Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Power: Embracing My Inner Mange

When my "quirky" daughter, Rainbow Sparkle-Dazzle (RS-D) (she wanted to name herself that when she was little) was in Kindegarden at the Catholic School, I was often so proud of how different everyone thought she was. I mean, I had learned years before not to recoil in horror when her chubby fist would reveal such shocking pets like a Stink Bug, rolly-polly bugs and the endless lizards that came home in little nests she would make in her lunchbox.  The sweet teacher would always put a sticky note on her lunchbox to warn me so that I wouldn't have a heart attack when the dazed lizard would try to escape after being knocked about inside her lunch box all afternoon.  In fact, she really was amazing at catching those little suckers. 

 Have you ever seen how fast they run?  It was as if she anticipated which way they would run that was the key to her stellar lizard catching success.  Even the boys were impressed.  Everyone has their "gifts."

Over what seemed to be a freaking eternity fraught with fighting back the gag reflex, I learned to see the beauty in all creatures big and small...mostly small.  And I learned to see the beauty in RS-D's unique gift with animals.  "Perhaps she will grow up to be a vet" I thought despite her complete inability to do any kind of school work.  Nonetheless, I remained steadfast and hopeful and RS-D had every animal under the sun.  She had a Gerbil whom she named Lance Burton after the Vegas magician because he would disappear all the time. (Incidentally, my husband used to work on his TV Specials so when the vegas Lance would call our house he would announce himself as "Hey, it's Lance Burton.  Not the hamster." Swear)

 Anyway,  do you know why doctors in the emergency room call Gerbils "Staple Guns"...we do.  She had two mice named Spotty and Brownie which were so much a part of her childhood that they are now part of our family lore and I have dedicated a single post to them.  For the Science Fair, in third grade, she even ordered chicken eggs and an incubator and diligently tended to the eggs for almost a month until they hatched in her bedroom.  That was a huge accomplishment for a kid with the attention span of a gnat. With a big win looming at the Science Fair, I even let the chickens live in her bathtub for the month leading up to it.  I have to say, I relished in the thought of her winning First Place in front of all the "judgmental moms" proving that her "quirkiness" could really be a bonus but she lost out to a mom (oops, I mean a kid) who figured out the algorithms of the undulating waves on the beach (hummm, in third grade, imagine that?)

Eventually, RS-D got a couple of guinea pigs Honey and Mocha.
They were pretty cute and she loved them so much that they slept in her room in a very roomy cage.  She even performed a Britney Spears song at the talent show holding Honey in her arms. ( It was adorable but she lost out to a kid who did a well rehearsed version of Etta James' "At Last"complete with a backup track. ) But no one told me how prolific guinea pigs could be so when Honey got really fat, RS-D insisted she was pregnant. Try to imagine my shock when Honey gave birth to 6 babies and then immediately after expelling the the bloody afterbirth (which thankfully she and Mocha ate so I didn't have to clean it up), Mocha had his way with her and poor Honey was pregnant AND nursing her babies at the same time. Men!

It was a lot of fun for the neighborhood kids to come over and visit all the babies.  We decided the guinea pigs needed to run around outside (and the smell was killing me) so we put a fence around the dog run and put a chicken house out there to accommodate the Honey-Mocha clan.  The kids named all the babies after all Pokemon characters and decorated the fence with Pokemon cards.

RS-D eventually heard about a 4H Club that showed guinea pigs in contests. I immediately had images of RS-D living a fresh scrubbed life like Fern from Charlotte's Web so I signed her up.

 We drove way out to the farmlands on a weekly basis to hang with the fellow guinea pig lovers.  RS-D loved it and I tried my hardest to bond my fellow guinea pig lover moms. It was a tough job becasuse when I first arrived at the Guinea Pig Den Mother's house, I was shocked to see that she had lined two of her dining room walls with floor to ceiling guinea pig cages!

Like these.
 There had to be 25 cages per wall and they were on wheels so she could roll them out in the back yard for cleaning. I am not kidding!!!  I was in a serious guinea pig situation.

