleeping through the night! WHO CARES! Who wants to read about this bullshit? Ugh, nobody. So life’s been both boring and frustrating and I didn’t want to just unload complaints all over this blog.

Our Christmas was very nice, and very laid back. My parents, brother, and brother’s girlfriend came over on Christmas Eve since Nesko had to work on Christmas Day. We set out a spread of crackers and crudites and dips and cheese, a bunch of cookies, and I made shredded Buffalo chicken in the slow cooker. My mom brought up a spanikopita she made. It was way nicer than trying to plan, coordinate, and juggle a big sit down dinner. We even ate on paper plates.

Our New Year was equally laid back. Nesko had to work New Year’s Eve but got off earlier than usual. We ordered pizza and watched movies and spent New Year’s Day sitting around the house… minus the grocery run I made Nesko take because we were low on food and it was snowing heavily outside. I was worried there’d be a run on groceries and since we only had one roll of toilet paper and that’s one of the first things to go in Blizzard Shopping, I had The Fear. Two days and about 8 inches of snow later, we’re snug and warm in our house. Nesko has shoveled the sidewalk four or five times, and we unleashed Niko to wade around in snow that reached up to his hips.

Nikola In The Snow

Nikola In The Snow

Nikola’s school is on Winter Break right now and we were both really looking forward to sending him back to school. But the forecast for Monday is about a million degrees below zero and I don’t feel comfortable having him walk half a mile in that, so I might keep him home. We’ll see what happens.

How’s the weather by you? Any snow? Anything unusual?

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Pulling Teeth

Saturday, 21 December 2013 20:28
brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Cleaning house with a four year old is like pulling teeth, if the person whose teeth you’re pulling keeps jamming the pulled teeth back into his bloody gum holes while also running around the room naked and screaming fart jokes at the top of his lungs. It’s kind of an exercise in futility is what I’m saying. And it’s the reason we don’t have a Christmas Tree up yet, because Niko’s been promising to clean up his toys for two weeks now with zero follow through… or he’ll clean up a thing and then get distracted and start playing and then toss the original cleaned thing all over the floor along with a fine layer of shredded tissue paper and also a bunch of mashed up Pringles crumbs or something else nasty. “Why don’t you help him,” you might ask. I have tried! And I either end up doing all the work SOMETIMES WHILE HE WORKS TO UNDO IT, or else he gets mad at me because I’m doing something wrong and seriously pissing him off and throws a fit. Either way, almost nothing gets done except we both get hostile and gassy.

Our living room is currently reasonably clean (Nesko even took all the cushions off the couch and vacuumed them because he is my hero) with a few small things needed to make it Decorating/Company ready. Or it was. And then I spent most of today 1) making cookies and 2) cleaning the bathroom and Niko seized that opportunity to scatter toys all over the place and pull a bunch of leaves off my house plant and scatter them around the floor.

I guess he’s just most comfortable LIVING IN A GOD DAMNED FILTH HOLE OR SOMETHING.

Anyway, I was cleaning the bathroom today and got all done except for taking out the garbage and sweeping/mopping the kitchen floor. I took a break to take a shower and then run to the store so the floor could dry before the sweeping. The bulk of our cleaning products are currently stored in a plastic milk crate in the bathroom and I shoved them out into the hallway outside the bathroom so the floor under it could have a chance to totally dry and then I hopped in the shower. The thought flitted briefly through my head that I should perhaps put the cleaning supplies someplace else, someplace Niko couldn’t get at them. But I banished that thought immediately. HE IS FOUR, I scolded my baser instincts, HE KNOWS BETTER.

I was wrong.

I am a fool.

I need to trust my baster instincts.

I took a lovely shower in a clean bath tub, got out. I went into my bedroom to get dressed and discovered a crayon in the middle of my bed. I called Niko in to put it away and when he took it from me, I noticed that his hands were cold and wet.

“Your hands are gross and wet,” I said. “Did you have an accident? Did you make a mess?”

He hesitated and then said “YES. I did make a mess. But it was on ACCIDENT. It LOOKS like it was on PURPOSE but I ASSURE YOU it was ON ACCIDENT. I did not do it on PURPOSE.”

I noticed that his pants were soaking wet.

I walked, naked, into the living room to take stock immediately. And internets, it really did look like he’d made the mess on purpose. The coffee table was covered with wooden trains, soapy water, and wet play dough. Also: remnants of his lunch, and soaking wet tissues. Do you know what happens when playdough gets soaking wet? It turns into gooey snot, super slick and gross. And it was smeared all over his trains and the table. and he’s tried to clean it up with foaming hand soap (taken from the crate of cleaning supplies), tissues, and half a bagel. Why use a bagel to clean up a mess? I don’t know… because he’s four?

That’s my answer to every baffling thing he does, by the way. “Because he’s four.”

The playdough smeared into the cracks and crevices of his trains was bad enough. Adding the water made it even worse. But squirting the foaming hand soap everywhere? Goddddddddd. And he apparently dropped the bottle and cracked it, leading to even greater messes… stealth messes… messes discovered later.

