Loser.

I’m a loser of things. I put things in places so I will remember and then I promptly erase any knowledge of said location from my memory. I get it from my mother. She was always losing things.  She would go look for something and then it wouldn’t be wherever she thought it was. Then she would go on a rampage around the house muttering to herself, and anyone within earshot, that someone must’ve moved it. Why can’t people leave her stuff alone?

I also get into a fit when I can’t find something except that 99% of the time I know it’s my own fault that I can’t find it. That’s what makes me the most angry and frustrated. I used to lose my keys all the time and then I bought one of those handy dandy key hanger things to put near the door we always come in. Problem solved. I rarely lose my keys now.

My most recent annoying loss of an item would probably be my big kid’s Nintendo 3DS. A couple of weeks before Christmas I was cleaning his room and found it along with the charger. He’s not allowed to have it in his room because when he plays without a supervised timer he loses his everlovingmind and acts like a crazy person. He was breaking the rules and it wasn’t the first time he had been caught sneaking some sort of electronic device into his room. It also explained why we had found him still up at 10pm for several nights.

I became so angry that I decided I was going to hide it so that he never found it. He was at school so by the time he came home I had put it somewhere until I figured out a more permanent hiding spot. Fast forward a few weeks to Christmas. He had asked Santa for a game for his 3DS. Super Mario Maker. We advised the kids that we were going to be scaling Christmas back. They have too much stuff. We’ve spoiled them and both us and Santa need to get on a budget (Santa told me this via email). They understood and asked for one or two things each from Santa and a few books. Christmas morning he asked if he could have his 3DS to play his new game. Then I remembered.

I have no idea where the dang thing is. I looked everywhere. I went through drawers. I climbed on ladders in closets. I couldn’t find it. I gave up and told him to do something else. He’s asked me on the daily if I’m ever going to be able to find it. Finally I told him the truth. I have no idea. It’s gone. I’d hidden it really well. Then a couple of hours ago, the hubs was finally (after at least 3 weeks…) putting up his clothes basket of clean clothes. Guess what was at the bottom of the basket?

A bonus story ↓

Another thing I recently lost was the use of my right foot!

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Thank goodness for friends who will pick you up to go shopping!

Before you feel sorry for me, I did it to myself. Being fed up and poor decisions equal breaking both your big toe and your second toe. I’m a hot mess. Apparently the big toe is pretty important so if you break that one and it’s buddy they can’t really help you much. They just wrapped an Ace bandage around my entire foot and sent me on my way. No buddy taping for me. Lessons being learned already in 2017.

Lockdown

I remember when I learned about Sandy Hook. My son was in preschool at the time and I wasn’t sure whether or not to say something to him. When he started kindergarten the following year he came home and told me they had practiced a lockdown drill. He told me they had to hide and be very quiet. I asked him if he knew why and he said no, he just had to make sure he didn’t make a sound.

I felt comforted but at the same time sick to my stomach. We lived in close proximity to the school and anytime I heard a siren go by I wondered if my phone was about to go off informing me of something happening at the school. I thought of the parents of those children who had attended a school where a school shooting took place. I often wondered how they made it through the day. I can’t imagine what that must be like.

This year, we are in a new school and our littlest is in kindergarten. She loves school and has been eager to go to “big kid school” for a couple of years. Finally, it’s her turn. Last week she started saying she never wanted to go back to school. I thought it had something to do with the “hikes” they went on during PE since she had complained about those a few times, not a lover of physical activity.

Then she came out of her room and said she had to sleep with us. We assured her she was okay (we were still up watching television since it wasn’t too much past her normal bedtime). The hubs laid down with her and then after he took the dog on a walk she came out of her room again. She started again saying that she couldn’t sleep alone. She wasn’t going to school. Not that she didn’t want do but that this time she’d like to see us try to make her. I went upstairs with her frustrated. I put her in bed and laid next to her. I asked her what was going on.

She started sobbing so hard that I couldn’t understand what she was saying. I heard the word bathroom in between sobs and was afraid someone had done something, had hurt her. I told her to take a deep breath. Everything was okay, we were in her room. Then she said she didn’t want to go to school because she was afraid a bad man was going to come and shoot all the kids. They had to hide. They had to turn off the lights. She didn’t want to go to school anymore. She said it was all she could think about.

