Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Drill Baby Drill

"You betcha...and you should be
flossing, too!"
Nope, I'm not going all Sarah Palin on you, unless Sarah Palin's suddenly started advocating the importance of composite fillings vs. amalgam.  No, today I finish this current chapter in my dental hygiene odyssey with a filling in my molar.

Now, I recently had my wisdom teeth removed, which was one of the best things I have EVER done for myself.  I had lived with tooth sensitivity for years, thinking it was just that I had sensitive teeth.  Nope!  It was one of those pieces of vestigial enamel sticking out of my jaw.  With the wisdom teeth gone, I have no more sensitivity!  Woo hoo!!!  Crank out the ice cubes and pass the margaritas!  It's fiesta time!

When I went for the consult for my wisdom teeth surgery, the dentist noticed that the 2nd molar next to one of the doomed wisdom teeth had a cavity that probably needed to get taken care of some time in the near future.  He couldn't do the day of the wisdom teeth surgery, so he scheduled me for an appointment 2 weeks later.

Here we are, and it's time for me to sacrifice more enamel to the dental gods.

Sorry, Austin, but Brit-teeth aren't
"groovy, baby."
I'm no stranger to the dentist's chair.  When I was 9, I knocked more than half of one of my front teeth out by slamming up against the wall in a wrestling match with my Dad.  One emergency dental visit later (it was over Thanksgiving, no less), I had a full-sized tooth, even though 3/4 of it was fake.  The dentist that did that replacement did such a crappy job on it that the tooth looked lumpy and was a different color from the rest of my teeth.  Who the hell has lumpy teeth?!?  I looked like Austin freaking Powers.

Luckily another dentist fixed it.

This same incompetent dentist also put sealants on my molars to help prevent cavities.  The sealants neither "sealed" my teeth nor prevented cavities.  Groovy.  Enter dentist #3 in my early 20s who filled the tooth with the faulty sealant.

I believe that if I brush enough,
I too will eventually look like
Brooke Shields.
I am happy that I'm getting composite fillings this time.  The last filling I had was amalgam.  Every once in a while when I'm brushing my teeth (not that I only brush my teeth every once in a while, I do it 3 times a day because I have horrid dental hygiene OCD), I catch a glimpse of that filling and get a "Holy Crap!" feeling when I see a big dark spot in the middle of my back tooth.  I tend to forget briefly that it's just tarnished amalgam.

Off I go to what will (hopefully) be my last dentist visit until my regularly scheduled prophylaxis this summer.  I'll come home with a fresh filling and a new lease on life!  Okay, not really, but I will be about $300 poorer.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Earth Day is Not a Holiday for Families

My kid uses so many diapers that it's
turning the planet green, but not
in a good way.
As I watch the emphasis on Earth Day this year, in particular on the preschool channels, I can't help but think, are you freaking serious?!?


I have nothing against being as green as you can.  We have curbside recycling in our community and I take full advantage of it.  However, the concept of a "Green Toddler" is an oxymoron, unless you're referring to a toddler who just ate the wrong consistency of orzo and is turning green to signal an impending eruption.

Jack is one of the planet's biggest consumers.  He still wears disposable diapers, and no, I couldn't ever bring myself to going cloth.  He's struggled enough with diaper rash recently; I can't imagine what he'd be like if we went cloth.

Not even Oscar the Grouch will
eat Jack's leftovers.
Jack also wastes food like we've got a surplus.  Luckily, I'm not into purees, so I don't attempt to finish his leftovers like some parents do.  I also am not a fan of forcing your children to clean their plates, so I don't push him to finish it all.  This means that over the course of a year, we throw away lots of English muffins, yogurt, and orzo.  I can't even describe how many Cheerios I find in the car, but I will say that the squirrels and robins that live in my front yard love me.  We've poured a similar amount of milk down the drain, too.  Jack tends to chug milk all day, but then he just takes 1 sip out of the cup I give him before bed.  Go figure.

Then, there are the toys/books/other toddler paraphernalia that gets destroyed on a daily basis.  My kid is rough on his things.  Books are regularly chewed on or bent backwards and, eventually, get beyond the point of repair.  The throw-up stains my kid produces seem to be immune to every kind of stain remover (I should add that this is on both his clothes and mine).  He's also a boy, so we get the usual "boy" stains, like grass and dirt, on his pants.  At least those tend to come out.

