Sunday, February 24, 2008

Headline News: "Jungle Has Declared Disaster"

Just when the family thought 2008 had dealt out it's worst February decided it had a few things up it's sleeve as well. Friday, the 15th, started like any other day in the household of monkeys, but the end would be anything but normal. The family was wrapping up Valentine's holiday and had planned for a badly needed date night. The children were thrilled to have a babysitter/friend come over watch them and the parents were abuzz with whatever adventures the night would reward them with in Amsterdam. Jungle Mama began the day with an early shopping trip as the rest of the day entailed baking and decorating a cake on order for Saturday morning. She'd just walked through the door when in stumbled Jungle Dad with white face and a look of apology. Though said household member has given consent to the publishing of this article he refused to comment and instead just lowered and shook his head from side to side in a look of self reproach. It has been reported that the man was seen attempting to keep up with the Hell's Angel's on his speedy scooter, but upon the approach of a badly angled corner spectators witnessed only a screaming streak which ended in a broken and bloody mess of a monkey. "He made a few calls, picked up his scooter, wobbled a bit and began back the way he'd come."

Authorities were not reported to, but those who have heard the story say he was fortunate to have been wearing his new motorcycle suit or the damage would certainly have been more severe. The health authorities were contacted, but as conditions in the Netherlands are less than efficient (Report on Netherlands Healthcare, see upcoming editions of The Blooming Jungle Bulletin) an appointment was made for mid-afternoon, which led to an appointment with radiology at the hospital, a trip to the ER waiting room, resulting in a crude cast and dire outlook for the next 6 weeks (special thanks to the support of family friends who loaned out their spare car for the journey).

The Jungle had thought it has seen the worst of 2008, but it is now facing it's worst disaster of the decade: a lame father. The Squirrel Monkey commented on the situation by stating, "My Daddy has a broken leg. I don't want to have a daddy who is broken." Though the family has not made any arrangements for a replacement as yet, we have already seen the impact it has had on their ecosystem. They have resorted to a supply of fast food as the mother is busy running around the house at the speed of two normal adults. The updates to the rest of the outside world and communication between family and friends have ceased due to a constant demand of the lump on the log needing to communicate to his workstation at the lab via the families main mode of outside communications. Tempers are running as high as a contagious fever between the house and couch bound, but this could in part be due to the second round of attack on the household.

Just as the family had settled down from the major event of the day (not the date night), the father laying in bed with leg propped high, mother laying aside her troubled mind beginning to drift into the pleasanter part of sleep, and the children supposedly sleeping peacefully the jungle was awoken by the haunting noises of retching and screeching from the youngest. What one would have hoped to have been a single purge due to an overdose of Valentine's candy (the evidence was very incriminating) was proven false when the child continued to need the assistance of a bucket and washcloth every 10 minutes . . . from dusk 'til following midday. The random bodily ejections continued from that fateful Friday through the following Tuesday. As an effect from the lack of sleep, the two week vacation from school, and the father with deadlines to try and keep up with at work from home, the family has declared disaster.

Some relief aid was given from afore mentioned friends of the jungle who took all able bodied monkeys to the zoo for a bonding experience. While the smallest of the clan ran off her frustrations by chasing after the butterflies in the butterfly room in an attempt to capture or maim any who crossed her outstretched arms and clapping hands of death, the eldest skulked in the wake of the group with signs and symptoms of the most recent household illness while at the same time proving to enjoying herself. Always cheerful Squirrel Monkey ran from cage to cage oblivious to any other world but the animals who enchanted her and the mother wandered oblivious to any other world but that of her beautiful children enjoying what would likely be the only day out of the house during their entire two-week vacation: a therapy for her proven to be more effective than photography or writing.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Jungle Buzzing

My daughters have just recently started their own individual quests for the answers all birds and bees know.  It is my job to respond . . . without laughing.

Amara ~ "When a girl and boy dance then they will have a baby."  Long pause while mother stifles any inappropriate emotions, "Well, after a long time then the baby will come out."

