For Once, My Sense of Humor Has Failed Me

The scenes from the Colorado tragedy have haunted all of us this weekend. My heart goes out to all the victims and the families involved. I am also sending prayers to the first responders and law enforcement personnel who have been working diligently to heal the injured and bring the guilty the justice he deserves.

We often forget the impact that continued tragedy has on our public servants. Don’t get me wrong, these people are wired for this profession—they live for emergencies. Mr. Jenn is all about the job, too. Thankfully (knock on wood three times) he’s never worked a mass casualty event, but  he and his colleagues have seen plenty of trauma. He loves helping people, and he’s all about the adrenaline rush of danger; however, my husband and his colleagues don’t work a horrific scene, turn in their evidence, then go ride a roller coaster to forget it all like Grissom did in CSI.

As Mr. Jenn told me some time ago after working back-to-back tragedies, “Scenes like those take something from you that you can never get back.”

On Friday, CBS aired the interview of a trauma doctor overseeing one of the emergency rooms treating shooting victims. She told the reporter that the images would always be with her. She mentioned the children from the theater—she had treated the three-month-old infant. Then she burst into tears. How could she not? Mr. Jenn says that it’s exponentially worse when children are involved.

“There are these ghosts in your head that never leave,” he has told me. “They haunt you forever.”

Some cops, firefighters, and EMTs feel comfortable seeking help when they’ve witnessed the unimaginable. They share their visions and nightmares with their family and friends to build themselves a protective wall of understanding. Others see reaching out as an act of weakness. They keep the horrors inside to grow like some sort of soul-eating cancer. People in emergency management careers are much more likely to go through divorce or deal with life-threatening illnesses. I can’t imagine what these people saw in Aurora. I pray that the victims, those that escaped the theater without visible scars, the police, and the EMS personnel have access to solid critical incident/stress management counseling. They must unburden their spirits so this tragedy won’t have even more far-reaching consequences.

Considering all the pain this ridiculous act of violence has caused, our media continues to show the picture of the gunman and tell us all about him. He’s getting the fame he wanted, isn’t he? Neither his name, nor his picture will appear on this blog. I don’t believe that human fecal matter deserves any notoriety; rather, I think freaks like this should be placed in a dark hole and forgotten. “Joker,” my ass. Yo, Networks: take his picture off the television and help deliver the cold hand of dark obscurity to this asshole. For the love of God, don’t make a “special” about him. If we’d stop paying attention to these shitbags, then maybe these violent acts would cease. I’m all for a world without PTSD, aren’t you?

Can I Sue the Brothers Grimm for Malpractice?

Yesterday, I discussed how I wanted to resurrect the Brothers Grimm and whip their linguistic little asses for their centuries-old stepmother smear campaign. Today, I’m going to share how that cultural bias almost killed my stepdaughter.

Big A. had several strep infections per year when she was younger. During her twelfth summer, she got one that knocked her flat. Her fever spiked, and my gut told me this particular illness was serious. I took her to her pediatrician, and I shared my fears. I was scared, and I asked him if he would consider giving her a shot of antibiotics first to sort of boost things along.  Keep in mind that I knew very little about sick kids, but I had remembered my own doctor giving me a shot for a bad strep infection, and I felt better almost immediately.

This bastard looked at me and said, “What are you, a wicked stepmother asking me to stick a needle in this child’s behind?’

He then looked at Big A. and added, “Are you Cinderella, and is she going to make you scrub the floors when you get home?”

Due to professional connections between Big A.’s mother and stepfather to this practice, I said very little at the time. Believe it or not, I didn’t want to rock the boat. Back then, it was much more important for all of us to get along for the kids’ sake than to rightfully smack the shit out of this self-righteous douchebag.

Turns out, I’m not so stupid and evil after all. Dr. Pissant gave her a form of antibiotics that I told him hadn’t worked for her in the past. Two weeks later, Big A. was in the hospital with strep meningitis. She had a morphine drip for a week and a helicopter on stand-by because her kidneys were shutting down. After five days, she finally responded the antibiotics and, thankfully, recovered fully.

Some of the nurses on staff eagerly awaited what they thought would be inevitable drama between the four terrified parents sitting at the child’s bedside. One doctor even told us we were weird  for all being in the same room. It would be much easier for step and bio parents to get along if some members of society didn’t secretly want to watch a step-smackdown. I guess we disappointed them. We mainly just prayed or willed Big A. to breathe when the morphine slowed her respirations to nearly zero.

I attempted to file a complaint on the pediatrician, but Dr. Shithead swore he never made those statements to me. I guess Big A. could have addressed the medical board to substantiate my case, but to what end?

As a family, we have all done the best we could to help Big A. and Big T. have the happiest childhood possible in a joint custody situation. Since 50 percent of marriages end in divorce, millions of other stepfamilies are working for the same results—happy, well-adjusted kids. It doesn’t take a child psychologist or a 15th century linguist to note that blending a family isn’t easy. Spend five minutes with Big T. or Big A. and you will quickly realize why we fervently believe it was all well worth it.

