“Bullies Are Cruel” – Our New School Song

The kids playing together while dinner is prepped

The kids playing together while dinner is prepped (Photo credit: Alexander N)

“I want to sing like a hyena, and dance like a ballerina

Make ice cream out of your toes

Flip sausages for your nose

I want to run, jump and hide

with my friends at my side

We want to play and never go to sleep

we want to giggle and flop into a heap.

On the days there is no school

we can be found jumping in the park’s pool.

Life is great in every way,

just have friends

like mine, it’s the only way.

If there is someone who seems alone

go up to them and ask them to play along.

It’s not easy being new

so try your best to be kind and true.

It was that way for me

before my friends were nice to me.

So give a helping hand, whenever you can

give everyone a chance to hold hands and play

Peers become important in middle childhood and...

Peers become important in middle childhood and have an influence distinct from that of parents. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Don’t hurt someone’s feelings

not on purpose and not by chance

think of how you would feel

if you were in their PANTS!

No BULLIES at our school

because we know BULLIES ARE CRUEL!!!!”

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Being A Mom With A Chronic Illness (ChronicBabe carnival)

Mother and Baby

Image by Praziquantel via Flickr

My goal in life, since I was five years old, was to become a mom.  I thought getting pregnant would be natural and beautiful but it seemed we needed a little help. After two and a half years of painful shots, medication and an every day visit to the infertility clinic  for blood work and ultra-sounds I finally was pregnant. I collapsed to my knees behind the closed-door in my stuffy office and kissed the dirty gray carpet in gratitude. I cried with happiness, one hand already covering my tiny belly.

My son was born and we called him Buddha baby, he never cried, he was always happy, a smiling, compassionate and outgoing kid.  He was my miracle baby, my first born. I went to every baseball game for my son, sitting in the bleachers in the rain, and sneaking away to the car to warm myself up.

My daughter came, naturally, twenty-one months after her brother was born, screaming on top of her lungs as she entered the world. I remember going into her room and lifting this red-faced baby girl to my shoulders, she would take a deep breath and her whole body relaxed into my neck.  I was her only source of comfort when she was a baby. I was there for every ballet lesson and dance recital, holding a bouquet of daisies, her favorite flower, in my arms like I was nestling a newborn baby‘s head.

I did everything for my kids and I loved doing it. This was the career I decided on and I wanted nothing more. I stayed home with them even when they got older because I knew they needed me during the tough middle school years. They would never admit it but they were happy to see me when they got home. Working moms called me “old-fashioned” but I didn’t care.

When I was 50, I went through menopause and my body fell apart. I was diagnosed first with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an auto- immune disease. When Synthroid, did not help me at all, I warily shuffled from one doctor to another, every bone and muscle and joint in my body screaming with agony.  My internist had given up on me, she stormed out of the room while I was laying there on the exam table crying in pain.  After visits to many different doctors I was finally diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. I felt like I had the flu, every single day and night, with no fever, my personal definition of Fibromyalgia.

My life changed after that. I became the mom “before” I was sick and the mom “after.” I felt that I was no longer the mom you could always count on. I prefaced everything by saying “If I feel okay that day,” and “I’ll call you the morning of…”  Luckily my children were fourteen and twelve but it was now Dad who got up, made breakfast and lunches and dinner. Me? I was asleep, always asleep and in pain.

I felt lost and sad for years, not being able, physically, to be the mom I once was. Now, I am dropped off at an entrance to anywhere we go  like the handicapped patient I am. I sit alone, on a chair, when all the other parents and children go on a campus tour to see the entire campus. I cannot walk that far. I don’t want to be an embarrassment to my children or a burden for my husband.  I want the kids to remember the mom I was before I was sick but I know they don’t. They probably just remember me as I am today. I am not the mom I was before my illness even though my heart remains unchanged. I am the mom that they have now and because of that I have tremendous guilt and a lot of residual, emotional pain.

The Door Between Madness And Sun (Fiction)

No matter what people tell you, once you have the label you’re stuck with it. You can’t ever lose it. I see it on my parents’ wrinkled faces and a few of my old friends from grade school.  It’s attached to you like one of those mechanic bracelets or anklets they use for drug and alcohol addiction, except it’s invisible. You’ll always be the family with the daughter who committed suicide, or the brother whose sister died when she was five or the husband whose wife had a stroke at 35. It’s a well-known fact although people say it in supposedly hushed voices. There’s nothing hushed about it, whether they speak it or shout it or think it. That’s forever and for that I am sorry. Really.

My name is Lindsay and I’m 18 years old. I had been best friends with Kaitlyn for many years when we were younger, we grew up together you could say.  Things changed a lot when we both started high school and we just grew apart. I guess if I am honest I grew apart from her.  Kaitlyn didn’t know what to do, she used to kind of hang around me but we had nothing to say to each other anymore. I felt bad about it but mostly I just wanted to forget the past and move on to the future. If she couldn’t handle it, it really wasn’t my fault. She couldn’t figure out that I had grown up and changed and I didn’t want to explain it to her, that seemed so lame.  I started liking cooler kids that were different, but she just didn’t get it and wouldn’t leave me alone.  I heard her tell people I was weird.  I heard her tell everyone I was a freak; not a really nice thing to say about an old friend.

Kaitlyn knew I had tried drugs and alcohol a few times but I never went into details with her, it was none of her business. I was a senior now and wanted to feel free and grown-up; I deserved it. I started to steal things and someone would ask about all these new items, I lied and told people they were presents. Well, in a way they were, they were presents from me to me. I couldn’t deal with all the questions and my old friends couldn’t handle it. I had moved on but they hadn’t and that was fine with me.

