Slightly Insane Mom

"All mothers are slightly insane." –J.D. Salinger
October 30th, 2014 by Molly

Party Planning Hell: A Scary Halloween Tale, Mom-Style

Against my better judgment, I volunteered to be a party mom for Sunshine’s class Halloween party. The first indication I had that this event was Not Your Mother’s Halloween Party was the email from the “Party Planning Committee Chair,” notifying me that I was to attend the Official Halloween Party Planning Meeting in the Cafeteria on Some Date I Don’t Remember Because I Have Three Kids.

Now, let me preface this whole thing with a little reminiscence. Do you remember classroom Halloween parties in the 80s? You wore your costume to school. A basic Level 1 costume was some sort of polyester getup your parents bought at Walgreens. It included a mask with tiny slits to see and even tinier slits to breathe. Level 2 involved full face paint, probably containing some variety of carcinogens, and possibly fake teeth. Level 3, the Gold Level, was the Homemade By Moms Who Could Actually Sew costume, the Costume That Also Involves an Elaborate Hairdo Sprayed with Rave or AquaNet, or the Costume Constructed from Cardboard and Spray Paint Made By a Dad with Engineering Skills. (There were also a few kids with “participation ribbon” costumes. You know, the ones who phoned it in with a “hobo” costume with a flannel shirt and a bandana on a stick, or a “bum” costume with a trash bag with holes cut out for the arm and neck holes.) But I digress. At your typical 80s Halloween party, there was some candy, donated by generous parents or broke teachers. You may have sat at your desk and eaten candy, and may have done a Halloween-themed crossword or word search (run off on the Ditto machine, of course). And then you went home and Trick or Treated without your parents, after dark, then came home and ate yourself into a candy coma. Ah, the memories!

But I digress. Back to the Party Planning Meeting. The cafeteria was organized with each group of classroom moms at their own table. Our table was set with a folder containing several documents outlining the party planning policies and procedures. Sunshine’s class had 5 moms signed up for the party planning committee. Me, Samantha, Danielle, Angela, and Becky. After waiting 10 minutes past the Official Start Time of the meeting, Becky was a no-show, so the rest of us plowed ahead. The instructions in our folder told us that the party would be 2 hours long. The children are not allowed to wear their costumes to school, of course. Back in the 80s, before No Child Left Untested, we didn’t know how distracting those padded He-Man chests and pointy witch hats were. Now we know better, so we make the children change into their costumes at school. So, 15 minutes for getting dressed. 30 minutes for the Costume Parade around the track outside. Which leaves one hour, 15 minutes left, to be divided into 15 minute time slots, all of which need to be detailed on the Party Schedule Sheet, which must be approved in advance by the teacher.

The first 15-minute time slot is obviously devoted to the Nutritious Snack That Isn’t Candy. Our committee chose an oh-so-Pinterest-worthy snack: Banana “ghosts” with tangerine “pumpkins,” a whimsical and healthy morsel found on a cooking website for moms with too much time on their hands (See below.) The ghosts and pumpkins will be served with a side of pretzels. The remaining four 15-minute time slots are devoted to “stations,” in which the kids will participate in Festive Themed Activities. Our stations include a Pumpkin Ring Toss (good for building hand-eye coordination), a Cauldron Game (sensory activity!), and a toilet paper mummy game (look at those gross motor skills!). I will be at the helm of the craft station.

from weelicious.com

from weelicious.com

Now, I am not crafty by any stretch of the imagination. Crafty moms are able to bring in a box of toilet paper rolls (which they are ALWAYS saving JUST IN CASE a craft opportunity should arise), bottle caps, and glue dots and have the kids create 3-story haunted houses. Uncrafty moms such as myself go on Oriental Trading (and for log’s sake, WHEN is this company going to change it’s name to something less racist?), spend $50, and end up with a bunch of shit for the kids to string into necklaces. But hey, fine motor skill development!

So we fill out our Party Schedule Sheet, plus our Snack Sheet which details all food being served, to cross-reference with any possible food allergies.

Then there is the list of supplies. I was in charge of creating the supply donation list on VolunteerSpot, a completely ingenious website designed to guilt parents into donating stuff to their kids’ classrooms. This website is fantastic. You input the specific supplies and quantities you need for the party. In our case, the list includes things like “Set of 30 small plastic Halloween-themed toys–3 quantity” and “24 pack mini bottled water–2 quantity.” And–here is the genius part–the list gets emailed to all the parents, and when they log on, they can see what needs to be donated, and also who donated what. So what happens is, Billy’s mom will log on and see that Sally’s mom has already signed up for 2 sets of party favors. Not to be outdone, Billy’s mom will sign up to donate all the paper goods. I’ve often logged onto the site and had the following conversation with myself: “I hope I can donate the plates and napkins. Oh damn, Nicole’s mom got those already, that cow. Alright, how about I do a bag of chocolate chips. Wait, Marissa’s mom is sending in two sets of favors, I can’t JUST do a bag of chocolate chips, I’ll look like an asshole. Okay, chocolate chips, and two sets of favors…” and so on.

One week after the meeting: The official party schedule is approved by the teacher. A crisis arises: one of the children is gluten-intolerant. Gluten-free pretzels are added to the supply list.

October 25, 6 days before the party. Sunshine and I do a test run of the craft. The plastic stretchy cord I ordered doesn’t tie into knots. I add a trip to the craft store onto my to-do list.

October 29, two days before the party. Samantha sends the group an email. “Finally heard from Becky. Turns out she just had a baby, so she won’t be able to make it, but she’ll send in some treats.” Well, what the fuck, Becky? Party committee sign-ups were in September. Did being 8 months pregnant somehow slip your mind when you were signing up for an event taking place on October 31st? And “treats”? Those aren’t preapproved, Becky. Get it together. I respond to the group, asking who is going to cover the pumpkin ring toss. *crickets*

October 30, day before the party. I’m doing the craft station. Danielle wants to run the TP mummy station. Samantha is all over the Cauldron game. I sent an email to the group. “Still looking for someone to do the pumpkin ring toss.” No reply. Earth to Angela! Hellooooo, Angela! If the kids end up standing there, woefully unoccupied and unstimulated for 15 full minutes, THAT SHIT’S ON YOU, ANGELA.

Tomorrow it all goes down. I will show up wearing an embarrassingly Oriental-Trading-Style crafted necklace, box of supplies in tow. There will be Mirth. There may even be Merriment. Somebody will forget to donate their assigned supplies. Somebody else will send in overly ambitious and show-offy goody bags so they can claim their Mother of the Year trophy. And at the end, we battle-worn Party Moms will go home, pop a Xanax, sigh a little for the lost Halloweens of our youths, and comfort-eat a few fun-size Snickers before heading out to Trick or Treat with our broods.

