Monday, June 3, 2013

A Hearty Helping of Ugh, With a Side of Woe is Me.

Chronic illness is a bitch.

(By the way, if you've grown ever so tired of this subject, I understand.  Pack 'er up and wait for the next hilarious Sophie moment.  She just informed me she's going to make "something extraordinary out of regular, everyday Q-tips", so you shouldn't have to wait long!)  :-)

Unlike cancer or diabetes or something that is fairly universally understood, rare diseases like POTS Syndrome, or Carcinoid, or Lyme Disease, or Mastocytosis often are not.  Even by physicians.

Chronic diseases are more subtle.  Their flares are sporadic.  They don't often radically alter your appearance, at least not suddenly.  You don't necessarily "look sick".  And because of that, people allow themselves to think you are fine.  Your dirty house is presumed to be laziness.  When you don't join in on activities people invited you to, you're rude.  People can't imagine "what in the world is wrong with you", so they talk behind your back to try to figure it out.  They distance themselves from you.

Empathy is usually born from a shared experience.  It means you have gone through a similar trial, and because of that, you are able to directly identify with a person's feelings or difficulties.  Sympathy is different.  Sympathy is the capacity to share someone's feelings or pain, even without experiencing their struggle personally.

I would venture to say either would be a breath of fresh air to a person suffering from a chronic illness.  Granted, it's more difficult to achieve true empathy - to get in that inner circle of understanding and be able to offer the kind of support that comes from really "getting it".  But, let me assure you, you reeeeally don't want to "get it", and sympathy is nice, too.  Sympathy involves a little work, though - it involves taking the time to do some research - because you care about the person who is "acting weird" and you want to be able to show compassion for them and what they're going through.

Sympathy means letting it not be about you for a moment.

It sometimes means, if you're able, taking it a step beyond praying, to actually doing something to help.

Chronic illness, compared to something acute, is draining because, well, it's chronic.  It's long-lasting.  It's always present.  It doesn't go away...regardless of treatment, or rest, or medicine, or (fill in the blank), it remains.  And people get tired of that.  They get bored.  They moooooove on.  It's human nature for the shock of a diagnosis to wear off after time passes. 

But what it means for the person enduring that diagnosis is a day that looks very different than what you're likely envisioning.  A day of debilitating fatigue, nausea, and a deep aching in places you didn't even know existed.   A day of wobbling around like a drunkard - occasionally stumbling into walls and entertaining your children.  A day of plopping down on the kitchen floor in the middle of making spaghetti because you know if you don't, you're running the risk of doing a face plant into the tomato sauce.  A day of flushing bright red with heat that causes you to scramble, skidding and popping wheelies, to get to a fan and wet rag to cool the burning fire inside.  A day of smelling like a nursing home because of the warm oats and Bengay constantly present on your head, back, neck, shoulder, abdomen.  A day of itching so fiercely, you frequently draw blood clawing at yourself.  A day of walking around with bizarre rashes that spontaneously pop up and then refused to be calmed.  A day of not driving because the balance issues and visual disturbances make you scared to be in a moving vehicle, especially with your children, so you stay confined to your house.  A day of feeling like the frontrunner for the Bummer Mom Award because you so often depend on friends to provide your children what you can't always give them - fun.  Life outside in the sunshine.  Respite from your disease.

And then another day after that, and another day and another day after that.

And yet there you are - on the outside looking just "fine".  You're breathing.  You're mobile.  Your hair (most of it, at least) is still present.  You aren't hooked up to machines.  Heck, you're not even in the hospital!  And while you thank God for that EVERY.SINGLE.DAY, you also die a little inside because people have ZERO concept of what you're going through on the inside.  And if you smile or laugh or hints of your former personality peep through, you get accused of faking it - of "picking and choosing" when you "want to be ill" based on how fun the activity sounds. 

You're not a person who gets hurt feelings, but over and over you're hurt.

You live a life on internet support groups and Facebook because it allows you to talk to people, to share in their lives, to feel a part of what's going on - even if it's a pitiful substitute for the real thing.  You feel the judgement of those who think you should "get off the computer and get out there" - who get annoyed because you're clogging up their News Feed with multiple posts a day.

