Saturday, September 30, 2006

Post Secret

Have you ever clicked on my link to Post Secret over there on the side bar? It's been widely written about, and I noticed when I checked the site this morning that I was somewhere in the ballpark of the 45 millionth hit on the site, so I'm guessing you have at one time or another. I don't know if this is not cool or whatever, but I had to take a secret to post here, as it seems kind of apropos. Go visit this site, it's interesting.

Girl, you better work!

Sorry, is that joke about 20 years old now? sheesh. old, that's me.

Truth is, I have a lot of work to do this weekend. My poor boss is about to tear his hair out because of all of the time I've missed from work dealing with The Kid's many advocacy issues. In the last week, I've missed at least another whole day's worth of work at meetings and visiting SIED classrooms. I'm so lucky because my boss has been through everything I've been through. He understands how dire the situation is. His mom was bipolar, and a messy-wouldn't-take-meds-and-would-wake-him-up-at-2am-to-drive-him-to-disneyland-only-to-turn-around-just-north-of-anaheim-because-she'd-get-depressed-and-then-sleep-for-a-month type of bipolar. His son is bipolar as well, and when he was 7 years old, it all hit the fan in a manner similar to they way it has for The Kid. It is vital that I know my boss because I also know that due to his and his wife's efforts (not to discredit the efforts on the part of my boss's son), his son is now enjoying the sweet success of a great high school career behind him (senior class presidency and lacrosse star and all the dreams of popularity in high school), and has just entered his freshman year at the University of Montana. Knowing my boss shows me that success for kids with mental illness happens, thank god.

But anyway, the point here is that I not only need to make up work to save my vacation time which has been quickly depleting and I would really like to spend time with the fam for Christmas, but also because I owe it to my boss. He's the ideal boss for me, we are so well matched. But I've not been a model employee for the last month, and I feel so terrible that my boss has been putting in the hours to make up for my absence, and while his understanding of my situation seems boundless, I need to make the effort because he's not only my boss, he's my mentor and my friend.

So, there's the job work. Gotta do some.

But I also have "The Kid work" to do to. Next Tuesday, I'm having the meeting from hell with The School, a couple of district brass-types, my advocate and me. It's a continuation of the "informal" meeting we started on 9/12, but it also the formal discussion of where we'll get him placed, the forum for my complaints about The School's non-compliance with special education and/or disability law, and ultimately to change all of the inaccurate and horrible things that they've written about The Kid in his IEP.

I'm so grateful to have this blog because it lets me blow off the anger and steam that builds up from how frustrating this situation is. Once I get all of the really mad stuff out of my system via the keyboard and post it on the blog, I am able to write very reasoned, tactful letters and agendas. It helps me essentialize, but it also helps me express the anger and honestly allows me to share that anger with someone on a somewhat formal forum so that I can return to the real task at hand and not be the crazed-with-anger mama-bear, but instead the mom who is a tough advocate but is also reasonable enough to work in a team. At least, that's the hope.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

My Child is Disabled.

I had to tell a client that today. Because I've been, well, unresponsive. I've been out of the office and not returning phone calls. My boss had already explained that I'd had a sick kid, and was out. When she talked to me, she said (I might be projecting here), forcefully and so not all that sincerely, I hope your child is over his cold. I had to correct her. No, Client, my son is disabled. And he's not better yet.


So, some updates. Because the school trampled on my rights as a parent, told me what I was signing was "informal" and "just a record that [I] attended this meeting," and that was a complete lie, I am currently shopping for an SIED classroom. Because he must be placed in an SIED classroom, as what I signed was as formal as the constitution, and their recommendations, however contentious, are currently the stone tablet of The Kid's current educational plan.

Now, before you go and find out what school The Kid attends so that you can throw eggs at it or whatever, I am going to go along with this decision. I'm willing to change his placement because it means that he will get the hell away from the Social Worker Pro Tem, who I'm fairly certain is the spawn of satan, and The Principal, whom I can no longer look in the eye directly because she so completely betrayed my trust. They don't want to teach The Kid anymore. How could I possibly want them to teach him, then? If The Kid's behavior necessitates it (like I think it might), I can request a formal review of the IEP at any time. It's a lot more tricky than that, but I'll not get into all the legal bull-oney quite yet.