One of my big parenting things, one of my personal parenting rules I try to follow, is to not yell at Niko when he tells me that he’s made a mess or had a problem– especially if he comes to me to tell me about it or ask for help. This is a hard rule to follow because it’s so, so tempting to give in to anger and holler, or to ask WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOUR or WHY DID YOU DOOOO THATTTTTTTT (because he’s FOUR, duh) or remind him that YOU KNOW BETTER THANNNN THISSSSSSSSSS. I am, of course, not perfect with this. But I try. And the main reason I try is that I WANT HIM to come to me when he’s made a mess or has a problem. Because quite frankly, I’ve seen how he handles cleaning up his own messes (it is TERRRRRRIBLLLLLLLLLLE) and while I know that he’ll get better at physically wiping up spills, the messes he makes will get more complicated as he gets older. And I want him to feel comfortable coming to me for help when he’s older and his messes include failing classes, crashing cars, STIs or unplanned pregnancies, anything like that. I want him to feel comfortable coming to me for help, knowing that he can count on me to support him.

Which, of course, doesn’t mean that I protect him from consequences. I cleaned up his table mess and I’m cleaning up his trains, but those trains are going into time out for a while. I want to be able to help him, I want him to turn to me, but yeah… he’s going to be dealing with consequences. That’s another parenting goal of mine, a guiding rule.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got these pliers and somebody needs to clean these torn up leaves off the carpet.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Until he started school, we’d never taken Niko to the doctor for anything other than scheduled check ups. He had no big illnesses, no big accidents, nothing. I mean, he whacked his head HARD once and I debated taking him in, but there was no urgent YES MUST GO IN NOW moment. Then he started school and started getting sick all the time. We’ve taken him in twice for illness since August and I expect that we’ll take him in a few more times. A very nice and helpful nurse assured me at our last visit that after the first year’s exposure to germs he’ll be back to hardly getting sick at all. Which is lovely to think about, considering that Winter Vomiting Sickness is apparently sweeping through Niko’s school right now, and there’s a lice outbreak in his classroom even as we speak.

That’s not the worst thing about starting school, though. It’s irritating and sometimes a little bit scary, but it’s not the worst.

The worst thing is that Niko is now exposed to 17 other kids on a daily basis– kids with a variety of backgrounds and behaviors and lifestyles. And while it’s great to think that kids can get together and teach other things good habits and behaviors and ways of being, the truth of the matter is that kids are jerks and they only pick up negative things from each other.

We’ve seen all KINDS of negative behavior that’s totally new and frankly some of it utterly baffling. Also making an appearance: whining. He flirted with whining briefly about a year ago but we were able to nip it in the bud. Now it’s a daily thing, nasal and drawn out and as irritating as fingernails on a blackboard is to most people. And I know EXACTLY the kid he’s picked that up from. He’s picked up some very bossy turns of phrase, and has started demanding things instead of asking for them. It’s like my kid is channeling someone else, some other personality; acting as a medium to the most irritating ghost in existence. I hate it so much.

And, you know, my kid is far from perfect and I cringe at the thought of the other kids bringing home his less than sterling habits (which include screaming fits, I’m sorry to say, and also licking snot off his upper lip. I’m not sure which is worse.)

It’s really frustrating to see certain behaviors that we’ve worked hard on establishing go completely out the window the first time he interacts with other kids.

Any suggestions on how to deal with this?

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

One of Niko’s prescriptions is Codeine, which is a controlled substance – it’s an opiate, and it’s habit forming, and it can also be dangerous (especially in little kids). When we dropped it and his two antibiotic prescriptions (one for his general lung funk and one for an unrelated butt rash) the pharmacist gave it a good long side eye.

“He’s just got a cough?” he asked.

“He’s got a cough that keeps him up at night, makes it hard for him to breathe, doubles him over, and causes him to vomit,” I answered.

After typing in a bunch of stuff on the computer, he informed me that our insurance wouldn’t cover it until Niko was 5 years old, which seems odd to me but WHATEVER. Although it wasn’t too expensive, it was still more money than we really had at the time (it was the day before pay day and we’ve had a series of unexpected expenses) so we elected to pick it up the next day. I spent the rest of that day, that night, and the next day doubting myself for two reasons: both for not picking it up right away even though that would have left us with absolutely no money at all in case of emergency, and for having it filled because Niko is FOUR do I really want to dose him with an opiate?

Nesko picked up the codeine last night on his way home from work. It was a bigger bottle than I expected. I opened it and sniffed it because I was curious. I remember taking codeine syrup and having it be a sickly chemical-y fake cherry This codeine smelled… wrong. Bad. I stuck a finger in the bottle and licked it. Nesko laughed at the face I made, then he did the same.

“Oh, that’s not so… URGH.”

It takes awhile for the flavor to really bloom on the tongue and throat, you see.

I am a person– a weirdo, you might say– who does not find the taste of NyQuil or Robitussin objectionable. Part of this is because I was so sick so often as a younger person and those medications made me feel better, if even a little bit, so I have a positive reaction to them. But this codeine? blargh.

Nikola, as I think I’ve mentioned, is A Delicate Flower, and certain textures AND TASTES cause him to gag and sometimes vomit. So we prepared him for the bad taste.

