Meanwhile, back at Hippie School

I don’t know if you know this, but it is hugely inconvenient to have more than one child to care for when you have a sick kid. Who knew, right? Extremely poor planning on my part, to be sure.

Having the stress of trying to take care of one sick kid while making sure the well one doesn’t end up sad and neglected is like a special Suckage Bonus Prize. There were points at which I was honestly more worried about Monkey than Chickadee; once she was in the hospital, at least I knew she was safe and being taken care of, whereas with Monkey, he was worried and weepy and to top it off, we kept having to leave him to go be with her. (Hey, did you know that in many critical care settings hospitals don’t allow visitors under the age of 16? Because keeping your little sibling from coming and giving you a hug is just GOOD MEDICINE.) (Related: I’m a little bitter, yes.)

So: I was worried about how hard this was going to be on Monkey. But Monkey pretty much ended up being the superstar of this entire fiasco, and that’s due in no small part to Hippie School.

For starters, Teresa and Merry knew what was going on, and let me just make the difference between Regular School and Hippie School crystal clear, here: Although all of Chickadee’s teachers knew she was in the hospital, I heard from only two of her eight teachers (and only a couple of times). In contrast, Teresa and Merry—who aren’t even her teachers—kept checking in with me, helping Monkey work through his sad and worried feelings, and just generally being wonderful. Teresa even started bringing Star back to school, and I don’t know if that was for Monkey’s benefit or just a coincidence, but it helped. A lot.

Outside of school, we had a number of friends selflessly step up to help us make sure Monkey had places to go when we couldn’t be here, and once the initial shock and concern wore off for him, I’m pretty sure he saw Chickie’s hospitalization as one awesome excuse to have constant playdates with Mario and Lemur.

And you know what else? Parents I don’t even know all that well from Hippie School were offering to help, too. Made me cry, every time.

The one wrench (one! HA!) during this time period was that Monkey has to be accompanied by a parent on all field trips, and he missed one because I was at the hospital and Otto was teaching, and there was just no rearranging it. He spent the day hanging out in Otto’s office, then home with me, later, and he was a VERY good sport about the whole thing. So when the next field trip came up the next week, I just decided we had to go.

They take part in a kind of Outward Bound thing, at Hippie School, and every so often we join up with a couple of guides and just go tromp through the woods for the day. Here I was, kid in the hospital, barely sleeping, stressed to the gills, and… I packed up a couple of lunches and took my baby out for a day in the woods.

“I hope today will be a good distraction for you,” Teresa whispered, as we set out. She squeezed my arm as I nodded back, hand constantly turning over the cell phone in my pocket, just in case.

We hiked and we talked and we played games and Monkey had a great day. So did I. It WAS a good distraction, especially when one of the guides invited Mario to lick a large slug they’d just found.

“Wait. WHAT? Did you just tell him to lick a SLUG?” I asked, incredulous.

“Yeah, they excrete a numbing agent. It’ll make your tongue feel all tingly.” And then the kids all TOOK TURNS LICKING A SLUG while I quietly dry-retched behind my hands. (Monkey declined to lick it, which was the only reason I didn’t actually hurl.)

You guys, Hippie School is TEACHING SLUG LICKING. I couldn’t stop laughing at all the kids who’d done it, their tongues hanging halfway out of their mouths. “Ith all tingg-ee!” they kept saying. Indeed, slug-lickers. Indeed.

A few days later, we came into school for Monkey’s “Portfolio Presentation,” sort of a halfway-through-the-year progress report. He made a Powerpoint for us, and we all talked about the things he’s studied and what he liked the best. We all agreed he was quite marvelous.

When Chickadee was finally discharged, on Monday, I didn’t tell Monkey before he left for school, because I wasn’t entirely sure it was going to happen. But it did, and Chickadee was here waiting for him when Mario’s mom dropped him off that afternoon. He came in and put his backpack down, and Chickie jumped out from behind the door. I thought his face was going to split open. He hugged her so hard he nearly knocked her over. Their matching grins made me cry all over again.

I was doing a little work this morning before taking Chickadee out to today’s appointments, and I got an email from Monkey at school: “Waluigi brought a 1 day old baby goat to school today!”

