Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Who did you say your mommy was?

Long story short, around lunchtime yesterday Sophia fell and hit her head on the edge of the coffee table. There was lots of blood (or so I hear because I was not actually home to witness the injury, thank the Lord) and Trey quickly rushed her to the doctor. About an hour later, Sophia left the doctor’s office with one staple in her head to close the wound. I didn’t make it there in time to witness the stapling of my daughter’s head, so I met up with Trey and Sophia for ice cream afterwards. I sat there in amazement as Trey told me that she laid on the table, held his hand and DID NOT EVEN FLINCH when the put in the staple.

Later that afternoon, I took Sophia shopping for a “prize”. In my opinion, if you can sit there while some man puts a staple in your head and not shed one tear, you definitely deserve a prize. On our way to the store, Sophia and I had the following conversation.

Sophia: Mommy, when you were a little girl, did you have staples in your head?

Mommy: No Sophia, I never had staples.

Sophia: Well Daddy and I had staples.

Mommy: Did it hurt when the doctor gave you a staple?

Sophia: No, but it hurt my baby doll. (She holds up a little doll in her hands). She has staples in her arms. She hurt because she is little. I didn’t hurt because I’m a big girl.

Mommy: You are a big girl Sophia. I’m glad it didn’t hurt.

A minute goes by while Sophia is quiet.

Sophia: Mommy, when I was a baby, I was a shark.

Mommy: A shark! Wow, that is interesting.

Sophia: Yeah, Mommy. When I was a baby, I was a shark and I bit my mommy’s finger!

Mommy: You were a shark and you bit my finger?

Sophia: No, you were not my mommy. My mommy was… Minnie!

Mommy: Minnie? As in Minnie Mouse?

Sophia: Yes, Minnie Mouse was my mommy.

Mommy: I want to be your mommy. Why was Minnie Mouse your mommy?

Sophia: Because she was the first name I could think of.

Another minute goes by while Sophia continues to think.

Sophia: Mommy, when I was a baby and I was a shark, you were a little girl so you could not be my mommy.

Mommy: Yes I could Sophia. You were a baby just a few years ago and I was your mommy.

Sophia: No, you were a little girl when I was a baby. And you lived in heaven and you had a staple in your head because you were not borned yet.

Mommy: (no words for a few seconds, because I am speechless. How can I argue with that?)

Mommy: Well Sophia, I am glad that I am your mommy now.

Sophia: Me too.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I blame the Dinosaurs and Allligators

No one is getting enough sleep in our house. I blame the dinosaurs and alligators. Apparently the dinosaurs hang out in the shadows of Sophia’s bedroom and only come out in the middle of the night, usually around 2 or 3AM, when she is supposed to be sleeping. I search for them every night before bedtime, looking behind the dresser, beside the nightstand and in the closet - but I have never seen them. They must be world champions at the game of hide and seek or maybe they are invisible to adults, choosing only to make an appearance once the bedroom door is closed. And the alligators, well they tend to hide in the bathtub. How can a three (almost four) year old be expected to go the bathroom by herself when an alligator is right there on the other side of the shower curtain?

The only safe place from the dinosaurs and alligators is MY bed. My bed must have a magical force-field around it that repels these scary, sharp toothed creatures because I have never seen one of them in my room. Somehow in the midst of a room filled with these prehistoric creatures, Sophia manages to make her escape. She climbs out of her bed, rushes past the bathroom that has a bathtub full of alligators and runs down the hall to my bedroom. Did I mention this happens sometime between 2 and 3 AM? You know, when most parents are SLEEPING so they can get up early and go to work the next day! My rule has always been that everyone sleeps in their own bed with the rare exception of when a sick child needs adult attention. So Sophia knows to wake up her Daddy first and ask him if she can sleep in our bed, because there is a high probability that Mommy will say no. When kids are in our bed, I have trouble sleeping and when I don’t get enough sleep, I get grumpy and when Mommy is grumpy… well, that’s not going to turn out good for anyone.

