Please Check This Brain for Rabies

I’m going to tell you a story about my friend, Susie.

Her name isn’t actually Susie.  But later on in the story, when I introduce Susie’s sisters, it makes for some excellent comic fodder.  I love making things funny.  And I love the word “fodder.”

So Susie had a really nice Christmas.  Her parents came for a visit and it was a perfect, quiet Christmas.  Susie missed her sisters and their families terribly, but she still had a great time with her parents, husband and kids.

Towards the end of the Christmas break, Susie got sick with the flu.  Then both of her kids got sick.  Her husband didn’t get sick because he lives on jalapeno peppers and various forms of whisky, and it turns out the flu is not capable of surviving in such harsh conditions.

So Susie’s parents flew out on New Year’s Day, and Susie and the kids were stuck in the house for another week, sick as can be, smelling like week-old pajamas and looking like something a cat would drag in, eat, and then hack up on the living room carpet.

During this time Susie started to get into a bit of a funk.  She had been in funks before, usually after holidays spent with family.  She hates living so far from them and it makes the typical post-holiday blues a bit more blue-y.

In the past she had always been able to get out of the funk within a day or two, but this time something was different.  In addition to the funk, her OCD was going haywire.

You see, Susie and her husband had decided to buy their sons a new puppy for Christmas.  The 17-year-old dog that she thought may have made some sort of immortality pact with the devil finally died with the assistance of a veterinarian who wondered whether he was actually putting a dog to sleep or just wasting drugs by injecting them into a furry, emaciated, dog-shaped corpse.

Either way, there was a sweet, new furry puppy running around the house, just generally being adorable.  She would chase Susie’s children around the back yard.  She would cuddle when she got tired.

Then, for absolutely no reason at all, Susie became convinced that the dog had rabies.  She started keeping track of every innocent scratch or tiny bite that the new puppy would inflict in play.  She began obsessively checking for signs of rabies.  When she looked at the puppy’s mouth, she actually SAW rabies.

Then there were the other OCD things that got out of control.  Susie does this thing sometimes when she watches a movie.  She’ll watch a movie, say Jane Eyre, and then she’ll rewatch parts of it over and over again.  She’ll find clips on YouTube and she’ll memorize them.  She’ll memorize long dialogues and every movement and facial expression in multiple scenes, and then she’ll replay them in her mind, perfectly, before she can move on to another task.

Sometimes she does it perfectly and she’s able to get back to her life for a while before the compulsion pulls her back in, but sometimes she makes a mistake and it causes her great anxiety because she has to get it just right.  So she would start all over again.  But Susie’s kids would interrupt her with ridiculous requests for lunch or homework assistance, and Susie’s anxiety started to get worse and worse.

So she began hiding in her closet to practice her scenes.  A few times her kids found her in there and she’d make up some excuse about putting laundry away.  But she hadn’t done laundry in days because she was obsessing about a rabid dog and perfecting a dialogue that no one would ever hear.

And she cried.  She cried about her life.  Her lack of talent.  Her life spent drifting without purpose.  And she suddenly hated her husband.  Her husband who had put up with more than his share of insanity, who had numerous reasons to leave her, was suddenly her enemy.

And then the next minute she would be crying intensely on his shoulder.  She would cry in restaurant bathrooms or while walking through Target.  She didn’t care about showering.  She woke up every morning and thought, “Why?”  She didn’t want to make breakfast, do laundry.  She couldn’t imagine anything that would bring her joy.

Then one day she texted her sisters:  1.  Snoozie (Snoozie is not a boring person.  She’s actually quite fun.  But she’s an accountant, and if you told me I had to be an accountant I would probably saw my fingers off of my hands so that I couldn’t use an adding machine.)  2.  Schmoozie (Schmoozie is semi-famous in the city in which she lives and as such she gets to schmooze with some bigwigs in the city.  Plus, an actual ex-mayor hates her.  GLAMOROUS!)  3.  Boozie  (Boozie is really self-explanatory.  She has three young kids.  She drinks a lot.)  4.  Boozie II  (Again, self-explanatory.  Three young kids.  Lots of alcohol.  Also, she and Boozie are twins.)

Anyway, Susie texted her sisters that she was in a funk, was drowning, was contemplating cutting the head off of her new puppy, putting it in a bag and taking it to the rabies people so that they could test it for rabies.  She told them about the hours spent in the closet quoting Jane Eyre.  She told them about hating her saintly husband.

Without Susie’s knowledge, her four sisters started texting one another about Susie’s likely imminent check-in to the nuthouse if something wasn’t done quickly.  They texted Susie encouraging messages of love, while I’m sure their texts amongst themselves said things like, “Sweet Jesus, I think she’s going to kill the dog,” or “Dear Lord, she’s in her closet rehearsing for a play she hasn’t been cast in.”

