By Shannon Ralph
I am a nag. I don’t want to be a nag, but I can’t seem to help myself. When Lucas was younger, I thought he could do no wrong. Of course, he had his naughty moments like all children. But for the most part, I thought everything he did and said was perfection incarnate right here on Earth. Right here in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
But now he is a tween. I mean, I didn’t google it or anything but I think four weeks shy of ten years old qualifies as a tween. And I find myself nagging him. Constantly. I ride him like a mechanical bull. I don’t want to do it. I don’t want to be one of those moms. I really don’t like it when I nag him. I don’t like the message it sends him. But…Jesus freaking Christ, son. How do you manage to function in this world? How do you breathe and walk at the same time?
Case in point:
Recently, Lucas had a busy day. He performed a Christmas show at the Mall of America with the Metropolitan Boys Choir, followed by a second performance the same day at the Holidazzle Parade downtown. He was with the choir for eight hours straight. So it was certainly a busy day.
I dropped him off at 12:30. He had lost the buttons to his tuxedo jacket, so rather than just dropping him off, I went in with him so I could try to locate some buttons I could quickly sew on for him. The harried choir director waived me toward the wardrobe closet and said, “Just try to find him another jacket in the same size.” The tuxedo jackets did not appear to have sizes on them, so I shuffled through a sea of red jackets until I found one that looked relatively close in size to the jacket with the missing buttons. The other boys were dressing, so I asked Lucas to put on his tuxedo shirt so we could try on the jacket. I walked away for a moment to fill out Lucas’s wardrobe card showing that we had exchanged jackets.
When I turned back toward Lucas, I saw him struggling to get his tuxedo shirt on. He was trying to insert his enormous noggin into the neck of the tuxedo shirt while it remained fully buttoned. Fully. Buttoned. And he was still wearing the sweatshirt he walked in wearing. Not to mention a t-shirt underneath the sweatshirt (he had dressed in layers for the cold parade later that evening). I stood for a moment just watching him struggle. Studying him. Like one would study an endangered species in the wild. How could he possibly have thought that was going to work? Eventually I said, “Lucas…what in the world are you doing??” He responded with a confused, “Huh?”
That pretty much sums up Lucas these days.
Today, he came home from school and announced that his teacher said he has to bring his tennis shoes to school tomorrow. (For those of you from climates somewhat milder than the frozen tundra I live in, kids wear snow boots to school and change into their tennis shoes when they arrive. Every hallway in the school is lined with snow boots from November through April most years.) “Lucas,” I responded. “Your tennis shoes were in your backpack the entire day. You watched Mom put them in there this morning.”
And by the way, who in their right mind puts an opened and mostly full pudding cup back into their lunch box?? Every square inch of the inside of his lunch box was coated with vanilla pudding this evening. Seriously, Lucas?
He puts on clean underwear on top of his dirty underwear because he forgets to take them off. He puts school clothes on over his pajamas if we are not watching him. He throws our silverware in the garbage can when he cleans his plate. We own a whopping three butter knives now. He brings his homework home a crumpled mess shoved into the bottom of his backpack. That is, when he remembers to bring his homework home. His snow boots are never laced up. When he eats, he leaves a circle of crumbs on the floor. Everything I ask him to do must be repeated multiple times. And then again.
Maybe it’s just a tween thing. Maybe his little body is changing so rapidly that his intellect cannot keep up. His mind cannot focus. It brings me a tiny bit of comfort to tell myself that it is a phase and my son is not doomed to idiocy.
And I try not to nag him. I really do. I try to pick my battles. I try to let things slide. I swallow my sarcasm when I see him wandering around in a fog of confusion when he is supposed to be brushing his teeth. I literally bite my tongue when I see his crumpled school work. Ever fiber of my being wants to scream, “Do you have no pride in your work?!” I have made a conscious effort to stop counting how many times in a single day the monosyllabic “Huh?” comes out of his mouth.
I am really trying not to be a nagging mother. Honestly. I am trying hard.
But come on…the boy is killing me here.
Feature Article for The Next Family
By: Mark Hagland
My name is Mark. I am 51 years old. (GULP!) I am a member of the first wave of Korean adoptees. I came to the U.S. in 1961 at the age of eight months and was raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin by parents of Norwegian and German ethnic heritage. I’ve been very active in the KAAN Conference, an annual conference focused on Korean adoption. KAAN is truly unique, and over time its leaders (among which I am now one) are looking to expand its scope to include those outside just Korean adoption. (Certainly, anyone with interest or involvement in transracial and/or international adoption is very welcome.) Our annual conference this year will be held in Albany, New York in July. So there’s one slice —my Korean adoptee slice.
