Sunday, August 29, 2010

First Week of School

I kept waiting this week for some phenomenally hilarious thing to happen during the first week of school so that I could blog about it, but it was a pretty boring week as first weeks of school go. My students were great, my kids liked their teachers and friends, and life shifted from summer laziness and fun to school year homework and grading like someone flipped a switch.  We at the Hickman house love routine, so everyone seems to be calmer and happier this week even though we're all pretty tired.

It was on Thursday that the school nurse called me right at the beginning of my conference period. Keaton was having an asthma attack, and he didn't have an inhaler at school yet. Just the day before I'd sent the medical permission form with Keaton and his mimi to the allergist so that we could send the inhaler to school legally. After several conversations and a phone call to Trey, we relented to the fact that our allergist only signs forms on Fridays, and no little thing like my son's health was going to change that.

Here I was, less than 24 hours later, rushing home to get an inhaler to Keaton's school on my conference period because he couldn't breathe. The nurse called two more times while I was on my way (a ten minute drive) because he was clearly in distress. By the time I got there he was struggling for breath, and it was pretty scary. With his medicine he recovered quickly, and I took him to his mimi's for the rest of the afternoon.

I was furious.  I cussed the allergist over and over again (alone, to myself in the car) for putting my son's health at risk and vowed to switch doctors immediately. I also reflected on the fact that I'd just taught my son on the fourth day of school that if you go to the nurse and look pitiful then someone will come to take you to Mimi's. He's a smart kid, so I knew he would use that to his best advantage.

Friday morning came, and Keaton refused to go to school. He said he was sick and needed to stay home. To us, he seemed to have a little cold, but overall he looked more like a kid who just wanted to hang out all day.

He kicked, he screamed, he flatly refused, he cried -- and still we sent him off to school.

Around eleven, Trey left work to give Keaton another dose of cold medicine, and when he arrived at the school he found Keaton already in the nurse's office. The nurse insisted that Keaton needed to see a doctor soon and that he couldn't stay at school. So off to Mimi's he went again, and Trey made a doctor's appointment for the afternoon.

As Keaton and I waited to see the doctor, we played a little battleship on my phone. When they called his name around 4:20, he quickly became short of breath. Before I could give him his inhaler, the nurses checked his oxygen levels, and that's when it got crazy.

Did you know that if your oxygen level is too low, then the little oxygen checker machine flashes red and makes loud beeping sounds?  Well, it does, and it did on Friday afternoon.

The pediatrician rushed in, they dosed Keaton with steroids and started a nebulizer treatment immediately.  All I could think was "And we kept sending him to school. We are the worst parents ever." Trey left work and joined us at the doctor. Minutes before he was breathing hard, but he was also playing battleship and shouting "YESSSS!!" every time he hit an enemy ship. Now this seemed like it could be serious.

One and a half hours, lots of prescriptions, two neb treatments, one dose of steroids, and a signed medical form for an inhaler at school later, we left the doctor's office.

After all that, Keaton is doing much better. He's taking oral steroids and inhaled steroids for five days, so I hope his teacher is prepared for Keaton on crack.

Remember my posts about Tucker on steroids?  How he gets really mean and violent?  Well, that doesn't happen to Keaton at all. In fact, the only way that Keaton on Steroids is like Tucker on Steroids is that his personality is exacerbated.

Keaton is happy, giggly, joyful, excited, ridiculous, and everything else he normally is, but times one hundred. He's been talking non-stop for three days, only it goes like this:

"Mom I need some drums for Christmas can Santa fit drums down the chimney? I found a place for them next to the piano but not on the side by the bathroom on the other side who will play the piano while I play my drums can you play the piano? maybe dad can play the piano because when I play my drums it will be awesome like dumdumdumdum and maybe I can play bust it because I like that song do you think tucker wants some drums? can I have some lemonade? Yum lemonade ice cold lemonade do we have any ice? i need ice cold lemonade with ice see it's ice cold because it has ice in it it's awesome."

Yesterday Trey actually asked him to go jump on his bed, and he happily obliged -- jumping and jumping and jumping and singing Don't Stop Believing at the top of his lungs and playing air guitar and calling things like lemonade and drums and Big Time Rush "awesome" over and over again.

In summary, we are the meanest parents in all the world, sending our very sick son to school twice, Keaton's allergist sucks big time and will be receiving a scathing letter as soon as I can get things set up at the new allergist, and Keaton is currently a hilarious crackhead.

All of this is to say that surely the second week of school will bring me something phenomenally hysterical.  Don't worry, I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Dear Ms. F,

Thank you for serving as Keaton's kindergarten teacher.  I know he will have wonderful educational experiences in your classroom, and I admire you for entering the noble profession of teaching our community's children.

When my oldest child went to kindergarten, my only real worry was that he would drive his teacher insane with his incessant questioning of everything. I suggested that she direct him to the classroom computer and google whenever necessary, and we had an uneventful year.

Keaton, however, is a different sort of kid. He's my baby, mostly because I baby him.  It's not entirely my fault, however, as I'm sure you witnessed during Meet the Teacher when his brother answered every single question for him. Keaton likes to be the baby, and we, unfortunately, have encouraged that in him.

I don't want to be that parent, but there are some things you should know.

1) Sometimes, not very often but sometimes, Keaton chooses to just pee where ever he is.  Please don't misunderstand, he is most certainly potty trained and has been since he was two. He just prefers to not stop whatever he's doing for the inconvenience of visiting the nearest bathroom. This may mean that he finds a tree or shrub on which to relieve himself, but it may also mean he'll just pee in his pants right where he is.