And then it will be time for people to sign up for the Winter Holiday Party. I expect you to pull your weight this time, Becky.

 

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October 12th, 2014 by Molly

Droppin’ It Like It’s Hot

At the start of fall, I decided to go back to school. Not because I fancied a change of career. Not because our finances dictated that I find employment urgently. And not because I missed my former life as an editor and educator. Mostly, I went back to school out of guilt.

I stepped away from the cubicle when I was 5 months pregnant with Little Miss Sunshine. At the time, I was thrilled with my decision, and looking forward to spending day in and day out with my baby girl. But now, eight years later, the shine has worn off. Don’t get me wrong—I’m intensely grateful and gratified to stay at home with my kids. But I do miss the daily adult interaction, as well as the ability to make it through a day without getting snot on my shoulder and pre-chewed graham cracker slime on my pants.

Ultimately, though, the decision to go back to school was made out of guilt: the giant, heavy, soul-sucking burden that all moms carry with them to some extent or another.

Are you a working mom? Look at all those milestones you’ve missed! Did you stop pumping breastmilk—every 2 hours in the supply closet next to the post-its, or on 5-minute breaks between classes, or in the airport lounge praying it would stay cold enough on the flight to that important meeting—because it was just a little too hard? You should have kept that up longer. Hey, why aren’t you at the oh-so-inconvenient 10 AM meeting of the PTA at your kid’s school? And how come you didn’t have time to hand-make the peanut-gluten-dairy-egg-HFCS-rBGH-BPA-free treats for your preschooler’s Earth Day party? Only losers send in pre-packaged snacks, you know.

But hey, stay-at-home moms! You should feel bad, too. Look at that degree you worked so hard for, collecting dust there. You’re not contributing any income to the family! If your kids don’t get to go to Disney World this year, you have no one but yourself to blame. Look at this house! This is supposed to be YOUR DOMAIN, and it’s a wreck! And what are you going to do about that resume? The last employment year on there started with a 2 and had two zeroes in the middle! The working world is passing you by, sister, and there you are like a booger-shouldered schmuck, watching it sail right past. What a shame.

And that’s why I went back to school. Because my resume was dusty and my brain was filled with cobwebs and my heart was filled with the crushing burden of wondering if my family was floundering because of me.

So I paid lots of money and I did lots of work, and two months later… I am still filled with soul-sucking, heart-crushing guilt, but now it’s because I realized that I’ve spent every weekend of the past two months studying, and naptimes studying, and my kids didn’t get to pick apples or go on hayrides or run through corn mazes or other sources of Fall Mirth and Merriment.

The struggle. It is so real.

John Belushi in Animal House

“Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son.”

I dropped one class, hoping that would make things more manageable. It helped a little. But not enough. Because what I realized was that I wasn’t working my ass off out of any burning desire to go back into that particular career field. I was doing it because I didn’t know what else to do. I started thinking about the hours I was spending each week on studying to go back to a career that I wasn’t all that passionate about, and realizing that if I devoted those hours toward stuff I actually CARED about, maybe my life would feel a little less overwhelming.

Before I made my final decision, I decided to talk to my stepmom, whose advice I value highly. “The thing is,” I explained, “I’m just not that passionate about it.”

“Say no more!” she exclaimed. “I would drop that like a hot potato!”

And that confirmed it. Tomorrow I will call the registrar’s office and add “college dropout” to my list of accomplishments or foibles, however you want to look at it. And maybe this week I’ll take my kids to the park to enjoy the weather. It is, after all, fall.

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August 29th, 2014 by Molly

New Adventures

I don’t exactly know what happened, but something in my brain snapped and I decided to go back to school. Maybe it was one poopy diaper too many. Or perhaps the realization that I can sometimes go DAYS without reading or thinking anything more intelligible than “When’s the next episode of Project Runway?” Whatever the case, I’m going back to school for a second Master’s degree (because I guess the first one didn’t stick?).

The program is online, which will allow me to be at home with Mr. Mischief for the next few years, at which point I’ll go back to work and the kids can fend for themselves unsupervised, living off PB&J, running wild through the neighborhood, and trying not to burn the house down. Or maybe I’ll have my mom come and watch them. I’m still working out the details.

I also decided that I needed a new hobby, so I started selling Jamberry (check it out! http://fancyllama.jamberrynails.net/). If you haven’t seen these things, they’re vinyl nail wraps that come in oodles of adorable patterns. I’m a little obsessed. Look how cute my nails are.

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And now you know why there’s been radio silence on the blog lately. That, and back to school season for the bigs has kicked my butt. Sgt. Snowflake starts school next week, thank log, so hopefully I’ll have a smidge more time to write.

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July 14th, 2014 by Molly

Up Shit Creek, or This One Time, At Girl Scout Camp

A few weeks ago, Little Miss Sunshine and I attended our first* Girl Scout Camping Trip. It’s been a few weeks, the bruises are mostly healed, and after extensive inpatient therapy a brief rest, I feel that I’m finally ready to tell the tale of the Tragic Canoe Incident.

I’m going to preface this story by telling you briefly about my own Tragic Canoe Incident that occurred when I was roughly Sunshine’s age. On a YMCA day camp canoe trip, I was a passenger in a canoe, and had my hand dangling over the side of the boat. In a rough current, another canoe careened into ours, smashing my ring finger and ripping out my fingernail. Afterward, I told several adults, none of whom helped me, and I spent the entire 2-hour bus ride home clutching my oozing, broken finger. At the ER, the doctor SHOVED MY FINGERNAIL BACK INTO THE NAIL BED. Which hurt as much as you would expect it would. My mom, of course, was furious about the whole thing, but she didn’t sue the camp organizers to cover my medical bills, because it was the 80s and that wasn’t a thing back then.

Okay, so, fast forward 20-whatever years. Sunshine and I are ready for our Girl Scout canoe trip. We arrive at the canoe rental place with the rest of the troop. The sky is overcast, but we’re holding out hope. That was our first mistake. Which brings me to Girl Scout Canoeing Pro Tip #1: If It Looks Like It’s Going to Rain, Go the Fuck Home. Which, of course, we didn’t do. So we get checked in, get our life jackets, and board a rickety bus to head to the drop-off point, 6 miles upriver.

