Terrible Twos? Ah Hells No, Now It’s The Tyrannical Threes!

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I’m relatively certain that the individual who coined the phrase, “terrible twos” did so before his or her child turned three. There is not a parent on Earth that would honestly agree that a two-year-old tyrant is worse than a three-year-old tyrant. Ok, maybe that Duggar woman would disagree but after passing 82 children through her lady parts, it’s understandable that her sanity might be compromised.

My darling Nugget’s birthday was this week and, as usual, the date marking my successfully delivering offspring into this world makes me a bit emotional. On both of their birthdays I can’t help get little weepy as I recount those glory years, when they were cuddly and smelled like…well…babies or dwelling on life when they were tiny bundles of love that wore what I put on them and didn’t sass me or argue about every damn thing! (Previously I would have said before they could talk but in the past year Nugget has proved that one can sass and argue just as effectively in sign language so there goes that thought.)

Amid all the mushy melancholy and buttercream frosting, I had a thought. Maybe since the Nugget had such a rough go as a two-year old, what with the whole deaf thing, the apraxia thing, the bum kidney thing, and on and on…maybe the universe will give me a break and we will waltz through three like a pair of washed-up musicians on Dancing With The Stars. I mean, after the past year, don’t I deserve it?

I have good reason to fear three. My darling, kind and loving Number One Son was literally Satan on Earth when he was three. The sweet child I’d doted on since birthing him in a crazy Turkish hospital morphed into a pocket-sized Attila the Hunn the moment he blew out those three candles. Add in his adult-sized vocabulary, stubborn Turk genes and hot temper (No really, by 4 we were seriously considering anger management classes for him.) and I often doubted that kid would see 4.

Yet somehow, like childbirth, I’d blocked that horror out, until the Nugget’s big 0-3 started to draw near. As an incident over the shade of an ice pop blew into a throw-down last week leaving a sobbing Nugget clutching me, signing Why is Baba so mad? Why did Baba make me cry? and the Turk screaming Turkish profanity followed by “What the hell is wrong with him?” It grew apparent, 3 was coming to take my Nugget as well. But being the Positive Pollyanna that I am, I tried to lay out my rational as to why three would be better with Nugget than with Number 1 for the Turk. (While I took the brunt of the horror on round one, he was not left unharmed and we both suffer from Post Traumatic Turkish Toddler issues. And since Nugget is a major Baba’s boy, it’s not looking good for the Turk on this round.)

“Maybe since he’s got a few delays, the whole three thing will be delayed too and   we’ll get it in spurts instead of all at once.”

“No. You are crazy. He is crazy. This will be very bad.”

“Maybe since he had such a rough year and he’s made such huge strides this year   will be a breeze. It’s karma.”

“No. This will be bad. I see if I can travel more for work this year.”

“Maybe since we’re really old now, it won’t bother us as much.”

“No. Now I just get piss faster.”

The signs started to show around 2.5 but it was too soon so I wrote it off. But as the sass via sign started, I worried. When he began to sigh, “Uggggg Ooooooooom! (Aw Mom!)” while rolling his eyes and storming off, I saw the tidal wave beginning to form. Then, this week when he handed me a poop-filled diaper, leaving a trail of poop on my freshly (like mere hours earlier freshly) cleaned, white carpet, and began to explain that he was uncomfortable and needed a shower “Ow!” (Now!), it was clear there would be no delays. 3 had arrived like a freight train and no one would be spared.

But as I cuddled a chubby little birthday boy who somehow appeared in my bed in the middle of the night, I got a little weepy thinking about how much has changed for him in the past year and how much he’s accomplished. Last summer he was lethargic and miserable with a kidney that just wasn’t working and now he’s an unstoppable ball of fire. Last summer he was so angry because he couldn’t hear or communicate and now he gladly wears his hearing aid and communicates in both ASL and spoken English (though he’s still only using vowels, he knows what he’s saying even if the rest of us don’t.) Last summer we didn’t really understand all that was going on with Nugget or even what BOR Syndrome was and now we’re a veritable font of knowledge on the subject and have made great strides at getting him on track.