Boozie’s husband is a doctor and he spoke to a colleague about Susie’s issues and apparently this colleague said that Susie hadn’t snapped yet, but she was right on the verge of snapping, and when that happened there would probably be a puppy head in a bag.

So Susie’s sisters started planning.  Could they all fly down to help Susie?  Should they involve their parents?  Susie didn’t want their parents to know.  What should they do?   Schmoozie said, “At what point are we going to tell the grownups?”

Then Snoozie sent this text: “You know, Susie, have you thought about having Mom come and stay with you until you get through this stretch?  She’s really good in a crisis.”

Susie replied back, “I don’t know if I want Mom and Dad to know.  They’ll just worry.”

Snoozie said, “Just think about it.”

The next morning, Boozie Facetimed Susie and said, “Look, J (the doctor) is really concerned about you.  I never worry about things unless he says to worry, and he is legitimately worried about you.  He spoke to a friend, and they think you’re on the verge of snapping.”

Susie said, “I don’t feel like I’m going to snap.”

Boozie said, “If people who were about to snap felt like they were about to snap, they’d get help before they snapped.  You are about to snap.  Let us call Mom and Dad and see if they can fly down to help you.”

Susie said, quietly, through tears, “Okay.”

Susie hung up with Boozie right as Boozie II FaceTimed.  She said, “Are you going to let us tell Mom and Dad?” and Susie responded, “Yes.”  Boozie II said a whole bunch of encouraging things and Susie just kind of nodded in agreement.  Then Boozie II put the FaceTime call on hold.  When she came back on she said, “Schmoozie just went by Mom and Dad’s house.  They are flying to you tonight.”

Then Susie broke down.  She cried like a baby.  She didn’t realize how much help she needed until that help was on its way.

Susie’s parents flew in and helped her take care of the kids.  They set up doctor’s appointments and got Susie on the medicine she has needed to take for years but refused to for one reason or another.  Susie’s mom would check on her periodically if she disappeared for too long to make sure Susie wasn’t hiding in the closet reciting lines from Pride and Prejudice.

And Susie is now on the mend.  She is seeing a psychiatrist, a psychologist and is taking her meds.  She no longer wants to harm her dog.  She’s no longer hiding in the closet memorizing classic literature that has been made into film.  And she loves her husband again.

And she really really loves her sisters and parents who rallied around her, put their lives on hold, to make sure that their sister/daughter who lives a thousand miles away was okay.

Now, I must go to sleep.  My meds have kicked in and Susie needs her rest.

P.S.  All grammatical, typographical or other errors are the result of the Ativan making me not give a crap.

To recap…

Did you have a lovely Thanksgiving?

I’m only asking to be polite.  I don’t really care.

I had a great week.  Our best friends, Audrey Hepburn, Señor Tiny Junk and their children, came to spend the week with us.  If you need a brief history on the beautiful Audrey and the sadly endowed Señor Tiny Junk, feel free to read this post here or this post here.  They will explain all about our best friends moving to stupid Georgia because Señor Tiny Junk missed his mommy’s boobies.  I’m giving him a hard time.

Because it’s true.

I learned a lot during my Thanksgiving week and now I’m going to share some of it with you.  Some of it I learned by the powers of observation, much like Super Grover.  Other things I learned from Audrey Hepburn because she reads all the time.  I do not read.  Reading is for people who don’t drink.

Things I Learned

1.  I suck at being a housewife. 

I learned this by observing Ms. Hepburn.  

I like to act like I’m so busy keeping track of The Beast that it prevents me from getting anything done during the day, but in reality I’m just incredibly lazy.  Audrey would wake up each morning and say something like, “I feel like I need to vacuum your house today.”  And being the amazing friend that I am who loves to give my friends what they need, I’d hand her my vacuum and say, “Have at it.”  So I’d sit on my couch, shopping on Zulily from my iPad while Audrey cleaned my house.  She did laundry, folded my fitted sheets into perfect squares, de-linted my furniture, pulled all the cushions off of my couch to vacuum up The Beast’s snack crumbs, organized closets and cleaned my playroom.

So, to recap, I suck.

2.  Megadoses of Vitamin C will keep you healthy.  You may get a rash and suffer from vicious diarrhea, but you will not get sick. 

The entire Hepburn/Tiny Junk family arrived at our house with various forms of illness.  There were antibiotics, coughs, sneezes, rashes, surpluses of phlegm, bronchitis, fevers and possibly some Mad Cow Disease.  Ms. Hepburn at times walked around the house with tissue stuffed up her nostrils to avoid the side effects of persistent nasal drip.  There were intestinal issues.  Plungers were used.