“This tastes bad,” we said. “This does not taste good. But it is medicine and will help you feel better, and after you have it you can have an ice cream sandwich.”

Nikola took it, agreed that it was DISGUSTING, and then ate an ice cream sandwich. And then he turned into a horrific whine beast, staggering around the living room and finding fault with everything. Was it the codeine, we asked ourselves, or was it simply a sick four year old who was up too late waiting for his medication to come home? We all tucked ourselves into bed, him wedged between me and Nesko, and he was Full! Of! Comments! And! Commands! for about five minutes while Nesko and I both advised him to shut up shut up shuttt upppppppp already. Five minutes later, he was sacked out.

Niko slept, without coughing, for twelve hours and woke up chipper and alert and in a great mood.

After eating breakfast, he joined me in the kitchen, and was seized by spasms of coughing. I asked him if he wanted more cough medicine. He shook his head no, then yes. He calmed down. I asked him if he wanted more cough medicine. He said no. He started coughing again. I asked him if he wanted more cough medicine. He nodded yes. When he’d calmed down again, I asked if he still wanted cough medicine. He looked. so. sad. but said yes. I gave him some more and he drank a bunch of water and had a piece of candy and bopped off. I heard him coughing a few times, although not as bad, and have heard no coughs at all for the past hour which is amazing.

For a long period in my life, I would get bronchitis 2-3 times a year. Each time, I’d be sick for 2-4 weeks and would miss at least a week of school. I’d cough until I puked. I’d cough my throat raw and bloody. I’d pull muscles. I’d get so tired from coughing that I was no longer able to really cough and would make pathetic almost-cough sounds and people would mock me for faking it and acting pathetic for attention, while I struggled to breathe. Super fun! I spent a lot of time sleeping sitting up in chairs because lying down resulted in suffocating on my own snots.

This is absolutely not something I want my kid to experience.

On the one hand, I don’t give him fever reducers when he runs a fever. I want his body to fight off the illness, and for the most part it does. I’m very aware that antibiotics don’t do anything for viral infections and if Niko’s doctor said “Welp, this is viral, only thing we can do is wait it out and keep him hydrated,” I’d be fine with that. On the other hand, good lord this cough. It’s gone on so long and it’s so rough on him and he has asthma so I worry about him being able to breathe.

So I filled his codeine prescription, and I’m super glad that it seems to be working for him. The deep shadows under his eyes are much lighter than they were, he’s got a lot more energy today. He could just be improving on his own, sure. But this really seems to be helping him.

He’s already missed a week of school. I’ll be glad to see Monday.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Sometimes I feel like I’m fucking up this whole parenting thing.

Niko is very, aggressively, brilliantly, loudly, ferociously, FOUR (and a half). He’s stubborn and loud and has been refusing to sleep in his own bed for the past six months or so, and has been acting out his frustrations of not having his tata around as much as he used to be with his new job and longer hours.

Today we hit the playground after school and Niko was trying to play with some bigger kids. They rebuffed him, kindly, and he was disappointed and kept trying to play with them. And then a big kid knocked over a two year old accidentally, and the little girl started crying, and Niko teleported over there to make goofy faces at her and dance until she stopped crying and started laughing.

He spent the next 15 minutes telling her “jokes” (NB: the jokes told by 4 year olds are comprehensible only to other 2-4 year olds), holding her hand, leading her up steps and across a shakey bridge, encouraging her to slide down a slide and be brave, and the like. The only reason he stopped was that her mama took her home. He followed her to the gate saying good bye, and then got distracted by a little baby and paused to coo over the baby and make faces and talk about how cute that baby was (IT WAS VERY CUTE).

If nothing else, we’re managing to raise a kid who’s kind and considerate toward other kids, especially kids younger and smaller than he is. And that’s something I’m so, so proud of. He’s a good kid with a big goofy smile and a huge heart. He’s very loving. It’s so great. HE is so great.

At least we’re doing something right, I guess.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Thanks to my parents, we managed to drag Halloween festivities out over multiple events.

Niko at Brookfield Zoo, on a lion statue

My parents have a family membership to Brookfield Zoo, so we met them up there on the last weekend DINOSAURS ALIVE! was there. Niko had previously decided he wanted to be “a fancy Baryonyx” which is to say a Dinosaur (Baryonyx) in a top hat and fancy clothing. We picked up a assemble-it-yourself out of felt and foam stickers costume for $10 at Target, consisting of a mask, tail that hooks into a belt loop, and gauntlets that slip over the hands/lower arms and have foam sticker “claws.” Since October in Chicago is usually pretty gross, we suited him up in his fancy red wool coat. The pants he selected didn’t have belt loops so we added a belt, and wound up putting it on the outside of the coat so the tail didn’t get squished/bang against his legs.

Niko pushes buttons on a plaque to make an animatronic dinosaur move and roar.

He wasn’t too fond of the mask or gauntlets when it came to actually wearing them, but he kept the tail on. We saw a bunch of animals including lions, wolves, and bison, as well as free range peacocks, geese, pelicans, and guinea hens.

A Wandering PeacockNiko admires geese in a fountain.Guinea Hens wandering around the zoo grounds.

