Hop aboard the noodle train, my friends

By Mir
August 6, 2010

I took my last Prednisone pill this morning, and am eagerly looking forward to returning to sanity in the nearish future. I hope. Also, Otto reports that I ground my teeth so loudly last night I actually woke him up, so I guess the continued pain in my jaw isn’t much of a mystery. One of these days I’m going to be all, “OH EM GEE, YOU GUYS, I WOKE UP WITH A MOUTHFUL OF BUSTED TEETH TODAY!” And you’ll think I’m exaggerating, like I always do, only it will be true because WHY LEARN TO COPE WITH STRESS when you can simply destroy your sanity and smile in one fell swoop?

The funny (not funny-haha but funny-weird, because the idea of waking up toothless is actually frightening to me) part is that I don’t really feel all that stressed out. I’m not sure why my brain is suddenly convinced that the fate of the universe rests upon my ability to clench my jaw with a thousand pounds of neurotic force.

But yesterday was Quite A Day, so maybe it’s Stress even though it’s not Bad Stress. Or something.

So we had three extra kids for the day. Three extra boys. And I adore them all, and didn’t hear a single fight or even unkind word the entire day, which I consider a minor miracle, so believe me when I tell you that truly, they were no trouble at all. But the volume in the house was set to LOUD all day long. Chickadee and I got to escape for part of the morning when we went to Open House over at the middle school, but the rest of the time she was my unofficial Helper, having been bribed to help shepherd the boys through the day and thereby earn herself a new lunchbag for the coming school year. [That one’s a long story, involving the untimely demise of last year’s bag due to some poor choices on her part. She was told to make do with something else this year or buy her own, but yesterday cheap babysitting labor seemed a reasonable exchange for goods.]

So: Loud house. Tried to do some work, while also protecting the dog from the mad stampede of boychildren. (All three visiting boys are prone to running up to her and screaming, “LICORICE!” in their excitement. Licorice—being a delicate flower—finds this a little scary. And then she wants her mommy.) Then it was time to hit the middle school.

Once crammed into the gym at Chickie’s school, I found myself having several important revelations.
1) Summer is a long time when it comes to pubescent children. All of the boys grew a foot since I last saw them in May, and all the girls I haven’t seen suddenly have… ummm… huge tracts of land.
2) Deodorant is your friend. I wish more of the middle schoolers understood that.
3) The sound system at the middle school is designed to make anyone using a microphone sound like they have a mouthful of marbles. So the principal got on up there with great gusto and shouted out, “GOOF MRNING SHDNTS!” and then seemed shocked when we all just stared blankly. Good times.

This year the middle school employed something called a “Schedule Wizard,” which was super awesome because it randomly assigned electives AND did smart things like give one of Chickadee’s friends two social studies classes and gave several of them 9-week-long blocks of alternating classes which are actually 18 weeks long. So all the kids stood in the hallway comparing schedules and FREAKING OUT because ZOMG SPANISH, I NEED SPANISH, WHY DIDN’T I GET SPANISH AND ALSO I ALREADY TOOK ART AND SINCE WHEN IS ART ONLY 9 WEEKS AND GIRL I LOVE YOUR HAIR! Wooooo.

A bunch of us tromped to the registrar’s office and got things fixed, but then the girls started begging us to “ask for them to switch this class too” because they just happen to like a certain teacher, which gave us parents a golden opportunity to explain that a missing science class is an emergency, but liking that one teacher better because she hands out candy is not. (I said they grew boobs, not that any of them grew a lick of common sense.)

After that was said and done, we came back home and it was time to feed everyone. Otto and I fixed five different pates of food; the boys all had lunch meat, while Chickadee had sunbutter. Some boys eat cheese, some do not. Half the kids had grapes, half had veggies. IT WAS ALL VERY COMPLICATED, as my general philosophy on food is that you can take it or leave it, but with three out of the five children in residence having sensory issues that result in picky eating, I felt like doing a bit of lunch accommodation was stacking the deck in our favor for a calm afternoon.