I started taking copious amounts of Vitamin C.  I’m talking tens of thousands of milligrams.  I read somewhere that at the first sign of illness you should start taking 1,000 milligrams every hour until your digestive tract explodes and then back off.  My goal was to give myself Vitamin C-induced diarrhea.  I started feeding my children Vitamin C (and some Vitamin D for good measure) and we somehow managed to stay well.

Now, I’m not a doctor and I don’t watch any doctor shows on TV, so please don’t use my opinions about Vitamin C to cure your erectile dysfunction (talking to you, Tiny Junk) or bird flu.  I cannot be held responsible if you choose to get your medical advice from a completely nonqualified, mentally insane woman on the internet.

I would like to point out that it is a testament to my absolute love for Audrey Hepburn, Señor Tiny Junk and their children that I didn’t wrap them all in bubble wrap and make them sleep in our sons’ play fort in the backyard.

So, to recap, Vitamin C cures everything.  Pass it on.

3.  Rainbow Loom bands reproduce just like Grape-Nuts.

Have you ever noticed how when you pour yourself a scant 1/4 cup of Grape-Nuts cereal and add your milk that 1/4 cup of Grape-Nuts turns into approximately 17 bowls of Grape-Nuts?  You start eating your cereal and after three bites you look in the bowl and somehow there is more cereal in the bowl than there was when you started.  So you sigh and take two more bites, check out the news online, look back in your bowl and the Grape-Nuts are now overflowing out of your bowl.  It’s very reminiscent of the loaves and fishes.

Anyway, loom bands are like this.  The Good One and the two Hepburn/Tiny Junk children have Rainbow Looms.  Honestly, I love that the kids are doing something creative and not just sitting around playing video games.  However, one bag of loom bands does some sort of atom-splitting reproduction and 300 bands turn into 72,000,833,983,948 bands.  And somehow those bands end up in places that neither the children nor the looms were ever located.  I had bands in my bathroom, in my bed, on my porch, in my cabinets, in the pantry, in the toilet and in my bathtub.

So, to recap, loom bands can make babies.

4.  Natural flavoring sometimes comes from the expressed anal glands of a beaver. 

Beaver butt juice.

This little nugget of wisdom comes to you from Audrey Hepburn who acquired this information from Food Babe.  I’ve linked you to the site but not the actual video because that would require me to find the video and create the link and I don’t have time for that stuff.

This, of course, begs the question, Who the hell made the discovery that beaver butt juice is a tasty treat?

Picture it:  A man — we’ll call him Stubert Dinkens, because that sounds like the name of a stupid man — wakes up in his cabin in the hills of I’m guessing West Virginia.   His sister-wife, Beatrude Dinkens-Dinkens, is sleeping quietly next to him.  He goes to the kitchen and pours himself a cup of coffee and grabs a yogurt from the fridge.  He looks outside at the beautiful stream that flows down the mountain.  He decides to take his coffee and yogurt and enjoy them down at the water’s edge.  He walks down the hill to the stream and sits on a large rock.  He gazes out at the water and reflects on the beauty and peacefulness of nature.  He takes a sip of his coffee and peels the lid off of his yogurt.  He takes a spoon out of his jacket pocket and dips it into the yogurt.  He places the spoon in his mouth and, “Damn!”  He meant to grab the key lime pie yogurt.  This is plain yogurt.  It’s swill.

He glances back out at the water and bemoans the fact that he’s going to have to leave this utopia, this bastion of tranquility, to traipse back up the hill to the cabin to get a new yogurt.  Then, out of the corner of his eye, he sees movement.  He turns.  There, just on the edge of the stream is a beaver, busy collecting sticks and other beavery things — a busy beaver, if you will.

Stubert looks at the hindquarters of the large, furry beast and says to himself, “I’m gonna sneak up to that there beaver and subdue him.  After I subdue him, I’m gonna squeeze his butt.  And whatever comes out of his butt, I’m gonna put in this here yogurt and I’m gonna eat it.”  Then, after tasting his newly flavored yogurt, Stubert sprints back up the hill, arms flailing wilding, face bleeding profusely from the fight with the beaver who did not want to be touched like that.  He bursts through the front door of the cabin and screams, “Beatrude!  Beatrude!  Come quick!  You are NOT going to believe what tastes just like vanilla!”

And that, my friends, is the story of how a moron named Stubert who was unable to stomach plain yogurt is the reason we all eat beaver butt juice every day of our lives.

So, to recap, beaver butt juice — you’re eating it.  Probably right now.