Chronic illness is such a double-edged sword.  If you hide it, to try to achieve some semblance of normalcy, you're expected to behave like a normal person.  If you dump it all out there - even just occasionally for everyone to see, you risk further isolation with your bad behavior and your neediness.

So you keep it inside.  You bottle it up.  You push it down.  And your forge on.

Until one day you ask someone close to you for help and they sigh and provide you with a mile-long list of others who might be able to help and it triggers something deep inside you and everything comes spewing out in a big rush of ugliness and regret.  60 seconds of screaming, crying, indiscernible, unintelligible pent up rage and frustration come flying out like vomit.

And then you immediately feel horrible for making that person feel bad for making you feel like a burden.


Is this a pity party?  Possibly.

Is it always this hard?  No.  It's not.

Have you lost the ability to experience joy, Kristy?  Definitely not.  In fact, I think I experience it more deeply because of my illness.

That said, today I needed to vent.

And this is where I ask you to read my words and HEAR them.  To not assume this is a passive-aggressive attempt to "call you out".  To not take this general garment and feel it's tailor made to fit you.

To assume this is, in fact, about me and to just let me say it.  And listen. 

If you can do that, it will mean more than I can ever, ever express.

Perspective.  My day was not as crappy as this guy's, bless his heart.  :(

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Pure Sweetness

As most of you know, Sophie had been praying for a baby brother or sister almost since she was old enough to talk.  She was ready.  We were all ready.  In theory.  But when the phone rang that night and a friend called to say she had "a situation" to tell us about, I didn't feel very ready.  In fact, I almost threw-up

Dorcas told us she had a young girl, we'll call her A, who had checked into the women's shelter a few days prior.  She was eight months pregnant.  She had no intentions to parent.  When Dorcas asked her if she'd considered adoption, A breathed a sigh of relief and agreed that option sounded much better than turning the baby over to DHS.

My heart leapt.  I could hear it pounding in my ears.  A baby!  A sibling for Sophie!

I'm certain, even though I hadn't spoken a word since "hello", my excitement could be felt through the phone line.  I was on the verge of a squeal when Dorcas said (the words forever embedded in my brain):   "Now, I have to tell you, it's a scary situation.  You and Russ will really need to pray about it before you make a decision about this baby."

Scary situation.

Dorcas is not a word-mincer, and for the next forty-five-ish minutes, she proceeded to just flop it out there - all the gory details about this birthmother's history.

(Pause for a little aside...)

I think adoption is an incredible thing.  Anyone who knows me at all knows I have never once anguished over the fact that my children are not "biologically mine".  I've never missed pregnancy or grieved not giving birth (I've had to grieve the loss of a baby...but that's not what I'm talking about.)  I've never missed seeing me or Russ in the face of our newborn children or watching our genetic traits unfold in new, little wordy or science-y Mini Me(s) before us.  Don't get me wrong, I don't say this to belittle or begrudge those who do desperately want these specific things; I say them simply because it has just never been part of my definition of motherhood.  I wanted to be a mom.  Period.  I wanted to hold my babies, to rock them, to watch them grow and change, to teach them things, to laugh with them.  I really didn't care where they came from.  I believe God knows exactly who our children are, before they're formed, and I guess at some point after we felt led to adopt, I just trusted Him to bring them to us.  The "in His perfect timing" part wasn't a picnic - especially for someone who is just a wee smidge impatient, but I knew it was part of adoption.

And adoption, I truly love.

That said, there are scary aspects of adopting.  (Insert cringes of horror at the absurdity of that statement.)  What happened with Seth was an anomaly.  I know that.  What I mean is, even in "normal" adoptions, there are scary waters to tread through before you get to that wonderful moment of peace before the judge.  And that night, as Dorcas was detailing those freaky, foreign things, in her special "speak the truth", no holds barred sort of Dorcas way, I felt myself start to shake.