We've been having springtime weather these last few days and it provided us the chance to bring the girls over to the park.  The two youngest joined in a game with several of the other children in the gazebo over the water.  Each of them had their own individual stick gathered from underneath the nearby trees and proceeded to bat at the water watching the mud stir up from the bottom of the pool or the droplets of water splatter across the reflection of the clear blue sky.  All was calm until I realized my toddlers mouth had once again formed itself around another innocent word into another obscenity.  Really, people, I don't know why it is this child which has to fill the family record book with obscene mispronunciations, but she's become very proficient at it.  When a little boy grabbed a nearby stick that she'd had her eye on she waved her hands through the air and yelled out, "No!  I want big dick!"  From that moment on I could not help but cringe or giggle each time she'd talk about her "dicks".  I'm sure you can imagine all the scenarios a child could think of to admire her precious treasures.  Thankfully the Dutch children were oblivious to the faux pas. 

On the other side of the fence, my 8-year-old has her ears wide open to the topic.  I have found a particular program on tv that I rather enjoy: Gilmore Girls.  I would love to have that relationship with my teenage daughters.  Anyway, every once in a while Catherine will sit down with me to watch it and I normally find no harm in the fact that she's watching a fairly descent mother-daughter relationship when she does.  This particular episode was dealing with the most popular teenage issue and peer pressure.   Through these two girl friends rapid speed discussion about how one had "done it" and didn't know how to feel about having done it without thinking ahead while the other girl remained pure and level-headed through two long relationships the s-e-x word never occurred.  Leading you through the conversation so you'll follow my daughters line of questioning, the mother was downstairs and eavesdropping on the conversation and, relieved to confirm her suspicions that her daughter had refrained from doing something, she let out a triumphant whisper, "I've got the good girl!"  Immediately, Catherine matter-of-factly faces me and asks, "Why did she say 'I've got the girl'?  Is it because she didn't have sex?"  Jaw drops open here.  My daughter just brought up the "s" word and had figured it out only through context and slang.  So, my first response was one that I consider a good one: "So," slightly swaggering from side to side in my seat, "how do you happen to know the word . . . sex?"  After learning that she has heard several kids in school talk about the word we delved into the issue with a little mother-to-daughter talk with her in the lead.  Thankfully there were more simple questions which came up but now I am preparing myself for the real battle field.  I knew it was coming . . . I just didn't know how soon.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Birthday Bash


After I'd finally wandered out from my fever dream-skewed reality and back onto a normal plain of existence I made it up to my daughter by finally throwing her that party she'd been asking for.  Unlike Amara, Catherine had it all planned out from the cake down to the theme and what she'd like her guests to wear.  I love it when I don't have to do a lot of guess work!  She picked a dress-up party and asked all of her friends to come dressed up.  I was a little worried that the 8-year-olds going on 30's might not be so thrilled with the idea as my own daughter, but they all showed up with smiles, giggles and colorful outfits.

As intimidated as I was by all these little girls who would require clear Dutch instructions to play all the games we had planned it all went off rather smoothly.  My wonderful husband took over most of it while I was in charge of keeping to the timeline and pushing food out of the kitchen and into their hungry mouths.  There were only a couple of times the girls had something to say to me that I needed them to repeat and I only had to ask my fluent daughter twice for a word translation.

After many games, prizes, a fashion show, and their own personalized cake they left with big smiles and a few new additions to their dress up collections.  I skipped the balloon popping race and was grateful I did because I was feeling very dizzy and exhausted afterwards.  I may have been on antibiotics for two days, but I was still not quite up for a marathon.  Still, my daughter got the birthday party she'd asked for without another hitch in the plans.  I can't believe she's 8 . . .

Monday, February 4, 2008

Confessions of an Invalid

Though my crime may not be so serious as to warrant a confession under the concealed camera of a sunroof while smoking a joint, I nevertheless have found myself in a bit of a mess.  I never thought of myself as a sickly type of person until January of 2008 when I seemed to have acquired every serious virus a person could expect out of the year 2008.  Thrice ill in one month?  I can no longer ignore the signs staring at me from behind the mirror. 

