Tag Archives: inspiration

My Sick and Tired List

I am sick. A lot. I hide it. Well.

I try not to complain. I really do try. I tell myself that others have worse problems. I’m fortunate in many ways. But that doesn’t mean my problems aren’t important. So, for today, I’m giving myself permission to complain. A lot. I’m not hiding it. Not well.

I have a body full of bacteria and a weak immune system. I have lyme, and have also tested positive for all of the major co-infections that ticks carry. Lucky me got bitten by a tick with super powers. Oh, did I mention I also have lupus? And blood clotting issues that makes my blood the ideal environment for bacteria to thrive? When I get sick, I really do it right.

A recent illness required a trip to the ER. While lying around, I made a sick and tired list. It was therapeutic.

  • I’m sick and tired of hearing “but you don’t look sick.”
  • I want to not FEEL sick.
  • I’m sick and tired of feeling weak for not being able to get rid of  problems caused by a bite by something the size of a pin head.
  • I want to feel strong for being able to get out of bed at all while my body is fighting so hard.
  • I’m sick and tired of feeling like a guinea pig when a new treatment option comes out.
  • I want off this hamster wheel.
  • I’m sick and tired of being told that I always have a smile on my face and handle it so well. Don’t ask my family how I really handle it. They see me at my worst.
  • I want to truly always have a smile on my face.
  • I’m sick and tired of having liver damage caused by the bacteria.
  • I want any damage to my liver to be caused by too much expensive wine.
  • I’m sick and tired of brain fog making me forgetful.  Wait, what was I going to say next?? Oh, now I remember…
  • I want the only cloudiness I deal with to be weather related.
  • I’m sick and tired of the random ups and downs of symptoms that come and go.
  • I want to ride a roller coaster, not live one.
  • I’m sick and tired of going to the lab for blood tests. And being told how bad my veins are as they poke me repeatedly to find a good one.
  • I want to only be poked on Facebook. And even that can be annoying.
  • I’m sick and tired of getting burned from forgetting sunscreen during a car ride while on medication that makes me sun sensitive.
  • I want to get burned from having so much fun at the pool that I lost track of time and spent the entire day there.
  • I’m sick and tired of telling my kids to see what is in the freezer because I’m too tired to cook.
  • I want to have freshly baked cookies ready every day after school.  …Yeah, that probably wouldn’t happen regardless.
  • I’m sick and tired of taking horrible tasting pills by the handful.
  • I want handfuls of M&Ms.  They melt in your mouth.
  • I’m sick and tired of spending so many hours in bed.
  • I want a Tempurpedic. But I digress. I want to only need my bed at night.
  • I’m sick and tired of my kids searching for socks that match because I haven’t done laundry.
  • I want a laundry fairy. But, again, I digress.
  • I’m sick and tired of a new treatment making me feel better temporarily.  Without warning the improvement ends. It always ends.
  • I want the end to be happily-ever-after.
  • I’m sick and tired of cancelling plans with friends. Or hesitating to make plans in the first place to avoid having to explain why I am cancelling.
  • I want to be a good friend.
  • I’m sick and tired of being a source of information for friends concerned about having lyme. I enjoy helping; I don’t enjoy why I am knowledgeable.
  • I want to have never heard of lyme. Just the green fruit.
  • I’m sick and tired of doctors telling me I have a high tolerance for pain. That doesn’t make living with it any better.
  • I want to be a wimp and cry over a stubbed toe because that is the worst pain I have ever felt.
  • I’m sick and tired of trying to cram in everything fun on days when I am feeling well. I should have learned by now that doing too much at once ultimately makes me sick again.
  • I want to have fun every day.
  • I’m sick and tired of having an illness that I don’t want to discuss because it is so misunderstood and affects everyone so differently.  If I hadn’t personally experienced it, I wouldn’t believe some of it either.
  • I want it to make sense.
  • I’m sick and tired of well meaning people telling me of a friend who tried “X” or a cousin who took “Y” and are perfectly healthy now. I have tried “X” and “Y” and also A-W.
  • I want to find “Z.” I know that will cure me. It is out there. Somewhere.
  • I’m sick and tired of doctors telling me I am a medical mystery.
  • I want to be solved.
  • I’m sick and tired of calling it lyme disease. Disease sounds too permanent.
  • I want it gone.
  • I’m sick and tired of being sick. And tired.
  • I want health.

