Dragon Breath

One of the “life skills” we’re working on around here with both kidlets, but most especially with Sweetboy,  is to consistently brush their fangs in the morning.  Without the aid of so much toothpaste and so little actual brushing, my Sweetchildren have some major dragon breath.  I suppose all kiddos do; but it sure makes it extra challenging, with jimmies on top, to kiss and snuggle little people with said dragon breath, doesn’t it?  Especially at 5:50 in the morning.

You know it’s gotten bad when the smallest, youngest, most inexperienced in the ways of the world’s hygiene habits informs her brother of the following: “Ewww, brudder, you got stinky breath. Don’t kiss me!”  This causes much distress for the brother, as he adores his little sister and would smother her with dragon-breath kisses if someone didn’t intervene.  What causes this former teacher distress is that I can’t seem to get Sweetgirl to shake the word “got” in inappropriate places; as in, ‘You got…”,  “I got to go….”.  Alas…

It goes without saying, then, that I really do hope they catch this sooner rather than later.  The potency of their unbrushed fangs can about knock a mama out!  Oh, yes indeedy, it can.  Heaven help me if I’m ever found passed out in my home and I have to give Dragon Breath as an explanation for why I needed smelling salts.

So, what do you do to teach your little dragons to brush their fangs?  Any games you use?  Any special “equipment” (props)? Do tell, please!

Hopping Toward Thankful

Sweetboy’s stim is hopping; and he’s done more than his fair share of it lately.  We assume it’s anxiety over the transition as we end the current school-year. And, frankly, we’re a little concerned that we’re going to wake up one morning and find that this kid has sprouted long ears and a fuzzy bunny tail.  Sir-Hops-A-Lot frequently tells us that his legs or feet hurt, but he insists that “It’s NOT because of the hopping”.  It’s a veritable conundrum wrapped in a quandary.

This is another one of those moments where I’m torn in emotion. No, that’s not right.  My emotions feel shredded like so many ribbons tonight.  Why did God give us a child who can trample all over my heart with a few errant hops?  And then again, why the hell am I so ungrateful for the pure unadulterated beauty that this child brings into our lives?  I’m sorry.  Crass. I know.  I’m feeling some pent-up angst.  I blame it on the rain.  And now, I have that stinkin’ song in my head.  It’s entirely possible that you do, too.  I’m not sorry for that.  Someone should share the agony of having a Milli Vanilli song planted in their head with me.  Misery loves company and all that jazz.

But now? Now, I’ve written some of the vitriol out and it feels better.  And instead of pretending that I didn’t feel raw enough to write about it, I’m going to leave it right here.  Right where I can find it when I need to be reminded that, “Ah, yes, I’ve felt this way before. And I lived to feel like that again.”  Or even better, so that I can be reminded the next time that there most certainly is sun after rain.  It’s usually in his hug. Or his gorgeous guffaw.  And I’ll remind myself anew that I live under an umbrella of grace that is bigger than any emotional tirade on my part.  And I will be thankful.  Oh, yes indeed.  I will be thankful.

Captain Ahab’s Daughter: Part 2

Growing up, my family would caravan with a couple of other families, by boat, to the Bahamas for about three weeks every summer. I wrote about this a bit over here.  Along the way, we met with some Very High Seas, indeed.  Captain Ahab liked to call it “a little boat chop”.  Right, Nana?  And now, as an adult, I find myself understanding his comic use of understatement in those moments.  The following are some of the things I remember most from those boat trips on the way over to the islands.

It started the same way every single year. We all rolled out of bed bleary eyed bright eyed and bushy-tailed at 5:00 a.m.  Captain Ahab would head over to the beach and check the horizon;“Red sky at dawn, sailors warn. Red sky at night, sailors delight.”, and all that business.  If it was a go, he’d call the other families and say, “It’s a go.”

We almost always had chocolate milk and either frosted or chocolate “donettes” before loading up on the boats.  Sometimes, the Captain would make an early run to the donut shop and we’d get fresh-baked, far healthier donuts.

I believe our three or four families single-handedly kept Coppertone in business.

We drank a lot of Coca-Colas and ate a lot of Cheezits.

Anytime someone spotted a Dolphin (the “Flipper” variety), they’d get on the “horn” (radio) and announce to the entire marine community that, “There’s a dolphin! Right over there! Look!!”; because, surely, wherever in the great Atlantic ocean any other boaters were, they, too, could see our dolphin.