So I have been awake since 3 AM this morning, unless you count the brief period of time where I dozed off between 5:30 and when my alarm went off at 6:00 AM which I don’t think actually counts as sleep. Once I wake up, I have a Very Difficult Time falling back to sleep at night. This is why I keep a stack of books and my laptop beside my bed, to occupy my mind until sleep starts to seep in again. However with Sophia in my bed, I could not turn on my laptop or lamp so I just lay there in bed while she rolled, kicked and twisted in the sheets. After a few hours, Trey had enough of her wiggling and carried Sophia back to her room. She whimpered a little but stayed put in her bed until she fell back asleep, safe from the dinosaurs in the shadows.

I wonder if it is actually my bed that keeps the alligators and dinosaurs away or maybe it is my imposing physical presence. Yeah, I guess not. Maybe if I started sleeping in Sophia’s bed at night, in there with the dinosaurs and next to the bathroom with the alligators, I could get more sleep than I have the past three nights. We need to come up with a plan to keep these creatures away. Does anyone have any experience dealing with monsters in your kids rooms?

Monday, June 14, 2010

A cause for Alarm

This morning at 4:45 AM, an alarm went off in my house. It was not my alarm clock that fills my bedroom with the sounds of the radio at 6:00 AM each morning. It was not a car alarm from one of the neighbors’ cars or a tornado alarm in the distance. This was a loud, strange sudden beeping that startled me from my sleep then immediately paralyzed me with fear. In my muddled confusion, I guessed that it was the smoke alarm but before I could sources the sound, it stopped just as suddenly as it began.

The sound had also jarred Trey, who is usually a very heavy sleeper, awake. I told him he needed to get up and check the house. I still wasn’t sure were the sound had actually come from with the elaborate setup of two baby monitors and multiple smoke alarms in the house. Over the monitor, I heard Sophia moving around in her room followed by a rising wail as she started to cry. After Trey walked into her room, I heard her say that she was scared so I told him to bring her into bed with me. Sophia crawled up beside me in the middle of the bed and I covered her with the sheet. After his sleepy but thorough check of the house for smoke, Trey stumbled back into bed beside us.

Adrenaline from the abrupt awakening still pulsed through my body and I vibrated with alertness. Lying on my back with Sophia’s feet pressed against my leg, I listened to the sounds of the night with heightened awareness. Less than 15 minutes had passed when a sudden popping sound echoed downstairs. I woke Trey again and demanded that he get up and check the entire house again. With still no sign or smell of smoke and a security check of all the locks on the doors, he conceded that he were safe. He thought that what I had heard was the sprinklers turning on at their scheduled time of 5 AM.

Sleep was out of reach for me now, so I lie in bed thinking of all the reasons for the smoke alarm to sound, but no answers came.

Sophia was startled again by my alarm clock at 6:00 AM.

“What’s that” she asked, sitting up in the middle of the bed as her blonde curls stood out wildly from her head. I told her it was just time for me to get up for work, so she dropped her head back on the bed and was asleep again in seconds. At that moment, I envied the trust and faith that children have in their parents, that belief their parents will always make sure everything is ok.

Unnerved and unbalanced, that is how I started my day...

Monday, June 7, 2010

Nothing is lurking in the shadows...

As with most newly married couples, there is a certain path of responsibility that is traveled in life. Before couples jump into the big commitment of having children together, they usually test the waters by getting a pet. Some couples will treat their pets like children, choosing to spoil and pamper them. They allow their pets to sleep in their beds, dress them up in little pet outfits, and pose for family pictures by the Christmas tree with their pets. Trey and I are not that type of couple.

Before I met Trey, I had a pug named Kacie and a cat named Bella. When Trey and I got married, he basically had to accept that I came with a pet package and he chose to adopt my pets into his family. With Kacie it was pretty much love at first sight. Kacie was an adoring, loving, sweet pug packed into a broad 26 pound package. She was not exactly the type of dog that you allow to sleep in your bed, because she was heavy and snored loudly, but she was the best dog that I ever owned. Trey agreed and they quickly developed a devoted affection for each other.