Priceless Paper

From a distance, the yellowed, typewriter written, tattered papers appear to be nothing impressive .  But the information contained on those papers is what makes them amongst my most cherished possessions.  It is the only window I have into an unknown part of my life.  The only knowledge about my biological past.  My adoption papers.

The sketchy information does not even come close to telling the entire picture about the beginning of my life, but it’s enough for me to read between the lines to create a story in my mind.  Enough to take the blank slate and provide some understanding of the circumstances surrounding my birth and what makes me the person I am.

The first page of the paperwork contains details about my biological parents.  The brief description – only a few lines total – is the most valuable information to me.  I can peruse the traits and see glimpses of myself in the presentment, especially in the features and personality of my biological father.  “Green eyes, dark brown naturally curly hair, dark complexion” could readily describe me.  I like to think I also am somewhat “outgoing, happy-go-lucky and have a good sense of humor” which is how my biological father’s personality is portrayed.

My biological mother is also described as having brown hair but with brown eyes, and no curls.  From reading her description, however, I know where I got my left-handedness.  Drawing is listed as an interest.  Perhaps that is where my son, Jake, got his love of art.  Her personality is depicted as “moody, quiet and lazy.”  I choose to envision that she was understandably moody because of the turmoil she was feeling over giving me up for adoption.  She was uncharacteristically quiet.  Pensive, wistfully wondering what “could have been” under different circumstances.  She was not lazy, just weary.  Fatigued and distressed about the toll pregnancy was taking on her body – and soul – for a baby she was not going to raise.

“Completed high school” is listed as the education for both, with the addition of “anticipates furthering her education” for my biological mother.  From this, I deduced that the pregnancy occurred during their senior year of high school and I was born the October after they graduated.  In another area of the paperwork, it states that pre-natal care began in mid-June.  I concluded that the pregnancy was concealed from her classmates, and most likely her parents, until after graduation to reduce the embarrassment of her predicament.  I wonder if either did go on to attend college after the adoption.

Some of the other tidbits of information tend to cause more questions than answers.  The papers state that I wasn’t given baby formula for the first time until three days after birth.  What happened during those first days of my life?  Was I still with my biological mother during that time?  What other explanation could there be for the delay in receiving formula?  My adoption wasn’t finalized until the end of January, more than three months after I was born.  I believe I was in a foster home during this time.  Was I living at a private residence or a group home?  Who were the kind people who took care of me?  What were they like?

Most of the remaining information is mundane medical records and daily routines.  But to me it is precious.  I don’t have anyone with whom to discuss those first three months.  No one to tell me how often I ate,  how I reacted to bath time, that I made a “coo” sound when I laughed.  These type-written words are all I have.

Will I meet my biological mother and father one day?  Perhaps.  There are so many questions that these papers can never answer.  Maybe one day I will try to fill in the gaps left by the words that are not written. But for now, when I feel overwhelmed by all the unknown, I will pull out the worn, aged papers and look for a clue I may have previously missed.  A clue to my biological past.  A clue to my adoption story.

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You may have noticed I only reference the parents who created me as my biological mother and father.  Not Mother and Father.  Not Mom and Dad.  I will always be grateful to the people described on those pages for making the difficult decision to give me to someone who could provide a better life for me.  But my adoptive parents were, and always will be my Mom and Dad.

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I’m so excited that this post was featured on the Freshly Pressed page.  Thanks WordPress for the recognition!  http://wordpress.com/#!/fresh/

Karma’s only a b**** when you are

We refer to Karma a lot in our house.  Usually in a bad way.

“You called your brother stupid and then forgot to study for a test?  Karma.”

“You left your skateboard propped against the wall after I told you not to and it fell on your toe?  Karma.”

This past week, I had spent a lot of time being a really nice person.  Really nice.  Yes, I’m patting myself on the back.  I enjoy fostering kittens but it has been overwhelming recently and has required more effort than normal.  Adoption events, meeting a rescue transport last minute because a group of kittens was scheduled to be euthanized, and, more recently, many vet visits because the poor little baby kittens are ill.  The past few days I have had to hand feed kitten milk “formula” every few hours with a syringe.  Also last week I agreed to spend many hours doing a strenuous task at work that everyone else (who knew better) didn’t want to do.  Today, as I’m on hold with the rescue’s vet (which is about 45 minutes away) trying to schedule yet another appointment (because, despite all my effort, the kittens weren’t improving), all I could think was “when it rains, it pours!”  I was already having a little pity party for myself because I had to be late for a picnic in order to make a trip home just to pick up a kitten (not one of the sick ones).  I begrudgingly agreed to deliver him to his adopter during the time I should have been at the picnic because it was the only time she was available, even though it wasn’t convenient for me.

