Film Noir, by the brain tumor players

By Mir
August 14, 2006

Two very unfortunate events have intersected this past week at Casa Mir.

First, I seem unable to completely shake the symptoms that derailed my Walk adventure. I’ll feel better—maybe a little tired, sure—for a day or two, and then the hammering headache and fever will come back again. It’s been over a week, and I HAVE THINGS TO DO. As a result, I’ve given up lolling around in bed for silly endeavors like “taking care of my children” and “working” and “cooking dinner.”

Second, my children need to go back to school before I kill them.

Now before y’all go yelling at me; yes, yes, I AM going to call my doctor, because it’s been like 10 days now and I am all done with this stupid headache. But you can’t blame me for being a bit gunshy; the last time I was sure I was just being a hypochondriac, it turned out I had Lyme disease. Sometimes the disease undiagnosed is better than the disease you actually know you have. Or something. I dunno.

[Slight digression: Do you know what is not a good idea? It is not a good idea to joke to your boyfriend—a la Kindergarten Cop—that maybe you have a brain tumor, if said boyfriend actually has a family member with a brain tumor. Now look at the title of this post and know that I am not kidding when I tell you that I suffer from chronic foot-in-mouth disease.]

Okay, so. My shaky health or lack thereof aside, this has been the Week of Arguments.

My daughter. Oh, lord. My daughter; I love her so. I love her truly, madly, deeply. And she is driving me truly, madly, deeply INSANE with her insistence on arguing about EVERYTHING absolutely ALL THE TIME. Yes, this happens much of the time, but this week has been the pinnacle of her career.

And this means that I am constantly breaking up arguments between her and Monkey. Given that he is fairly easygoing, sometimes it’s necessary for her to TORMENT him into an argument. If he doesn’t grant the desired bickering from the first few proddings, she will take something from him or perhaps “accidentally” push him to the ground.

And this also means that if I say it’s black, she says it’s white. If I ask her to do something, she has a million reasons to explain why that is the stupidest request in the history of stupid requests, and she needs to share every single one of them just so that I can more fully grasp how idiotic I am. Part of me wants to believe she has some sort of brain abnormality (perhaps a tumor) to explain away this unpleasant tenaciousnous. I wrack my brain for memories of having dropped her on her head as a baby.

While this sort of behavior is a pure joy at ANY time, of course, it is particularly delightful when all I really want to do is curl up in a very dark room and be unconscious. But kids, you know, they’re like hyenas. They smell weakness. So I’m sure my current condition is part of why this past week was so… extreme.

Today was therapy day and the children waited patiently (if by “waited patiently” you mean “fought over toys and disturbed other patrons” in the waiting room while I ranted at their therapist. “MAKE. IT. STOP.” was, I think, the basic upshot of my summary. “I cannot TAKE this anymore. She argues with everything anyone says; there is no such thing as a simple request or even a STATEMENT around her, anymore. She has to have the last word. She has to exert her will. It’s exhausting.”

It really is exhausting. I’m not sure I would’ve actually, you know, CRIED about it if I hadn’t had a fever, but I might’ve. I had OPENED the session by offering to LEAVE Chickadee with the therapist, pointing out that she has many talents and charms, but when she declined my magnaminous offer I had no choice but to come clean about the past week and beg her to help me.

So we chatted a bit and then brought the kids in. The therapist decided that we needed to reenact a recent incident for her; the twist was that Chickadee was to be me, and I was to be her. Monkey’s job was to oversee and let us know if we were getting it right.

[When Chickadee gets into one of these phases, it’d be easy to think that Monkey is just staying out of it and not really noticing, but that’d be naive. Mid-argument, one day, I heard him rustling in the next room. “Monkey,” I called out. “What’re you doing?”

“I’m just playing in here,” he responded. After a beat, he added, “And totally not listening to your conversation.”]

Chickadee immediately claimed amnesia. She couldn’t remember a single incident from the past week. I offered to choose one from the dozen or so that were right on the tip of my tongue.