Here are a few more:
I attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and, after receiving my B.A. in English, came to Chicago to get my master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern. I’ve been a professional journalist since 1982 and in the health care publishing field for 23 years as a reporter, editor, author, and speaker. Journalist -another slice!
I came out as a gay man while a freshman in college, and have been socially open for a number of years. I’m blessed to have a wonderful life-partner of over 26 years. Another slice!
Eleven years ago, I volunteered to be a co-parent with a female, unmarried friend. I now have a wonderful ten-year-old daughter, who lives with her mother. Another slice!
In choosing to become a parent, which has been one of the great blessings in my life, I knew that my identity as a gay man would change, and it absolutely did. Nearly two years ago, I became involved in a wonderful group called Gay Dads Chicago, and have gotten to know a number of other gay dads locally. But even in that group, I’m in an extreme minority with regard to the way in which I became a father. Most in the group married, had children, and discovered they were gay later on. Which basically describes how things have worked out for me my whole life: I’ve always been the only asterisked person in any group I’ve been in.
Certainly, growing up as an Asian-American, transracial adoptee in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin of the 1960s and 1970s was a marginalizing experience, despite having wonderful parents and a loving family. As I like to say, I grew up feeling like a Martian and then when I finally became part of the huge actively participating Korean adoptee and transracial adoptee community at age 40, it was like happening upon a convention of Martians in spaceships!
So… how many Asian-Americans do you know who are partnered gay men, biological fathers, Korean adoptees, and journalists, all rolled into one? Sometimes I feel as though I have more prisms going than a world-class crystal paperweight collection. And it can get very confusing for many people, because they keep getting reminded (hopefully gently) as they get to know me how complex my identities and perspectives are. It reminds me of a comment I read in an interview in an LGBT newspaper years ago. An African-American gay activist was being interviewed about her sense of identity; she was black, female, and gay. And she was asked, which are you first? Black, female, or lesbian? And naturally, she said, well, it’s not like I can go out my door and leave any one of my identities behind! That’s exactly how I feel, too, of course. Being Asian, being an Asian-American, being an adult transracial adoptee, being a gay man, being a parent—they are all me!
There is a richness in having so many prisms through which one sees the world. Often, being the only person of color in a gay male gathering, or the only gay person among an Asian group, or the only parent among a gay social gathering, or the only gay person among a bunch of parents, or the only adoptee among a gathering of adoptive parents (and on and on) offers me unique perspectives.
Isn’t that part of what makes life so rich, anyway—that we can all share our individual experiences with one another, and be made the richer for doing so, and for our mutual support?
By: Chris Coyne
I am so happy to share some amazing news. Last Thursday afternoon I received a call from our Los Angeles-based adoption attorney. A little more then twenty four hours later Jon, CJ, and I were on a plane headed to Los Angeles to meet our three-week-old baby boy.
The past week has been so crazy. We got off our plane a few hours before the birth mother arrived. CJ was a champ in the airplane. We did not really have a chance to talk to him much about the baby but he understood there was going to be a baby in California when we arrived. We picked up a minivan, got our bags, and ran to our attorney’s office. It was so strange to be back in Los Angeles and even weirder under these circumstances. We dropped off a car seat at the attorney’s office and headed over to the hotel after going to a park so CJ could run and play and be CJ. My mom and stepdad met us at the hotel and our attorney called us back.
The drive back was only a few minutes but it seemed like it was three seconds. We arrived at the same time as our birth mother and attorney. I grabbed her bags and she handed Jon the baby. I have to tell the truth, I wanted to see his little face, but I could not look at him at first for fear that this wasn’t going to go well. After a few introductions we went inside and Jon instructed me to grab our diaper bag because the baby needed changing after the long flight. I did as I was told but walking out to the car I realized the birth mother was free of this child in her mind. He was in our hands. At this moment I realized I was about to change my three-week-old baby boy for the very first time.
I will not give too many details about our first diaper change, but I will say there was lots of poo and a sock ended up in the trash. We chit chatted a bit with the birth mother and we left for the hotel with two kids in car seats. We were both expecting a call from the attorney asking for us to come back, but thankfully, it never came.