2) I know at Meet the Teacher is was cute when you asked him if he knew how to write his name and he said, "I know how. It's just boring."  I want to assure you that we don't encourage him to call schoolwork or other requests from adults "boring," he simply has his own opinions about what seems worth his effort. He does, in fact, know how to write his name.

3) Regarding schoolwork, we have had many conversations about always doing what the teacher asks even if it is boring.  Unfortunately, I'm not certain he is listening during these conversations because he is often playing air guitar and pretending to be a rock star during our serious moments. I find I can get his partial attention while he jumps on his bed and sings "Bust a Move," but I'm afraid that's the only time I can think of when he listens to me. Are there beds in kindergarten for him to jump on?

4) This lunch number thing might be a problem. It seems I left his lovely red parent information folder in my other son's classroom when we put away school supplies there, so I don't have it to drill into him this weekend.  I have considered writing it on his hand each morning, but I'm not convinced it will remain there until lunch. Don't worry about him going hungry, though, as I'm certain he will charm the other students into giving up their apples and pudding and chocolate milk. Speaking of hunger, no matter how pitiful he sounds when he says, "I'm STARVING!! I haven't eaten in SO LONG" we did feed him a hearty breakfast.

5) Please know that we do not encourage impromptu concerts, dance-offs, storytelling marathons, or climbing during instructional time. No matter what he tells you, we did not say it was okay for him to do that in class.

Dearest teacher, thank you for your commitment to our son, and may God richly bless you for what you're about to undertake. Our prayers are with you.

The Hickmans

Sunday, August 1, 2010

A Leper on Steroids, The Sequel

First, steroids make Tucker's face swell. Not in a weird elephant-man way, but more like a chipmunk storing acorns for the winter (Do chipmunks eat acorns?  Let's say yes for the sake of the simile).  Since he's a pretty scrawny little boy, the chipmunk face is pretty noticeable and quite adorable.

But that's where the cuteness ends.

Steroids take some of Tucker's personality traits and exacerbate them a great deal. For example, Tucker is a very smart little boy, a fact that he gladly shares on a regular basis by correcting other people and explaining random facts for no apparent reason. Today while we sat in the car wash he named 29 of the 44 U.S. presidents in seven minutes by playing Sporcle on my iphone. Perhaps it was the steroids that helped him remember people like Garfield and Taft.

In addition, he feels the need to make sure I know that he knows how to do virtually everything. Last night I was putting a DVD on for him and Keaton, and after I pushed "play" the next screen came up asking whether we wanted widescreen or normal screen (or whatever the second choice is called). Before I could even consider my screen choices, Tucker shouted at me, "You have to push play again! You have to pick a screen size!  You're not done!"

It's a good thing he was there to yell instructions because I've never started a DVD before in all my 33 years of life.  Arrrrggghhhhh!!!

As I said, these are some of his normal personality traits that just seem more pronounced since he started the drugs. But perhaps the most distinctive side effect of the steroids is the uninhibited rage displayed by my seven year old.

On day two of the 'roids, Keaton was asking Tucker a question about something, and Tucker was, of course, completely ignoring him as is his custom. Suddenly Tucker turned into the Incredible Hulk, veins bulging from his neck and forehead, fire shooting from his eyes, and from his mouth came this terrible demon voice screaming "MAKE HIM STOP TALKING I CAN'T STAND IT ANYMORE I'M ABOUT TO PUNCH HIM IF HE DOESN'T STOP RIGHT NOW!"

And I beleived he really would do it. I quickly snatched Keaton from Angry Tucker's reach and fled the room to concoct a plan to handle this monster that was now living in my house. Over the next hours and days we walked on egg shells around Tuck, trying not to rile the demon lying just below the surface. Keaton was brave, as little brothers are, and often taunted or picked at Tucker, at which time he became a tackling dummy that Tucker literally lifted off the ground and slammed into the carpet like a t.v. wrestler.  It was ugly.

So I did the thing every mother does when her kids are out of control. I sent them both to my mom's for a few days.

Alas, they had to come home eventually, and there were about four days of the medicine left. Keaton taunted Tucker, Tucker body-slammed him into the ground, and on and on and on.  Tucker even got so angry that his Incredible Hulk came out and, shaking uncontrollably, he shouted "I HATE KEATON HICKMAN!"  This is the first time we've heard this statement and a grand admonishment followed, steroids or not.

Finally, during one of Tucker's lighter moments when he realized he may have actually hurt Keaton, I decided to reason with the monster.

"Tucker, your medicine is fighting with your brain. Your brain knows what good choices are and what bad choices are, but your medicine only likes the bad choices. It's going straight to your brain and trying to convince it to make the bad choices.  You have to have a strong brain! Your brain has to beat the medicine, so you're going to have to think really hard about what you're doing until you're done taking it."

This seemed to hit home for Tuck, as he loves a brain challenge, and the next few minutes were uneventful. Small victories, right?

About fourteen minutes later the fighting and screaming started again, and we all decided to just count the days until the steroids were over and be happy that Tucker's skin was better and that he wasn't at school beating the hell out of random kids. At least he was beating up family, right?

It's been about five days since his last dose, and I can tell that the medicine is slowly leaving his system as his face deflates.  I can also tell it's not completely gone because as Keaton got out of the bath tonight and walked past Tucker, Tucker turned and punched him in the face.

Good times.