The river in question. Don't be fooled by the tranquil nature of this photo. Danger lurks slightly downstream.

The river in question. Don’t be fooled by the tranquil nature of this photo. Danger lurks slightly downstream.

We decide as a group that each mom-daughter pair should canoe with whichever mom-daughter pair they’re bunking with. In our case, that would be Stella and her mom, Miranda**. I’ve never steered a canoe before, but I can paddle like the dickens (does anyone actually know what a “dickens” is?), so I say I’m comfortable being in front. Miranda says she can take the back, because she and her husband have canoed before, and while he’s always been the one who steers, she knows in theory how to do it, which should be good enough.*** Which brings me to Girl Scout Canoeing Pro Tip #2: Get in a Boat with People Who Know What the Fuck They’re Doing.

We get ourselves into the boat, and off we go, paddling happily down the river. It’s a lovely day, not too hot. We take a few minutes to figure out how to keep the canoe going in a forward motion, and then we’re all good. Not 5 minutes into the ride, we see two hawks perched on a tree branch overhead. They take off and glide majestically over the water. The four of us watch the hawks, uttering exclamations of Awe and Delight because Nature is truly Magical and A Sight to Behold. Girl Scout Canoeing Pro Tip #3: Do Not Assume Nature is Your Friend, Because She Will Unleash Upon You Her Fury and Slap Your Ass Back to Reality.

Pitter patter, drip drop. A few raindrops begin to fall. As they splash down, we remark on how Refreshing it feels, and what an Adventure it is to canoe in the rain. At which point, the clouds roll in, a mighty thunder clap reverberates through us, and suddenly it begins to pour. The girls start to make little noises of complaint. We’re coming up to a bridge, and we see other canoeists pull over to wait out the rain under the bridge. But we decide to carry on because we are Girl Scouts Enjoying Nature.

via gifsec.com

Nature which is quickly accumulating in our boat, by the way. Miranda and I attempt to put a positive spin on it (“Well, now we don’t have to shower in the gross camp shower!”) but the girls are having none of that. Stella gripes that her feet are getting soaked, and Sunshine begins to sob and say she wants to go back to camp. Miranda and I recognize a lost cause when we see one–we pull the canoe over at a good landing place, get the girls out, and use our life jackets to cover our heads and keep the rain out of our eyes.

Luckily the rain stops as quickly as it started, the clouds part, and we’re able to dump the water out of our boat and get back underway. We spend another mile or two Enjoying Nature. It’s a sunny Saturday on the river, and the water is packed with canoes and kayaks. We remark about how crowded it is as we occasionally bump boats with other amateur paddlers. We joke that it’s a good thing the river is so crowded with people because (FORESHADOW!) if we crash, there will be lots of people around to help. Which brings me to Girl Scout Canoeing Pro Tip #4: Don’t Fucking Joke About Crashing.

Around halfway through our trip, things start to go south. The girls are starting to say they’re hungry. Stella declares that she’s starving, and opens Miranda’s backpack to fish out a sandwich. The river gets a little narrower. There’s a lot of debris in the river: downed trees, and big clumps of branches that have accumulated in huge piles like beaver dams. The river is surprisingly shallow, about 3 ft at its deepest. Our canoe frequently bottoms out on sudden shallow spots that spring up without warning. The other boaters in our area are, like us, having difficulty navigating all of these obstacles. We get stuck a few times and have to shove ourselves off the offending obstacles. There are a number of experienced canoeists and kayakers on the river, and they help people turn their boats around, get themselves unstuck. It’s a mellow, friendly, helpful crowd.

Which comes in handy should you, say, find yourselves in the following situation: A large tree root looms ahead. The current is moving your canoe swiftly along, and you find yourself trapped, unable to steer and bearing down on the tree. The current sweeps your boat sideways. You brace yourself for impact. The boat tips on its side, all contents and passengers dumped into the river.

So there we were: the canoe was sideways and lodged on a giant tree root. The girls and I were trapped against the inside of the canoe, the water rushing against our legs and into the canoe. As you may recall, Stella had opened Miranda’s pack to retrieve a sandwich just minutes earlier, and Miranda was now in the unenviable position of chasing her backpack and all its contents down the river. (Stella, meanwhile, was holding the sandwich aloft so it wouldn’t get wet. Above all else, SAVE THE SNACKS!) A movement in my peripheral vision causes me to turn my head, and I see another canoe containing two Dudes, bearing down on us. They tip and dump themselves out of their boat, but are unable to stop the boat itself from slamming into us. The girls and I are now pinned in between two canoes like the meat in a Canoe Sandwich. The Dudes attempt to pull the canoe off of us, but struggle mightily against the rushing water. The only thing keeping the girls from being squished are my legs, which are being crushed between the two boats and the force of the current. Enter Girl Scout Pro Tip #5: If You Crash, Try Not to Have a Full-Scale PTSD Meltdown.

via weknowgifs.com

Which is exactly what I did not do. Because as the torrents forced the two canoes together, crushing my calves in between, I decided it would be an ideal time to FREAK THE FUCK OUT. Realizing that I was about to experience amputation-by-canoe, I promptly began to scream, causing Sunshine to scream, and Stella to take another bite of her sandwich. I spent the next Seemed-Like-An-Eternity-Minutes gripping the girls by their arms so they wouldn’t get swept away, and praying to Jesus, Allah, and whoever else to please not let me lose a leg on a Girl Scout canoe trip, because that would be really fucking embarrassing.

Miraculously, the gods heard my pleas, because the Dudes were able to pry their canoe off me and haul it to the shore. I began to try to usher the girls out of the current and toward land, gripping each girl by an arm. Dude 1 handed me a pack of Wet Ones that had fallen out of Miranda’s backpack. Which was EXACTLY WHAT I NEEDED to help me pull two girls out of the raging waters. Dude 2, being INFINITELY MORE HELPFUL, hauled our canoe up to the shore for us. The girls and I collapsed on the side of the river, at which point Miranda waded back, reporting that not only did she lose nearly the entire contents of her bag (except for those Wet Ones! Thanks, Dude 1!), she also lost her phone, and her paddle.

I know you know where I’m going with this: we were LITERALLY up a creek without a paddle. (Girl Scout Canoeing Pro Tip #6: Hold onto Your Fucking Paddle.)

via thethinkingblue.com

The four of us sat by the side of the river for a good ten minutes, watching other boaters go merrily by, and trying to figure out how the hell we were going to get out of this mess. Stella declared she was hungry again, having polished off her sandwich. Luckily, my backpack was not upended, so I had snacks. (Girl Scout Canoeing Pro Tip #7: Bring Snacks.) The girls ate pudding cups, Sunshine intermittently hiccup-sobbing, Miranda lamented her lost phone with all its photos of important life events which were so important she didn’t back them up onto her computer, and I wondered aloud why the canoe rental place didn’t offer a Rescue Service for Incompetent Canoeists. Stella was still hungry, so she had a granola bar, because why the hell not.

