Friday, November 13, 2009

Cold Hands, Warm Heart

I don't know if I have ever mentioned it on this blog, but I have Crohn's disease. I think I've had it since my teens, but I didn't get my diagnosis until I was almost 30 and lay dying in a hospital ER. My journey with the disease has been largely painful and definitely challenging. I was told not to have more children after my first. Well, I'm a mom of four . . . so . . . ups and downs and challenges and prayers. But here I am. Still fighting the fight.

However, lately, I have not been doing so great. It doesn't appear to be Crohn's so much as sort of the side effects (immune system). Each day, I run fevers. Needless to say, this can get exhausting. So I try to get into bed around 7:00 each night in my pjs and my children are all very solicitous. I have been to the hospital twice this week, and I know they are sweetly concerned. Even Demon Baby.

However, being a Demon Baby, he has found a USE for my illness. Hence, this conversation last night at bedtime.

"I'm going to snuggy in with you."


"I'm freezing."

"You're only in underwear. It's nearly winter."

"I don't like clothes."

"I know."

"I don't like pajamas."

"I know."

"I like snuggling."

"I know."

He burrowed down next to me, under the covers. And then proceeded to lift my pajama shirt and stick his ice cold feet on my BELLY. I almost jumped out of bed!

"What are you doing?"

"Warming up my feet!"

"They're icicles!"

"Yes, but you are hotness!"


"Mama, when I touch you now, you are burning hot. I figure why wear clothes if you can just heat me up."

At that he pressed ice cold hands to my face. "See? You are my hotness."

"I have to admit, your cold hands feel good on my face, but I could do without icicle feet on my belly."

"It's just until you heat them up."

He snuggled closer. "Are you always going to be hot from now on?"

"I don't think so. I think the doctors will fix me."

"Do you really have to go to the hospital tomorrow?"

"I do."

"Will you take me with you?"

"I can't, Buddy."

"Well, when you come home, I will put my coldness on your face and make you feel better."

Oh, I could have done without the hospital this week. But you know, if you're going to have to be sick, a personal popsicle makes things all better.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

This Is Unexpected

Demon Baby has decided he wants to study ballet.

That sound you hear?

The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse.

That other sound?

His father shrieking.

Me? I'm looking into classes.

In the meantime, it occupies him for an hour a day, listening to music and spinning, leaping, and so on.

And for the record, this is like Alvin Ailey modern-dance sort of ballet, I think. The kid seems to have a natural affinity for the athleticism.

I'll try to make a YouTube video.

In the meantime, in a life of many speechless moments with Demon Baby, this one caught me off guard.

I like that in a person.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Zen Mama

I never intended to be a mother of a Demon Baby. My other three children are very creative and wonderful and . . . calm. Oldest Son walked in to the house from high school yesterday and said, "I've thought about it and I think I want to be a Buddhist. I want to find enlightenment." That's Oldest Son, all right. Calm. Peaceful. Brilliant. Zen.

My other three didn't have childhoods like his, and I confess I spend a great deal of prayer time and a great deal of tears over how, precisely, to be a good mother to this amazingly wonderful HIGH-energy child, who makes me feel anything BUT zen.

This blog is full of his funny stories. But what I don't post . . . the fact that he gave up naps by a year or so old, was climbing from his crib at 13 months, and doesn't need to sleep. Some of his oddities, like needing a separate fork for all the items on his plate, and the off-the-charts tears and hysteria that can result if he doesn't have separate forks. It's not "faked" on his part. The anguish is palpable, so I spend time trying to understand the way he sees the world. I suppose that is the best I can do. And now . . . .

He has started escaping the house. And crossing the street. And going to neighbors' homes. Even at night. On nights without a moon. When it is pitch dark. So much for my showering in the evenings when the other kids are asleep. And recently? He sleepwalks.

So now I must purchase door alarms and all sorts of latches, not to keep intruders out, but to keep my child in.

