Wednesday, October 17, 2012

POLL: Putting Kids to Bed Vs. Up and At 'Em

Forget trying to figure out which political buffoon will do the country less harm over the next four years....I've got a much more important question in my pursuit of understanding time-wasting phenomena. I'd love your input via the quick, anonymous poll at the end of this post to help me determine:

Which takes longer? Putting kids to bed at night or getting kids ready to leave the house in the morning?

Whether you have a newborn, teenager, or kids any age in between, there's one aspect of parenting that remains constant: They're always hyped up and wide awake when you wish they were asleep...and sleepy and lethargic when you need them to hustle. 

As much as you may often wish (and possibly beg the universe) for their bedtime to come sooner, when the actual bedtime hour arrives, you dread the pure chaos involved. 

Ironically, you often have to initiate bedtime during the rare few minutes of the day when the kids are actually playing nicely together. You've also just sat down for the first time since their 3:00 school dismissal yourself, and it's so tempting to just wait til the next commercial to deal with the task. And maybe the commercial after that to process how the last one was a Christmas commercial when it's not even Halloween yet.

Then it's as if you announced the Apocalypse is upon your offspring. Suddenly, the same kid who was practically falling asleep on his Wordly Wise workbook an hour ago, is now bouncing from room to room like a pogo-stick hopped up on Red Bull. (Actually you've considered having his toothpaste tested for Red Bull enzymes since having to brush his teeth before bed always seems to set him, you could really use some around 4 pm when you're dragging).

While you try to corral one kid, everyone else giggles and screams, frenetically racing through the hall. Clothing is flung around and at least one kid streaks by in his underwear. It's as if the amount of children in your home has somehow doubled or tripled (Note to self: Test toothpaste for cloning enzymes as well). 

Then the fighting and whining starts. One is grossed out by the other one's toothpaste-spitting aim or lack thereof and refuses to stand anywhere near him. The youngest wants to know why the oldest gets to stay up a little later. Someone inevitably spills florescent blue kid mouthwash on a porous surface.

And they can't just get into bed after brushing their teeth. You have to read stories and answer the accompanying 20 (often unrelated) questions. You must perform other bedtime rituals such as the Pick-'Em-Up-and-Spin-'Em-Around move where you lower one into her bed only to have her get up five seconds later. 

Because this is also conveniently the time of day when everyone under 18 becomes forgetful:

"I forgot I had a science poster due tomorrow!"

"I forgot to give you my test to sign!"

"I forgot I can't save this game on my DS unless I finish the entire level first...Just 10 more minutes, c'mon!"

Even after you finally make your way downstairs, one or two are bound to make an appearance. They're apparently capable of navigating the staircase in the dark to find you, yet incapable of simply taking three steps from their bedroom to the bathroom to get their own drink of water.

But just try to get this same crew moving during daylight hours. You hate being that mom who constantly nags, but it's the only way to get them to school before noon. 

"Finish your cereal, let's go! Let's go!"

"I swear I'm going to turn that TV off if you don't get those sneakers on right now!"

"I told you to put that in your backpack last night so we wouldn't have this problem. Now go find it, hurry up!"

The difference is that now, the imagined Red Bull enzymes have worn off. The kids are only capable of two speeds: Snail's Pace and Snail on Ambien's Pace. 

One kid is a giant lump on the couch and can only move in tiny, half-inch increments by sliding off the edge and sinking onto the ground like a slug. Another son isn't sure where he put his jacket when he took it off yesterday and tells you he's too tired to go look.  

You're rushing around and physically pushing them out the door, but they stroll to the car in a painstakingly lackadaisical manner. It's also a favorite time for them to take note of things in the environment and/or ask complex questions.

"Mom, do you see that squirrel over there? Cool! Is that a nut in his mouth? Or maybe an  acorn? Squirrels eat both, right, Mom? What kind of nut is that, Mom? Can I go look?"

"Mom, why are some birds blue and some birds red, but no birds around here are purple?"

"Do you think dead squirrels go to heaven if they got hit by a car, Mom? Will I go to heaven? What is heaven?"

The only reply to all of the above that you have time for is, of course, "Get in the car! Get in the car!!! Get in the car!!!!!!!"

Hyped up in the evenings and sedated in the mornings with the only common denominator being brushing their teeth? I'm planning to email the toothpaste companies to get to the bottom of this.

SO WHICH TAKES LONGER AT YOUR HOUSE? Please take the poll. (I had to edit HTML and everything to stick this thing on here...take pity on me). And I'd love to know if your kids' toothpastes seem to have similar side-effects. Maybe I need to switch brands?