I confess, I should have listened to my stomach that cold winter night when it asked me not to eat the dinner staring up at me from the plate.  But my husband had slaved over this meal with such conviction that it would be something to remember.  It was.  When it later landed in his outstretched shirt/puke bucket.  The rest of the night was spent writhing in pain with my stomach twisting itself up into raw and gnawing knots and my body sweating as it tried to writhe in sync.  My body ached for days from the muscle spasms and I wondered how I'd survived that night and wished it on not even my worst enemy.

Again, I confess that I was stupid to think the aches and pains pulsing through my back and every major joint and muscle were the result of the days jog and late night pilates workout.  I went to bed trying to convince myself that the sudden onset was nothing more than the hot steaming shower giving my body a swift kick into pre muscle aches.  When I awoke shortly thereafter in a damp swamp of a bed and uncontrollably shaking from head to foot I knew I was dealing with another malicious bug.   Over the next two days I pampered myself and told myself it was just a really nasty cold . . . that started in the lungs . . . that happened to create such bad body aches I needed to double up on Advil and Tylenol together to make it through the days.  Then I woke up on the third day.  I told myself I could get out of bed and get the breakfast on the table, but once I got into the shower I crumpled onto the cold hard tiles and laid there until I could regain enough energy to pull myself up and drag myself back to bed (thank Europe for a never ending supply of hot water).  There I remained the rest of the day in a delirium thinking my husband was attuned to me enough to know that he needed to take care of the three kids and had stayed home.  About the time I realized I was out of Advil and the rest was downstairs and knew I couldn't make it that far and the only one who responded to my cries was my most reliable Catherine Daughter Dear did I realize I'd been abandoned.  The flu had taken all my energy and any mental capabilities I'd ever had to begin with and all I could think about was getting my husband home so he could get my Advil and take our kids away from the sight of my misery.  Somehow my daughter found my cell phone and called Daddy and he was giving her instructions to find the Advil, get mommy water, and he'd be home as soon as he could.  But not before Lillian began throwing up all over the downstairs.  I confess that I asked Catherine to clean it up and took little pity on her when she cried and said it was too gross and she didn't want to get any on her dress.  I begged her to just get her sister in her bath.  But as the cries from below became more distressed my mothering instinct kicked in and I dragged those wobbling legs and spinning head down the stairs, stripped the baby of her puke covered pj's and plopped her into a bathtub leaving her sister to watch and clean her while I slipped into another delirium in my own swampy bed.

I confess that because of this illness I was forced to cancel my daughters 8th birthday party.  My wonderful husband had to call each and every one of those girls and tell their parents not to bring them because, "Catherine's mom is sick."  How horrible this made me feel!  The next week when I showed up to pick the girls up I held my head low in shame.  It was not only for the fear of facing those mothers who would look at me and wonder what a wimp I must have been, but that they would always think of me as some invalid.  It was only just a week ago my husband had to bring the girls to class while I slept off my night of torture.  And, trust me, they notice when a mother misses this particular duty.  Especially when the kids are dropped off with serious bed head.

I confess I will eventually forgive myself for my actions during those delirious days of the flu, but will my family forgive me for failing to recover from that dreadful flu?  They've seen enough of a sick mother and a worn out father.  I was beginning to recover from the flu albeit still making a swamp of the bed every night and a persistent aching throat.  I just kept telling myself it was going to get better soon, but I admit to lying.  Before long that ache in my throat was preventing me from drinking fluids or eating food and when it kept me awake all night because my body seemed to think it needed to keep me conscious just so I could breath I knew the next day would find me sitting in a cold doctors office.  I confessed my whole previous 11 days of misery, opened my mouth the tiny slit that I could and told him, "You're the doctor.  Fix it."  He did!  He sent me straight to the pharmacy where a prescription to cure my tonsillitis was awaiting me.  The moment I got home I downed one of those things, wincing and smiling at the same time.  Three days of those pills and I'm already able to open my mouth again and swallow without breaking a sweat.

Now that I've confessed can I have my life back?  I've caught everything that I could have possible become infected with for the year 2008, right?  If not, just turn this house into a hospital and send over Mary Poppins.  I'll surrender peacefully and claim my rightful status as an invalid unfit for human contact.  . . . Nah!  I've got a bit more fighting in me still, but I'm not begging for you to test me, so all you sickies STAY AWAY!