It wasn’t quite the same with my cat Bella. I adopted Bella at a SPCA event when I lived in Louisiana. She was a cute little puffball of a kitten and the adoption volunteer told me they guessed she was a Siamese/Himalayan mix. Just six short weeks before, I had put my nine year old Himalayan cat named Chubby to sleep due to medical issues. It was such a painful experience that I vowed to never again own a cat. But that little puffball tugged at my heart and I wondered if she could soothe the stabbing pain from losing Chubby, so I signed the adoption papers and was the owner of a new kitten once again.

To be quite honest, Bella and I never really bonded. She was more of an attack cat that hid in the corners and behind furniture, then leaped out when I walked by, either scaring me or biting my ankles and drawing blood. Within a few months my sweet little puffball had grown into a menace that literally climbed the walls; she used her claws to hang from the shower curtain, she sharpened them on the door facing in the bathroom, and she terrorized my 26 pound pug who was literally three times her size. Maybe it was her start in life as an orphan, her Siamese nature, or her jealousy of Kacie - but Bella has had a bad attitude from the beginning. Bella’s one redeeming quality was rarely seen but it was the quiet comfort by her presence. Whenever I was sick, hurting, or deeply sad, she found her way to me and lay nearby. It was as if she sensed my pain or sorrow, and she would not leave my side until I was feeling better. She lay in my bed for a week after I had jaw surgery. Each time I was pregnant, I would find her in my bed each night, curled up under the covers beside my legs.

However, as soon as I was feeling better Bella was back to her old tricks; like running at my feet when I was trying to walk down the stairs and tripping me, attacking my ankles when I walked through the kitchen, biting my hand when I petted her more than three times, sneaking up behind me when I sat on the couch and swatting me on the head when she felt that I was her way. Bella was a long haired cat, so she sheds in big white clumps which were also the reason for the hairballs that she threw up all over the house. We tried to shave her long hair about once or twice a year, but this involved sedating her because she attacked the groomer before and that did not make anyone happy.

A few months ago, pretty much after Tallen started crawling, Trey and I discussed the possibility of finding a new home for Bella. In the past, I had been reluctant to even consider this possibility because of the promise I made on the day I adopted her. She was my responsibility to care for and provide for, she just didn’t show her gratitude often. Recently, Bella’s hair was shedding in clumps again and we had to make sure Tallen didn’t pick it up and put it in his mouth. Both of the kids appear to have allergies (sorry kids, you get that from your mom) and the cat hair did not seem to be helping. Bella had not been getting much attention or affection lately, due to the busyness of taking care of two kids and her lack of status in our house before the kids even arrived. The final decision to look for a new home for Bella came after an incident that could have been much, much worse. While Sophia was walking down the stairs, Bella raced over her feet and tripped her, making her fall down several steps before she stopped on the landing. Sophia was scared but unhurt, this time. That same week, Bella had tripped me while I was carrying the baby down the stairs but I managed to grab the handrail before I fell. Again, the fall could have been much worse and we didn’t want to take a chance that it would happen again.

The next day, Trey called the local animal shelters and we started asking around to see if anyone wanted to adopt our cat. Unfortunately, not many people want to adopt a 9 year old cat that swats, trips and bites people. Ultimately, I refused to let Trey take Bella anywhere but a no-kill shelter but those were full, and to be quite honest, even thought she has caused me hurt and heartache for almost the past decade of my life – I could not bring myself to go through with the act of giving her away. So Bella stayed, still lurking in the shadows and occasionally leaping out to bite my ankles. This spring she started going outside more, enjoying the backyard and digging up the newly planted flowerbeds. We let her go out as much as she wanted, because it did cut down on the amount of hair that she sheds around the house. We still find ourselves picking up clumps but just not as often.

