Hoarder in Training

It was hot and humid today with the heat index pushing 100 degrees.  We’ve only got air conditioning in the bedrooms so as the afternoon heat began to ooze from the walls I thought about what I could do in a bedroom.  (Get your mind out of the gutter – Husband was at work).  Everyone was out of the house but me so I decided to take advantage of all the kids being away and tackle long neglected task of cleaning out the kids’ room.  You see, I can’t really clean (and by clean I mean purge) their room when they are home.  They would have an aneurysm if they saw me throwing away their precious bits of paper and cheap birthday party favors.  So in blissful silence and with a large glass of ice cold lemonade I stored away winter clothes and replenished Baby’s closet with items handed down from Middle.  I folded away heavy comforters and packed them into suitcases.  I went through all their beds and then made them up with their stuffed animals neatly organized by category at the foot.  Baby’s bed took less than five minutes.  I tided her stash of colored pencils and journals and then made up the bed.  Middle’s bed didn’t take much longer; just a few stray toy cars amongst her stuffed animals.  But I lost an hour of my life six feet in the air (up where it’s hot) dealing with Older’s top bunk bed.  It was like an episode of Hoarders*.  Besides his pillows and blankets the things I found included:

  • 1 penny (a $20 would have been nice for my troubles)
  • 1,437,822 tissues (approximately)
  • 1 cork
  • 3 clothespins
  • 4 paper airplanes
  • 8 socks of three different varieties, none of them in pairs
  • Enough colored pencils to supply a small nation
  • Various plain pencils, all without erasers
  • 2 half completed journals
  • A hell of a lot of blank computer paper
  • 12 rainbow loom bracelets (the kids use one at their after school program – we do not own one of them and I intend to keep it that way)
  • 1 small chocolate Easter egg (still wrapped in foil and, no, I did not eat it – I am not that hard up for chocolate)
  • A granola bar wrapper
  • 1 orange plastic spider ring (are there orange spiders?)
  • 1 small gold plastic figurine of a mummy
  • 2 small plastic dinosaurs
  • 1 Lego dinosaur
  • 1 set of Lego wings
  • A pair of, very sharp, sewing scissors (under his pillow no less)
  • 2 graphic novels (from the library – found before their due dates – bonus points for me!)
  • A paperback Star Wars book
  • A book on how lasers work
  • A book of optical illusions
  • The book “Math Curse”
  • The book “Dear Mr. Henshaw
  • The book “Easy to Make Pop-Ups
  • A ball of what I believe to be the dried remnants of an outdoor “paint” I made the kids out of cornstarch and food dye
  • 47 stuffed animals (no this is not an exaggeration)
  • Paper cut-outs of R2-D2, Luke Skywalker, and Darth Vader that we used to decorate his half birthday cake
  • A paper describing a game he invented called “Star Wars Robots” (it didn’t look half bad)
  • A paper folded into an envelope marked “Top Secret” (I didn’t open it.  I don’t have a security clearance anymore.)
  • And the best item…a list of his desired summer plans which included many references to various play dates with a girl, K, that he has a monster crush on (It went something like this:  “Invite K over for a swim in the pool.  Invite K over to watch a movie.  Go to the Natural History museum with K.”)

I think my 18 year old self would pretty horrified but in the end, if not exactly fun, it made for an extremely satisfying afternoon.  Now if only it would stay that way.


*I have never seen Hoarders, only heard horror stores about it.  I fear watching it would make my anal retentive, organized, borderline OCD brain explode into a million messy pieces.

Young Enough

I had what was supposed to be a minor surgery last week which ended in the rather rare complication of a blood clot.  After ultrasounds and concerns about the mobility of the clot, I agreed to the surgeon’s plan to treat the clot with blood thinners.    After a few days the clot dissolved and I was mercifully able to stop jabbing myself in the stomach with Lovenox twice a day.  They whole experience was a pain (literally).  But there were a couple of surprisingly good things to have come out of it.  At my final follow-up visit the surgeon elaborated on why he had wanted treat the clot so aggressively.  He rambled, “Because you’re only thirty [glances over at my chart].  I mean thirty-six.  And we want to make sure that nothing happens to you. I mean we care about what happens to you…because you are so young.  You know, in your thirties…” he said trailing off.  I had to stifle a laugh.  Surgeons are notorious for their lack of a bedside manner but I was still highly amused, and a little bit touched, that he basically admitted to me that my “youth” made my life more worth his caring about.  Or perhaps he was just more concerned that my youth would make me or my relatives more likely to sue in the event of a bad outcome.  Regardless, I walked away feeling pretty good about my life.  Lately I’ve been feeling kind of old.  I know I’m not really “old” (whatever that means), but I don’t exactly feel young anymore either.  I had an old lady surgery (varicose veins).  I am no longer the youngest person in a room, professionally speaking.  I’ve had the somewhat unsettling experience of having physicians that I suspect are quite a bit younger than me.  And worst of all, I am working out more (and eating less) than I have in years but my weight is at a standstill.  However, I found a tactless young surgeon’s thinking that I am young enough to be strangely reassuring.

The other good thing to have come out of this ordeal was the experience of working through a non-straightforward medical case.  I mean I wish it hadn’t been my case, but I enjoyed talking over the case with the surgeon, looking at the ultrasound photos, discussing what studies there were on this type of clot, and learning a new technique (giving a subcutaneous injection). In fact, I rather liked it, not the the feeling of the needle piercing my skin (I’m not a masochist), but the feeling of mastering a new skill set.

