Captain Crapper is on the Scene

I’ve heard there are these mythical beasts, small and mighty, that have shocking powers. I’ve read of newborns that do not insist on being up all day long, infants that actually sleep in beds not shared with their parents and toddlers that sleep all…night…long. (Ok, full disclosure, I’m still waiting for the 7 year-old to sleep through the night.) As I said, I’ve read of these but never witnessed them in the wild, more particularly, I sure as hell never witnessed these oddities within the ranks of my own little buttheads. No, not once have the fruit of my loins taken an easy route anywhere but yesterday, I saw a glimmer of something that has provided me with a tiny shred of optimism that the Nugget might just be preparing to cut Mom a break.

After dropping Big Brother off at school, I looked to my mute counterpart in the backseat and suggested, “How ‘bout we go pick out a potty?” My rational was simple; this whole path to privy perfection was likely going to be something we’d be traversing for the next year or more so now that he was two, we might as well get the ball rolling. His kidney doctors warned us that for kids with hydronephrosis, it can be a long and arduous journey to the throne. Some have too much control, some have too little, there can be bladder spasms, blah, blah, blah and a whole catalog of other possible medically induced toilet training landmines. Also, after all the poking and prodding they’ve faced in the diaper zone, they can also have both fear and distain for anything happening south of the border. (Who can blame them? If you’d had catheters shoved up your Wee Willie Winkey all your life you’d label it a no fly zone too.) Add to all that the fact that my half-breed Turk is about as stubborn as Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent and I figured if its going to take forever, we may as well get us a tiny toddler commode and commence the misery.

Next to weathering a multi-child stomach flu-storm and anything that begins with the word projectile, potty training is the most heinous of all parenting tasks. My first half-breed Turk took about a year to train for no reason other than he is just stubborn. It started out as fear of falling in (Which began shortly after his mother got distracted and let go allowing him to plunge into the icy depths of a Trader Joe’s toilet- my bad.) Then he took to mounting full LA Law-worthy rebuttals each time I tried to use logic and reason to explaining why we don’t crap in our pants (PS- Having a mute toddler after a big talker can actually be a blessing…just saying…) and finally he decided he just wasn’t cut out for potty life. Eventually, as I am Irish and he’s got way too much Turk in him, it came down to a hostile stalemate. For every free-range turd that I found in his pants, I took a toy hostage. Finally, when he was down to a three-wheel dump truck and a horrifyingly ugly jack-in-the-box, he relented and he’s been a normal toilet user ever since, (though his aim is sometimes questionable.)

I assumed, as number two is even more stubborn than the first and on top of that we’d likely be dealing with the medical misery of it all, I was in for a much larger fight so when my suggestion to potty-shop was met with a nod of agreement, I ran with it. (PS- why in the hell were there 15 different choices for potty chairs? It’s for pooping. Must it sing? Need there be glitter or an iPad holder? This is setting up ridiculous expectations for their virgin voyage on the porcelain god. Just sayin’.) When we arrived home and opened the box, the Nugget proceeded to de-pants and go right to work. He then continued to use that non-musical, bare bones, port-a-john every time he needed to go the rest of the day. Day two went just about as well, though we were derailed by a couple surprise grenades thanks to a hearty lunch of beans, but that’s ok. He just turned two a couple months ago. I don’t want to get cocky or anything because my name is synonymous with the odds not being ever in our favor, but could I actually have one of those mythical beasts that potty train themselves? Is it possible to dodge the grossest bullet of parenthood? Is this the universe’s little gift to me for all we’ve been though?

Because my life is so surreal that I’m now relegated to exploring the rational behind the Nugget’s expulsion of bodily fluids, I had to immediately consult with my best mom friend for her take. Her response:

“Maybe he’s just been waiting to excel at something?”

To which I replied, “So he choose pooping? You are telling me my child decided to excel at pooping?” Farewell dreams of having birthed a captain of industry for it seems I have only birthed the captain of crap. Now that is good mothering.

