Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Kid surgery might be harder on parents

My daughter had an appointment at the oral surgeon this morning. We'd been preparing for months - we both knew what was coming. There was no avoiding it. She has this impacted tooth, facing the wrong way, and it has to be exposed from under the gum.

It's no big deal, the orthodontist assured us. Really. It sounds much worse than it is.

And when we showed up at our check-in time of 10:30, we were ready. Katie was in a pretty good mood. I'd been keeping her spirits up all morning, letting her look at pooch-related items now that dad has maybe, just maybe, relented on the dog issue.

But by 10:45, when three or four patients holding bloody ice packs to their faces had limped through reception, she wasn't quite as sparkly. Ditto by 11. By 11:15, when they called her back, she was a little jittery. So was I. Ten minutes later, they called me back, too.

"She's very emotional," said the very nice nurse. "I've been trying to make her laugh, but she's crying."

When I saw her, sitting in that chair, trying to act like she wasn't crying, I almost started weeping, too. But I didn't. I braided her hair. I sang a silly song. I took deep breaths with her. I crossed my eyes and made faces until she laughed. And when the doctor finally walked in and gave her a little laughing gas to prepare for the iv, I slipped out.

Then I went back into the waiting room, walked into the bathroom and cried and cried.

And I didn't even have a tooth out.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Mom, what did you do to your hair?

I found an old photo the other night - one of me and my mom, holding my then-baby daughter. My mom is smiling and my daughter is giggling, but I couldn't really look at either one of them.

I was distracted. Distracted by ....my hair. Perhaps I was being overly critical, but it looked absolutely awful. Scarecrow-in-Wizard-of-Oz awful.I mean, it looked like maybe I accidentally cut it in my sleep. The best way I can describe it is to say that it was short and shaggy and square. With bangs.

This is a little surprising, because I'm known to be somewhat vain about my hair. But having a baby around the house was far more tiring than I ever imagined - I think I stopped grooming for a year or so; maybe that explains it.

But it fills me with trepidation now, because I'm contemplating getting my hair cut short again. I just feel like it's time for something new, and until I saw this picture, I was very gung ho for a change.

I asked my kids what they thought about me going short. My daughter was diplomatic. "It's your hair, mom," she said. "Do whatever you want to do."

My little boy wasn't so easy. "Will it be blonde?" he asked me, referring to a past hair experiment of mine.

I doubt it, I told him.

"Hmmph," he said. "I like blonde." Typical.

Oh well. Maybe I'll just bring along a photo from the Wizard of Oz as a cautionary maneuver and hope for the best.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Birthday brings back childbirth memories

Thirteen years ago tonight, I was terrified. I was big as a house, six days overdue to have my first child.

I wasn't terribly worried about becoming a mom. I was very worried about having a baby. I had no idea that babies were actually much easier to care for when they're inside.

Once she was out, I thought to myself, what's the big deal?

Insert laughtrack here.

For weeks I'd been clutching my magic slip of paper, my "permission for epidural" that my doctor had given me. "You probably won't need it," he told me, smiling. "Your body will know what to do."

My body did not know what to do. My body wanted to be over at Friday's, eating nachos. I fully expected all the doctors and nurses to stay by my side, calming me, coaching me through this experience. I was outraged when they weren't.

They're probably still talking about me in the nurses' lounge.

When it was time for the baby to arrive, my husband changed into surgical scrubs in the bathroom, his legs shaking so bad he could barely stand. Despite my magic sheet of paper, I didn't get my epidural - I gave birth naturally. (I'll be reminding my daughter of that later, if she starts giving me trouble as a teen).

I remember standing by my hospital bed, holding up a tiny Newborn Pampers. I turned it this way and that, realizing I had no idea what to do with it. I just... stood there. I think I realized then how much I had to learn.

A teen-age volunteer walked by my room and smiled. "The little cartoon picture goes in the front," she whispered. I blushed. I looked down and my new baby stared at me with those big, trusting blue eyes. "Jesus God," I murmured. "What do I do with you now?"

Sometimes I still ask myself that question, and my daughter is turning 13 tomorrow. But one thing I know for sure: I love her immensely, completely; I can't imagine life without her. Everything else, we'll just play by ear.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Firefly season is fleeting - just like summer

My son has a new hobby, but he knows it won't last long.

He catches fireflies. He zips around the yard, diving, jumping, doing his best to outwit the twinkling little insects and capture them, for just a moment, in his jar.

Then he holds them up to the sky and lets them go.

Firefly season in Michigan is fleeting. For just a few weeks our weather is perfect and our yards glow. Our days are warm and our nights are clear and cool.

Mother Nature lulls us into forgetting the soggy spring we just had, the icy winter that's just around the corner.

We revel in our picnics, our pools, our fun and our fireflies. Because this season ends all too soon.

Like my son, we know. We can only hold it for a moment. We need to make the most of it.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Close call at the community pool

There was a rescue at our community pool the other day. It wasn't particularly dramatic. But it was scary all the same, and I've been thinking about it ever since.

I saw two little girls come in, fairly dancing with excitement as they entered with their grandfather. I noticed him in particular because he moved so slowly and carefully, almost like he was in pain. But he seemed very happy to be with the kids, and they were obviously delighted to be at the pool.

My attention was diverted by own kids, particularly my boy, who is absolutely confident he can go in any depth at the pool. He's had lessons and he can swim, but I would prefer he not go into the way deep without me. So I have to keep a close eye on him.

I was over by our deck chairs, getting some dive sticks, when I heard the lifeguard's authoritative voice. "Are you all right?" she called. I looked up to see her off her chair. Then I saw the the grandfather, standing to the side, looking a little confused.

The guard didn't wait for an answer. She jumped in, pulled out one of the little girls and lifted her to the side. Her grandfather patted her head and told the guard, "She just jumped in. She's supposed to wait for me." The little girl, looking both frightened and embarrassed, burst into tears.

I'm not sure what happened - but I'm guessing the child jumped in not realizing how deep the water was, found herself too far from the ledge, and started to panic.

My heart was pounding, but the grandfather seemed calm. Maybe he was just putting on a calm face for the kids. Or maybe he didn't quite realize what had just happened - I realized later he was very hard of hearing.

I noticed a few moms who knew the girls swam over after the incident and helped watch and play with them. The little girl was soon happy again. The grandfather seemed very grateful for the help with the children.

And I kept an even closer eye on my own.