Lunch was a jolly, if slow, affair, and then it was time to swim. I had planned to get everyone set up outside and then sneak back inside to do some work while Otto played lifeguard, but then the power went out for about an hour, so there was nothing to do but stay outside and swelter.

The kids had fun, though. This was the noodle train:

(At the time of that picture, it was short one child who had decided it was important to stand up on the deck and repeatedly ask the others who wanted to go inside and play Nintendo.)

Eventually the power came back on and the children shriveled up like prunes (these two items are unrelated, I think) and we got everyone out and dried off and dressed and packed up, and then it was time for Open House over at the elementary school. We all made it over there in one piece and only one boy was wearing his pants backwards when we arrived, so, you know, small victories and all of that.

At one point Monkey and his BFF were pretending to lick each other as we made our way down the hallway to their classroom, and his friend’s mom said, “None of that,” and I added, “Yeah, not until you guys are in high school” and she gave me a funny look. I should really learn to think before I speak, sometime.

So there was teacher-meeting and ice-cream-eating and a merry time was had by all, and then finally the festivities were over and just us four returned home. Last night is a blur; I think I may have fallen asleep on the couch, not sure.

In short: School starts Monday. We’re ready, I think. Also, Five Full Plates does indeed live again, and I’m owning up to needing more than my desk can give me. I have no idea where the summer went, but I’m kind of looking forward to the fall, hopefully with all my teeth intact and a bit of regular exercise in the mix.

Failing that, I always have the option to flail around in the pool screaming, “NOODLE!” If yesterday was any indication, that’s pretty good exercise and stress-relief, right there.


  1. Katherine

    On the teeth grinding, might I suggest talking to your dentist about a night-time mouthpiece. I ground my teeth enough to keep knocking out fillings (and then ground my way *through* 2 mouthpieces before the dentist made me a heavy duty mouthpiece). Since the latest mouthpiece, my dental bills for replacing fillings has gone way down. I still have plenty of other dental issues, like a bout of that same lovely surgery that Chickadee had, but teeth grinding is MUCH improved (or at least the effect on my teeth is – I think I still clench them).

    Good luck with the first day of school. My kids have already been in school a week and the quietness of the house is amazing!

  2. divrchk

    I’m a clencher more than a grinder and I wake up with killer headaches and lately my ear is even hurting. I have an appointment with the dentist on the 16th to get a new night guard. Man, I hate night guards. I’m hoping they’ve improved since I got my last one 20 years ago. Our school starts Monday and I still have no idea who my kids’ teachers are. Supposedly we find out today but I sent an e-mail to the principal last night explaining why this is unacceptable to a military family whose dad is deploying days after school starts as well as having a kid with life threatening allergies. I like to give the teacher a heads up, ya know? I’m not even on prednisone and I am having terrible insomnia.

  3. Jan in Norman, OK

    Ummm…you are using one of those soft plastic night guard things, right? They don’t prevent teeth-grinding but they do help prevent tooth damage.

  4. RuthWells

    Love the noodle train.

    Do you think that if I went back to middle school, I could grow some huge tracts of lands? ‘Cause damn, breastfeeding was tough on the boobs…

  5. Amelia

    “Yeah, not until you guys are in high school”

    Makes perfect sense to me.

    (And actually, I give my daughter the opposite advice: “I hope you will not lift your dress above your head when you are in high school.”)

  6. Catherine

    Middle schoolers! Heh. I am a middle school teacher and on the first day of school I am known for preaching the gospel of personal hygiene. Deodorant is a highlight of this talk. Also, the importance of washing one’s body daily, including feet. Some of the boys’ feet could gas you at 50 paces.

    The look on their faces when I explain why their 6th grade teacher used so much Lysol in her class (Because y’all were stanky!) is priceless.