And, of course, we saw Dinosaurs!

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He also sat on a Polar Bear statue.

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Two days before Halloween, his costume already purchased, we got a letter from the school saying that masks and face paint are both not allowed.

WELP.

We brainstormed at home the 31st to decide what to wear instead. We weren’t able to get to the store and buy a different costume, so we had to stick with stuff we had on hand. Possible suggestions included:

  • A Magician (he had a top hat from his fancy dinosaur costume)
  • A Paleontologist (jeans, plaid shirt, bucket hat, bucket with shovel and paint brush and dinosaur skeleton toy)
  • A Pirate/Captain Hook (we had NO items to make this costume, but it’s what he wanted)
  • A Ballerina (see above)
  • A Firefighter (he had rain boats and a rain coat that were vaguely fire fighter looking)

He settled on firefighter which actually turned out to be a great costume because it was a gross chilly rainy day.

Once in class for his party he promptly stripped off both the boots (hard to walk in) and coat (hot) and didn’t look like he was in a costume at all.

DSCF5186-cropNiko at school, not in costume.

Nesko and I stayed in the classroom for the whole day, walked home in the rain, and then finished carving the pumpkins we hadn’t had a chance to carve earlier. Nesko works 12-15 hour shifts so wasn’t around to help with them, and if you carve a pumpkin too early it just rots.

Niko demonstrated the face he wanted on his pumpkin, I drew it on a paper, and Nesko cut it out.

Niko demonstrates his pumpkin's face.

Because it was still raining we wound up trick or treating at the mall, but most of the stores had run out of candy, so Niko only got about 5 pieces TOTAL for an hour of walking around. He did, however, get to ride in a train.

Nikola riding a train ride.

.Niko has the day off school today and is working on every nerve I have OH MY GODDDDDDD. It’s not even a too-much-candy issue because I’m super mean about candy consumption and put it all high up pretty much right away.

How was YOUR holiday?

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Not this most recent weekend, but the one before it, my best friend flew in from out of state along with her husband, who we’ve never met before. (NB HE IS AWESOME WOW) (And also loves where he lives and will probably never move to the midwest. DAMMIT.) We had a super fun time with them all weekend, including eating out a huge bunch and going to the Museum of Science and Industry. Niko was exhibiting cold-like symptoms, or precursors to cold-like symptoms (cranky, small cough that came and went, sleepy, kind of generally off) and on Sunday he crapped out on us while still at the museum and wound up needing to be toted around by his Tata, head on Nesko’s shoulder. He also mentioned a few times that his stomach hurt and didn’t eat much. We all got home and, while trying to sort out dinner plans, he fell asleep on the couch. Nesko transferred him to bed. He was very warm to the touch and later explorations with a thermometer (he woke up a few hours later interested in dinner, but didn’t eat much) revealed a fever of 103*.

(ACTUALLY, our established dinner plans, involving Italian Beef from a place around the corner, fell through. So we ordered from Noodles Party, a local pan-Asian place with an emphasis on Filipino food. Niko LOVES getting Yakisoba from there, and will inhale almost an entire adult-sized portion of it. He was very excited about his Yakisoba but fell asleep anyway. When he woke up again, stumbling around and still sleepy, he mumbled about not wanting to miss “The Noodles Party.” “I just want everyone to share The Noodles Party. We have to have The Noodles Party!” I heated up his Yakisoba and he sat down and dutifully ate some of it, then crashed again. He’d made it to The Noodles Party.)

On Monday he complained once again that his stomach hurt, adding “what’s UP with that?” and then he barfed all over the floor. ALL. OVER. all over. SO GROSS. He spent most of the day lying limply on the couch. We had big plans for that Monday, since he had off of school, but we spent it watching “Chuggington” on tv instead. UGH FOREVER. I kept him home on Tuesday also, but packed him off on Wednesday, where they called me to pick him up early because he had a coughing jag that turned into an asthma attack. I kept him home Thursday, send him back on Friday and staid with him in class all day so his inhaler would be handy and also it was picture day. He seemed to be doing better, and had no fever, but then this most recent weekend was a tough one. He was sleepy acting, cranky, asking for food and then refusing to eat it, and coughed so much he vomited more than once.

On Monday, Niko was still coughing, enough to wake himself up at night. His eyes were shadowed, almost bruised looking, and his head full of snot. I added up his symptoms, including both complaining outright of a headache and acting like he had a headache (insisting that tv/radios be turned way low, even when he was watching them) and his long running cough, and called the nurse triage number for our clinic. After about ten minutes of questions, she transferred me to the person who sets appointments. That person cheerfully stated we needed to come in RIGHT NOW TODAY.

We set an appointment for 4:00 and I looked up how to get to the clinic’s new address.

Niko went to school as usual, and I did my usual volunteer work upstairs. I picked him up after and we hot footed it to the train. We got to the clinic exactly on time despite missing a train thanks to somebody’s lollygagging, and we saw a different pediatrician than we normally see… one who was brusque and interrupted and felt up Niko’s arm and commented on how he doesn’t have much in the way of arm muscles. Gosh, sorry my FOUR YEAR OLD isn’t all muscled out. What?