Thomas derails on a daily basis in our
house.  Some days he survives, others
he goes to the circular scrap yard.
For the toys/books/etc. that survive, he plays with a fraction of them.  So, we spend countless amounts of money on items that are ultimately rejected for some reason that I cannot comprehend.  Of course, he also outgrows his wardrobe on a regular basis; I'm rejoicing that we're in the 2Ts now, because we can wear those an entire year.  Hallelujah!  I try to be "green" by passing on the toys and clothes that I know we won't use anymore, but we still end up we a huge stockpile of baby items.

This will drain your bank account with
all of the batteries you buy.  Add in
books, and you're screwed.

Did I mention that every toddler toy requires batteries?  No?  Well, they do.  I feel like I buy a pack of batteries at least once a week.  Some toy or another is always running low.  Jack has a Tag Junior reader that requires a fresh supply of AAAs at least once a week.  Of course, it doesn't help that after a 40 minute session of clicking the reader back and forth over a train whistle in the Thomas book, which is as annoying as it sounds, Jack also leaves the reader on to drain the battery further.  As I type this, Jack has been playing with a Thomas that makes chugging noises and talks for the past hour.  What powers all that noise?  Batteries.

Sorry Sprout, but I think we'll sit this Earth Day out.  If you can manage to explain conservation to my 2-year old in a way he can understand, more power to you.  Until then, excuse me while I take another bag full of diapers out to the garbage.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Stickers Don't Cure Meltdowns

Stickers?!?  Don't get it near my kid.
Today I'm going to talk about meltdowns.  Now, all toddlers have meltdowns every now and again, but when my kid has a one, he really has one.

A place that typically induces meltdowns for Jack is the grocery store.  The noise, lights, people...it's much too much.  I always try to go to the store during the work week, that way we avoid the crowds and noise as much as possible.

Lately, that's not been enough.  Today was a prime example.  We were about 30 minutes into shopping and almost done.  Since Jack wigs out so much while shopping, I have mastered the art of power shopping.  I know the location of every item in the store.  I can blast through Kroger.

I didn't succeed today.  We had two items yet to get when Jack started to freak out.  So, I picked up the pace.  The freaking out had, in that final 60 seconds, turned into a full-blown meltdown.  It's a good thing he was strapped into the cart, because Jack might have flung himself out of the cart with all of the flailing he was doing.

Unfortunately for Jack, it is a crime to simply leave the store without paying, so I had to subject him to the process of check-out.  For some reason, cashiers always feel the need to intervene and make it all better.  Their main tactic is to offer stickers.  This afternoon, like every other one, a cashier asks, "Would he like a sticker?"

"No, thanks, though."  No is an understatement.  The magic of stickers has always been completely lost on Jack.  He doesn't see the point.  They're sticky, too, and he hates things that are sticky.  He touches them like he's touching poo.

So, after I say no, the cashier proceeds to stick the sticker on Jack's hand anyway.  This sends Jack over the top.  He starts flailing around desperate to get the sticker off of his hand.  He's screaming and crying and completely beyond the point of consoling now.  I finally manage to get the sticker off of him and look over to see the cashier laughing, saying, "I guess he didn't like it, huh?"  No, idiot.  He didn't like it. WTF were you thinking?!?  I said NO!  If looks could have killed, I'm sure the look I gave him would have done him in instantly.

We get up to pay and the cashier who is ringing up our order asks, "Would a sticker help?"  Did you not just see what happened?!?  "No," I politely muster up.  I just want to get out of there.

We pay for our groceries with no more incident thanks, in part, to a very sympathetic manager bagging our groceries.  She seemed to understand that Jack didn't need stickers, he needed to get the hell out of there.

So, we get out to the car and put our groceries in the trunk, but Jack is still raging on.  You can only imagine what it was like trying to strap a 28 pound thrashing toddler into a car seat.  It took close to 10 minutes.  I tuned out the rest of the world, so I have no idea if we were attracting an audience.  We probably were.

By the time we got home, he was smiling, happily listening to his Thomas the Tank Engine CD.  Whew.