Just when we were giving over to despair, the heavens parted and a Savior appeared, in the form of a middle-aged kayaker who had somehow found our paddle! This wonderful man actually parked his boat (parked? Is that what you do with boats? Park them?) and walked our missing paddle back to us. Miranda greeted him with a hug, he helped us get back into our canoe, and we all thanked him profusely. Well, all of us except Sunshine, who was still crying.

The next couple miles were spent reassuring Sunshine that we were near the end, although in truth, none of us had any idea where we were. Stella chattered away, trying to reassure Sunshine. “It’s okay, Sunshine! We’re doing great!” If the Girl Scouts gave out a merit badge for being a BAMF, Stella would deserve it. This kid was Cool as a Cucumber the entire time.

via shadez-of-gray.com

We finally, FINALLY met up with the rest of our group. After regaling them with our Harrowing Tale of Survival, the group decided that Miranda and I should part ways and be placed in canoes with “more experienced canoeists,” aka People Who Know What the Fuck They’re Doing. (See Pro Tip #2.)

The rest of the trip was smooth sailing. I was paired with Competent Steering Mom, and while Sunshine wasn’t exactly chipper (okay, she was still huddled in a sort of upright fetal position), she wasn’t crying, either, so I called it a win.

We arrived at the pickup point, 4.5 hours after our departure. Bedraggled, bespattered, and some word that starts with “be” that means tired fucking exhausted. And then we had to wait 45 minutes for the buses to arrive to pick us up because they were stuck by–I swear to log I am NOT making this up–a tractor parade.

Upon our arrival back at camp, Sunshine and I decided that the day would be greatly improved by the prompt acquisition of ice cream. Two scoops of cookie dough ice cream later, all was right in Sunshine’s world, and I was happy to have my Happy Camper back. Which brings me to my final Girl Scout Canoeing Pro Tip #8: Buy Ice Cream.

Little Miss Sunshine with mood-stabilizing ice cream cone

Little Miss Sunshine with mood-stabilizing ice cream cone

That evening the girls watched a movie in an outdoor theater, and the moms chatted by the campfire. Sunshine wanted to sleep next to me that night. As we were going to sleep, I asked her if she wanted to camp again next year. She got quiet and didn’t reply. I told her we’d think about it for a while. For now, we have a good story to tell, we solidified our mother-daughter bond through an Epic Ordeal, and I earned my very own merit badge.

Ouch

Ouch

*And possibly last.

**All names have been changed to protect the incompetent with a paddle innocent.

***Theory = not good enough.

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July 2nd, 2014 by Molly

Worthless Crap Wednesday: Internet Things That Need to Die a Fast, Painful Internet Death

After a month-long hiatus in which I engaged in a bit of self-pity and simultaneously gained 5 pounds by binge-eating ice cream, I’m back, and I have a few things to talk about. I need to tell you about Little Miss Sunshine’s first Girl Scout camping trip, Sergeant Snowflake’s new behavioral therapist, and I should probably talk about Mr. Mischief a bit, too (I swear, he does exist, and he’s awesome!). But before I can do any of that, it’s time for another edition of Worthless Crap Wednesday, in which I talk about things that are of absolutely no importance whatsoever.

This week’s topic: Internet Things That Need to Die a Fast, Painful Internet Death.

Much like LFO, those jeans with the pleather chaps attached, and Pogs, some trends are stupid and need to be forever scattered to the winds of pop culture history. Unfortunately, now we have the internet, which means that stupid things that would have been a flash in the pan in previous decades are now drawn out agonizingly, in every possible iteration. We all have different pet peeves. My brother-in-law, for example, hates Buzzfeed quizzes, whereas I am ALWAYS down for them, as I find them to be stunningly accurate windows into my soul.

Here is my own personal list of Internet Things that induce instant, teeth-gnashing rage whenever I see them:

1. “Nom nom nom.” Why are people still saying this? It’s stupid.  Don’t type it, and for fuck’s sake, don’t say it out loud. Don’t even think it. Let’s just go back to “yum” and save ourselves 2 syllables worth of idiocy.

2. The Condescending Wonka meme. The one about North Face jackets was funny.

northface-adventures

via knowyourmeme.com

Since then, they’ve all gone downhill.

3. Posting an article on Friendface, with the comment “THIS.” Listen, I get it. Sometimes you’re so enraged or flummoxed or coffee-deprived that you know you won’t be able to articulate anything nearly as concise as the author of the article. But friends, I really think we need to aim a little higher. Tell us why this link to a Colbert clip means something to you. Give me four or five words about why Matt Walsh’s latest right wing rant sums up your existence. Or–and here’s a concept–don’t say anything at all. Let the piece speak for itself. I know that little rectangle on the share window is beckoning, but if you must fill it with something, fill it with an actual thought. I’ll take an “LOL, this is awesome!” over “THIS” any day of the week.

4. Rape Sloth memes. Not everyone is familiar with the Rape Sloth, but believe it or not, it’s a thing, and it needs to go away. Much like sloths themselves, the Rape Sloth meme is creepy to the extreme.

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via memegenerator.net

The original meme started as a parody of a fashion spread–a model poses in a photo shoot with a creepy sloth whispering in her ear–who comes up with these things?! The problem is, rape is not funny. It’s never, ever funny. Not in meme form, not in stand-up comedy form, and not in casual conversation. I know this post is supposed to be about Internet Things, but now I’m off on a tangent and it’s my blog so I can do that. While the Rape Sloth is an Internet Thing, rape jokes are a Human Thing, and they need to die a fast, painful death.

5. Making fun of obese people. So there was this photo posted on a popular humor site and passed around the Interwebs. I’m not going to show it here, because I don’t want to contribute to the subject’s continued embarrassment, but I’ll describe it as best I can. Picture a grocery store soft drink aisle. In the middle of the aisle is an obese man who has tipped over his motorized scooter while trying to reach for a 12-pack of pop. This photo has made its way around the internet, always with a caption along the lines of “Must… Reach… Diet Coke!” And I’m assuming the message we’re supposed to take away from it is, “Ahhh, fat people! So funny!” It’s also supposed to be a commentary on the obesity epidemic in America. But to me, it’s more of a statement about the insensitivity epidemic in our country. A disabled person has fallen in a grocery store aisle, and rather than help, someone whips out a cell phone and snaps a photo that gets shared by thousands of people.