CJ took our first names: Christopher Jon. Baby Neil took our middle names. He was born March 30. He is the best baby as he eats well, sleeps lots, and is truly loved. I know from experience that one never gets over a failed adoption; the pain is reduced with time and then something amazing happens and you open your heart and then a miracle happens. We have had a very long journey to grow our family. We would have never been able to accomplish it without the love and support from our amazing family, our special friends, a great attorney, and one of the best dry cleaners in the world. If not for our neighborhood dry cleaner at Top Hat cleaners in West Hollywood our family would not be what it is today.
I have so much more to share but I don’t have the time. I am currently in California, awaiting some final paperwork that will allow me to take Baby Neil home. Jon and CJ are back at home because Jon had important meetings that he could not reschedule. CJ is going to be an excellent big brother and I miss him like crazy.
More to come but where to start?
By: Brandy Black
By Carol Rood
I have many friends who are close to my age who are currently empty nesters. They started having children when they were in their 20′s, and are currently in their mid to late 40′s and their children have moved out of the house. Some are married, some in college, some are working. I have asked many of them (the mothers usually) if they experienced the “Empty Nest Syndrome” -a condtion where parents have feelings of depression, sadness, and loneliness when their children grow up and leave the family home. They all said “NO!” Some said “Hell no!” and one or two said “Fuck no!” A couple of them asked me if I was joking.
In other words, the Empty Nest Syndrome is apparently NOT alive and well amongst my peers. At least not in Southeastern Virginia. When I seemed surprised (after all I had always heard mothers typically experienced it), my friends were like, “Girl, are you kidding me? No one to cook for, no dirty bedrooms. No nagging about helping out around the house. No one asking for money…I could go on and on.” That was the typical response. Being able to come and go as they please with no one to worry about seemed like such a relief to them.
My partner Bluebell and I have four kids between us. We were so excited when one of them (L) left the nest last year. She graduated and moved to Minnesota to live with her aunts and be a welder. She learned how to weld in high school and was super gung ho to get started. Since Bluebell’s sister is also a welder, all of the adults thought Minnesota with her Aunt would be a good move for Bluebell’s daughter. She left, Bluebell cried, but we adjusted and L thrived. She loved being on her own (with adults who loved her there to assist). She got a welding job, bought a car, managed her money okay, and was doing well. So we were absolutely shocked when she announced one day that she was going to move back to Virginia. We were floored and didn’t know what to do.
There had been this whole, “one down, three to go” thing. We had renovated L’s room, painted it lavender, bought two desks and a chaise and turned it into an office. It has a window with a view, and it is lovely to sit on the chaise, read, and look out the window on occasion. When L told Bluebell she planned on moving back “home,” Bluebell gently explained that we no longer had a space for her. We didn’t have room. We had also had lots of struggles with L, and the last year she lived with us had not been pleasant for Bluebell or me. I became anxious, and started having stomach aches. However, what could I do? L was determined to leave Minnesota and come back to Virginia. She had a car, bills, and no job! We knew it was a mistake, but we could not convince her of that. So we braced ourselves for the inevitable.
L explained to Bluebell that she would not be coming back to live with us, she had a friend she was going to move in with and we were relieved. The situation was not ideal, but at least she would be safe, and her friend said she didn’t have to pay rent until she was “on her feet.” Even though I should not have been worried at that point, I just had this nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach.
Fast forward a month. L’s friend was asked to leave the residence and L needed to come home. We always knew this was a big possibility. She didn’t have a decent job and couldn’t afford rent. We told her she could come back and stay rent free until she got a job and was on her feet. We now had a Boomerang Kid. In just a couple of months we went from “One down, three to go.” to “Ermagherd, one came back!!”
We had to establish household rules, and have had to adapt them at least once. Our Boomerang child felt as though it was okay to be a consumer of our water, electricity, food, etc etc and not help out around the house. Then we gave her ONE chore: putting the dishes in the dishwasher. She was pissed, but had no choice. Then she got a job, but was only working about 25 hours a week, and her hours were in the evening. So that left her sleeping until noon, then watching TV or Netflix all day. So we put her on the Carol Rood Life Plan (or “CRLP”).