Me: I know! Let’s do when you came into my bathroom yesterday and hung on me. Okay? Remember that?
Chickadee: Yeah… I guess.
Therapist: Now remember, Chickie—you’re Mom, and Mom is you.
Chickadee: Okay.
Me: Ready? Okay. Turn around.
*Chickadee turns her back to me, and I latch my hands onto her shoulders, pulling downwards with enough force to make her uncomfortable*
Chickadee: ummmm….
Me: Remember, you’re me. Say, “Please stop hanging on me.”
Chickadee: Please stop hanging on me.
Me: But I’m NOT! I’m NOT HANGING ON YOU! See? See? My feet are on the floor!
Chickadee: ummmm…
Me: Say, “You’re hurting me, please let go.”
Chickadee: You’re hurting me, please let go.
Me: I’M NOT HURTING YOU! I’M NOT! Because my feet are on the floor and I’m not hanging! See? See?
Monkey: Wow, that is really annoying, Mama.
*at this point, Chickadee slipped out from under my grasp and crossed the office*
Chickadee: I, um, have to fix my hair now.
Me: But WHY? WHY do you? Can I stand here with you? How about right here? *I stand practically on top of her* Why are you mad? Are you mad? Why are you? I didn’t hurt you.
Chickadee: Well… uhhh… I need to put on my make-up now….

It was clear this wasn’t going right; she was trying to get away from me because I was doing a fair imitation of that kid tethered to the jungle gym from Saturday Night Live fame, but she wasn’t saying the things I’d said. I had, of course, tried to talk to her about why denying she was hanging on me (I don’t care whether her feet are on the floor or the moon; now is not the time for semantics) or saying she hadn’t hurt me (not really her call to make, and the respectful thing is to accept my assessment, stop, and apologize) wasn’t acceptable. Chickadee didn’t want to play me because she either completely blocks out these little lessons or abhors them so deeply she cannot be cajoled to repeat them.

The therapist (ever resourceful!) tried another tack.

Therapist: Okay, Chickadee… let’s try this. Let’s say you’re Mom for a day. You have a whole day where you have to do all the things she does. What’s the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?
Chickadee: “Let’s all have some ice cream!”
*both kids erupt into giggles*
Me: I don’t think I’ve ever started a day that way. Sorry.
Therapist: Seriously. Think about what you need to do. What’s going to be the best part of your day, as Mom?
Chickadee: Eating peanut butter kisses?
Me: Well, that’s closer, anyway.
Chickadee: I have to get everyone breakfast.
Therapist: Good, that’s a good start. What else.
Monkey: I want a pop-tart!
Chickadee: I have to do some work on the computer.
Therapist: Good, good. And then?
Chickadee: I have to yell at my kids. They made a big mess in the playroom! They should clean it up! But I will tell my friends on the computer about it.
Me: Okay, well, I’m really looking forward to the peanut butter kisses part….

In the final analysis, I’m not sure Chickadee gained any great insight into my life as an aggravated mother. And the most we were able to get out of her about her orneriness is that “Well when I’m RIGHT people should KNOW that,” which, I have to admit, makes a certain sense if you’re willing to forget about any other factors (like whether those people still like you afterwards or if they are fantasizing about strangling you in your sleep).

Maybe my doctor will just diagnose me with mouthykiditis and tell me to take two weeks of back-to-school and call her in the morning. That’d be okay. (In the meantime, I do NOT have a fever, and I do NOT have a headache, and I am definitely NOT going to bed early.)


  1. Susan

    Ohhh, honey. My week has been the same. THE SAME.

    Year-round school could very well save my children’s lives. I may have to call my state senator tomorrow and propose that.

  2. rachel

    “But kids, you know, they’re like hyenas. They smell weakness. So I’m sure my current condition is part of why this past week was so… extreme.”

    OMG, that’s it exactly! Thank you for this quote. My 8, 6, and almost 3yo have been incessantly needy lately. The sicker I feel (Lyme-induced fibromyalgia. fun!), the needier & more argumentative they get.

    I hope you get some answers tomorrow. And let them be good and easy-to-solve answers. Here’s hoping the hyenas have no weakness to smell soon.

  3. chris

    “They should clean it up! But I will tell my friends on the computer about it.”

    This made me laugh out loud.

    And Chickadee is so marrying my second born. And oh how we will laugh when they have children of their own.

  4. Laura

    Can we play “guess Mir’s disease?” Cuz I’m guessing West Nile virus. I had it two years ago, with very similar symptoms, especially the nagging headache that keeps coming back. (And if it is, you should be feeling completely better in about 6 weeks. Long time for a headache, but it’s nice to know that the end is in sight.)

    Of course, it could just be stress, too. That does funny things to people.

    Good luck though!

  5. Suebob

    I know I don’t have kids, so I shouldn’t give advice, but honestly, isn’t this what duct tape was invented for?

