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jannica merrit

humor. honesty. sometimes both.

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Goodbye, Locks I Love

This is a First World Problem; I know that.  I will not pretend otherwise.  But, it is my First World Problem.

I was so excited that my rising (*gasping*, because, really, how did this happen so soon?) kindergartener was accepted into an amazing charter school, not only the school system I wanted, but the location less than two miles from our home. The school has a fabulous curriculum and my son will be ready to be either a world class innovator and leader or a cunning super spy by the time he has spent thirteen years there.  The classes make me jealous, and their founding principles are truth and beauty (and, really, who doesn’t love those?).  I love it so much I wish I could go there.  I seriously, truly would love to go there, even as an adult…right now, sign me up, because I want to learn all the fascinating things they are teaching.

I like the campus, it is new and beautiful and the doors are thankfully locked (in the sad state of today’s world).  The playground has slides and things to climb on and shade.

I fought, yelled, screamed,  pulled my hair out–worked early on with my son to get him to their starting level of knowledge.  I stood firm when he challenged my knowledge of which letter was S.

And, I really loved the idea of the uniforms.  Everyone fairly equal, and when my daughter goes there, there will be no battles about what she wears (to school, anyway). And, if uniforms can still bring battles, please leave me in my deluded state; it’s nice here.

But…

I just read the full text of the uniform requirements and gasped aloud in horror–boys must have very short hair!  I am no hippy (although I would have made a great one!).  My son, who was blessed with a head full of beautiful, super thick, naturally wavy dark blonde hair has been sporting Mama’s choice; a slightly long, shaggy do.  It is adorable and shows off his locks to the nth degree.

And, I will have to have it cut! In kindness, will not cut it myself (as my many attempts at bang trims have led to about the same number of disasters),  but I will have to trust my hair care professional to help me through this difficult time.

I have enjoyed these years of living vicariously through his beautiful thick curly hair. His hair genes didn’t come from me and sadly my daughter didn’t inherit them.  So, he has been the sole family member with good hair.  I knew it would come to an end someday, but I really thought I had more time.

It’s rather late to find an identical school which differs only in hair requirements. (Did I hear someone say, “Chasing unicorns?)

Short hair.  Too soon. *sigh*  I will get through this somehow.

My Little Secret*

*Post is geared for the ladies.  Men read at your own risk.

 

 

I am seriously not kidding…female TMI alert!

 

 

 

 

 

I have a little secret.  I don’t share this with very many people, so let’s just keep this between us, okay?

Because before writing this, I think I have shared this with possibly two friends.

Sharing this here is a big deal for me.  But it is important.  And, I suspect, a big deal for a lot of ladies.  So, I am going to risk the judging I worry about and start.

Ever since my lady parts pushed a human out of them, when I sneeze, when I jump, when I cough, when I try to do Zumba, when I twist the wrong way…I pee on myself a little.  Colds are hell.  Trampolines…I can’t get within five feet of them without a little anticipatory trickle.

How many of you ladies have this little secret, too?

It is a shameful feeling, buying Poise pads and not looking the cashier in the eye, as I try to get out of the store as quickly as possible, or make a loud comment about how, “Yes, I think this is Mom’s brand.” *wink, wink* (Sorry, Mom).

My heart aches for the child brides in third world countries, who don’t have access to what we have in developed countries and have to suffer in isolation and shame.

What is so sad is that if this is as common in developed countries as I think it may be, and yet…we are (I am) so embarrassed to talk about it here.  “Not me,” I like to pretend, “must be horrible.”

A recent Facebook  post in one of my “Moms Groups” someone posted about this under, “asking for a friend.”  The post was flooded with an almost unheard of number of responses.

Yes, I have been too embarrassed to talk about it, so I will never judge anyone else for keeping silent.  I worry a bit as I write this about, well,  anyone reading this.

But that is why I am writing this.  Because it needs to be said.  Because it needs to be out of the closet.  Because it isn’t just what happens to women “of a certain age’ or mothers.

