Sunday, November 23, 2008

Halloween: A Velvet Pirate and The Dark Side.


It's me, Louie. I thought you should know that my parents dressed me up as Darth Vader for Halloween. I overheard their conversation and it went something like this:

Dad: Louie is NOT going to be Darth Vader for Halloween! That's terrible!

Mom: Oh, I didn't really think about it. I just grabbed the two costumes left in their sizes and they just so happened to be Darth and a pirate. I forgot Darth Vader was so bad.

Dad: Yeah, he's bad. He's the dark side. Louie is NOT going to be the dark side.

Mom: Someone has to be the bad guy. But go ahead and try to find another costume. These were all they had in their sizes and they were half price.

And so it was, we wore our costumes as only toddlers dressed in an all black hooded cloak and velvet knickers could.  With embarrassment and resentment.  Just wait until me and Ace know how to talk.  Those parents of ours...they are totally in for it.  I can't wait to tell them the way it's gonna be.  And it ain't gonna be the dark side and lacy pirate costumes.  

My mom has admitted she's not good at these holiday and birthday things.  And I guess she wasn't kidding.  I should probably be thankful she even took us to a Halloween party.  After all, she's yet to throw me an actual birthday party.  You know the kind with other kids and lots of presents?  Because I don't!  Never had one.  Probably never will.  What's up with that?  

Better sign off.  I think I hear footsteps!  


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Milestones and Growth Charts.

Both children are asleep so I have this moment of uninterrupted, guilt-free time on my hands.  I sit here among the above pictured clutter and wish I could make up my mind on whether I will be a motivated, list-checker or slacker blogger.  Slacker blogger it is!  

I make these really elaborate lists all over the place, in the notes area on my phone, on the back of receipts, scraps of paper torn from Louie's school notices.  Then, I stress all out because my notes are not organized.  I go and find all the lists and write them out on a piece of paper. I don't look at them again for two weeks. I accomplish nothing from the list.  Stupid list.  It's a bit of a problem.  Or mental instability.  

What I realize and fundamentally understand, but can't seem to come to terms with, is that everything will never all be done.  Meaning, I will never sit on the couch, feet propped up on the fraying brown ottoman, hands behind my head and have that feeling.  The feeling of it's all done. The house is clean, the groceries are put away, the laundry is done, the bills are paid, the children are fulfilled, dreaming of Pooh Bear and carrots with Ranch.  

That was fun, writing and imagining that scenario.  It's okay, though.  That's life.  It keeps going and going and if it doesn't...well, then, it's not really a life, is it?  

A friend emailed me today and made mention of her fifteen-month-old not walking yet.  Not that she's terribly worried but just starting to think about it a bit.  She said she couldn't imagine how I must have felt waiting all that time for Louie to walk.  I started thinking about it, concluding that it wasn't that hard. Crawling, on the other hand, was desperately difficult. He didn't crawl until 15 months and we didn't have a diagnosis.  

We were always worrying about his missed developmental milestones, hypothyroidism, low muscle tone and his size.  He wasn't and has never been on the growth charts. 

Everyone, especially people in Target for some bizarre reason, felt it was their right and duty to comment upon Louie's size.  

"How old is he?  Three months?"  

"Um, no, he's 9 months," I tell them.  

"Oh, wow, he's small.  My son weighed 82 pounds when he was that age. What are you feeding him?  He's crying!  I think he might be hungry.  Didn't you bring a bottle for him?"  

Ahhh.  Memories.  No, really, that was a tough time because we were stumbling along as first time parents, clinging to a hope that none of Louie's issues were connected and that everyone else was right...he would be fine.  Over and over we heard it, "oh, he'll catch up", "he'll be fine, don't worry."  

And so we tried not to.  And made excuses, blaming his TSH levels and shoddy growth hormones.  That was the story we chose to tell to ourselves.  And anyone else who asked.  I finally, after months and months of comments and months and months of worry, I took it out (just a little) on a Target checker.  Beep...beep...she scanned my 12 items or less. 

"He sure is small," she commented innocently.  

"Well, you know what, he's got a thyroid problem and may need growth hormones and he's delayed and we're just not sure what's going on!!" I told her loudly as I swiped my card.  

"Would you like to open a Target account and get 10% off today..."she trails off. 

As more time passed and more milestones were missed, the more desperate we became for answers. Every doctors appointment was about weight.  We knew his weight to the exact ounce and any gain was significant and cause for celebration.  How we studied the growth chart, praying fervently that he may one day appear on it.  But every time, less than one percentile. Less than one percentile.  Less than one percentile.  It became our unchosen mantra.  

We shoved food in his mouth and forced him to drink more than he desired.  I nursed him with tubes filled with supplemental formula taped here and there.  It was a sight to behold, for sure. We forced bottles with whole milk plus formula or plus Carnation Instant Breakfast or plus dry milk.  We became upset when he wouldn't finish it and burped him and coaxed him, using our best parenting gimmicks to get him to drink just one more ounce.  One. More. Ounce. It was such a big deal.  

I could go on and on about that time - those first 16 months of Louie's life.  All of this to say to my friend, that no, walking wasn't hard but crawling was.  And now talking is.  But in a different way because now we know and with that comes more patience and perhaps, at times, apathy, I shamefully admit.  

Most of the time there is no need for worry and everything truly will be fine.  My friend's daughter will be fine.  She's just taking a little more time to enjoy the landscape, the nuances of the fading grass and fallen autumn leaves that whisk around and delight her.  

But the pressures of the world, the constant pressure to hit the next milestone, to be the right size, to say the right words, to measure up, well, I suppose they'll always be there.  But we'll always have the choice as to whether or not we will listen.  As for me, tonight, I will not listen. My ears will only hear laughter and guitar strumming and that train a few miles away, haunting the night.