Anyway, he diagnosed Niko with a sinus infection (but  not an ear infection, which is surprising given his parents and their history of rampant ear infections) and gave him a prescription for Amoxicillin (“Is he allergic to any antibiotics?” “I don’t know, he’s never had one before, but my entire family pukes if given erythromycin” “Well, let’s avoid that then.”) and a nasal spray, and stuck him with a flu shot to Niko’s horror, and then we went to the library to pick up a book I’ve had on hold for over three months. (I queried what was taking so long for that book and was told it may have “gotten misplaced” but I should keep it in my holds que “in case it shakes loose” which I guess it did.)

Niko had his first dose of antibiotic last night and oh GOSH does he hate it. He tolerates the nasal spray much better, to my delight, and does a huge fake sneeze after taking it. The fakest of sneezes. I gave him another dose of  Amoxicillin this morning and it went pretty terribly until I finally diluted it heavily (which the instructions say is OK as long as the entire dose is taken) and let him sip it through a straw. I then followed up with candy. Because it really does taste gross.

The bruised look under his eyes is already lightened and his appetite has returned, and he’s interested in coloring and playing a little more actively.

This is the first time I’ve taken Niko to the doctor for anything other than a standard check up. It went pretty well. I second guessed myself quite a bit before taking him to the doctor. On the one hand, if it’s just a cold, there’s nothing you can do for a COLD. On the other hand, what if it’s something serious? Niko has asthma, and it’s not uncommon for someone with asthma to get sick and then get a gross cough that lingers for a long time but can be treated with steroids/a different inhaler/etc.  I’m really glad I dragged him in because wow, a sinus infection is pretty awful.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

I have a lot of adult nerdy friends who take personal days from work or schedule vacation time around midnight showings, release dates of video games, and the like. The final Harry Potter book drops at Midnight? Go get dinner with friends, stand in line for a few hours, then go home with some coffee and read the book in one sitting, enjoying your glorious vacation time and the memories you made. Some of my adult nerd friends have kids who are following in their footsteps, and have had to ask themselves hard questions about supporting child nerdery.

Me, I made my decision while waiting in a long snaking line for the first midnight showing of the first “Lord of The Rings” movie with friends. There was a lot of banter, among strangers, about the books and the Silmarilion and the early rotoscoped cartoon. There were a few kids there as well.

I should step back a bit further. Apologies for this very non-linear post.

Nesko is a huge Tolkein nerd and re-reads “The Lord of the Rings” at least once a year. When we were first dating, it was one of the many things we had common ground in. I have extremely fond memories of my mom (who has a learning disability and doesn’t normally read for FUN although she loves stories) reading LotR to me chapter by chapter at bedtime as a kid. Nesko and I broke up for about a year, for REASONS, and it was good that we did. But during our break media buzz for LotR started and I kept thinking about Nesko and how much he loved those movies and how it wouldn’t be the same, watching them without him. And then 9-11 happened and I realized I didn’t want to live in a world without him, and I called him, and we decided to be friends. Taking it very slowly we ultimately decided to try dating again, and it was successful. I don’t remember if we were in the “dating again” phase or not when we stood in line discussing LotR trivia. But it was a special time, with special friends, and I’ll always remember it as something important.

Midnight showings are something special, something out of the ordinary. They’re a special occasion, a moment better remembered for their rarity.

I don’t think they should be preserved for adults only.

By which I mean, when Niko is old enough, I have no problem with escorting him to late night functions on a school night if he’s in a good place academically. What do I mean by “a good place academically”? I mean he’s trying very hard at school, up to date with his school work, and not having disciplinary problems.

I know people, including some family members, who really disagree. Kids need to be in school! School is important! They can skive off work when they’re adults and have PTO to spend!

Except what if he winds up working a job where he doesn’t get PTO, he can’t afford to take time off? Which, honestly, is where Nesko and I have been for most of our adult lives.

I have a lot of regrets about my youth. Some of them have to do with applying myself more and working harder, but most of them are about being too serious. I wish I’d known how to take myself less seriously, how to have fun more. Like a lot of people, I was told to wait until I was out of college and in “the real world” to take vacations or have fun. Well, I’m 34, and the only vacations I’ve had since I was 18 were a road trip to Texas in January several years ago and a family reunion in Indiana this summer. Adults have more responsibilities and more  places their money needs to be. I wish I’d gotten more piercings and dyed my hair more colors and had more fun during the time when it was acceptable to do so. Now when I think of getting another piercing, I’m quickly reminded of all the better uses my money could be put to (new couch! new shoes! new kitchen! DENTAL WORK!).

I know that Niko’s going to grow up and disagree with a lot of our parenting choices, and probably regret and/or resent some of them. That’s how parenting works! But I’d like to give him as much joy as possible, and teach him that the entire world doesn’t rest on his shoulders and it’s ok to take time for himself sometimes.

Where do you stand?

If you have kids, would you let them take time off school to do special things?

What rules would you set up about this?

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Hello, hello, hello everyone.

I’d just like to take a moment and say hello to our newest family member, Felicity:

Niko's New Name

WAIT WAIT WAIT, I hear you say. ISN’T THAT JUST NIKO IN A KAIJU SHIRT?

