On Graduating Preschool.

IMG_5464First and Last Day of 3K

Noah is officially done with preschool, now giving him the privilege of saying that he’s done something I never did – he has gone to school outside of his home before college.

I know. Quite an accomplishment.

It was strange for me, being a parent in a world I’d never experienced, trying to learn what carpool is and how to pack a lunch box and where in the world to put all of the twenty-dozen construction paper crafts he brought home every day. But I managed to make it through the entire school year without doing the one thing I feared the most: forgetting his backpack and, therefore, his lunch.

(Because it would be the homeschool mom who would let her poor kid sit in school lunchless while the other kids with more experienced moms ate happily, snickering at the kid whose mom was clearly not “socialized” as a kid.)

But this year has been good. The experience has let him learn some independence, and more importantly, learn SOMETHING – anything at all. Because he had no interest in learning from me prior to his preschool career. Now, after ten glorious months of Miss Janey inspiring him to allow himself to be educated, the kid will actually write letters – any letters I tell him to – when I tell him to do it.

It’s like she turned him into a superhero – albeit a fashion-confused superhero.

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(Every superhero got their cape tangled up with their backpack when they were four. I’m sure of it.)

He learned how to fall hopelessly in love – it’s a shame that Miss Kelly The Art Teacher was already taken. He learned the depths and breadths of 3K Spanish, and as of last night prefers to be called “Cinco” instead of Noah.

He also learned the importance of personal space. When I told him the morning of his last day that he needed to hug his friends because he wouldn’t see them again, he quickly told me “I can’t hug my friends!”

“Why not?”

“Because Miss Janey told me to keep my hands to myself.”

He did not learn, however, how to perform in front of a group. Which became painfully obvious at the onset of their year-end recital.

While the rest of his preschool happily sang and hand-motioned their way into their parent’s hearts, Noah was cool with sticking out his tongue.

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And checking out the awesomeness that is the back of his own hand.

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And tasting his pinkies for remnants of breakfast.

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And, when the other students joyfully sang, covering his ears to block out the rising tones.

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And pretending he was talking into his secret spy phone.

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And erasing all the shiny parents from his eyes.

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And maybe, just maybe, feeling slightly morose at his own lack of participation.

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After the performance, the rest of his classmates congratulated each other and said tearful goodbyes to their dearest friends (okay they really just sat on the rug like they were told), but Noah found his own rug. And his own quiet place. Because he was clearly extroverted out.

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He adored school. He already misses school. But the introvert inside of him gives me hope that maybe he’ll be suited just fine to homeschooling (at least next year) after all. No crowds, no performances, just books.

The Feeling Is Not Mutual.

This post may make a lot of you tune me out forever.

You may hate me, say mean things about me, and write me off as a feelingless monster.

I accept this reality and understand that you have to do what you have to do.

But I can’t hide my feelings any longer. I must bare my soul to the world. For honesty’s sake.

I hate dogs.

Okay okay I know that hate is a strong word.

I dislike dogs immensely.

And yet, all dogs (and often their owners) think that I absolutely adore those gunky eyes, matted fur filled with tiny biting bugs, that garbage disposal odor, and the slimy tongues.

They are wrong.

I understand that some people feel this way about babies, and rightfully so – they’re fairly smelly and gunky creatures as well. So I was careful to never foist my babies on anyone without them asking first – because I knew how I felt about those people’s dogs.

But dog owners, in general, do not seem to have figured this out. Especially the ones that take their dogs to see the Easter Bunny.

I find dogs to be a most disgusting animal, listed right behind Armadillos, and the only reason they win is because they’re usually dead.

But back to dogs.

On one of our regular walks, we often see a very rotund wiener dog (his belly actually drags the ground as he walks), and the dog’s owner always makes a point to cross the trail and bring the dog over to us…despite the fact that I and my children always back away from him and the dog. But he’s convinced we want nothing more in life than to scoop that monstrosity of a tiny dog into our arms and kiss him alternately on his nose and mouth.

And then there are the dogs on my favorite running trails. Without fail, they always feel the need to run over to me as I’m passing their owner and attempt to wrap their leash around my legs as I run full speed past them. One day when I break both my legs and dislocate my hips, shoulders and finger joints with one single fall, please know that a dog was responsible.

But they think that I cherish them. Because all dogs do.

One especially long spell of dog adoration included two dogs on our Mom’s Trip I planned not long ago. They came out of nowhere, no one knew who they belonged to, but they decided that they belonged to our group. They followed us everywhere, sat outside the lodge and looked woefully in as we ate, and laid on our front porch as we slept.

As I often do at Gorham’s Bluff, I walked out onto a rock ledge past the gazebo to get some pictures of the valley below.

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This made the dogs extremely nervous. They continually paced from me to my friends whimpering and attempting to drag my friends to the ledge to save me. When I finished my pictures and came off the rock cliff, they celebrated with leaps and yelps and a thorough licking of my legs.

Not cool, dogs.

For the rest of the weekend, they decided that I belonged to them. They had saved my life, and now we were inexorably bound together.

