Thursday, July 31, 2008

KB series V: Even an angel can be high maintenance

I suppose by now you are wondering if this blog is going to be one big KB series! Well just until this coming Sunday. I decided to write about KB since I don't do monthly updates and thought it would be fun to read all this a few years later when KB is much more grown up.

I was not really planning on writing a post tonight. But reading the following comments made me want to write it:
DotThoughts said...

I throughly enjoyed reading the series. especially the bit about balloons :) He is such a great kid!! And the way you wrote about him was so full of pride and joy in being his mother. Great posts!

7/31/2008 10:07 AM

Blogger The TAAMommy said...

As much as you want to give credit to your son, 90% goes to you girl. You seem like an amazing mom with amazing patience and endless attentiveness towards your children.It is first, wonderful to hear what he is upto, and second wonderful to see you so patiently write out all these details. Thank you !!

The way I feel right now - completely exhausted mentally. And so full of worries about KB joining school this September. And feeling very guilty about how angry I was with KB this afternoon and how I yelled and fought with B this evening just because he joked about something I said to him seriously. A public acknowledgment that I am not being patient enough and it's not all joy and pride at KB all the time as the previous posts might suggest.

Things that worry me - that he is such a friendly/sociable kid - but he still has to have the "Noon" radiation (meaning mama be around) in the general vicinity or he gets flustered. He will go out with B to a shop or park but if I go out leaving him home - he gets flustered after half an hour or so. I have made the mistake of not doing this often enough. He used to be OK for a couple of hours if I left home when he was asleep. He would not cry when he woke up if he didn't find me in the house. But since KG arrived, somehow between her nursing schedule and KB's nap times etc I don't go out alone on weekends. And week days, there is hardly time to do so since B gets home around 8.15 pm.

I have been taking KB for a "Parent and Toddler" class at the school he will be attending in September. It meets once a week for two hours in the morning. I thought it would help him get familiarized with his new school. There are two rooms (for this class) connected by a hallway. One room has foam steps/slide, a wooden boat like see-saw, a tunnel etc. The other room has two round tables with little chairs, peg puzzles, a tent, a tiny little bed with little toy babies resting on it, a play kitchen etc. First ten minutes before class, they are allowed to play outside. But it gets hot and the summer school kids come to the play ground, so the PT (parent/toddler) kids have to go into the classroom. KB has no interest in painting in this class. He enjoyed it when we came to register etc because in the main campus of the school, they have the easel in the corridor and paints and paper etc set up. He just plays with the paint, enjoys it etc. But here may be because the kids are all sitting close to each other and painting - he doesn't want to do it. And even the puzzles he brings to the tunnel room and does it in no time so he really just doesn't want to do anything in the other craft room. So pretty much all the time both KB and KG want to continuously play in the tunnel room. She too has no interest in playing with toy babies or kitchen play or anything. Even blocks both kids are not interested in if they have to be in the other room. I really don't know if this means KB has no interest in craft/painting or if it's something about the room. In any case, he just hates paint getting on his fingers - even if a tiny dot falls on his fingers, he wants me to wash his hands with water! Even wiping it off is not enough. It has to be back to totally clean. Just the way my father was. Preschools here do so much art and craft work that I really hope he develops an interest in it!

The PT class has a about 10 min of snack time. Today the teacher somehow delayed it and I too had to rush KB through his breakfast that I think he became very hungry all of a sudden. He went to the craft room (where snacks are served) but couldn't spot me - since I was trying to grab KG and come to the snack room. He kept calling out for me and there were a couple of other tall moms next to him - in an instant - he got so flustered, he started crying. Until then he was this happy camper jumping up and down, being totally silly and having fun. Laughs and plays and doesn't realize he is hungry and suddenly loses all energy and just feels low. Just like me. I worry what he will do when this happens at school. He should learn to go tell the teacher he is hungry - but if he just cries for no reason it will be hard on him and the other kids in the classroom. He insisted that his hands be washed with water and soap in the classroom sink and not the outside sink. Because that is what he did the other times and for snack time he thinks he has to only wash his hands in this sink.