Ha ha yes, it is!

But after reading “Funny, funny Lyle” and hearing the name “Felicity” he’s decided that Nikola is a crap name for craps and from now on he shall be known as Felicity.

Apparently his teacher, bless her heart, is playing along.

But he has a hard time remembering the name Felicity so he keeps asking me “What’s my name, mama?” and I say “Nikola” and he says “NO MAMA WHAT IS MY REAL NAME” and I say “Felicity” and he says “OH YES! Felicity. Hello, I am Felicity.”

He’s a pretty Felicity type of person, to be honest. And Felix is a name we briefly considered for him.

I don’t expect he’ll stay Felicity for very long, though. Sooner or later he always comes back to Niko.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

I was super excited on Friday because Niko and I were at the library (we accidentally wound up walking over a mile to get there and he fell down HARD twice, poor kid, once on the bus) and I saw they had a pass in for the Adler Planetarium. Chicago Public Libraries, like many other Library Systems, has local museum and zoo passes available at the branches that people can check out for 7 days. Adler is one of the passes that is CONSTANTLY checked out, so I snatched that sucker up and we made big plans to visit the Planetarium this weekend. Possibly on both days! We debated borrowing a car and driving up and paying to park versus taking public transit. We also talked about going both Saturday and Sunday, taking maximum advantage of the pass.

Then we wound up sleeping in until like 10:00 on Saturday and wound up just hanging around at home in our jammies all day. We decided we’d head out early on Sunday.

The thing about the Adler Planetarium is that it shares a parking lot with the Field Museum, the Shedd Aquarium… and Soldier Field.

The thing about Sunday is that, unknown to us, there was Bears/Vikings football game at Soldier Field at noon.

We drove past the main parking lot before 9:30 and it was already packed with football attendees grilling sausages. It smelled great, but where could we park? I remembered that there’s a tiny parking lot adjacent to the Planetarium, but when we tried to get there, we found the road leading to it was closed. We discussed parking in a lot in the City (which is expensive) and taking a bus or a cab (more money) but worried that would involve a lot of walking, which I’m still having trouble doing because of my injured knee.

We saw a sign for overflow parking for the museums/Soldier Field and tried to head for them, but there was a double line of cars headed in that direction so Nesko jerked the car out of that lane while I tried to talk with Niko in the back seat about being flexible and how we can’t always do what we planned to do. He was getting upset, when Nesko suggested we go to The Museum of Science and Industry instead.

The thing about MSI is that we have a membership to it, so don’t have to pay anything additional to go, and they have a private parking garage that we don’t have to pay for because of the membership.

It was like a flight of angels descended from heaven to sing heavenly songs about the glories of MSI. We headed over there.

The parking garage was pretty much deserted.

There were almost no lines anywhere.

We had a private tour of the Zephyr train (which I think Niko can recite by this point).

It was all around pretty great.

I’ve taken Niko to MSI in the middle of the week and had similar experiences. The one thing I don’t like about him being in a 5 day a week pre-k program is that we can’t head out and do fun stuff during the day, like spur of the moment trips to MSI or the library.

We had a specific plan for the weekend and it didn’t work out the way we intended at all. But we still had a really great time, and are going to keep an eye on the Bears football schedule and start hitting up MSI when they have home games because apparently the bulk of the city battens down and watches the game instead of going to museums.

I’m super glad we have a membership to MSI. It’s more than paid for itself by now, and it’s super great to be able to head over there whenever we feel like it… and part of having a membership is that we don’t feel as much pressure to “get our money’s worth” and stay until the museum closes, past the time when people (Niko) are getting tired, hungry, and cranky. So we’re able to leave on a high note instead of pushing our luck.

We are getting a membership to the Field Museum soon (and would have sooner if Nesko’s car hadn’t stopped being a car, resulting in thousands of dollars of parts/repair work), and might pick up a membership to the Shedd for Christmas or Niko’s birthday as well. Chicago has so many museums that we’re really spoiled for choice.

What are some of the museums and attractions where you are? What are some of your favorite ways to spend the day with your family?

Standing in front of the Zephyr.

Standing in front of the Zephyr.

Niko and Zeph, the donkey mascot of the Zephyr.

Niko and Zeph, the donkey mascot of the Zephyr.

Nesko and Niko in the Hall Of Trains

Nesko and Niko in the Hall Of Trains

Niko wore his train hat all day; it was his idea to put it atop the helmet.

Niko wore his train hat all day; it was his idea to put it atop the helmet.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

What does your family look like?

The whole “nuclear family” concept of a married cisman and ciswoman raising their biological kids, all other relatives distant, is a really new concept. Until recently– and this is still de rigueur in many countries– multiple generations and siblings and siblings’ kids all lived together. Resources were pooled. There was always someone to watch the kids while other adults did laundry or worked in a factory or worked in fields or hunted or made dinner or whatever. The “modern” life so many of us lead is an isolated one, and a fragile one.

I did something to  my knee on Tuesday, something painful enough that I almost didn’t make it home. I’ve been hobbling around ever since. I’m improving each day, and now that I have a cane I’m walking almost normally. But I’m not up to walking Niko to and from school. Luckily for me, G is here to handle that.

