Sunday, October 31, 2010

All Hallow's Eve

I have mixed feelings about Halloween.

Throughout the year, we tell our children that too much candy will rot their teeth and make them fat. We assure them that the boogieman isn't real, and neither are ghosts or goblins or werewolves or witches. And we make sure to pound it into their brains that they should never, ever, ever take candy from strangers.

Except on Halloween night, when we actually allow them to dress up in costumes we accompany them to strangers' homes to not merely accept candy, but to actually solicit candy. From strangers.

Along the way, we encourage them not to be too frightened as they encounter vampires and axe murders.

At the end of the night, the children take home vast amounts of candy - the Halloween haul this year weighed in at 14 lbs. That, my friends, is the weight of about 2 newborn babies. Correct me if I'm wrong here, but wouldn't 14 lbs. of candy (or 3.5 lbs. of candy per child) qualify as "too much candy"?

I also have philosophical objections to Halloween. To be blunt, I think it glorifies evil. Perhaps you will find that too harsh, but at the very least, it does muddy the waters a bit, doesn't it? Little fairy princesses and little boys dressed up as Power Rangers are cute. But it's downright disturbing to see people with fake blood dripping from their severed heads and it's just a little bit disheartening to approach homes with screams and moans emanating from within.

Up until last year, we managed to avoid Halloween altogether. We went out for ice cream sundaes as a family when our children were small and naive. When they got a bit older and realized that they may be missing out on something, we participated in All Saints Day parties, where they played games with their friends and got loads of candy handed to them without having to brave the cold of Halloween night.

Don't get me wrong; we've had a bit of fun letting our kids dress up and cruise the neighborhood seeking sweets, but I'm starting to think, "OK, we've had our fun. Let's go back to being young and naive."

My daughter just said to me, "Let's just go back to the All Saints Day party next year." I think we could make a good case for it - no creepy werewolves, no dodging traffic, no freezing your buns off just to get a good stash of candy.

Remind me next year when Halloween comes around again.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Florence Nightingale, Take 2

You may remember the post about my feeble attempt to channel Florence Nightingale. Well, here's an update: I haven't gotten any better at it.

I'm a school secretary. In the case of my particular place of employment, that also makes me the school nurse.

I like to think I'm pretty good at being compassionate. I can be very nurturing when Johnny comes in with a cut on his finger and needs a band-aid. I like to give hugs to crying little boys and girls and tell them it will be OK. I've taken numerous temperatures, doled out countless band-aids, and even cleaned up puke on the very first day of school. Vomit does not typically bother me, unless it's coming out of me - then it's rather unpleasant. But I truly don't mind helping little Susie clean the chunks off her dress.

I would say that I don't even mind blood. I mean I've seen lots of skinned knees and paper cuts, and even a few gruesome pencil lead stabbings. But I was still caught off guard by today's events.

Little Joey came into the office, escorted by the 4th grade teacher who was holding a wad of bloody paper towel on the boy's head. My co-worker started cleaning up the blood while I finished up a phone call. Then I threw on my gloves and dove right in. My partner said to me, "Take a look at this and see what you think." So, I gently removed the paper towel to reveal a nice clean gash right along the little guy's eyebrow. Surprisingly, there wasn't nearly as much blood as I would have expected, but the cut most likely would need stitches. I put the towel wad back on and held it there firmly. At this point, the little guy started to cry and say, "I want my mom." I don't know if it was the look on my face, but this was also the point where I was starting to feel a bit queasy. I told him to keep holding paper towel there and I went into the back room to the First Aid kit to retrieve a few butterfly bandages. That's when the sweating started. First the hot flash, and then the cold sweat. By the time I made it back into the office, I had to sit down right next to the boy because I could hear the ringing in my ears and everything was going a little dark. I put my head down on the table. I feared that I would faint right there in front of him and freak him out further, but I didn't dare walk back to the teacher's lounge for fear that I might pass out on the way. Luckily another teacher walked in and saw me and said, "Are you OK?" Then she said, "I can take over." (My partner was on the phone all this time, trying to contact Junior's mom.) So, I carefully made my way out to the teachers' lounge and laid down on the floor in a very careful fashion so as not to expose anyone to my undergarments.

I lay there for several minutes, hoping and praying to God that no one would walk in because I felt just a little foolish lying on the floor. Finally my co-worker came in to find me, and she was just a little surprised. "Are you OK???" She asked. I was making my way up off the floor and heading for a drink of water. I was fine but a little embarrassed that I had almost lost it in a moment of crisis.

I got the boy a drink of water as well and was able to go back and comfort him until his mom came.

What I am trying desperately to figure out is this: What exactly bothered me about that scenario? Blood, by itself, dripping out of a nose, or leaking from a scraped knee does NOT bother me at all. So, why did that little cut on the forehead set me swooning? Is it perhaps that I just don't like to see anything that is supposed to be on the inside of the body? Or is it just the excitement of the moment that gets to me? I actually find it a bit irritating that I couldn't keep it together, but I am extremely curious about why I found that situation so disturbing.

In any case, I'm fairly certain that being a nurse was not my calling.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Aren't You Glad We Didn't Bury the Squirrel There?

