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    Thursday, May 23, 2013

    The Avengers

    Monkey is afraid of bees. Really, really afraid. I’d go so far as to call it a phobia. So I looked up fear of bees and discovered that it’s called either Apiphobia or Melissophobia. Who comes up with this stuff? Apiphobia sounds believable, but if you tell someone you have Melissophobia they’re going to ask you why the heck you’re afraid of people named Melissa.

    Furthermore, if the fear of bees is called Melissophobia then WHAT pray tell IS the fear of people named Melissa called? Beeophobia?

    Silly scientific community.

    Anyway, it’s hard to get Monkey outdoors in the summer. This is mostly because of his love affair with screens, but the Apiphobia definitely contributes.

    The other day Kory came home from one of his strange shopping rambles and said, “I found something that might help our son go outside.”

    I expected an insect-repelling bracelet or something. We’ve tried them in the past. But he held up an electricity-charged tennis racket, a bug zapper. Of course, my first question was, “What will it do to people?” I wasn’t born yesterday. Monkey has a little brother who is at times quite vexing. I could see the temptation becoming more than a big brother can bear.

    Anyway, Kory assured me it was mostly harmless to humans.

    So the other day we planned to take the dog to a nearby field for some exercise. Monkey raised his usual objections (bees!), but Kory pulled out the bug zapper. Thus armed, our less-than-intrepid 11-year-old stepped out into the wilderness of suburbia.

    As you might guess, having the bug zapper prompted Monkey to search out bugs for annihilation. But it’s spring in Colorado. We’ve had approximately two and a half warm days. There weren’t a lot of bugs roaming the sidewalks. And turns out it’s hard to angle the electrified racket to zap a tiny ant.

    We trudged out of our neighborhood and into the grass and packed dirt of the nearby field. Monkey kept his eyes on the ground, searching for victims. And then, a big black beetle ambled across the path.

    Monkey froze, zeroing in on the bug. He yelled for his brother to come. They hovered over their target, exited, blood-thirsty.

    You see, the beetle was exactly like the one who viciously killed Monkey’s roley poley last October while we were out for a walk. They resurrected the travesty of the roley poley’s demise and pinned it on this beetle representative.

    Things went a little Lord of the Flies. Shouts of “The roley poley shall be avenged!” rang out. The racket was raised. Chunky had found a trident-like stick which he waved in the air in support of his brother’s campaign.

    I thought, this is a good time to teach them about appreciating nature, the sanctity of life, the fact that vengeance belongs to the Lord.

    Then I walked away. I can’t justify it. I just did.

    Whoops, hollers, and the distinct zip of electricity followed. I cringed as they shouted, “We are avenged!”

    I joined Kory up on top of the hill, ready to lay the blame for our vicious children on his Y chromosome contribution. I found him scooping up another black beetle from the path. He tossed it into the weeds, saving it from the oncoming monsters.

    The boys joined us, pink-cheeked and triumphant. Monkey held up the racket. “It works, Dad!”

    Then he handed his weapon, his defense against bees, his “safety net” to me and ran off to play with the dog.

    Thursday, May 16, 2013

    Restless in Turtle Land

    It had to be done.

    On Monday I moved our female turtle, Molly, into her own house.  The amazing habitat my husband built just wasn’t big enough for two anymore. Ever since Molly came out of hibernation, Roger has made the poor girl’s existence a nightmare. If she so much as pokes her face out of the substrate, he thinks it’s time for some lovin’.

    She wasn’t eating or bathing. She wouldn’t even come out from under her rock. Poor thing needed some intervention.

    So I fixed up a plastic crate with rocks, wood chips, a private bath and a flower-festooned clay hut. Then I transferred Molly to her new digs. She loves it! Now she comes out, eats, and tootles around her home.

    The only problem is, I had to put Molly’s house inside the bigger habitat so she’d get the light and heat she needs from the special lamps. Since her new home is clear plastic, Roger can still see the object of his affection.

    He crawls along the edge like a lovesick peeping tom, clawing at the plastic. I think if he could howl, he would. I’m hoping time will calm his wild turtle urges, but until then it’s bachelorhood for Roger.

    The thing is, I know how he feels. And I’m not referring to spring time friskiness. (We won’t go there.) I know what it’s like to see the thing I want yet be blocked by a barrier I don’t understand. I see my goal of publication and I scratch away, trying to move toward it, and I think, “Why can’t I get there? Why can’t I have that?”