In A's case, those details involved a lot of things my little naive, sheltered self had very little knowledge of.  Most specifically:  drugs.  Big, nasty, scary, life-altering drugs.  Eliza's birthmother took (did?) an unimaginable number of illicit recreational and prescription drugs before and during her pregnancy, from conception until she entered the women's shelter - about five weeks before Eliza was born.  A fact very few of you knew...mostly because, you just didn't need to.

I tell you now, not to try to paint A in a negative light or stand in judgement of her in ANY way.  We all make mistakes.  We all choose paths we wish we hadn't.  Every one of us has at least one ugly garment in our closet that we wish we could burn.  Really, if we're honest, most of us are just one or two bad decisions away from a totally different life.  It's only through the shed blood and saving grace of Jesus that we're given hope, and a promise, and a renewed purpose.  Russ and I love A - with all our hearts.  She chose life for our baby girl, and she chose us to entrust with that life.  And Sophie absolutely adores her!  She gave her (in her words) the "best gift ever".  She will always be more special to us than we can ever, ever express.  I tell you these details about her now only to help you understand the miracle that is our sweet daughter.

When Dorcas finished putting it all out there on the table, my immediate reaction was...yep, all together now:  FEAR.  Crushing, paralyzing, make-you-sick, all encompassing fear.  Every fiber in my being wanted to say run far, far away from another scary adoption situation.  There was no way I could handle another special needs baby!!!  The suffocating demands, the neverending exhaustion, the physical toll on our bodies, the emotional toll on our marriage, the financial hardship.  No way.  No, thank you.  NO.  I could feel the word forming on my lips when I suddenly paused and told her we would get back with her.  First, I jumped on the internet and did some research.  That certainly didn't help calm me.  Then I called my dad to get his medical opinion on things.  He was honest with me in admitting he couldn't offer any clear-cut answers when it came to drugs (especially these particular drugs) and their effects on a developing fetus.  So I closed the door to my bedroom and did what I should have done first - I prayed.  I told God I desperately NEEDED crystal clear guidance on this decision.  I begged him for guidance.  In fact, I assured him that wimpy, ninnified Me wouldn't even be freaked out if He'd just go ahead and write the answer for us above the mantle in bold letters in the form of:  "DO IT!" or "DON'T DO IT".  I pleaded with Him for a tell-tale, obvious sign, not just a feeling.  Please Lord, TELL me what to do!

And then it hit me.  This quiet sense of rest.  It was the kind of calm that only comes from knowing you're following right where God is leading.

Real peace. 

And for a girl who will never ever, even in her most relaxed state, be described as "chilled", that was my sign.

I knew we were supposed to say yes.  I knew this baby girl, whether she had deformities, whether she could see, or hear, or speak, or eat, or learn, whether she required round-the-clock care, I knew she was our daughter.  And each time I talked to Russ about it, he said he felt exactly the same way.  So I picked up the phone and told Dorcas our answer was yes.  Absolutely.  YES!  From that moment of acceptance, one-by-one, God opened door after door after door - orchestrating every single moment of the adoption, down to the tiniest detail.  First in amazingly, impossibly healthy exams and tests, for both mom and baby, and then in absolutely wonderful heart-to-heart meetings with A.  From that first slightly awkward "nice to meet you!" embrace, we felt the same kind of undeniable connection with her that we'd felt during our initial meeting with Sophie's birthmother - that weird certainty that the stranger sitting across from you is carrying your child and is going to be, from that moment on,  a forever part of your story.

March 7, 2011 came and we all met at the hospital for A's induction.  It started at 6 o'clock that morning and our sweet little screecher didn't make her appearance until 13 hours later.  Let me tell you, seemingly endless hours of watching someone lie in a bed allows for a lot of thinking time.  As I sat there, doing the only thing I could do on this end of the birthing process - twitch, pace, and eat a lot of Skittles, I realized we were just moments away from seeing if she was okay - if God really had protected her from all the bad stuff she'd been exposed to.  I knew all the pre-birth tests in the world couldn't tell us for sure, but in a very non-Kristy way, aprehension took a backseat to excitement.  I totally trusted in God's plan for our family.  Somehow, I just knew it would be okay.

And at 7:47pm, there she was...

Beaten up and bruised from a hard, hard labor.  But totally, perfectly, wonderfully fine.