Eventually, the Big 4H Show came to the next county so RS-D eagerly signed up and we drove off with her dear Honey sitting on her lap.  I had never been to a 4H Show and aside from it being held right next to a Gun Show, it was very innocent and Charlotte's Web-ish. The kids all seemed so sweet and I was thrilled for RS-D, who was dressed in the prerecquiste jeans, white shirt and 4H scarf.  I admit, it was a teary moment for me as I watched her proudly place Honey into the "Cavy Contest" (I adopted the insider terminology.)  I was beyond dreamy watching this adorable tableaux of motherhood unfold before my eyes...with Paul Lynde and Debbie Reynolds singing the songs from Charlotte's Web as my misty musical underscore.

Shock and awe might well describe the reaction of the two toothless guinea pig judges who insisted RS-D immediately remove Honey from all the other "sows."  RS-D was perplexed and I didn't feel my feet crunching the stupid hay as I stomped over to inquire about their mistreatment of our dear sweet, mother of 13, Honey.

"She's got mange!!" they indignantly and I am not kidding, haughtily shouted for everyone to hear.

 As I tried to shield RS-D from the elbows of the other kids who were angrily reaching over to grab their perfect guinea pigs from getting any where near RS-D's, my eyes found our Guinea Pig Den Mother.  I quietly shrugged my shoulders and told her what the judges said and she frowned.  At first I thought it was out of sympathy for RS-D but as she began to give me the top to bottom on what mange actually is (contagious and mites is all you need to know) she actually insinuated that I needed to brush up on my guinea pig mothering skills and that perhaps we should look into buying RS-D a "show quality" guinea pig (for a couple of hundred bucks)  who would not live in the "outside" family quarters/dog run. As the words tumbled out of her mouth like Charlie Brown's teacher, I couldn't help but think that her two walls of show quality Guinea pigs were probably worth a heck of a lot of money.  But I bet she didn't have a Guinea pig who made such a difference in so many people's lives.

Mangy Ol' Honey meant the world to me, RS-D, The Smarter Spicoli, The Weatherman, The King, Mocha, all her babies and the neighborhood kids.  There is always a little part of me that wonders if animals know what is going on around them and, at that moment,  I secretly hoped that Honey didn't suffer the indignity of her ordeal.  However, I must say, I walked out of that 4H Show proud to be Honey's mother!

RS-D did get a ribbon for being "part of the 4H Show" and, thankfully, she really didn't grasp the whole "mangy guinea pig" debacle. I made sure I took a picture of RS-D and Honey and the ribbon and I put it in the newspaper.

RS-D was so proud of Honey and didn't participate in the 4H program after that big show because she was more interested in "playing" with her guinea pigs and not worrying about mange.  And, I was so proud of RS-D for finding the real reason to love someone who is really different.

I try to do the same.

Parental SUPERvision power:  Have fun, play and not worry about mange (or judgement or fear or the "what ifs.")

Scepters UP!!


The Power: Knowing Facebook is "The Cocktail Party You Are Not Invited To"

I used to LOVE Facebook for The Weatherman.  Being a kid "on the spectrum" means a lot of time alone and for a couple of years, I thought Facebook gave him the cultural references he needed to be on common ground with his otherwise typical peers.  He felt extremely cool as he navigated the silly "Why do Chicks Love You" questionairres and other goofy "groups" that made the isolated kids in the world feel like they were part of something.   I was relieved for him!

But somehow someone had thrown Kryptonite my way and my trusty Parental SUPERvision was disabled!  What was I thinking!  I used to make The Smarter Spicoli and his sister Rainbow Sparkle-Dazzle "get off the Facebook cocktail party!"  I would freak out when they were trying to do "homework" and Facebook was always on their screens when I would walk in their room.  (Parental SUPERvision power...catlike tiptoeing into any given room, undetected)

When we were kids it was easy to sit in your room and wring your hands over what you might be missing in the hormone-filled world of high school.  Can you imagine how much it stinks to be in your room all alone, turn on Facebook and see all the kids who are having fun, attending parties that you are not invited too, hooking up with all the kids you wanted to be hooking up with? What a nightmare! What a mind melt.  Any teenager worth their salt would have a tough time publically viewing all the stuff they are not included in!