After awhile people looked the other way when I was around and I was glad.  Once at a school talent show I threw my pack of cigarettes across the room just for attention; people literally freaked out. So I flirted with guys and played around; big deal. All my old friends were just so immature. People talked about my drug use; I admit I used cocaine, pot, pills and yeah, I tried acid but only once.  If I hadn’t gotten so wrecked that one time and had to call one of my old friends to pick me up at a party one night because I couldn’t find my car, no one would never have known. But, of course the little snitch that picked me up told that story to anyone and everyone she knew.  Bitch.

I know my  parents were worried but really, I was fine. They even called the police on me, imagine calling the police on your own daughter.  I told them that I was just a normal teenager doing teenage things but they would cry and scream and yell at me all the time. It got so bad that I learned how to tune them out and when they yelled I couldn’t even hear them anymore; I became numb. Numb felt good because it didn’t feel like anything.

The night I did it, I watched Kaitlyn go to sleep in the big queen bed we used to share on sleepovers. She lay in her room with while outside the snow and sleet pounded to the ground. She had curled up in her bed, I remember she used to be scared of storms and wind.  She still slept in her old room that she never bothered to update with posters or good make-up;  she liked things just the way they were. It was like we were still seven years old, her pink room filled with old stuffed animals and those fuzzy pink heart pillows; she could never throw anything away.

I saw my dad calling Kaitlyn’s mom, her mom picked up the phone and started to cry. I never thought that would happen. That morning at 6am I saw Katie’s mom walk quietly to Katie’s room, it was like looking at her walk in slow motion. She tiptoed into Katie’s room and sit on her bed for a long time.  I saw the shadow of her mother peering from the dark room before Kaitlyn even sat up. Her mom’s body was outlined against the blazing orange hall light as if she had been outlined in a crime scene. Katie started to stir and was surprised when her mother was sitting next to her, she was confused. “Katie, honey,” her mother said ” I have really bad news” and I saw Kaitlyn’s whole body freeze with fear. I knew she was thinking about her father, her brother in college, her grandmother and grandfather. She didn’t even think about me for one second. So when her mom said ” it’s about Lindsay” she had no idea what was going on. Katie’s mom continued” ” I just got a call from Lindsay’s dad and Lindsay……..Lindsay is dead, honey. She committed suicide, I am so sorry.”

Kaitlyn was absolutely still for a few minutes, she didn’t move and then she started shrieking and screaming “No, No, No” over and over again. My dad’s terse message didn’t help you know, he could have been gentler.  How was Katie supposed to react? He just said that he had seen me take some drugs that I was nervous and mad and I had been crying.  He thought I was asleep but I wasn’t, it was time, long overdue and I had to get out. I had been in so much pain that I had to go, had to get rid of all those bad feelings that would never leave me alone, so I did it.

All Kaitlyn had to do is ask the question in her eyes, because she could not find the words, and her mother answered slowly “she hung herself.”

I watched Kaitlyn, crying,  laying on her bed.  I didn’t think she would care that much; we hadn’t been friends in years. I saw her stare at the ceiling and she rocked herself back and forth like she would do, when she was little and when she was really scared. I saw the morning light, the early sun, creep into her room and stop on her face; she was very, very pale. She had put on the friendship bracelet which we made for each other years ago. I’m sorry,  I didn’t know what to do, honest, it felt like the best way out. For me. I had to go. I really did love you, I just hated myself.

I slipped out of her room and disappeared into the night air. It was snowing and was very cold, but I felt nothing and that was good.

The Whiffleball Champ

Kids grow up so quickly these days, one minute you are holding their hand at the bus stop for the first day of kindergarten and the next, it seems, you are handing over the keys to your car.  They are connected to you, and they will always need you but it changes as they get older. It’s a transition, for everyone. I never thought that it was possible but you do get used to your children/young adults separating from you. You have no choice; it happens quite naturally; although, believe me, I still sing “Sunrise, Sunset” at every opportunity.

The quick-dash of our 17-year-old son flying out the door so he can play whiffleball with his best friends, a game they have played for many years.  They built and designed the playing field with lighting that could attract a Madison Square Garden concert, with bases that the Yankees would be proud to play in. The initiative to do it on their own, drive to Home Depot a number of times, to thoughtfully design and build it; that made it special; that made it their own and they will always have that, in later years, they will have their memories.

They talk these days are about colleges, SAT’s and AP tests and how school is “technically over” with the exception of finals. The summer brings a much-needed refuge from exams and adult decisions and the dreaded common essay. These group of friends will be entering their Senior year of High School in the fall and things will proceed full speed ahead from then on, and yes, it will be different. The posse will be going in all different directions for college but I have no doubt that they will always be friends.

Topics around our house include talk of the Volunteer Ambulance Corporation and how our son felt the rush of adrenaline when he was able to do compressions on a sick adult man.  The fact that his EMT complimented him on his technique was, to him, the highest compliment ever and he was ecstatic. “If I ever had any doubts about Medical School, I don’t now, wow, what an adrenaline rush!!!.”

That young, empathic,  compassionate boy that he was is now grown and channeling his inner gifts to want to help others. He has his goals set on being an ER doctor or a surgeon; I tell him he has plenty of time to decide.   He may not be the best athlete on the whiffleball team, he may even be one of the worst players, I don’t really know but it doesn’t matter to me.

He calls, after his game, to ask if I want anything from the ice cream store. He walks in, fifteen minutes later,  dusty and tired and grinning, bearing a scoop of vanilla cake batter ice cream for me, his mom, with rainbow sprinkles.  In my eyes, he is, one true champion.