Keeping count of how many Flying Fish you saw was akin to the licence plate game on road trips.

We drank a lot of Dr. Peppers and ate a lot of Oreos.

Once we were old enough to do so, the adults and smallest kids would caravan in the first two or three boats (read that, the bigger boats), and they’d let us three or four oldest kids take the “dingy”. Now, this dingy was a 13′ Boston Whaler.  It wasn’t a canoe.  But when you are facing 2-4 foot seas, for three hours, it’s a bit daunting.  There were moments where we would be cresting a wave and that little boat would dip down into a crevice and I would almost swear that The Parents were all watching, a little too intently, to see if the next wave was going to slam the oblivion out of us, or if we’d make it out.  Alive. My Sweetbrother would yell “YEEHAW!” at the top of his lungs and just forge ahead through those waves like they were so many flowers in a field and he was a lawn mower.  But some of us, (me), would be holding on for dear life and wondering what in the Sam Hill we (I) did to deserve this torture?

As we became older and more stupid adventurous, we took some risks that make me shudder as a parent.  If it was a flat calm ride over, we would stop in the middle of the inky-blue 1,000-plus foot deep seas and water ski for a bit.  Yes,  water ski.  Halfway between South Florida and the Bahamas.  In the midst of the Bermuda Triangle. There.  With water skis.  And Stupidity. And, just for the record, guess what movie was number one at the box office back then?  Yup… Jaws.

One year, one of Ahab’s oldest friends, (who happened to be one of the country’s top Navy Underwater Research Diver’s at the time), and his wife, accompanied us on our yearly trip.  This poor guy’s wife was so seasick the entire trip over. The adults gave him such a hard time, cracking jokes about how “Aqua-Man” ended up with a seasick wife; only, as it turned out, the poor thing was pregnant.  So, in an act of mercy, the adults flew her back on a Chalk’s Seaplane.  So she’d be comfortable.  Because Lord knows, there’s nothing more comfortable, for a first-trimester pregnancy, than a ride on a seaplane.

When we finally arrived, the kids waited while the adults cleared everyone through customs.  And, it’s a miracle that the Bahamian authorities kept letting us come back every year.  I’m fairly certain they hurried us through customs just to stop all the caterwauling.  Or broke out the Rum as soon as they spied our boats entering their waters.  I know the parents did.

And here we are twenty-some-odd years later, and I get it.  Once again, I see the wisdom in letting kids have an “adventure” once in a while, to break up the monotony.  I now understand that teaching children games to play while on boat trips car-rides is just good parent sense.  And knowing that what lies at the end of the journey will trump even a horrible journey is a gift we give to our kids. Yes indeedy!

Out of Breath

We are literally trying to catch our breath around here.  Me? Figuratively.  Sweetboy? Literally.  He’s been having lots of “fuzzy” chest feelings this past week and a half.  We attributed it to a cold that went straight to the chest.  Today I took him in to see the doctor that sees us for his asthma and allergies because we’ve nebulized this poor kid more in the past week than we have in the last 5 years! And that’s no joke.  Something’s up.

After using the “old-fashioned” peak flow meter and the “computerized” peak flow meter,another peak flow meter.  The good doctor had to leave a moment to get another peak flow meter.  Apparently, we hadn’t done enough measuring the first two times.  He determined that Sweetboy’s lungs are only operating at 70% capacity and that the number he was seeing was far below what would be expected.  He proceeded to write one prescription for immediate use of a prednisone and another one for an antibiotic to knock out the bronchial infection. He informed us that the antibiotic was “super-strong” and might make Sweetboy’s stomach nauseous.  Great.  We just can not escape the pukes around here.

After telling the doctor what bad timing this was (his birthday is this weekend and he was supposed to attend his first ever sleep-over!), the doctor informed him that he couldn’t do the sleep-over, no way, no how!  When I tell you that histrionics ensued, I’m not even slightly exaggerating.  Sara Bernhardt ain’t got nothin’ on my guy.  I took a deep breath and tried to calm him down while the doc disappeared for a moment.  Probably to avoid the massive dramatic encounter going on in room whatever-number-we-were-in.