Think before you share insensitive bullshit. Also, those apps that take your photos and make you fat or old? Those things need to die, too.

6. Upworthy. Has there ever been a smarmier name for a site? This site owes its continued existence to suckers who fall for its click-bait headlines. “The Most Important Video You’ll See All Day.” “You’ll Never Believe What This Little Girl Does Next.” “What this Veteran Does Will Amaze You.” Folks, you’re being manipulated by these words to click, share, and increase Upworthy’s ad revenue.

7. Friendface Like Farming. I have personally shared Facecrooks’ excellent breakdown of like-farming scams about eleventy-seven times on my newsfeed. Alas, my Friendface friends still insist on sharing nonsense, so let me break it down for you. Scammy McScamster sets up a Friendface page with a name that is meant to sound legit. For my particular group of friends (30-40-something moms) we tend to fall for things in the home arena. Let’s say the page is called Scammy’s Splendid Home. Scammy trolls around the internet and finds recipes, inspirational quotes on pretty backgrounds, home tips, and those nifty “50 Great Preschool Crafts” posts. She then steals the post, giving no credit whatsoever to the original author, and posts it on her Scammy’s Splendid Home Friendface page. The page starts gathering likes, and once it gets enough, it can start making money off Friendface by posting ads for products and identity-stealing malware. So when you share that recipe for cinnamon rolls that most certainly was not written by Scammy herself, you’re encouraging the scammers, you’re endorsing plagiarism, and you’re putting your friends at risk for identity theft. If a post about How to Spotlessly Clean Your Windows encourages you to “like, and share to your timeline to save this post,” it’s a like-farming scam, no more. If you’re into sharing home tips, there’s a site for that. It’s called Pinterest.

8. Grumpy Cat Abuse. Perhaps the issue that weighs most heavily on my mind is the misuse of Grumpy Cat in memes. Poor Grumpy. All she wants to do is hang around and be mildly perturbed.

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via knowyourmeme.com

But instead, she’s got asshats making memes like this:

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via some knucklehead on memegenerator.net

She’s Grumpy Cat, not Evil Sadist Cat. Get it straight, Internet.

To sum up, friends, can we just agree to do away with some of these things? Let’s let them die to make room for the inevitable creation of more internet fuckery.

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June 23rd, 2014 by Molly

Dear Organ Donor

Dear Organ Donor,

You died on a winter’s day in 1996. I don’t know much about you, and it’s probably best that I don’t. What I know is that you were a 36-year-old man from Connecticut, and you or a loved one made the difficult decision to donate your organs after your death. My grandfather, my Pop, got your heart. He was told at the time that optimistically, he could expect to survive maybe another 10 years with his new heart. But he managed to live for 17 years. Isn’t that wonderful? 17 years of LIFE.

You didn’t get those 17 years, Organ Donor, but Pop did. I don’t know if you’re out there, but in case you are, I thought you might like to know what he did with your gift.

George_Grace, high res

Gram and Pop in the late 1970s, working on the land they loved

He saw me, his only grandchild, graduate high school, college, and graduate school.

He celebrated the 50th birthdays of his son and daughter.

He celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary, he and Gram taking a trip to Las Vegas, a place he had always wanted to visit.

He did a lot of mundane, daily-living tasks. Mowed the lawn, changed the oil in his car. These are the things you do when you’re alive, and he did them.

He lived through some happy things. He got to see me get married. In 2007, he met his first great-grandchild. And then another in 2009, and another in 2013. His first great-grandson inherited his thick, curly hair, a gift from the Greek ancestors in the family tree. So much life, carried on through genetics.

There were some bad times, too.

He watched his children struggle with addiction. His daughter got sober, but his son didn’t. Addiction can be an ugly part of life.

As he got older, his eyesight began to fail. He had to give up driving, and then gave up mowing the lawn. He had to rely on his wife and his children more to get around.

And then he buried his wife. Two years later, he buried his only son.

Just a week before his own death, Pop learned of the death of his best friend since middle school. Can you imagine that, Organ Donor? Their friendship lasted double the length of your entire lifespan! Few people are lucky enough to have a friend of seven decades, but my Pop was one of those few. He defied the odds in so many ways.

As you may have discovered, Organ Donor, life is full of ironies. This year, after 17 years of a life lived with your heart, Pop was diagnosed with post-transplant lymphoma. The very drugs that kept his body from rejecting your gift caused him to develop an aggressive form of cancer that would be his ultimate demise.

He began to plan his death. He wanted to die at home, with the people closest to him by his side. My mother and I made plans. And on June 8, she called me and told me he was near the end. I was in the car less than an hour later, making the 5-hour drive to their house, praying I’d be in time.

That morning, he requested the oldies station–one of his last spoken thoughts. He loved music, and he was comforted by the songs of his youth. When I entered the room that evening, he briefly opened his eyes. He knew I was there, though he was too weak to speak. I held his hand, and tried not to cry. He was never one for displays of emotion.

My mom and I spent hours by his bedside as he slipped into unconsciousness. My mind drifted toward moments of gallows humor. What song would he choose to die with? “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Elvis Presley came on. It was Pop’s favorite song, and I thought, This would be a lovely song to pick. But then the song ended, and his labored breathing went on. Not the right song, apparently. Bobby Vee’s truly inane “Rubber Ball” came on, and as the backup singers chirped “Bouncy bouncy! Bouncy bouncy!” I thought, Pop, don’t you DARE die during this stupid song!

The following morning, he was still alive, so many songs having come and gone. His breathing became more shallow, the breaths farther and farther apart. I had sat with my Gram as she died a few years before–I knew this was close to the end. As his breath began to hitch, he made pained faces. We called the hospice doctor, who advised that we could administer up to 15 mL of liquid morphine. And so we did, praying that it would ease his suffering.

We watched his breaths slow. My mom perched on the edge of a chair at Pop’s bedside. I sat on the bed, gently rubbing his shin. Buddy Holly’s “Oh Boy” came on the radio. We watched Pop take a breath. We waited for another. And as we realized that we just watched him take his last breath, we broke down, overwhelmed with grief and relief and pride at having given him the ending he wanted.

Because of your gift: 17 years of extra life, borrowed from you. Life, death, birth, and finally, death–all of it, because of your gift. I hope he made you proud. I hope he used your gift well.