Also, please don’t tell me I suck for making fun of inbred people from the mountains of West Virginia.  Someday I’m going to tell you a story about how my parents met and you’ll realize that I’m allowed to make fun of people who show up twice on their family tree.

Okay.  I’m over 1,000 words.  I’m done.  I could try to think of a cute, snappy way to end this blog post.  My college professors went on and on about the need to end well.  There were lectures about taking your introduction and making it your conclusion, then writing a new introduction.  Leaving your readers — or in my case, reader — wanting more.

Well, that’s not going to happen.  I’ve got laundry to pretend to be too busy to fold.

A year in the life.

Warning:  Lots and lots of words ahead.  I’m talking like 2,000 plus.  I’m summarizing a year in The Beast’s life.  It’s not pretty.  Nor funny.  Nor well-proofed.  I got sick of reading it after the 7th time. 

About a year ago I pulled The Beast out of his preschool.  Unbelievably, it had nothing to do with the fact that his teachers sent home papers asking for students to bring “a apple” to school.  I figured that whatever intelligence he lost in preschool he’d regain quickly once he got into kindergarten.

It was the day after Halloween of 2012.  The Beast had been in the three-year-old class for about two months.  He had been having some issues with behavior but they were mostly minor.   However, The Beast’s teacher was the mother of only girls and she had absolutely no idea how to handle him, so I was having lots of talks every day when I picked him up from school.

“He threw mulch on the playground.”  Of course, he did.  How are you surprised by this?

“He stood up on the table and jumped off.”  He jumps off of our six-foot fence at home.  The two-foot toddler table that he’s jumping off of here doesn’t really concern me.

“He ran out of the classroom and ran into another class.”  He escaped my house, got onto his bike, and started riding down the road to visit a friend before he was chased and brought back home.  This is why we have high deadbolts and alarms on all of our doors and windows.

As one would expect, the day after Halloween was a rough day at the school.  A hundred two- to five-year-olds hopped up on sugar and food dye isn’t really going to make for an easy day.  (If you’re like the 100 Days of Real Food lady and you hand out glow sticks on Halloween, more power to you.  I hope you get egged.)

The day after Halloween I dropped him off at school at 9:00 and drove to Target.  At 9:27 I received a call from the director’s assistant who informed me that The Beast had started a mini-coup in the classroom and had incited the other students to rise up against the Establishment.  Since the teacher had no idea how to handle the situation, she sent The Beast to the front office to have a timeout.  As he sat in the front office with the director and her assistant, they began to chat.  He, being a small but observant genius, took note of the fact that they were not paying attention to him.

So he fled.  He ran out of the office, down the hall and into a classroom.  The assistant and the director ran after him.  Once they figured out which classroom he was in, he started a game that he still loves to play.  I call it Ring Around the Rosie…in Hell.  He places himself on one side of a piece of furniture.  And the minute you come at him one way, he runs the other way or underneath the furniture.  He’s very small and very quick and if you’re playing this one-on-one with him, you will lose every time.  When we play this game at home, say when I’m trying to get him ready for bed, it often escalates to the point that I’m tearing around the house like a rabid squirrel, screaming a blood-curdling scream in the hopes of shocking The Beast into submission.

He never submits, so at some point I have to enlist the help of The Good One or Virginia Slims Man or the mail lady (really, anyone that’s available) and one of us has to dive over the couch or ottoman or scramble under the kitchen table while the other one blocks his path of escape.  Honestly, it’s the most infuriating thing ever and it’s usually followed by me slamming a door or throwing a small piece of furniture.

Since The Beast was outnumbered by the teachers, the director and her assistant, they were able to catch him within a few minutes.  But the fact that The Beast found so much glee in their struggle made the director incredibly angry, so she told the assistant to call me.

When I spoke with the assistant on the phone I was initially very apologetic.  But as I left Target and got into my car, I became more angry than sorry.  Yes, I know my child is difficult.  I know he’s “spirited,” as one friend put it.  I know he’s exasperating.  But you called me to pick him up because he made you get off your ass and chase him?  He didn’t hit or scream or do anything malicious.  He ran.  I told you he runs.  You know he runs.   You’ve seen him run.  Why did this surprise you?

So I drove to the school, fuming with rage, walked in the front door and grabbed The Beast by the hand.  When the assistant asked if I wanted to talk to his teacher, I snapped, “No!” and left.  I got home and immediately sent an email to the director letting her know that The Beast wouldn’t be returning to school.  That night when Virginia Slims Man got home, The Beast said, “Mommy took me out of school today.  She came in the door and she said, ‘GRRR!’ like a bear.”  I guess my rage was not well-hidden.

