Random thoughts on the past few days with my mom and my kids:
1. Chin hair:
I trimmed my mother’s chin hair for her a couple of days ago. Put this in the category of little things I hope someone will be willing to do for me some day. With the changes that come in your forties – or at least in my forties if not yours – I, too, have chin hair to deal with now. Oy! One more thing to take up my time. So far, it’s still a very small number of bristles. We’re talking single digits. I hope it stays that manageable, but I don’t know if I hope optimistically. One of my very best friends asked me to make a deal with her – if either of us becomes incapable of dealing with our own facial hair, the other will help. But should she not be able to assist me in my old age, I hope *someone* will. I attack my goatee-lite daily with tweezers and a fervent desire to make the whiskers all gone. My mom prefers trimming as close to the skin as possible. She’s always tried to warn me away from plucking hair. She says when she was a child she knew of a young woman who pulled out a wild hair and it caused a sore which became infected and gave the girl blood poisoning. To Mom, tweezers are an instrument of death. I’ll continue to take my chances.
2. A snake and a teen who earned her keep:
I live in an old house. A really old house. Most of the walls are lath and plaster, and some of the plaster has cracks. I love our home, but it was a fixer-upper and a half when we bought it nearly nine years ago. We’ve done some up-fixing, but there’s always more. We’ve replaced walls in both the kitchen and the dining room, for instance. But our entry room still begs for attention. We have actual little holes where pieces of plaster have crumbled and fallen out around the light switch plate.
Monday night, my 16-year-old daughter and I were still up after the guys had gone to sleep for the night. I was about to head upstairs to bed, when I had a startling encounter that kept me awake for some time. I went to turn off the entry room light, but as I reached my hand toward the switch, I noticed something long and thin and…oh my gosh, it was a snake tail…protruding from the small hole near the bottom of the plate. “There’s a snake in the wall!” I added to the lifetime list of things I wished I had never had to hear myself say.
My daughter came running and pointed out the snake’s head visible in the hole at the top of the switch plate. Lovely. We’ve had one or two garter snakes per year show up in our basement. I don’t really freak too much about them. But a snake slithering out of the wall is just so wrong. Or, from my daughter’s point of view, cool. She lost no time donning some garden gloves and trying to grab it by the tail. It got away, the first time. Undeterred, she found a flashlight and shone it into the cracks in the wall, looking for signs of reptile. The snake poked its head back out. She went for it again. It got away again. She’s never been one to shriek over creepy crawlies. When she was three, we had a cicada infestation of Biblical proportions. The day I foolishly left a window down on the car, she jumped right in, grabbing cicadas by the handful and throwing them out the door. Her grade school gym teacher used to write me notes about how my girl wouldn’t participate in outdoor P.E. activities because she was too busy catching interesting looking bugs.
She and I both sat snake vigil for a bit, but I finally headed to bed, figuring one of two things would happen. Either the snake would find its way out of the house and we’d never see it again, or I’d wake up in the morning to discover snakes emerging from every light socket, as they’d obviously nested in our walls. I remembered a news story I’d read about a family this had happened to. It was not a restful night of sleep for me. But when I got up the next morning, I discovered my daughter had stayed with the project and caught the sneaky thing! She put it in a critter keeper and called it Sam. Later in the day, she took it to the farthest part of the back yard and let it go. We’ve seen no more snakes since then.
There are times I lose my patience with trying to get my kids to do simple chores around the house. But other times, they come through in the most amazing ways. The other night, my daughter reminded me why she’s worth keeping around.
3. Consultation with an oral surgeon
My mom has a primary care physician, but she also needs to become established with a couple of area specialists – an ophthalmologist and a rheumatologist. I’ve gotten names and numbers from the social worker at the nursing home, but have put off calling for appointments because my son had a consult looming with an oral surgeon, and I wanted to wait on making my mom’s appointments until after I found out what we needed to do about scheduling my son’s oral surgery.
He has an ankylosed front tooth – fused to the bone. It was injured in a playground accident several years ago, and has been high-riding ever since. When the orthodontist hooked the boy up in braces, everyone thought that tooth would move down and into place. Instead, all of the other teeth moved up. That was when I learned the term “ankylosed.” The orthodontist unbracketed this single tooth so the others could move back down. We hoped an oral surgeon could slice through the fused part and move the tooth into place. But as it turns out, the tooth is a total loss. The oral surgeon (who could totally play John Edwards in a movie) delivered the news. What didn’t show up on simple x-rays was visible on the amazing 3D CT scan he showed us. (Every time the dr. turned his back, my son pointed to the screen, smiled, and gave a double thumbs-up over the awesomeness of the technology. I’d nod, mouthing “I know!”) The root is dissolving and the tooth is not salvageable. It’s not a matter of if the kid will lose it, it’s a matter of when. So, no surgery to move it into place. What’s the point?
The various dental professionals who work on my son’s teeth will huddle and get back to us on a recommendation about whether/when to have the tooth extracted . My son seems okay with this information. Meanwhile, I’ll pick up the phone and start scheduling some appointments for my mom.