Chubby fine.

We named her Eliza Kate.  Eliza, meaning "consecrated to God" and Kate, meaning "pure".

And just like that, our world became infinitely sweeter.

Happy Birthday, Cupcake.  We love you to pieces.

You are a giggly, squealy, curious, energetic, crazy-smart, cuddly, food-loving, people-loving, squishy little spitfire ball of sweet bliss.  And we are so happy that you're ours.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

How Much Honesty Can I Handle?


I was going to entitle this post, "How Much Honesty Can You Handle?", but really, that's not what this is about. I suspect YOU can handle quite a bit of honesty. No. What this is about is me and how much honesty I can handle. This is about me getting a few (long overdue) things off my chest. About "coming clean".  Laying it all out there.  Being real.

Sounds like a SUPER fun read, yes?

I've been alternating between wanting to say something and wanting to continue not saying anything for awhile now. And, today, after a heart-to-heart with the hubs at lunch, I've decided it's time to just do it. Mainly because, well, quite honestly, I feel a little like I've been living a lie. Not an overt lie. More like a lie by omission. But, in the spirit of "the truth setting me free", I'm going to just flop it out there. Be my "authentic self", to borrow from Dr. Phil.  Oh, boy!  But seriously, more than anything, the motivation for writing this is the fact that, in keeping silent, I think I'm starting to hurt people's feelings. Maybe that will make more sense in a minute.

Those who know me best know I'm an extremely sanguine person, a person who loves being around friends and family, a person who loves to go and do and see things. A person who is always up for a party, a get-together, an event, a little road trip, a living room chat session. A happy, smiley, outgoing person who loves life.

And while parts of that description are still very much me, especially at the core, what most of you don't know is that I am also a person living with a chronic illness.

A rare, beast of a disease called systemic mastocytosis that keeps me home bound most of the time. Rather than try to explain what "that word" is, I'll now point you to Wikipedia: the source of all knowledge.  Or to The Mastocytosis Society, a less reader-friendly, more credible website.

In layman's terms, what it means is this -- I deal with almost constant nausea and balance issues. Most of the time, I resemble a college frat boy after an all-night boozer party.  From the wobbly gait to the barf bucket, I am legit.  Party on, Garth!  : ) I also deal with fatigue, flushing, swelling, hives and a rainbow of other nifty rashes (like TMEP), incessant itching, bone and muscle pain, abdominal pain, migraines, diarrhea, retching, tachycardia, difficulty breathing, and blood pressure fluctuations - especially in the aftermath of a reaction. On a good day, my nausea is such that it can be knocked back to a functional degree with Zofran and my other symptoms hover just enough below the surface to be able to effectively hide them, at least long enough for a trip to Sam's or Target or a quick lunch with a friend. On a bad day, I am in bed.  On a really bad day, I find myself taking a trip to the ER for IV meds and hydration. 

This is probably where you're saying, "WHAAAAT?  Why did I not know this? HOW could I not have known this?!"

Because, my friends, I've been living with it for about twelve years now and I am wicked good at hiding it.  Granted, for most of those twelve years, it wasn't about "hiding it" so much as it was about trying to figure out what was going on.  Mastocytosis is friggin' hard to diagnose!  For years, we've played the super fun "What's Wrong With Kristy?" medical game.  It hasn't been until just recently that we've had a name for the madness.

Now I hide it because, like the ostrich who buries its head in the sand, to acknowledge it is to give shape and form to something I'd prefer not be real. I hide it because people are inherently afraid of illness and to accept the "sick" label is to potentially look loneliness and isolation in the face. I hide it because I am human, and being human involves a certain amount of vanity and a relentless quest to appear better than you actually are. I hide it because I've always wanted, more than anything, to be a mom.  I've wanted Russ to be a dad.  And to acknowledge an imperfection in the world of adoption is to jeopardize that chance.  Which brings me to the question you're all asking at this point -- how the heck DID we adopt? The answer is simple: God knew who our children were before they were formed and He brought them to us. Period. Adoption through an agency could have been more difficult, so He brought into our lives two amazing birthmothers who wanted to place their babies through private adoption. Birthmothers who wanted us to be the parents of their babies, and nobody else.  God orchestrated every single moment of both of our girls' adoptions, down to the smallest detail.  (...And as a rather important side note, thankfully, the type of masto that I have typically just makes you feel like you WANT to die, rather than actually putting you six feet under.   Thankfully?  Ha.) 