Friday afternoon while I was at work, Trey called me and said he needed to tell me something. Bella was missing. Before he called me, he searched all over the house and could not find her anywhere. He said he didn’t remember letting her go outside, but that he could not find her anywhere. I was not surprised or even worried because I sort of remember letting her go in the backyard the day before. Neither of us could remember the last time we had seen Bella, although I remember hearing her crying outside the bedroom door the day before, while I was getting ready for work. I told Trey to check all the bedrooms and the closets, because Bella often finds odd little cozy places to take a nap; like in the laundry basket, between the pillows on the bed, or on a stack of blankets in the guest room closet. Trey had already checked every room in the house and even looked for her outside, but Bella was gone.

Once I got home from work Friday evening, I did the same thorough check of the house. Every room, every closet, the backyard, the garage, the front yard; I walked around calling her name but she didn’t answer. Trey said that her disappearance was an answer to our prayers, Bella was finally gone, but at the same time he felt a little bad. It had been over 24 hours since the last Bella sighting, so based on the rules that apply to a missing person, our cat was officially missing.

Still no sighting of Bella. My emotions are mixed at this point. I still believe that she can turn up any day – cats have a knack for finding their way home. But I also worry that she is hurt or overheated and unable to get home. We had bobcats in the neighborhood that were sighted chasing household pets and earlier this year several pets went missing. That haunts me, thinking she could have been attacked by another animal. The best theory, which Trey is clinging to, is that someone found Bella wandering around the neighborhood and picked her up. Hopefully someone is caring for her and adopting her as their pet. But that theory also seems too easy after our recent issues with Bella. This whole disappearance is what we have been wanting – but I feel guilty for being thankful that she is gone.

The house does feel a little empty. Bella has been a constant presence in the background of our life; slinking up the stairs at night and into the bedrooms, curling up on the back of the couch, or hiding in the laundry basket – usually on top of freshly clean clothes. So basically I have mixed feelings. Sadness, guilt, relief, but what I am missing is closure.

A few days after we moved into our house almost six years ago, our pug Kacie disappeared from the backyard while we were at work. Kacie had always been an outdoor dog and when I lived in Louisiana she had plenty of room to run and play during the day in addition to a cool spot in the shade on the porch of the storage shed. Once we moved to Dallas, we lived in apartments for about a year and a half so she spent a lot of time on the outdoor patio. We were excited when we bought our house that she would have the freedom to run around the yard again. But just a few days after we moved in, Trey came home to find the backyard empty and Kacie was nowhere to be found. Suspiciously, two men had been working in the back yard to install the cable, although they claimed they had never seen a dog. They also had limited English speaking skills so we never really understood the details of how they were in our backyard but our beloved Kacie pug was not.

So we have been through this before, the disappearance of a pet. When we lost Kacie, I spent hours walking through the neighborhood calling her name and knocking on neighbors doors to ask if they had seen our dog. In no time, we had fliers up on every street corner offering a reward for her return. Sadly, we never found Kacie. A few months later, after the sorrow and sadness had finally started to soften, we decided to get a new pug puppy. That is how we got our Coco Puff. Adopting Coco as a little puppy was our first big step towards responsibility together as a couple. Coco will never be a replacement for Kacie but she was the first member of the family that Trey and I added after we got married. She was ours and we promised to raise her together.

This time there have been no fliers on the street corners. I have not searched the neighborhood for signs of Bella. No neighbors have been notified of her disappearance. I’m not sure if we are resigned to the fact that she is already gone or if we are afraid that we might actually find her. I feel guilty saying that. I do think it is best for our kids that she is gone. On Saturday, I told Sophia that Bella was missing and we had not been able to find her. Then I asked Sophia if it would be okay if Bella did not come home. Sophia looked at me and said “I don’t want Bella to come home, I don’t like her.”

So sad, but so true. I can only hope that Bella has found herself a better home, one where she will be loved better than we can love her.