But the SIED classroom. Sweet Jesus.

I went to the one that they chose for me. I have two major complaints that tell me this school is absolutely unacceptable for The Kid.
  1. They are using goddam fucking sticker charts. (Plusses and Minuses! Add Up Your Points At The End Of Each Day For Skittles!!! Motivate them to behave better! We're not just teachers, We're CHEERLEADERS!!!! If they're real good, we'll bake 'em cupcakes and hide 'em in their lockers!!!--Oh, seriously, sorry for that) I hate the sticker chart because we used this on The Kid for two years and it was only disastrous. It provided good data, but when he was involved in the "points," or "smiley/frowny faces," a 5 minute tantrum turned into a 30 minute tantrum, because he'd get upset all over again when time came to record the negative behavior. And in the end, that's not teaching better behavior. I hate the sticker chart thing because what these kids with psychiatric disorders that inhibit their ability to react to bad news or control their impulses when presented with frustrating situations don't need is to be set up for more tantrums. I thought that was one of the major reasons he was being put in SIED. When I expressed (kindly, for real) my distaste for this kind of charting because of bad results and further reading I've done [Greene, Ross; The Explosive Child], the SIED teacher said, "Well, all of the kids in this class do these, and don't you think if the other kids were doing it, he would want to do it too?" Um, The Kid will not be attending here. Peer pressure as behavior plan doesn't work for me. Especially since in 10 years, The Kid will still be bipolar and I'm already terrified of peer pressure then and the comorbidity of bipolar with substance abuse. Plus, I totally squandered an opportunity to say to this teacher, "Well, if all the kids wanted to jump of a bridge, do you think The Kid should do that too?"
  2. The kids. Six third-graders. A second-grader and first-grader each. That's the population. One of the kids pointed at me and said something rude. Another kept banging his head on tables and walls. This is so absolutely horrifying, I can't imagine these kids as The Kid's peers, even if they have the same diagnoses. Apart from the emotional reaction to seeing disturbed kids, the heavy weight of older kids in the classroom bothers me, legitimately, I think. Most of The Kid's problem is social, the last thing he needs is to be around bigger older kids with emotional disabilities (at least, when the bigger older ones are in the majority). There's got to be some learning of bad behaviors that would happen.

So, The SIED class was disappointing, to say the least. I think it will be a big fight to talk about a different placement, but shit, I will do anything to keep him out of that particular program. But, who am I to be judgemental of the behaviors of other children? My child is disabled too.


My child is disabled. Do you know what's worse? He looks it now. We've overmedicated him since last Friday. I went to the doctor today with major concerns about side effects from all of these new drugs he's on. He's drooling. He can't fall asleep. But most seriously, he's complaining of muscle stiffness and is doing this scary arm-stretch and back arch that looks postively palsy-ish. He does this back arch thing and the sticks him arms out at about 45 degree angles from his sides and then moves his thumbs and pinkies together, and sticks his other three fingers on each hand down toward the ground and stretches, showing of his double jointed elbows. It kind of makes him look like the typical "retard." And it makes me sick and sad and guilty and regretful and horrible. The doctor stepped back his meds, prescribed a drug to counter act these side effects, but the fact that he's so filled with little synthetic inhibitors and receptors and atypical anti-psychotics and stimulants just slays me. I can't even write about how that makes me feel.


I always think I've got this thing together, that I'm getting tough. But don't let that fool you. Every day, my lifelong dreams of being a parent to my very own baby die to the reality that we're facing. And I can lie and say I wouldn't have it any other way, but the truth is, I don't want to have a disabled child. I want a healthy, happy child. Right now, I don't really have either of those things in The Kid, and it hurts so much. It hurts the most because I know all he wants is to be happy and healthy, and I'm the only person on this earth equipped to fight for those things to happen. No matter how hard I fight, it might not happen. What if he can't get it together and he spends the rest of elementary school in SIED? And what if in 7th grade he and his SIED buddies find out that smoking pot and drinking vodka make you feel a lot better than the pills mom makes you pop every morning? What if he's in for a struggle for the rest of his life? The fear of those things can really suffocate a mother.