In saying all of this, I fully acknowledge that there are people who deal with far worse suffering. Dear friends immediately come to mind.  Never do I want to be so far into the bowels of my illness that I am blinded to that fact. Sometimes when the physical crap starts to mount up and my brain starts torturing me with how different life is now, and the scary "what if"s start to creep in and the "used to be"s start spinning around in my freakishly excellent memory, I have to pause and remember all that I have been given.  I am thankful beyond measure for the blessings in my life. Blessings which include, but are certainly not limited to:

A husband who goes above and beyond EVERY.SINGLE.DAY to help alleviate the load I bear. He cooks, he cleans, he cares for our girls. You can see your face in the shine of the toilet lid when he's finished, people! He runs errands - to the grocery store, to the pharmacy, to the cleaners, to here and there and everywhere. He takes Sophie to birthday parties, to school events, to Chuck E. Cheese, to the county fair.  The man never stops. He NEVER stops. AND he goes to work and deals with the security of our country. Add to that the fact that, more often than not, he uses his "vacation days" to shuttle me to doctor's appointments or to help care for our girls when I'm having a bad day. Aaaaaand he does it with seemingly endless sources of strength and endurance, without complaining. He is Superman. Without him, I wouldn't be able to be a mother. End of story.  He is my rock.

A best friend who is there for me no matter what. No matter when or how I need him to be, he is there. He was there when I was a kid, when life was kicks and jollies, and he is here for me now - when Fun Kristy is often hard to find and Pain In The Ass Kristy is all kinds of abundant. A friend who makes me laugh to the point of shooting Coke out my nose and who listens to me and lets me cry when crying is the only thing that will help. A friend who jokingly points to his own bald head when I get down about the handfuls of hair appearing in the shower. A friend who sits with me through countless procedures and tests - tests like colonoscopies:  the true test of any friendship; who says, "Even though you are forty-flippin-years-old, I will take off work and sit with you while you take this new watch you and see if  'anything weird happens' because you are a freak and I know you're scared of such things.".  A friend who knows my love of music and how it soothes me, and provides me it in a neverending stream of awesomeness.  A friend who gives and gives and asks for nothing in return - other than that I "try again tomorrow".

Two girls who light up my life. Who have fulfilled my heart's desire. Who bring me joy, and laughter, and love immeasurable. Who complete me and give me the umph! to tackles the challenges and hardships of the day. Did I mention the laughter??? Enter: Sophie...and the Depends I have to frequently strap on to keep the undies dry when the child opens her mouth. She is hands down one the the funniest kids ever. And it is such a HUGE blessing. Enter: Eliza. The sweetest, easiest, happiest, most squeezably lovable toddler on the planet. Huge blessing #2.

Family who support and encourage me and lend a helping hand whenever needed. Who love me deeply and truly despite a pitifully long list of flaws. Who surround me with prayer and encouragement and fill me with renewed strength.  They are like medicine for my soul.  Which brings me to...

Modern medicine.  Thank you, Jesus, for modern medicine!!!!!!

A Heavenly Father who never, EVER forsakes me.

And (drumroll, please) a clear spinal tap and a bone marrow biopsy which came back negative for the cancerous form of this illness.

Yep. There it is.

So why come "out" now?

Because sheesh. It's time. To be real. To be brave. To be honest.

To help others understand.  If there's one thing I've learned from being sick, it's empathy.  How many times have you inadvertently judged a person or situation or jumped to a conclusion without knowing the full truth?  I know I have!  I think pre-masto Kristy was a bit of a Prissy Pants, in fact.  I ask you, before you become frustrated with or offended by someone, to consider this  -- maybe it's not that they don't want to come to your special event, or that they're lazy, or forgetful, or inconsiderate, or a big bummer of a friend.  Maybe they desperately want to be there for you; they simply aren't able to in exactly the way you want them to be. 