This plan is not for the faint of heart. It requires planning, and being awake, and being productive. For every hour I was working outside the home she had to be working inside the home to get another job. The PS3 and the Wii were locked up, and a code was placed on the televisions so she could not sit and watch TV all day. Every morning around 8 am I wake her up so she can get started on her day and be productive. This plan has actually helped her get a second job because she is so eager to get OFF the CRLP that she is willing to get three jobs if need be to afford an apartment! Oh, and there is a deadline. The offer to stay on the couch will end on January 5th. Apartment or no apartment. So on the CRLP you need to get busy so you can save up and get a place of your own. There are affordable apartments near us. None is a penthouse suite, but all have four walls in a safe neighborhood, and can be used for sleeping, cooking, eating, and general hanging around.
Last night we had the “Since you are working now, we are going to start charging you a small amount of rent every month to help pay for your consumerism.” That went over like a lead balloon. Oh well, I am not in the business of pleasing people who can be on their own but are not because of sheer stubborn laziness. If she was in school, or working a full time job, or doing anything to move her life in a forward direction I would probably feel differently, but being stagnant just because you can does NOT work for me, and January 5th looms!
I will let you know if the CRLP works, and if so I will offer seminars for other parents of Boomerang kids. If you are one of the lucky first participants it will be free, but once I achieve the “Boomerang Kid” ghuru status, well then by gosh, it might cost you a few bucks!!
By Brandy Black
- Addressing issues about lesbian- or gay-headed families means that I will have to talk about sex in the classroom.
- I am uncomfortable using the words “gay” and “lesbian”.
- I don’t know what words to use when interacting with members of lesbian- and gay-headed families.
- I don’t know how to reconcile my personal beliefs with my responsibility to all the children and families in my classroom/school.
- I don’t know what resources on gay- and lesbian-headed families exist, or where to find them.
- Teachers and kids will think I am strange.
- Teachers and kids will treat me unfairly.
- My family and I will be called names.
- My family will not be included like other families in the school.
- My friends’ parents might not let their kids come over to my house to play or for a sleepover.
- Teachers and kids might think I will be lesbian or gay.
By: Shannon Ralph
There is quite a bit that I do in my day-to-day life that probably falls into the category of “bad parenting.” Refusing to read my children bedtime stories because “TMZ” is coming on is one example that immediately comes to mind. Or feeding them Fruit Loops for dinner when Ruanita is out for the evening. Or “accidentally” misplacing and subsequently forgetting the reminder card from the dentist because I am still suffering from post traumatic stress disorder from the last visit, and cannot fathom the thought of taking three children back for more fluoride fun. I could go and on and on. Really, if I’m being honest, the depths of my parental depravity know no bounds.
I have decided, however, rather than flogging myself for all of my shortcomings, I would allow myself a bit of leniency in certain areas. I mean, these little creatures do wear on the nerves sometimes, don’t they? Therefore, to all of you parents out there, I do hereby declare that you may do any of the following with no guilt whatsoever. All of the below actions are well within the realm of reasonable parental behavior. No guilt. No judgment. No need to explain.
1. Taking the batteries out of the noisiest toy your child owns and telling them it is broken. Forever.
2. Telling your child that it is bedtime when it is only 5:30pm (this is only feasible up until about 2nd grade when teachers insist on teaching children how to read an analog clock).
3. Allowing your child to exceed his daily allotted video game time by several hours so he will leave you alone long enough to have an adult conversation with the childless friends who were brave ( or naïve?) enough to come to your house for dinner.
4. Pretending you are asleep.
5. Pretending you are deaf.
6. Pretending you are blind.
7. Pretending you are mute (laryngitis?).
8. Pretending you are deaf, blind, mute, paralyzed, and catatonic.
9. Blaming all gaseous emissions (from both ends) on your child.
10. Bribing your child with ice cream to please, for the love of God, be good in Target.
11. Loading your child up with Tylenol and sending them to school despite having a mild fever because you need…really NEED…adult interaction after an entire weekend spent at the zoo and the park with your lovable children and half the unruly preschool population of greater Minnesota.
12. Drinking a beer (or four) at your child’s birthday party.
13. Telling them that your cell phone/Nook/iPad/laptop are dead despite having just charged each and every one of them.
14. Closing all the blinds and telling your child that it’s raining because you can’t stand the thought of spending another hot summer day sitting on scorching concrete while your child splashes around in two feet of water at the local wading pool repeatedly saying, “Watch me, Momma. Look at me. Watch me. Look, Momma.”
15. Hiding Oreos in the back of the cupboard and eating them only after confirming via the pinch test that your children are completely and unconditionally asleep.
By: Carol Rood
I blame myself.