In retrospect, I might have over-reacted slightly.  I know the director, assistants and teachers can’t be expected to baby sit my son.  And I know that if he starts a mutiny that cannot be contained, then it disrupts the entire classroom and possibly the school.  But on that day I was just too furious to think rationally.  I was mad at them.  I was mad at The Beast.  I was mad at myself for letting him eat his weight in peanut butter cups the night before.

Later that evening The Beast’s teacher called me and said that she had no idea that the director was going to call me and that she was sorry.  I told her that I wasn’t sending The Beast back and she yammered on about how “The Beast is with you for a reason and you’re a good mom,” blah blah blah.  What I heard was, “Thank God you’re not bringing him back into my class where he’ll likely tie me up and annihilate us all.”

So I visited some other preschools, explaining to the directors of each school all of The Beast’s issues.   Finally, I settled on the local Montessori school.  I thought that maybe the structure and more advanced activities would help The Beast to thrive.  The director said that she had seen the Montessori method work miracles with difficult kids.  She assured me that the only time they call parents is if there is an issue that they absolutely cannot handle within the confines of the classroom.  So we sold a few internal organs and started paying a small fortune for The Beast to attend the Montessori school.

He struggled for the first few weeks, but then he started to get into a groove.  But after his favorite teacher moved to New York, he started pushing boundaries and the phone calls started up again.

“The Beast is running in the classroom.   The Beast is interrupting his friends’ work and we can’t get him to stop.  The Beast won’t stay in his seat during lunch.  The Beast lost recess today because he ran from us and hid under a table.”

I started having to go up to the school two to three times a week to talk to The Beast.  I started having nearly monthly meetings with the director where we tried to come up with ideas on how to help The Beast.  There were a few days in there where I’d get a note saying, “The Beast had a really great day today.”  And that would make me hopeful, but within days the phone calls would start up again.

“The Beast climbed over the 8-foot chain link fence surrounding the playground and ran when the teachers tried to catch him.  You’ll need to come and pick him up.”

“The Beast ran out of the classroom and made it out the front door of the school before we could catch him.  You’ll need to come and pick him up.”

“The Beast was using scissors today and tried to cut a friends’ hair.”

“We recently planted beans in small pots and The Beast decided to sprinkle the soil throughout the classroom and didn’t want to clean up the mess.”

“The Beast bit a friend on the playground.”  (She took his ball.  I’d bite her too.)

“The Beast went into the bathroom and stuffed the toilet full of toilet paper.”

“The Beast ran through the classroom naked.”

Throughout all of this, my meetings with the director continued.  I read The Strong-Willed Child.  My discipline became as consistent and regular as seeing Kardashian selfies on the internet.  There was some improvement at home, but he still struggled at school.

I tried every discipline technique that I had ever read about, heard about, saw on a show, or just plain invented out of thin air to help him improve his school behavior.  Nothing worked.  If he had a bad day at school, I took away TV shows.  Or treats.  Or bedtime stories.  Or outside play.  Or all of the above.   I took away special events like pool parties and trips to the ice cream store.

Every day when I’d pick him up from school, he’d look at me with fear and say, “Did I have a good day today?”

Every night when I’d lie with him in bed he’d say, “Mommy, I don’t want to go back to school.  It’s so hard to be good.  I try to be good but my body won’t let me.”

And then I ran into an acquaintance at Target.  She asked me how The Beast was doing and where he was going to school, and when I told her she said, “Forgive me for overstepping, but I have several friends with boys who put their kids in that school and they regretted it.  If you have a really well-behaved child, he’ll probably do fine.  But if your child has any behavior issues or if he’s just loud and moves a lot like most boys do, he might start to feel bad about himself because he doesn’t fit into the mold of what they want their students to look like.  Don’t let any school make your child feel bad about himself.”

At that moment I realized that I could no longer punish away his childhood.  My new philosophy was if it’s a school behavior issue, the school needs to handle it.  I’m only disciplining him for things he does at home.  I’m not one of those parents who thinks their child can do no wrong.  This entire blog was started on the premise that my child can be a havoc-wreaker.  But I just couldn’t continue to punish him every single day for his behavior at school.  I felt that if he continued to have daily behavior issues, then maybe it wasn’t the right school for him.

We decided that if this new approach didn’t work, then we’d withdraw him from the school.

About a week after we made this decision, he did something at the school and I got a phone call.  As I walked into the school to pick him up, I ran into the director.  I had intended to ask to be let out of our contract, but when she saw me she said, “I don’t think we can keep doing this.  We love The Beast, but he’s struggling so much.  Maybe this isn’t the best environment for him.  Maybe he just needs more freedom.”

So now The Beast is home with me full-time.  I’m drinking a little bit more.  Getting high occasionally.  (Kidding, Dad.  But as soon as medical marijuana is legal in Texas, I’m putting on my going-out pants and getting in line for a prescription.)