There are treatments, and I finally pushed my gynecologist to help me with it.  And she hemmed and hawed, and ordered a test.  It was an embarrassing test, because, what else would we do in this situation?  And the test came back that mine was bad, but not the worst, and she looked at me and shrugged.   And I looked at her and said that I wanted Pelvic Floor Therapy because I am tired of living with my little secret…that, well, isn’t so secret anymore.

And, I had my first therapy session today.  And it was…intrusive but professionally done.  And I was able to speak freely and get some exercises to do at home.

And, it may take some time to strengthen my pelvic floor muscles, but there is hope!  And, I hope the more we talk about it, the less embarrassing and shameful it will become.

The Great Alphabet Battle, Part One

My son likes to hit things with sticks.  My son likes to play video games on his tablet and “kill” bad guys.  My son likes to wear super hero costumes and run around with his friends.  My son likes to go to the park.  My son likes to eat lasagna and ice cream and pizza with only cheese on it.

My son, however, does NOT like to learn anything and is content to look at signs, and make up what he wants them to say, and “read” them to me.

It seemed we were on track at age two, when he learned the alphabet song and sang it over and over and watched Sesame Street.  (Even though when he sang, he said “x” twice and omitted “s”).

But cut forward three years…his two year old sister, a Super Why super fan, knows about two-thirds of her letters, and her brother at five, knows about three.  We were fortunate enough to get him accepted into a top notch school, and he will be evaluated in three months before kindergarten in August.

But, he doesn’t know his letters, and he doesn’t care.  I have tried so many things.  Rubber letter quizzes in the bathtub, where he shrugs his shoulders and says he does not know and his sister behind him will quietly and correctly say, “Q” . 

He refuses to watch Super Why or Sesame Street now.

A month ago, he fixated on a Nerf gun with a ton of accessories at Costco.  It was a bit expensive, but I bought it and told him he could have it when he learned his alphabet.  That darn gun has sat in its box in the living room ever since.  He has tried to trick me into giving it to me, his sister, my friend, and his Grandmother.  I made a Rewards Chart that showed making effort would get him his Nerf gun.

I have tried working with him by my putting the bath letters in order on  a table and singing the song and pointing to them, then working on which one is which.  He sang as fast as he could and laughed.  I made a set of flashcards with the alphabet to go with the bath letters, and asked him to match it to the corresponding card in the bath set.  He played it whole-heartedly two times, did well, and then decided before he could play, he had to stack all the bath letters in piles by colors, and refused to try to identify any.  I downloaded The Letter Factory from Leap Frog. 

I have had had it.

He has lost tablet and television privileges until he learns his alphabet.  And his Nerf gun is going back to Costco.  I am not playing anymore.  Because I won’t fight battles at this level with him for the next thirteen years over homework. 

Wish me luck…

 

Transforming A Christmas Curmudgeon

BAH HUMBUG!

Since I found out the horrible truth about Santa, I have always been a huge Christmas Curmudgeon.  I had been concerned as a small child, as our house didn’t have a chimney.  My parents explained that Santa was not only wise but clever, and could crawl through the opening of our swamp cooler on the roof.  Year after year, I would diligently wait for the jolly old man, only to just barely miss him after falling asleep, and one year after going out for ice cream, I missed him by a reported only five minutes.

But somewhere, Christmas became less about Jesus (and presents) and family (and good food), and more a time of year when I would get sad, depressed even.  If I decorated at all, it was with an eighteen inch “tree” made out of bare branches, with one or two gifted ornaments.  (Think Tim Burton’s house). 

I hated the lights and decorations, because they just reminded me what time of year it was.  I was annoyed at the wasting of electricity.

I would send cards to the people who had sent them the previous year, and made a list of family members and friends who hadn’t reciprocated and made sure never to send them anything again.  I called it my “Christmas Grudge List”. 

Then came two beautiful children. 

A two year old who gets excited by an honorary aunt’s Elf on the Shelf, calling it, “Santa! Santa! Santa!” and a five year old who was beside himself last year riding around looking at the lights.  Yes, we deliberately got in the car with no purpose other than to actually drive around and seek out people’s houses with Christmas decorations.  And he loved it. And I even enjoyed myself.