  6. Heather

    I was gonna go with Mono!

    And the kid thing — OH MY WORD — I am NOT letting my heathens- I mean honeys, grow up. They annoy me enough as it is!

  7. MommyHam

    “They should clean it up! But I will tell my friends on the computer about it.” ROFLOL – I can hear my hubby saying this, but not my daughter. Yet, anyway.

    The arguing is the same here. thankfully school started today (for the first time EVER) – and it was smooth sailing :D Calgon may just get to take me away after all.

  8. Heather

    Hang in there, Mir. It’s evident how much you love your kids, and I’m sure they’ll turn out just fine. And that, most likely, you’ll survive it. ;-)

  9. lawgirl2499

    One of my bosses has the same symptoms as you. Tested for West Nile, nothing. Now they are testing for Lyme, but since you already stated you had that it could be that it has been aggravated.

    As for Chickadee, pretty funny with the arguing. My 7 1/2 year old daughter does the same exact thing. I could literally see my daughter hanging on me while you were talking about the reenactment. Too funny!!! :)

  10. Kristie

    Thank the high heavens school started down here on the 4th of August. I didn’t think I could get much happier than the day my three kids went back. Then, last night, as I’m lying in bed reading “Homework Without Tears” I couldn’t help but wonder if my excitement was a little premature. :)

    Also, you’re not the only one whose Kindergarten Cop story came around to bite her in the butt. Any time my husband ever had a headache we would give the standard “It might be a toooomur” in our best Arnold voice. Then we found out he really did have cancer, and it really was a tumor. So, we improvised and started calling him “The Tumornator” — get it???? Ha! OK, well, other people find it completely inappropriate, but it makes me giggle every time. Obviously I’m easily amused.

    But seriously, I hope you’re feeling better soon.

  11. waywardgoddess

    Chickadee sounds so much like my daughter, it’s scary.
    Mine will pick a fight about anything. She will say with a clenched jaw “I wasn’t arguing. I’m not even mad!” Then roll her eyes, sigh and stomp off. I think she has lost the ability to walk. Every time she wants to move from one point to another, she has to stomp.

  12. Red

    Kids always act up when you are sick and the sicker you are the worse they act. It’s some kind of sick rule someone came up with that needs to be shot!

    Speaking of which, it’s a good thing that I didn’t have my pistol when the kids were home. heh I might have shot myself in the head. lol j/k sorta

  13. David

    I’m totally in line with Suebob. *thoughful look* I wonder if there’s some kind of correlation between having no kids and fixing things with duct tape. Hrmm.

    Are any of these symptom related to heat stroke? Maybe some time years ago? I know a fellow who suffered a severe heat stroke, and he says the effects of a bad one last, well, indefinitely. Heat intolerance is one of them.

  14. hollygee

    I’m guessing walking pneumonia. Hope you get something to help or that duct tape sounds really useful.

  15. Bob

    I’m sorry to hear you’re still sick. That makes EVERYTHING else so much harder. Hang in there kiddo, I hope you feel better soon.

  16. tori

    I have to second the whole “it’s not a tumor” thing. My husband and I always joked about that whenever either of us had an ache or pain. Then I actually had cancer and my husband stopped. He got mad at *me* for joking about it and I was the one with the cancer. Highly inappropriate, but funny (to me anyway) none the less. It also tends to make other people uncomfortable when I say it now, so I sort of stopped. But what the hell? I was the one with cancer! Why can’t I still joke about it????

  17. Lesley

    Girl, this is why camp was invented! Good luck with the last days of summer. I hope you’re feeling better soon.

  18. MamaT

    It must be bad karma week, period. Between the “your uncle is going home for hospice care”, “your other uncle died on Sunday”, “your brother might lose his job” and the “we need to run blood work and an ultrasound on her liver” news I’ve had since Sunday, I’m afraid to answer the phone the rest of the week!

    Hang in there!

  19. Aimee

    Oh, man. Sorry you’re not feeling better. Tell that doctor to get you some ace drugs, huh? BTW, I don’t know if this is funny or scary (maybe a little of both) but my 56 year old male boss is a LOT like Chickadee. Only he doesn’t have the excuse of being a little girl.

  20. Elleoz

    welcome to the world of having a girl…or so I am told. My daughter is 2, 2! and she is doing the exact same thing. Can I cryogentically freeze her until she is 20 with a family of her own so she understands?