So often the surface expertly hides what lies beneath.

I don't know.  Maybe this was just for me.  A little therapeutic vent.  But if in the process of me finding a little courage I can help lighten someone else's load and encourage them to be less afraid of showing their true self, well, that's gotta be worth something, right?

"My hope in God is the anchor of my soul, both sure and steadfast." (Hebrews 6:19)

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Our Little News

Okay, yes, I've gone and done it again. Ditched the blog.  Two and a half months without a post.  Pitiful, I know.  I'm sorry.

But I think you'll forgive me when I tell you what's been going on with us for the past couple of months.

Meet the newest addition to our family.

Eliza Kate
Born March 7, 2011
8 lbs 3 oz
6:55 pm.

Yes, big sis Sophs is definitely as smitten as she appears to be. 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Bring It On, Bugs. She's Ready!

Since she was little, Sophie has always been fascinated with exterminators. She calls our current Orkin service technician "The Bug Guy" and spends the whole time he's here following him around, watching him search for unwelcome critters in the nooks and crannies of our house. He visited today while she was in school, and when she found out, she was distraught.  "You mean I miiiiiiiisssssed The Buuuuuuuuugggg Guuuuuuuy?!"  She made me promise to see if next time he could come on a day when she would be here, and then she promptly went to work in the study, taping...cutting...making her very own "pest" and hunting tool.

Well, obviously, it's a grasshopper and a flashlight.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Never Underestimate the Value of a Good Colorist. EVER.

Thanks to the recommendation of a longtime blog reader (who, interestingly enough just happens to live in the same town as I do), I am no longer Snow White, nor am I Jon Bon Jovi, circa 1986.

I am happy to report, I am me again.

I have been reunited with my normal hair color.  And let me tell 'ya, it feels so good. 

Please pardon the fresh-outta-bed look. I was so excited about the hair, I forgot to give myself some eyebrows or eyelashes.  Whoops.  One of the problems with having a red-headed complexion, sometimes certain facial features need a little coaxing before they come out of hiding. 

(Thanks, Chrissi!  Thanks, Mandy! You guys rock!)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

"The Brown Gravy Will Be AMAAAAAAzing!"

Meet Greg. Greg just had surgery to remove all four of his wisdom teeth.

But Greg's not worried about that little detail.  He's going to go home and make a cotton shirt and eat some KFC mashed potatoes.  Life is good, isn't it, Greg?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Power of Suggestion

While I was cooking dinner tonight, Russ and Sophie were snuggled together on the couch, looking for something to watch on TV.  As Russ was flipping through the channels, Sophie suddenly shouted out, "Ooo!  Go back!  What's that?!"

"That's 'The Pirates of the Carribean - Curse of the Black Pearl', " Russ said.

Sophie clapped her hands over her face, "Oh, nooooooo, Daddy.  Now I'm going to have bad dreams!"

Russell said, "What?  There wasn't anything scary on the TV....those were just the opening credits."

Sophie promptly replied, "It doesn't matter.  You said the word 'curse'.  Anytime I hear the word 'curse', I have a bad dream!"

Russ said,  "Huh.  So if I say the words 'cotton candy', do you dream about cotton candy?"

Sophie put her head down on the coffee table and let out an enormous sigh. 

"Oh, just great.  Tonight I'm gonna dream about cursed cotton candy."

Friday, October 29, 2010

Raggedy Ann

Oh, and yes, some things never change...

Happy Halloween, everyone!  :-)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Uh oh. Did I Just Become One of "Those Parents"?

Well.  Neat.

Today we had our first school "incident". And by that I mean, instead of dealing with a Sophie discipline problem, we're dealing with the way we feel about how a teacher handled something that occurred in the classroom involving Sophie.

Sophie's kindergarten teacher had a baby, so Sophie has a long-term substitute teacher right now. I was a long-term sub once. It was my first teaching job in Little Rock. I was fresh out of college, and in all honesty, the thought of "taking on" twenty-four 2nd-graders, who had bonded with their teacher and were more than a wee smidge grumpy at the thought of having to greet a new teacher, kind of filled me with a special kind of terror.