As my son grew from infancy, I bought a pre-lit tree and cursed quietly under my breath every time I scratched myself on its branches walking past it, as it stuck out too far in our smallish great room.  I bought hard-to-break plastic ornaments, and stockings that repeatedly fell off my mantle (though Santa does have a chimney to slide down in my house).

This year, I found the most wonderful thing; a “pencil tree”!  I put it together while my children slept one morning after Thanksgiving.  It looked beautiful and didn’t stick out.  My kids were utterly unimpressed.

My son, “I want the other tree.  Can we get the other tree down from the attic?”

“But we have this tree.  Isn’t it beautiful?”

“We can have two trees!  Let’s have two trees!”

Big sigh.

And later, my son asked, “When are we putting our lights up on our house, Mommy?”

When designing our custom family cards, I bought an extra package of twenty so we wouldn’t run out. 

In our yard is our brand new projector light to put reindeer dancing on our house.  We were the first house on our block to get lights up.  Both Christmas trees stand guard over a singing and dancing Santa that my daughter found, contributing in her own way.

Bah humbug?  Not in this house!

 

 

There Is A Dining Room Table In My Bowflex Room: An Adjustment of Parenthood

 

Adulthood came with its own changes.  The surprise of a utility bill with my name on it, and a utility company expecting me, (rather than my parents) to pay it.  I started my journey into independence slowly.  My first living room was filled with spread out folding chairs and my Grandmother’s donated couch.  My end tables were bought at an auction for ten dollars and badly needed refinishing.

My kitchen was full of half empty cabinets and for many years I ate dinner out of the pan I cooked it in to save on dish washing because I had no dishwasher.  I once found a potato that had grown and morphed into a full-size plant months after having been abandoned in a cabinet for no reason I could remember.  

But, I adjusted into adulthood, and eventually obtained pictures in frames rather than posters hung with thumb tacks.  I bought kitchen appliances and learned to operate some of them.  With time, I bought a home of my own and decorated it with adult belongings.  I did fit it to my life style and needs, but I had a nice home with my grown up belongings. 

Dinner, though now served on plates and in bowls, had been consumed in my living room in front of my large, beautiful television since I established my own residence. And my dining room was repurposed with a large, multi-functional Bowflex and elliptical exerciser.  I set up a fan, music speaker, and a small television in my work out paradise.

But, paradise has shifted since I entered the phase in my life called, “parenthood,” with my new needs running confluently with my adulthood needs.  

Because there is a dining room table in my Bowflex room!  Eating in front of the TV still happens, but many meals are in my now multi-purposed Bowflex room, which some all along called the “dining room.”

A dining room table, pushed to the side, and a Bowflex machine pushed to the other side.  Like a tiny Japanese apartment, where the bed folds down from the wall at night, my belongings shift side to side.  The remnants of my unencumbered life, still used on occasion when I fight to get my pre-baby body back battle for space with the demands of family.  The fight for space neatly (or not so neatly) represents with the needs of my current life, and all in a space smaller than I would like.  Tiny House People would approve of the shared space, but to me it is further evidence of my new morph as a ”Mother” and how it shares my current morph of “Responsible Adult”. 

Neither side wins, but each gets a turn at the space.  And I don’t resent the extra challenges, though I wouldn’t mind if a money fairy gifted me with enough for a larger space.

 

If Everyone Were Honest…

It occurred to me the other day how often we tell white lies…and outright lies.  What would the world be like if we were all like young children—saying exactly what’s on our minds, without trying to people please or save anyone’s feelings?  What would we say to the everyday questions?  And what comments would we add unsolicited?

“How are you?” is a common enough question, but one that is rarely answered with the truth. What if we answered, “Well, I stayed up too late playing Call of Duty and eating chips and bean dip and now I am overtired and gassy. I am also hoping no one can smell that I slept late instead of taking a shower this morning.  How are you?”