NOTE: The Google Poll Widget has been having issues with resetting back to zero (on other sites as well). But as of 10/25, the results said Putting Kids to Bed at Night takes it received 64% of the votes compared to Getting Kids Going in the Morning receiving 36%!  So, now I have my answer. THANKS to all who voted :) 

Which Takes Longer?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Emergency Room - Not Exactly As Advertised

I guess it was inevitable. When you have three sons playing Little League baseball nonstop from April to November annually, at some point, one of them is going to get whacked by the ball hard enough to end up in the Emergency Room. And then you get to be that panicked mom who rushes down from the bleachers to examine the ginormous purple and red welt engulfing Son #2's eye, now swollen shut.

So, off to the ER we went.

You can imagine my disappointment when it was NOTHING like how TV depicts it. I mean, doesn't the staff ever watch medical dramas? Or at least take a cue on how to behave from hospital-based sitcoms? I think not, because here's what I noticed:

You know how on TV, when someone barrels through the ER doors with a child in agony, the entire staff scrambles over to assist? Alert! Code Injured Child! Someone page the Chief of Pediatrics! Contact the Baseball-Pummeled-the-Eye Specialists and fly them over from Europe...STAT!

Yeah, no one even looked up when I entered with my wobbly son sporting a throbbing bruiser and giant ice pack. Granted, we fortunately weren't experiencing life-or-death trauma, but could someone at least acknowledge that a bleeding kid has entered the building? With a HEAD injury? Out of desperation, I asked a security officer where I was supposed to go, and he motioned to a desk down the hall.

Me: Excuse me, my son was at bat and took a fastball to the eye!
Desk Employee (not looking up from apparently hypnotic iPhone):  Okay.
Me: It's so swollen, and he has a cut in the corner, and the bone underneath looks---
Desk Employee: Have a seat over there. Someone will be with you shortly.

Throughout the course of the following SIX hours, we were told someone would be with us shortly after we filled out some forms. If we'd then just relocate to Triage, someone would be with us shortly. After 30 more minutes there, we advanced to the Pediatric Waiting Area. Shortly after that, we'd sit in an exam area for close to an hour. When the doctor finally examined him, he promised the CT Scan people would be down to wheel him to the testing area shortly. After the scan, the results would be back equally as shortly.

One to two hours is apparently the new 'shortly.'

On TV, the hospital's a very busy place. Blue scrubs racing through the halls at warp speed! Crash carts and equipment pushed from room to room! Everything is handled with such urgency! It also takes four or five staff members (usually including at least one doctor) working together to whisk a patient's wheeled cot down the crowded corridors.

When a solitary someone finally sauntered in to wheel my son's cot to his CT scan, she wasn't even up for the job. She grunted along at a snail's pace and struggled to make the turns through the doorways. It's a miracle he wasn't injured further during transport.

Hospital hallways on TV are like an obstacle course of patients, staff and equipment carts to navigate. But here, I think my son survived the Wheeled to CT Scan Journey because there was NO ONE with whom to collide.

Don't get me wrong...every single bay in the Pediatric ER was filled with fellow sick and injured children. It definitely wasn't a "slow" day. But medical staff? Noticeably absent. Mysteriously not present. When my son started shivering and I poked my head out into the hall, there wasn't a single person to flag down to ask for a blanket.

The last thing a mom needs is an atmosphere so library-like that she's left to contemplate all the horrible life-altering afflictions that can potentially befall her son due to his eye injury. Medical dramas would lead you to believe you'd need earplugs to drown out the incessant intercom pages, the paramedic truck sirens, and most importantly, the doctors' emotional dramas playing out at the nurses' station. 

It appeared none of the doctors and nurses were young and/or cute, nor did they seem to be entangled in any kind of torrid love affairs. No one openly brooded over an unrequited love. Not one doctor pleaded with another to give him just one more chance because he knows he can be the man she needs him to be.

This would've served as a great distraction from my conjuring up horrific images of scratched corneas and detached retinas or potential surgeries for orbital bone fractures and eye muscle entanglement.

But there wasn't a wanton tryst to be found. Inside the supply closet, there was, sadly, nothing but supplies.

Like that blanket for my son I was finally forced to go find by myself.

Actual Time Spent in ER:  6 hours
Real Feel:  30 days
Amount of Time We Had to Wait Just to Be Seen Upon Arrival:  60 minutes
Amount of Time Needed by TV Doctors to Save Multiple Lives, Engage in Obsessive Love Triangles and Simultaneously Volunteer to Help Local Street Kids Get Clean:  60 minutes 

How about you? Have you ever been disillusioned by how slow-moving the whole ER process is? They seem to have taken the "urgent" out of "urgent care."

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