I'm in mourning tonight. I'll get better, and I know that The Kid will too, eventually. I truly, honestly hope so anyway.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

I'm Not Saying You Should Sweat The Small Stuff...

But that small stuff can sure cheer you up from time to time.

Case in point #1:

On my way to work every day, I walk past the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sakura Square. They have a installation up right now that consists of a motion detector and two speakers on the side of the building. As you walk by, it gives you compliments. "Hey there, you look terrific." "I can tell you are going to have a great day." "Nice shoes!" I look forward to it every day.

Case in point #2:

Going out of town for the weekend and returning to dozens of emails from friends, e-friends and perfect strangers giving me encouragement and good advice.

Case in point #3:

Aspen leaves. I know that most of you who read this blog either live in Colorado or have at one time lived in Colorado (and one of you is headed BACK to Colorado-yea!), so, you already know what fall is like in Colorado, especially in the mountains. But for those of you who don't know, let me give you a quick primer on fall in CO. It is short. Like, it lasts for a few days.

That is, if you measure fall by the brightly colored leaves on the deciduous trees in the area, the decay of green summer into bright oranges and yellows and even reds that trickle down onto the ground. When I lived in Indiana, I was always amazed at how fall seemed to go and go and go. How in October, the leaves on the enormous trees on my school's campus slowly lost their summer chloroform and turned deep reds and oranges and all the colors you'd hope to see in a sunset. More amazing, was how in November I could still see those colors. In the montaine regions of Colorado, there really is only one kind of deciduous tree (I'm no scientist, there are probably others, but when you're talking iconic Colorado, yes, there is only one): The Aspen.

This weekend, my mom took The Kid and I to the Rockies to breathe in the peak of the turning of the aspen leaves. It was so wonderful to get away, to sleep in a mostly empty, clean condo, and eat mountain-style home cooking. In short, I'm rested, and ready for another week.

So, northeast, you can take your big fancy trees with their months of color, the raking and that oddly comforting smell of decaying summer. Here in Colorado, we get our bursts of color for only a day or two, and for the first time in my life, we made the trek up the hills on the exact right weekend. It was heavenly.

Note: blogger is driving me slightly batty tonight and I can't get my photos attached to this post. I have, however, totally stollen the idea from Mr. Lady's fabulous flikr link on her page, and if you want to see what I did this weekend, check out the photos!!!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Storm Before the Calm (hopefully)

On weeks like these that have passed in the Soapy Water household, I find it difficult to resist the urge to over-document, to bore you with the details of the hell that has been the past few weeks. I also have the feelings that prevent you from wanting to communicate with anyone at all. Is that depression? Or just tired?

So, I guess I shall start somewhere in July. My psychiatrist was closing shop and moving her family to Wyoming. To make a long story short, this left us, well, psychiatrist-less for about three months. It takes approximately 204 phone calls to find a psychiatrist when you have the nation's crappiest mental health insurance coverage, you see. It also takes your child to be removed from school because he is behaving like a lunatic as well. If you have a mildly psychotic child, I hear it will take more like 846 phone calls.

Allow me to quickly fill you in on The Kid's behavior at school for his first three weeks of first grade. His behaviors include:

  • Screaming and yelling in the classroom.
  • Running out of the classroom.
  • Running out of the school.
  • Hiding under desks and pulling on electrical cords.
  • Ransacking offices and destroying school property.
  • Hitting children and teachers.
  • Inconsolable crying.
  • Rage and Anger, Generally.

I want to state, before I go any further, that I find these behaviors unacceptable and have only moved forward to help prevent these behaviors and work with the school to help The Kid manage these behaviors so that he and his fellow students can learn. I take this shit seriously, in short. I've done nothing thinking that The Kid was somehow NOT behaving in these ways.