When loading up the kitten for his adoption meeting, Jimmy went down into the basement and informed us that there was a funny noise.  Jim went to investigate and realized a pipe had burst.  It had JUST burst.  The wall was wet but it hadn’t even made it to the carpeted floor yet.  Jim turned off the water and averted disaster.

“You kindly missed part of your picnic to help a rescued foster kitten find his forever home and then your basement didn’t flood?  Karma.”

Shortly after we arrived to the picnic, it started raining.  Yep, when it rains, it pours.  But better that the pouring was outside at a picnic instead of in our basement.  Thanks Karma.

I had to leave the picnic early to make it to the vet appointment, but that’s ok.  I’ll just expect another visit from Karma.

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(The two itty-bitty-under-a-pound-in-weight kittens had to stay at the vet overnight because they are so ill.  Poor, sweet little guys.  I’m waiting to get an update on them any moment now.  Hey Karma, I will take that next visit now!!)

“We hit bullying hard”

At a school orientation meeting a couple of years ago, during the guidance counselor’s spiel to the parents about the wonderment of middle school, she proclaimed “we hit bullying hard in 6th grade.”  At the time, I was the only one who chuckled out loud at the irony of that statement.  Later in the year though, the erroneousness of the same statement wasn’t funny.

Unbeknownst to me, my own son spent the second half of his 6th grade school year being bullied by a group of classmates.  I like to think I’m pretty involved in my kids’ lives (too involved if you ask them), but had NO clue.  None.  Nada.  Zip.  Zilch.  Looking back, maybe I should have given more thought to the fact that he stayed home a lot and didn’t do much with his friends during that time.  But as the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20.  I just thought he was being a typical tween that gets moody.  It never once crossed my mind that he was being bullied.  I bought into the false perception that kids who are big for their age don’t get bullied.  I was guilty of stereotyping the victim of a bully as a scrawny, small child.  Never considered it could be a 5’8″ eleven year old.

The bullying was mostly verbal, with occasional shoving.  The saying “sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me” is just wrong.  Very wrong.  Words hurt just as much as punches. It wasn’t until the school year was almost over that I received the “come pick me up NOW” text that started the conversation during which I discovered what was wrong.

He said he hadn’t told me sooner because he was afraid I’d go to the guidance counselor.  He didn’t want to be labeled a snitch which would make the situation worse.  I finally was able to drag out a bit of vague information, after promising not to go stomping into the school, demanding punishment for the bullies. It was one of those parenting moments where I truly did not know what to do.  I did not want to betray his trust, but was devastated that he had been silently suffering for months.

Since there were only a few days of school left, I bit my tongue.  I’m surprised I didn’t bite it right off, considering I was also clenching  my teeth in anger.  Fortunately, summer break seemed to heal all (most) wounds (some may never be healed) and the bullying stopped in 7th grade.  As far as I know.  I don’t have the illusion anymore that I know exactly what is happening in my kids’ lives.

On Monday, a horrific incident happened in Maryland.  A 15 year old took a gun to school and shot another student.  As is often the case in situations like this, the boy was bullied.  And as is almost always the case, the student that is fighting for his life was a random target – in this case a special needs student who greeted everyone with a smile – completely uninvolved in the situation.  A lot of people are very quick to judge when something terrible happens.  The parents should have raised the shooter better.  The school should have intervened.  Peers should have seen warning signs.  Bullying is to blame.