No actually I blame people who are parenting kids born in the early to mid 90′s.
We messed up.
We did it wrong.
We shouldn’t have listened to the “experts”. I think we should have parented more like our parents did than how we were told was a “better way.”
I am of course speaking about the way we have parented our children who were born between 1992 and 1996. Those who are legally able to work and who have either graduated from high school or will shortly graduate from high school. I have to first say I googled “what do I do when my teen refuses to get a job”. The websites I found were not much help. A couple said things like, “You need to give your teenager positive motivation and explain to them the benefit of having a job.” I don’t think this will work, in fact I think that kind of “only positive reinforcement parenting” is partly what got us into this mess in the first place.
We have become a society that coddles its kids. We never let them fail, we never let them scrape their knees, we never let them fall. And by doing this we never teach them how to be self reliant! How can they learn to recover from a set back if we never let them have any set backs? I experienced this first hand with Bluebell’s daughter. She was struggling in school. Mainly because she didn’t do any work. And I mean to say she really did not do ANY work. She was in danger of not graduating high school. So at the very last minute so that she would graduate, one of her teachers changed her grades from 0′s to 50′s so she would indeed get a passing grade. I have to say honestly that I had mixed feelings about that. On one hand I wanted her to be held accountable for her lack of action, however, on the other hand, I didn’t want her to have to spend another year in school, and I knew she would end up dropping out and would not have her high school diploma. In the long run, not having a high school diploma was a far worse thing than not being held accountable for ignoring your schoolwork. So she was “passed” and graduated.
With my own children, especially with Joe Cool, the older of my two, I have noticed that I let him slide on some things and he doesn’t always learn about accountability. Looking back at it now, I realize I have been too much of a “helicopter parent”, and need to back off some so he can learn to make his own decisions, bad or good. I think it is not too late for me as he is only 15, so I am taking on this challenge for the good of my son.
I have digressed some, so let me get back on track. I think that somehow we as parents have imparted to the youth between the ages of 16 and 20(ish) that they can pick and choose what jobs they want and that they are entitled to always being taken care of. We did such a good job caring for them that they haven’t learned how to take care of themselves. These are some of the things I hear from Bluebell’s son The Hunter who is 17, “But I don’t want to work in the fast food industry.” “I applied online, that is good enough.” “Why should I call the manager?” etc etc etc.
Bluebell’s son is 17 and has been “looking for a job” for about 6 months. His looking consists of applying for jobs online. He has called a few of the places he has applied to, and they tell him to call back next week. He does this usually two times, then gets frustrated and gives up. I have tried to tell him that he should not be picky when looking for a job. I have told him to apply everywhere. I have told him to walk the mall to look for a job. The answer I received regarding that suggestion was, “I don’t want to go to the mall by myself.” I was like, “What are you talking about, this is not a social excursion. You are looking for a job. That is a one person thing to do. NOT a group.” I have told him to borrow my car and go to the places he has applied to and meet with the manager. That way the manager can see that he is a clean cut polite teenager and it will give him a leg up on his competition. Has he done it???? NO!!
Are you kidding, I am offering the kid my car to borrow to do this. Most teens would JUMP at that opportunity! Not him…..
As a matter of fact when I was in our local Harris Teeter the other day I mentioned to the hiring manager that The Hunter had applied at HT at least 3 times. She said, “Him, and 3000 other people.” She went on to tell me that she had recently hired 4 teenagers, and three of them had been consistently coming in to see if HT was hiring. She said, “The “squeaky wheel” gets the job. They are persistent so I know they really want it.” When I told this to our 17 year old he said, “ok.”
We have told him again and again that he will graduate in 9 months and he will want wheels to get to his “real life” job. He is taking welding in school and he is good at it. I fully expect him to get a welding job with a local shipyard, or BAE enterprises, or a welding apprenticeship. Something. How will he get there? I know 9 months may seem like a long way away, but it will go by SO fast!!!
We are at our wits end with what to do. So finally I said to him, “Dude, you are almost 18 years old. I am done bugging you about a job. It is now up to you. You know what you need to do and how to do it. The rest is up to you. Whether you take the bus or drive your own car to your job when you graduate is in your hands.”
I do know however, that The Hunter is not the only youth with these same attitudes. Bluebell’s daughter was being picky about where she worked too, but the fact that she had to move back to our house and sleep on an air mattress on the floor until she saves up some money and can afford her own place made her see things differently.