When the insurance bureacracy was failing me miserably and The Kid's behaviors were so violent and out of control, I was looking into getting The Kid into The Children's Hospital psych ward on a day treatment basis. In fact, I had just hung up the phone with their intake nurse when I received a phone call from The Principal on Monday, Sept. 11. She informed me that I had to come pick The Kid up from school immediately and that he was not welcome back at school until we enrolled him in a SIED classroom. SIED stands for Significant Identifiable Emotional Disorder. It is not, by definition, a bad thing. For The Kid, however, I saw a number of things from this:

  1. If he was behaving as seriously and dangerously in a general ed classroom, I honestly didn't see how being in ANY classroom would benefit him, as I was quickly coming to the opinion (and as you will see, I was right) that he was unstable, and was reaching a new intensity of mania that we've never seen before. It was unmitigated by therapy or drugs.
  2. Out of nowhere? They are going to move him? How is this legal? How can they give me a choice between no school or restrictive environment, with 15 minutes to come pick him up or else?
  3. What the hell happened to his IEP?

We set a meeting for the next afternoon to discuss. And I picked him up.

And so began the week of effing hell.

The next day, I kept The Kid at home, and then dropped him over to my mom's house before the school meeting. I had smartly asked a friend from a parent to parent group to which I belong to attend the meeting with me to advocate/take notes/provide support. I showed up to this "informal" meeting to meet the area coordinator for special education, The Teacher, The Social Worker Pro Tem (who is not The Social Worker from last year, who I liked but is on maternity leave this semester, and so will return, hopefully, in January) and The Principal. And they have a new IEP. And they want me to sign paperwork. And suddenly this is an IEP meeting.

I call for a quick time out. I am asked to waive the 10 day notice prior to any official IEP meeting. They tell me this is an "Addendum Meeting." Where we create an addendum to his IEP. I say, what is an addendum meeting? I am not agreeing to anything today. They try to ease my fears, telling me that we are creating an addendum to his IEP, but it's just not as formal.

Now, let me tell you something about IEP's. It is like a miniature piece of legislation, that only pertains to a single child and his school situation. I would like you to think quickly about any piece of law or legal document that could ever be considered, "Less Formal." Bullshit I say. I agree to continue the meeting, but that I'm not agreeing to anything. I'm putting on my insurance broker face and getting all freaked out by legal stuff. As, apparently, I should have. I've since talked to an educational advocate who told me I should have walked out of the meeting.

They've clearly had it with The Kid. They want him out of the school, and have written in the IEP that regardless of the outcome of my attempts to treat his medical disability, they want him in an SIED classroom. This classroom is in another school. My repeated attempts to reiterate and get them to understand that The Kid needs medical attention for a psychiatric disorder and that until he is stable and reassessed, I will not agree to any placement.

The Kid says that The Social Worker Pro Tem hates him. As this meeting wore on, I began to believe him. The district resource person seemed unaccustomed to speaking to adults and talked to me in 6-year-old-speak about my resistance to SIED and then asked me to look forward to The Kid at 16 without having been in the SIED classroom (as if any alternative to that would have been visions of The Kid shooting people from the clock tower or something), all the while talking to me like she was talking about puppies and rainbows and like she was soon going to tell me about the teddy bear collection she keeps on her bed at home. That made me want to have a little pediatric bipolar tantrum of my own. The Principal is not seeing eye to eye with me either. In short, these folks had their story straight, they were sticking to it regardless of my input, and they wanted me to do what they told me to do. But I wasn't having it.

They were wrong to spring this on me. I have to admit that in the long term, they may or may not be wrong about the placement. He might someday be in a self-contained classroom for a period of time. But they CAN NOT go about assigning it the way that they did.

The meeting ended with me hating them all and wanting to pull my hair out. But I got my way, they were going to hold on doing anything. Of course, they were going to hold on doing anything because I was going to keep The Kid home, indefinitely.