I feel a lot of things about this shooting but judgement isn’t one of them.  I feel incredible sadness, and intense fear.  Heartbreak for the victim, his family and everyone involved, including the family of the shooter.  Anxiety that I have two teenagers – plus 2 that will be teenagers before I turn around- and the realization that something like this could happen anywhere, at any time.  But not judgement.  I don’t personally know anyone involved.  Even if I did, I still couldn’t judge.  No one – let me repeat, NO ONE – knows everything about this situation.  So no one can really pass judgement.  You can argue about how the teen dressed or what he posted on Facebook or the parents’ past or how he got the gun or even that he was bullied.  And those may all be valid points .  But the fact remains that the reason this teen decided to take a gun to school and open fire may never be known.  There are many other teens that have a bad family life, that have guns in their home, that don’t dress “the norm,” that post gloomy thoughts.  And, yes, very many that are bullied.  Probably more than we know.  Because they are afraid to tell.  But those other bully victims don’t decide to turn to violence against others like this one did.  There is some part of the story that is missing.  Something beyond the headlines that made the teen make the devastating choice he did.  Something we may never know without getting inside his head.

Don’t point fingers.  But keep that sadness and fear.  Use those emotions for good.  Pray for the victim and his loved ones when you feel sad.  Come up with ideas of how to prevent this in the future when you feel afraid.  Instead of condemning and placing blame, praise those that were heroes in this situation.  The faculty and counselor that got the gun away most likely prevented this from being a worse tragedy than it was.  But it is still a tragedy.  An awful, horrible tragedy.  An unexplainable, unblamable tragedy.

Bullying is an inexcusable act.  It is unacceptable that we live in a world where tweens, teens and even adults live with the feelingof knots  in their stomach because of another person intimidating them.  Even if it isn’t the sole cause for what this teen did, bullying did probably contribute to his downward spiral that ultimately led to his desperate act.  We all need to continue to “hit bullying hard” until it ends.  Completely.  Forever.

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God bless and heal you Daniel Borowy.  May you soon be back at school greeting your classmates with waves and high fives.

Daniel’s friends are making a plea to his favorite singer, Lady Gaga, to come visit him.  Send her a Twitter or Facebook message to help with their cause.  I truly hope that wish comes true.

There they go, just a walking down the street. Singing Do Wah Diddy Diddy Dum Diddy Do.

This school year, we had a dilemna.  Are Eric and Greg are old enough to walk home from school alone?  After going back and forth (and back and forth and back and forth), we decided yes.  Since we live less than a mile from the school, we do not have bus service.  Up until this point, someone has picked them up every day.  There are walking paths and sidewalks the entire route home and there will be 4-5 kids walking together.  No big deal, right?

Today was the first day of school.  They were very excited about the big walk.  As the day progressed, scenarios went through my head of things going wrong.

  1. What if they forget they are supposed to walk home and stand out in front of the school waiting for me.   The other Moms will think I forgot to pick up my kids on the very first day!  How embarrassing will that be???  Yeah, my first “worry” was what others would think, not safety.  Mom of the year here.
  2. One of the paths goes near a busy road.  What if they are goofing around and go off the path?  What if they get too close to the road with the cars whizzing by??  At least my SECOND worry was safety.  I redeemed myself.  A little.
  3. What if Eric and Greg get in an argument?  They have reached the age that arguments between them usually turn physical.  I pictured them rolling around in the grass, wrestling and punching as their buddies cheered “Fight. Fight. Fight.”
  4. What if they get lost?  They could be wandering through the woods hours later in the dark.  We’ve walked that way many times so that thought was most ridiculous, but it was still a thought.

I finally calmed my fears by deciding to walk half way to meet them.  That was a good compromise for the first day.  I knew they wouldn’t be happy to see me intruding on their “big boy freedom” but that’s ok.

At dismissal time, I strolled out of the house thinking of a good response to the “why are you here, Mom?” question when I met them.  “It’s just such a pretty day, I decided to walk also.”  That wouldn’t really be convincing as I had sweat dripping from the 95 degree heat.  Oh well, stalker Mom it is.

I got half-way to the half-way point when it dawned on me – there are two different ways they could walk home.  We hadn’t discussed which way they were going to walk.  If I picked the wrong path, I would miss them completely and they would go home to an empty house and think Mom didn’t even care enough to be home to see how their first day went.  I turned around and walked back home.  At least they won’t know I was helicopter Mom now.

Twenty minutes after dismissal passes and they still aren’t home. Common sense told me dismissal takes longer than normal on the first day and the kids aren’t going to sprint home, but I still wondered if one of my premonitions had happened.  To the car I go.  I drive to the end of our street and as I turn onto the next street, I see them.  Almost home.  Not on the route I was walking on to meet them, of course.  They were happily walking on the side-walk, grinning from ear to ear.  I thought about slouching down in the seat and backing down the street back to our house so they wouldn’t see me, but it was too late.