This is my roll-off-her-back kid. She shrugs most things off unless she feels as though you have somehow crossed someone she loves. My more sensitive big kid heard us and came into the hallway from his room. I told him everything was fine and to go back to bed. He said to her, “It’s only a drill. They lock the doors when we are there. They have cameras everywhere. Don’t forget the cameras.”

That seemed to ease her mind a little. She said she had forgotten about the cameras. I asked her if they practiced for fires. She said yes. I asked her if she remembered us having a family meeting and talking about our family plan for a fire and where we meet up in case we aren’t all together when we get out. She said yes. I told her those are ways we practice for scary things so that if it ever does happen we can stay calm because we have a plan. This is no different. This is how we learn to be safe. She was still afraid and I stayed with her a few more minutes until she was almost asleep.

I went downstairs with a pit in my stomach that has remained everyday that she’s gone to school since then. I still tense up when I hear a siren during school hours. Columbine happened when I was in college. This wasn’t commonplace back then. My college roommates and I sat around the television for hours watching the news footage, horrified.

I went to the internet, because that’s when you go when you don’t know what to do and there’s no book on how to ease your child’s fears about school shooters. There were tons of blogs and forums with parents saying they didn’t know how to make it easier for their kids. I can’t believe that my little one is the only child who is having issues, nightmares about this. How is there not some protocol for helping kids to process this?

We have to do better. I can talk to my kids honestly and say that this is their practice, I had to do it when I worked at the hospital. We practice for the scary things so we know how to make them not so scary, so we know how to keep ourselves safe. I can tell them that those things scare me too but having a plan makes me feel better. I can encourage them to talk with me about the things that scare them and ways we can take some of the power out of the fear. But we have to do better for our kids.

Of all the things I thought I’d have to deal with as a parent, this was not one of them. How the hell did we get here?

Where’s Waldo?

Today started off with the big kid’s first appointment to begin the process of braces. We went to North Campus to find some Pokemon, grabbed some breakfast and then were headed to a local jewelry store I love. He had gotten a shark tooth from the swim team awards and wanted to get it put on some string for a necklace.

The first thing we see is a sign for a Where’s Waldo? scavenger hunt. There was a Waldo hidden in the store and if you found it you could pick a rock. A ROCK?!?!? The big kid is obsessed with rocks. Waldo was located and the difficult decision of choosing a rock began. The store employees told us that they were out of the Passport booklets that you get stamped but that Avid Bookstore had some. Then they told us that there were 25 stores in the Athens area where you could find Waldo.

We hit up Avid (love, love, love this little bookstore) and were provided a Passport. We found Waldo in their store. And next door at Model Citizen. Then the big kid reads the back that says if you find 10 you get a pin and a coupon for $1 off a Waldo book. Okay, we’re definitely getting 10 stamps. We already have two! But wait-if you get 20 out of the 25, you also get entered into a drawing to win a prize package worth $150. The big kid takes after his paternal grandfather on this one. He HAD to get 20 stamps. What was in that prize package? If he didn’t get the 20 stamps he wouldn’t even have a CHANCE!

You can guess how I spent the rest of my day. We started at 10am-ish., aside from the 30 minute break we took when we grabbed lunch at Taco Stand, we were looking for Waldo. We walked over 5 miles today looking for Waldo. Some places we were able to group together and drive to and then walk between. But most were within walking distance of one another. So we walked. In the heat. My God, the heat.

Did we get those 20 stamps? You bet your ass we did. It was fun. Some stores/restaurants were difficult and some were super easy. We didn’t turn in the passport yet. We’re saving that for Friday. FullSizeRender (5)

We came. We helped. We Pokemon-ed.

Our water delivery to the homeless was derailed a few days but this past Tuesday my sweets and I took to the streets. We stopped by our local Sam’s Club and she chose a snack item for us to offer along with our ice cold waters.  It was a comfortable 96 degrees F outside that day.