By the end of the week, we finally got into a psychiatrist. The day treatment center required a referral from a psychiatrist, and just before I had a nervous breakdown, my shitty insurance company came up with a p-doc for me. I guess this is their criteria for when to finally provide customer service. Anyway. When we met with the new p-doc, she said that she felt that we were doing the right thing, keeping him out of school rather than have him rage in any classroom, regardless of restrictiveness (he is being home-schooled by my mom), and that he was unstable, and that she believed that the medications that she would prescribe would stabilize him so as to make the day treatment unnecessary. She also believes that once stabilized, he shouldn't need a SIED environment.

This week, we are seeing a much calmer Kid. He went to school for 1.5 hours on Monday and did not rage. He did show some ADHD symptoms, and after our follow up appointment with the doctor the next day, she added a med to treat those as well. The last two days? More improvement, as far as we can tell at the School of Meema.

The big test comes in getting him back in school. He now has so much anxiety about being there. He's convinced that they all hate him. I need a school that is willing to help him re-integrate. They need to understand that he's not going to be perfect, but I believe that he's going to be so much better that the SIED classroom won't be necessary, at least for now.

I can't help but worry that the staff at the school are so sick of us, and especially The Kid, that any call for help or intervention will not be met in hopes of farming him out. I've enlisted an advocate, I'm still working on finding a psychologist to help us out. The School has to follow the IEP, but when they write it, I've got misgivings.

I just wish that I truly felt like they came at this from a place that really cares about The Kid. I think they do, in a perfunctory way, in that they are professional teachers/social workers/school adminstrators. But their actions of late reek of the kind of careless expediency that typically can only indicate that they want their normal jobs back. That they want the easy way.

As the annoying "puppies and rainbows" lady tried to tell me the other day, you have to look into the future and hope that The Kid will succeed. I have a feeling they would prefer that happen from a distance from them.

I can't write anymore tonight, if you've made it this far, thanks.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Rock Bottom

I do believe we've reached it!

The problem:
The Kid is unmanagable. He's violent, and he's missing about 80% of instruction time due to his behaviors. He's scaring the shit out of everyone at the school, including the teachers and social worker. They say they aren't safe around him.

The School's Solution:
The school wants The Kid in SIED class. This stands for Significant Identifiable Emotional Disability. This is the type of class for kids who can't be in any other public school environment. They have asked that he not return to school until he goes to the SIED classroom. Oh, and the classroom? It's in another school.

My position:
The Kid is unstable. Medically. We do not have adequate mental health coverage. I've been getting this run-around with doctors and the insurance company for a year now. Actually a bit longer than that, as I first ventured into psych care for The Kid at his tender age of 18 months, but who's counting?

I don't know if I'm being pig-headed, but I don't think we make formal changes to his IEP and behavioral plan in light of his recent behaviors (which I think are worse than last year, or aren't being dealt with as adroitly as they were last year and therefore explode more potently), until we can receive good, intensive medical care in regards to his unchecked psychiatric disorder.

Did I tell you that we have no psychiatrist right now? Did I tell you the one we had who only ever prescribed pills anyway closed shop and retired to another state? Leaving us with a referral to a new doctor who in the end decided not to work with our insurance therefore leaving us without any medical care and 25 days worth of anti-psychotic medications that were probably not working anyway? Oh, I forgot to? woops.

I am truly of the opinion that we need to get The Kid's medical issue sorted. This is a seasonal disorder he's got here. He's in "the bad season." I want him stablized, medically, before they go branding him with the emotional disability (which in the world of education, as I understand it, is very different than the "other medical" classification The Kid currently has which qualifies him for services under IDEA).

So, I have kind of pulled him out of school, temporarily, at least. I'm working on admitting him to a psychiatric outpatient care facility, which will provide him with the meds consult he needs, along with much needed therapy.

Oh, and I'm filing a formal complaint to my employer for providing us insurance coverage which has essentially not covered us. EVER.

