the karma farmer

Reaping what I sow, which is apparently sarcasm and bacon

Sometimes, I Suck

 

There are times when I do things that make me wholly ashamed of myself. Recently, I had one of those times.

We were at a local park with 3 of the grandkids, having them run off some energy before dinner. Steve and I were a team, one of us with Kyra at all times, the other one in charge of visual reconnaisance of the two boys. If you’ve ever had to simultaneously watch 2 young boys in different areas of a playground, you know it’s like watching a tennis match.

I had been pushing Kyra on the swing, and Steve came over to tag me out.

I joined the boys for about 5 minutes, until I realized that neither my upper arms nor those monkey bars were going to support me for long.

So I played the “supervision” card and was scanning left, right, left, right from a pavilion that gave me an unobstructed view. Only a couple of minutes passed before a young woman entered the pavilion with a wheelchair bound, obviously developmentally disabled child. I smiled briefly and went back to straining my neck.

The child did not speak, but made a series of almost coo-ing, gurgling noises. The young woman spoke calmly to the boy, about calming down, about Grandma coming soon. I ventured another glimpse, and watched her stroke the child’s hair while she spoke. Muscle rigidity seemed to be prevalent, with his toes pointed downward, wrists turned inward, and neck far to the right.

I am not a stranger to children or adults with unique conditions, whether they be physical, developmental, or mental. So, why am I uncomfortable?

Why am I feeling totally self conscious?

It’s because I’m treating this child and his mother differently due to his condition.  If this Mom had shown up pushing a stroller instead of a wheelchair, I would have spoken, talked to the child, complimented his smile or his eyes.  I wouldn’t have thought twice about it.   If the child had turned up in a cast, I wouldn’t have hesitated a moment to ask how the injury happened.  If the boy had a bald head and missing eyebrows, an obvious hint of chemotherapy, I still would have spoken, and asked about the shirt he was wearing or the toy he had with him.

Why was I reacting differently here?  Not because I was turned off or freaked out by the child; not in the slightest bit.  It’s because I didn’t know how to start a conversation that wouldn’t sound A) patronizing, B) too forward, or C) sympathetic.  The thought of the Mom feeling like I was paying attention to the child because I wanted a better look, or wanted an explanation on his condition, horrified me. I suddenly had ZERO confidence in my sensitivity skills.

Steve was still pushing Kyra on the swing, and I looked back at the other playground just in time to see Matthew sneaking off toward the creek.  That boy doesn’t miss a moment’s opportunity.  He must have felt my eyes on the back of his head, because he did a sudden about-face and darted back to the monkey bars.  I’ve got the Grandma- vision, and they know it.

The worst part is, when you don’t know how to start a conversation, and definitely don’t want to give off an awkward vibe, you have to be quite careful in not making eye contact. You know what happens when you deliberately avoid eye contact?

That’s right, boys and girls, you look like an idiot with a  flashing, neon “I’M AVOIDING EYE CONTACT” sign on your back. UGH.

Aban, flushed and sweaty, headed towards the pavilion for a well deserved drink.  He looked at the boy, walked right up to him, and said “Hi.”  No response.  Aban looked at the Mom and said, “Is he sick?”  She said, “No, he just has to stay in the chair because he doesn’t walk yet.”  Aban is perfectly content with that answer. “Oh.  OK.  Well, have fun, buddy!” Gulped his juice and took off again.

Well, there’s my segue!  Aban had broken the ice.  Just jump on in there.  Get chatty.  I turned towards the duo, and…… nothing.  Nothing came out of my mouth.  A weak smile kind of spilled across my face, but that’s it.  No words.

What I wish I could have said is “I’m so sorry you have the bad fortune to be stuck in this pavilion with me.  I don’t know why I’m behaving like a total moron at this moment, but I most certainly am.  I suck.  I’m not often an ignorant doofus, well…..not regularly, anyway.  I didn’t even know I had this level of doofus in me, but, yep, here it is.  I’m sorry.  You deserve a much better pavilion companion.”