They walked over to my car and, as predicted, Eric says “What are you doing?”  I sheepishly respond, “just checking.”  He gave me the one eyebrow raised look that I know too well.  As they are standing in the road by my car talking to me, I realize that THIS moment is probably the LEAST safe moment of their walk.  Way to go Mom.

After the friends go to their houses, Eric and Greg sprint home.  They get to our driveway faster than I can drive there.  They race to see who can get on the video game system the quickest as they yell “we don’t have homework, but YOU do!”

I guess they really are ready to walk home alone.  It’s me that isn’t.

Time-out, please!

When toddlers are told to take a nap, they cry.

When children are told to go to their room for a time-out, they cry.

When teenagers are grounded, they cry (well, actually they scream and yell).

When adults realize they never have time to nap, sit in their room or stay home and do nothing…they cry.

“I just took a little nap. I stole it from an infant.
” 
―    Jarod Kintz

Rejoyvenation

I have a constant battle between my should-do list and my want-to-do list.  I tend to feel immense guilt over doing things that are enjoyable when the dreaded list is hanging over my head.  How can I be using my time to do something fun when I don’t have time for everything that needs to be done??  I don’t have the energy to do it all, so I should use all my energy on the “more important” stuff, right?   WRONG!  We must find the time for enjoyable moments in our life and block out the nagging voice telling us not to, even if just for a few minutes.

It rejuvenates the soul to do things that bring you joy.  We must rejoyvenate!  Say that out loud and it sounds like a bad jersey accent.

Doing something joyful in our life is like turning on the faucet and filling a sink with water.  But once we turn the faucet off and only focus on the must-dos, the water slowly drains out.  It starts leaving the sink with a slow swirl, then gets faster and faster as it turns into a mini tornado and goes down the drain.  Must be where the term “draining the life out of me” came from.  Continuing to do things that bring you joy will keep that faucet on.  Even if you can only find a few minutes a day, a dripping faucet is better than nothing.

Once you feel the swirl of the water in your life start going to the drain, you need to put a stopper in it by doing something that holds the happiness in the sink.  If you do things on a regular basis that keep you happy, that happiness will build up and slowly clog the drain.  This is one time where a clogged drain is a good thing.  No liquid plumber needed here.  If you have a happiness clog, that will be a back-up on days where you forget to put your stopper in.  The clog will keep your sink from draining as quickly.

So what do you do to fill your sink?  That answer is different for everyone.   For me, it is things like fostering kittens for a local rescue.  Yes, it takes up time and energy that prevents me from doing other things, like say pulling weeds in my garden.  (For someone else, pulling weeds may be the rejoyvenation, but for me it is a miserable chore.)  Looking at a little kitten’s face that was saved from being euthanized replenishes much more of my energy than it takes away to take care of them temporarily.

There is, of course, the have-to-do list that is necessary to find time for.  Like feeding the kids dinner.  No matter what I say, they still want to be fed every night.  Go figure.  But if you really analyze the have-to-do list, there are probably little ways to shorten it.  Even if it means lowering our level of expectations on some things to free up some time, and energy.  The real question is, in the grand scheme of things…what matters more.  Having the time and energy to enjoy yourself or something like clean baseboards.  What if there is no energy left once the have-to-dos are done?  Hopefully if we force ourselves to find the time, the energy will come with the merriment.

The past few days have been the kind where the must-dos have taken up all of my time.  I’m feeling very drained today.  My sink is empty.  Maybe a few drops left at the bottom, but pretty empty.  I feel like I’ve been going non-stop and still have more work to do but I put everything on hold for a few minutes to write my blog.  My blog is starting to be a form of rejoyvenation for me.  A little.  (Even though I’m still adjusting to the stress of putting my writing out there for the world to read.)  Writing is turning the faucet on to a trickle, slowly dripping a little joy into my sink today.

Do something that brings you joy.  Turn on your faucet.  Clog your sink.  Rejuvenate your soul.  Rejoyvenate!!

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Pretend I’m saying this in my best fake Joisy accent…If you feel the war-der  swirling oudda yous guys’ sink, just say fuh-getta-boudit to wha-cha doin’ and think aboud whadj-ew gonna’ do to rejoyvenate!  Yeah, I never was good at fake accents.  😉

He won’t eat it, he hates everything. He likes it! Hey Mikey! Oh, nevermind.