I guess only time will tell if Captain Crapper really is going to train himself. It would stand to reason he’d choose now to go all cold turkey on diapers. After the doctor told us how difficult this task would be, I purchased a box of diapers so large they used a fork-lift to get it into my car. More than once we’ve been told that the Nugget is a medical anomaly, and that with his odds he should play the lottery. I just kind of wish we could’ve won the Powerball instead of the Loo Lotto. It’s all relative I guess.

Never bother a brother when he’s reading…or pooping…or both.

I Suck at American Stay-at-Home Moming

Long, long ago in the early 90’s, if anyone had ever suggested to my bra-burning (Ok I totally never burned a bra because my bodacious girls need support but if I was like an B cup, that thing would’ve been torched.) career driven, feminist self that I put my gazillion dollars’ worth of education on the shelf to be a stay-at-home-mother, I’d have jacked them. However, one thing my young self did not understand is that sometimes circumstances make your choices for you.

In the nearly eight years I’ve had offspring dependent upon me for their survival, circumstances have dictated that I take two tours of duty in the role of stay-at-home mom. One turned out well, the other, well…it’s not looking so good.

My first tour was in Turkey. Prior to the arrival of The Turtle, I was a hard-working broad teaching a full-time schedule in two languages every day. I taught up until I was due when, thanks to the Turk’s job, we moved from the third largest city in Turkey to a village in the middle of bumble. Post-birth of the Turtle and stuck in a remote seaside village, unless I tied on a headscarf and sold tissues to passing tourists like a gypsies, (Why gypsies, why the tissues? Is phlegm really that prominent with those visiting your country?) there was absolutely no place for me to work. It was rough but with the help of my lord and savior Martha Stewart and the interweb, I made it though and by the end I’d become a pretty bad-ass Turkish mother. It wasn’t enough to turn me though and after our repatriation two years later, I ran back into the workforce like my ass was on fire.

This second time around I didn’t voluntarily re-up. I was drafted. And due to my time back in the saddle as a working stiff, I’m not at my top-mom-form like before. I probably should’ve trained before returning to the trenches but it all went down too fast. My recruiter – aka, The Turk- sucked me in by suggesting I was just taking a few weeks off to get the Nugget through surgery, but now it’s morphed into an open-ended tour. In the time since I’ve arrived on the Front,(aka-school pick-up, the playground, the library…) it’s become clear that being a stay-at-home mom in Turkey is vastly different than doing it American style and might I say, dear reader I suck at American stay at home moming and here is why:

  1. I don’t have enough exercise-wear.

In Turkey, you never left home. Ever. You might go out for a walk but the standard mom uniform was a floral scarf jauntily covering your bad hair day and a sweater vest. (I never got down with either but I highly enjoyed the low fashion bar.) Here in the U.S. every damn day at school pick-up those mothers are in color coordinated work-out gear. For the love of God, I even overheard one mother mention she was wearing a yoga-dress. I don’t even understand what that is! Do you really need your bare ass to kiss the sky in the downward dog? While it’s clear most of these mothers did not just dash over from the gym, in their matchy-matchy Sporty Spice outfits even the old gals that jiggle with the giggles look good. I can’t rock that look. I tried. The Turk laughed. Guess I’ll just wear my jeans. Thanks.

  1. I hate playgroups.

In Turkey, the closest thing to a playgroup was the people you might run into on the beach or at the playground. The kids would play, you’d chat and you’d never see them again. No planning. No organizing. No exchange of numbers. That is social interaction the way I like it. Here it’s a whole different story. Pretty much if you don’t want your kid to be like one of Warren Jeffs’ kids raised by sister wives on the tundra of Utah, then you have to go to playgroups. The bigger issue I have is my geriatric memory. I’ve become quite skilled at signing the Nugget up for forced fun only to totally forget. So far since July I’ve signed him up for seven events. We’ve attended none. I suck.

