Slip Sliding Away.

For the past two years, my husband has been the chairman of the building committee at our Church. We’ve been building onto our current buildings to connect them all and put in an elevator – because our property is on a slope, has been built onto several times, and it was all…well, wonky. It needed to be connected and accessible and stuff.

His chairmanship has consisted mainly of late-night emails and after-work meetings and such, and simply being able to understand all this stuff that I don’t grasp at all, since his day job is in commercial construction (the computer parts of it – not the actual building of it.)

Sunday was the grand opening of this new connecting unit.

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The children, clearly, were thrilled.

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The church had planned a community celebration, inviting the whole neighborhood to church and a party – to eat food from all of the area restaurants, to see the new building, to play on the water slides, to get their faces painted, and all the things such as this.

The church service was a “family service”, which translates into no Kid’s Church – 1st grade and above go to big church. Ali and I planned on attending together, knowing that Chris would be quite tied up with last minute building things and helping set up the post-church celebration.

So when Noah decided that he really wasn’t feeling like attending his nursery class, it seemed somewhat logical to let him come with Ali and I. After all, I already had one child in the service – why not add another?

This sort of logic is what is wrong with America today. Or at least what is wrong with me.

Regardless, I’m positive that the pastor appreciated the dramatically loud and bored yawns from the third row. And the even louder fake snores.

When the service ended, I felt approximately as physically exerted as one would feel after wrestling a medium-sized chimpanzee for an hour. I limped out of the service and onto the ribbon cutting, then to get the children food, force their father to sit with them for a few minutes to retrace my steps and find my sanity, and then I took them out to the waterslides.

Alone, of course, as was expected, Chris had many tasks.

I could do it. I’m a Mom. I handle my own mischief (or two mischiefs) all the time.

No surprise, the kids didn’t want to do the waterslides – after all, “Risk Averse” is written in bold, gothic letters at the top of our Family Crest. But then Ali decided she wanted to, and a few minutes later, Noah did too.

I took Noah to Ali’s spot in line and asked the two girls behind her if they minded if Noah broke in line so he could go up with his sister.

They did not.

They should have.

Their turn arrived and they started up the steep climb – Noah in front and Ali helping him up. At the halfway mark, he managed to slip and fall all the way down the ladder – between her legs or off to the side or something. So he started back up the ladder behind her – now with no help.

The thing was Mount Everest to a four-year-old.

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It didn’t take him long to panic.

He looked down and tried to climb down, but the steep climb up and down both freaked him out, and he froze. As one does on a waterslide with thirty kids waiting for their turn.

My friend Lydia said “I’ll go get him!”, and of course that would never do. I handle my own mischief, thankyouverymuch, and plus – she was wearing extremely light-colored pants for a waterslide.

“No – it’s fine. I’m going up!”

The other kids shuffled around to let me in front of them. Poor children, looking at the hopelessness of their line-waiting situation.

I kicked my shoes off, handed my phone to Lydia, and started the steep climb up while what felt like the entire church – nay the entire community – stared at my awkward grappling.

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I now know: there is actually something worse than A PlayPlace Rescue.

First of all, those ladder rungs were not made to hold adult feet.

Also, they were at health hazard levels of slippery.

My only comfort were the sturdy handles next to each step. I felt as if I were mountain climbing with no proper footholds – hefting myself up by my arms. When I reached Noah, I then began having to support him with one arm while supporting myself with the other. Motherhood should totally be an Olympic Sport.

However, my presence did not diminish Noah’s panic at all. In fact, when he realized I was there to help him up and not down, the wailing really commenced.

This was a crossroads of parenting where every parent must decide: Do you let your kid wuss out and turn around when the whole church is already staring at your butt, or do you heft him up the slide and MAKE the dang kid have fun to prove to him that he can do it?

I decided on the latter. To continue my poor-decision-making trend for the day.

We made it up to about four rungs from the top, him still screaming, me still shoving him up the stairs while he begged for mercy. We were so close.