Last night, I tucked him in around 9:30 (EARLY for him, since he does NOT sleep). And he popped into my room at 11:00 to watch the end of the Yankees game with me. We snuggled and he told me I was the best mother in the world. Something I wish were true, but is far from it.

"Well . . . I wish I was more patient. I'm sorry I sometimes yell at you. I guess I don't understand why you do such naughty things." (Oh, like peeing places he shouldn't, and kick-boxing his brother.)

"When you yell at me, I get angry and then it makes me want to do bad things. I have an evil king inside my head, and he sometimes tells me to do naughty things just to make you mad."

"Well, don't listen to your evil king."

"It's hard."

Oh, our conscience can be at work, even at age 4.

The blog? It really is to remember all the funny things, for the times when I want to cry. Discovering your child has left the house while you were asleep or folding laundry? That he is so fearless--even in the dark and the cold, to leave barefoot and go exploring? It strikes terror in me. I don't sleep. I make coffee and stay awake. And now, bless the man who told me where to get these alarms (Radio Shack). I don't like to use my deadbolt. Fear of a fire . . . I want the kids to be able to run out without fumbling for a lock. But now . . . along comes a special child. And so the way I used to do things has to change. The way I used to mother has changed. It is me . . . me who is walking barefoot in the dark, not quite sure of how to do things anymore.

His pediatrician said, "Would you want to medicate him?"

No. And occasionally I hear from a lurker or two to this blog who reprimand me and think all he needs is a really good spanking. I don't want to hear from you. That isn't the answer. And for me, neither is medicating the spark out of him. The pediatrician looked relieved and said, "Good. Because I just think he's a genius. Channel it."

But how can you channel something so remarkable?

It's funny to be a writer and a blogger. After I am gone, my children can read my words. I can only hope someday he will look at this and know how horribly inadequate I felt, how hard I tried, and how fiercely he was loved. He is God's practical joke. I thought I knew how to be a mother. But I have a lot left to learn. What is the zen saying? When the pupil is ready . . . the teacher will appear.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Demon Baby's New Career Ambition

Demon Baby, most of the time, plans to be a rock star. He wants to play guitar, and the kid has astounding rhythm. He doesn't walk from room to room. He bops his head and plays air guitar and moves like a rock star, hearing his own song. He takes "marching to a different drummer" to whole new levels.

Occasionally, he talks of going to outer space. He doesn't plan to go as an astronaut, but through magical powers, so . . . I don't know about that.

However, he has an entirely new career choice.

"So, Demon Baby, what do you want to be when you grow up?" I asked, making conversation.

"You know."

"I do know, but I thought I would check."

"All right then, I don't need to tell you."

"So you're still settled on rock star?"


"Well, then you haven't informed me. Because that was the last thing I knew you wanted to be."

"That's a maybe. Or I might do that too. But I have a totally better, really awesome job I'm going to do."

"Great! Let's hear it."

"I'm going to be the Tooth Fairy."

"All right. Great. Bring braces for your sister so I don't have to pay the orthodontist $5,000."

"Will do."

He hopped down from the chair he was standing on.

"A Tooth Fairy who also plays guitar," he said, as he bopped on out of the room.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tastes Like Chicken

You know how . . . well, gosh, all sorts of other meats are said to "taste like chicken" (famously . . . frogs legs). The following conversation occurred last night around the fire pit in my backyard beneath a beautiful full moon.


"So maybe a squirrel will jump into the fire."

"I doubt it, Demon Baby."

"We have a lot of squirrels."

"Yes, we do, but I don't think any of them are going to go for self-immolation."

"But if a squirrel DID jump in the fire, I bet you it would taste like chicken."

"That's kind of gross, I don't want to eat squirrel meat."

"Well . . . do you know what chicken is even MADE of?"


"No, birds."

"No, it's chicken."

"No. It's made of birds. Like tweet-tweet birds."

"No, it's made of gobble-gobble birds."


"Gobble-gobble, cluck-cluck, cock-a-doodle-do."

"Still tastes like chicken."


So you can ponder that next time you serve chicken at your house.