I mailed back in my usual super adult way: “NO WAY! Is it the cutest thing ever??”

A minute later he responded: “It is. It is a female and they are thinking of naming it silky. She is all black except for the kiss of god under her chin. I’ll have Teresa send you some pics.”

I replied: “You pretty much go to the greatest school ever, huh?”

And he answered, simply: “Yes.”

He’s right.


  1. Anna Marie

    I am so, so happy to read this update. Good heavens but it is time for things to start going your way again!

  2. Sarah Moore

    I’m so very glad. Still praying for Chickie’s recovery, and for your heart to feel at peace.

  3. erika

    That is completely awesome! Sometimes in the darkness, a little star will show itself. That might be just enough to keep us going.

    And completely unrelated – if you name your daughter Merry (as opposed to Mary), chances are 86.7% that she will become a teacher at a hippie school :)

  4. Amy

    You mean you didn’t want to lick the slug not even a little bit?!?

    So glad to hear good news on the Monkey front!

  5. Katie in MA

    I really, really thought you were going to say you took pictures of the slug-licking and presented them to Chickie as Plan B: Numbed By Slugs! (Retching optional.)

    (Also – the reunion of M & C that you painted made me get all weepy at work. Totally worth it. So happy Chickie’s back home!)

  6. Leandra

    I’m with Katie — cue the tears at the reunion scene.

    As for slug licking, DUDE! Warn a person. I’m eating lunch here. Or I WAS.

  7. kapgaf

    What a wise decision it was to accompany Monkey but It’s going to take more than something shiny to get my mind off slug-licking, thank you!

  8. Jamie

    A pink puffy hearts post!

  9. Crista

    They didn’t see each other for two weeks?! Suckage.

    The slug licking reminds me of the Family Guy “Toad” episode, lol.

    I hope Chickie is continuing to feel better and that her appointments today went well.
    Take care of yourself and your family. Thanks for checking in :).

  10. Birchsprite

    Really glad to hear that hippy school is looking after the wee man. Hope Chickie is feeling better and that you all are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel!

  11. Ellen G

    So, did everyone have their own slug to lick or did they all lick the same slug…because if I had to, I could do the former but wouldn’t think it all that hygenic to share a slug.

  12. Katherine

    LIcking a slug sounds even worse than toasted meal worms (which yes, my child has eaten – and brought me home a recipe!!!) NO WAY! not in this house!

    I’m so glad that Monkey has a great school – and hope that it all works out for next year. And hoping that Chickie makes a speedy recovery.

  13. Crisanne

    Oh so glad to have a happy story to read here today. We love you all, Mir. The clouds are slowly lifting, the sun is shining through…and you’ve gotten loads of extra snuggles from your often too-big-to-snuggle girl. :)

  14. Chuck

    Glad everything is going well at the hippie school. Other than the slug licking.

  15. Midj

    I have always liked slugs. First ran into them on the cabbage farm that abutted the military base I lived on in Germany when I was a little girl. Have never, ever, ever licked one, however… Gotta love Hippie School. Have a friend who raises pygmy goats and baby goats are the cutest things. Glad you have some happy back in your life.

  16. Karen R.

    Thanks for the update. I hope things continue to look up.

  17. liv

    k, you made me cry two posts in a row. :)

  18. bonuela

    i loved ellen g’s response. licking a slug is ok, but sharing one, now that’s just disgusting. :-)

  19. Beth A.

    Was this a unofficial Love Thursday post? cause we haven’t see one of those in a long time!

    (unrelated, is it a little sad that I had to check the calendar to make sure it was, in fact, Thursday?)

  20. My Kids Mom

    I’m still worrying about his ability to stay at Hippie School for the upcoming year. It seems so perfect for him. (Well, except for the slug part) Do you know any more about that?

  21. s

    tears all the way around…I’d even lick a slug if it would improve things for you!

  22. Deirdre

    So here I am settling in at the computer with a cup of tea, and then I read about Monkey and Chickadee’s reunion and . . . now my tea is a little salty. *sniff* I’m so glad Monkey and the rest of you had such great support during this!

