Tag Archives: sister

Baby’s Reach Exceeds His Grasp

It’s a huge day in baby’s life.

On the day the little dude figures out just what — exactly — the wriggly things on the ends of his hands are for, it marks a major turning point in his relationship with his parents.

Whereas, before the epiphany, mom, dad and little dudette were living in a state of blissful harmony, marked by glances full of love and adoration, it’s a whole different ball of goop after.

Before, you could put the little dude in a high chair next to a table and

Babies tend to grab stuff as much as possible once they realize they actually can have an effect on the outside world.

have him sit there blissfully playing with whatever happened to be in front of him. Which let Mom and Dad eat relatively leisurely and without much incident.

And then the little dudette gains the smallest extra bit of self awareness and realizes that she can cause change in the environment around herself. And she can do it with her hands because they — holds up hands in front of wide eyes and wriggles fingers back and forth like a stoner realizing for the first that the four fingers are like a highway and the thumb is a little off ramp and whoa! Dude! doesn’t that just blow your mind?  — allow her to grab stuff.

Even better, those two hands and ten fingers allow her to grab stuff and then throw it anywhere. Or knock stuff over. Or, best of all, grab stuff, use that stuff to throw and knock over more stuff and watch Mommy and Daddy freak out, jump up and start talking funny and blotting at their clothing with napkins.

And here’s the thing. Even when new parents accustom themselves to the idea that their little dude can now grab stuff, it still takes a while before the really understand that he can lean farther than they think and knock over stuff a really big distance away.

It happened to me. When Sarcasmo was a young ‘un, maybe a year or so, his grandmother, Kaki (who was my mom) went away for a week or so. This was during the time he discovered the wriggly things and grabbing stuff.

Kaki asked to hold Sarcasmo while we were out to eat for a friendly lunch at a Gainesville diner. I warned her about his newfound propensity for grabbing stuff. She glared at me, silently reassuring me that she managed to raise me and my sister and she knew what she was doing thank you very much you young know-it-all. Mom had very expressive eyes.

What Kaki had forgotten was that reflexes, if not used, will sometimes decay. She stood Sarcasmo up in her lap, facing the table, and having fun.

He managed to get a salt shaker and mostly full glass of Diet Coke before I could get him free from Kaki’s lap and into his car seat, which we were using as a high chair. Kaki insisted on having Sarcasmo sit next to her.

He managed to get the refilled Diet Coke and a very mean look from the waitress who had to clean it up. Again.

Even experienced parents can misjudge the reach of a newly grabby little dude. Much less those new parents who have no experience to fall back on in their panic.

And this is before we bring in poisons and cleaning supplies and the like into the equation.

All is not lost, though.

To combat a little dude’s propensity for grabbing stuff, you only need to remove from his immediately surrounding environment anything that you could grab with your arms. And lock up all cabinets with the most parent-annoying security system imaginable, and then use them.

No worries.*

Footnotes & Errata

* That was a lie. There are a lot of worries. It’s not until you get to your third or so kid that you stop worrying and begin to think you know it all. Of course, that’s when everyone around you begins to panic because they just don’t understand that a toddler juggling razor-sharp knives while riding a kiddie unicycle is just little dudes being little dudes.

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Crawling Away To Lick Our Wounds

In the middle of a heart attack, I wanted only one thing*– keep it a secret and don’t tell my mom, dad or sister.

So, naturally, as soon as I was under and getting the arteries of my heart scoped and scoured of clots, my wife, known to me as She Who Must Be Doing Things Her Own Way, immediately called all of my family and blabbed the whole thing.

In my case, I wanted to keep the heart attack a secret because I didn’t want to worry anyone and because I didn’t want to have to deal with the inevitable smothering care that would result from my family being worried for my health.**

I was taken to task for even contemplating the idea of possibly trying to keep what happened a secret from La Familia for even a moment. Worrying about other members and caring for them is what, I was told repeatedly while being beaten with a fluffed pillow that was supposed to be supporting my head, La Familia is supposed to do.

It turns out, though, that I’m not the only person who likes to keep an illness a secret.

I know two people around my age who have been fighting different sorts of cancer. Neither of them made any kind of announcement and, in fact, tried to strictly limit the number of people who knew about the disease and their fight against it.

Which meant, to me, that the urge to suffer in secret was a thing only dudes had to fight. And, yes, I was wrong again.

My dad’s wife recently beat a bout of cancer of her own. In talking to her, she said what she wanted most was for no one to have known so she could get better on her own and not have to keep talking about it to everyone who found out about it.

I think she pretty much hit it on the head. It’s not that I didn’t want people to care for me in my extremity, but I wanted them to do it on my terms. That is, allow me to say, “Enough. Stop talking about it and stop treating me like an invalid.” Instead, once people know, you have no ability to turn the course of this river of regret flowing through your life.

Or at least, you have no ability to do so without making folks feel bad and I didn’t want to do that because it would then have made me feel bad and that was sort of the opposite of what was supposed to be going on.

As far as I was concerned, the privacy I wanted was perfectly reasonable. However, having gone through something similar on the other side this time, I’m forced to admit that there is something to healthy-ish side of the argument.