Oh, and I still have a job, but I have only worked two hours this week. So, The Kid's not learning, and I'm not working. This is working out fantastically for us.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A Gathering of Angels, Part II

My cell phone does not provide the greatest quality video, nor can it last more than 30 seconds, but here is The Kid up on my friend's shoulders, watching his favorite band sing his favorite song:

Saturday, September 02, 2006

A Gathering of Angels Appeared Above My Head, And Sang to me This Song of Hope and this is what They Said:

I'm addicted to music. It's kind of my thing. I am not, however, in any way a music snob. That much must be known about me. I do, however, have lines to draw as any sensible person would have, as you will see.

I have a few musical flashpoints in my own young life that I must share as background before I go too deeply into the true intent of this post, which is to tell you about The Kid's amazing relationship to music. But indulge me in a few moments that made me the music nut that I am today:

1. I am about 6 years old. It is approximately 1984. My sister Peggy is in full-on Police-mania, goes to their concert, and I feel true, real desire to be older, to get to have cool friends (one of hers was from Germany and I thought he was so dreamy, at six, yo) and listen to music with them and be cool too. It is Synchronicity all the time in the basement of our home. My first "favorite" song is Miss Gradenko. I sneak into her room on numerous occasions to listen specifically to Miss Gradenko. Is she safe? Who knows? All I know is that a nearly lifetime crush on Sting is begun at the tender age of 6. Unfortunately, the crush is blown to hell at approximately my age of 28 when he starts starring in ads for cars. But that was a good 22 year love fest we had, Stingy. [Stingy, this is a joke for Peggy. Do you get it?]

2. I am around 10 years old. My sister Bonnie is home for the summer from college and has all of her albums in her room. I discover, again surreptitiously, the world of musical theatre. Yes, geek, I know, but god, do I love that Stephen Sondheim. I could act out the following musicals from their soundracks alone: Sunday in the Park with George (favorite of all time), Sweeny Todd (which I hear is going to be movie, directed by Tim Burton: HEEE!!!), Les Miserables, Chess (yes, the musical written by the dude from ABBA, what of it?), later on I discover Into the Woods (god, great musical, Stephen Sondheim is truly a genius). If there would have been hidden cameras in my sister Bonnie's bedroom in the years between 1885 and 1990, I would have paid a great deal of blackmail money, on account of my fantastic renditions of the role of Eponine in Les Mis and Dot in Sunday. God, I wanted to be Bernadette Peters. Seriously. It must also be noted that Sunday in the Park with George just happens to be a musical based on the famous pointelist painting by Georges Seurat, which ultimately began my other obsession in life, ART, the history of which became my major in college. By the by, and, everything is connected, or in otherwords, Sychronicity.

3. I am 11 years old. Some goofy folk singer has come to my school to sing goofy folk songs. I can see the other kids in my school enjoying this incredibly. But I am making fun of it in my head. I am not clapping and singing along. I feel akward, like the dumbness of this guy's act is so apparent to me: He's a grown MAN! He's singing about Hildegard the Hippopotamus and he's as old as my dad! There's something totally wrong here!!! Later, my teacher asks me if I liked the concert. I politely said yes, but then she followed up with the observation that I didn't participate. I said, Well, it just seemed kind of dumb. And then I cried, because I was embarrased because I was clearly the only one who thought it was disturbing that this grown man was singing these inane songs. I was horribly self aware at even the age of 11. This self-awareness turned, for YEARS, into pretentiousness, a disease of which I am proud to say I've been cured. Thank god.

4. I am 12 years old. Saturday Night Live is good again. The Church Lady and Toonces the Driving Cat and all. I'm hooked. One night, The Sugarcubes are the musical guest. The Sugarcubes are Bjork's band, prior to her amazing solo career, which I have watched and admired at every single step since. My life subsequently changes, no joke. I buy their tape the next day. Oh my god, I can't tell you how many times I listened to Birthday. I hear that song today and I can see my junior high bedroom. I can even smell it. Bjork. I. Love. Her. Don't even talk to me about the Swan Dress. I don't want to hear it. She is brilliant. She can do no wrong. She is amazing. She has never been in a car commercial, nor do I think she ever will be.