You died far too early, Dear Organ Donor. I hope that, wherever you are, you understand that your life, while short, was so much more than just you. Your life was Pop’s life, his family’s life, the lives of the who-knows-how-many other people who received gifts from you that day in December 1996. I can only hope that I keep living my life in a way that honors your precious gift.

With Gratitude,

A Granddaughter

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May 27th, 2014 by Molly

Diagnosis pt. 2: In Which I Get Snarky

This is the second in a planned 3-part series on Sgt. Snowflake’s diagnosis. He was recently diagnosed with high-functioning autism (Asperger’s) and ADHD, combined type. Warning: these posts are heavy on the feelings, light on the humor. If you want humor, go read about my dog’s boner. You can read part 1 of the diagnosis series here.

Let me start off this post by saying that by and large, people are awesome. When I posted a request for information on autism and ADHD on Friendface, my friends came through with more resources and words of support than I ever imagined. This post isn’t about those people. This post is about the people who don’t know how to react, and so they say whatever foot-in-mouth nonsense first crosses their cerebral cortex.

A Handy Guide to Saying the Right Things to a Parent of a Child with Autism

So let’s say a parent comes to you and says, “My child has been diagnosed with high-functioning autism.” Here are some things you might want to avoid saying:

“What a shame.” You know what’s a shame? Kids with terminal illnesses. World hunger. Illiteracy. Violence in our inner cities. Priorities, people.

“I wonder if he’ll ever [go to prom/play football/go to college] now.” There are a lot of things my kid might not do. But last time I checked, you’ve never been to the moon or discovered a cure for cancer. What’s your excuse?

“Do you think it was something you did during pregnancy?” Yep. All of that air I was breathing and genes I was passing on. Definitely all my fault. Thanks for reminding me.

“My friend’s roommate’s nephew had that, but he grew out of it. Maybe your child will, too.” Anecdata is SO helpful!

“You’re getting a second opinion, right?” I dunno. I figured I would just wait for you to go get a Ph.D. in neuroscience and prove the first doctor wrong.

“I sell a line of supplements that’s been known to help with that.” Let me take your business card and I’ll get back to you.

“If it makes you feel any better, I’d never guess it by looking at him.” And you expected autism to look like… what, exactly?

“He’s probably acting out for attention.” I know, right? Why can’t he just shave his head and pierce his nose like normal attention-deprived preschoolers? Jeez.

“I bet it was that MMR vaccine.” You’re probably right. Jenny McCarthy will back you up on that.

“He has poor motor skills? Maybe you just don’t take him outside to play enough.” He’s the one I keep inside like a potted plant. The other two kids with perfectly normal motor skills are allowed to run and frolic as they please.

“I’m sorry, I’m just having a hard time processing this.” Oh my gosh, how RUDE of me! I totally forgot that my child’s autism is ALL ABOUT YOU!

Folks, if you have ever been in this situation, or believe you ever will find yourself in this situation, here’s a friendly tip: Take out that mental filter that strains the thoughts going from your brain to your mouth, dust it right the hell off, and use it. Because let me explain something here: when a parent receives a diagnosis like this, there is a grieving process involved. When you find out your child has a developmental disorder, your brain does something along the lines of this: Oh thank God, we finally have a label on it. Oh my God, my kid has a label. He’s LABELED. For life. What does this mean? Did I cause this? Will he ever go to prom? Will he have friends? What if he lives at home forever? I wonder if there’s a waiting list for behavioral therapy. What IS behavioral therapy? What IS autism, for that matter? Shit, I have to go home and google stuff. I just want to get in bed and cry. Maybe I can google stuff tomorrow. No, wait, we have OT tomorrow. Crap, have to get on the waiting list for speech therapy. This totally explains that time when he did XYZ at my inlaws’ house. Shit, what do I tell the family? They’re not going to get it. Maybe they will. I hope they don’t act weird around us now. What should I make for dinner?…

That’s just the first few seconds. And then you come home after a silent car ride with your spouse, and you begin making phone calls. You tell your parents. You call the therapy place the neuropsychologist recommended. You think about calling insurance to verify coverage, and then you think, fuck it, what I really need today is some ice cream, because I’d rather eat my feelings than deal with them right now. Because you’ve just come upon the first tiny kernel of realization about WHAT THIS MEANS for you as a parent. It means that everything changes and nothing changes all at the same time. Your kid is the same as he was an hour ago, and you’re the same, but suddenly the difficulty factor of your job as a parent has been multiplied times infinity-and-one. The old Acme anvil has just been dropped, Roadrunner-style, and you’re the Coyote with the birds and stars spinning around your head.

And you go on Friendface and see your friends posting Instacrap pictures of their frappuccinos and their pedicures, and bragging about their neurotypical kids being all typical and shit, and you realize that you are now a MOM OF A CHILD WITH SPECIAL NEEDS, and if that’s what life has handed you, then goddammit, you’re going to wear that scarlet A with the best of ’em. So you work up the nerve and you write a post about your kid, and you wonder if your friends will all read it and say a simultaneous “Well, that explains a lot!”

And then you make dinner, you go to bed, you cry, and you get up the next day and face the world in which everything is different and the same.

So just in case you never have to find yourself in my shoes, please heed my handy advice. Also, please read this article about the Ring Theory of Kvetching. I read this article shortly after a friend was diagnosed with breast cancer, and shortly before Snowflake was diagnosed with Asperger’s. It has truly changed how I approach people in a crisis, and how I look at other people when I am at the center of a crisis. The gist of the article can be summed up by this handy diagram. Read it and memorize it.

Illustration by Wes Bausmith, L.A. Times

Ring Theory of Kvetching

To explain: A crisis can be illustrated in concentric rings, with the person experiencing the crisis in the center. Those closest to them are the next ring out, followed by the next closest people, and so on and so on. If you encounter a crisis, ask yourself: what ring am I on? Your ring placement determines which people you are allowed to bitch to. Let’s go with the “friend with cancer” analogy. The friend, being the center of the crisis, is allowed to dump all of her feelings OUT, to any level of the circle, at any time. Her family is allowed to dump OUT to all levels outside of their ring; however, they may not dump IN. The only thing that goes IN is comfort. Dump OUT, comfort IN. If you are a coworker, thinking about dumping IN? Go dump somewhere else, because what you have to offer is not helpful.