When someone you love is hurting, the need to do something —

Helping others is ingrained in our genes, but so is the need to be left alone to lick our wounds. It's a conundrum, yeah?
The Dalai Lama is a nice dude.

anything — to help is very strong in most of us. There’s nothing most of us can do medically to help our loved one, so we do what we can.

We make meals. We clean the house. We walk the dog. We . . . get in the way. Because, if any of you dudes are like me, there’s only so much niceness directed at me that I can possibly stand.

When people are nice to me on a continuous basis, I start to get itchy and twitchy and wonder when the anvil is going to drop down out of the sky. And, yes I’m aware that speaks to some sort of deep-seated issue with my being able to be happy. Bite me.

So, I guess the takeaway from today is that, when you’re hurting, allow other people to help you, even if only for a little while. It will make your life a bit easier and it will make them feel better for doing what they can to ease your burden.

Just, you know, do it somewhere else.

Footnotes & Errata

* Other than live, of course. I mean, that was a clear number one with a bullet on my wish list.
** I did have reason to be worried. My mom once mailed me chicken soup when I was away at college and had a cold. Yes, seriously. Very loving. Only slightly psychotic. I also figured this would be the opportunity my sister would take to pay me back for all the years of torture help I gave her as a child.

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The Right To An Assist

My mom never asked me to kill her.

She would, she told me, spare me that. But, she also finished her thought with a reminder that should I find her dead by her own hand, it wasn’t an indictment of anyone, but merely because she wasn’t enjoying her life any more.

Mom, who died from complications of Multiple Sclerosis and meningitis in February 2011, had suffered from Multiple Sclerosis for almost as long as I can remember and she hated it. She hated the fact that she couldn’t chase after her grandchildren, or even lift them out of their cribs.

She walked with a cane and a brace, but really needed a walker there near the end. She had her friends and her house and her sports she loved to watch.

Still, no matter how happy she seemed, she made sure to tell me and my sister, Tia, that she always reserved the right to check out any time the MS got to be too much, took away too much of her enjoyment of life.

Maybe it was because I grew up with that idea hovering in the background, but I’ve always believed that people should be able to choose when to give up the fight. Folks should be able to exit the stage at their own discretion. Of course, I also believe that, in most cases, suicide is a stupidly permanent solution to a temporary problem.

But what if the problem isn’t temporary? What if it will be with you, hamper you, throughout the rest of your life?

That’s the difference, as I see it.

And I’m not alone.Dr. Stephen Hawking

Dr. Stephen Hawking, widely renowned as one of the most intelligent people in the world, recently talked to the media about the importance of being allowed to choose an assistant to help him take his own life. Not just him, Hawking said, but anyone who needs the help should have it and not worry that the helper will be pursued by the law for what they did.

Hawking, who has progressive motor neuron disease and has already lost the ability to move most of his body under his own power and can only speak through a computerized synthesizer, said assisting suicide should be legal, but there must be safeguards put in place to prevent any kind of abuse.

“There must be safeguards that the person concerned genuinely wants to end their life and they are not being pressurized into it or have it done without their knowledge or consent as would have been the case with me.”

Although Hawking at one point was put on a respirator and more severe life support machines, the off switch given to his wife, he has always maintained that, where there is life, there is hope. However, he recognizes that choosing to end a life filled with pain is a very personal decision and one that should only be made by the person in question.

Sir Terry PratchettIn addition to Hawking, Sir Terry Pratchett, a man I believe to be the greatest writer of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, is a firm believer in the right of a person with a terminal disease to take his or her own life. Pratchett, author of more than 50 books, suffers from an early-onset form of Alzheimer’s disease. He’s one of the most vocal campaigners in Britain for the right to choose when to die.

Pratchett recently released a second documentary chronicling his quest to make the right to die one found in Britain and other countries around the world.

He counts himself lucky, despite his diagnosis.

I have to tell you that I thought I’d be a lot worse than this by now. And so did my specialist. At the moment, it’s the fact that I’m well into my sixties [he is 64] that’s the problem. All the minor things that flesh is heir to. This knee is giving me a bit of gyp. That sort of thing. And I’m well into the time of life when a man knows he has a prostate. By the time you’ve reached your sixties you do know that one day you will die and knowing that is at least the beginning of wisdom.

Still, he says, no matter how well or how poorly he’s doing, he wants to be able to reserve the right to die when he believes it’s time. He will, he said, know when the pain in his life is too much to bear. When life becomes a burden to be endured, rather than a profound joy to experience.

(Pratchett) is dismayed that Tony Nicklinson, the severely disabled man (in England) who fought and last month lost an impassioned campaign to end his life, effectively had to starve himself to death. “I put his picture on the little lectern by my desk because I don’t want this guy forgotten. He was very clear about what he wanted and you cannot tell me that two doctors helping him to go to sleep [as in a Dignitas clinic in Switzerland], would constitute murder. It cannot be murder. The law says it’s murder so the law is most definitely wrong and needs to be changed. This poor guy was a prisoner of technology.”

It’s time, dudes. It’s time for us to find a way to let people like Pratchett, Hawking or my mom exit with dignity and on their own schedule. These are not people who are having a bad day, but rather begging to be allowed to make the ultimate decision as to whether their life is worth living.

My mom never asked me to kill her. But I would have.

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