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When my feet slipped and my one-armed grip on the rope did not suffice. And I fell, belly-flopping over each rung of the ladder, all the way down to the bottom.

So thankful that I handed my phone to a friend who didn’t mind using it. Or not.

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It was super graceful, y’all.

This did not help my child’s panic, now all alone at nearly the top of the ladder, having lost his mother to a nasty fall down a mountainside.

But what could I do but start all over? I pulled myself up the Cliffs of Insanity yet again.

(This is a good time to note that my arms and shoulders are still sore from that journey. I’m just glad I didn’t have to swordfight a fellow left-hander when I reached the top.)

I made it back to where Noah was and kept shoving him up the ladder and over the edge. Then I went to lift myself up to the top – which is when I realized that those oh-so-handy hand ropes ran out. Right before the top.

I frantically swiped at all slippery rubber surfaces, trying to find something to hold onto, but to no avail. Then I reached a hand up to Noah and said “You’re going to have to help me up.”

It was at the moment that the child actually offered me a hand when I realized that physics were not on this plan’s side and my decision-making for the day was unbelievably impaired. I found the strength within myself and somehow miraculously threw my weight over the edge with nothing to hold onto, grabbed my son, put him in my lap, and went down that blasted slide.

Which of course, my persistent friend Lydia didn’t mind at all recording.

They say life is about the journey and not the destination. But the journey left me sore and the destination left me wet. So I’m hoping it’s about something else entirely.

What’s that Sound, Volume Six: The Questioning Edition.

Noah has solidly entered the 437 Questions a Day phase. It’s high time that I get Chris’ lap counter out for a day of objectively counting them as I did for his sister. I suspect he’ll break her record by lunchtime.

He sees questioning me as something akin to an eternal game Keep Off the Ground.

The rules are as follows:

1. Questions must start upon waking and end upon falling asleep.

2. Questions must continue in a steady stream with zero pauses or you immediately lose the game.

3. If Mommy doesn’t answer the question within two seconds, another question has to be posed or you lose the game.

Game Strategy Tips:

1. When running out of questions, choose new ones based on your line of sight, such as “Why do we call these ‘floorboards’?”

2. Obvious questions are never bad questions. For instance, “Why do we call that house with the water wheel the waterwheel house?”.

3. When obvious questions are followed up with a question by the parent such as “Why do you think?”, you can immediately volley it back to them with “I don’t know why do you think?” to keep the game going.

These are just what I’ve gleaned, but Noah is a savant and could write the Expert’s Edition of the Strategy Tips.

Sometimes, his questions can also get a bit..personal. While out to dinner with someone not long ago, she got pounded with:

“Why are your teeth so brown?”

“Because when you get older, that happens.”

“Wow. How old ARE you?”

If you follow up an insulting question by making it even more insulting, it’s definitely double points.

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Here are some of the questions I’ve got asked recently…


“Mommy, why do you NEED kids?”

“uh. What? Don’t you want me to need you?”

“I want to be Gramamma’s kid.”

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“Hey Momma!!”

“What?”

<silence, as he realized he didn’t have a question prepared>

“I wasn’t talking to you.”

“You said Hey Momma!”

“No, I said Hey Zomma.”

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“Can we call Batman?”

“I don’t know his number.”

“That’s because he can’t have a phone unless the fairies make him one.”

“Well then we can’t call him, I guess.”

“When the fairies make his phone we can call him then.”

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“Hey mommy when I’m a grownup can you come get me and drive me to The McWane Center? Because I think the backseat is the best seat.”

“Can we go to the outlet mall? I want to go to the outlet mall to buy puppets that aren’t in a box but have tags on them.”

…Clearly, he has diva tendencies.

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“Mommy when are we going to sail up the river in a canoe? Because I really want to go to Iceland.”

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Pointing to cemetery…

“When will I be dead? Because I wanna go there. And run around.”

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“When can we buy daddy a taco?”

“Why?”

“I want to see one.”

“Let’s all go get tacos tonight!”