KB is a stickler for routine. Just like my father. Things have to be done a certain way. There was a long line for the classroom sink and he was hungry and I was holding KG. I was losing my patience at his fussiness regarding which sink. I tried hard to control my anger and asked him to come to the sink outside. This is what hunger does to him - make him unreasonable. He cried even more when I tried to get him to go outside. I was so upset and embarrassed at all this. Felt sad because his being a stickler for routine is going to come back to make it difficult on him when I am not around. I know, precisely why he is going to school. But just makes me worry. "What should I have done to make him be a little loose and relaxed when it comes to such things?", I think to myself. Things you tolerate as a mother, will not be tolerated by an outsider, especially a teacher who has many kids to attend to. I felt very tired myself from having run to school early in the morning after getting both kids ready and having had just a glass of milk for breakfast. I just felt sad that I had somehow not trained KB to be more relaxed about such things - dirt in his hands, things in place in a certain order, wetness etc.

Another high maintenance (HM) thing about KB is that he will have to wipe off his tears or if his nose is dripping with a tissue immediately. Nose, I understand. But if he is crying, he will keep asking me to wipe off his tears. And then point to his nose and say " Tissue! It's dripping!!!".. Sometimes, I spend so much time wiping off his tears and nose drip back to back that I just want to throw the tissue box out and tell him to go sulk in a corner! It's a good thing he doesn't go around with snort dripping out of his nose but he takes it to the other extreme sometimes. Tests my patience big time. I do it a few times back to back patiently. Wipe of tears, then the nose drip...back again...and then I just loose it. He did this in class this morning while waiting for the sink. I yelled at him - if you want me to keep doing this, we are going home KB!

Clean, orderly, no wetness at any point in time, routines have to be followed exactly, needs mamma around, very restless sleeper, slow eater - don't you think my dear KB, the sweet, gentle, well mannered kid is also high maintenance? I am sure you (hopefully someone will get this far in this post!) think I am making a big deal - but you have to come here and see how difficult and insistent he can be on some of these things.

So Dottie and Taamommy - It's not all pride and I too yell and scream - quite bad considering he is good in so many ways. I feel like I have so little patience. I can tolerate the work but I just cannot stand too much crying at any point in time. I need to learn to control my temper with KB when it comes to these things. It's been a long day today, am falling asleep, before I give away too much about what I screaming monster I can be at times, I better stop here for now!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

KB series - part IV

KB is a chatter box. Well, at least at home and with the people he is familiar with. He talks non stop, especially with me. Every little thing he does is reported to me. Every little thing KG does is also reported to me. All day live commentary. "Mamma, I am now eating my grapes, Mamma". "Mamma, I hear a lawn mower". "Mamma, Kutti baby is trying to get into the fire place". And so it goes. He is also into the cause and effect conversation now. He just will run through an entire imaginary script. If I am reading a library book for him and he turns the page and sees some doodle marks made by some other kid - he will look at me and point to it. I then have to tell him "Ahn Ahan...not good, some kid has scribbled on the library book". And he will say "Library Aunty"...and I have to continue that prompt by saying "Library Aunty will be upset.". KB will then say, "Library Aunty solluvaa" (she will say..). And I have to then take it through the whole thread with him. "Library Aunty will tell the kid not to scribble and if he does she will give him a time out etc " with each line being prompted by him. At the end he will say, "Indha maari scribble pannlai naa?" and I have to say, "If the kid doesn't scribble, then Library Aunty will be happy and will not give that boy a time out"! If I am reading him the book "Hats can help" and he sees a picture of a fire woman wearing a hat, he will tell me "Fireman hat pottukalainaa?" and I have to tell him the repurcussions of that. He will then say, "Fireman hat pottundaa?" and I have to tell him how the hat will help! Sometimes it is fun, but sometimes it gets so tiring to go through this for so many things! But I do indulge him and spin stores for all his cause and effect queries!