So even though 3 pretty much sucks and we’ll be in for quite a year, I gladly take it. Especially if it means that my baby is finally catching up. (Full disclosure: I could not have chosen a better time to go back to work.) Good luck Developmental Preschool. You’re going to need it with this one!

 

Here We Go Again…But I’m Cool With It

 

Full KubiHulkHere we go again. At approximately the butt-crack of dawn tomorrow morning Nugget will be in pre-op. Again. You might remember my grand appeals at the start 2016, begging that this year not suck. Well, now that we’re 7 months in with Trump and his hate train barreling down the tracks, senseless racist violence erupting seemingly daily, bombings in the Turk’s motherland on the reg and countless dead musical legends, I think it’s safe to say my pleading was disregarded. (Thanks Universe! This will be remembered.) 2016, it appears that much like your older brother 2015, you suck.

But I’m no Negative Nellie and I’m taking a different approach to this situation because even though my little guy will be sedated and out of my reach for a couple hours, this one is easy. This time around no one is pulling a vital organ from my Nugget to trim and reshape before stuffing it back into this abdomen with a slew of tubing and the hopes it will work again. This time we won’t be stuck in a hospital room for days, cradling a baby writhing in pain. This time we’re lucky and this year I’ve met a lot of people who have taught me just what it means to be one of the lucky ones.

A few months ago, in the children’s section at the library, I met a kindred spirit. I knew from her first F-bomb over the abstract puzzles we were meant to be. While other mothers discussed things like better options for Christian-based Mother’s Day Out programs (Seriously? What in the hell Hoosiers? I never heard of these before and I don’t get it…but you do you girl…no judgments.) my new potty mouthed friend and I were comparing notes on the two local children’s hospitals. We were discussing the merits of nursing staffs and surgical waiting rooms. We were talking about how much your prospective changes when you spend a lot of time in these places and how other parents are so lucky they will never need to know this. Then we were talking about her son.

Unlike me, my new friend wasn’t one of the lucky ones. Three months before we met, her five year-old didn’t get to leave the hospital. His rare and rapidly spreading brain tumor that initially took her through our shared experiences, took his life just months after diagnosis. When we met she was days from moving back to her native state while trying to hold things together for her younger son and prepare for the “miracle” son arriving in a few months. She was a tough broad and her story and those hours our kids played together will stick with me forever.

And then there is our Deaf Fairy Godmother’s son. After battling cancer and losing an eye to it years ago, her 19 year old is once again battling the same rare cancer he beat previously. The woman that so dramatically changed our life by teaching us how to relate to our little deaf Nugget and cheering us on every step of the way has spent the past month sitting by her own son’s hospital bed in that same children’s hospital. So far, it’s looking good and the hope is there that they will once again, be some of the lucky ones. (Now if you are a regular reader you know I’m not a promoter in any way but if you have the ability, please go to this Go Fund Me page and help out. This family is amazing. They are Deaf parents and activists of 4 deaf sons on their 3rd round of fighting cancer and they could sure use any generosity you might find.)

There are so many more families I’ve met this year fighting fights most would never dream of, so as we go into surgery tomorrow, it’s pretty easy to keep things in perspective. This time around Nugget is having reconstruction work done on some teeth and jaw parts that didn’t form due to his hard-core infant drug use. He had so much radioactive crap pumped into his kidneys those first months it’s a wonder he doesn’t glow. (Though it might explain his frequent Hulk-out moments) And he’s getting a new ear tube since his old one fell out and has been stuck in his Atresia canal for more than a month because it’s too small for the tube to fall out like in a normal kid. (Seriously, can you imagine something sitting in your ear like a bug for a month? No wonder he gets surly.)

As with anything, there is a risk. There’s always the risk of more hearing loss with the tube implantation due to his anatomy but there’s risk without the tube too. Like everything in life, it’s a crapshoot. But so far, we’ve been the lucky ones and I will always be aware of that. So tomorrow morning we’ll kiss our Nugget, then kiss the dice and hope for the best. Even when things are uncertain, (I’m lookin’ at you 2016!) perspective is the key – and hey, with only one ear to fix, it will take half as long! Perspective.