I was continuing the speech in my head about what an imbecile I am when the promised Grandma walked up with hugs and kisses and greetings, and off the trio went on the walking path. I  kind of hope that the Mom ranted a little bit about me, but I imagine she’s so used to fools, my 15 minutes of doltishness didn’t even register on her radar. I watched them walk around the park, wondering if possibly they would come back to the pavilion on their way around, maybe give me another chance to act like a human.

Alas, it was not to be. I’m sure it didn’t matter an iota to that woman or her child. I’m fairly certain I thought about her and her son scads more than they thought about me. So let me just say this to that Mom out there, or any other Mom who has encountered a bumbling buffoon like me:

I would love to interact with you and your child. I imagine that raising a child with disabilities has a special set of challenges, and also some amazing rewards. I apologize for my awkwardness, and desperately hope you don’t interpret it as a negative reaction to your child. I’m often inept, and you saw that clearly today. I promise, my disappointment with myself is considerably greater than your disgust with me could conceivably be. Really, if I had some ashes and sackcloth, I’d be all over that option right now.

What I CAN tell you is that if anyone had sneered, pointed, or shown any ugliness towards your child, I would have been all over them like salmonella on unrefrigerated chicken. 

If there is a class, a book (maybe one of the “Dummies” series?), or an online list of tips on how I might avoid my social paralysis in the future, someone please let me know. Maybe Aban can teach me. For parents of children that have some sort of disability, please know that I can’t be the only one who bungles these interactions.  My behavior may have come across negatively, but the opposite is true.  My heart and my admiration go to you.

Sometimes, I suck.

 

Stupidity Exorcism

Stupidity Exorcism

 

I’m Hot & Crabby Dip

A few weeks ago, Alex shared a recipe on Facebook with a comment about how nice it would be if someone made some for him.

Well, duh.  I’m the Momma.  I’m all over that!  So I made the recipe, and it wasn’t bad.  I decided to tweak it a little bit, and made a second  batch for my daughter.  It was amazing!  So, here it is!

I’m Hot & Crabby Dip

2 cups crab meat (imitation crab works just fine, but get the shreds if you can)…

16 oz. cream cheese (2 blocks)

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup sour cream

4 green onions, chopped

1 large jalapeno, diced and seeded

1/2 red or yellow or purple or orange bell pepper, diced

1 Tbsp dry mustard

2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

2 Tbsp powdered sugar

1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp lemon juice

**It goes without saying that adding crispy, crumbled bacon would only improve this, but you already know that you can always add bacon, right?

Directions:
1. First, soften the cream cheese in the microwave for about a minute.
2. Mix the cream cheese with the mayonnaise, sour cream, Worcestershire sauce, dry mustard, powdered sugar, garlic, and lemon juice.
3.Chop green onions and peppers. Fold veggies and crab meat into the cream cheese mixture.
4. Bake in a pie pan or similar sized baking pan for 30 mins at 350 degrees. Serve hot with butter crackers or fried wonton skins.

I'm Hot & Crabby... and delicious!

I’m Hot & Crabby… and delicious!

Silence….and Cicadas

 

What follows was first written in June, 2011.  I came across it this evening and realized how far I’ve come since then.  Moose is still gimping along, but Echo has crossed the Rainbow Bridge.  I still haven’t started that book, but I’m writing here.  Baby steps.  My funk has lessened, and my smile is no longer absent from my days.  I still loathe cicadas. 

So, it’s been awhile since I wrote a note, and I know y’all miss hearing from me. (I’m smirking as I type that.)

Truly, I write for myself. It’s cathartic for me, and it saves my family and friends from listening to even more of my rambling about things that aren’t really of any significance to them…or me…..or, really, anyone. I just ramble. It’s like a mental walk through a park that doesn’t have any marked paths. You’re headed for the nice big oak tree with your picnic basket, then get distracted when you spot the lake with the ducks swimming in it, and end up on a bench eating your sandwich while you watch squirrels play. It’s not what you had in mind when you started, but it all works out in the end.

