Why Is There No Cher In Toddler Music Class?

“Get him in a music class to help his development,” they said.

“He will love it,” they said.

“You’ll both have fun,” they said.

Ha.

I suck at music. Sure, I was a mediocre clarinetist in the 5th grade and an unexceptional saxophonist in the high school band but 30 years later I can admit that I stunk. I was often tragically off beat. I had a hard time remembering fingerings (not to mention every time someone said that word – fingerings- I giggled like a twelve year old boy-hehehehe). In marching band I spent a lot of time faking it because I just wasn’t coordinated enough to march in formation while simultaneously reading music and blowing and fingering (hehehe) a giant saxophone. Who does that? It’s really hard.

What about my vocal skills you ask? Well, back in 6th grade I was an exceptional vocalist, so exceptional that I was pushed into the elite, members only group known as – Special Choir. It was an exclusive group where only the best were allowed to wear the gold cotton poncho with the glittery wreath at the 1983 Christmas concert. At least that’s what we were told. It was later revealed that if you could hit the high notes and arrive at school early for practice, you were in. To be honest, what freaking 6th grade girl doesn’t have a voice squeaky enough to reach the high notes?

And that, my dear readers, sums up my musical career. With the exception of a few Cosmo-induced Material Girl performances in NYC gay bars and a stunning performance of classic Cher on Fire Island with a couple drag queens, I put my musical dreams to rest in 1990, thus the reason you’ve never seem my musical stylings on Itunes.

Fast forward 90 years and I have this little half-deaf kid who doesn’t talk but is obsessed with music. He demands his music on every car ride (and his taste is questionable.) He hums show-tunes 24/7. If he wants pineapple, he hums the theme to Sponge Bob. If he see’s anything Star Wars, he hums the Darth Vader theme. He’s got a million tunes but not a single word, thus his team of professionals suggested using music to get him talking. Little did they know what kind of hell they were suggesting for me.

I was reluctant to sign up for music class because A: I’m not a fan of organized toddler activities/mommy-one-up-contests and B: as noted above, I suck at music. As an old mom, I’ve already been though my fair share of story times, kiddie classes, kinder-sports and what not. When we moved back to America with a toddler in tow, I was certain that I needed to enroll him in everything to make up for his years in Turkey. My idealistic dreams were soon dashed as every class was filled with “Look what my kid can do!” moments from annoying mothers desperate for mothering validation. (Ladies, if you’re looking for a pat on the back for trudging the same crap-trail the rest of us are on, I’m not your girl. If you want me to be impressed with what you perceive to be your toddler’s advanced skills, again, I’m not your girl. If you want to sit in the corner and mock the masses, call me. I’m there.) Anyhoooo, this time around from the onset I vowed, no toddler classes. I’m too old to censor myself and felt it was for the best society if I avoided them.

Alas, in my current, anything-to-help-my-Nugget mode, I relented and agreed, just this once. Now for the past four weeks I’ve found myself in some kind of cardio-pump meets Mr. Rogers Neighborhood class from hell led by a perky teacher who must constantly remind the group of lily-white Hoosiers where the down-beat falls while desperately trying to find her pitch. Her lessons come directly from the textbook and CD we were given upon registration and she absolutely will not stray from those mandated tunes. I tried but she found no humor in my request to “mix it up with a little Skynard.” Miss Jeanine and her music class are a little too corporate for me.

All of this gave me an idea. Perhaps as a tone-deaf, musical failure I should develop music classes for my kind of people. You know, a music class for old moms with a bad attitude who feel pressured to teach their kids about the important elements of music. We can bang on pans and sing along with Metallica so they learn the importance of metal. We can rage while playing shaker eggs to the Sex Pistols to expose them to the freedom of classic punk. We’ll teach of longing as we all wish we had Jesse’s Girl and we’ll work on their numbers starting with 867-5309. Most importantly, we will teach the importance of classical music by executing free-range choreography to early Cher. What child would want to sing about being a little teapot when they could be Gypsies Tramps and Thieves? You know that answer – no one.

Would it work? Maybe, maybe not, but I’m quite certain it was my early exposure to Cher that made me what I am today and from that I’ve developed my potential music course catch phrase – “Cher The Music- Every Child Deserves to Be Fabulous.”

What to you think? Should I sign you up?

Turkish musicians

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Crap. I Forgot About The Healthy Kid

“I like this,” he said as we were both parked on the couch in our flannel jammies with our matching Fred Flintstone feet propped up side by side.

“I don’t.” I replied.

“What?” he was shocked.

“I thought her tango last week was much stronger. This quickstep is kind of blah.” (Yes, I watch Dancing With The Stars and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Is it because I’m a chubby old lady? Perhaps. Is it because I’m a former theatre designer with an appreciation for the flare of fabulousness? Perhaps. Or do I watch in anticipation of that moment when a former-star turned train-wreck face plants gracelessly mid-dance. I think you know the answer dear reader.)