If You Need Me, I’ll Be In My Iron Lung

CDC Iron Lung “You should’ve come in sooner.” This is what my doctor said as I wheezed into her stethoscope. “You really need to work on your self-care.” I tried to argue my case to the petite little flower I call my primary care physician, explaining that due to my possession of the same metabolism as those in the sloth family, I eat pretty healthy and do exercise. (For reals, it’s bad. One lapse and I could totally be the next contestant on My 600 Pound Life.) I thought I was doing pretty good at self-care.

“That’s not the kind of self-care I’m talking about.” She corrected. “If this was one of your kids with these symptoms you would’ve had them in here last week. Why did you wait so long for yourself?” Ah yes, petite little flower, you know me well.

I’ve never been great at putting my needs before those of my family but once the crap hit the fan with Nugget’s health last summer, I definitely lost any grip I might have on self-care. (Though I really think it should be called something else. Self-care sounds kind of dirty and it makes me think of weird things like Gwyneth Paltrow’s promotion of vagina steaming.) I blame my deeply-rooted lapsed Catholicism for my self-inflicted martyrdom. It’s one thing to believe your kids need you, but it’s another when you actually do serve as your kid’s primary language interpreter thus allowing him to communicate with the rest of the world in addition to being his advocate and protector. Between the whole deaf thing, the apraxia of speech and Nugget’s bum kidney, my mama bear genes have been in hyper-drive for about three years so it’s no surprise the crap had to hit the fan eventually.

I’m well aware of the adage; “You can’t take care of them if you don’t take care of you.” But let’s be honest, anyone who has been on the frontlines of a full familial bout of the stomach flu knows that is just crap. Moms don’t get to be sick and that’s that…until mom loses something important like a limb, heart function or the ability to breathe. That’s what happened to me this week and landed me in the ER for one of the very few times in my life.

I’ve had asthma for over 20 years and it’s usually pretty maintained but every few years I need to wheel out the old iron lung and take up residency for a bit. It’s been about four years since I’ve been hit hard so I was feeling cocky. A few weeks ago Wheezy started to rear her ugly head and just kept getting worse so after hitting the inhaler like a crack-pipe (Is that a thing still or is crack whack now and I’m showing my age?) for a week, I decided I might need to see the doctor. However, when I did, my doctor determined it wasn’t my asthma but instead it was my heart.

When your father drops dead of a heart issue at 37, every doctor you see for the rest of your life will panic at the first sign of chest pains. I’m aware of this but this time around the mere suggestion of my heart failing me sent me into a tailspin. I mean I was weak and fatigued, had massive chest pains on the left side, was short of breath and at my age, Web MD as well as my real MD said it could go either way – asthma or heart failure. It was enough to send this old girl reeling. What if I really was like my dad this time? Who would take care of my babies? Oh dear God don’t make me leave them with the Turk!

My doctor ran a couple tests and sent me for more and while I awaited results, I began mentally writing my will, lamenting the fact I have no quality possessions to bequeath and getting pissed that Brexit just tanked any investments I might have left my beloveds. (Stupid stock market wussies.) Being a planner, I determined I wanted Elvis Costello played at my funeral and decided I should go shopping as the Turk really couldn’t be trusted to pick out a stylish yet flattering ensemble for my internment. Just as I was about to start Googling a replacement wife for the Turk (I love that man but God knows he cannot handle things on his own.) things took a turn and this very stubborn woman determined it might be time for an ER run.

Fortunately, my potential demise coincided with the same time grandma got off work so I didn’t have to schlep my offspring with me to the ER but I did make the Turk go – just in case I died behind the wheel. I’d hate to be responsible for a 40 car pile-up on my way to meet St. Peter.

20 minutes and a flurry of activity later, I was getting a rush of IV roids and a breathing treatment that left me feeling like what I imagine a heroine junkie feels like after a fix. I had been so short of air for so many days; I forgot the simple euphoria of oxygen. Three hours later they determined it wasn’t my heart, “just asthma” – though as anyone with asthma will tell you, saying “just asthma” is moronic as it’s like saying, “oh, it wasn’t anything big, just an inability to perform a task essential to sustaining life.”