KB is one dramatic little fellar! He himself likes to use the word "dramatic" and says "KB is dramatic". Some days when we return from the park or some song and dance class, he would be hungry. But he wouldn't be able to tell me so. He will ask me for something I can't get to and if I don't attend to him, he would just come to me and say "I am sad, mamma" and tell me "I have tears in my eyes mamma...can you please wipe with tissue?". And he will go and get me a tissue. Our kid is green when it comes to turning lights off during day time - a point driven into him by me quite a bit - but when it comes to tissues - he is far from green. My fault. He cannot stand a drop of water or nose drip or tears flowing that each time he will get me a tissue or wipe it off himself.

B and I have arguments in front of him - though I tell myself that we should not fight it front of him - but it is impossible - we just do. We don't get any time to just talk to each other after KB goes to bed - so arguments also happen along with other conversation in front of the kids. KG is too young to understand but KB knows when we fight. He intervenes and tells us to calm down! And even if I so much as raise my voice, he will tell me, "Mamma, kathadhe mamma" (don't shout) and come to me and say "I will give you a hug and thadavi" (hug and pat). I sometimes jokingly tell him "Kutti baby romba paduthardhu, I am going to give her two odhais" (KG is troubling me, I am going to give her two whacks). Gandhi that he is, he will tell me "No, no no, Kutti baby'ku odhe kudukadhe...Nee kutti baby'ku odhe kudutha naa romba sad ayiduven". (Don't give her a whack, if you do, I will become sad). He is so kind to her, it just makes me feel so overwhelmed with pride. I feel like "How did I, the screaming monster that I am at times produce such a sweet and gentle kid?". It's not that he doesn't get upset or yell and cry, but he is so kind hearted when it comes to any one else getting hurt. I really hope that he is able to protect himself though. It really worries me when I think of bully kids in school. I really wonder if he will know to defend himself! He starts school in September 08 - have to just wait and see how his gentle temperament changes with outside influences and having to cope with physically stronger kids.

To be continued...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

KB series - part III

KB loves to be silly. Silly silly silly and amuses himself and laughs non stop which sometimes makes him throw up from coughing a little! For example, I would be cooking in the kitchen and he would be sitting in the living room couch playing by himself. All of a sudden, he would come into the kitchen and say, "Mamma...Pum"! I would look up at him and say "Pum?" and he would say "Pum, Mamma!" and have this twinkle in his eyes. "What do you mean Pum? Pum'naa yenna? (what is it?)". That's it, I just have to say that and he would laugh and laugh at having come up with something I didn't understand. Just some non sense word! Today's such nonsense word was "Agali". After he brushed his teeth and was waiting for B to take him upstairs for his bedtime, he was sitting on the kitchen counter top with me standing in front of him when he said, "Mamma, Agali". I looked up and said seriously, forgetting that he comes up with such nonsense, "Yenna Agali?" and he said "Agali Mamma!" and started laughing! After dinner when we lounge for a bit listening to music, he would suddenly come to me and start singing nonsense words really fast..."Filikicha Filikicha Filikicha fil..i..kicha..." and so on...or would say "Lalaga Laga Laga Lagale Lagale" and so on!

A post on KB would not be complete without mentioning his obbbbsession with balloons. I can hardly believe that a kid can be this amused by balloons and not loose interest in playing with them. He now has two hand pumps and four bags of different types of balloons - long and twisty balloons, worm ballons, squiggly balloons, orange balloons, lavendar balloons, punch balloons - you name it - what ever kind "Party city" sells. Well, I still have not gotten him the water balloons - but that is to preserve my own sanity from having to clean up or having KG fall down from water spills! But yes, he loves to pump air into the balloon with his hand pump and just release it and see how it goes...he plays finger tap with knotted balloons. But mostly it is the pump air and release game. Some slither like snakes on the ground (the worm balloons) and some fly like a rocket to the other end of the room - but in all the balloons entertain him every single day for at least 15 minutes minimum! I wonder when he will loose interest in playing with balloons!

To be continued....