In fact, Susan has experienced some of this with her own young adult. Bonnie now has a full time job, but it was a struggle, and I know for her as well as other young adults it is easier to sit at home and hang out then look for a job. Because really, what are we parents going to do??? They know they have us over a barrel. They know we aren’t going to let them live on the streets, so they take advantage of that. Maybe a few nights on the streets would be good for them….but I know and you know that really won’t happen.
So what do we do when our teen and young adults refuse to put any effort into looking for a job? I don’t yet have the answer to that I think each parent needs to find a way that works best for their family. But this is so rarely discussed in a meaningful way that I thought I would get the conversation going…
Are any other parents of teens and young adults out there dealing with this? We would love to hear your comments!!
By: Shannon Ralph
I’m glad the US women’s gymnastics team won the gold. I have a soft spot for crying elves. Frankly, I couldn’t take another moment of Jordan Weiber’s blubbering.
Did you know that, prior to this year, there existed fairly stringent guidelines about the uniforms the female beach volleyball players were allowed to wear. Basically, they had to wear bikinis. Small bikinis. This year, for the first time, they have made the decision to be more lenient on the uniforms to allow for competition by women from “more modest” countries. Is beach volleyball really a happening sport in the United Arab Emerites? Seriously??
Speaking of beach volleyball, did you know there are cheerleaders for beach volleyball?? Cheerleaders! Bikini clad dancers! With beach balls! What other Olympic sport has cheerleaders? I swear…I am beginning to believe that beach volleyball is the Spring Break wet t-shirt contest of sports. I know it takes a great deal of athleticism to play. But honestly. I completely expect the beautiful people who play beach volleyball to drop their balls in the middle of the game, stretch out on the sand, and play a rousing game of beer pong. Am I right?
I am really impressed by neither Phelps nor Lochte this year. They were expected to win and frankly, I think their rivalry is over-hyped. Yes, I am glad Phelps is now the most decorated athlete in Olympic history. I feel a tiny bit of completely unjustified pride that he is an American. Like the fact that this amazing athlete is an American gives me a little more athletic street cred or something. But really…what excitement have Phelps and Lochte given us? On the other hand, look at the women swimmers! Our boobless US swim team has thrilled me to no end. Rebecca Soni. Missy Franklin. Allison Schmitt. Natalie Coughlin. Dana Vollmer. Amanda Weir. Boobless wonders. Every. Single. One.
The white water rafting events are super cool. I love the way they created rapids basically in a tube in the middle of London. How cool is that? I wonder, however, what they are going to do with the course after the Olympics. Might I suggest filling it with saline and calling it a freestanding enema clinic?
What the hell is handball? And who came up with the name for that sport? Lame.
I think of all of the sports out there, I could totally compete in Olympic badminton. Seriously. It’s not like you need a lot of muscle to make that little birdie (I can’t bring myself to call it a shuttlecock) soar. One little tap with my pink, sparkly racket and my birdie flies over the fence into the neighbor’s yard every single time. Yea, I could totally be a contender.
Prince Harry is one sexy royal. I can’t help checking him out in the stands. With all the generations of in-bred chromosomes coursing through his royal body, he is nothing short of a modern day miracle. Remember 10th grade genetics? I mean, at minimum, all the royals should be bald and hump-backed and have six toes on their left feet. But Harry ended up a ginger-haired beauty. God smiled on Britain the day that boy was born.
Equestrian dressage. What it is? How does it work? Does the winner get a gold medal for having the prettiest horse? Can you really call it a “sport” if a tiny little 71-year-old man competes?
I’ve been trying to convince my eldest son that water polo is a cool sport. He’s a decent swimmer. And he has a swimmer’s build. Long and lanky with freakishly large feet. It takes incredible athleticism to be able to tread water and swim from goal to goal for an entire game. I mean…look at the bodies on those people! But Lucas isn’t buying it. He was all for giving water polo a go until he saw the uber-goober caps the water polo players wear tied in cute little bows beneath their chiseled chins. There was no convincing him water polo was cool after he caught sight of those things.
Shooting. You would think they could come up with a fancier name. It seems so pedestrian. Like something your toothless Uncle Earl does out in the woods behind his trailer. It’s like calling gymnastics “Olympic Flipping.” Or calling Track and Field “Olympic Jogging and Hopping.” I mean, come on. How about Olympic Blasting? Or Olympic Blaze of Glory? Or Olympic Discharging? Okay…that last one sounds a bit like a sexually transmitted disease. What about just calling it Boom Boom Pow? You know, it needs a little pizzazz. Jazz hands….it needs jazz hands.