3/19/10

As Greg was getting cereal out for his breakfast he asked…

“Which ones are healthy for you?”

I was beaming with pride as I pointed out the healthy ones until he grabbed the Corn Pops and said …

“Thanks.  I don’t like the healthy ones so wanted to make sure.”

To catch a thief

We were the victims of a thief.  Well, almost.  He picked the wrong house.

I was on my way to the kitchen to make grilled cheese when I took a detour.  To the living room couch.  You know, the living room?  Where no one goes.  No one hangs out.  No one “lives” in.  I rarely go in that room, much less sit in it.  But this day I did.  I sat in the one and only spot in the house that has a good view of the street and front door.  One of my kids inquired from upstairs, “Is lunch ready yet?”  “Almost” I replied, even though I hadn’t started it yet.  As I mustered the energy to get up, I noticed 3 teens walking up our street.  I normally wouldn’t have given this a second thought since there are several families with teenagers on our street (including us), so it is a regular occurrence for teens to be coming and going.  But they had on school back packs, so I pondered why they would be carrying them during the summer.  I didn’t think summer school had started yet.

I was about to get up when one of them started walking toward our house.  Crap.  They must be selling something.  I guess that would explain the back packs.  I can never say no to a student raising money for something (and no, that isn’t an invitation for you to send your kids to my house for every fundraiser).  I sat there dreading the sales pitch as he walked onto our front porch.  He reached for the doorbell.  Wait. Our doorbell is on the other side of the door.  What is he reaching for?  Jake’s longboard that was propped up by the front door flashed by the window in the boy’s hand as he took off running.

I instantly went from not being able to drag myself off the couch to being out on the porch in a nanosecond.  This loud, booming voice yelled “You better drop that!!”  Oh, that voice came out of me.  Wow.  Not even my kids have heard a bellow like that.  Adrenaline kicked in and I started booking it, chasing the boy down the street.  Barefoot.  He saw me and eventually dropped the board, but it didn’t end there.  By that point, I wanted him caught.  Period.  The fact that he no longer had the board was irrelevant in my mind.  I’m sure he was the one thinking “CRAP” when he saw the loony woman on his heels.  He finally turned onto a side street that led into a wooded area.  Common sense overrode the adrenaline so I stopped instead of following him into the woods.

Further ahead on the street, I saw the other two boys.  They were nonchalantly walking along like they didn’t have a care in the world.  I caught up with them and tried with all my might to hide the fact that I was panting like a dog from running faster than I had in probably 15 years. They had the audacity to deny being with the boy, even though I saw them together before the incident.  After a few minutes, I realized they weren’t going to provide any information.  I was wasting my breath.  And I didn’t have much breath left at that moment.  My hands were shaking from the ordeal but I managed to get them steady enough to push the camera button on my cell (somehow I had grabbed my phone when I jumped off the couch, even though I don’t remember doing that).  I said something to make them turn around and look at me, though I don’t remember what it was that I said either.  Click.  Got it.  They didn’t seem so indifferent anymore.  One said, “What are you doing??  Why are you taking our picture??”  When they found out I was going to show it to my sons to see if they recognized them, the other hesitantly said “Jimmy knows who I am.”  Awesome.  They looked really worried now.  They thought it was only a matter of time before their “mug shot” gave them away.  What they didn’t know is that the photo SUCKED.  I didn’t zoom in so the image of their faces was so small (and blurry…remember the shaking) that they were unrecognizable.  I didn’t let them in on that little tidbit though.

I knew talking to them any further would get me nowhere so I turned around and started walking home, waiting until they were out of ear shot to start gasping for air.  When I got home, I let the kids know what happened and then grabbed the car keys.  Off Jake and I went, driving through the neighborhood in search of the culprits.  Sure enough, the two accomplices were standing on the front steps of a house.  I’m sure they wished they had gotten out of sight as quickly as possible when they saw my car pull up.  They still tried to deny knowing the other boy but once I continually pointed out how ridiculous that was to say, they tried to give me a fake name.  I didn’t believe it for a moment and realized, once again, trying to talk to them any further at that moment was futile.  I left, after telling the Mom what had happened.  At least now I knew the name of one of the three.  I’ll call him Sam.

