Wanted: Your Parental Two Cents

Help! 

This is a touchy subject.  I wouldn’t be broaching the subject if I wasn’t at my wit’s end.  The whole thing embarrasses me… and Daddy-O.  Apparently, though, it doesn’t embarrass the one person it should!  Frankly, I just do not know what to do about my oldest son.

He steals.  He takes little things from stores – things he can fit in his pockets unnoticed like lip balm or those stupid silly bands.  He pockets small objects, toys mostly, from his cousins – though he is always quick to proclaim innocence and ulterior action.  I believe he pilfers erasers and pencils, etc. from the school book fair but can’t actually confirm it.  And, most recently, he has taken candy from a friend.

This has been going on in various manifestations since he was 3 years old.  The week before his 3rd birthday we went to the party store to buy stuff for his birthday party.  He asked for a mylar balloon.  I said no.  When I put him into his car seat I noticed something sticking out from the pocket of his sweatpants.  He had stuffed them full of latex balloons.  I immediately marched him in to the store and made him return them to the cashier and confess (in front of a long line of customers).  The cashier was embarrassed and dismissive.  “It’s not a big deal”, she said to me in front of Ben.  I stridently disagreed, took my son home and spanked his bottom (with my hand, thank you very much overly-concerned-about-corpal-punishment people). 

A couple of years later he took some lip balm from the local surf shop.  Then went out of his way to show me the item as soon as Daddy-O brought him home.  Busted by his own bragging.  He’s cute but not the brightest bulb in the pack.  Off he went with Daddy-O; back to the surf shop.  We asked that the owner call the police.  (There had been other incidents here and there that I just can’t remember now.)  The owner refused but did give a very appropriate lecture on the distrust for a petty thief and how they will be followed every time they enter a store.  We also made him pay for the item as well as return it.  Hit him in his pocketbook, so to speak. 

Fast forward to the last few months.  I suspect, though cannot prove, that he pilfered copious amounts of pencils and erasers from the book fair at school.  I can’t prove it because he says he bought them.  And he does have money from time to time.  And I don’t keep an inventory of what he has in the art supply category.  So I looked at him suspiciously and asked the question and raised my eyebrow at his response then let it go.  I dropped the ball, I guess.  Perhaps I should have followed up with the school… but I work and I’m busy and gah… that just seems like so. much. trouble….  and maybe a little bit I didn’t really want to know anyway.  sigh.   Same thing with those ridiculous silly bands all the kids are wearing these days.  Daddy-O bought him one pack.  One pack.  Next thing I know he has about 300,000 of them on his arms.  Where are they coming from?  Traded them at school.  Bought them at the market.  Blah, blah.  Again, no proof.  No pudding.  No trust. 

At Christmas time, he lifted a few flies from the Fly Shop in Redding.  I caught him pretty quickly when my Mom-Radar was activated by his suspicious behavior when I walked in the room.  He received a nice and appropriate bare-bottomed spanking and, again, he was taken to the store and forced to confess and return the items. 

Then last night he took a roll of Lifesavers from his buddy.  Stupid Lifesavers! And from a friend!  He’s losing his electronics through the weekend.  He’ll go over tonight and have to look his friend in the eye and tell him he took something from him.  The thing is, I don’t think it’s the first time he’s taken something from friends.  There is a suspicious PS2 game at our house when we never had a PS2.  He says his friend at Nana’s house gave it to him.  I don’t believe him any more.  On the other hand, why would he steal a game for a system we didn’t even have? 

So here is where you come in.  I don’t know what to do.  I can’t seem to get anyone to call the police on him.  Obviously, talking to him and shaming him in front of the merchants isn’t working.  He’s getting to that transitional age where things cease to be “stages” and become traits set in stone.  It’s a dangerous, messed up path he’s on.  I have a few ideas gathered from friends over the years of dealing with this.  Most are pretty harsh, which I like.  I feel like it’s going to take a rather large shock to break this cycle.  Here are some of my ideas.  I welcome beg for your feedback and suggestions.

Solution #1:  AN EYE FOR AN EYE.  Take away something of his each and every time he takes something from someone else.  Perhaps give said item to the victim as a form of restitution. 

My thoughts:  All for it, except I am usually the one buying his stuff so I’m really hurting myself.  Him, too, of course.  It’s hard for me to agree to giving away items I’ve worked hard to buy. 