Monday, July 28, 2008

KB series - part II

KB seems inclined to experiment with things in general. Today, kutti girl found a water bottle of mine (from the hospital during my delivery) - she pulled out the plastic straw from it and was playing with it. The straw also has a tiny lid to cover it. KG was playing with it and tried blowing air into it to make some sound. When KB got hold of the straw from her, he did the same. But he closed the lid and told me, "Mamma, look at this" and showed me how there is no sound if he closed the lid on the other end and then blew air into it. Then he took his hand pump (for balloons) and inserted the straw into it and pumped air into it, so it made strong sounds each time he pumped. It was fun watching him do these things on his own and enjoying himself with his little discoveries.

KB minds his manners quite a bit I should say! Not that I explicitly taught him to say any of these courtesy words. He seems have to just picked up from watching us say it. Like saying "Bless you" when we sneeze - I never ever taught him to say that. Now if I miss saying it, he tells me "Mamma, I just sneezed. Bless you chollu!". And say I have a plate of snacks laid out for Kutti girl, he will look at me and ask, "Can I have some too?" and only then take from her plate! And when he wants water, he will come to me and say, can you please give me some water?".

KB's infamous eating - or should I say non eating - habits are much the same. Well, at least the violent protests and me having to shove food down his throat to get him going etc have stopped. Now we have a very mature exchange in this regard. When he says enough, I just stop. Sometimes I ask him if he can have 5 more small spoonfuls and he agrees. But that's about it. He is still thin - but as long as he is active I accept it a little better now. I still worry that he does not try new foods easily, will not eat rice meals on his own for sure (at least the others have some chance) and he is in general a difficult one with respect to eating.

KB's personality just shines through best in his role as (little) big brother to KG. He has been so welcoming of her from day one and has been so gracious in allowing B and I to be affectionate towards her and showering his affection on her as well. It truly is a proud moment for me each time I see him just pour, literally pour his love out to her so innocently. When he wakes up from his afternoon nap, he will ask for "Kutti baby" (KG) and the two of us will open the door to where she is sleeping...and I will then sit down on the bed to nurse her. He will immediately lie down next to her chatting away with me about this and that all while holding her hand. She too will pat his head or pinch his nose while nursing! He has literally saved me by alerting me that KG "escaped" to the stairs when I was in the kitchen (barricades in place - but she managed to squeeze her way out). And another time, she was playing with his top on the tiled floor. I just went to the kitchen for a maximum of 15 seconds to get his yogurt from the fridge. I heard KB immediately warn me "Kutti baby top'a vai'le pottunthu!" (Kutti baby has put the top in her mouth!).

Every morning, KG wakes up earlier than KB. B takes her out of our room and goes downstairs and keeps her there until we (me and KB) wake up an hour later. It is so hard for me to believe - but KG just knows - when it is around 7.00 am, she will start screaming (not crying) and generally act very restless because she will want to come upstairs to see us both. As soon B drops her on our bed, she will come to me and climb over me and go on to KB's bed. The same thing happens in the afternoons. She and KB just roll and push and play in his little toddler bed. Then I pretend to me "Mamma Monster" and suddenly attack KB telling him "Mamma Monster wants to bite and chew and eat KB" and just jump onto his bed tickling him a little with my head. He just laughs loudly and then KG joins in and the three of us just frolic rolling and jumping in the bed for some more time before we get ready and go to the park.

To be continued...

Friday, July 25, 2008

KB series !

KB will turn three on Aug.3.08. I wanted to write down things about him for myself because by next year he would have changed so much that I would forget so many little details about him. And I find that I have so many things to write about him that this post is going to be very long. So I decided to post it in two or three parts. I don't expect you to find it all very interesting but it's out there for you in case you do find it interesting!

I think back to the day I saw the two lines on the home test. I distinctly remember B coming back from work and me telling him about the home test and I felt blood rushing to my face. Me, a mother?! I could not believe that I was going to enter that world - the other side - from being carefree to becoming responsible for another human being. I was going to experience the miracle of feeling a life growing in me and giving birth - it really felt exhilarating for that one instant. There are very few instances in my life when I have felt that kind of exhilaration. KB, my little baby who brought me into that wonderful world of motherhood first - he is now going to be three. So much has happened since he came into my life. The best being the arrival of his dear sister KG and the saddest being the passing away of my father and B's mother. And KB has been with me already sharing in his own way such important moments in my life. KB, my first born, my heart, my inspiration in kindness and compassion - is now a little boy!