I was home for bedtime with an armload of drugs and strict instructions to take it easy. So I’ve spent the last two days lounging about (as much as one can with a Nugget and family of Turks to care for), sucking on a breathing machine like it’s a hash pipe and popping ‘roids while warning my family, “Keep Mommy calm or she’ll get roid-rage!” I’ve also promised my family I would attend to my health before the Grim Reaper stops off for a cocktail again. But in the meantime, if you see a good price for an Iron Lung on Amazon, let me know. It looks like I might be due for an upgrade.

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Cue The Balloons, It’s Rare Disease Day!

February 29, 2016 is Rare Disease Day. Since we only got Nugget’s official diagnosis last August, this is our first. I’m guessing that for those of us who have or parent rare diseases this is a day to whoop it up right? We blow up balloons, whip up a genetic defect cake and celebrate being one in 50,000? Right? No? Well, like I said, this is my first Rare Disease Day so if I bring the wrong hors d’oeuvres, the Rare Disease peeps will cut me some slack.

Ok, just in case you do some Googling and blow my story, here’s the truth. In addition to the party, Rare Disease Day is actually for raising awareness about rare diseases to lawmakers, healthcare professionals, scientists and to the general public. It takes place the last day of February every year and started in Europe (Good on you for being proactive Europe) about 8 years ago and has been gaining steam worldwide ever since.

Personally, I’m down with all this because if you have a kid who’s illness is listed way in the back of the diagnosis manual, rather than on page 5, it’s tough to get what you need. Countless times I’ve reeled off Nugget’s handful of diagnoses to to medical professionals only to be met with blank stares, or “Huh. I’ll have to look that up.” Reassuring right? Sometimes as I’m explaining the syndrome or giving details of things like missing ear canals and jacked-up kidneys I physically work to suppress my urge to proclaim, “Um, you know I’m a C student who went to college for art, right? But I seem to know a lot more of these big, important, sciencey words than you. Doesn’t that freak you out?”

So here’s your rare disease science lesson for the day:

  • A rare disease is any disease that affects more than 1 in 1500.
  • 80% of rare diseases are genetic in nature and 50% of rare diseases effect children (Which totally sucks)
  • There are over 6000 diseases considered rare and those are difficult to track because symptoms and effects vary greatly from patient to patient.
  • There are seldom cures for rare diseases

Here are the odds on Nugget’s combo:

  • He’s got Microtia Atresia, which weighs in at 1 in 12,000 odds. (rare)
  • Due to the Microtia he’s got Unilateral Hearing Loss which has odds of only 1 in 1000 (not rare)
  • His form of kidney disease has odds of 1 in 1500 though add to that his birth defect and it’s higher. (rare)
  • He’s got Childhood Apraxia of Speech, which has odds of 1 in 1000 (also not rare)
  • But when you combine all of his little bits and pieces together to get his overarching diagnosis of Bracciotorenal Syndrome, he’s 1 in 50,000. WhooHoo! Go Nug Go!!! Time to draw Mama some lotto numbers!

Whew. That was lot of big words and math for today and not nearly enough smart ass comments and fart jokes. Sorry about that. I’ll do better later this week.

Sure it sucks dealing with a rare disease. It’s stressful and difficult but here’s how I look at it, I have a little fat guy that is happy and hilarious and it’s looking like he’s smarter than his father and I both. He’s tougher at 2.5 than most grown men from all he’s gone through and because of him I’ve learned a lot of big medical words, everything about medical billing and insurance, American Sign Language, how to adjust a hearing aid, and how to be one hell of an educational advocate.

Rare disease or not, our little one eared wonder is amazing so in honor of Rare Disease Day today, we are going to celebrate. We’re going to whip up a genetic defect cake, turn some healthcare grade latex gloves into party hats and bust a move to the musical stylings of Rachel for Signing Times. I could say he’s one of a kind, but I have actual, genetically tested proof that my Nugget is one in 50,000. That’s pretty freakin’ cool.

 

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I’m Pretty Sure It’s Bubonic Plague…

I’m writing this dispatch from deep within the trenches of what is sure to be the end game for our times. You see dear readers, it seems that in the past weeks our house has become ground zero for the 2016 outbreak of the Bubonic Plague. What? Too dramatic? Ok, the Black Death? Mock me if you wish but I’ve just contacted Amazon.com about ordering up a few black lung machines and an extra hyperbaric oxygen chamber for the living room and when you need to borrow it, I’ll remember this mocking.