G is a friend of ours. I’ve known him for over ten years. He lived with us for 2 years previously, an arrangement that ended only because he got head hunted for a sweet job on the West Coast. He’s an artist (you may have played video games he’s worked on) and he’s been doing a lot of freelance work lately which means he’s at home all the time and available during the day for boring personal errands like picking my kid up from school half a mile away. It’s really nice knowing that I can rely on him.

My parents live an hour away, at least, and both work full time (or more). One of my brothers is in the Marines and the other actually lives close to us but is super busy with work and music. Nesko’s family lives a mile away, but his dad’s out of state taking care of something, his siblings all work, and his mom doesn’t have access to a car because we’re borrowing it while Nesko’s car is in the shop (it’s been out of commission for about a month and $3k so far).

If G wasn’t here, how would I get my kid to school? He’s 4, there’s no way he could go by himself. There’s no busing. I don’t think any of his classmates live close enough to him to walk. I could ask a friend of mine for rides, but his kid is also in a half day afternoon program that starts and ends the same time as Niko’s but at a different school. So what? A series of expensive cab rides? Just keeping him home?

Our family is made up of a mama and a tata and a child and G. It’s a good family and it feels right. It feels supportive and loving. We’re all born into families but as we grow and mature we create our own families as well. We build relationships and tend them and nurture them. We support each other. G and I aren’t related by blood but we’re still family and I love that. I’m glad that we’ve been able to build something like this. I’m very glad that I’m able to rely on him.

I’m very lucky that I have the friends that I have, and I’m also lucky that I have the family I have– the family I was born into, the family I married into, and the family that we’re creating.

What does YOUR family look like? Are you close to your parents? Do you get along with your in-laws? Do you have a multigenerational set up? Are you part of a hippy commune? What works for you, what needs work? I’d love to hear how you handle your life.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Have you seen this blog post about collaborating artistically with a four year old? Making art with a kid is super fun. Niko and I do something similar, except usually I’ll draw whatever dinosaur he dictates me to draw, and some background, and then he adds trees and colors everything in and adds “a big glop of poop comin’ outta dat dinosaur’s BUTT” or blood to their teeth or something I DO NOT EVEN KNOW. He’s pretty down with nature red in tooth and claw.

Today, while I sit in my chair and refuse to get up because my knee is filled with angry hornets and hate, I’ve been drawing for him. At his request, I drew a brown line train at the station. It’s only 3 cars long, which he claims is the perfect length (probably because we usually ride when it’s not the rush hour) and although I drew the Kedzie station he requested I add the buffers that are at the end of the line. Sorry train, you’re not going any further. There’s buffers in your way! I doodled it all out, including the cool little stools they have clustered on the platform, and handed it over. he proceeded to draw two other trains (sharing a track! DANGER ZONE!) and a buffer for them. I took a picture with my phone so it’s not the best, but here you go:

brown_line_001

Speaking of art he’s doing, he seems to have made a jump forward in his art production lately. Instead of sticking only to dinosaurs, trains, dinosaurs waiting for trains, and the occasional picture of his family, yesterday he drew a cement mixer. This was a very WHAT moment because he’s never been super interested in cement mixers in general or drawing trucks or any vehicles other than trains. And yet, cement mixers. He’s also been drawing himself lately, which is cool, except he has a certain technique for drawing dinosaurs that includes a big mouth full of teeth that is kind of creepy and he adds that giant mouth of teeth to himself. He also adds hair. Lots of hair. Today he drew a picture of himself and an HO model train in a house, complete with a roof and a chimney, but no smoke, because it’s OUR house and we have a decorative fireplace therefore no smoke.

Welp.

He’s also been drawing whales, carnivorous whales, fish, and “the dead part of the sea that’s got too much water so sharks can’t swim in it. I know because scientists who study dinosaurs said it. I looked it up on my phone!” Uh huh.

I’ve been meaning to pick up a sketchbook for myself for a project I’m working on, but I think I’ll pick up another one for the two of us to fill together. How cool is that? I’m nowhere near as good an artist as busymockingbird, but it’ll still be way fun.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

We successfully made it to the 2nd day of school.

Yesterday, the teacher said we had to go to Door Blah and the teacher’s aide would be there to take the kids inside, and we parents were to just drop our kids off and bolt. There were no adults or kids waiting outside (maybe we just missed them?) but there WERE a lot of parents bringing their 3 and 4 year olds inside so I took Niko inside. He had a hard time getting into the classroom because the doorway was thronged with adults just chillin’ so I helped him inside, got his bag put away and his name tag on, etc, gave him some kisses, and left. Some other kid was sobbing and screaming so hard he was gagging and sounded like he was about to barf. Poor kid! Poor parent! Niko was chill.

On the way home, I fretted about my knee and how it hurt and how I couldn’t wait for our insurance to start up in November so I could get an MRI done and see if there’s tiny chunks of bone floating around scraping shit up or what, because I’ve been dealing with knee pain for a LONG TIME, ever since we were rear ended in 2003 and my knee slammed into the dashboard of our car. I forgot to get it checked out at the ER, and it’s been bugging me ever since… for TEN YEARS. So I’m walking home, kind of limping a little because my left knee aches, and my right hip starts hurting because I’m walking funny, and I decide to take a short cut through the alley, and suddenly there’s a snap and searing pain in my knee.