Teaching is a tough gig. It is. Anybody who thinks it's nothing but happy-skippy learners and "summers off" clearly has never spent time in a classroom.

Nobody's perfect, including even the best teacher.

Nor is my child perfect. ...I think, um, we've established that a few times before.

That said, I'm resisting the urge to "Go Cable" on somebody right now. (I realize not many of you get what that means. But, yep, a few of you do!  It isn't pretty.)

So here's the story:

Sophie got off the bus crying today. Those of you who know Sophie well know it takes quite a bit to make her cry. She said she had to move her ribbon to red (which is the BIG BIGGEE in the in-class behavioral management process). The interesting part is she claims to have no idea why. The even more interesting part is (based on her story and my knowledge of Sophie), I believe her. Since her longterm sub still hasn't provided the parents in her classroom any contact info, this is the email I just sent to her teacher. (Please be honest with me about if you think I've handled this appropriately. This is my first angry school moment, so I feel a bit like a fish out of water.)

Dear Ms. Please Come Back Soon,

Russell and I have talked extensively with Sophie about what happened today and she adamantly keeps telling us the same story:

She says that during carpet time, Samajay called her a "Red Head" and that he kept saying, "You're gonna get on're gonna get on red! You're a Red Head!" She asked him to please stop calling her that. When he kept on, she said, "I'm going to tell Ms. Blank." She stood up to tell Ms. Blank, and he grabbed her arm and told her, "If you don't tell on me, I promise I'll be your friend." Sophie kind of idolizes Samajay (she talks about him all the time at home, calling him a "good, nice, cute boy"). She said to him, "Okay, I won't tell. But if you don't be my friend now, that's telling a lie." She said Samajay immediately jumped up and ran over to Ms. Blank. Upon hearing whatever he told her, Sophie said Mrs. Blank looked up "with mad eyes" and yelled out, "SOPHIE!! Move your ribbon to red right now!!" That was apparently when Sophie started crying because she didn't know why she was in trouble.


None of this really makes sense to me. I thought maybe she got in trouble for talking during carpet time, but Sophie told me that's the time when they are allowed to talk amongst themselves. Then I thought maybe Sophie got in trouble for saying the word "lie". ...But that doesn't really make sense either.  Plus, in accordance with the school handbook, if a child has to move their behavior ribbon to red, a note is supposed to be sent home to the parents explaining what happened. I've searched her backpack and I find nary a note.

Just now Russ yelled out that he found a line written in her folder that said:

"Sophie had an incident where she called a fellow classmate the "b" word."

Upon reading that, Russell and I (well, after we contemplated the "b" possibilities and picked ourselves up off the floor) spoke again with Sophie and said, "Tell us one more time what happened." She repeated the story. Afterwards I asked her, "Sophie did you call Samajay a name? ANY name? You know how important it is to tell the truth." She told me, "No, Mama. I didn't. He called me a Red Head, but I didn't call him anything. I just told him I would tell on him if he didn't stop calling me that."

I said, "Did you call him a "b" word?"

She said, "What's a "b" word? ...You mean like a bumblebee?"

I know Sophie's not perfect. I assure you I'm not one of those parents who thinks her child is without fault.  (If you followed my blog, you'd know why I'm trying to keep from laughing a LOT right now.)  This is not a "Heaven doesn't MAKE Cs!" moment.  (Sorry.  Another story.  For another time.)  I know Sophie's likely to get in trouble for talking, or for playing too rough on the playground, or for talking, or for a plethora of other Dennis the Menace-like behaviors. ...Or for talking. (Whoops. Yes. Dabbling in the obvious for a moment: she is a talker.) But I do not for ONE SECOND believe she called a classmate a curse word. First of all, she doesn't know any. Russ and I do NOT use bad language at our house. Period. I'm not saying she couldn't have heard "a 'b' word" on the playground or on television...or, heck, the possibilities are pretty endless, aren't they? And I'm not saying she wouldn't repeat a word in ignorance. I remember as a child trying that out at home. Once. But neither Russ nor I have EVER heard her use any bad language. And she knows if she were to "try out" a word she heard around us, she would get a spanking for it. We've talked to her about how she should never use words she doesn't know the meaning of because it's likely they're not nice. She's six! And thank the Lord, an innocent six.  Her version of bad language is: "weenie" and "dork" and she thinks the ultimate bad word is "stupid".  (She heard her grandmother say it once in response to a toy that, despite much fiddling-with, just wouldn't work right.  ...She just about passed dead away from the shock of it all.  "Mooms!  You said...'stupid'!!!!")