    I hope you find out what is going on and kick its ugly butt soon!

  21. Woman with Kids

    The Boys and I are home together all next week. All. Week. Long. It’ll be pretty much verbatum as what you’ve written here. But perhaps louder and a few more “Please do not hit your brother” thrown in. They go back to school soon… please god.

  22. Amy-Go

    46 hours and 58 minutes until school starts here.

    Not that I’m counting.

    I’m with the duct tape contingent…and I’m proud of you for trying to talk to Chickie about her behavior. I’d have beaten her into the floor by now. Go get those peanut butter kisses! And don’t share. ;)

  23. Amy-Go

    OOOOh, I miscalculated! 44 hours and 55 minutes is actually correct. And sounds better, too!

  24. carrien

    MY four year old boy did that to me for almost a month straight. He would use phrases he had learned from me, “you’re not listening to me, you’re not hearing what I’m saying”, he would argue everything, and he would break down into tears when he didn’t win the “discussion”. It drove me nuts, but it finally ended. I outlawed saying certain things to me that I found unacceptable. “Stop talking to me, no you are not in charge, I am in charge, go away mommy.” After being disciplined for that a few times it seemed to restore his understanding that I was in charge and it’s not a good idea to argue with me. I did my best to make sure he knew he could still voice an opinion, but respectfully.

  25. Elleana

    School..starting soon..thank goodness. My mind is melted, my patience is kaput, and my little girl, well, she must be like every other little girl out there. She’s driving me (and the rest of the family) crazy. I’m beginning to wonder if they have boarding schools in Switzerland for 5 and 6 year olds. And next year, they are SO going to camp for a week or two, at least.

  26. Rachael

    Mir, I’ll trade you kids…

  27. Jenn2

    Honey, you’re just starting on this crazy ride. It gets so much more fun in a year or two…

    I am sympathetic, honest, and I have a suggestion. Assign an extra chore every time she argues. This way, she’s too tired to argue and the housework gets done. Seriously, my house was freakin’ immaculate for two months before DQ finally bent to my will. Just a warning, this will require extra funding of the therapy account for the visits when she proclaims she is a, “slave in her own home…” and you, “aren’t even her STEP- mother!”

    Hee hee hee…good times.

  28. ScottsdaleGirl

    I am sooooooo sending up an apology to my mother tonight. I remember being so very very very adamant about my need to express my opinion no matter how far-fetched or ridiculous it was. Gah!

    Of course I wasn’t as eloquent as Chickadee when asked about it. I think my response to “why are you being like this?” was something like “BECAUSE I CAN *Stomps out of room, slams bedroom door*”

  29. Daisy

    All right, already, do any of you feel for the teachers who are looking at school looming in the not-so-distant future? And are already working on getting ready? And are shaking off their own little hangers-on while they’re doing it? oops, gotta go — the younger one just tripped on a crate of books I was levelling.

  30. Tug

    This is SO my daughter & I when she was in 5th through about 9th grades…. We’re very good friends now if helps at all. She has a daughter, & as I sit back & laugh & remind her I’ll be on a beach somewhere far FAR away when her daughter hits jr. high – she just sighs. And understands.

  31. Heather

    There is nothing better for the month of August than duct tape. In fact, August should be National Duct Tape Month. Some of the more conservative parenting groups might baulk at the thought, but I think it really help so many mothers to remain sane.

    Hope you’re feeling better.

  32. InterstellarLass

    Mine have been back for two weeks from their dad’s house. They’re either lipping off or crying. I’m wondering how long it take for them to get back to normal. Maybe if we put my son and Chickadee in a room together, they could argue themselves into silence.

  33. Kathryn, DYM

    I love “But I will tell my friends on the computer about it.” I so look forward to my kids knowing this.

  34. ishouldbeworking

    “Sugar and spice and everything nice….” my ASS!!!
    That is NOT what little girls are made off…more like
    “Attitude, ingratitude, and snottiness” mine is 12 and I can verify it all. The best thing though is that this past summer she babysat full time for a 6 yr old boy who quickly showed her that it’s really annoying when kids talk back and don’t listen and throw fits!!! Bwa-ha-ha! Better revenge than I could have ever dreamed of. She hasn’t been really bad for a while now. School started Monday so there will be all the middle school drama I can handle for the next 9 months!

Things I Might Once Have Said


Quick Retail Therapy

Pin It on Pinterest