As with any hard fought struggle, it’s not difficult to pinpoint the inciting incident that transformed a tiny battle into a full blown war.

Time: 17:00 hours

Day: Last Wednesday

Place: The Multipurpose Room of the family homestead, AKA, My Kitchen

Incident: My precious Nugget, having been rather ill all day, was sitting innocently on his loving mother’s hip as she argued with Nugget’s big brother, yet again, over the fact that he was going to do his homework and she didn’t care that he thought 2nd grade math was stupid because he was going to shut-up and do it anyway. While her mouth was in the fully open and upright position, darling Nugget unleashed a sneeze, expelling a mist most heinous of toxin-filled phlegm which drifted into all open air passages of said mother. Infection was not immediate but inevitable.

Intent: Was Nugget defending his brother? Did he believe he was taking down a tyrant? Or was it simply a very lucky shot by an uncontrolled toddler. The answer is not certain, but the truth is out there. (Sorry, I’ve been watching a little too much vintage X Files this week.)

While horrific, mucus-filled illnesses are to be expected this time of year, it’s not the norm for this family, especially, me – the matriarch. We tend to be astonishingly healthy, capable of dodging most cooties with a deflective wave of the hand. Sure, that Nugget may have drawn the short straw in regards to healthy ears and kidneys, which sometimes compromise his immunity, but for the most part, we don’t get sick.

For the past three years, Patient X, (aka Number one Son) has carried toxins home from the parasitic hotbed he visits daily known as elementary school, but we are generally able to fight those infectious bastards off with our Turk-centric diet and super-powered immunity. (To all those ladies at the food store who look at my cart like I’m running an illegal produce stand, suck it. It keeps us healthy. Or, it did.) In the off chance someone does fall victim to the odd cootie, they never seem to receive the full victimization of their peers and thus, we win again. Until now.

As of today, Nugget has been toxic for 9 ungodly days and I’m going on day 5. What in the name of all that is unholy is this crap?!?! Patient X brought it home two weeks ago and after coughing for two days, rebounded perfectly. Where is the justice in that Universe?

Fortunately, the Turk has not fallen. The fall of any man is a horrific trip into the overly dramatic realm but when a man with a genetic link to Genghis Khan falls ill, the drama reaches Medieval Torture levels. The mere fear of falling ill was so severe this past weekend that it drove him off for a mid-afternoon nap while I attended to the needs of the offspring amid feverish delusions. (For reals. If you think your man is bad…you got nothin’ on this one.)

I’m trying to fight though the phlegm but between the brain fog and decongestants, I’ve managed to delete three chapters of my current book, miss four deadlines, email my tax return to my dentist and send the Midget’s dental X-rays to the accountant, rebuy the same grocery list twice because I forgot I’d gone shopping yesterday and checked out an enormous stack of library books to entertain Nugget and then left them at the library. And it’s only Wednesday morning.

But fear not readers, Nugget and I are fighters. We will continue to medicate ourselves with a combination of early 90’s television and Bob the Builder as we await the return of our health, sanity and senses. (I got fart-bombed by a 7 year-old last night and had no sense of smell to save myself and my poor one-eared wonder has an infection in his lone ear giving him the sense of balance of a 10 month-old.) Alas, we shall overcome. I will pull him up to the top of that soiled tissue mountain and amid the confetti of cough drop wrappers, we will find greatness.

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Photo: Imperial War Museums Collection

My Pretend Lotto Win Turned Me Into A Koch Brother

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With all the Powerball hoopla happening it’s hard not to get sucked in. Let me rephrase that. It’s hard for me not to get sucked in. My husband, the Turk, is having no problem avoiding the excitement.

“Why everyone throwing money away like this. You know odds of actually winning?” He snarled.

“No. I don’t do math so I don’t know the odds but I know they suck. It’s just fun.”

“You think people give money to government is fun? I do not give my taxes for fun.” (He’s been an American for two years and he’s already a budding hostile Libertarian.)

“That’s not what I mean. I mean it’s just fun to dream about winning, you know, your life changing in seconds like that.”

“Well I think it is stupid. People act like sheep. Same here. Same in Turkey.”

And because I’m a well-educated woman who’s made a career of crafting witty retorts using nuances of the English language, I replied with, “Shut up. You suck.”