Everywhere I went, I looked like this:

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That dog is gazing so lovingly up at me as I instruct him to leave me alone and never slobber on me ever again.

And here it looks like I’m smiling, but it’s just the corners of my mouth in motion, repeatedly telling those dogs how much I dislike them and that they should really go find someone else to adopt.

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I’m awful. Really.

But by far the worst dogs are hiking dogs. Because they’ve been through mud and water and they think that you most certainly want in on that deal.

Last week, Ali and I went hiking while Noah was in school. We were enjoying the beautiful day and the waterfalls,

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when two girls and four large dogs crossed our paths. After a good fifteen minutes of a doggy/human photoshoot in front of the waterfall they commandeered from us, they were ready to move on. But not until after the dogs came over and rubbed all up on Ali and I, almost tripping her, and thoroughly soaking my pants with dog-infused waterfall.

The girls giggled affectionately and looked at each other happily as they watched their dogs “love” on us, despite our clear body language of attempted avoidance.

But then. We had gotten lost on the way back (we’d taken a new path), and were running late for Noah’s carpool. We finally made it to the last stretch of trail before the parking lot – a very narrow path running about fifteen feet above the stream. Below us there was a Labradoodle enjoying a deep pool in the stream while his owner was on the other side.

Of course the dog saw us. Because all dogs think I live to cuddle with them.

He barked. He swam all the way across the creek. He climbed the steep slope up to where we were. And he proceeded to gleefully run back and forth between Ali and I, rubbing, shaking, and gifting us with the gallons of water stored in his high-volume Labradoodle coat. While licking us generously to cover over any dry spots.

The owner, much like the last owners we ran across, clearly assumed that we didn’t mind his dog nearly knocking us off the path that we had been previously speed-walking down.

He also seemed to interpret our body language of shying away from the dog and literally climbing the mountain to escape him as actually being pent-up love for his dog.

We picked up our pace, trying to lose this foul creature, but he matched it and increased his frequency of sharing our personal space.

Finally, because he realized he was losing his dog down the opposite path, the owner crossed the creek and began calling the varmint.

No luck. The dog clearly liked us better.

We picked up pace.

The dog picked up pace.

The owner picked up pace.

Finally, he caught up and had to literally drag his besodden creature off of our legs.

And so we showed up to carpool dead last and smelling of Muddycreekadoodle.

I strongly dislike dogs.

And I completely understand if you now strongly dislike me.

The Epic Battle Of Tonsil Hill.

I’m running out of optional body parts. I’ve had a foot bone removed, my gall bladder removed, and now my tonsils are on the docket.

I mean, what’s left? My appendix, my uterus, and my teeth?

(I always did think that dentures would be easier.)

But my tonsils.

It all started out like any other sickness – except that it was late. Noah had gotten a “bacterial tonsillar infection” two weeks earlier, so my fate was sealed and I’d been waiting for those mucous guys from the Mucinex commercial to tackle me from behind and beat my throat in.

Because Noah and I have a special relationship – we toss disease back and forth like a phlegm-covered game of catch football.

(Turns out that he has the same immunodeficiency issues that I do, except thankfully way milder.)

(Genetics are such a lovely thing. Except when they’re not.)

Sunday night, I started feeling a sore throat. It was coming. Noah’s had been pretty rough (He didn’t eat for four days), but I irrationally hoped that I would get the lighter version.

I never get the lighter version.

I woke up on Monday morning with a burning throat and a rapidly swelling tonsil. Mine and Chris’ anniversary was the next day and I had planned an Easter party for Ali on Wednesday, so I knew I needed to get on antibiotics as soon as possible. This was not a “Wait and See” kind of week. Plus, it was Spring Break! The children needed an energetic and healthy mother!

At the doctor, I started feeling worse. Chills, aches, lymph node pain. The Mucous Guys were not playing around. He took one look in my throat and gave me heavy-duty antibiotics.

On Tuesday, my fever intensified, and my tonsil began turning an ulcerish shade of white. I hardly sat up all day, repeatedly thanking my children for feeling especially kind and self-entertained.

On Wednesday morning, I knew I was dying. Chris took the kids to work with him, and I showed up at the doctor’s office, no appointment, before they opened. My tonsil was now a gaping white wound, and my aches, pains, fever, and misery had intensified to Level Unimaginable. His best guesses were that I either had Mono (“So you’ll feel like this for a few weeks!”) or an abscessed tonsil (“They’ll need to drain it with a needle and possibly do surgery!”), then took bloodwork to see which it was, gave me a steroid shot and a prescription for pain pills, and promised to call me that afternoon with the results.

I went home to die for a few hours. He called back and said that the bloodwork had disproved both his theories, and that I needed to go see an ENT to find out what he thought the magnificently disgusting camp inside my throat could be.

I peeled myself off the couch and drove to another doctor, sweating through my clothes with fever and praying that I wouldn’t see anyone I knew – I could not have possibly looked any worse than that moment.

I arrived at the ENT’s office, and the receptionist pulled my file and said, “Oh my! It’s been a while since you’ve been here. We’re going to need to update your patient photo.”