Now, will the rest of you self-righteous smart-assed people who insist on staring into the blended family fishbowl quit judging and  let your step-stereotypes eat the poison apple and die? If you don’t, I’ll make you lick my kitchen floor clean!

Piss Off, Grimm Brothers!

“Mama, you’re evil,” Lil’ K. told me the other day while I was giving her a bath.

“Come again?” I asked.

She narrowed her eyes the way four-year-olds do when they’re trying get your drawers all in a knot and said, “You’re EVIL.”

Taken aback, I asked, “Why?”

“Because you’re a stepmother to Bubbie and Sissie,” she said, smiling as sweetly as if she’d just told me I looked pretty.

“HUH?” I sputtered.

“You don’t give them food,” she said.

“WHAT?” I cried. “Yes, I do!”

Considering the way I cook, denying them MY food might benefit ALL the children. I wasn’t thinking that way at the time of this exchange though.

“No, you don’t,” she said. “The stepmothers in Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel, and Snow White don’t give the kids food. So you don’t either.”

Holy poisoned apples on a stick, Batman! In our culture, when even the sweetest woman takes on the role of “Stepmother,” she apparently morphs into a child-eating bitch right before the eyes of her own wedding party. I’ve been complaining about society’s perception of stepmothers since I met my husband twelve years ago. In my humble opinion, the Brothers Grimm can suck it.

I know, I know. They were expert linguists who sought to immortalize spoken-word stories on paper, share these tales with the literate world, and spread them through the ages the way the rats spread the plague.

I’ve also read that the Grimm Brothers watered these stories down a bit by making the stepmother, instead of the mother, the evil character. Reading about mothers murdering their own children apparently disturbed everyone, so these two geniuses had the stepmothers, instead of the mothers, hire the huntsmen. Wednesday Martin corroborates this factoid in her sanity-saving book for stepwitches entitled Stepmonster: A New Look at Why Real Stepmothers Think, Feel, and Act the Way We Do.  Children of divorce have enough to contend with besides the subconscious cultural belief that their father’s future significant other intends to chop them up into little pieces. That sentiment really makes for a happy family, doesn’t it? Hey, Grimm Brothers—where’s the story about the rotten stepfather?

I like Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ Jungian analysis of the whole psycho stepmother stereotype a little better. In her book Women Who Run with the Wolves, she notes that the young stepdaughter heroines cannot fully develop their strength and wisdom while the “too good mother” is alive. The stepmothers come along and force them “into the woods,” thus pushing them to reach their full womanly prowess. Gee, I love that role. Sign me the hell up. Oh, wait, I’m already under contract. From what I’m hearing, even my biological child believes that society ought to take a contract out on me.

I know my complaint about the cultural stepmother stereotypes pervading our culture like a rash won’t reach any sort of resolution in this century or the next. I just hope I can convince my daughter that, despite what her fairy tales proclaim, I can be a stepmother and still possess a pube or two of human decency.

This isn’t the first time I’ve had the whole Cinderella thing thrown in my face. That other time, it almost killed my stepdaughter. Come back tomorrow, and I’ll tell you about it.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Since We’re On the Subject of Gross Potty Issues…

Now that I’ve reproduced, I find that there are certain diaper bag essentials that I will never again be able to do without. Little anti-bacterial squirt bottles and melted crayons from Ruby Tuesday’s make my list, but endless packages of baby wipes top it. From the second I expelled Lil’ K. and changed the shape of my loins henceforth, I swore never to be caught without a pack of wipes somewhere on my person.

  1. Ice cream drippage is a bitch, and I have a tactile problem that doesn’t allow me to have sticky hands for more than a third of a second. Baby wipes can take care of cone seepage even on a 125 degree day in the desert. They even make your hands smell like clean baby ass instead of sour milk. Bonus!
  2. Got a booger? Baby wipes can get it.
  3.  Need a lift? Baby wipes can stuff your bra, improve your smell,          and air the girls out.
  4. As the magnitude of diaper explosions I mopped up grew to disastrous proportions, I realized that these little wipes could be pretty handy for adult, um, bathroom issues, too. You never know when you’ll end up with a slider in Target. Never, fear—Target wipes can get bug juice off a bumper, so your mudbutt is no problem. I’ve also noticed that Target wipes smell better than Wal-Mart ones, but that’s just a personal opinion. There are some bowelquakes whose smell overpower even the most fragrant wipe. Even the expensive brands will make the area smell vaguely like someone shit a chrysanthemum in the event of a major assplosion.
  5. Ever found yourself in a position of REALLY needing a bath, but there’s not even a water hose in sight? Not even a little soap for a ‘ho bath? Unless you’ve been rolling in cowshit, your wipes will freshen you up a bit until you can find some bodywash.

There you have it, folks! A few reasons why baby wipes rock. Stay tuned—we’ll discuss the many uses of petroleum jelly next time!

Ten Things That Just Flip My Skirt.

As you all know, I’m extremely thankful for my family, husband, children, health, house, job, etc. There are some other things for which I am grateful as well. I am listing them for Stasha’s Monday Listicle—on Tuesday.