There are unlimited areas the truth could change things.   Dating is another.  “I had a great time tonight! Would you like to go out again?” could be answered with “I would rather cut off my leg with a rusty saw than spend another hour hearing about the golf game you watched on television or smelling your mothball-scented breath…and for the love of God, don’t lean in for a goodnight kiss!”

At work we could tell our more obnoxious or demanding customers, “Thanks for coming in our business—thanks for your money, that is—and would you please go to our competitor next time because dealing with you is just not worth it?”

Job searching would sound like, “I am looking for something else because my current boss is a cheap jerk who wants more and more work, drives a brand new BMW, and hasn’t given me a raise in two years.”

And our friendships would probably not be enriched by, “No, actually your new haircut looks like it was done by a crack addict in withdrawal with dull scissors.  I do think it might look okay in six to nine months after it grows out, though.”

Casual conversations with people we somewhat know and run into at the grocery store would start with, “Oh, what’s even your name?” and end with, “I wish you would stop talking because you are boring and I need to go to the bathroom!”

New parents would be always remember us when they heard, “Wow. That is one ugly baby—I knew your two sets of DNA should never have combined!”

Teenagers talking to their parents could add, “I have no intention of following your rules and am, in fact, desperately searching for a loophole that I can use to justify going to my friend’s big brother’s party Friday night.”

Don’t even get me started on, “Does this make me look fat?”

Damned Little Box

 

I died a little with you. That’s figurative. But you died. That’s literal.

And all I have left is a damn little box that I picked up from the vet today.  I don’t have you. I will never hold you in my arms again. I will never brush your soft long fur, or feel your small body trembling with a purr while you sit on my lap again. You will never again look on me with those quizzical green eyes.  All I have are the memories now.

You were a part of every day of my life, wound into the ordinary moments, while you lived and I loved you. You were my furry “child” when my children of today were just glimmers in my mind.

I knew you from a tiny, feisty little abandoned kitten. I shared my home with a tiny ball of fur and attitude as you grew into a sweet and poised young cat. 

And then as you aged, slowed down and became firmer in your ways and turned into a crotchety little old lady, demanding to sit not only on my shoulder when I ate on the couch, but so far forward I could almost see only you, waiting for a moment to swipe at my spoon.  I’m sorry now for the times I pushed you away; I would share all my ice cream with you now.

I feel your loss in all the places in my life where you aren’t anymore.  In the sidelong glimpses when I think I see you for a split second before I remember.

Your last weeks, I spoiled you. Anything to get you to eat. And it worked. But only for a few days. The cortisone injection, and the subcutaneous fluids, the amoxicillin, and the oral steroids.  I keep all those little bottles in my kitchen and the bag of Sodium Chloride in my bathroom; I can’t cut those cords yet. I can’t quite accept that you will never need them again.

My children are too young.  Too young to know you, grieve you, miss you.  Only your name is recognizable to my oldest and he has no concept that you are gone/of death.  So, I grieve you alone.  Alone in the house where you lived and I loved you.  Alone in the corner where I fed you the special canned food for sick kitties while fighting off the others who wanted it.  Alone on my couch, eating without your thin body curled over my shoulder.  Empty in the corners where you liked to sleep.  Empty lap where you would curl up at inconvenient times and I would sit still, never knowing which would be my last cuddle.  Missing your sweet little presence and demanding ways.  I stare at your damned little box and it isn’t you anymore; just the ashes of our love.

RIP my little princess. 

“Life” Before (Amazon) Prime

Gather ‘round, children, for I would like to tell you a piece of our world’s history.  Life was a rough and hard thing.  There were dark, hard times.  There was once a primitive time; a time before Amazon Prime.

Only the strong survived it.

If you are feeling brave, I will share some of what it was like.  Once upon a time when you wanted something you didn’t already own, there was a long and horribly complicated process for getting it.

In these dark and dangerous times, children, you had to get dressed to shop—at least to the level of pajamas and slippers.  You could only escape this if you went to a store called “Walmart”, where you could pretty much wear anything—even things your mother wouldn’t let you out of the house in.