When KB was born, tons of people who saw his picture emailed me or called my mother or B and told us that he was a carbon copy of me in looks. My friend just could not stop raving to my mother as to how could it even be possible for a newborn to look so exactly like his mother! And this trend continues even now - so many people who see him say, "Gosh, he looks JUST like you!". I just cannot see the resemblance at all - though I believe he does resemble me. There is also a lot of my personality in him according to B. Well, he is just like you in every thing B says. That scares me a lot. I don't want him to be like me in a lot of things - but I hope I learn to accept it if that is the case!

KB also takes after my father in some things. My father was a very sociable and jovial person. He had the habit of making friends out of co passengers during a journey by striking a conversation even with the most serious looking ones. KB does the same. If I take him to Kohls or Target with me and I pause to look at some clothes, he walks to the nearest person and says, "Excuse me"...and the person says, "Yes? Hiii?". KB then says, "This is KB and that is my sister KG. And Daddy has gone to office!". And if they are kind enough to ask him more questions, he gladly tells them his whole life story. "I like to read books. I like to read "When Daddy travels" book" and on and on he goes. My father was an extremely clean person. KB takes after him in that. Sometimes it borders on obsessive and it really upsets me at times. If a small drop of paint touches his finger, he will make me wipe it with wet tissue or water, if not, he will not continue what he was doing. And when I am feeding him his meal, if a drop of food is stuck to his chin, I have to wipe it, if not he will not open his mouth for the next spoon of food. My father always remembered people and incidents well. He could tell me events that happened in his childhood down to the finest detail. KB too suddenly talks about some incident that happened six months back about which we never talked about since it happened. I guess this is how my father makes his presence felt in my life.

KB is kindness and compassion personified. Well, he does have moments when he yells at KG - but that too is largely my fault - he sees me yell at her sometimes - so he too shouts out her name when she grabs his balloon or pen etc. But say if B and I are in the midst of an argument and I am on the verge of tears and I thump my palm on my fore head and plonk on the sofa looking sad, he comes to me and gives me a hug and says "I will give you a hug...don't kochi (yell) Daddy, mamma!" And he gives me a kiss. With his eyes nearly tearing up, he asks me to bend down to his level and he rubs my fore head because that's where I hit myself when I sat down. If KG grabs something from him, he will shout and scream - things he learned from having to deal with this constantly - but he still will not be violent with her. And many times, he will give her what she wants and look at me and say "Kutti baby wants my balloon" like he is much older than her! If he even over hears a conversation about his cousin or someone being sick, he will just worry about it and ask about it over and over. And if I even hint of some pain, he will just keep asking about it until I tell him I am OK. He is so compassionate and kind that I sometimes worry that he will get hurt if he continues to be that way even when he grows up. But let's hope that he will continue to be that way because the world does need more of those!

KB has a thoughtful look in his eyes most of the time and often spaces out to imagine situations we tell him about or that he reads in his books. He loves to read and has an amazing memory for the books he reads. He knows his alphabets but doesn't know to read yet. But he can read every page of a book like "Me too Iguana" verbatim. Even if I miss one word and say "Iguana saw Lion getting his hair trimmed", he will correct me and say "Iguana saw Lion getting his MANE trimmed" stressing on where I went wrong. He does the same with his music CDs. He knows the order of songs in all his favorite CDs and as soon as one song is about to finish he tells me which one would be coming next. He has some favorite songs that he likes to listen to many times in a day but in general he will not let me stop a song in the middle and forward it to his favorite song. His current top favorite is "There's a hole in my bucket, Dear Liza". He will tell me "Indha song mudinjutom, appram we can play that song". He still has not caught on to the TV bug but I figured once he joins school, if he asks to watch some good programs on TV, I will let him watch for a little while - until then I just let it be.