I pulled out the high school year book and started looking through the 1,500 or so tiny class shots.  I didn’t recognize the thief in any of them but was able to find the other unknown side-kick.  I’ll call him Roger.  I felt like I had reached a dead-end though.  The boys I had identified weren’t going to rat out their friend.  I couldn’t think of any other way to find him.  Failure.  I brooded the rest of the day over the boy not being punished for his actions.

It wasn’t until the next day that I had a EUREKA moment!  The best source I know of for finding someone – Facebook.  I logged onto Jimmy’s account.  Fortunately,  teens send friend requests to everyone they remotely know so both Sam and Roger were on Jimmy’s friend list.  I pulled up their profiles.  Unfortunately, teens send friend requests to everyone they remotely know so there were over 1,000 friends on each of their accounts.  That wasn’t any easier than looking through the tiny yearbook photos.  Dead-end again.  As a last-ditch effort, I decided to scan down the list to see if by some miracle I recognized a face.  Doubtful.  But as I scrolled down, I did notice something unusual.  Roger’s profile picture was a photo of a plate full of chicken nuggets and french fries.  A friend on his list had the exact same profile picture.  As I clicked on that account, I saw an oh-so-familiar face in the photos.  Bingo!  It was him!  I was so excited you would have thought I had just solved the mystery of the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa.

Now that I had identified the thief – I’ll call him Pete – it was time to think things through and not make a rash decision.  How to handle this, that was the big question.  Most people I talked to said to call the police.  Frankly, that would have been an easier course of action.  It didn’t feel like the right course of action though.  The longboard cost around $200 which is a felony in Virginia.  Once a felon, always a felon.  Juvenile or not.  While I wanted Pete to be punished for what he did, I did not want to permanently have him labeled a felon.  I wanted him to learn from his mistake, not be scarred by it for life.

I couldn’t figure out where Pete lived.  Another road block.  As a last resort, I went back to Sam’s house.  I let them know I had discovered Pete’s identity and made sure the parents understood that I was correct when I accused Sam of giving me a false name.  By the way, the false name was an actual person so if my Mommy radar hadn’t told me they were lying, I would have gone to an innocent boy’s house and looked like a fool.  Sam still wouldn’t reveal an address so I had to throw out a threat that he would either give me the address or he would be forced to give it to the police when they showed up at his door.  The parents were at our house in less than an hour with the address.  Luckily, they didn’t call my bluff.

Before I lost my nerve, my husband and I drove to Pete’s house.  I will never forget the look on his face when he answered the door and saw me standing there asking to speak to his parents.  I had mentally prepared myself for a variety of reactions – denial (my son would never do that), anger (how dare you accuse him of that), and complacency (teens will be teens).  Thankfully I got gratitude (for not calling the police), respect (for having the courage to come discuss it) and accountability (wanting to make sure their son learned his lesson).

As part of his punishment, the parents asked if Pete could mow our grass.  They wanted something that would make him face us and accept responsibility for what he did.  He sheepishly came to our house with mower and weed eater in hand.  Before he began mowing, I had a little chat with him.  When I was at his house, he had referred to it a couple of times as “just a stupid prank.”  That bothered me.  I wanted to make sure he understood how his “prank” would have ruined Jake’s summer and beyond.  Jake had saved and paid for the longboard himself.  It takes a 13 year old a long time to save that kind of money.  I asked Pete how it would make him feel to have to sit home while his friends were all longboarding because someone had stolen his board.  I think he got it, so I let him start his task.  Even though it was unbearably hot that day, I stayed in the yard doing some gardening while he started mowing.  I am not proud that I wanted to make it harder on him by having me out there, but I did.  I finally went inside when I decided that needing to stop sweating exceeded wanting to make him uncomfortable.

While inside, Eric came up to me and asked if he could take Pete a Gatorade because it was so hot outside.  I was so impressed and humbled by Eric’s compassion.  Even for someone who tried to steal from us.  When I told Eric how proud I was that he wanted to do that, he responded that “people always tell me I’m a lot like you, Mom.”  I surely didn’t feel like I deserved that comment at that moment.  I had just spent the last hour “sweating it out” literally with the sole purpose of making Pete “sweat it out” figuratively.  Not my best moment.  But I guess in comparison to potentially sending him to Juvenile Detention by calling the police, my actions weren’t all that terrible.