Which is why I will forever be known as “That Crazy Disheveled Lady Who Looks Like She’s Been Crying All Day” at my ENT’s office.

I got back to a room, which is where I remembered that an ENT’s office is the most medieval, frightening, Frankenstein-esque doctor’s office in all of modern times.

ENT Office

He diagnosed my Throat of Doom as very acute tonsillitis, changed my antibiotic (since my tonsils had been laughing at my other one), insisted that I take the pain pills that my other doctor had prescribed earlier in the day, and told me to let him know if I got worse, at which point I’d probably need to be admitted to the hospital for IV antibiotics.

I drove straight to the pharmacy where from my day’s adventures I had four prescriptions from three doctors waiting on me. The perfectly coifed pharmacy tech with her perfectly applied makeup did not try to hide the fact that she was judging my rather meth-like appearance as she handed me my pain pills and other prescriptions. I wanted to unhinge my jaw and show her my infection-infested tonsils. Maybe let a little drip on her. Just for fun.

But I felt much better after I took one of those hard-earned pills. My aches, fever, and intense throat pain started to fade a bit.

Until the next morning. When I couldn’t talk, the white portions of my tonsils were now larger than the tonsils themselves, and the pain was uncontrollable.

I ended up back in Frankenstein’s Lab Thursday afternoon, where we agreed that I needed to be admitted to the hospital to get my tonsils disinfected and get rehydrated, and then they would need to be removed a few weeks later.

(A very thoughtful med tech explained that removing infected tonsils is like “grabbing at raw hamburger meat on the grill with tongs – bits and pieces stay on the grill and you have to really scrape to get them off”, but removing healthy ones is like “picking up a well-done steak with tongs – it just pops right off!”)

They wheeled me down to admissions, where the lady at the front desk rather boredly looked at my handwritten paperwork. She made a phone call and said, “I need a room available for Rachel…ahem…excuse me – is it Rachel Colon?”

“No ma’am. I’m Rachel Callahan.”

“I need a room available for Rachel Colonham.”

She hung up and began asking me questions.

“Have you been out of the country in the past two weeks?”

“No.”

“Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms: [insert list of every mild to severe symptom any human has ever experienced]”

“Umm….yes?”

“Is it because Ebola?”

“Excuse me?”

“DO YOU HAVE EBOLA.”

“No. I do not have Ebola.”

I looked down as she signed off on my “Ebola Screening Exam.”

I’d never felt so well-examined.

At this point, I would tell you about my hospital stay, but I slept most of it and wasn’t exactly lucid the rest of it. Those are 24 hours of my life I’ll have to piece together with my hospital-drunken photography.

There were some delightfully prepared liquid meals,

Hospital Dinner

Including everyone’s favorite, “Crotch Chicken Soup”,

Hospital Lunch

A dirty-windowed view of Quinlan Castle,

Hospital View

A cryptic sign that, during my drug-induced state of paranoia, I wildly hypothesized about its meaning. I was fairly positive that the letter represented the amount of suspicion they had that I was just there for the drugs (that mean little Pharmacy Tech had made me paranoid, after all.)

Weird Hospital Pill Sign

I heavily interrogated one of my nurses as to its meaning, and he said “I dunno – it’s just something dumb.”

AND I WAS MORE CONVINCED THAN EVER.

And finally, an information board that was lovingly decorated by my husband (with his own dry erase markers that he brought from home. Because he’s nothing if not prepared.)

Hospital Board Decoration

They released me Friday afternoon, at which point I continued my habit of heavy napping at home.

On Saturday, I finally awoke from my near-coma and was shocked that Spring had come while I had been dead. Every tree was green, the birds were everywhere, and my porch had approximately one inch of pollen on it.

I started the day by looking down my throat, like one does, and saw that part of the thick white coating on my right tonsil was sticking straight up.

That’s strange.

I went to the kitchen and fixed myself a cup of water and drank. And I felt something large slide down my throat.

I looked in the mirror again. It was gone.

After a moment of gagging and freaking out over my act of masocannibalism, I began to breathe normally and casually texted Chris, who was at an Easter party with the children.

Tonsil Text

I took his advice and was simultaneously relieved and disgusted by the results.

But the birds were still singing, the sun was shining, and I hadn’t been outside in literally a week. So I set off on a walk.

Then, when I decided I wasn’t going to black out right away, I started running.

I was running from my week, from my pain, from my tonsils, and I felt invincible.

Then the breathing and the jostling began the real process of peeling back the layers of my tonsil.

Let me say that I’m not a running spitter.

But when you have gigantic pieces of infected tissue continually coming loose in your mouth, you become a running spitter.

And it felt fantastic.

I was running, head up, arms out, relishing the moment of freedom from Tonsilitis, proud of myself for running 18 hours after getting out of the hospital, basking in the glory of a normal spring day.

I am literally and metaphorically hacking out infected tonsils! And it feels amaaaaaaaazzzzOOOOMPH.

Which is when I tripped and fell.

And skinned both my knees like a six-year-old.

So the moral of this story is: Acute Tonsilitis can lead to scabby knees on Easter Sunday.

The End.