You would then have to get in a car or bus or walk and physically go to a building—it was called a “store”.  You would park your car or get off the bus, and go all the way in to that “store” only to walk amongst seemingly endless aisles of things they wanted to sell. Most of what they sold were things you didn’t even want to buy, and yet you had to physically walk past them, there was no back button!  Instead of a Search button, you had to read signs or ask an employee where things were, or stumble around blindly, hoping to find it.

A cart was an actual physical thing.  Instead of a nice drawing on the upper right hand corner of your screen, with the number of items listed rationally in it, there was a big metal “shopping cart” with wheels and a basket where you actually placed what you intended to buy at check out.  But there was no number in the cart to tell you how many items you had; you could have had any number of things.  There was really no way of knowing.

When you were in this “store”, you might interact with other people, where you were expected to be pleasant, or at minimum, not run over them with your heavy metal “shopping cart”.  You might even feel obligated to talk to some of them, because it was that primitive.

Once you found your item, you had to walk all the way back to the front of the store, stand in a line where potentially many people could be in front of you, pay for your item, sometimes even ringing up your own order by yourself, and then find your way home.

There was also no anticipation, children.  You had the items right away and when you arrived home, you probably still remembered what you had just bought.  No one cared.  No one opened a box with you in anticipation of what might be inside that you had ordered two days ago—as you remember only that it was something you desperately needed.

Thank goodness those days are over; your parents survived them so you won’t have to.  We can remember the pioneers without ever having to try to live that way.

 

How I Get Nothing Done

 

Ah, I see I need to vacuum. I get out the machine and vacuum for a whole 2.3 minutes before I realize it will go better if I pick up the thirty-eight blocks, ninety-seven Legos, fifteen toy cars and twelve cat toys from the floor (approximate count for living room only; more toys in the kitchen, dining room and hallways).

So I pick up thirty-eight blocks, ninety-seven Legos, fifteen toy cars, twelve cat toys… and a fork.  Wait, a fork? Well, this belongs in my dishwasher, so I take it to the kitchen, and seeing all the dishes in the sink, realize I should run a dishwasher load while I vacuum. But I’m out of dishwasher-hide-from-children-they’re-not-candy-pods and go out to the garage to get some.

Whereupon I notice that the recycling bin is overflowing, so I take that out. Reentering the garage, it’s obvious that it needs to be swept. I start sweeping and remember I left the diapers in the trunk. I set down the broom, head inside with the diapers, and remember I didn’t get the dishwasher-hide-from-children-they’re-not-candy-pods. I set the diapers on the kitchen counter and head back to the garage, where I suddenly remember that I want to hang that picture. I grab the hammer and a nail and, oh yes, the dishwasher-hide-from-children-they’re-not-candy-pods, and go back inside.  I put a dishwasher pod in the machine and see the cats are out of Crunchy Bites. As I fill their bowl, I remember I also left the dog food in the trunk, so it’s out to the garage again. Returning with the dog food, I observe a wilted plant, so I put it in the sink to get watered.

I go to the spare bedroom to retrieve the picture I need to hang and see that I never stripped the bed after our last house guest.  As I pull the sheets off the bed, I see some things I can throw out to make the room look tidier, and take them to the closest trash can, which is in the bathroom.  Whereupon I notice that the mirror has been toddlerized with soap and has lost its reflective qualities.  I get the glass cleaner from under the sink, but I don’t have a paper towel, so I go to the kitchen for one, where I remember to start the dishwasher.

At which point the baby wakes up, and I sit down to nurse her, thinking about all the things I need to finish. When she is finally full, burped and asleep, I go to the closet for the step stool I need to hang the picture. But the closet also contains a stack of papers waiting to be shredded, so I start to take them to the shredder, but when I nearly trip on the cord to the vacuum, I remember that I REALLY need to vacuum, so I resume vacuuming for a whole 2.3 minutes until I realize it’s time for my toddler’s dinner….

…and that’s how I get nothing done.

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