    Poor Roger and me. We need a distraction. We need to appreciate the stuff we have. Maybe we should take up a hobby. What if I dipped him in paint and let him crawl over a canvas? That would keep us both occupied for a while, and maybe Turtle Art would be the next big thing.

    Anyone else out their frustrated? What’s the goal you can see but just can’t get to?

    And how much would you pay for art created by a licentious turtle?

    Wednesday, May 8, 2013

    Living in ADHD World

    I forget that other people don’t live in ADHD world. 

    It’s a shock to encounter someone who seems to have no experience with “Look! Shiny!” thought patterns and actions.

    When my kids were little, a successful outing was one in which I didn’t end up abandoning my full shopping cart to chase them across the store dodging people and displays while yelling, “Stop! Wait for Mommy.” 

    So when we visited a beauty supply store and Monkey set about rearranging cardboard price signs on the store’s barber shop chairs, well, to me that was minor.

    The clerk checking me out said, “Have you heard of Super Nanny?”

    I said, “Yes, I’ve seen the show.”

    With a straight face, she said, “You should call her.”

    I turned around to look at my kids, “Really? I thought things were going well.”

    It’s not that I allow my kids to be destructive. It’s not that we don’t talk about respecting others and their property. And hey, sometimes they do mess up. They’re kids. They break things and need to apologize or help fix them.

    But here’s where I think my philosophy differs, especially from a traditional child-rearing mindset.

    I don’t think it’s wrong to touch things. I don’t think it’s wrong to be loud in certain situations. I don’t think it’s wrong to talk about farting. To let your silliness hang out sometimes.

    In our house we deal with some really hard issues. If you follow this blog you know my son struggles with anxiety and it’s been a crushing weight at times. When you face dark monsters like Anxiety, or Autism, or Special Needs, you learn not fear Messy, Loud, and Rambunctious.

    Yesterday I took my eleven-year-old to band instrument selection night. Monkey has an amazing ear for music and could carry a tune before he could speak in full sentences. We would love to see him use the gift he’s been given and enjoy making music.

    But we had a bit of a bumpy start last night. Our number was called and we walked over to the auditioner who stood by a table of instruments. Monkey immediately ran his fingers over an oboe. We sat down, talked with the man, then Monkey got to try blowing into a trumpet. Since we’d also expressed interest in percussion, the guy notified one of the band teachers that Monkey wanted to try out for that, then he told my son to go wait in line while he talked to me.

    Monkey walked away and the auditioner turned to me.

    “I’m concerned with how he would treat the instruments.”

    I didn’t know where the comment came from. “What do you mean?”

    The guy explained that brass instruments are delicate.

    I still couldn’t follow. It’s not like Monkey would sword fight with a trumpet. I said as much, and then it dawned on me.

    “Oh,” I said, “you’re worried because he touched the instruments when we came over.”

    The guy nodded. “He’d have to learn to listen to the band instructor.”

    Well, of course he would, along with every other kid experiencing band for the first time.

    I wasn’t angry and this man wasn’t mean, but I did wonder how he came to be in this position and still be unfamiliar with kids like Monkey. Kids who learn with their eyes, ears AND hands. Monkey wasn’t disrespectful or destructive. In my book, he’d done nothing wrong. But this guy saw “irresponsible” written all over him.

    Photo by Sander Spek
    We moved on to the percussion test where Monkey’s hands-on approach didn’t faze the instructor. He remarked on Monkey’s ear, recommended private lessons to get ready for band, and offered encouragement. We left excited about percussion.

    I recognize that organizing brand new middle-schoolers who’ve never played an instrument into a band is a Herculean task, and I admire and appreciate the staff dedicated to it.

    Raising kids is a Herculean task as well. We don’t all do it the same way. As moms it’s easy to be hard on ourselves when we’re confronted with an attitude toward child-rearing that’s different from our own. We second guess ourselves.

    Maybe I should’ve stopped my kids from rearranging the price tags on the chairs in the store. Or maybe it was okay to be happy that we got through an outing with my sanity intact.

    Maybe I should’ve warned Monkey not to touch anything last night.Or maybe it was okay that my attention was focused on helping my son discover his gift of music.

    Our family lives in ADHD world. Some things we fight for and some things we let slide. We apologize when we’ve done wrong, but we also give ourselves grace when we can’t help but chase the squirrel.

    How about you? What world do you live in? How do you handle it when aliens come to visit?