The take-home lesson from this experience?  Sometimes nothing cures a meltdown but going home.  Also, if a Mom says "no stickers", LISTEN.  She's saying it because you're about to turn her kid into the Tasmanian Devil.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Easter Basket Dilemmas

I may come bearing Creme Eggs, but I also cluck.
There's a good chance I might eat your soul, too, so put
out a friggin' carrot, will ya?
After a brief sabbatical, I'm back!

In a week and half, we will see the approach of a holiday that always leaves me scratching my head for ideas.  That's right, it's Easter.

Jack is two, but for those of you who read my blog occasionally will also be aware of the following:

  1. Jack cannot eat what most two-year olds eat.
  2. Jack has severe sensory/texture issues.
  3. Jack is obsessed with trains.
Do you see how Easter may be an incompatible holiday with Jack?

First, let's start with food.  Right now, Jack can and will eat the following:

  • English muffins, upside down with margarine, cut into small squares for breakfast.
  • Yogurt with baby cereal and some pureed fruit for lunch.  Only certain pureed fruits are acceptable.
  • Orzo with spaghetti sauce or cheese sauce for dinner.  He'll also eat some of his Grandma Devine's chicken and barley soup, just as long as it's pureed.
  • Cut-up toddler cereal bars (mixed berry flavor only) for morning snack...sometimes.  The rest of the time, all he'll eat is Cheerios.
Did I mention that he's also brand-conscious about these foods?  So, where most kids might get a chocolate bunny in their Easter basket, that doesn't work for us.  I'd give Jack about a 1% probability of even trying it, because he's so ritualistic with food that he probably just wouldn't try it.  If he does, I give him a 100% probability of throwing it immediately back up.  He does this with most food items.  Don't suggest Goldfish or the Annie's Bunnies, either.  He throws up immediately when they hit his tongue.

He wouldn't touch it with a 39 1/2 foot pole.
So, food's out.  When I was at Target, I saw that they had Play-Doh filled eggs.  Why not that?  Well, we've tried Play-Doh.  He touched it once and get a look on his face like I just made him put his finger in poo.  Now, he avoids it like it will give him Ebola.  Instead, I sit squishing the Play-Doh, trying to make it look inviting, but seeing as he doesn't imitate anything we do, it doesn't work.  I'm just a 29-year old playing with Play-Doh.

I'm fairly certain that other textural experiences won't work, either, like finger paints.  We haven't specifically tried finger paints, but I know that Jack doesn't like the feel of sand (similar poo expression occurs) or grass on his fingers (if a ball gets dropped in deep grass, it's just gone).

So, that leaves me with toys.  This also means that the cost of said Easter basket begins to skyrocket as I feel like Jack should get about the same amount of stuff as other kids do.  His primary love is Thomas the Tank Engine, but as any parent of a little boy will tell you, those things get friggin' expensive!  $10 for a wooden rectangle on wheels?  Please.  Luckily, Jack likes his "choo-choos".  I got him another train engine for his birthday, but he hasn't really touched it, because it's not one of his "choo-choos".

For most holidays, I can find a Thomas DVD to match the holiday, but last year's "Easter" DVD wasn't Easter-themed at all.  It was a regular Thomas DVD packaged with a wooden train car that was painted with the words "Happy Easter".  Thanks, Thomas, but the train car will be tossed over Jack's shoulder and never looked at again.

He doesn't like stuffed animals.  He doesn't scribble, either (he gnaws on crayons rather than coloring).  Books are hit or miss.  Some books he loves, but that's currently about 3 out of the 12 books he owns.  Others, he ignores.  He likes bubbles, but bubble-blowing apparatuses freak him out (I think it's the mechanical sound), so I am relegated to diminishing my lung capacity through blowing bubbles for an hour straight.  For non-parents out there, just try blowing bubbles that long.  You'll get winded, too.

Here's the deal.  Jack has very little social awareness, so I could probably get away with not doing the whole Easter basket thing with him.  Would he notice?  Not in the slightest.  Would I feel like poo for doing it?  Absolutely.

So, I'll get him an Easter basket.  It'll be filled with things that he won't interact with at all.  We'll put out a carrot and I'll come by after he's asleep and take a bite (again, not that he'll care or notice, but it makes me feel better to continue with the charade).  He'll wake up in the morning and see the basket and proceed to play with his Thomas and spinning letter toy.  If he doesn't care one way or the other, at least I'm making myself feel better by getting him something, just like other kids do.