Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Try To Remember.

When children are babies, parents have to remember this:

1. Feed him.
2. Change his diapers.
3. Put on cute small outfit in the 90 minutes during which it actually fits.
4. When you have done the above, he's probably ready for a nap.

Then they get bigger, and the list gets longer, quietly. They are mobile and your list becomes:

1. Feed her.
2. Change her diapers.
3. Remember that she’ll only stay still for a diaper-change if she gets to hold Baby Giraffe.
4. Let her roam as you search the house for Baby Giraffe.
4a. Remember to start laundry which has been soaking because you thought it might help get rid of the sweet-potato stains.
4b. Remember to pop thank-you notes for birthday party into bag.
4c. Remember to read article on how to get gum out of hair because you just know that's going to happen eventually.
4d. Forget why you're walking around with a clean diaper in your hand.
4e. Remember and find Baby Giraffe.
5. Wrestle child back on to changing table for diaper change.
6. Let now clean child go and realize that the rest of the afternoon will now be spent cleaning up the mayhem an ambulatory child can wreak in the time it takes to find a Baby Giraffe.

Getting to the park requires a flow-chart in the parent’s head that would unnerve the Army Corps of Engineers. And yet the child’s needs are met, lovingly if not perfectly, most of the time. We parents remember nearly everything we’re supposed to and learn to fake the stuff we forget.

They get older and the list of things to remember grows longer. Yes, you no longer specifically need to remember “Feed child” because child is now four and has an endearing habit of standing in front of you acting out Mimi’s death from “La Boheme” to indicate she’s feeling a mite peckish. You do, however, need to remember what the last eight meals in this child’s life have been, otherwise she’ll talk you into pasta again and develop something like scurvy or rickets and you have to remember that carrots are eaten but only if ranch dressing is offered. And then you have to make sure that there is ranch dressing. And then you have to remember that you’re trying to add broccoli to the repertoire while she's still in the “sneering and shunning” phase but is sometimes acceptable, but only with ranch dressing. And then you have to remember if you got the cookies currently in favor which look nearly identical to those other cookies which are, unaccountably, disgusting. Only then do you remember that you, too must eat, only thinking about food makes you both really hungry and flatteningly tired, which is why you’re eventually discovered hiding in the bathroom eating a pint of ice-cream using potato chips as a spoon.

And then they get older and ther are more things to remember. We volunteered to bring the class frog his crickets every third Friday. Your kid seems to have skipped the head-lice which went through the school but she could still be in the incubation stage for strep through the end of the week. The girl she wasn’t talking to last week is now her best friend. Her haircut is on Saturday and she’ll outgrow her school shoes right around spring break. By Monday, she needs a costume to perform her role as Pinocchio’s left arm. I won't say that I remembered all the details, but I was definitely falling into the psychologically acceptable realm of “The Good-Enough Mother.” People might think I was kind of competent and even a little fun to be around, as long as Daughter never got emotionally invested in good cooking or attractive sewing. And if only she'd gotten her father’s teeth.

It was the palate-stretcher that energized the droning harpy side of me. There’s nothing like a tiny object the looks like an untwisted paper-clip, can fit in the palm of my hand and costs more than my first car to make me want to ask questions. Questions like “Where’s your palate-stretcher?” and “You haven’t just put the palate-stretcher in the paper napkin next to your plate, have you?” and “Do you want me to tell you again about the times Nana made me go through restaurant trash-cans to find my palate-stretcher I had forgotten to take out of my napkin?” To Daughter’s credit, she sighed significantly less frequently than I nagged…I mean, reminded.

A year has passed and I am proud to say my daughter has the same palate-stretcher she started with. This is not a bet I would have taken. I’d like to think this is because of some wonderful blending of her sterling character and my endless commentary on the palate-stretcher, but it’s probably just the sterling character. I've come to realize that Daughter now senses when I’m talking about her orthodontics and tunes me out completely. Truthfully, I mostly tune myself out at this point, but it’s always on the “To Be Remembered List” until the orthodontist says we’re in the clear. I had hopes last week at her most recent appointment when the doctor motioned for me to come over to the chair. I thought we might have a ritualized removal of the palate-stretcher and then a nice celebratory stomp.