How did I not see that coming for The Weatherman?

As The Weatherman wandered through his awkward adolecence armed with primo UCLA social skills our heartbreak for him was withering as we watched him flounder with his typical peers.  The Weatherman was doing EVERYTHING he learned at UCLA, to approach a desirable peer group (hummm), figuring out the desirable peer group (of course, The Weatherman was only attracted to the cool kids.)  He was pretty miserable.  

The final nail on our parental coffin was when we discovered that he was BEGGING on Facebook for anyone to come over to our house to hang out with him because he was so lonely.

Even one came over.

So, Facebook, "The Cocktail Party That You're Not Invited To" and I are in a SUPER Power struggle.

I HATE FACEBOOK!  Kids can say ANYthing to anyone and worst of all, they can publically "un-friend" anyone!  That is social torture!

Could I get arrested if I created a Facebook persona of the Weatherman, surrounded by hot girls, attending amazingly fun events, with tons of people responding to his funny posts so the other kids he knows at school will think he is cool and WANT to be his real and Facebook friend?

It sounds crazy, but think about it, it could be a helluva lot of fun AND it could really work.  In fact, it could be a really great movie....hummm....

Scepters UP!!!


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Power: Boycott cooking for the family.

Oh my god!!  If I have to tailor make another dinner for this family I am going to scream.  I am not freaking Julia Child (though my ultra cool sister-in-law worked for her!)  I cook meals that require a lot of time and reflect great thought into each and every crazy taste bud in this family.

 The Weatherman hates every vegetable on the planet, won't eat red meat, won't eat food that the Rabbi says "no" to and he basically can't handle sitting at the dinner table anyway, so I am used to just figuring his daily needs as they come up and besides, if he gets really hungry, he would step over my dead body and prepare whatever he wants...and leave a hurricane of cooking debris for me to clean up.

Rainbow Sparkle-Dazzle hates spicy food and would never eat something that has a mother.  Dang-it!!  I mean, I guess fish have mothers but if you consider the fact that they spray out their eggs and barely stick around for the grand entrance of the males' sperm blowing spectacle (what else is new) that a salient humanitarian point for missing out on my "Blackened Salmon?"

The Smarter Spicoli eats anything I make!  He LOVES my cooking and it took me a while to realize that some of his overly zealous comments on my meals might have been a result of "the munchies."  He is now a sophomore at a university that only takes very smart kids so I feel confident that his brain isn't completely addled and perhaps, his love of my meals is legitimate.

The he is the pickiest eater, if that is possible.  Many a night he arrives home for dinner...full! His office staff makes sure that his early morning coffee, his lunch and his afternoon "pick-me-up" address his every hunger pang.  What can I say!!  I pre-prep the dinner menu to accommodate his fish allergy and try to give him a very fat free meal choice.  But, aside from providing a Roman style "Vomitorium"  for him to arrive at my dinner table "prepared"...he is just as difficult as the kids.

So after driving around all afternoon and managing to figure out how to get a warm home-cooked meal on the table most nights like a good mother, what Super Power do I conjure up when faced with these inhabitants of my home?  Flat out Boycotting.  Face it.  Why kill myself creating magic in the kitchen when the effort goes unnoticed or worse yet, unappreciated?

I seriously did that for 2 weeks last year and the resulting chaos my boycotting caused was my own.  The family was thrilled to eat everything unhealthy, out of a box and microwaved.  I shuddered over my private organic salads and grilled salmon while I watched my loved ones clog their arteries and poison their their bodies!!  But I held firm figuring that by two weeks of this kind of eating they would lug their sludge-blood fueled lethargic bodies to the dinner table and beg me to resume cooking!  They did but they are still a picky lot!!

A far more famous queen than I uttered the words that seem so relevant to me today  "Let them eat cake!"  And you know what, my SUPERvision says, WTF?!

Scepters UP!!