Solution #2:  CAN’T TOUCH THIS.  Make him walk with his hands behind his back whenever he’s in a store/at friend’s house.  Stop him before leaving and publicly search his pockets.

My thoughts:  This one is going to happen regardless but I just don’t think it’s enough. 

Solution #3:  HUMILIATION.  My old sitter suggested this one.  When she had the same problem with her daughter she made a sign that said, “My name is _____ and I am a thief!”  She then had her march in front of the victimized store (I think it was a grocery store) for 30 minutes during rush hour.

My thoughts:  I really, really like this one.  I just don’t know what to do about location.  March up and down in front of his friend’s house?  Or maybe location isn’t the important thing…  Maybe in front of the grocery store for maximum exposure… 

Solution #4:  FORE WARNED IS FORE ARMED.  Make him (or us, perhaps) announce to store managers or parents upon his arrival that he is a thief and bears watching. 

My thoughts:  Nice.  But equally as humiliating for Daddy-O and I.  Don’t know if I’m that strong for the long haul.

Solution #5:  HUMILIATION TAKE TWO.  Make him a t-shirt to be worn either to school for a day or out and about on errands that says roughly the same thing as Solution #3. 

My thoughts:  Schools may deem this abusive.  And I do have concerns about alienating all his friends. 

Now it’s time for YOUR thoughts.  Please, please help. 

Note:  Drive-by’s wishing to only snark at my parenting skills without helpful advice are not welcome and can kiss my, well, you know. 

Today in history…

Today is an historically auspicious day both internationally and personally. Here are just a few of the significant events from this day in history:

  • In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue and landed in North America , er … the Bahamas?  Wait a minute!  Did I already know that?!  Maybe I did but conveniently forgot a fact that didn’t fit easily with my preconceptions.  I’m like that sometimes… all American and stuff.
  • In 1609 the Children’s rhyme Three Blind Mice” was published in London.  Without that happy little rhyme we wouldn’t have an ironic costume for Danny to wear some Halloween-Yet-To-Be-Determined.  
  • In 1792 Columbus Day is 1st celebrated.  In the Bahamas?  I’m just sayin’…
  • In 1969 Yoko Ono suffered another miscarriage.  I have no reply to that.
  • In 2006 the Estrogen Reign over my body ended in a relatively bloodless coup by the removal of my ovaries. 

You would think I would miss them wouldn’t you?  My ovaries, that is.  Really, though, not so much.  Sure, they were handy to have around when I was trying to get pregnant.  But after that they sort of become a liability – always hanging out with their implied fertility…   Who needs that kind of pressure?!

I remember when my oncologist recommended I have them taken out.  I was completely unaffected.  Take ’em!  I wasn’t really all that attached.  My ovaries had played a roll in the the second most traumatic event in my life. Sadly, my cancer diagnosis ranks a distant third behind my ectopic pregnancy and ruptured fallopian tube.  Finding out about Danny’s blindness sits firmly at the top of the list.  

Long story short, with the potential of ovarian cancer looming in my future, I did not even hesitate to have the little suckers ripped out!  Too harsh?  Well, to quote Dr. Seuss, “I do not like green eggs and ham.  I do not like them Sam I Am!”  I certainly considered them to be green!!! 

Actually, I do miss them… or at least their estrogen.  Let me tell you, every horror story you’ve ever heard about menopause is completely not exaggerated!  The night sweats?  Gah!  The night sweats are soooooo much worse than I ever imagined!  Which isn’t a bad thing if you like to sleep in a sauna, swim wake in a puddle of your own sweat and compulsively change linens in the wee hours. 

And the “flushing”!  Obviously that term originated with a man.  No menopausal woman in her right mind would refer to it in such a minimizing way.  It’s more like standing in the heat of a kitchen on Thanksgiving Day if Thanksgiving were held on the 4th of July in Death Valley… and the kitchen were not a kitchen but hidden pockets of invisible heated torture everywhere. you. are.  Yeah.  Now that I think about it, “flushing” sums it up fairly accurately. 