“No way! I am not old enough for tacos.”

“You’re totally old enough.”

“I am not old enough for lettuce.”

“Why?”

“Because Giann [the babysitter] told me all about it.”

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And now for a blessed break from the questions, here are some other recent quotes…


Noah’s Sunday School Report, first take: “Two of the cars were wrecked today – we didn’t know if people were within them or not.”

“Wait – what? There was a wreck outside your classroom?”

Take two: “NO, Mom. Two of the cars in Sunday School were WET today. We didn’t know if people were LICKIN’ them or not.”

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“I had a very bad dream.”

“Oh no! What was it about?”

“There were some Tiki Trees being mean.”

“What did the Tiki Trees do??”

“I don’t remember.”

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From the back seat, Noah explained to me the facts of life.

“I might get a baby in my tummy. I probably won’t eat it. I’ll just grow it and stuff.”

I’ve never been less comforted by a probably in my life.

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After getting back from a run {with Noah in the jogging stroller}, he made me wait while he stretched.

“OOooOhh! That sure was a long run, Mom.”

All that riding must’ve been hard on his joints.

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Heard from the backseat: “If I was made of chocolate, Ali, I’d just be…lickin’ myself.”

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“Thank you for rubbin’ me with your toe, Mommy.”

…If I hadn’t already figured out his Love Language was Physical Touch…

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What happens when your husband smokes pork….your toddler incessantly begs, “I need a bath because I smell like meat!!”

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“I’m gonna have to get a new mother!”

“Why?”

“Because you’re old!”

“Who are you going to get?”

“Gramamma!!”

Clearly I didn’t inherit my Mother’s youthful glow.

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After telling Noah no, he suggested thoughtfully, “You could pretend to be a babysitter – THEN we could do it…”

I need less agreeable babysitters.

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“Hey Look! That traffic cone is SMILING at me!!”

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“Smile, Mommy!”

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“Nope – I need to take another one. Smile for REAL this time.”


And, one bonus quote from Ali: “There are way too many restaurants that you don’t believe in, Mom. Waffle House, McDonalds, Burger King. Daddy believes in ALL of the restaurants!”

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How Spiderman Wasn’t Made.

Once upon a time, a spider got trapped in my son’s underpants and attempted to eat his way out.

Once upon a time was last week.

I woke up Friday morning to a text and two emails from my husband, who, despite happening upon a middle-of-the-night crisis, feels strongly that all crises are best handled if I am able to get a full night’s sleep. He’s not wrong.

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The two emails, particularly the extraordinarily long one he sent me upon discovering this traumatic male situation after a 2:30am crying bout, were not as calm.

(Noah was crying, not Chris. Although from the tone of his emails, it’s possible that he, too, was crying.)

The first one ended with the tag line “God have mercy on us!” and informed me that he might be taking Noah to the ER if it got worse. The second one used the phrase “His penis is not well!”, and instructed me to take him to the doctor when we woke up.

This particular Friday morning fell the day after Ali had been stung by a completely unprovoked wasp, the day of our scheduled bathroom demolition thanks to the flood, and on a day where my voice was struggling due to tonsillectomy scar tissue, so I was conveniently already operating under Emotional Martial Law. However, my two replies above were while Noah was still asleep. When Noah roused and I surveyed the hazardous situation that had come to pass, my reaction was slightly less calm.

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It was bad, y’all.

It was a suspicious package indeed. Looking as if there might be a grenade lodged in there, I worried that things might erupt into a shrapnel cloud of doom at any moment. And it didn’t help AT ALL that I had just published a story about a 2-liter-sized penis that ended up killing a man. Both Chris and I had Witch Doctor Penis on the brain as we mentally worked our way through our own crisis.

Thanks to the light of day and a full night’s sleep, I had a better guess than Chris was able to formulate: A spider bite.

Noah had gotten a nasty one a couple of weeks before (four nights after my surgery when I was barely lucid), so I was recently familiarized with the look of a spider bite. And on this particular morning, he had a similar new bite on his upper leg, along with a few other small bites around the area in question.