When the doctor re-entered the room, I begged asked calmly, so as not to revive the histrionics, if there was any way he could attend the overnight since it was only a few doors down.  He replied with a “use your judgement” comment.  Dear John!  Really? I get to have the honor of deciding whether my child attends his first ever sleep-over or not. On his birthday weekend. Word. Of. Mercy.  The sheer weight of the decision left me breathless.  (Guess we know where he gets his proclivity for drama…)

I talked it over with Sweetman and we decided to let him go.  We sent him off on a wing and a prayer; and although we may be out of breath running over there a little later on tonight, we figure it’s good to get winded now and again.  Yes indeedy!

Cussin’, Cursin’, and Swearin’ – Oh My!

Intriguing, isn’t it?  Especially for those handful of you who read this (Thank You!)  and know me well enough, in-real-life, to know that I only do any of the three under extreme circumstances.  Like, say, stubbing my toe.  Or breaking my favorite pancake batter bowl.  Or indulging in One Too Many on Girls Night Out (which happens hardly never).  Oh heck, I am Captain Ahab’s daughter, after all…

Anyhoo… My SweetBoy and I were headed home after dropping off a friend of his that had spent the last day of April vacation week with us. As a last ‘hurrah’, we’d stopped by one of our favorite ice cream establishments and picked up a little treat for ourselves.  His treat was a sad ode to the end to vacation week.  My treat was a hearty celebration for the end of vacation week.  We were happily driving along, and SweetBoy informs me that his friend told him what the “S” word and the “F” word meant.  I spat out my mouthful of mini-blizzard all over the front windshield and said “What, now?”!  (This last action upset me greatly.  It was a MINI-blizzard, for-cryin’-out-loud!  I barely had ten bites of the dern thing in the first place.  Now, I only had nine…)

All joking aside, I do my level best not to cuss, curse, or swear. Especially in front of my children. So, I found it a bit disturbing that my SweetBoy, who works so stinkin’ hard to understand the meaning behind everyday phrases and words, as it is, now knew what two of my least favorites were.

You can bet your bippy, that when SweetBoy informed me that the “S” word is for “Stupid” and “F” is for “Failure”, I was so relieved.  And, I’d never been happier to hear those two words in my entire life.  Never. I drew in a deep breath, along with a prayer of Thanks, and exhaled loudly.  SweetBoy has been picking up on some new subtleties lately.  It’s been a very exciting development!  He heard that exhale and said, “They’re really really bad, aren’t they Mama?”.  I’d like to note here that I instantly decided that I really liked this other child’s family. A lot. Those two words can be emotional weapons when used towards another human being.  And after this conversation, I’ve started being mighty careful with how often I throw those words around and under which circumstances.

I replied, “Oh, yes indeedy!  They are bad words that can make people feel sad.”

And he said, “Well, then, I’ll NEVER use them again.”  I just love how black and white his beautiful brain is.  Yes please!

Off in a Cloud of Turtledust

I could also have named this “Scour Your Fangs” or “Sew Buttons on Your Underwear”.  And some other fascinating phrases that The Nana (wife to Captain Ahab for those of you following along) used with us kids growing up.  I use those same phrases now with my own sweet children and the neighborhood kiddos.  It never ceases to amaze me how long it takes for a lot of kids, these days, to catch the irony.  Now, sarcasm? This generation of kidlets have that market cornered.  And it would seem that most of the words that come out of the mouths of the  7-13 year old crowd are made up of sarcastic phrases.

But irony?  It seems to be a lost art. And it bothers me. It might be because sarcasm always sounds like so many knives in my ears when kids use it.  The elementary school teacher in me cringes because we seem to be letting proper use of grammar and English slide more and more toward the crass.  Truthfully, though, it bothers me because I don’t want my Sweetchildren to be considered rude.  That little bit of Southern girl still in me, or maybe that “Manners” gene in me, wants my Sweetchildren to be considered well-mannered.  (Special note to The Nana – it’s shocking to you, I know.  You thought the day would NEVER come when I would truly give a rats toot for manners.  It turns out that the “White Gloves and Party Manners” class, you forced encouraged me to take, wasn’t all for naught.  You’re welcome. And Happy Mother’s Day early…)   One crazy little thing that puts joy in my heart is hearing a child say “No, thank you.”  Or, “Yes, please.”  It goes back to that whole “certainty” thing.  I want to know that there are some things that will hold importance generation to generation.  And with that, I’m off in a cloud of turtledust to instill some more manners into my Sweetchildren. Oh, yes I am.  In my pajamas. With coffee in hand.  Indeed.