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. 

Advocacy and lymphedema sleeves

Yesterday, Susan made a big announcement.  She is one of my cancer sisters, founder and co-contributor at Mothers with Cancer, blogger at Toddler Planet  and Women in Planetary Science and friend.  She is also an astonishing advocate for, well, everyone. 

Susan has  lymphedema in her arm as a result of having lymph nodes removed from under her arm during her mastectomy.  It’s a real issue.  Lymphedema causes swelling in the affected area due to the build up of lymphatic fluids.  Once swelling has occurred it can really only be reduced a certain percentage.  In other words, the area will never again return to normal size.  The trick is to keep the are from swelling in the first place.  This is where  LympheDIVAs come it.  They have taken a sterile, ugly medical appliance and made it beautiful:  the compression sleeve.  I can’t imagine what it would do to my self-image if  I had to wear something like this all day, every day (not to mention what it would do for my hot flashes!).

   

When you buy a sleeve from LympheDIVA, though, you can make it your own, match your outfits, show your personality, feel beautiful

 

   

Of course, there’s a price for beauty.  Isn’t there always?  And LympheDIVA sleeves aren’t cheap.  In fact, as Susan’s lymphedema Therapist pointed out to her, many women can’t afford to buy sleeves at all, which causes the tissue in their arms to harden.  Here’s part of an email Susan sent to me:

Last month, I was lying on the table having my arm worked on as my lymphedema therapist tried to reduce the swelling in my arm.  I try to zone out a little, as it’s not all that comfortable, but we got to talking about my pretty lymphedema sleeves, which you guys have seen me wear around town and at BlogHer. 

Apparently, I’ve been living with my head under a rock, as I was surprised to hear her say, “so many of my patients can’t afford lymphedema sleeves, and their arms are so much harder.  The tissue actually changes, and their arms are stiff or puffy no matter what I do.”

Can’t afford lymphedema sleeves?  Well of course that’s true, isn’t it, as they cost $100 and up for each arm, and it’s important to have two sets – one to wash, and one to wear.  I started rolling solutions around in my brain.

So, being the giving woman and problem-solver that Susan is, she began looking for programs to help those in need in her little corner of the world.  She found none.  By happenstance and good connections, she was introduced to a foundation, Crickett’s Answer, who agreed to work with LympheDIVA and donate some sleeves and gauntlets for women in need.  Next thing you know, $12,000 worth of  lymphedema sleeves are now available through Crickett’s Answer for these women!!!

This is awesome!  Wonderful!  Amazing!  And generous!  But here’s the part that floors me.  Susan, is not just a cancer survivor, she is a current cancer patient.  She has two small boys at home, she works for NASA, and she’s had a recurrence of  her Inflammatory Breast Cancer.  She mothered and worked and rested throughout the spring and summer while she also underwent chemotherapy and radiation for a regional recurrence.  Now, this week, while making numerous phone calls to foundations, organizations and businesses in order to help other women , she had a PET scan which revealed six small spots on her lungs

I am heartbroken.  For me and for Susan and her family.  For the world really.  Susan is one of the good ones.  She is tireless in her advocacy.  She is dedicated to her family and her work.  She is generous to a fault.  And she will more than likely die of breast cancer. 

The bright spot in this scenario is that Susan is creating a legacy of epic proportions.  (Yes I said “epic”  even if it is a banished word!  I’m a rebel like that.)  She is raising the bar.  She is a role model in every sense of the word.  She is that better person that makes me want to be one, too.

What I worry about…

Hoo boy!  Today’s suggested topic from The Daily Post is “Are you stressed out?” Well, really… who isn’t stressed out these days?  If you’re not unemployed or under-employed or upside down in your house or already lost it you’re in the minority.  It seems like everyone is broke.  There are furloughs and lay-offs and foreclosures everywhere I look.

Daddy-O and I are working.  Thank you, God.  We are, however, trying to navigate the quagmire that is the Mortgage Loan Modification process.  They sure don’t make it easy but they do make it extra stressful so that’s something.  Heh.  Business has really picked up for Daddy-O in the last month or two so we’re starting to see a wee, tiny light at the end of the tunnel.  (Hopefully, it’s not a train.)  But that is not where my stress lies.