You know, it wasn’t so bad when I was bald from chemo.  I’m a head-sweater which is bad enough if you have nice thick hair and completely bites when your hair is so fine it already molds to your head and neck.  So, I really kind of liked the whole bald thing.  I’d be hanging out, minding my own business when a slow burn would stoke itself somewhere deep inside.  I can’t even explain where the heat originates.  Perhaps as low as my feet, maybe somewhere in my chest cavity…  but it certainly ends within my head and neck.  When I was bald I could feel the sweat beads pop out of my scalp like popcorn, slowly at first, then with wild abandon.  Pop.  Pop, pop!  Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop!!!! But all I had to do was wipe my head with my hand or a towel.  Ah… sweet, blessed baldness.

These days I just keep cutting my hair shorter and shorter in futile attempts to stave off the perpetual bad hair day.  Gah!

There is hope, however.  My oncologist prescribed Effexor to treat my hot flashes.  It’s a mild anti-depressant with a happy side effect of reducing hot flashes and mood swings.  Hurrah!

Since I don’t remember my original point I should probably stop while I’m ahead.  To sum up, many years ago today Columbus discovered the Bahamas, Yoko had another miscarriage and I lost my ovaries.  And menopause sucks!

Got it?

Good.  My work here is done.

Putting on the Pink

Ironically, Danny first refused to nurse on my right breast in October 2005– my first sign of cancer.  It’s appropriate that I ended my breast cancer treatments nearly three years ago during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

It took me only five weeks to realize that something was wrong with my body. The last normal weeks of my life.  It took another four weeks for a breast exam, mammogram, ultrasound, surgical appointments, fine needle aspiration and finally, a core needle biopsy, before my diagnosis on December 22.  Merry Christmas.  Nine weeks.  And life is never the same again.  Nine. Short. Weeks. And every month since has been Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

So I’m putting on the pink for the month of October.  I hope it helps even one woman do a self-exam!

In the meantime, however, I have a website to share with you.  It’s called The Urban Dictionary.  It is a dictionary of slang.  Like Wikipedia, Urban Dictionary is publicly defined site.  As a parent I find this site extremely useful.  As an ex-kid I find it irresistibly entertaining!  In that light I offer you a few of my recently found favorite slang words.  See if you can figure out which one I submitted…

 Cybercondriac:  An individual that reads symptoms of illnesses on the net and begins to believe they’re sick.

Half your age plus seven:  A dividing-line / rule, whereby one may not make a Romantic/erotic/sexual move toward someone who is not at least half one’s age, plus seven more years.  Ha!  My co-worker is forever quoting this rule.  He swears that since he is 30 it is ok for him to date women that are 22.  Makes perfect sense until you reverse it.  By this calculation at 43 I should be able to date a man twice my age less 7 years.  That’s 72 years old!!!!! Gah!

Restless Lip Syndrom:  When a person keeps interrupting a conversation and can’t keep their mouth shut.  Hee…  I know a few who suffer from this.


Sticker Paralysis:  The effect caused by having a really awesome sticker and no appropriate place to use it. General symptoms include keeping the sticker in a drawer and never actually using it. Sometimes resulting in affixation remorse.

Nipple Envy:  What a woman feels when she sees another woman’s nipple erection and hasn’t completed her post-mastectomy reconstruction.  I so suffer from this!!!!!

Pisshap:  A mishap involving urine, usually after a mass amount of alcohol has been consumed.  This one has worked its way into my every day conversation!!!!!  And that’s kind of sad…

Pardon me while I dust off the cobwebs…

Phew! Things get really dusty around here when no one’s around!

Ah. That’s better. Now, where was I? Ah, yes… I was having a birthday. Well, hell. That seems sooooo long ago.

You might be happy to know that I’ve made a mid-year’s resolution. (Perhaps I’ll be able to better ward off the New Year’s Resolution Jinx this way.) I have resolved to renew my blogging. This past 6 months or so has been very stressful for me for no particular reason that I can determine (other than life, itself). Writing has always helped me sort through my feelings of anger, frustration, fear and inadequacy. For my own mental health, and the sanity of my family, I am back.

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Today I would like to direct your attention to an interesting headline I ran across this morning.

1. Breast cancer treatments impact work status. Well, now. There’s a news flash! And worse yet, the article was not much more enlightening.

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In other news, I am reading my internet friend and co-blogger at Mothers With Cancer, Laurie Kingston’s book, Not Done Yet: Living Through Breast Cancer. Laurie blogs over at Not Just About Cancer. I am sooooo loving her book and will be writing a review shortly.

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Lastly, as our typical summer would have it, my boys are having an extended visit at Nana’s house. I really miss them. In theory. Does it make me a bad mom if I’m content to just hear their voices and see the occasional smiling pictures but don’t long to have them back home?