[okay, before I go any further, can I say that my computer is freaking me out with some Sychronicity tonight? I usually write while playing music on my Windows Music Player. Almost everything I own on CD is on this computer. As I've written this, The Sugarcubes has played, which rarely comes up on the "all play" option as it is only one album of hundreds, and The Police have played about three times. But now we've got The Girl From Ipanema, so whatever.]

So, we've established the following: An early interest in non-child-friendly music. An interest in adolescence in "interesting" music. And I've confessed to sneaking into my sister's rooms and scratching their favorite records to hell. Yep, it was me, girls.

Now that I'm a parent, I need to explain some more. Going into this deal, I knew I would have a short fuse for Barney. I knew I wouldn't be able to listen to more than .23 seconds of Raffi. Because even when I was a little kid, I couldn't stand that stuff. I've been so painfully self aware my whole life. I've always attributed this to being the youngest of four daughters, teased at every turn for my developmental stages. With adulthood, I kind of realize that this was always just part of my psyche, but regardless of its source, I can't be highly dramatic or self-centered at any point in my life without knowing what an asshole I am being, so I rarely do it [i think, or hope anyway]. The result of this is 1) I am the world's worst candidate for reality television; 2) I'm an incredibly good friend because I rarely turn anything into something about ME; 3) I could never be a hippy or a deadhead because I'm far too aware of how dumb people look when all deadheaded out.

The Kid's grown into a true, awesome, devouring love for music as well. I can't wait to talk to The Kid at 22 or 32, and ask him about his relationship to music. Because right now, he is very into it. It all started with the Yellow Submarine. Choosing music in the car has always been a carefully done thing, mostly because a lot of the music I hold dear I don't really want The Kid to hear the lyrics to quite yet. So when he was really little, we played a great deal of Beatles in the car. One trip to the video store later, he had found the DVD of Yellow Submarine on his own, at three, because there are only so many things you will find with a Yellow Submarine on them, and yes, they will be mostly related. So, we rented Yellow Submarine and watched it so constantly that I had no choice but to purchase the film. And listen to the Beatles pretty much constantly until he was about 5 years old. Which was cool. The child's obsession was with something of amazing quality, The Beatles, arguably the greatest musical act of the modern age, and not with some mind numbing singing vegetables or any kind of CD that idiotically mispells Kids with a Z or contains the song "The Wheels on the Bus."

As the years have gone on, The Kid's journey through the history of rock and roll has been interesting, and stimulating. He has an amazing relationship with a certain song by The Smiths. Like, he knows all the words. He frequently requested T-Rex for quite a while. I'm unsure if he adored the pre-alternative sounds of Marc Bolan, or if he just really liked the name because of his concurrent love of dinosaurs. The Kid approaches music with total earnest commitment. He loves it, he dances around, he learns songs by heart. I can't even begin to tell you how many times I have listened to The Bicycle Song by Queen. I have found myself waiting to introduce him to certain songs until he is older (Tom Saywer? Mama?). He has a "thing" for Waterfall by The Stone Roses. The first concert he ever went to, he met David Lee Roth. The second concert he went to, he got us into the VIP section of a Bright Eyes NPR appearance, and was given a free T-Shirt, which he still wears weekly, no joke.

About a year ago, Peggy gave me a burned copy of Styx's greatest hits. She knew my soft spot for 70's prog-rock, but mostly she gave it to me because she knew The Kid would enjoy it. I remember playing it for him, but she gave me the disc at the same time she also burned the soundtrack to Xanadu, which deserves its own music history of Molly G's life of its own, and so the Styx disc went into the pile, and The Kid didn't really dig it at the time.

I recently spent a Saturday night at my friend Erin's house, and in preparation, I brought over one of my CD books so that she could [uh, totally download all of my music] listen to some of my CD's. In the book was this unlabeled CD. I threw it in the player. I was Styx. So we drove around for a day as I played The Kid some of their better songs [uh, Renegade, duh], until we came across Come Sail Away [link is totally awesome Karaoke version of the song, please, go, and give singing it a try, for The Kid]. The song is, undeniably, one of the best 70's prog-rock songs, and if you dare dispute me, I've got the guns and ammo to do it. Bring it on. That song is great. Don't fight it. No, no, you can't stop the rocking.

