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

birthday drama

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.

The Heathen Has An Easter Epiphany

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Ah, Easter. As practicing heathens it’s not really that exciting for us, (though you won’t catch either of us passing up the chance to decapitate a chocolate bunny). We don’t go to mass because I’d hate to have my skin catch fire from the holy water in front of all those poor, innocent, kids just waiting to have their Easter baskets blessed. We don’t go to egg hunts because Nugget is such a tyrant right now that we can’t afford the lawsuits he’d likely generate unleashed upon the toddler masses. We’ll hide a few plastic eggs in the yard that we will continue to find until August, stuff some baskets and have our annual Turkish/American cultural confusion chat about how an egg laying bunny ties in with that whole Jesus on the cross scenario. (It’s been nine years and I still haven’t mastered an explanation deemed suitable. Did Lucy and Ricky have the same struggle?)

Though we tend to keep Easter pretty low-key, thanks to my occasional practice of lapsed Catholicism and the Midget’s post-Catechism questions I have been able to keep one foot in the Lenten guilt pool and thanks to all that guilt, I had an Easter Epiphany this week and it had absolutely nothing to do with egg laying bunnies. (Though I do deserve a few medicinal Cadbury Eggs for the stress.)

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, (Here it is in case you missed it.) Nugget started a preschool program at the deaf school. The goal was to boost his ASL, get him familiar with the deaf and hard of hearing culture and give this tired old lady a break. Three hours, two days a week, that was it. It didn’t start well but due to my Irish/Catholic genetic make-up, I was certain that tough love was all he needed to find his way.

School days played out like this: I’d drop him off. He’d scream bloody murder. I’d depart, blowing kisses and promising to return soon while frantically signing I’m so sorry to his teachers. Then I’d sit in my car until my stomach lining had eaten itself from guilt before heading off.

I’ve spent most of my life working with kids and I know it is a rare unicorn that does not freak out when first dropped at preschool. I also know that most kids calm down after a belief distraction or in particularly bad cases, after an hour. However, upon my return (every damn time) Nugget’s face was tear-stained, he was sniffling and he would hug me like I’d just returned from war rather than from the Starbucks on the corner. Through  signed conversations with his teachers (parts of which I’m sure I didn’t catch) I learned he’d cried the entire time. They reassured me that in time he would grow accustomed but by week three I wasn’t buying it.

At home he stopped working on his speech. Before he started preschool he had about a dozen word approximations, all vowels and only translatable by me or one fluent in drunken mumbling by toothless vowel speakers, but compared to where he’d started, it was huge. He’d again grown ridiculously attached, like after his kidney surgery. He was so bad that my attempts to pee alone would send him into a fit of terror. On school mornings he would sign, don’t want to go to school over and over and as soon as we pulled onto school grounds he would have a toddler-sized panic attack, hyperventilating and all.

After each drop off the Turk would call and ask me if it had gone better and with each, “Hells no,” he’d tell me to give up. Turks don’t like to cause their babies any undue stress or pain. (They don’t feel the same towards adults. Ask my mother-in-law.)

Last week when I left I had that feeling mothers get when they know something isn’t right. Carol Brady called it “women’s intuition.” I call it, “crap, I screwed up.” It felt like we might be doing more harm than good. I did some Googling, because that’s how I roll at this parenting game, did some thinking, called everyone whose opinion matters and let it simmer.

The Irish/Catholic mother in me wanted him to suck it up. The teacher in me worried he was manipulating me because what’s more fun, going to school or cruising the aisles of Trader Joe’s with mom? The tired old mom in me hated to see her tiny break go and the special needs mom in me realized this was a situation requiring an entirely different examination.

I’m pretty new to this special needs parent thing and it seems to get more complicated the older they get. I learned this week that parenting a special needs kid is pretty much like starting all over again. All those things I learned about momming the first time around, don’t necessarily apply. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t and it’s trying to figure that out that is responsible for my increased frequency of visits with Miss Clairol to cover my ever-spreading gray.

Through my fog of guilt and torment, I realized there are lots of things to take into consideration with my Nug that I didn’t have to with his brother. Like the fact that his chronological age and developmental age aren’t necessarily the same and that his medical past has a huge effect on his anxiety and that sensory issues are real. (Even though I always thought they were just a wuss-out.) Most of all, I learned sometimes boundaries aren’t meant to be pushed and I think that’s what Nugget was trying to tell me.

So we’re taking a break. I’d never have done it with his brother and I’d never recommend it as a teacher. But my Easter Epiphany taught me that being a special needs parent means knowing your kid and making decisions that work just for him reguardless if those decisions fly in the face of traditional theory. My Easter Epiphany also taught me that no one is more valuable in these situations than other special needs parents because you really can’t understand unless you’ve been there.