“No Mom, I like this- us hanging out and watching our show.” (Yes, I’ve taught my child how to enjoy a good wash-up spectacle as well. Go on and judge me.) “It’s never just us anymore.” (Punch to the gut.)

“Me too bud. Me too. But I still didn’t like that quickstep.”

It’s tough to be the parent of a kid with a lot of medical crap going on, but I think it’s also pretty sucky to be the brother of that kid too. You spend a lot of time getting dragged along to appointments, sitting in hospitals, being pushed off to grandparents or watching your parents freak out. You have one choice and that is to basically go with the flow and not make waves in the midst of the crap storm swirling around you. Of course you worry too and you care about your brother but in the end, you’re just a little kid and you can’t help but see how much the whole situation sucks.

Long before there was the Nugget, there was the Midget. My sidekick, my shadow, my alter-ego in little boy form. For years it was just the two of us for large chunks at a time when The Turk was traveling or working long hours. Back before the Midget started school, he often went to work with me too, where he would lay low with crayons and books so I could work without having to send him to daycare. We’ve always been two peas in a snarky little pod. Before the Nugget came along, there wasn’t much I did without the Midget by my side so when he pointed out that we don’t get to spend much time alone together anymore, it tore me up. I’ve been so busy juggling Nugget issues and he’s been so good at going with the flow that I put him on the back burner and that’s a really crappy-mom thing to do.

Since the day I brought that sensitive little half-breed into the world back in Turkey I’ve been molding him in my image. He’s a chill little dude with a wicked sense of humor that wears his heart on his sleeve. He loves all things nerdy and he can put a spiral on a football that would put most 10 year olds to shame. He is a true Renaissance man. Unfortunately, he’s also a little too skilled at going with the flow. In his life we’ve lived in 2 countries, 4 states, 5 cities and 6 houses. If you count preschools, he’s also attended 4 different schools and he’s only 7 years old. The Midget has always been on the move so understandably his need for stability is low and that is exactly the problem.

As we sat there munching on our apples dredged in unholy amounts of peanut butter (Did I mention that he’s also my fellow foodie? We bond over our identical palates so much so that if we also didn’t share a love of biking we’d be two massive fat asses. Ok, let me clarify that – he’d be a fat ass and I’d be a fatter ass, like Jabba the Hutt fat…no for real.) anyway, as we sat watching a one-hit-wonder decimate an iconic dance waiting for the start of Monday Night Football, (Seriously, we are a well-rounded people.) I realized my Midget has been upstaged by his brother for long enough. Thus, it’s time to put the baby in the corner. (That didn’t come out right. Don’t call DCS or anything. I’d never actually leave the Nugget in the corner. It’s not even possible because he doesn’t sit still. Additionally, I think if I left him unattended he’d likely burn down the house in 2.5. When he feels good, that kid is hell on wheels.)

It’s fall break here in Flyover Country and my Midget has a whole week off from the stressors of 2nd grade. Football is over and Catechism is on break (Yes, this lapsed Catholic forces her child to go to Jesus school once a week. I feel it’s important for him to know where that internal sense of unending guilt comes from. Go ahead and laugh.) so for the first time in months, time is on our side. During this week I solemnly swear that there will be no reading patiently in doctor’s offices while the Nugget has an appointment. There will be no scheduling our days around Nugget therapies. This is a week of Midget love. (I bet that tag line will get me some kinky visitors. Thank you Google.)

For this week,

I pledge to make no excuses when asked to toss the football in the backyard. (I’m no Terry Bradshaw, but I can hold my own. I just have a constant fear of a Marcia Brady moment. “Oh, my nose!”)

I pledge to do Midget-centric activities. (Legos. Star Wars and Football, in no particular order.)

I pledge to suck-it-up and play Wii (This is a serious sacrifice because I really, really suck at Wii).

I pledge to listen (not just nod and say ‘um-hmm’) when he gives me every mundane detail of a video game or corny television show.

I pledge to take time to snuggle up and watch TV with him after the Nugget goes to bed. (Another big sacrifice because-full disclosure- I’m often asleep with the Nugget.)

And above all else I pledge to make sure he knows how thankful I am that he’s just so damn understanding. (I need to keep him on my side because that Nugget is wild and some days I need back-up.)

Balancing two kids is a challenge. Balancing a special needs kid is a challenge. Balancing the combo definitely has a learning curve but I’m determined to get there, come hell or high water.