A few days ago, my children were out in the driveway after Daddy had driven away to get us some Frosties from Wendy's. Low and behold a fat squirrel lay in the driveway. It wasn't squashed or anything. It was just. . . .there. My kids came rushing in: “Mom, there's an injured squirrel in the driveway!” While their little hearts were gushing with compassion, and undoubtedly their little brains were overflowing with ideas about how they would play nursemaid to the ailing squirrel, I was thinking, “Oh, great, it's not dead yet. That means we'll have to find some “humane” way to put it out of its misery.” My mind quickly recalled an unfortunate incident that happened when I was around 10 years old, where I witnessed an injured chipmunk being bashed over the head with a shovel. Not a pleasant memory.

Obviously, this was a man's job. So I herded the children inside and waited for my husband to return. I dragged the trash dumpster into the driveway so that he would stop before running over the squirrel, although in retrospect, that would have solved the problem of having to put the squirrel down.

He was not pleased to have to deal with an overgrown rodent before enjoying his Frosty. He and I stood there and pondered the squirrel for several minutes, trying to decide what to do, and debating about whether the squirrel was alive or dead.

“Look, his little chest is moving.”

“No, he's not moving.”

“Yes, Get a mirror and put it in front of his mouth.”

“No, if he was alive, he'd be struggling to get away.”

“He's alive! He's just stunned.”

My husband finally went and got the edger. The shovel was in the deep, dark back yard and my husband did not want to go that far for a dying squirrel. So he tried to pick it up with the edger and then he said, “Let's just bury it over there,” motioning to the neighboring yard, where there the house is being renovated by Habitat for Humanity, and it just so happened that they had started digging up the yard that very day. So, my hubby figured that they would never know the difference if we buried a rodent carcass in the yard. However, knowing a bit about landscaping myself, I pointed out that they may actually have to dig deeper to plant things like trees, or to pour cement for a sidewalk. My husband insisted that no one would notice.

Luckily, our friend Brad happened along just at that time. Brad was out walking his little dog, a shi tzu-yorkie mix, which by the way, is a little bit of a humorous scene. Brad is a Man's Man. Brad is meat-and-potatoes man who works hard at his job as an accountant a cowboy and comes home in his Suzuki Samurai Dodge Ram truck and quaffs several MGD's without batting an eyelash. (Also, Brad is not his real name. I told him I was going to write about him and he suggested that I call him Brad. I think he wanted me to draw some comparison between him and Brad Pitt, but I'm a humor writer, not a fantasy writer.) So, it's just slightly amusing to see Brad walking this little rhinestone-studded-collar-wearing fur ball.

Anyway, I breathed a sigh of relief when Brad walked over and offered to help. I figured I would leave the men to it and told my children not to watch because I didn't know what they would actually do. However it got taken care of, the squirrel was removed from our driveway and moved on to a better place – I simply did not ask for details.

A few days later, I noticed a lovely little evergreen shrub had been planted in the neighboring yard. Yup! You guessed it - in the exact place that my husband had suggested we bury the squirrel. So, I had to take the opportunity to tell him that I was right. And that I hope he didn't actually bury the squirrel there after I went into the house.

Because nothing says, “Welcome to the neighborhood” like a dead, rotting animal buried in the front yard.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My Loverboy

You think I've been too busy to write a blog post in over a month, but you're wrong. I've actually been letting you grow a craving for yet another fabulous, inspirational, tremendously entertaining installation of this blog.

But, wait, that sets me up for having to actually write something fabulous, inspirational, and tremendously entertaining.

So, yeah, I've been really busy, being a working mom and all. But today I will not regale you with tales from my adventures as a school secretary. Instead I will delight you with stories of a 5-year-old who seems to have a way with the ladies.

Ever since he started school, just a little over a year ago, my little guy has come home with tales of his "friendships" at school. . . mostly with little girls. I've shared this story before, but after the first day of Kindergarten, we were sitting at the dinner table, and Evan told us, "I like Amber. I like to be by her." My husband asked, "Is she cute?" To which he responded, "She's hot!" We then proceeded to shoot mashed potatoes out of our noses due to uncontrollable laughter.

Shortly thereafter, he moved on to Evelyn. He had a crush on Evelyn for quite some time. For at least a month, his morning prayer would be, "God, please let me marry Evelyn when I grow up." I made the mistake of telling Evelyn's father that my son had a crush on his daughter and I could see that he immediately began calculating how much a shotgun would cost.

Near the end of the year, Evan came home and told me that yet another little girl was always trying to kiss him. I asked him, "Why do you think she's doing that?" He thought for a minute and then he said, "Well, I always call her sweetie pie." (I think I'm going to have to give him lessons on how NOT to give a girl the wrong idea.)

So, now we begin First Grade, and it's a whole new playing field: a year of experience under his belt, and a whole slew of new girls to get to know. A few days ago, I was sitting with Evan while he was eating breakfast at school, and another little first grader came up to us - a female first grader. She asked me, "Is this your son?" I said yes, and then she said, "He's so cute!" I laughed at her precociousness and hinted that Evan should play with her at recess, since she's in a different classroom. I guess he took the hint because he came home from school on Friday and told me all about how he had played with Esmeralda during the whole recess and that they had made plans to meet under the slide on Monday. And the whole weekend, he did not stop talking about his upcoming rendezvous - he gives a whole new meaning to "play date!"

As you can tell, I'm really enjoying this phase of my son's life. Am I overlooking a potential problem? Is my son going to be a womanizer, or is he just getting it out of his system early on? Or do I just get to sit back and enjoy these sweet moments of my son's life?