Needless to say, The Kid fell in LOVE. Not just love: lurve, the Woody Allen word for love when love just isn't enough to express all of that emotion. And so, by the time we got to Erin's house on that Saturday night, The Kid made me bring the CD in so he could sing it to Erin. And so, for the fortnight since, it's been a 24 hour per day Styx-fest. Come Sail Away with the cornflakes in the morning. Come Sail Away with the toothbrush at night. Just this morning, he was estimating how many plays of Come Sail Away it would take to get home from the mall. For your information, it took 3.5 plays. Just so you know.

As I dropped The Kid off at Karate this morning, then, what to my delight did I hear but that the talented Dennis DeYoung of Styx would be giving a free concert tonight in downtown Denver at The Taste of Colorado. As a responsible mother, I had no choice. We had to go.

He was SOOO excited. I can't think of a time in my life, in my own music freak-dom that I've ever been able to see a band live as immediately, as concurrently as a new obsession has formed. So, as we walked through the festival to get to the stage, he was literally bouncing. He was ecstatic, in the most literal sense of ecstacy.

So, as soon as we arrived at our chosen concert-viewing spot, Dennis began singing Domo Origato Mr. Roboto. One thing you must know, the dude is totally gray haired and old. Other thing to note? He still sounds exactly the same. Good voice on that dude, undeniably. Pure joy came over my son. Pure. And I honestly got teary. It was so sweet. We watched the whole show, waiting for Come Sail Away. I knew they would play it as the encore. Everyone knew it would be their encore, in that it is Styx's best song next to Renegade, which Dennis DeYoung didn't sing, so like, fuggedaboutit. The Kid was near to tears at the end of the show because they hadn't sung it yet, so I got to teach him what an encore was all about. But we screamed and yelled for about 1 minute before we heard the tinkling piano that begins The Kid's favorite song.

This all came after a week of total hell. My job sucks beyond definition, and this week it reached new lows that I cannot, literally, explain to you. The Kid had a violent bipolar explosion at school that resulted in a half-day's suspension (who is that kid? Not The Kid who spent this wonderful Saturday with me), and I got the flu of the century and missed an unprecedented three days from work in a row. But as the musically cheesy and hilariously brilliant Dennis DeYoung sang to me tonight, and almost as I'd say them to The Kid, my wonderful companion in life:

The headlines read these are the worst of times
I do believe its true

I feel so helpless like a boat against the tide
I wish the summer winds could bring back paradise
But I know, if the world turned upside down
Baby, I know you'd always be around
The best of times are when I'm alone with you

Friday, September 01, 2006

Some really great words to say with a stuffy nose:

1. Stuffy nose
2. Veronica Mars
3. Confused. [as in the not at all funny part of The Color Purple that a couple of friends of mine have forever ruined for me: Believe me, if you've ever walked up to your friend Dominic and just randomly asked him, "How are you feeling?" and he answered all southern and Oprah-like, "Confused," you will laugh til you cry. You should also try the word out with your next head cold. That's all I'm saying here.]
4. I'm cute! [a la Rudolph]

On to other things: We went to the dentist today. As you probably already know, DENTIST is a scary and notorious concept in our house. The Kid's teeth, however, are great! He gets major gold stars for brushing and flossing and using mouthwash!!! I, however, have been knocked from my pedestal. At 30 years old, the dentist has found my first cavity. I'm kind of devastated. Like, I was always all, "I've never had a cavity." "The dentist, though he is evil, always compliments me on my beautiful teeth." "I'm the poster child of flouridated water, my teeth are sparkling examples of better living through science." But now, after a two year absence from the dentist due to the paranoia of already having taken enough time off from work to deal with the many medical issues of my offspring, have caught his sugar bug disease. And I've learned that because of the superior quality of my teeth, I also have superior quality saliva, which creates superior quality tartar, which after two years of build up requires superior quality scraping and buffing and shining and spitting of blood into the little dentist sink. So, the lesson here? Go to the freaking dentist.