I found myself thinking about the Rings of Kvetching a lot in the week or so after Sgt. Snowflake’s diagnosis: the massive challenge of always sending comfort and positivity IN, to Snowflake, the fear of dumping too much OUT onto others, and the anger and hurt at others dumping IN on us. I wish I could send around this chart to everyone who dumped IN with a note that says, “Thanks for dumping your bullshit on us. For future reference, here’s a handy guide on what NOT to do.” But perhaps that’s too harsh. Dumper-inners are often well-meaning folk, after all. They just don’t know what to say. Neither do I, sometimes.

So I’ll leave it at that, dear readers reader. Stay tuned for part 3.

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May 13th, 2014 by Molly

Diagnosis pt 1: Confusion and Doubt

This is the first in a planned 3-part series on Sgt. Snowflake’s diagnosis. He was recently diagnosed with high-functioning autism (Asperger’s) and ADHD, combined type. Warning: these posts are heavy on the feelings, light on the humor. If you want humor, go read about my dog’s boner.

I should start by telling you a little about my Snowflake. He’s such a cool kid. He’s goofy and likes to laugh and crack jokes. Starting when he was about 3, he discovered that he can make up his own songs. He composes elaborate melodies in his head, and sings them, mostly with nonsense words that he repeats exactly the same way every time. Recently The Dude played him “In the Hall of the Mountain King” on youtube, and the next day he ran around singing it, all the notes perfect after just one listen. He loves video games. When he was two, I got an iPhone, and quickly installed Angry Birds to see what all the fuss was about. I made it to Level 2 and gave up. Snowflake asked if he could play, and when I got my phone back a while later, it was on Level 27. He occupies himself in fascinating ways. He is rarely bored. He has little Angry Birds plastic figures that he runs around the house with, talking to himself as if he were one character or another, acting out scenes he’s constructed in his head. Sometimes he puts on his Mario hat and pretends he’s playing with his brother Luigi. And sometimes he’s Luigi instead.

Snowflake’s development was pretty normal up until age 2 or so. My labor with him was agonizingly long, but not high-risk. He was a high-needs baby, never wanting to be put down, but we assumed that was just his temperament, rather than something out of the ordinary. He crawled at 7 months, walked at 14. He was breastfed for 10 months, and then self-weaned. He picked up the hang of solid foods quickly. He was very verbal, and had an extensive vocabulary by 18 months.

Around age 2, we started to notice some things that seemed unusual. He would frequently gag on foods. He started getting fussy about trying new foods. He didn’t like anything with mixed textures, such as a piece of banana bread with nuts in it. When he was 2.5, I asked his pediatrician what we should do to get him to eat a bigger variety of foods. “Stop indulging him!” was the advice I got. “Make him sit at the table until he cleans his plate. If he refuses to eat, send him to bed without supper.” I struggled with that advice on a fundamental level. Allowing my child to starve himself didn’t seem like a logical option to me, nor one I could align with my conscience.

Snowflake at age 2

Snowflake at age 2

Around the same time, other people started noticing that Snowflake was different, too. The Dude’s family is large, with extended family gatherings sometimes reaching 50 people. On Snowflake’s third Thanksgiving, he spent the entire family gathering perched at the top of my inlaws’ stairs, his ears covered and his face red from screaming. It was too much noise. Too much to look at. Just too much.

I took Snowflake to mommy group meetings, and he would huddle on my lap with his ears covered, sobbing the whole time. On one occasion, a mom said to me, “Is he always like that?” I tried telling her that he’s not like this at home, but I don’t think she believed me, and I only half believed myself. I started taking him on fewer mommy group outings. I just didn’t want to have to make excuses for my son, why he was the way he was.

The Dude and I started having a hard time explaining Snowflake’s quirks. Our family and friends dismissed our concerns. “He’s just shy,” we’d hear. “He’s a picky eater. Just keep trying.” No one understood.

Snowflake at age 3

Snowflake at age 3

Between ages 3 and 4, we started noticing more things. Snowflake’s speech took on an odd pattern. Slow, deliberate, as if he were choosing his words with extreme care. His voice was both monotone and sing-song in quality, if such a thing is possible. At times, he seemed uncoordinated. He became afraid to do things that other kids do without thinking. Swing on a swing set. Go down a slide. Ride a tricycle. And he became defiant and anxious. When faced with a demand such as “put your shoes on,” he’d squeal and shake his head. Getting out the door to go anywhere was a 30-minute dramatic ordeal. He’d throw tantrums in anticipation of having to do certain activities. One time I told him we were going to the car wash, and he threw himself on the stairs, hysterical and paralyzed with fear until I told him we wouldn’t go.

I began Googling things. Eating disorders in children. Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Speech delays. Autism. I talked to my therapist, who told me I wasn’t being strict enough with him. Perhaps I should spank him, she suggested. I broke up with her soon after. She didn’t understand, either. No one understood.

By what I now realize is a sheer stroke of luck, our pediatrician retired, and I moved the kids’ records to a new doctor’s office. I made an appointment with Dr. T to discuss Snowflake. I told her about the eating issues. The speech. The tantrums. The anxiety. She immediately suggested the prospect of his being on the autism spectrum. She also said she believed he would benefit from occupational therapy to deal with his feeding issues. I felt an immediate sense of relief. For the first time, I had found someone who believed me, who didn’t automatically jump to the conclusion that our child was spoiled and undisciplined. Dr. T understood.

We began Occupational Therapy (OT) in Spring 2013. We filled out an extensive parent questionnaire about Snowflake’s sensory issues. Miss D did an evaluation. She determined that he had severe sensory issues with touch, and moderate issues with his vestibular and proprioceptive senses. OT would help with these things, she said. She’d work with him on his gross motor skills and his fine motor skills and his relationship to food.

Over the past year, we’ve seen a lot of progress in some areas. His gross and fine motor skills have improved by leaps and bounds. He’s more willing to try foods, although his diet remains limited, and mealtime is almost always a struggle. But for every two steps forward he takes, it seems he often takes a step back. In the fall he developed a fear of the wind. He hates the way it feels on his face. Imagine leaving a store with your child. As you exit the building, the cold wind hits his face, and he begins to scream. You’re in a crowded parking lot. People begin to stare. Your child screams the entire way to the car. He’s crying and slapping at his face. You hope people don’t think you’re a kidnapper. Now imagine that happens every day, for months on end, and you’ll understand what it’s like to go places with a sensory child. It’s draining.

We’ve learned to adapt to his issues somewhat. For example, I bought him a Spider-Man hoodie that turns into a mask. He wears it whenever he goes outside on windy days. He can pull the mask down over his face to protect him from the wind. I don’t mind having the kid who always wears a Spider-Man mask, because it’s better than a kid who is afraid to go outside.