HA HA FUNNNNNNNNN. I said a lot of cusses and general inarticulate NOISES and babies, if I had insurance, I’d be chillin’ in the ER right this very second. But I don’t have insurance, so I hobbled home with the aid of a fence post I found lying in the alley NO LIE and now I’m sitting on the couch with my leg up a bit. Our house mate has agreed to fetch Niko from school and I’m hoping I remembered to put him on the authorized adult pick up list. I’ll have to call and see.

If worst comes to worst, he can probably handle drop offs and pick ups for a while, so I’m glad I have someone I can rely on to be totally boss and helpful. But I’m super pissed at my knee. It’s been hurting more than usual since my mouth blew up, like having inflammation in my mouth was an excuse for the rest of my body to go to hell and act up and hurt and be shitty or something. I absolutely was not expecting this level of searing agony, however.

But whatever.

I was trying to get Niko to help me clean up his toys the other day and he basically refused and we had YET ANOTHER talk about how he needs to respect his toys and belongings and if he can’t do, if he can’t be responsible for his own things, maybe we should put them away. And he agreed to that. So we boxed up most of his toys over the weekend. He’s kept out his wooden trains and train tracks, his musical instruments, his puzzles, 4 stuffed animals (he has two garbage bags full of other stuffed animals) and coloring books and art stuff (most of which is kept in a cabinet out of his reach). It’s been a lot easier for him to keep this toys picked up, and at the end of the week we’ll see if he wants to cycle out something else. This is working very nicely so far and I’m not tripping over stuff as much or feeling as resentful about having to clean and reclean constantly. We set a timer for 5 minutes and anything he doesn’t get put away in that time goes into time out. We haven’t had to put anything in time out. It’s nice.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Today isn’t just the first day of school in Chicago, it’s Niko’s first ever day of school. He’s starting preschool at our neighborhood school. Since Chicago is so big, there’s a bunch of little (and medium and large, his school is actually pretty large) school buildings and you default into a specific school based on your address. But there’s also Selective schools that, for higher grades, are Gifted or STEM or International Baccalaureate or various flavor of Charter or what have you. It’s incredibly hard to get into Selective schools in Chicago. Like, there’s literally hundreds more kids who qualify for and want to get into separate Gifted programs than there are available slots (Niko’s school has a Gifted track, but I don’t think all neighborhood schools do). We are going to have to do some serious thinking while Niko is in kindergarten about what kind of school we want him to go to for first grade and on, because generally speaking if you don’t get into your first choice school in first grade (or 6th or freshman year or whenever the school’s lowest grade is) you’re never going to get in. There’s just so much competition, so many students waiting to get in. Which means a lot of kids start really specific types of schooling (STEM, Classical, IB, a school with a fantastic music program, a school with an emphasis on physical education, etc) when they’re like 6… which is ridiculously early to make those kinds of decisions. So we might just go with the flow and keep him at his neighborhood school and supplement at home and with museum memberships and stuff. But then if he’s at a neighborhood school, will he get into a competitive high school and then college? I kind of resent that I’m feeling pressure NOW, when he’s FOUR, to do everything right so he has a successful adult academic career (which, I mean, that assumes he even WILL go to college and not just, like, become an auto mechanic or electrician or something else he’d go to a trade school and apprentice for).

I have an Anxiety Disorder and tend to spiral into alternate universes of WHAT IFs at the drop of a hat, so I’m trying really hard to just… Let Go and focus on the important thing right now, which is to shepherd Niko through preschool. The school is being less than helpful by waiting until super late to send out official notices (including school supply lists, nearly creating a financial issue for us), and not telling us ahead of time which door in a building the size of a full city block we should enter for his first day of school. I mean, if they’d just included the notice “Use door X which is on street Y” we wouldn’t have started the first day of school literally soaking with sweat and flushed from walking 4 additional blocks, quickly, in 90 degree heat. I’m also a little peeved that I signed him up for morning classes and they plunked him into afternoon, which take place riiiiight when he’s normally taking a nap. But there were too many kids signed up for AM so whatever.

But now we know what door to go to and what to do if he wants to eat lunch in the cafeteria first and we plan to have donuts or ice cream every Monday after school, and we know for sure which class he’s going to be in and which time, and that he’s going to have 3 field trips this year (the zoo, the Shedd Aquarium, Navy Pier). He’s got his own cubby and he’s met most of his class mates (and WOW there is a girl in his class who is a future Homecoming Queen/Lady President) and he’s gone on record as saying he won’t cry tomorrow when I drop him off and leave him there. So we’ll see how it goes.

School is a half mile away so unless I hang out up there (at the school? at Dunkin Donuts down the street?) I’ll be walking 2 miles a day to drop off/pick up. I’m not looking forward to doing that come winter. But we’ll survive.

Niko Dressed Himself

Niko Going To School

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Mirrored from Now Showing!.

December 2015

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