One day Anni was twirling and singing one of her original compositions.
"It's my gift!" she declared.
Dizzy, she fell with spectacular gracelessness.
Laying on her back on the tile floor she began flapping her arms and legs
as if she were making a snow angel.
"Falling down is also a gift!" says she.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Learning

Annika is nearing 72 hours of non-stop fevers, but they have definitely decreased in intensity. No one else has gotten sick around here, so it appears to be her special bug. Her concern about not sharing germs with Frankie wore off after the first day or so, but so far Frankie hasn't come down with anything. I wonder if Annika is going to stop believing the germ theory of illness, since she can't have missed the fact that Frankie remains healthy after lots of hugs and kisses. I guess we're going to have to figure out some way to explain that germs are her particular enemy, more so than for other kids. Hmmm. Not sure how to go about that just yet. Frankie has been making all sorts of mental leaps and bounds. Having shown nothing but disdain for books all these months, one has finally snagged her attention, and she begs for me to read it over and over and over again. Whew! I'm so relieved--gotta have some book-loving goin' on around here. So far, I'm enjoying Frankie's first favorite book more than I enjoyed Annika's first favorite book. One of Frankie's favorite pastimes right now is grabbing my glasses off my face (roughly, I might add, with little regard for the nose or ears being used to hold them in place). I find this a particularly annoying habit, and figure that we have lots of other fun games to develop that don't jeopardize a $280 crutch that allows me to see my own hands held up in front of my face. Thus, I have been trying my best to redirect her playful impulses. She wasn't going for that, so I've been forced to get more creative. Obviously, she is still too young for time-outs to really work, but she does understand, "No!" The downside is that hearing "No!" tends to send her into paroxysms of grief, which are perhaps even more annoying than the grabbing of the glasses, and certainly more heart wrenching. So I decided today that I might try a little aversion therapy. Nothing too terrible or mean, of course. I just decided that I would rub the palm of my hand gently over her eyes every time she grabbed my glasses until she gave them back. I can't see; she can't see. Reasonable. I soon discovered that this does indeed drive her crazy - not only can't she see, but also I think it tickles her eyelashes. Suddenly she would focus all her efforts on getting me to stop, which I did as soon as I had my glasses back on my face. Thus, she felt like she had actually won the game and the temper tantrum was avoided. Genius! Sure enough, after several sessions it was clear that Frankie was learning from my therapy. Learning not to grab my glasses? Oh, no. Learning that she needed to grab my glasses and then run like hell with them. And speaking of learning environments (and aversion therapy?), I was in a high school today for the first time in ages. I was volunteering at a wellness fair at the high school down the street, manning a booth to inform the kids about organ donation. Someone on the wellness fair committee must have a warped sense of humor because our booth was right next to the "Motorcycle Safety" booth. They had some sort of super-charged bike right there in front of the booth, but no helmet in sight, although the little video playing on their T.V. was entitled something like, "Helmets! They're Cool! Really! Yes, They Are!" All the kids gathered around the bike. Not many bothered watching the video. Then they moved on to our booth, where I asked if they had thought about being organ donors at all. For those that were interested, and many were not - teenagers, you know, are immortal - I pointed to a picture of Annika I had brought with me and told them to look for her someday playing in the park down the street from the school, all thanks to an organ donor. I was wearing my organ donation t-shirt which features an abstract starry sky with the words, italicized for dramatic effect, "Don't take your organs to heaven. Heaven knows we need them here." Catchy, clever like a country song, and I think extremely effective in this very religious town. Although I'm not exactly convinced on the concept of Heaven myself, I certainly do like the idea. Anyway, I don't think we need our organs in the ground, either, but that just doesn't have the same ring. (Obviously, I'm still working on my spirituality. Never mind.) I was kind of expecting high school students to have changed dramatically since my own Glory Days in the 1980's. However, you guessed it, all the same groups and personality types wandered through. It was so hard not to grab a few of my high-school personality doppelgangers aside and give them a bit of hard-won unsolicited advice. Just a heads-up, you know. Of course, they never would have listened. Apparently, teenagers are not only immortal, but also profoundly deaf. Thinking I would carry a bit more cachet with the youthful set if I looked a bit less mom-ish, I tried to punk up my hair a bit and wore a bit of eyeliner and lipstick. Mostly the kids were just rushing by the booths, scouting out the answers they needed to fill in on the obligatory value-added-experience worksheet. (the question for our booth? How many residents of Illinois are currently waiting for life-saving organ transplants? the answer: either 4500 or 4600, depending upon which part of the display you read.) A few stopped to chat, or, more accurately, did not run away when I asked them a few questions about their thoughts on organ donation. To add to the whole disorienting experience of being back in a gym surrounded by kids resolutely separating themselves into groups with barriers around themselves so thick you could practically feel them as they sauntered by, I actually got hit on. Whaaaaaaaaa?! No, not by a kid. Ack, don't go there. But by a fellow wellness fair volunteer, from SIU's college of medicine. Now, you may be wondering if I simply misinterpreted. I present: I walk in, pass hormonal wellness fair volunteer, who is dressed in my husband's favored style: cotton dress shirt with jeans. Smile. "How are you?" he asks (a set up!) "Just fine, thanks." "Yes, you are." (with that look - you know the one) Eeeeeeeewwwwww. I suspect he might be the type to try that one out pretty indiscriminately (and what a winner it is), but it was still a shocker and completely unexpected. Sarahlynn noted recently the strange aura of invisibility that you feel, among other things, after gaining weight. I also suspect that having 2 young kids adds to that effect. Somehow the mommy-ness ends up trumping the sex kitten every single damn time. At least for me. I'm not saying that goes for everyone. What a relief to get home after doing the time warp for a few hours. As I walked through the door, I saw Frankie headed for me at top speed in that funny little shuffle run she does now, as her stumpy legs move ever closer to a gait that doesn't make me giggle every time I watch her walk. She stopped just short of me and shouted, "Mommy! Poopy!" Then she threw her arms around my legs, burying her face in between my knees. After changing clothes and removing contacts, I did my own little shuffle (because Frankie refused to let go of my leg) over to sick Annika, installed on the couch. I bent down to her level and she gazed at me somberly, "Mama, I very missed you." Then she let loose a huge sneeze, which sent globby stuff streaking through the air, landing on my cheek and glasses, which Frankie promptly snatched from my face and shuffled away with. Yes, soooo fine.