I’ve pondered this question a lot lately. They’ve been gone 11 days today. Maybe it’s because I know this respite has a finite time period; that they’ll be back, larger than life, soon enough. Maybe it’s because I welcome the peace that has settled over my house in the last 11 days. Maybe it’s because Daddy-O and I realized this week that we don’t fight when we don’t have kids. We love each other when we don’t have kids.

We will attempt to remember that once we DO have kids again.

Tagging Tidbits

I love a good game of tag. My personal favorite is Sock Chalk Tag. You fill a tube sock with powdered chalk, the one who’s IT wields the sock to tag everyone else. If you swing the sock & hit someone with it, it will leave a chalk mark on their clothes.

But this game of tag could be fun too. RivkA of Coffee & Chemo, tagged me to tell a bit of randomness about myself.

Here are the rules:
1. Link to your tagger and list these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people (if possible) at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blogs.

So here goes nothing:

1. I have ADD.

2. I absolutely HATE to do housework… so I usually don’t.

3. I had a pet lamb when I was a little girl and we raised her in the house for the winter because her mother wouldn’t take her back.

4. I hate to dance.

5. I always wanted to be a writer but I suck at it. I couldn’t make up a whole story to save my life.

6. I could live on breakfast cereal and Oreos.

7. I never wear underwear because they always end up in my butt. Seriously. How does everyone stand it?

Well, now that that’s done… I get to play some tag with my friends. So I think I’ll tag….

Sarah over at The Killer Boob
Jan of Jan’s Bucket List (Hi Mom!)
Sarah from Sprucehill
Karen of Kazscrapz ‘n thingz
Mary Beth Volpini
Sherry Smyth from ABreast In The World
and ClergyGirl

Imaginary friends, clinical trials and the joys of poop

I’ve had a bunch of things to share with you, none of which seemed worthy of a whole post in and of themselves. So today will be a Tapas Topic day, in that the subjects will be small and plentiful yet not enough to make a post.

Tapa numero uno
First there is this new site called BreastCancerTrials.Org that lets you enter your health history, then matches you up with any clinical trials you might qualify for. All for free. How cool is that? Well, not cooler than not actually having cancer… but still pretty nifty.

I entered my information. Since I am currently cancer-free, am not undergoing any treatments and do not take Herceptin or any other receptor-positive treatments (praise God for all that), I only qualify for two trials, neither of which I am interested in at the moment. The first, categorized as Supportive, was on treating vaginal dryness for women with breast cancer. Um, yeah. No thanks. The second is Preventative in nature and one I would be interested in if it were closer to me. It is on diet and exercise to prevent breast cancer or a recurrence. So interested in that. Unfortunately, the nearest research site is Houston, TX. But that doesn’t mean YOU won’t have better luck so go fill out your own health history and see what pops up.

Tapa numero dos
And did I tell you that Danny has an imaginary friend. Yep. It’s official. Absolutely no one knows who Brenden is – ergo, he must only exist in D’s imagination – unless he suddenly grew a social life I don’t know about. (And how unfair would that be since I don’t have one?) I guess Brenden has been hanging around in conversation for about 5 or 6 weeks now. I actually thought he was a real kid. Danny talks about him the same way he talks about everyone else, in the third person, in question format, as if he interacts with them on a daily basis. (i.e. “Does Alayna clap at the soccer game?”) I just assumed Brenden was one of the boys in his new preschool class. When I finally got around to asking, turns out he’s not.

I’ve never known anyone that actually had an imaginary friend. Intellectually I know there is nothing wrong with it but I guess I’ve still always thought there was just a little something off about those kids. And that’s not to say there isn’t something a just a little off about Danny either… However, this article I found from the Seattle Post – Intelligencer Reporter was comforting nonetheless.

Tapa numero tres
For those of you sick to death of politics, please skip this tapa. Actually, this might fall more under the confession category than anything else. I voted “yes” on Proposition 8 – the ban on gay marriage. Weeks ago, actually. And now I wish I could take back my vote. I have never had an issue with civil unions or any of the other rights or privileges that come along with such a legal status. My single objection has always been with calling a same-sex partnership a marriage. How hypocritical of me. Who am I to deny equality to any segment of society? The worst of it is that I knew it was hypocritical and discriminatory when I cast the vote. And still I did it! I voted with my emotions and not my intellect. Gah! I hope it is overturned – again.