Though my husband made it clear he wouldn’t be condoning any Powerball purchases, I was quite certain he’d be willing to spend my dough if *nay* when, I won. (I once read a book about how visualizing what you want makes it happen. I don’t think that applied to the Hoosier Lottery but it couldn’t hurt right?) Being the responsible mother I am, after a day of grocery gathering, I snuck off to the nearest gas station with my offspring in tow to buy the winning ticket. (Don’t judge me, it was an economics lesson for the kids.)

After waiting in line, explaining the process to my inquisitive 7 year-old and then debating our chances given the numbers we’d drawn, we began to spend our millions.

The Nugget just wanted to buy cookies. Lots and lots of cookies. I’m not sure if that was his immediate need or if he had plans of building a lotto-winner size grotto of snickerdoodles. He’s 2. Either is possible.

Number One Son was more interested in a mansion with separate rooms for video games and Legos. He also wanted cookies but he was hoping we could take care of that without a lotto win.

As for me, my plan was simple. After I paid off all the debts of myself and those family members I actually like, bought an island, changed my name to Cher, build homes for my BFFs on our compound and started college funds (Because let’s be honest, by the time Nugget gets to college it will take a lotto win to pay for it.) I would use my money do to the things I’ve long dreamed of doing but it became evident I’ve got a few political axes to grind.

Upon receipt of my lotto winnings, my first order of business is to buy off and take down the Donald J. Trump campaign. (Donald J. Turdface as my brilliant son has appropriately renamed him.)

Next, I will bankroll a lobby to pass legislation forcing insurance companies to cover children’s hearing aids. (Most aids aren’t currently covered, as they’re considered elective. Yes, you read that right- hearing is elective. As the insurance woman told us, “You guys are lucky. We cover his since his is considered a prosthetic for the missing ear.” Um yeah, lucky was the first thought that came to mind when my kid was born with one ear.)

Once I get my footing with manipulating the government on that one, I’m moving on to women’s health and education lobbies. It’s time to put the artsy, not just the fartsy, back in schools.

Next, I will throw my millions towards attacking the NRA. Their false propaganda has worked well for them so as one of the richest women in the world, I’ll turn the tables. (I’m coming for you LaPierre.)

And to round things out, I will throw my remaining cash at the following services to better our nation-

Making sure Sara Palin is never allowed to enter politics or punditry again. (That woman drives me insane. I’ll be forever grateful I did not live in America when she was a VP candidate. Hearing her ridiculous ramblings translated into Turkish was bad enough.)

Banning the Kardashians from any and all “news” programs. (Why won’t these people go away?)

And buying out Fox News and burning the entity as a first step towards bringing honesty back to news.

While I prattled on and on to my now bored stiff children about what mommy was going to do with her millions, I realized, I’d just become one of the Koch brothers – using my money to manipulate a democracy to get whatever I wanted, not what was best for the people. (Though you all know that what I want is what’s right for the people…right?) Being imaginary rich made me a vindictive asshat. I wasn’t expecting that. That sucks.

I guess it was a relief to wake up Saturday morning, still poor but with my soul in tact. I guess I’m not cut out for wealth as I’ve got abuse of power written all over me. Self awareness blows.

But now the pot is up to over a billion and my shot at winning is about the one in a billion as well so after school-pick up I’ll sneak off and we’ll do it all again. However, this time I think I’ll stop my imaginary spending after I change my name to Cher and let the rest play out after I cash the giant check

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My Mama’s Boys Will Be Just Fine

When it was first suggested my Nugget add an occupational therapist to his entourage, I was hesitant. I’m not going to lie, until recently I thought occupational therapists were therapists you sought when you’d made a horrific err in choosing your career and needed a little guidance finding a more suitable occupation. (You see it too now don’t you?) Wasn’t two a bit young to make a career decision. I now know better but they really should change the name.

Last week, thanks to the Nugget’s ever growing barrage of medical anomalies, we added occupational therapy to our list of things to do  between developmental therapy, sign language and speech therapy. (For reals, we’re on the light side of things. I don’t know how some parents do it. Thank God they come to our house.) Our initial meeting, like all the others, consisted of a litany of questions about Nugget’s behaviors, development, habits, preferences and home life. As I described our daily grind it became rather clear that the development of both my boys has been strikingly similar, especially in that they are strikingly attached to me. It hit me. I HAVE CREATED TWO GIANT MAMA’S BOYS! While some might be dismayed by such a realization, I simply say…nicely done Margaret.