Is this the right decision?  Who knows, but my gut thinks so and Nugget seems to agree.  That’s the other thing I’m learning about special needs parenting, much like all parenting – it’s a crapshoot, so kiss the dice and let it roll. (Meanwhile I’ll be snarfing down chocolate eggs while I wait to see what happens.)

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I’m Too Tired For Turkey

Thanksgiving_1900

Here we are on the eve of Turkey Day – the day in which we Americans suck down pounds of fowl and carbohydrates in an attempt to remember all those things for which we are grateful. Thanksgiving has long been my number one as far as holidays go.(I venture to guess most of those with a fondness for food feel the same.) What’s not to love? It’s the gateway to the holiday baking season. Usually, Thanksgiving revs me up and I cannot wait to get my Martha on. But this year, I’m just not feeling it. My Martha hand is limp.

Why? Though we’re currently in a giant medical wait-and-see zone with the Nugget and I have a gazillion things to be thankful for in regards to getting us to this point, I’m not sure why the Turkey Day love isn’t spewing out of me. Maybe because it’s been a rough few months and though I’ve roasted my pie pumpkins (Damn right I make those pies from scratch- crust and all.) and my rolls are rising (Yes, I make those too. Nothing tastes as good as handmade artistry –according to Martha.) I still can’t get into the turkey spirit. Ultimately, I think I’m just too damn tired. In the interest of trying to get to the root of the issue, I decided to make a list and put my finger on why I was so tired but my list just kept growing.

I’m tired of hearing tests. (He can’t hear the beep. He’s got one ear and he’s 2. Let it go lady!)

I’m tired of having our days dictated by therapies and doctor appointments.

I’m tired of pouring my energy into therapies and seeing no results.

I’m tired of diagnosises.

I’m tired of worrying.

I’m tired of my football team sucking. (I’m looking at you Eagles. You’re always hard to love but this is ridiculous.)

I’m tired of snot flowing freely in my home. (For real, someone always has a cold lately.) 

I’m tired of my weird neighbor doing things in the middle of the night- and by doing things I mean I’m pretty sure he’s hiding bodies. (Ok, maybe I’m just tired on this one because I’m up in the night spying out the window on my weird neighbor -but it’s my civic duty thought right? You’re right. I need a job.)

I’m tired of living in a home with three languages and yet still, no one listens to me. (I scream in Turkish, I yell in English, I sign. Nothing. Nada.)

I’m tired of chasing a two-foot graffiti artist with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.(I’ve yet to identify a surface that he has not tagged. PS – Magic Eraser doesn’t work on white carpet.)

I’m tired of temper tantrums. (And no, I’m not going to disclose if those are mine or the Nuggets.)

I’m tired of stupid people. (Why are they everywhere and who gave them all such free reign on the interweb? I feel like their numbers are growing exponentially lately. Perhaps Donald Trump can create a registry for them. )

I’m tired of politics. (Your hate filled rhetoric is destroying us, you morons. Grow up.)

I’m tired of the hate that is taking over this world.(Suck it up and get along. I blame the push to remove Coke from our diets. Back in the 70’s we had a Coke, we taught the world to sing. It was all good.)

I’m tired of religion. More specifically, I’m tired of people being asshats in the name of religion. (If you’re going to be an asshat, be an asshat. You don’t need any help from God. And P.S., he knows when you’re being an asshat, did you ever think about that?)

Yes, I’m tired but I’ve got hope because I believe in Turkey Day Miracles. See, I know myself well enough to know that a day or two in the kitchen, dusted in flour (gluten free now as we had to add that to our list of issues – nothing’s easy) and glowing with turkey juice, I’ll feel better.Thanksgiving-Chef-VintageGraphicsFairy1 (1)

Later in the day after I’ve added a pound of pie and a gallon of wine to my short frame, I’ll feel awash in happiness and my tiredness will subside.

By Friday I will deck my halls to the musical stylings of Big Bird singing Frosty while Charlie Brown plays on the T.V. (We’ve been learning to sign Christmas carols too so Nugget won’t be left out. When you sign a carol it’s like instant choreography and who doesn’t love choreography?)

Saturday I will brave the stupid people and venture out shopping, only to return home to the welcoming arms of leftover turkey and Amazon.com where I will buy the things I wanted to buy but was deterred from by the stupid people. By Sunday, I will nap in the recliner while watching crappy football (Safe from disappointment after having watched the Eagles lose on Thanksgiving) warm under the weight of a napping Nugget and a snuggling Midget as a fire glows and my newly decked halls twinkle.

I’m tired but I will be better after these four days off because as my new patron saint Wendy Williams says, “The ocean, after all, is not about stability but about change. Change is normal. Everything changes all the time.And of course, she’s right. I might be tired now but things will change. Things will even out and the worries will fade (or change). I don’t have much hope for that whole stupid people thing  though, but then again, you never know.

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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.

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.

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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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