    The issue with “huge tracts of land” also has its own bit of a talk about why all cleavage stays under wraps at school. I don’t want to see theirs, and I promise never to show them mine. Well, if I had it, I wouldn’t show them. Really.

  7. Chuck

    Wow, what a day! Glad everything turned out well. And consider a nightguard, it’s helped me a fair bit with grinding.

  8. Jennifer Joyner

    Oh, Mir…I love these kinds of posts from you, where I feel like I’m right there with you, clumsily making my way through life (especially the comment of yours about the licking in high school…how many times have I said stuff like that and immediatley regretted it????)

  9. Rachel

    I have worn night guards for years for grinding. The ones the dentist makes for you are expensive. I have the ceramic mold of my teeth that he uses to make the new guards when they get worn out, and even without having to re-do that part, the last one cost me $100. That was several years (8?) ago. A few months ago, I decided to try the drug store/Target ones & bought a package with 2 guards in it for $25. It’s been working great so far! If I go on a trip and leave it at home, I wake up with a killer headache & jaw pain. Good luck!

  10. Aly

    We had our meet the teacher day yesterday at the new middle school and my daughter is on a different hall than every one of her friends from elementary school. To make it worse, all of her friends are on the same hall together. My daughter seems to be handling the news better than I am. (although I did wait until I got to work to close my door and cry).

  11. Heather

    Night guards are wonderful. I spoke to my dentist about the grinding and jaw clenching who referred me to a TMJ specialist for awhile -( I wasn’t willing to continue with because no one has that much time or money) however, the night guards continue to this day. It isn’t just stress that causes people to clench and grind their teeth.

    The comment about the middle school kids – right on target from the pool this summer. My pseudo nephew is thirteen and I think his mom was the only one that bought bigger clothes for the summer.

  12. Bonnie

    Sixth grade teacher here thanking you for speaking the truth about the wonder years. As in, “I wonder if we’re gonna live through this…” My own live-in 6th grader’s lackadaisical approach to deodorant use makes my eyes water several times a week.

    Let me also pass along some homegrown wisdom from my now-retired dentist, who offered this to address my own minor night-grinding issue. Before you go to sleep each night, repeat this affirmation: “Lips together, teeth apart. From this position I won’t depart.” It helps because it’s hard to grind and giggle at the same time.

  13. Megan

    Hee hee. My daughter, who is rather more… landish than the other females in the immediate family pointed out that thinkgeek.com has t-shirts with ‘huge tracts of land’ on. I am tempted to get them for my daughter and myself. Of course, I’m also tempted now and then to replace the bras hanging on the shower rod with special little ones made from three of the weency strip bandaids and two of the round ones, you know, just to see if anyone notices…

  14. Leslie

    I’m a dental hygienist AND a hard core clencher and grinder ,t’s just the way some of us deal with stress…(hey, don’t laugh, I have great fingernails ‘cuz I’m too busy clenching and grinding to bite them….). Get thee to a dentist and have a night guard made. They are made of hard acrylic and wearing one is not unlike wearing a retainer. You grind on the acrylic instead of your teeth and as an added benefit your jaw doesn’t hurt in the morning because the small amount of acrylic between your upper and lower teeth holds the jaw open a little.

  15. Crisanne

    Why is it that having extra kids around-not matter how well behaved-is just plain exhausting??!! Sounds like summer was just long enough to enjoy the break from routine and welcome it’s return.

  16. My Kids Mom

    Lunch for a pack of kids=buffet. Put out meat, cheese, mayo, mustard, bread, crackers, pickles, chips etc and give them each an empty plate. Saves the custom cooking.

    Ditto on the night guard. Last thing my hubby and I say to each other at night is “Got your teeth?” We’re romantic that way.

    School. Monday. Yikes. Here too. I have trouble convincing my 9yo to shower now, so when he starts to stink I’ll really be in trouble. I have a year? Two? 6yo loves baths and would stay all evening submerged (after 2 hrs in the pool too.) Boys are weird.