(To be continued).

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

KB speak

Me: KB, am going to bite you and bite you and bite you...

KB - No, Mamma, only mosquito can don't bite...
Me: KB, can I gobble you up?

KB: NO, no no, only turkey can do gobble gobble...

Me: KB!!!! STOP doing that (if he acts crazy while eating - often leading to throwing up because he is laughing with food in his mouth).

KB: Mammmmaaa, Mammma...(as if to a child) - I don't want to stop Mamma...only Daddy will stop at a red light!

Me - still keeping a stern face.

KB - Mamma? You happy? Can you smile? (things I say to him when he looks upset!)
Me : While sitting casually at the couch after dinner: KB, Why did you trouble Mamma today? Kutti baby was crying because she hurt herself. Why did you cry? You should not have cried like that for no reason. You should have helped Mamma...I am disappointed KB!

KB: Mamma, I am kidding!

Me: You're kidding?

KB: Mamma, nee chollu, I am kidding! (Mamma, you say "I am kidding")!

Me: No dear, I am not kidding, I am serious, why did you trouble Mamma?

KB: Mamma, Nee chollu mamma, I am kidding chollu! (Tell me you are kidding Mamma!).

Me: While patting and singing "Ganesh Pancharatnam" as always for his afternoon nap and seeing him keeping his eyes wide open at the end of the song : KB!! Close your eyes!! Close!!!

KB: Closing his eyes mutters - Mamma - I am going to throw "close" in the garage! You should not say close.
Me: While getting him ready to go out and him running wildly to the couch and jumping on top of it: KB, come right now! If not, I am going to leave you and go!

KB: Not liking my loud tone: NO!! Mamma!! I am going to throw "leave you" in the vacuum cleaner...adhu appdiye odanju poidum! (Leave you will break into pieces). I am going to throw it into the sky! Reach'e panna mudiyadhu! (can't reach it!).

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The challenges with caring for the elderly

I read this blog recently and forwarded it to my sisters. On second thoughts I think I should forward it to my usual list of people that I mail interesting articles to, because this is something every one has to face - either themselves when they grow older or if they have aging parents or relatives to take care of now. The astounding number of comments from readers is a reflection of a real issue that both care takers and the elderly face in their old age.

My father passed away Jan'07. As the youngest child in a family of six siblings, the first five close in age to each other, I was in the unique position of seeing my parents in their old age when I was still fairly young compared to my siblings or even a lot of my friends. Even my sister who is the fifth in the family is seven years older than me. Yeah, I was clearly an accident. My mother is sweet enough to tell me that it is probably my luck that my father led such a good life until the day he died - this is when I tell her how good their life would have been had they not had me at all. Five kids would have been settled and they could have relaxed in their old age much sooner.

"At least he didn't suffer...just two days of pneumonia and he passed away", my mother says to console herself and us when she talks about my father's passing away. I too thank heavens for that. It would have been unbearable to see my independent, active, confident father become totally dependent had he come back home with lung complications with an oxygen tank. My parents were staying with my brother and sister-in-law at that time. They (and us visiting them) would have surely taken good care of him - but every one would have been stretched to the limits particularly my mother. And my father would not have coped well emotionally if he had to depend on any one for his basic functioning. In that sense, I think we were blessed that we did not have to see him suffer and that he passed away with dignity. I wish for my mother a long and healthy life. If my father was active, she is super active. And super emotional. And can spiral into absolute negativity on the rare occasion that she is even down for a couple of days with fever. I pray to God that she should never suffer or become physically dependent on any one in her old age.

My mother-in-law was a heart patient - she had a congenital heart defect that was diagnosed only at age 50 or so by when it was too late to operate on her and be sure of fixing it. She too had phenomenal energy and has really awed many cardiologists with her energy despite her weak heart. She became physically weak in the last month before her death. She was very exhausted physically and at that point I used to have sleepless nights wondering what we should do - should we move right away back to India or should we wait for a month or two to see if she gets back to normal and is able to travel to the US in which case they were both willing to be with us and get a Green card? But before we could even get to such decisions, she suddenly passed away. My FIL too talks in the same vein and says that he is just glad that she passed away rather than come back home physically incapacitated.