But, no; it turns out that Daughter’s tongue, when at rest, leans against her front teeth which — while it might seem logical to those of us who have never actually thought about tongue-placement — is terribly, terribly wrong. Untreated, this can lead to moving her teeth right back to where they started. The orthodontist alluded to social isolation in adulthood and, eventually, dating those people who dress up like stuffed animals for romantic reasons. He handed me a sheet of tongue exercises she was to do twice a day. I read them and squinted dubiously.

" Okay. I’m supposed to believe that an exercise done five minutes a day can override an unconscious act done the other 23 hours and 55 minutes a day?”

He shrugged, “Can’t hurt.”

Even he didn’t believe in these exercises. Daughter might as well avoid walking on sidewalk cracks and lines to keep my vertebrae safe. But, dutifully, I had the paper laminated and placed it next to her bathroom mirror. Now, every morning and night, after I have reminded her to do every single thing that had already been on the list, I get to utter the deathless phrase “Have you done your tongue exercises?”

I think I’ll try to forget that.


Blogger Char said...

Lord, I wonder if I would not had my front teeth ground down and veneers put on if I had tongue exercises? no, I would probably not done them either.

2:58 PM  
Blogger Kathryn in NZ said...

You have hit all the nails on the head, again - and with a sense of humour still showing through!
Eldest daughter has upper AND lower expanders. She is incomprehensible on the phone due to plate induced lisping. Frustrating and funny at the same time.
She also has Severes disease, which could cause her to tear her Achilles - so my morning nagging includes: are your plates in? have you done your doctor stretching? and the scary one for parents of daughters: and put some clothes on!

3:19 PM  
Blogger Not The Rockefellers said...

Unbelievable. I have almost the same kid, save the Pinocchio arm thing.

And my daughter's gag reflex regarding the palate stretcher.

Good times.

We just dodged the headlice bullet with the offending head being my daughters lab partner at school.

Thank the dear Lord. I don't think my kid could have parted with her beloved WebKinz for any length of time.

And you know. Now that I am thinking about it. I find my tongue resting right against my teeth.

What are those exercises? :)

Peace - Rene

4:06 PM  
Anonymous Nicole said...

Quinn, I've missed your posts and am very much looking forward to buying copies of your book for all of my friends.

"dating those people who dress up like stuffed animals for romantic reasons" made me spit out the coffee I was drinking with laughter. I saw a documentary on that! There are ALL SORTS of people in this world....

4:27 PM  
Blogger Jen @ Rolling Through Looneyville said...

You're hilarious and wonderfully accurate.

I have that lateral tongue thrust and after 4 full years of orthodontia, I got a placement retainer for the last month, promptly stopped wearing it after the first three days, and I turned out just fine. With a decent smile. :)

And I married well.

I think her smiles will be fine. Although, my orthodontist threatened to place a spiked bar on the back of my front teeth if I didn't TRY to stop. I still don't know if he was serious.

THanks for your posts. I love reading :)

5:35 PM  
Blogger Linda Brown said...

Just read your article in Good Housekeeping. I really enjoyed it and decided to check out your blog. I enjoy your writing style and find I can relate. Keep up the good work.

9:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I work in a first grade classroom, and strep and pink eye were going around the room. Luckily for me (but not for her), the head teacher is the one who got the super-sized, medicine-resistant strain of pink eye infection that lasted five days even WITH medication.

My son, who attends first grade in the classroom right next door, had a playdate with the boy in his class who had head lice. I saw them near pillows in the boy's room when I picked him head has never been itchier!

My husband is on his second set of orthodotia, and I had braces as a youngster and again as an adult. We have so much to look forward to.....

Good luck with the tongue exercises!

3:52 PM  
Blogger Jakarta Rocks said...

What is a palate stretcher - they have obviously been around for a while, but Australia seems to have missed the boat completely with this - revenue generating device.

Live and let live - is this all really necessary.

3:23 AM  
Anonymous Tom said...

Hmmm...great. Tongue exercises? I've been ping-ponging between dentist and endodontist for over a year now trying to figure out why this one tooth in back hurts all the time. They still don't know, but have been reluctant to do the root canal. I'm also ready to just ask for one. Maybe it's the way I rest my tongue (rolls eyes). I now have a night guard, which means I have something in common with my ten-year-old neice. She finds that very interesting. I find it rather annoying.

7:05 AM  

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