I did talk to a friend who recommended that I take The Beast in for an occupational therapy evaluation so that whatever it is I’m dealing with can be dealt with sooner rather than later.  We visited my pediatrician for the referral and he initially said he wanted to wait until The Beast was five because he might outgrow a lot of these behaviors.  But after witnessing The Beast breakdancing on the office floor, having The Beast take his stethoscope and use it to whip the wall, and then experiencing the joy of having The Beast climb up his back while he was trying to explain why The Beast didn’t yet need an occupational therapy consult, he decided to go ahead and give us that referral.

The Beast had his evaluation about two weeks ago and he’s going to start occupational therapy for Sensory Processing Disorder.  I believe a commenter on this blog told me a long time ago to look into SPD, but, as you can see by the fact that it’s taken me a year to tell you all that I pulled him out of his first school, I have the tendency to procrastinate.

There’s no guarantee that The Beast doesn’t also have ADHD or any other disorder, but we’re going to start here and see where it takes us.

My prayer is that he learns to control his body.

That he learns to focus.

That he learns to listen.

That I learn how to help him.

That he succeeds when he starts school.

And when he grows up, that he doesn’t make a profession out of mutiny.

How much is the Ark of the Covenant lunchbox?

You know how Jesus went into the temple that one time and all of the people were in there using the temple as a giant, indoor flea market to hawk their wares?  And remember how He got really ticked off and overturned all of the tables and threw out all of the people who were selling birds and making change?

Well, I did that today.

Only it wasn’t the temple.  It was my dinette/living room.

And it wasn’t a table covered with what I imagine were miniature golden calves, some Ten Commandments keychains, a snow globe with a little ark that flooded when you turned it upside down, maybe a chicken or a turkey just in case you needed to pick something up for dinner while you were buying your sacrilegious knickknacks.  It was a child’s table covered with leftover Cheerios from The Beast’s breakfast.

And it wasn’t because someone was using my living room for blasphemous purposes.  It was because someone threw tiny beads all over the kitchen floor and had an epic fit when instructed to clean up the mess so his mom went temporarily insane and picked up and threw a table.

Somehow, I don’t think God is as pleased with my rearrangement of the furniture as He was with Jesus’.

That’s your Bible lesson for the day.  Do with it what you will.

P.S. I recently deactivated my Facebook account because it turns out that I don’t like most of my Facebook friends, so you’re probably going to be getting more of these stories that I’d normally post on Facebook.  Sorry.  Or, Yay! depending on how you feel about me.

Road trips, STDs and Urine.

How long has it been?  Months?  Years?  Eons?  I wish I could say that I’ve been involved with some fabulous charity work for some very meaningful organizations like Save Orcas with Diabetes or People for the Destruction of Bats and Their Demon-y Habitats, but I haven’t.  I’ve been involved with lots of Pinterest, some Facebook, small amounts of Zillow and Trulia and just a little bit of travel.  But mostly I’m just lazy.

I just returned home from a month of travel.  Lest you think I’m referring to a European holiday traveling via train from beach to village to countryside vineyard whilst eating in adorable cafes and sipping on gourmet lattes, I will describe my holiday.  I spent four weeks traveling via minivan everywhere from Texas to Georgia to South Carolina to North Carolina to Tennessee to Ohio to Pennsylvania to Virginia to Jacksonville Beach, Florida and then finally to Disney World.  At no time did I eat in an adorable cafe.  I did eat at a disgusting Burger King, if that counts for anything.

My road trip diet would cause the 100 Days of Real Food lady to gag and probably report me to CPS.  I do not bake homemade granola for road trips.  I pack commercial-sized bags of trail mix that have sugar listed as the second ingredient right after hydrogenated oil.  I do not pack fruit.  Fruit is juicy and messy and is often shaped like a ball that can be pelted at the back of my head at any moment.  I pack fruit snacks full of red dye number 47 and yellow dye number 63.  When I’m on a road trip I’m every child’s dream and every nutritionist’s nightmare.

As usual, none of this has anything to do with my story.  I am kind of hoping that some of you will reassure me that you, too, eat like college students while on road trips.  The only things that differentiate me from a college student are that I’m old and I can’t figure out how to make Ramen in my minivan.  Also, I drive a minivan.

I’m going to bring you into my holiday at the point where I was driving with my mom, dad, The Good One and The Beast in a caravan with my oldest sister and her family.  We were traveling from Richmond, Virginia to Jacksonville Beach, Florida to spend a day at the beach before heading to Disney.

Sounds glamorous, doesn’t it?  It wasn’t.