  1. Patience. Lil’ P. is finessing his prowess with a spoon. This explains why I have applesauce in my eye. I am also thankful for the shower curtain I spread out beneath the high chair. Self-control is another biggie.
  2. Carpet cleaner.
  3. The fact that I’m a multi-tasking GENIUS. This morning, Lil’ K. announced that she needed to pee, launched herself from her bed, and headed for the upstairs bathroom. I was downstairs pulling Lil’ P. off the top of the dining room table, when I heard sudden sobbing and what sounded like a downpour on the dining room ceiling.  She didn’t make it to the toilet. Shit.
  4. The fact that I haven’t put the Exersaucer thingy away. I dropped Lil’ P. into the seat while I went up to see about Lil’ K.’s flood. His legs stretched all the way out from under all the toys, but he was contained.
  5. Bleach and a Shop-Vac.
  6. Cartoons. I used to be thankful for Nick Jr. until those bastards at Viacom decided that Direct TV and I needed to pony up another billion for my few minutes of marketing-free daily sanity. Screw you, Viacom. At least there’s Disney and Sprout and all those stupid Dream Light commercials.
  7. ”Every Sperm Is Sacred” on my iPod for when my kid pees on the floor.
  8. “The Philosopher’s Drinking Song” on my iPod for when I accidently calculate the amount of time I spend cleaning up bodily excretions.
  9. Date nights. Heh Heh.
  10. The fact that I live with such founts of hilarity—there’s no excuse for writer’s block in this house.

Squirrels Eat Tomatoes, Drive Man Nuts

“Mama, can I touch the dead squirrel?” asked my four-year-old, Lil’ K.

Finding a dead squirrel in one’s tomato patch seems rather innocuous, particularly when one owns a ferocious crackhead beagle. In this case, the dog had nothing to do with the squirrel’s untimely end—she’s too bent on eating the air conditioning man. This particular rodent and his friends died because they didn’t take the hint and get the hell out of our tomato patch.

Mr. Jenn takes great pride his garden and in the neighboring wildlife. He always yelled at the dog for digging around his veggie plants and chasing critters. When deer began to nosh on our turnip greens earlier, Crackhead napped on the porch.

“Damn useless dog,” Mr. Jenn, Lord of Mixed Messages, muttered.

He then enlisted Lil’ K.’s help in constructing a scarecrow. The deer moved on.

When the squirrels discovered the ripening tomatoes on the thirty-three vines Mr. Jenn planted, he tried peeing on the scarecrow in hopes that the scent would scare them away.

Later, we found a green tomato with a squirrel-sized bite in it. I looked up into a nearby tree and discovered several more tomatoes sitting on a squirrel feeder Mr. Jenn constructed last winter. My dear husband, who apparently fancied himself Walt-Freaking-Disney or something, had to take action quickly or he was going to lose the several pints of salsa and quarts of tomato juice that I preserve each summer.

He tried putting a fake owl beside the scarecrow. The following day, we found chewed-up tomatoes under the owl.

Shots startled me at the buttcrack of dawn the next morning. My husband had disappeared, so I crept to the garden, making sure the Mayans hadn’t confused their dates. I found Mr. Jenn in his underwear, aiming his .22.

“The little bastards should have left when I asked nicely,” he whispered.

POW! A squirrel and a tomato fell out of the tree. Apparently, Walt-Freakin’-Disney no longer wanted squirrels in this small world!”

I Lost My Mind and Wrote a Poem

Mama’s Losin’ ItLet me clarify one thing for all of you: I suck at poetry I am more of a prose writer. However, Mama Kat just sent me back to one of my favorite school activity sites for this week’s writing prompt. This web page has all sorts of poetry forms for every kind of school writing activity imaginable. I’ve used these poem forms with kids in grades 2-8, and they all loved it. I only filled them in to model for the students, but I never took it seriously. When Mama Kat led us to the “I Am” poem form,  and told us to fill it out, I thought what the hell it might be fun to partake. As you can tell, I still didn’t take it seriously. Laugh with me, not at me.

I Am

I am slightly droopy and drowning in diapered hilarity.
I wonder how far south my boobs might actually travel before my children graduate-
I hear a diaper filling while my bra straps beg for mercy.
I see an amber tint to the kiddie pool water as I try to tan the white spots on my belly.
I want a lawn chair that lets me tan upside down
I am slightly droopy and drowning in diapered hilarity.

I pretend that my boobs are perky enough to cast shadows on the books I write

I feel the girls resting on the computer keyboard, instead.

I worry that I won’t finish my book before my boobs hit the floor.
I cry because I’d rather clean hair balls out of the drain than edit my own book.
I am slightly drooping and drowning in diapered hilarity.

I understand wisdom sucks all the collagen out of my body parts
I say life lessons and healthy children kick way more ass than a cellulite-free butt
I dream that Oprah abandons her network and brings her show back so I can talk about all the books I might write one day.
I might try to eat fewer Oreos, but I doubt it.
I hope E.L. James writes another dirty book for a continued happy family, good health, world peace, publication,
I am slightly droopy and drowning in diapered hilarity

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