A few days later, I saw Pete.  Longboarding with his friends.  Really.  I wondered if he had been punished at all, other than mowing.  I would have thought grounding would have been more than appropriate.  I second guessed my decision not to call the police.  But deep down I know it was the right decision for me.  And this is one case where I want the saying “what goes around, comes around” to be true.  Hopefully one day when (I’m not naive enough to say if) one of my boys does something stupid, good karma will come back to us and we won’t have the po-po show up at our door.

Did he really learn his lesson?  I probably will never know but I tell myself he did. Regardless, I’m still proud of how I handled it.  Proud I had the cahonas to chase him.  Proud of my sleuthing skills.  Proud of being bold enough to go to his house instead of having the police do it.  Proud that Eric sees me as compassionate, even when I know I’m not always.  And proud that I’m probably now known as the crazy, psycho Mom that will hunt you down if you mess with my family.  As Jake exclaimed one day as Eric did something to make him angry, “Don’t make me go all Mom on you!!”

____________________________

As an afterward, I will end with a funny conversation that stemmed from this:

Eric: “What’s a felony?”

Jake: “It’s more serious than a misdemeanor.”

Eric: “What’s a misdemeanor?”

Jake (in a silly voice): “Who is this Mr. Meaner you speak of?”

Me (also in silly voice): “I don’t know, but I’m Misses Meaner.”

The Spinning

One day when Jimmy was 3, we went to a large, crowded playground with two other Moms and a group of 9 children.  Other than Jake, who was a baby in a stroller, Jimmy was the youngest of the group.  The kids were playing near the entrance to the playground and had all stayed together the entire time we were there.  I noticed a man standing at the entrance that had no children with him.  I didn’t think much of it until I looked away for a bit too long to get something for Jake and looked back up only to realize Jimmy was not with the rest of the kids anymore.  The man was gone also.  I usually am not one to jump to the worst conclusion but, at that moment, I was convinced that the man had grabbed Jimmy.

What happened next is at the same time a blur and a very vivid image, even though it doesn’t seem possible to be both.  What I remember most is the feeling that everything was spinning around me.  Spinning and spinning and spinning.  Horribly whizzing by like I was on a broken carnival ride that was getting faster and faster and just wouldn’t stop.  Everything seemed dark, even though it was the middle of the day.  It seemed like a nightmare, like I wasn’t really there.

The entire playground is covered in deep mulch that is nearly impossible to push a stroller through but somehow that day I pushed that stroller at full speed throughout the playground frantically scanning every child, praying to see the shirt he was wearing.  For some reason I looked at shirts, not faces.  I guess I thought I could spot a color quicker than looking at each face.  When I got to the other end of the playground, I found Jimmy.  Sitting in a pretend bus at the edge of the woods, happily playing.  He had no idea why I was on the verge of tears.

This seemed like an eternity.  It was probably 4 minutes.

On July 21, a high school classmate’s 16 year old niece disappeared.  My heart ached for her family.  Missing a child for not 4 minutes but 4 WEEKS.  28 days.  672 hours.  40,320 minutes.  2,419,200 seconds.  And I’m sure her parents will always remember every single one of those torturous seconds.  The agony.  The panic.  The pain.  The prayers.  The doubt.  The hope.  The hopelessness.  The unknown.  The spinning.  I truly can’t imagine how unbearable that would be.  Not knowing where she was, if they’d ever see her again.

She is 16.  Jimmy is now 16.  What would I do if he disappeared like that.  Would I go check that pretend bus again??  Would I look for his shirt on every person that I walked by?  Would the spinning feeling ever stop?

I’ve never met the missing teen, but I felt like I knew her through the ordeal. Through the thousands who prayed and offered suggestions or words of encouragement.  The kind souls that passed out flyers or shared her information on Facebook, Twitter, email and any other way possible.  She has so many, many people that care about her.  People that wanted this to be over before her parents had to endure the 2,419,201st second of worry.

The best post showed up in my newsfeed last night on Facebook.  The teen was found, safe and sound.  About 1,000 miles from home.  But safe.  I went to bed thinking how the parents must be feeling.  The anticipation of picking her up.  Knowing they will get to see her again, hug her, tell her they love her.  The incredible, indescribable relief.

The spinning is over.