Midget
“Look Mom! Boobies!!!!” Yep. He’s all mine.
My Beautiful Buttheads
My Beautiful Buttheads

I’ve Got Me A Three-Foot Rambo

Having a kid with health problems inevitably turns you into a nut job. For reals. I mean, I was a little on the nutty side before that adorable little one-eared, bum-kidneyed, mute Nugget sprang forth from my loins, but he’s only made it worse. In the past two years I could personally give Sybil (You know, from the classic 1977 Sally Field movie-for you young whippersnappers.) a run for her money. While I’ve Sybiled out on every aspect of Nugget’s care- let’s do it, let’s not do it, let’s do it, let’s not – my most regular flips have been in the realm of hearing or To Aid or Not to Aid- The Hearing Aid Debate of The Millennium, as we like to call it at Casa de Turk.

The Nugget has one ear that works like a charm, but his little nub of an ear is totally closed off and they won’t do a CAT scan to see if there are any working parts in there until he’s older. So for the past two years we’ve just let him adapt like the one-eared wonder he is. Fortunately for him, his mother is very loud. Sure, you can totally screw with him by sneaking up on his right side since he can’t hear you coming, but over all, he’s done well hearing with just one ear.

But here’s where it gets tricky, research shows that most kids with one working ear have no delays until they get into a classroom setting. There is also research that shows pathways in the brain that go unused, as in the case of unilateral hearing, can become paralyzed and a hearing aid can wake those pathways up again. You can ask six ear doctors and three will say “Aid that one-eared wonder” and three will say, “Nah, let him be.” It’s been a tough call but since my sidekick has remained the Teller to my Penn, still adorably mute with the exception of humming show tunes, we decided his pathways may need a wake-up call.

His ear doctor was one of those that had suggested a hearing aid from the start but we decided to wait and see what happened. He could hear well enough and, as can happen when you are the child of an Irish Catholic mother and a Turkish father, we wanted to toughen him up and make sure he could function without help. Additionally, I also wanted to be certain he was prepared for the zombie apocalypse when hearing aid batteries would be sparse and Nugget would need to be able to sense the undead coming at him on his deaf side. He’ll thank me later.

I realize now this is utterly stupid. (The toughening up part, not the zombie survival part – that’s totally legit. I grew up in a funeral home. I’ve seen things. Trust me, it’s coming.) I am wholly dependent upon my glasses to do the most mundane things. Would I expect myself to toughen up and squint, consistently waving to strangers or making sex kitten-like gestures to any dark-haired individual who looked like the Turk from a distance? Obviously this would become problematic rather quickly. I have a weakness and I have used glasses to aid that most of my life. Why wouldn’t I do the same for my kid?

So a few weeks ago, deep into the year of “Fixing the Nugget,” we decided to start the hearing aid process. Last Friday we went for our fitting and it was far more stressful than I’d ever anticipated. From his throw-down in the exam room as they checked his ear to his major meltdown in the testing booth, (PS – I’m pretty sure that those sound proof testing booths are exactly what the Death Star feels like – cold, dark and void of all noise. If an audiologist ever did some deep breathing over the microphone, I’m pretty sure I’d crap my pants.) to his colossal screamfest as the woman programed his trial aid, I was sure this was going to be a battle.

Because his ear is closed and thus there is no way for sound to enter, Nugget has to have a what’s called a BAHA, bone anchored hearing aid. When he’s older they can implant a snap or magnet into his skull behind his ear and just snap the aid on but as a little guy he wears it on a headband. The BAHA vibrates and sends sound waves in to the nerves. (Full disclosure: previously I had vanity issues with putting a protruding box on my baby’s otherwise adorable, yet very, very large, head. Ridiculous, I know, but I had to work through it. Of course that was obviously before I realized he would look like a three-foot Rambo. Who would pass on that?)

As we neared the fitting portion of our appointment, I was prepared to execute WWF moves to keep that thing on his head. I know my Nugget and if he doesn’t want to comply, nothing will make him. (Again, I blame that on the Turk.) But the minute that band was slipped on his head, everything stopped. He looked at me, a little confused, and then he flashed a big grin. Somebody finally turned on the other side. Of course I melted, right there in that maroon naugahyde chair. It was the greatest thing I’d ever seen.

Since then, he’s only taken that quarter-sized device that costs only slightly less than the national debt, off his head twice and both times I didn’t have it turned on correctly. He hasn’t tried to hide it and most importantly, he hasn’t tried to flush it-which is a favorite pass time of his. I think we may just be on to something. It took Sybil long enough but finally I think we made the right choice. So far, not one person has asked about Little Rambo’s headband – maybe if you see a kid wearing a headband, using sign language with a box above his ear, even a moron can figure out the deal. Or maybe he just looks so badass that  nobody wants to mess with my three-foot John Rambo. I am still concerned about keeping him in top form for zombie fighting, but he’s a solid little dude and if his skills at jacking his big brother transfer to zombies, he’s be just fine.

Rambo Nugget

Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad Turk?