  17. JennyM

    I definitely pictured you making the appropriate gesture with “huge… tracts of land.”

  18. Hollie

    I second or third the night guard suggestion. I am a clencher and it increases when I’m stressed. I wore all the enamel off my molars, and had to have “stress fractures” fixed on couple of my front teeth before a dentist mentioned I needed a night guard.

    I would highly suggest you pay the extra money for the hard night guard, though. I chewed through the soft ones in a matter of months. They’re usually fairly pricey (upwards of several hundred dollars), but they’re worth it. The one I have now has lasted years, and has very little noticeable wear.

  19. Tracy

    You can have this..or you can have that…still stuck in my head. I bet lunchtime was a blast! Have a great and relaxing weekend!!!!

  20. Debra

    I’ve decided I need to get one of those night time mouth guards.. I’ve put it off because of the “oh so sexiness” of the thing… yes sarcasm, and the cost. But I’ve just had the second tooth crowned because it was full of cracks from clenching my teeth together at night. It may be a small price to pay to avoid the anxiety that is sitting in the dental chair with a 6 inch needle coming towards my face.

  21. joaaanna

    Bullet point time:

    – Mouth guard is pricey, but worth it.
    – Ugh – pre-teens and B.O. – so, SO gross. They just… STINK!
    – What is sunbutter?
    – What is it with boys (my stepson is(was)(*is) and Aspie) and cheese issues? IT’S CHEESE! The best creation ever!
    – The noodle train made me LAUGH!!!
    – I immediately thought that Monkey’s BFF’s mom has a blog and is posting about the licking thing, saying WTF**?

    *eh, long story
    **and that made me laugh harder

  22. aem2

    Ah yes, the pungent aroma of undeoderized youth. I’m not sure what’s worse, that or when the boys start believing the Axe commercials and leave clouds of the stuff hanging in the halls. Little Louis XII’s, they are…

  23. Michelle

    Having worked for a dentist for 20 years, you should definitely talk to your dentist about a occlusal guard. It will help you with your clenching and grinding and will save your teeth. I have one and I don’t even notice it anymore when I wear it at night. You can cause lots of damage to your teeth if you don’t take care of this now. You will be happy you did and getting a mouth guard is no big deal at all.
    My daughter still has a MONTH to go until she goes back to school! In Michigan schools cannot start until after Labor day. I wish I could send her back earlier! Enjoy your quiet house!

  24. Mia

    …and only one child had his pants on backwards – small victories and all… I thought I was the only one who considered stuff like that an actual victory! I’m happy when we reach a destination and everyone is wearing the same clothing they left the house in. Let’s hear it for all the small victories to come!

  25. Alice

    Hey, I think what you said to the fellow mom re: licking was great. While more cluefulness on the part of my parents and those of my HS girlfriend would have curtailed some of our smooching, parents who actually consider these things to be a possibility are wonderful.

    And here’s to being able to hose off the kids in your pool! Won’t work if Chickie has a gathering once winter hits, but it’s still a nice thought …

  26. Laura

    Just to add my two cents to the night guard discussion. I am teeth grinder/jaw clencher. I created stress cracks in some of my teeth where they meet my gum line. You know how fun it is to get those fixed? The dentist has to push back your gums and get underneath the edges to fill the cracks. When my dentist was done, before I left her office, I asked for another shot of Novocain to get me through the day. Yes, I voluntarily asked for ANOTHER SHOT. So, grinding, clenching, etc. get ye to a night guard post haste in order to avoid this peril. Just sayin’. My two cents.

  27. Katie in MA

    4 boys in one house = more calm than 1 mom on prednisone. Duly noted. (Annnnnd now calling to cancel my prednisone rx.)

Things I Might Once Have Said


Quick Retail Therapy

Pin It on Pinterest