And what about synchronized swimming? It’s like a whole team of Tammy Fay Baker impersonators got shoved in a pool. I love it!
You know what sport I am really looking forward to (that I am sure NBC will not air)? Trampoline. I can’t wait to see the America’s Funniest Home Video rejects who consider the trampoline a serious athletic endeavor. That’s not meant in any way to belittle trampoliners. Who am I to talk anyway? I consider dragging my happy ass from the house to my car a serious athletic endeavor. Especially if it is above 75 degrees outside. If there were a trampoline in the way, I would have to sit on the ground and cry most mornings. So you go you! You…trampoliners! Ummm…I mean, athletes!
One sport I do not quite get is Modern Pentathlon. Here is what Wikipedia has to say about the Modern Pentathlon for those of you who, like me, thought “Huh?”
The modern pentathlon is a sports contest that includes five events: pistol shooting, fencing, 200 m freestyle swimming, show jumping, and a 3 km cross-country run. Since 1949 an annual World Championship has been held in non-Olympic years.
Originally the competition took place over four or five days; however in 1996 a one-day format was adopted in an effort to be more audience-friendly. In spite of the event’s strong pedigree in the modern Olympics, and its status as an event created specifically for the modern Olympic Games, its lack of widespread popularity outside Eastern Europe has led to calls for its removal from the Olympic Games in recent years; however, following a vote by the IOC on July 8, 2005, it has remained in the Olympic program at least until 2012.
So it is pistol shooting (Boom Boom Pow), fencing, swimming, horseback jumping, and cross-country running. What?? Why? What a weird, random collection of sports. No wonder it is only popular in Eastern Europe. Leave it to Slovakia to embrace this weirdness. They should place a trampoline in the middle of a field and have the athletes stop and do a couple of flips in the middle of the race. Or maybe dive off the horses into the pool? In synchronized pairs?
I’m not really an attention-seeker. Okay, that’s a lie; I like getting double takes just as much as the next gay. Anyway, here we are at 28 weeks pregnant. My focus should be on my surrogate – our very close friend who is doing this for the second time for us – since she is waddling and panting and grunting her way into the third and final trimester, bless her heart.
But what about me? For the last two weeks I’ve inexplicably bounced between constipation and what seems like a wide-open faucet. If you’ve ever prepped for a colonoscopy you know exactly what I’m talking about. Enough said.
I’ve had nausea so bad that I cannot sleep despite being unreasonably fatigued. Even without the nausea I’m suffering from insomnia, watching the clock tick past midnight and 1 am and 2 am most nights before I finally get taken away to sleepland. My appetite has been up and down, mostly down. Even so, my weight has reached an all-time high of 166 pounds, despite substituting a Slim Fast shake for my normal breakfast cereal while maintaining or even upping my normal excessive exercising habits.
I’m having back pain and some never-before knee joint pain. Headaches are making me grouchy. I’m over-the-top excited in one moment, and then down in the dumps the next. What’s going on?
I got right on the internet to google my ailments, and I come to find out I am not alone. I can put a name on my list of problems: Couvade syndrome, which is also known as sympathetic pregnancy, male pregnancy experience, or pregnant dad syndrome. Expectant fathers can have pregnancy symptoms too, and except for the absence of enlarging breasts, I have a mild case as is discussed in various papers and studies on the topic. In extreme cases, daddies can grow a belly similar to a 7-month pregnant woman and gain weight up to 30 pounds!
Now that I learned what, I needed to learn why. I have not heard many of my expectant father friends complaining about these issues. It turns out, as I read a few studies of this otherwise poorly understood syndrome, that a huge percentage of men (at least 92% that is) experiencing some Couvade symptoms report a deep emotional involvement with the pregnancy. Two likely suspects of my ailments are stress and empathy. Stress releases chemicals in the body, such as cortisol, that can wreak havoc. Do I have stress with a third son arriving in the next 12 weeks? What do you think?
My empathy is strong as well, after hormone injections and sperm donations and doctor’s appointments, worrying constantly about how my friend is doing throughout this entire ordeal, how my husband is holding up, and how the boys are going to adjust to the addition to our family. Fortunately, it sounds like in almost every case all symptoms seem to disappear immediately after birth.
So will my Slim Fast and sweat pants.