I brought along our fold up garden wagon to haul the cooler with waters and snacks, so I took a very small crossbody purse and just grabbed my ID, Target card (you never know when you’ll need to stop by Target) and my Discover card. About 10 minutes from downtown I realize I had no cash and the parking meters don’t take Discover.

No problem. I’ll just park in the deck. As we pull in, I don’t see a Discover sticker. We start on our adventure and I find $2 in my shorts pocket. Fast forward to us leaving the deck and the parking attendant’s lack of amusement when I tell her I have no way to pay her because they don’t take Discover. She says to me, “That’s right. We don’t.” Then she scans my ticket and it’s only $2 and myself and my sweets throw our hands up cheering. The parking attendant is very confused but happily takes my $2 and wishes us a nice day.

Prior to our possible parking issue, we walked around pulling the wagon and asking a few (I think maybe 6?) homeless if they’d like some water and snacks. She was nervous and asked me if I would speak to them. Two turned down the snacks but thanked us for the water (not everyone likes Chex Mix, we knew that might happen). Two told us we were awesome and how much they appreciated us thinking of doing such a thing. We had to walk almost the entire length of downtown to find those 6 homeless. We probably should have gone out earlier in the day when it wasn’t quite so hot. Maybe next time we will have better luck.

Before we put our things back in the car, we walked up to the first person we had come upon and asked him if he’d like more water since he had a bag that he could load up. He thanked us again and said he’d love to have a couple but wouldn’t take more than three because he said he wanted there to be enough for others. As we walked back to the car my sweets and I talked about how good it felt to do something, even if so very small, for someone else. We talked about how we might be able to help more people next time. I’m thinking of trying to find an insulated backpack that I could load with cold waters to take with me anytime I go downtown. That way I’m always prepared in case I see someone who might be thirsty.

Then we loaded the car back up and went back to the streets with Pokemon Go. Downtown Athens is ripe with Pokemon. Also, I don’t understand Pokemon. Honestly, I downloaded it on Monday to play with the big kid since I thought it would be something we could do together. But we couldn’t find any in Atlantic Station. My sweets was mildly amused with the app. She tends to be more like I am with those sorts of things though. I’ll have to take the big kid to walk around campus and see if we find more there.

Homeless Helpers

Moving back to Georgia has been an adjustment for my kids. For me, I feel like I was welcomed back by the city I love with open arms. But things are a bit different here. We don’t live in Athens proper but we head there on the regular. It’s a progressive city. The people are diverse. Creativity blooms here like no other place I’ve been.

One of the major differences (for them) has been the homeless. Where we moved from, you didn’t encounter homeless. In Nashville, yes, absolutely. But we weren’t that close to Nashville. There were no resources for homeless folks in the area where we lived (one of my frustrations as a social worker).

A few weeks ago we were walking around downtown Athens and a man stopped me and asked for change. I didn’t have any and I told him I was sorry. We kept walking. My sweets (remember she’s 5, almost 6 ) said she bet he asked me for change because he was hungry. She had a sandwich bag of Goldfish crackers in her hand and said she should have given him her Goldfish. She talked about giving that man her Goldfish over and over with such regret. When we walked back through he wasn’t there.

Since then she’s talked about that man and her Goldfish numerous times. Today we were running errands and going to check out a couple of gymnastic places. She told me she had decided she wanted me to take her downtown. She wanted to get a bunch of bags of goldfish and some cold water bottles. She said she wanted me to walk around with her so she could give them out to any homeless people we could find. My sweets said to me, “It’s too hot to sit outside all day. They need cold water. I think some of them are hungry. I want to give them snacks, too.” I told her I loved the idea and was happy to help her. She became very excited and said “We can call ourselves Homeless Helpers!”.

I’m not sure about the name, but I have to say I’m in love with her heart. It’s often funny to me that this child, who will cut you with a look, has the biggest heart. She is so full of empathy and compassion. This afternoon I will go and buy a case of water to put in the fridge, so they get nice and cold. Tomorrow on the way downtown, we’re going to stop at Sam’s Club and pick up some snacks. Armed with our red wagon we’re going to go and hand out cold waters and snacks. Just me and my sweet little homeless helper.