Danny needs scleral shells.  I’ve known about it for a while now but life always seems to get away from me.  When I got his school pictures back in November I realized how imperative it is that we start the process of getting his prosthetic eyes.  His eye socket seems to be dropping.  His face is becoming asymmetrical.  Not. Good.  What’s really not good, though, is the cost associated with the shells.

 

Danny's Kindergarten Picture

 

D. Danz & Sons is the company that services our area.  Luckily, I hear they are one of the best available in the prosthetic eye business.  That’s the good news.

The bad news is that the cost for each eye is $4,610.  Yep.  You read it right…  for the pair of shells it will cost a whopping nine thousand two hundred twenty dollars!  $9,220! The worse news is that my insurance will only pay $1,000 total.

I really don’t know how we’re ever going to pay for it.  NOT getting them is not an option, though.  sigh.  I never thought I’d need to worry about things like this since I have very good insurance through work.  It’s funny how you don’t realize just how difficult medical (and insurance) issues are until there is a problem…

I did get a point in the right direction from our Pediatrician.  They told me about a local organization called Jack’s Helping Hand.  I had heard about them before because they have a toy lending library for special needs kids.  What I didn’t know is that they have a program to help with medical/lodging/travel costs not covered by insurance.  I just need to hurry up and do the paperwork since Danny’s appointment is February 19th.

Please put in some prayer time asking that Jack’s Helping Hand accepts our request.  I honestly don’t know how we’ll cover the costs if they don’t.  Perhaps  we’ll do some sort of fund-raiser.

Anyway… that’s my big worry these days.  Not as big or bad as it could be.  Not so different from anyone else.  Just money.  Just with a little twist…

What Makes Me Smile…

Look at me!  One day past my 2011 resolution and I’m already living up to my end of the bargain.  Go me! 

Today’s topic from The Daily Post is “Something that makes you smile.”  Gee… where to begin?  I could start with my family. There’s my Mom whose view of life is only a tad more warped than my own, and Daddy-O who is full of teasing and is really quite funny if I’m not taking him too seriously.  Of course my little man, Danny, keeps me in stitches constantly with his sweet, innocent and down right silly comments on just about everything (see the Favorite Quotes tab at the top of this blog).  Or Ben who is growing more serious by the day but makes me smile just thinking of his handsome face.  Or my bff who never fails to have me smiling just from her plain old understanding of me.  Or I could mention my co-workers who are beyond amusing.  Or Facebook that makes me grin from ear-to-ear on a daily basis.  To be completely honest, however, there is only one thing that amuses me beyond everything else.

Sadly, it’s snarking and sarcasm that really make me smile.  I know.  I know!  It’s not right or politically correct or even nice, but I love it just the same.  This is easily my biggest character flaw.  Last year I resolved to be a better person.  Heh!  That was a lost cause.  In the first week of 2010 I nearly severed my tongue for all the biting.  After a few weeks of pent up put-downs the dam simply broke.  There was no going back.  Truth be told, I wouldn’t have gone back if I could!  Sometimes, you just have to admit your faults and go with them.  😉

I Resolve…

Happy Twenty Eleven.  2011.  I’ve struggled with resolutions for this year.  I hate making them because I rarely keep them.  In fact, it almost seems that my formal resolution to X means that is the very last thing I will actually accomplish within the year.  I’m just contrary like that.  Sadly, I never manage to work the reverse-psychology angle of this particular personality trait.  The one year I managed to keep my resolution is the year I resolved to gain weight.  Again, I can’t seem to out-smart myself.  sigh.

So this year I’m resolving something that will not harm nor foul anyone should I (once again) fail miserably.  That being said, I’m counting on all of you to keep me honest.

I have decided I want to blog more.  Starting right now.  I will be posting on this blog, maybe once a day (a high-reaching fantasy), but for sure once a week, for all of 2011.