My FIL is a diabetic patient but is quite active and self sufficient thus far. He will be moving to the US - he just got his GC - with plans of eventually getting his citizenship since both his children (my husband and his sister) are in the US. He will be living with us for the most part. I have two very young children and coping with all the work including cooking meals on time is just barely manageable. Nearest family for us is a five hour drive. Some friends yes, but all have two young children, so can't even imagine asking them for any help unless absolutely necessary during an emergency. It gives me the shivers to think how we would cope if there was a dire emergency. Not just my FIL, for that matter none of us can afford to be in anything less than the best of health at this point. Even on rare occasions when B has sprained his shoulder, it was hard because that meant at night I would have to attend to both kids all night.

Back to the main point, caring for an older person is something that requires patience - almost like caring for a child. But caring for an older person who is physically dependent requires patience, courage, stamina and will. A strong will and a sense of duty - for even love falters if there is no will during tough times. I have seen even young couples where one person had to go through cancer therapy where the marriage was really tested. No wonder they say "In sickness and in health" during wedding vows.

Some of the comments in this post are really sad and heart breaking. A few of them may come across as heartless. But mostly you can see that the children/siblings of these elderly people are trying their very best with their heart and soul to provide them with good care. Still it can stretch a person to the limits. Especially in this country where there is no neighbor walking in randomly to check on you and give a few minutes of break. Even when I take care of the two kids, if I need to quickly go out and get some milk, I will have to take both kids along. It would be no different with an older person who needs constant care and attention.

I wonder how many of us have thought about our own old age. I tell B that I never want to be dependent on our children financially. But what if our health fails? That thought then brings me closer to the reality of how it might feel to be in a totally different world of assisted living. Not that that is bad. But somehow I have this mental image of living in a bread and breakfast inn except that that would be home, not a vacation stay. Breakfast at set times, living by rules set by the nurses. All reasonable, yet so different from the feeling of home.

I saw my friend and her two siblings struggle horribly in taking care of their father who deteriorated from Alzheimer's. She with her two very young children, her sibling on the other coast and one in the UK, all with relatively young children - together struggled to give him good care. Her mother once called me when I actually did not have much time to talk. But I could not hang up on her at all. It was heart breaking. At some point, she did not really care if I was even listening. She just wanted the feeling of someone who had the time to listen to her. I just forgot about what I had to do and just listened. I did not utter a word other than "Uhm, Uhm" for a whole hour if you can believe it. She was like a prisoner in a foreign world. There was no world outside of caring for her husband for her. Holding him back from running out of the house in the middle of the night, waking up in panic hearing him turn on the stove in the kitchen or hearing him shower in the middle of the night or soil his clothes quite unaware of what he was doing. It was wrenching to even hear of all this from her. In some ways, much as she terribly misses her husband, and the children their father, there is a feeling of liberation from the stress they were all going through at that point. Having to provide care in such situations especially when you have your own dependent children to take care of can really make or break relationships. Between the spouse of the caregiver, between siblings. One can only hope that through it all, you come out stronger and not broken in spirit.

I think of my father and again feel a sense of relief as I write about what my friend's father went through. And I realize it is a blessing to have a good life and as much of a blessing to have a good death. I only wish people were at least spared the unfairness of physically debilitating illness in their old age. These days if I hear of someone old who went to bed and never woke up, I can't help but think of that person as truly blessed.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Painted in 05...

A long time ago, I can't even remember in what context, I had mentioned that I would post a picture of a couple of water colors I had done for KB just before he arrived. I was looking for some photos in my laptop folders yesterday when I spotted a photograph of the three water colors I had painted. Since I have not posted in a while, I figured I would post this to get me started on a real post soon.
I looked at some cards with animal art in some children's website and did these. It was just for fun, nothing out of the ordinary! In my mind, the theme was of the "big" ones bowing to the "little" ones!