In the past two years, if I’d been paid by the hour for time spent in doctor’s offices with my Nugget, I wouldn’t have to worry about the ever-nearing possibility of taking that job as a pole dancer on cellulite night. Nephrology, urology, ENTs, audiology, genetics, developmental pediatrics and let’s not even get into the regular sick visits and stitches. When you’ve got a kid with a syndrome, you’re always at the doctor.

The doctors are different but the waiting rooms are always the same. There are nervous parents, panicked parents, we’re-just-here-to-be-safe parents, and old-hat parents.(I’m rapidly becoming the latter.) You can always tell those on their first visit because both parents are in attendance. The Turk and I tried that a couple times. He’d leave work to meet us at the doctor so we could get the news, good or bad, together. Like I said, that only happened a couple times though and the reason was multi-faceted. First off, eventually the Nugget just had too many appointments – ain’t nobody with a job got time for that.  Second, he’d often get confused by medical terminology, causing him to tune out and forcing me to re-play the entire conversation upon our exit. (Full-disclosure: complicated medical terminology in your second language is rough. That’s why my poor Turk knows some rather disturbing facts about lady-parts and birth canals because back in Turkey with the birth of Number One Son, our roles were reversed.) And third, I’ve recently discovered that the Turk has far more power over the medical professionals in our life by NOT being present.

It started innocently. Without the Turk present, I could put off any decision making by saying, “You know, I’m going to have to run this by the Turk first.” Who’s going to argue with a mother wanting to consult with her baby daddy? Then it progressed to using him to ask for further information when I didn’t want to admit my own confusion, “Just to make sure, can you draw that out in a diagram for the Turk since he’s not here?” But recently, it’s taken a more sinister turn.

Last week patience and understanding vacated my earthly body and I lost my crap all over a few medical offices. See, I have a problem with the slow burn, I’m calm, I’m understanding and then one day if nothing gets resolved I just blow like an angry mama bear searching for that asshole that shot Bambi’s mom. One office set me off over a billing mistake. Another of my explosions was over colossal screw-ups in Nugget’s privacy and care, and the third, well, they were kind of collateral damage but they were late responding and I felt they should be schooled anyway. Across the board, I was served a dish of placation with a dash of dismissal for being old lady cray-cray. This was not the desired response so unbeknownst to him; I broke out the big bad Turk.

“Well I’m not so angry but my husband, the Turk, is furious.”

“I accept your apology but you should just be glad my husband isn’t here. He’s a Turk and you know how their tempers are.”

“I’m handling this because my husband, The Turk, is too angry to speak with you right now.”

Of course the knew nothing about any of these situations as he sat obliviously in his office, nor did he care but that didn’t matter to me.

Here is where I’m supposed to say I’m not proud of my actions but that would be a lie. I’m as proud as a fat kid who just did her first pull-up. It was freaking ingenious because it worked. Suddenly instead of receiving the brush-off, I heard:

“We’ll go ahead and write that off and adjust your bill. If you’d like me to call and explain things to your husband personally, please let me know. It would be no problem at all.”

“I can schedule a private meeting with your husband to discuss this and apologize to him as well. I’d hate for him to have bad feelings towards us.”

“Please pass our apologies on to your husband. Should we follow up with him too?”

Ingenious I tell you. I got exactly what I wanted without going off like a pre-menopausal lunatic. It was so simple. I can’t believe I never thought of it before. Here’s why it worked so well: back in the day, when people thought of Turks they thought of Midnight Express or if they were more classically trained, they thought of barbarians. Americans feared the Turks but knew as long as they didn’t try to smuggle drugs across their borders or overthrow their government the Turks would be cool.

Fast-forward to 2015 and thanks to the current mayhem in the Middle East and the overall lack of domesticated Turks per-capita here in flyover country, the Turks are now looped in with all those other mad Muslim bastards over there like ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood. Sure the Turks can be a bit surly but they are nothing like their nut-job neighbors but as I’ve learned, people in Indiana aren’t aware of that and hence no one wants to piss off a Turk. Better still, no one wants to piss off MY Turk.

Should the Turk ever need to accompany Nugget to any of these offices, I’m doomed. My jig will be up as my Turk is no tyrannical tyrant with a massive ‘stache and a jaunty fez. No, my Turk is a slight, ridiculously handsome, soft-spoken engineer with only a few tyrannical tendencies that are generally limited to his sock drawer and his favorite pens. He doesn’t even have a mustache (He tried once and looked like a pre-pubescent Peter Brady.) and though his temper can be ugly, it’s generally reserved for road rage or the soccer field. But… no one needs to know that, right?

There’s a famous saying in Turkey – Ne mutlu Türküm diyeneHappy is he who calls himself a Turk

I’d like to one up that and say – Ne mutlu Türk’in eşi diyene : Happy is she who calls herself a Turk’s wife!

Turk
Not my Turk, but a fine representation