I can’t promise all my posts will be interesting to anyone but me.  Sometimes I tend to forget that a blog is intended as an online diary of sorts…  I’m hoping the more I write the more I’ll write.  Know what I mean?  So, using my own crazy, hectic life, the inspiration provided by my fellow contributors to Mothers With Cancer, and The Daily Post, I will strive to make personal posting history.

If you already read my blog, I hope you’ll encourage me with comments and likes, and good will along the way…  and a nudge or two when I lag.  K?  Thanks.

Celebrating Today

Today I am celebrating.  Celebrating in every sense of the word, really.  Five years ago this afternoon I received a phone call at work that changed my life path forever.  Cancer. I can honestly say that “why me” never crossed my mind… more “of course me” or “better me…” Don’t ask me why that is because I can’t tell you.  What I can tell you is that from that moment on, I looked at my family and my life in a far, far different way.

In spite of cancer… because of cancer, I celebrate today.  I celebrate my departure from the living-for-tomorrow path I was on.  The always planning for someday and when instead of enjoying today.  This is a very hard concept for me.  Today seems so transient while yesterday and tomorrow are constants to be counted on.  There’s always a certain amount of detachment that comes with living in the past and future.  Detachment is not a luxury afforded the cancer patient.

A controversial subject in the cancer community is whether a cancer diagnosis is a blessing or not.  I stop short of saying it is a blessing but it certainly has brought the many, many blessings in my life to my attention. For that reason as well, I celebrate today.  I have always been a firm believer in “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle” and “all things work for the good of those who believe in Him.”   Cancer hasn’t changed that belief.  I think that somehow, if cancer takes me, it will be of benefit to my husband and boys.  I pray that isn’t in His plan.  And I celebrate that I have had five more years with them beyond that horrible day.

I also celebrate my victory.  Victory over a cancer that kills with no compulsion. Victory over time that tries to run out too fast.  Victory over the negativity and angst that comes hand-in-hand with the promise of death.  Victory in reclaiming my life.

So I celebrate and remember this day, the anniversary of my diagnosis with Inflammatory Breast Cancer, as one would D Day.  I remember and mourn all that was lost to me that day: naivety, invincibility (heh!), youth…  But I celebrate so much more.

Please celebrate with me and look through my eyes at your life and loved ones.

Living Legacy

I’m sure everyone is aware by now that Elizabeth Edwards died from breast cancer yesterday.  I took the news very badly.  I was shocked.  Daddy-O and I had just heard she was stopping treatment the night before.  So quick.  So short a life.

I shed tears for a woman I did not know… and maybe more than a few for the women I do know and have known.  I am not sad for Liz Edwards in death.  She is with her beloved son, Wade, now.  I am certain her mother’s soul is singing with happiness for that.  I am profoundly sad, however, for the trials of her life. 

No mother should have to outlive her child.  No wife should be made to suffer the very public humiliation and betrayal of her husband’s infidelity and subsequent fathering of a child.  No woman should have her life stolen by cancer.  And yet she did.  It is a tragedy in itself that rogue cells should lay her low after having triumphed over adversities that would ruin a lesser woman. 

And that is precisely why I have been so shaken by Liz Edwards’ death.  She was no wilting flower.  She was not one to hang her head in humiliation.  She was the epitome of a strong woman!  She survived more than most.  She had money and influence enough to get the best of medical care.  And still she died.

Cancer is an equal-opportunity destroyer.

That is the scary part of the legacy Elizabeth Edwards leaves behind.  This is the part that makes all of us quake inside and hold our husbands and kids a little bit tighter.  But this is the least of Liz’s legacy.  Her real legacy is raising her children, her unfailing strength, her tireless advocacy and her boundless generosity of spirit. 

Elizabeth Edwards did not let cancer, betrayal or tragedy end her life before her heart actually stopped beating.  She didn’t fade away into non-existence.  She was an active participant  until the very end!  She loved.  She mothered.  She rose above.  And she lived

That is her legacy.  That is what we should all remember!

Cross-posted to Mothers with Cancer