Snowflake last month, wearing a Spiderman hoodie to protect him from the wind

A recent zoo trip was successful because of the Spider-Man hoodie

All of these issues have taken their toll. The Dude and I fall into bed every night, completely drained from the day. Most nights, we lie in bed, talking about Snowflake’s day. We speculate and we brainstorm. Sometimes I cry. Several months ago I doubled my antidepressant dose. Some days I need to take a Xanax to get through the day. Snowflake and I share anxiety issues, it seems.

And all of that, all of that weight of every day life, led us to finally seek a diagnosis. We wanted answers, and we wanted someone to show us a clear path. We knew we couldn’t go through life on Spider-Man hoodies alone.

We had him tested. We got the diagnosis. His thing, it has a name: high-functioning autism, commonly known as Asperger’s. And now we have a path.

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April 30th, 2014 by Molly

Worthless Crap Wednesday: Laundry

It’s time for a brand spanking new feature here on SIM. I’m calling it Worthless Crap Wednesday. Wednesdays are going to be reserved for posting about only the most worthless topics. So let’s get to it!

Laundry.  Back when I was a single gal, I actually sort of enjoyed laundry day. Did you notice what I said there? Laundry DAY, as in, a single, solitary day, once a week–heck, sometimes I even stretched it to every other week–on which I did a few loads of laundry. I’d get my little basket, the kind with the curvy indentation so I could rest it jauntily on my hip, and I’d grab my roll of quarters and off I’d go to the laundry room of my apartment building to do my load (singular) of colors and my load (singular) of whites. I’d throw in an episode of Sex and the City or Dawson’s Creek while I waited, and then it was done. Laundry. Check.

Oh, how I miss those days! Because this, my friends, is what I have now:

laundry

That’s just the dirty laundry. There’s another pile up on my bed waiting to be folded.

The kicker is, I JUST. DID. THE. LAUNDRY. Just did it. Just the other day. And here I am. Doing laundry.

Dante wrote about the 9 circles of hell. He was wrong. There’s actually a 10th circle, and it’s Laundry.

I was in the 10th circle of Laundry Hell this morning. I went down to start a load, and discovered that there was a load in the washing machine already. Apparently it had been forgotten about for a few days, because it smelled like a Wet Dog and Toe Fungus Sandwich. I started the load over again, with hot water and copious amounts of detergent and Oxi Clean. (Does that stuff actually do anything? I’ve been using it for years, mainly, I think, for psychological purposes.)

Once the load was done, I went to transfer it to the dryer, only to discover that there was a load of whites in there. Still wet. Le sigh. Started the dryer.

Waited an hour.

I opened the dryer and pulled out a dry blanket and dry sheet, and discovered a NEW LAUNDRY PHENOMENON. The pillow that was in the load somehow managed to suction itself to the side wall of the dryer drum, defying all rules of physics (or something). I had to literally peel the pillow off the side of the dryer, and the side that was attached to the dryer wall was–as you might guess–soaking wet. Le sigh. Started the dryer again.

Waited another hour.

Friends, it took me THE ENTIRE MORNING to clean one load of clothes.

Once the laundry is done, I schlep it upstairs and dump it out on our bed to fold. But God forbid I have to leave the room and actually leave a pile of inanimate objects unattended. If I do, I might come back to this scene:

IMG_1715

Thing 1 and Thing 2, curled up all innocently on my clean laundry. LE SIIIIIGH.

Some days I find myself resenting the people of my household for producing so much laundry. Look at them, I think. Just who do they think they are? Walking around here, wearing those clothes like they own the place!

The kicker is, I have a sneaking suspicion that I may be one of the largest laundry-producing offenders in our household. The other family members do contribute to the laundry-doing, and if my suspicion is correct, they may be shouldering an unfair percentage of the laundry burden.

But sometimes we must make sacrifices as part of being a family. It’ll all come out in the wash.

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April 26th, 2014 by Molly

The Stiffy

You would think when starting a blog, that I would tell you about my husband or my kids, but instead I’m going to tell you about my dog, Shithead. No, that’s not his actual name. Go rent The Jerk, for pete’s sake.

Shithead is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, a foo-foo breed of canine known for being a companion animal, excellent with children, and also for needing little exercise. Perfect for couch potatoes like me and The Dude. When we got Shithead, we assumed a certain amount of maintenance in terms of grooming, vaccinations, and the usual dog upkeep. We did not, however, count on things like bladder stones, with which Shithead is unfortunately cursed.

Last year, conveniently around the time Mr. Mischief was born, Shithead developed a nasty case of bladder stones, which had him peeing like a 90-year-old man. So off we went to the vet for a pricey stone removal surgery, followed by a special prescription diet that costs lots of money and is apparently the only food he can safely eat for the rest of his life.

At any rate, when he had the surgery, the vet sternly warned me to watch for signs of more bladder stones, because if one gets lodged in his urethra, it could mean IMMINENT DEATH, for either Shithead and/or my new family room carpet.

One day a few months back, I noticed that Shithead was spending  more time lazing about on my bed than usual. I was alarmed, and drew upon that one youtube video I watched my vast veterinary knowledge to examine him. And what I found was a lump. A big, firm lump right in his abdominal area.

So, fearing for my dog’s imminent demise, I packed up the boys and the dog, and off we went to the vet.

We get there, and they immediately gather up Shithead and hustle him off to the doggy x-ray room. Meanwhile, Mr. Mischief is amusing himself by putting his mouth on every conceivable fur-covered surface in the exam room, and Sgt. Snowflake is whining about playing Angry Birds on my phone. And for some reason, I’m having one of those “Am I suddenly menopausal and I didn’t get the memo?” sweat attacks.

After a while, the doc comes back with Shithead in tow. She has a slight grin on her face.

“Well,” she says, “I have good news. We didn’t find any bladder stones. Shithead is just fine.”

“I’m confused,” I say. “What’s that big mass in his belly?”

“Well, you see,” she says, the smirk growing just a smidge. “Don’t be embarrassed, it happens to dog owners a lot. We see this at least once a week. There’s a thing that happens in the dog’s urinary bulbous glandis blah something… when the dog gets… excited…”

“Oh, don’t tell me,” I say, facepalming. “I brought my dog to see you because he’s horny?”

“Yep,” she says. “On the bright side, no bladder stones!”

So off we went, Mischief, Snowflake, Shithead, and I, after forking over $80 to find out my dog had a boner.

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