What I'm upset about is, not so much "the word", since I know she didn't say it, but the fact that it appears that Ms. Blank just reacted to what Samajay said and told Sophie to move her clip without first speaking to HER about the incident. Had she spoken to her, she may have figured out that Samajay just misunderstood her, or she might have figured out that Samajay wasn't telling the truth.  Had she spoken to her, she definitely would've been able to see firsthand, based on her reaction, that Sophie had no knowledge of any "b" words. Not any offensive ones, anyway.  I'm also upset that in the aftermath of the punishment, she just left Sophie sitting there crying, still without speaking to her.

Perhaps the incident was worthy of moving to red.  Without being there, I can't really say for sure. I doesn't seem like it to us, but we'll admit we aren't familiar with the exact guidelines for having a child move their ribbon to red. But what I do know is that we take "red" behavior very seriously at our house. Sophie knows the consequences that come with having to move her ribbon to red. I want you to know I have held off disciplining her (something that I don't believe in because I don't think it's fair to keep a child in limbo regarding their punishment) because it is really important to me that when I punish her, I know exactly what I'm punishing her for. And right now I don't know. And I know she doesn't know. And I hope I don't sound condescending, I don't intend to, but I feel pretty confident that there was a missed step between Samajay telling Mrs. Blank whatever-it-was-he-told-her and Sophie moving her clip to red.

And it's a step that deflated my child.

I would very much appreciate it if you would give Ms. Blank my email address or phone number, so that I don't have to interrupt her teaching time tomorrow to discuss this with her.

Thanks so much,



P.S. So, conciseness is not really my gig.  Sorry about that.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Gimme The Jon Bon, Please.

I know, I know.  You all wish so badly I'd had my cell phone with me at my hair appointment, so I could have taken a shot of my Knots Landing 'do prior to its date with that last bottle of toner. 

But, alas, I didn't.

And in the state I was in at that moment, I'm really not sure I could've remembered how to work the buttons anyway.

But fear not...I can provide you with visual evidence of the disaster!

Remember I told you my hair was a grayish color with platinum, almost-white streaks all throughout?  Remember I said it reminded me of the ever-popular frosted hairdo of the 80s?  Well.  What I forgot to tell you was the part about the diffuser.  And, really, it's key to helping you understand how No Cry Kristy found herself so distraught over something as silly as hair.

So, after Perky Girl lifted the towel (and brought me a paper bag to breathe into), she asked me to please let her "just dry it" so we could see if the color would "even out some".  She asked me how I normally styled it at home (I guess she thought at that point a little normalcy would help calm the rising panic in the room).  I told her I just usually let it air dry, for the most part, but that I sometimes used the diffuser a few minutes to add a bit of volume and curl, when I wanted it to look especially nice.

She quickly pulled out the diffuser.

I yanked my glasses off so she could work freely, without anything hindering the fix-it process.  I felt like we were in a delicate spot.  Like if we did everything right from this point forward, the zebra stripes in my grey-green hair would magically disappear.  I held my head perfectly still.  (I know.  But when you're praying for a miracle, you want to make everything as miracle-friendly as possible.)  The more she diffused, the more poufant-y I started to feel, but I just kept my eyes closed and pictured myself in my Happy Place...with good hair.  When she finally told me I could put my glasses back on, this is what sat staring back at me in the mirror. Pretty much spot-on.

Well, minus the come-hither eyes, pursed lips, and eagle talon earring. My subdued make-up and smaller-than-a-windshield glasses may have said 2010, but my hair said, "Whoa OHHHH...livin' on a prayer!"  I was ready to

Only Richie and Tico were no where to be found.  Now you understand the tears.
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