Husband turned toward me in the hospital during one of my visits last week and said, almost with a resigned sigh, “You really should be a doctor, you know, you just need to do it.”  He knows me well and he sees what I feel; I light up in the hospital.  I am just strangely happy and comfortable there talking about problems and how to solve them.    I’m a far cry from a twenty-two year old first year medical student, but maybe, just maybe, I’m young enough to still go for it.


As I was making dinner tonight Older ran up to me waving a blank piece of paper with some urgency. “I need three pieces of paper. I looked and there was only one piece of paper left, but I really need three all together.” Okay then; I procured him some paper and went back to sauteing kale.

I long ago stopped asking Older what particular idea he has in mind when he requests paper or art supplies. He might make a mess, scattering so many tiny pieces of paper on the ground in the course of feeding his muse, that it looks like a freak snowstorm his our house, but he never really gets into any trouble. I expected to find the paper turned into some fanciful model but after he went to bed I found three short stories, printed in 2nd grade handwriting, lying on the floor. As someone who fancies herself a writer, my first thought was “Yea! A budding creative writer in our midst!” Then I read the stories. Verbatim:

Story #1: Once a boy hit a toilet. When the boy’s mom went poop the toiled reflushed. It covered her with poo and pee. Suddenly the poop came alive and started kissing her face. As you can imagine she got a lot of poop. Then they went away and everything was back to normal. The end.

Story #2: Once upon a time a boy named Jack licked his mama’s butt. His mama screamed and spanked him. But he blocked with his karate moves. Then he barfed on his mama. His mama fainted and then puked on Jack. Jack screamed and punched his mama in the face. The end.

Story #3: Once upon a time there lived a scientist who always asked why. One day in the park the flowers came alive and we are going to destroy your planet they said/ Whey he said. Because that is what we do they said. Why he said. Well we have to they said. Why he said. Well it um blech they barfed out all their insides right on the scientist. The end.

What the hell? I am partially amused at the never ending depths of potty humor that spring forth from the eight year old male specimen. I am pleased that there were minimal misspellings in his writings (he even spelled “a lot” properly, something many adults have not mastered). I am happy that he is writing. But I am also, quite frankly, kind of offended at the unfortunate predicament of the mother in two of these stories. A child psychologist would probably say something to the effect that it is a sign of Older’s secure attachment to me that he feels able to voice his negative feelings in this way. But still…I am miffed and a little bit pissed. I slave away for my kids. I spent tonight making homemade treats appropriate to my kids ancestry for “International Day” at their school tomorrow* and this is the thanks I get. I am totally out of my depth with parenting an eight year old boy. Is this just innocuous bathroom humor? Should I worry? Should I talk to him about it? Should I ignore it? Should I stuff my face with all the extra International Day treats in order to deal with my parenting stress? What do you think?

*Swedish Rye Cookies for Middle’s Class (Husband has some Swedish ancestry) and German Bretzeln (Pretzels) for Older’s Class (my ancestry).

Friend or Enemy?

I think my favorite book title of all time remains the child development classic Your Three Year Old: Friend or Enemy. Baby was VERY three today; sometimes acting like a sullen teenager, other times so sweet she makes me want three more kids. This morning there was a litany of complaints so long I was laughing on the inside. I try very hard not to show my amusement on the outside because A) Mean and B) That would only further enrage the beast. Her list of grievances this morning went something like this:

-I asked her if she wanted more breakfast.
-I told her she had to wear shoes when we went out.
-That it was winter and thus cold outside. For the record it was 45 degrees when we left the house, Baby was ensconced in a fleece jacket with a hood. Poor girl is going to be in for a nasty shock if we ever leave Southern California and she finds out what real winter feels like.
-The heater is does not instantaneously fill the car with heat.
-The heater might make the car too hot and burn her.
-That the Rose Parade was not happening at that very moment. In fact, not only was the parade not happening, but she could see as we drove down the street that the viewing stands were being disassembled. She did not approve.
-She couldn’t sit on my lap while I had my blood drawn this morning
-That we weren’t going to pick up Older and Middle from school. It was 10:00 am – they get done at 3:00.
-That the buckles on the shopping cart were broken and she might fall out.
-That it was cold in the grocery store.
-That it was “winding” (windy) outside. It was not in the slightest.
-That when we returned home Daddy would not be there and that we would thus be lonely; just us two girls and the cat.
-That our much loved neighbor had the gall to go to work and was not sitting in her driveway waiting for Baby to arrive home.
-I suggested that as it had been five hours since she used the bathroom she might want to give it a try.

Shockingly, she didn’t protest her nap at all and asked to be nursed and rest early this afternoon. She took a great nap and afterwards we snuggled under a blanket and ate 5 clementines between the two of us while we laughed and talked for half an hour. I made vegetable stock and had it simmering on the stove while she napped and she even commented that the house smelled “yummy” when she woke up and was excited to see all the delicious vegetables. She had morphed back into a perfect little dream child.

Tonight the pendulum swung back towards madness with bedtime protests to rival the fervor of a political dissident. It’s alright. I find this third time around, I am mostly enjoying three years old. Besides the title there is a lot to love about the “Friend or Enemy” book, foremost of which is their primary for suggestion for dealing with the frustrations of a tyrannical three year old: to send said three year old to preschool/daycare or to hire a babysitter. Because I am working I get to do just that a couple of days a week; and those two days allow me to truly enjoy my days with Baby – no matter how crazy she gets.


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