Now I can’t take all the credit for my little sultans being so attached to their mother. As Turks, they are genetic predisposed to this kind of all-encompassing mother love. Turks are, by nature, a culture of mama’s boys. To the foreign world they may appear to be badasses but in the comfort of their own borders their mommies are still kissing their booboos.

When I taught in Turkey, every day the lunchroom would be filled with mothers feeding lunch to their sons. True story. I’m not talking about little boys either- these were middle schoolers allowing their mommies to cut their meat and feed them bite by bite. Mothers would wait by the fence until the kids headed to lunch whereupon numerous boys would receive piping hot, home cooked lunches delivered to them by their doting mothers. The girls, more interested in gossip, academics and independence, took care of themselves. I once witnessed an entire soccer team of mothers holding food on the sidelines and as each player ran by, they were fed a bite by mom. Disturbing? Yes, but a bit enticing.

A few years ago there was a Turkish commercial, which showed an office full of men working in cubicles glancing lovingly at the photos on their desks. Moments later, their Turkish mothers appeared in each man’s cubicle serving tea, wiping crumbs and cleaning. The camera then reveals the photos on the desks are photos of the men with their mothers. Ahhhhh. As the mother of a Turk, what’s not to love?

I’m not ashamed to admit it. I plan to keep these apron strings tight for the long haul. Thanks to those Turk genes, I should have no problem.

Will I be selecting their professions? Of course. I’ve got my retirement to consider. If one of my boys does something stupid like following his passion instead of the money, who will I live with? I’ll be forced to become a Walmart greeter and I’m too surly for that.

Will I be selecting geographic locals? Duh. These boys are my ticket out of cold weather. It can’t be left to them to choose where their mother would like to live. Only I hold that answer.

Will I be choosing their spouses? I think you know that answer. I can’t risk my sons being sucked in by some skank ass ho or a gold digging, mother-hating manipulator. Rest assured boys, Mommy’s got this.

Over the years when I’ve heard girlfriends complain of domineering mother-in-laws (Apparently, mothers with sons only are the worst. Go figure.) I’ve listened sympathetically and tried to understand. It’s hard to get any skin in the mother-in-law game when yours can only visit via a 19 hour flight but is scared of airplanes. (Nicely done again Margaret.) But any more, when I hear of controlling mother-in-laws coming between husband and wife, inserting a mother’s power to make the husband choose her over his wife, I’m enthralled. Please…tell me more. How does this happen? I must know. I will need this knowledge later…

One of my charming girlfriends I like to call the Mouth of the South often tells me, “You got to stop this crap or you’re gonna be stuck with those tittie babies forever.” Your lips to God’s ears I say. Though that whole tittie baby title is a bit off putting.

Yes,  I have created two mother-loving, old school, Turkish mama’s boys and I could not be more proud. I will continue to cultivate this until I head to the grave (The grave upon which I expect my sons to throw themselves and weep for days upon my death.) Relax, they too will become badass Turks some day, thanks to me. But even when they are grown-up badasses, mommy will still be number one. I’m doing every thing I can now to make   sure of that.

turks
Me and one of my darling boys

Musings From My Bi-Cultural World

I’m not a very good American. Fine patriots like Donald Trump and Sarah Palin would probably label me an over-educated Liberal, Socialist. (Full disclosure, I’m more Libertarian than Liberal. Back in 2011 I ran a solid campaign to become Ronn Paul’s VP but the bastard never called me. Perhaps he felt my stance on immigration was a bit harsh.) The only flag I’ve ever owned is the one they passed out to family members at my husband’s naturalization ceremony, unless you count that Springsteen bandanna I procured down the Jersey shore on a bad hair day back in ‘98. I vote in every election but only out of my Jedi-like sense of duty not my sense of patriotism. My husband has been an America for two years now and he’s miles ahead of me in the race to be a good American.