  1. I don’t enjoy mom-talk.

Back in Turkey I’d get together with the women in my building for tea but it was just a gossip-fest and though I spoke Turkish, I could bow out at any moment with the old, “Me no understand.” Here, my world is overloaded with mom-talk, from the playground to the library there are millions of Chatty Cathys waiting to pounce. (Full disclosure – sometimes on the playground I speak to my kids exclusively in Turkish so people think I don’t understand English and therefore won’t talk to me. All’s fair in war I tell ya.) Sure, I can talk babywearing and extended lactation like a hard-core Earth mama. I also get bonus points for being able to simultaneously talk toddlers and elementary kids thanks to the gap between my little Turks, but that does not mean I enjoy it. My soul needs politics and fart jokes. I want to banter about the business of books rather than the business of boobs.

  1. I don’t like to play.

How can American mothers spend so much time playing with their kids? You’re totally screwing those of us who don’t. Turkish mothers do not play with their kids. That’s grandma’s job. There are things to clean and meals to cook. Ain’t nobody got time to visit the Island of Sodor and chat up Sir Topam Hatt every damn day. Sorry boys, my playtime is tight. You want to set up a Lego man war room, hit me up. I can orchestrate a deadly attack of Ninjago on Chima that would make Collin Powell take notice but I’m only giving you five minutes.

  1. I actually enjoy going to work.

This is what got me in Turkey too. Staying home blows. I like having conversations with other grown-ups that have nothing to do with poop schedules (though I will admit, I’ve had a few poop schedules discussions at previous jobs and there were no infants or toddlers in the subject line). I like to accessorize – not just consider my hair-tie bracelet to be my accessory of the day. I enjoy mocking workplace authority figures after Eddy Haskelling them to their faces. (I never claimed I was a good employee, I just said I liked to go to work.) While I’ll admit, visiting Target during off peak hours is a joy only understood from experience, it doesn’t compare with having someone give you money for showing up every day.

Regardless of my suckage, I’m here now and I’m going to make the best of it because my Nugget needs me. This is my ‘Nam man but if I’m to make it out alive, I’m going to need more yoga pants.


Sitting in Post-op Purgatory With Tom Petty

Somewhere around 4th grade I discovered Tom Petty and have been in love with him ever since. Tom Petty is not only a handsome devil in that drug-dealing-ferris-wheel-running-carnival-worker kind of way, he is also my spirit guide. Long have Tom’s words come to me in times of need to give me a sense of well being. Back in the Turkey every time I’d successfully complete a solo trip to the bazaar, (A horror you will never fully understand until you’ve fought past vicious rotund women in floral headscarves and long coats for cheap eggplant and Hello Kitty undies in 150 degree heat.) the entire walk home I’d victoriously sing, “American Girl.” In our last home as we seemed to be a hotspot for the door-to-door sales of cable TV, roof repairs and numerous paths to Jesus, I always completed my hostile door slam with at least one verse of “Don’t Come Around Here No More.” No matter the situation, Tom provides the perfect soundtrack. This week, morning, noon and night my spirit guide Tom has been in my head, appropriately singing “The Waiting is the Hardest Part.”

Damn strait Tom, through everything with the Nugget the waiting really has been the hardest part. This week we hit a new height in waiting and even the wine isn’t helping this time. Let me catch you up to speed. Due to the reconstruction of his kidney and the swelling that would occur, a stent was placed to allow the kidney to drain through his side instead of the old fashioned way – though his little weinus. The plan was to cap the stent prior to us leaving the hospital, thus forcing the kidney to drain through his tiny man parts. Unfortunately, the Nugget’s kidney wasn’t interested in taking the natural path. Instead it backed up and made him hurl like a drunken frat boy post homecoming formal. The doctors uncapped it and thought waiting a few days would help. They tried again last Monday to cap it and this time the descent into hell was slower. No frat boy barfs but instead a slowly deteriorating Nugget and a kidney that was so swollen it was totally visible on the outside of his body within twenty-four hours. After uncapping it again and being drenched in a kidney juice tidal wave, (Gross right? Sharing is caring.) the Nugget was better and more waiting began.

