Monday, October 14, 2002

October 14-18, 2002

OCTOBER 14, 2002

My son tells me I'm stupid. An idiot. A jackass. And he wants me to shut up. I'm guessing most parents would treat that kind of disrespect seriously, but in my guy's case, I can never be sure if the hurtful things he says are genuine or generally uncontrollable neurological blips. Probably a little of both. But there's enough benefit of the doubt to be had that I usually just ignore him. It's still not so nice to hear, though.

It's comforting to know, anyway, that "stupid" is a top-10 word for boys in his age group; his friend's mother told me her son has been declaring just about everything in sight stupid for months. And I sure know where my son got the word "jackass" -- his dad uses it every time another driver on the road exhibits less than stellar car-handling skills. All the more reason to watch what you say, every minute, with kids. It may feel good when you say it, but when you hear it back at you, not so much.

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OCTOBER 15, 2002

Eat a turkey sandwich, go to the ER.

That's been the risk in recent days as it's been revealed that some deli turkey meat has been contaminated with listeria, a nasty little bacteria that can cause fevers, headaches, neck stiffness, nauseau, and even death. The company responsible for the motley meat has issued a nationwide recall, but for a while a lot of folks aren't going to be able to look at anybody's thin-sliced white meat with much comfort. Here you're trying for a nice, low-fat, low-cholesterol sandwich, and instead you wind up with death on rye. It's enough to make a girl go back to hamburgers with everything.

Fortunately, we live in a country where our mealtime selections are ridiculously many and various, and so doing without one variety of luncheon meat is hardly a sacrifice. But with so much bad news walloping us these days -- with snipers picking off random pedestrians and the economy slipping fast and rumors of war rampant and obnoxious campaign commericals filling every vacant second of television time -- is it so much to ask to be able to enjoy a simple sandwich? Guess the listeria must have thought so, too.

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OCTOBER 16, 2002

When I saw that news article we highlighted yesterday, Duct Tape Can Get Rid of Warts, I had to laugh -- mostly because I've scanned the ever-burgeoning shelves of Band-Aid products lately, and noticed that among the 500,000 shapes, styles, colors and medication combinations of stick-ons manufactured by that company were new bandages especially designed to combat warts. You gotta imagine there's some poor research and development sap deep in the bowels of the Band-Aid building who's finally come up with the perfect way to get his company into the wart business -- it's a Band-Aid, and you put it over the wart and leave it there, and the wart goes away! -- only to find out that plain old do-it-all duct tape does the job just as well. Ladies and gentlemen, score one for home remedies.

And yet, of course, the score won't stay there for long. Because you know that the humble duct-tape therapy isn't going to put the fancy-bandage folks out of the wart business. It's going to put them in the duct-tape business. Pretty soon, those 500,000 other varieties will be moving over for a rack of Band-Aid brand duct tape, with cartoon characters and neon colors and floral prints and a price just about twice that of the stuff you get at Home Depot. It will be so cool that your kids will demand that you buy that instead of the plain tape. Heck, it will be so cool that your kids will demand you get them some warts so they can put it on. Never doubt the ability of corporate America to take something simple and cheap and make it expensive and proprietary. There are no small victories. Only big opportunities.

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OCTOBER 17, 2002

Lately, my son's been declaring that he wants his beloved summer camp counselor to be his mom instead of me. I point out, diplomatically, that she's already a mom to two boys and probably doesn't need one more. He then points out, more diplomatically, that we could just switch, me being mom to her sons, her being mom to him. I don't know if this switch also includes Papas, or if we're spouse-swapping, too, but I do know that it would never work, however we tried it. I'm his Mama, for life. You're stuck with me, boy.

As much as I know that this is a normal kid thing, they all do it, it's nothing to feel bad about ... well, it's hard not to feel bad about, isn't it? With all kids, sure, but maybe especially with our children with special needs, who we imagine feel especially bonded to us through our efforts to help them make their way in the world. And I know my son is depending on me; the rest is just play. But I also know that he's been really needy lately, and I've been really exhausted, and maybe I've been too eager to encourage him to watch TV or play alone instead of getting in good mom-and-son time. So perhaps I'll take this suggestion that there's a pretender to my title to get back into the game and give him lots of good Mom time. Gotta exert my claim, you know?

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OCTOBER 18, 2002

It's fall in the Northeast, which means we've entered into one of the most dangerous and worry-inducing times of year: Weatherman Hysteria Season. Whenever there's the merest hint of a storm coming our way, we get round-the-clock protestations of severe meteorological doom. This week there was a killer "Northeaster" heading for us, with wind so severe it would make patio furniture look like tinker toys. Predictions of storm-waylaid morning commutes, downed trees and power lines, utility outages and major flooding filled the airwaves. And it's true, we did eventually get some nice steady rain, but the 45-mile-an-hour winds never materialized. I'd think that weathermen would feel embarrassed when storms peter out that way, but given how goofy they often act during their broadcasts, I suppose they have a high embarrassment threshhold.

It's bad enough when Weatherman Hysteria just causes a little unnecessary worry. But come winter, it has the power to close schools. More than once, in our town anyway, panicky newscasts about big ol' snowstorms about to be dumped upon us have caused schools to close in advance; and more than once, said dumping snowstorm turned out to be no more than a few pretty flakes. Schools closed without reason are hard on parents; harder still on the class parents who must make the phone calls declaring that, really, truly, although there is no appreciable snow falling outside your window this six a.m, the schools are going to be closed anyway, believe me, it wasn't my decision, go yell at the school superintendant; and maybe hardest of all on me, because I volunteered to make phone calls for my kids' two classes plus an extra special-ed class that had no parents foolish enough to do so. So I'll be making about 22 six a.m. calls, and so help me, it better be snowing when I make them.

Come to think of it, that likely won't be a problem. If I've got lots of calls to make, we're doomed to have the whitest winter on record.

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