Tapa numero quatro
I promise this one is lighter by far. We’ve been seeing an ADD specialist for Ben, Dr. Flaton. I really, really like working with her. She’s already given me great insight into what it must be like to be ADHD… helped me see things from Ben’s viewpoint. At any rate, she gave Ben a bunch of questions to answer before our next appointment. They are haaard questions. At least I thought so. I guess they could be perfectly simple also. The few that Ben completed I thought were answered very well. (spelling has been corrected because I couldn’t stand it.)

  1. Tomorrow I will “go to the beach and play.”
  2. I wish that I “was rich and famous.”
  3. I worry about “my little brother.”
  4. I hope “I will never die in a 100 years.”
  5. My father “is going fishing today.”
  6. In school I “learn about science.”
  7. It isn’t nice to “be a bully to other kids.”
  8. My teacher “is nice and kind.”

Tapa numero cinco
Yesterday was our last soccer obligation for the season. It was an entire tournament day. We love soccer and have had a wonderful season – even though we haven’t won a single game. Well, before yesterday. We actually won the very last game of the season. 4-0. Woohoo! The boys were thrilled! Here is a picture of Ben celebrating with Coach Daddy-O.

Sweet, huh? Oh course, that’s not the real story here. Danny and I sat on the sidelines the whole day. We had a great time cheering an clapping for Ben’s team.

Unfortunately, Danny had an accident in his pants because the port-a-potties were so far away.

Fortunately, I had thought ahead and put him in a pull-up before we left the house.

Unfortunately, I had already removed all kid stuff from my van in preparation for Daddy-O’s fishing trip so I didn’t have any wipes or other pull-ups. Yikes! It was only 10 AM.

Fortunately, one of the other mom’s had everything I needed. Day saved. After lunch there was another small accident before we made it to the outhouse.

Unfortunately, this time there was diarrhea involved. Ack! Still no supplies and now day-saving mom had taken her diaper bag to lunch.

Fortunately, Danny doesn’t mind going commando.

Unfortunately, the diarrhea wasn’t an isolated incident.

Fortunately, he was wearing very dark, thick pants and there wasn’t very much of it… that second time.

Unfortunately, there was also a third time.

All I can say is that my youngest son is such a trooper. He was swooped up, rushed home, stripped, thrown in a bath, scrubbed within an inch of his life, brusquely dried & redressed then back at the soccer fields within 30 minutes. Surely a record.

Portions cross posted to Mothers With Cancer

Don’t forget to vote. And keep your truck window closed

I have a very nice post about Obama but first here’s one about the truck I followed home from work.

There I was, minding my own business, when the rear window in the truck I was following slid open… and a butt popped out. I looked at it for a second or two.

It was young. Or female. Or unnaturally smooth and free of hair.

Then it sank in… “That’s an ass.” I looked at the clock on my dash and it was only 11:30 am. Granted, Daylight Savings Time just ended this weekend but even 12:30 pm is a little early for the moon to be out, don’t you think?

Back to our originally scheduled post:

I had a very heartfelt post written about why I think Barack Obama is the best man to lead our country at this moment in history. How having a Kenyan father and a white mother and being raised in an average household in the heartland of America has made him the epitome of the American Dream. Senator Obama does not seek the Presidency from an origin of privilege. His beginnings are humble. His family like yours and mine. Working class. One-time food stamp recipients. College educated on scholarships and hard work. Sacrificing for what was wanted and needed. How if anyone could understand what we as a Country of working class citizens are experiencing, it is certainly Barack Obama and not a man who cannot immediately recall the number of houses he owns.

Not only is Obama one of us, he is a learned man. And he inspires. There are those who say he hasn’t enough experience. Or that what he wants to accomplish depends on such an unlikely set of circumstance so as to virtually impossible. But inspiration is a strange thing. Hope and inspiration. Those two things can change the world. They can turn the most jaded of politicians into a believer again.

The bottom line is that I believe he can do what he plans to do. I believe HE believes he can do it too. And that, my friends, is a far sight more than I believe about most politicians. So he has my vote. He also has my appreciation for reminding me that this Country should be great. And that it can be again. It’s something I forgot after September 11th, 2001 and didn’t even realize it…

I had a post like that but I accidentally deleted it. Oops. Don’t forget to vote.