With an uncorked Nugget in my lap, I anxiously awaited a return call from the doctor’s office with instructions as to our next step. As luck would have it, the nurse assigned to walk me though this “highly uncommon” situation, was Becky-it’s-my-first-day-on-the-job-as-a-urology-nurse. After waiting 4 hours, Becky finally called me at 5 to tell me the office was closed and she’d been unable to get in touch with the doctor who’d been in surgery all day so she’d call me back tomorrow. Before I could throw out my well refined, class A profanity, Becky, nearly in tears, disclosed that this was her first day and apologized for not knowing protocol better. She assured me it was safe to leave him uncorked and promised to call me back first thing the next day. Like a fool, I believed her.

At 10-freaking-30 the next morning, (Seriously Becky, in what world is that first thing? For the love of God Becky, I had time to panic-clean my entire house and even wash the rugs before your ass got around to calling me back.) she finally called with instructions on what we would be doing with my clogged up Nugget. Unfortunately, I’d had a full night to develop my crazy by Googling myself nuts and knew that the options we were facing were not pleasant, ranging from the surgical insertion of an internal stent, to a kidney transplant. We are nowhere near a transplant as he has one perfectly fine kidney that drains like it is maintained by the TidyBowl man, but by this stage in the game my continuing stress has ratcheted my crazy up to level hard-core and there is no longer any room for sanity here. Becky said the doctor was concerned but wanted to let it heal a bit more before making any decisions so we’d leave him uncorked until this coming Wednesday when the doctor would see him and assess the situation. Becky failed to note that part of assessing the situation involved an invasive test where dye is shot through the Nug as he is held down again for 45 minutes so the drainage process can be captured on film in a very gross Kodak moment. There is no way this isn’t going to be ugly. There will be kicking, screaming and lots of sweating and that’s not even taking into consideration the Nugget’s reaction.

So we’ve spent the past week waiting. With the exception of the drainage tube coming out his side, the Nugget is feeling great. He’s a different guy than he was before the surgery. He’s no longer puffy like a dude with a stuffed up kidney. His life-long surliness seems to have diminished because after two years, he finally just feels better. He’s back to patrolling the house in an Incredible Hulk mask and giant foam fist, stopping occasionally to inflict punishment in the form of a colossal fart to his brother’s head. What more could a mother ask for? If his damn kidney would work we’d be well on the road to recovery but instead we are languishing away here in post-op purgatory. We can’t celebrate what we’ve come through because it’s looking like it might not have worked and we can’t plan ahead because we have no idea what is coming. My return to gainful daytime employment remains a pipe dream and the prospect of me turning to late-night pole dancing work in a truck stop catering towards those who get a woody from cellulite dimpled thighs and C-section scars is beginning to grow uncomfortably close.

In the meantime, Tom keeps singing. Yes Tom, I agree, the waiting is the hardest part. Hopefully Tom has more faith in my sanity than I do at this point and I won’t start hearing verses of “Breakdown” before we get through Wednesday. I just desperately hope that we are not facing another surgery and in that exam room tomorrow I will hear the vocal styling of Mr. Petty singing “You Got Lucky, Baby.” If not, I will look that doctor in the eye and say, “Don’t Do Me Like That,” before taking a day or so to regroup so I can fight with my Nugget because, “I Won’t Back Down.” (See what I did there? I just gave you a whole Tom Petty medley. You will now most likely want to head over to YouTube to take a listen to my boy Tom and relive those good old days when rock stars looked like carnival workers, not middle schoolers (I’m talking to you boy bands.) You’re welcome.)

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