If you ever have the opportunity to take a road trip with me, I really suggest that you just go ahead and turn down that opportunity because, awesome snacks notwithstanding, there is a good chance that your road trip is going to take about 50% longer than it should.

On this trip to Jacksonville Beach, Florida, the extended travel time was due to having five people with unsynchronized bladder issues, a very long stop at a Burger King so that The Beast could play for an hour, and a navigation system who was on her period and thought it would be a hoot to send me to my destination via the most circuitous route possible.  You think I’m kidding, but as we approached our hotel in Jacksonville, my van told me to take the exit one mile past the hotel and then circle back via the frontage road to the hotel.  I obediently did what she told me to do, thinking that perhaps there was a one-way street or some other issue that would have prevented me from getting to my hotel should I take the most obvious exit.  There was not.  She’s just a bitch.

So, the Saturday morning before last, after spending 12 hours on what should have been a 9 ½ hour road trip, I pulled my van into the hotel parking lot at 12:35 a.m.  My sister and her family had arrived 90 minutes earlier despite the fact that they left after we did.  Their van wasn’t being a bitch.

My sister had picked up our room key and had set up a cot in the room that we would be sleeping in.  The plan was for my mom and dad to share a bed, The Good One and me to share a bed and The Beast to sleep in a cot.  However, upon getting to the room, my sister informed us that her room had recently been sprinkled with a carpet freshener (likely because someone died on the floor) and that when she entered the room, her lips went numb.  My mom has asthma and there was no way that she was going to be able to sleep in that room without being intubated, so we decided we’d all hunker down together.

My mom and dad climbed into bed and were asleep within minutes.   The Good One and I were in bed, The Beast was on the cot and my sister was on a chair.  The Good One did offer to sleep on the chair, but my sister insisted that she sleep there.  So for five minutes that’s how we lay.

Then The Beast decided that he’d rather sleep with me in the bed.  So up he crawled.  The Good One climbed into the cot and my sister climbed into the bed with The Beast and me.  Now, the cot that The Good One climbed into was not a full-sized cot.  It was a Star Wars cot meant for a toddler, not a 10-year-old who is over 5 feet tall, so The Good One had a very difficult time getting comfortable.  He shifted and shimmied and tossed and turned for what seemed like 390 days, and then my sister said, “Good One, why don’t you sleep across the foot of the bed.”

The Good One said, “Thanks, that cot is really uncomfortable,” and he curled up on the bottom of our bed.  We all settled back down and looked forward to rest.  Sadly, because of the two Dr. Peppers that The Good One’s mother allowed him to consume in the midst of the eat-whatever-the-hell-you-want portion of our road trip, he could not stop moving.

Now, this was annoying to me.  But to my sister who, in addition to having reactive lips, also has an actual hole in her skull that causes her brain to push against her ear drum to the point that any motion while lying down makes her sick, the constant motion was likely to induce vomiting.  I will not even tell you the bedtime activities she has had to excuse herself from to go to the bathroom and vomit.  But she is married and you can use your imagination.

We all lay there hoping that the movement would stop soon when suddenly there was a loud clunk followed by an “Owww!”  The Good One had tossed and turned himself right out of the bed.  My sister, seizing the opportunity to get out of the Bed of Imminent Vomiting, said, “Good One, come sleep up here and I’ll sleep in the chair.”

So again we shifted.  There we were, now at 2:00 in the morning, half of the room sound asleep and snoring so loudly that I wished I had hearing aids just so I could remove them, the other half praying to fall asleep.

At some point we all fell asleep because at 7:00 a.m., despite the darkness in the room, The Beast’s Internal Clock of Suck awoke him and told him to ask for cereal.  I attempted to quietly get dressed and take him to the lobby for breakfast, but The Beast doesn’t do quiet and he woke up my mom, dad, The Good One, and my sister who was now sleeping on the cot intended for a toddler.

We all got ready, ate breakfast, met up with my brother-in-law, niece and nephew who had slept soundly in the room with the carpet freshener that would have shut down my mother’s lungs and caused my sister’s lips to turn blue and fall clean off of her face, and headed for a day of fun at the beach.

We actually did have a great time at the beach.  For about 4 hours The Beast played in the sand and in the ocean.  “Played” is the wrong word.  He attacked the ocean.  He would walk out to the point in the ocean where the waves were breaking and he would kick and punch the ocean in an epic battle of strength.  He does all things with gusto.

The Good One rented a boogie board and rode waves with his cousins.  He does not attempt to fight the ocean.