Update: since Blogger decided that it was no longer on speaking terms with Safari, I didn't get to post this when it was originally written (yesterday). Frankie now is running a fever and grumping around the house, too. As with many things in life: Boooooo! and... Hooray! Booooo, because who wants a sick baby? Who wants to be a sick baby, for that matter? And Hooray, because now the germ theory of illness is still upheld for Annika, whose fevers are still hanging on, but continuing their slow downward spiral.

6 Comments:

Blogger Phantom Scribbler said...

Moreena, you are the greatest. Have I told youthat lately?

1. Annika's first favorite book. Oh dear. Take it from a former children's book(store) flunky: Amye Rosenberg is a pseudonym for the devil.

2. Glasses game. My husband (the legally blind guy) encourages this game. Baby Blue likes to rip glasses off and then slobber on them. (Yes, my husband has been bumping into things lately. It is so very hard to remove baby slobber from glasses). Can't wait till she tries to RUN with them.

3. You are the best mother in th whole universe for voluntarily entering a high school gym to ask the immortal folk to consider organ donation. I get acne just walking by the high school.

4. I like my invisibility aura. It means people are that much less likely to notice that I haven't brushed my hair since... well, never mind.

4/08/2005 2:43 PM  
Blogger ocelot said...

Yay/Boo for family sickness, more yay that Annika is on the upswing.

My Gizmo loves Goodnight Moon. Loves the taste of. If I try to read, he shoots me a look and crawls off in disgust.

I just discovered blogger hated me until i deleted my blogger and blogspot cookies. Just mentioning in case it's the cookies instead of Safari incompatibility.

Awesome post! Gawd, how I hate highschool!

4/08/2005 4:15 PM  
Blogger PPB said...

You are brave because
you have 2 sick children and you haven't run away
you voluntarily set foot in a high school.

I think blogger is discriminating against us mac users, btw

4/08/2005 4:23 PM  
Blogger Moreena said...

Yes, I removed the cookies, which worked at first. Then it stopped working (and I removed the cookies again to no avail). So then I switched to Explorer, and everything was fine. So I thought it was a Safari thing. But now Explorer is only working intermittently, so I'm just throwing up my hands. I really would pay something for a more reliable service. When, oh when, did it all fall apart for Blogger?

4/08/2005 6:35 PM  
Blogger Jay said...

While I find it quite clever that you have implemented aversion therapy, it is obvious that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree as your daughter has developed an equally clever (maybe just a tiny bit cleverer?) solution.

My favourite book when I was a kid was called Noisy Nora and I begged for it to be read over and over...finally, my mom hid it, but she can still recite it by heart to this day!

4/08/2005 7:04 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

"(Obviously, I'm still working on my spirituality. Never mind.)"

I don't know. Your spirituality seems quite highly developed from where I'm sitting.

Good luck with this latest bout of illness--I hope it passes quickly.

4/08/2005 11:19 PM  

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