…Not that I was excited about my son being the recurring feast of a Brown Recluse or something similar, but at least knowing what I was dealing with helped my level of hysteria, and our Pediatrician had previously told me that 99% of spider bites are a non-event.

…Except that I was now having visuals of a Black Widow’s nest underneath his bed with thousands of tiny baby monsters that most likely WOULD HAVE been eaten by the considerable bat population that I’d evicted from our attic. I began contemplating whether I could ask the demolition crew at my house to just go ahead and take the whole thing down while they were at it.

But if it were a spider bite, it is summertime in the south – so the thought of blaming it on climate change or El Niño or a playground or some other such scapegoat helped hold me back from requesting that my residence be wrecking-balled.

I decided that Ali should not attend the doctor’s visit with us and took her to Chris’ office. After all, it was a “private” visit, and Ali did not need to be traumatized, as the other three of us were going to need counseling and a considerable amount of memory-blocking therapy after seeing what we had seen.

Plus, Chris offered his services to my day.

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His description of the situation was fairly accurate,

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Except that it was somewhere between this size,

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and this size.

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A Nurse Practitioner student saw us first at the Pediatrician’s office.

I carefully explained to her that Noah’s penis was quite swollen and that I suspected a spider bite, but was not positive what was going on.

She calmly asked me more details and took notes….until Noah pulled his pants down.

At which time she had a minor meltdown.

Following a gasp and a look that clearly communicated this was her first blimp-sized penis experience, she began asking him questions in an urgent and somewhat frightened tone.

“Have you been able to tee-tee?”

“Did it burn?”

“Do you have any blood coming out?”

Then she turned to me with wild, scarred, penis-rookie eyes and said “I will be RIGHT BACK with the doctor.”

A minute and a half later, Noah’s pediatrician came in alone, leaving me to assume that the NP was retching in the bathroom.

Before the doctor even saw it, she smiled and said,

“Don’t worry. Penises tend to react rather dramatically.”

Noah pulled down his pants.

“Believe it or not, I’ve seen worse.”

She and I carefully moved things about, found the fang marks, and confirmed that it was indeed a spider bite. She gave me bulging-penile care instructions (all over-the-counter) and sent us on our way.

I went to Target and bought two of everything she told me to use, plus every spider spray they had. It was as much retail therapy as I could muster while escorting a boy who was dragging around a ten-pound penis.

Noah was curious about all my purchases.

“What’s that Minion for?”

“It’s an ice pack. To put in your pants.”

“Then what’s the Froggy?”

“Another ice pack. To put in your pants.”

“What’s that red stuff for?”

“It’s medicine.”

“So my penis will quit being blowed up?”

“Exactly.”

The rest of the day consisted of a continuous regimen of Benadryl, a generous dousing of Hydrocortisone, and ice packs.

It wasn’t easy on Noah, as things were quite sensitive down there. During one of my dozen hydrocortisone applications, he looked at me and said gravely, “I’m going to need to cuddle after this.”

None of it seemed to help. I saw no progress in the size of things, but at least I was allowed to keep Noah in a double-dose Benadryl daze so he wasn’t fully aware of his risky business. And after all, the Pediatrician had seen worse. He’d be fine.

Thankful that Noah wasn’t headed for the Sunday night TLC lineup alongside Tree Man and Conjoined Quadruplets, Chris made the best of it. We dressed Noah in Spiderman PJ’s, told him how Peter Parker became Spiderman, and put him to bed.

The next morning, Noah came in my room to get his medicinal treatments.

We checked it out together, and were both filled with glee.

Noah expressed it best, though.

“LOOK HOW TINY MY FIRE HOSE IS!!!!!”

It may be the only time he ever says that, but in that moment, nothing could have been more exciting for him.

Later, we asked him, “So are you Spiderman now?”

He jerked his hands out in front of him, attempting to shoot some webbing.

“Nope,” he replied.

“Oh well, better luck next time.”