I think the problem is that I find a good majority of my countrymen quite off-putting which results in my laissez faire patriotism. How can one be overjoyed to come from a people who created three-pound hamburgers available to you in the comforts of your car with a 900 oz. soda on the side? (Diet soda, of course.) We are the people who created Wal-Mart, fast food and obesity. (See that connection?)

For the love of God, we are the people whose current top presidential candidates consist of a reality show jackass, a surgeon who thinks if the kindergarteners at Sandy Hook had charged the gunman they’d be here today and the wife of a former president. Really? This is the best we’ve got? Oh Americans, you make it easy to get down on you.

But then, just when I get down on my people, something happens to show me the half-full side of the glass.

Last week, a good family friend in Turkey, someone my husband has known all of his life, died. Ali was 39. He came home from work with a tight chest and a shooting pain in his arm. He went in to lie down and was dead an hour later. You, my American reader, know from that brief description that Ali was having a heart attack. You know in that situation you do not lie down. You pop an aspirin and get your ass to the ER, STAT. But Ali was in Turkey where the above is not a commonly known practice for one with those symptoms. You know how to treat a heart attack because in America, whether you want it or not, we look out for your well-being.

You know if you’re on fire you stop, drop and roll.

You know that you should exercise daily and brush after every meal.

You know that if you eat too much sugar you are at risk for diabetes.

You know that if you eat only those 3-pound burgers and 900 oz. sodas you will probably need to know how to treat a heart attack.

Why do you know these things? Because we have a ridiculous number of organizations that educate the masses on issues of health and safety. Starting in elementary school you learn these things and if you missed it, you can catch it on a TV commercial. (In that same vein, we all also know what do to in the case of 4-hour erection. Thank you advertisers.) We know these things because everyone’s health and well-being is important to us in America. Even if you take your health for granted (insert comment on 900 oz. soda again), we are still going to take care of you.

Countless times on this journey of ours with the Nugget our Turkish family has commented on how different things are going to be for him because he is in America. Oh, we know. The advances here are amazing. (2 months ago they literally took my baby’s kidney out of his body through a 4-inch slot, reconstructed it, shoved it back in and it works. Whaaaaat?) Early Intervention resources will hopefully bring my little one-eared wonder up to speed with other kids his age by the time he gets to kindergarten. Audiology gave us his gazillion dollar hearing aid to test-drive for three months before we had to fork over a dime. (When I was in labor with Number One Son in Turkey, we had to pay in-full for the birth before we were allowed onto the maternity ward. Fun Fact: the hearing aid costs 4 times more than Number One’s birth.)

All stupid insurance and big pharma issues aside, why is medical care so much better here than in Turkey and other nations? I think it’s because Americans have a fight unlike any others. We see a problem and we need to fix it. We don’t accept answers without facts. We know things can be better and fight to make it so. Once we’ve solved the problem, we want to educate you so you can be better too because in the end, we look out for our countrymen, even if we don’t like them.

When the doctor determined, in Ali’s apartment, that a 39-year-old died of a heart attack, it was accepted and he was buried in traditional Muslim fashion 24-hours later. No autopsy. No more questions were asked. Ali was dead and that was that. That’s how things go in Turkey. I’ve seen it often.

But that is not how it works in America. Questions would be asked and answers demanded. Tests would be run and evidence pored over. And in the end, those answers would be used to help others.

Through our many, many trials with the Nugget, my mother-in-law has always said, “Margaret can handle it. She is American.” Full disclosure, it has honked me off more than once but I think now I get it. She’s right. I can handle it because I’m going to find answers. I’m going to get the facts and I’m going to work to fix things. I’m going to fight because I’m an American. So maybe I am a crappy patriot but maybe I am not such a crappy American after all. (Insert snaps in the z formation and a head toss as I drop the mic and walk off.)

Riveter at work on Consolidated bomber, Consolidated Aircraft Corp., Fort Worth, Texas. Photo by Howard R Hollem for the Farm Security Administration, October 1942. Credit Line: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division LC-DIG-fsac-1a34953.
Riveter at work on Consolidated bomber, Consolidated Aircraft Corp., Fort Worth, Texas. Photo by Howard R Hollem for the Farm Security Administration, October 1942. Credit Line: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division LC-DIG-fsac-1a34953.