At about 3:00 in the afternoon, The Beast was starting to show the effects of no sleep and lay his head in the sand.  We packed up our stuff and headed back to the hotel.  I gave The Beast a shower, fed him Chick-fil-a (the food crapfest continued) and he was asleep in the hotel room by 5:50 p.m.  I said a prayer of thanks and enjoyed the silence.

At about 7:00 my mom and dad returned to the room and stayed with The Beast while my sister and I went shopping.  The Good One was off with his cousins and uncle and was going to spend the night in their room, and my sister was going to sleep with The Beast and me.

My sister and I returned to the hotel room at about 9:30.  My mom said that The Beast had woken once and asked for milk and went right back to sleep.  I was excited for the delicious sleep I was about to enjoy.  We all got ready for bed and by 10:00 my dad was sleeping quietly and my mom was snoring loudly enough to guide ships into a foggy harbor.

(My sister actually taped my mother snoring so that she could play it back for her in the morning.  When she heard it my mom said, “That’s your dad.”  It was so not my dad.)

I cuddled up to the sleeping Beast and fell asleep.  At about 4:00 a.m. The Beast started tossing and turning.  He’d rest his head on me and then flip over to my sister and rest on her.  He shifted and moved for about 10 minutes and then snuggled up to me and said, “Mom, can you get me new underwear?“

I chuckled to myself that he was talking about underwear in his sleep and made a mental note to tell my family what he said in the morning.  Then I noticed the unmistakable warmth of urine on my left butt cheek.

I jumped out of bed hoping to be only a little bit wet, but considering The Beast had not peed for 12 hours and had let loose in the bed, it was a miracle we didn’t drown.  The Beast and I were both wet from hip to ankle.  The only dry spots on the bed were the foot of the bed and where my sister had been sleeping but was now awake and enjoying the midnight showing of everyone’s favorite comedy, “Sweet Frack, How Much Urine Can Your Bladder Hold!?”

My sister was very careful not to move out of her dry spot.  I placed a towel over the wet spot on the mattress, changed The Beast and put him in the cot.  I changed into the pair of pajama pants I had bought just the night before.  Yes, I put on unwashed pajamas.  I was sopping wet and my choices were nudity or jammies with factory lice on them.  I went with the pjs.

I held The Beast’s hand until he fell asleep and then settled in on top of the comforter at the foot of the bed.  I closed my eyes, anticipating rest, when suddenly I had a vision of all of the God-forsaken things people could possibly do at the foot of a bed.  I saw naked, skeevy, hairy men waiting anxiously for their Hampton Inn hooker to come out of the bathroom.  I envisioned disgusting, horny teenagers doing whatever the hell teenagers do nowadays.  I imagined the bedroom scenes of all of the R-rated movies I had ever watched in my life, and I knew instantly that I was sleeping on dried semen and derrière juice.  (Sorry, I know that’s vile.  I really don’t know how to put it in a ladylike manner.)

However, since the mattress on my side of the bed was wet with approximately 2 gallons of urine, my only option was to stay where I was and just pray that they sell antibiotics for face syphilis.  So I lay my head back down and passed out.

At 7:00 in the morning, The Beast’s Internal Clock of Suck woke him up and told him to ask for cereal.   He was very excited because he knew that after breakfast we were heading to Disney World and he was going to get to see Virginia Slims Man, whom we hadn’t seen in two weeks.

I was excited to see Virginia Slims Man too, because then he could take care of the kids while I sought out alcohol and a Disney World doctor who specializes in VD of the cheek.

So we all ate breakfast, hopped in our minivans and headed for a week at Disney World.

Heads up, The Magic Kingdom, unlike the other parks at Disney World, is dry.

Happiest place on earth, my ass.

Safe travels.

P.S.  Various forms of the verb “lay” appear in this post.  I’m nearly certain I used the wrong form in every instance.  I was an English major but did not master that aspect of grammar.  I was too lazy to look it up.  You’ll deal with it.

My Morning — A Post-ette

7:40 a.m.  -  The time that I normally leave the house to drop the boys off at school.

7:42 a.m. -  The time we got into the car this morning.

7:43 a.m. -  The time that The Good One — heretofore known as The Son Formerly Known As The Good One But Based On All The Dip-&*it Stuff He’s Been Doing Lately Is Now Known As The One Whose Dingbattiness Is Getting On My Last Nerve — informed me that he had to take a sack lunch for their field trip today.

7:44 a.m. -  The time I ran back into the house and packed a lunch in under a minute.  It’s possible The One Whose Dingbattiness Is Getting On My Last Nerve is having a box of uncooked mac-n-cheese and a stack of post-it notes for lunch today.

Ask me if I care if he breaks a tooth on an uncooked noodle.

Hint:  I do not.

8:14 a.m. -  The time I got back home and contemplated putting wine in my oatmeal.