Much has happened since I wrote that last note on March 27, none of which I will write about here. That’s not much fun, is it? You’ll have to trust me that it’s not a story any one would want to read. The aforementioned park has been more like a disaster area, with bombs and snipers and snare traps instead of ponds and squirrels and ducks. I think the only relevant thing is that I have been in a bubble this Spring…..withdrawn, discombobulated, disoriented, befuddled. Not like me at all. (No smart comments from the peanut gallery! I’m in NO MOOD!)

For those who questioned my unusual silence and detachment, I told them that I’m fine, just busy. I think I was trying to convince myself more than I was them.

I decided today to inject a moratorium on my funk, so be aware that today’s wandering dissertation is a result of that choice. (i.e., this may well be completely incoherent…..and I don’t necessarily care.)

A common theme when one is in a funk, and I am no exception, is to become exponentially more introspective than normal. In my case, that equals epic introspection, because I am a natural over analyzer to start with. What epiphanies did this self absorption give birth to, you ask?

1. I truly, deeply, genuinely, and desperately want to write a novel…..and my fear of not being able to achieve that is as intense as my desire to do it. Will I forge ahead anyway? I don’t know. I think I may be too much of a weenie….and that is not something that I like to admit.

2. I am getting old. The years are flying by, and my bucket list is getting longer instead of shorter. I had always envisioned a mid-life crisis as a time when people buy convertibles and start hanging out in bars again. Although I’ve spent my share of time bellied up to Alex’s bar these past couple months, it really has been only to hang out with him….and there’s no (running) convertible in my possession. My crisis seems to be taking on the persona of a never ending anxiety attack, coupled with ZERO emotional control. I stare at the clock at 2:30 in the morning, trying to decide where my life is going. Oh, and the neverending emotional roller coaster? I cry when I hear Sara McLachlan sing on the animal rescue commercials……and I have also started yelling at other drivers. With my windows up. Yes, that’s right. I’ve become one of THOSE people.

3. My priorities, thankfully, are straight. Put one in the “win” column.

4. I want to live long enough to become an embarrassment to my family. I am debating a tattoo, and already horrify them with my complete lack of clothing style. On my 70th birthday, I am going to start smoking cigarettes again. Menthol. Probably Newport. Oh, and at 60 (or maybe tomorrow), I’m going to start putting Bailey’s in my morning coffee.

Now do you understand today’s moratorium? I’m a rambling nut job over here.

I went out with my dogs today, and that’s when I decided I had to pull myself up by the bootstraps. Even though I don’t have boots. Actually, I wore flip flops today, and it’s not even possible to pull yourself up by your bootstraps if you’re wearing flip flops. Did I mention that I just got my first pair of (fake) Crocs, and they have Canadian flags on them? OK OK OK OK, back to hanging out with the dogs….

Moose is getting old. He has health issues. He’s in pain a lot. He limps and gimps and cries, and he has hotspots on his fur, and bumps on his skin, and severe allergies, and just finished a course of antibiotics for an infection. He’s seen better days.

It was hot today, and that heat is probably worse for dogs wearing a fur coat than it is for me. So I’m outside with the gimpy dog (and Echo, the needy dog, too…but her behavior isn’t relevant here), watching him limp around. He went to the chicken coop, tail wagging. The chickens hate him. He makes them very nervous. That’s probably why he loves walking around the coop, so he can watch them get riled up.

He checked for critters under the trailer, scooting his front 1/3 underneath, butt up in the air, tail wagging.

He came up on the porch, slowly, painfully, and started to sniff the cicadas, which are everywhere.

Let me interject here. I loathe cicadas. I know they’re a necessary part of the environment and yada yada yada, but they’re creepy. And crunchy. And loud. And creepy. And abundant. Did I mention creepy?

Moose began eating the cicadas. Munching away like they were little tiny Milk Bones. Nudging them out of the cracks between the boards on the deck. Digging them out of the little votive holders for the outdoor candles. All along the deck he walked, crunching away, tail wagging. When he had cleaned up the critters, he came over to where I was sitting, and slowly lowered himself down to lie next to my chair, finally settling with a big groan.

He keeps doing the things that make him happy. He finds new things to enjoy, even if it’s eating disgusting (creepy) insects. Even when it hurts.

I need to be more like my dog.

The Old Man

 

 

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