  23. Beth R

    Add me to the smiling tears brigade. Soooo glad the Hippy School folks been there for you and Monkey – such a neat piece in a really awful year.


  24. Arnebya

    I am so glad that you found this school, that in the midst of turmoil and angst they are there for you. Nice to learn something new today, too, about slugs. Also, gross, but still fascinating.

  25. Megan

    Okay, have you checked, REALLY CHECKED Teresa and Merry for suspicious signs of wings and halos? ‘Cause I’m pretty sure they’ve earned them (and if not – per Clarence since I was raised right – I’m going to go out and ring every darn bell I can find).

    Slugs and hugs and baby goats – much needed relief doesn’t always come in the wrapping you expect, but isn’t it wonderful when it DOES come?

  26. Sarah

    I completely teared up when I got the the part about Chickadee waiting at home to surprise him. I don’t usually comment, but I am just so happy you have things to smile about.

  27. dad

    Are not kids awesome?

    A walk in the woods is excellent therapy.
    It would have been very bad form to hurl in response to little lingual contact with a slug.
    Maybe next time you should take dramamine.

    Welcome back. This was a great Thursday present.

  28. Tenessa

    The positivity is awesome! I think that’s what multiple kids are for: when one is having a bad time, the other(s) seem to go the extra mile in making things not so awful. GO MONKEY! I really hope Chickie is recovering and feeling better.

  29. Scottsdale Girl

    Slug Licking
    Baby Goats


  30. Sheila


  31. liz

    I am in utter love with this post.

  32. Heather

    *Tear*….this post makes me happy. :)

  33. Kathy

    God BLESS Hippee School!

    Thank you for this wonderful, uplifting post! I’ve been worried!! ;)

  34. KarenP

    Yay Hippie School. Yay for Chickadee feeling better. (Enough to stand behind the door and jump out and surprise Monkey!)

  35. amanda

    I’m with Ellen G.. Did they lick the SAME slug? ewwwwww… that’s just gross!!

    So thankful Chickadee is HOME sweet HOME. I understand the privacy and not sharing the what(s) of what was wrong… but you do have some curious readers… or am I the only nosey one?

    Plus, Hippie School sounds great. So jealous. So Very Jealous.

  36. PopC

    Fantastic news… all the way around. Thak you fo rthe update. I love your writing style!

  37. Jessica

    I’m in on the question: Did they all lick the same slug. At first I thought, “Meh, slug licking. It’s not for me, but…” But then I thought, “But how many slugs did they find? Only one? Did they all lick the same one, because that is just…okay, licking a slug someone else licked actually grosses me out more than licking it in the first place!”

    Amanda, my husband asked what happened (I yelled out, “Mir is back!” and he asked how everyone was doing), and I just told him that Chickadee had the bird flu. ;~) I did tell him that it was private, but now we just assume it was a bird issue.

    And can I just say, “YAY! More Mir!” I will never take your blog for granted again. :D

  38. Sheila

    To be selfish for a moment, I have to say that my world would be a little darker if you ever really decided to stop writing here. The belly-laughter that comes from slug-licking stories (and all the other great funny stories you share and general all-around awesome writing) is seriously good for my mental health. So, thank you.

    On a different note… really? Nothing from Chickadee’s teachers? I can understand if she was just home sick because that happens all the time to kids. But in the hospital – that’s kind of a big deal. Or at least it is to me. Boo to the teachers and school! (and of course yay for hippie school)

    Hope all continues on a positive path for your family.

  39. RuthWells

    Thank you for good news today. Much appreciated, as the universe has seen fit to throw another gut-punch our way. 2012 can kiss my ass.

  40. Karen

    These are the moments when you can truly believe..”Life Is Good”. … even with the suckage that comes with it.

  41. jadine

    Reading this made me happy :) Aside: I’m pretty sure the nuns wouldn’t have taken us on a field trip, let alone encourage us to lick slugs.

  42. StephLove

    Fingers crossed he can stay at that school next year (and forever). ‘Cause, I mean, slug-licking, c’mon.

  43. Mara

    Awwwww. What a great post! I wish I went to Hippie School.

  44. Stimey

    I know there are more important things in this post, but I am having a really huge problem getting past the slug licking. I’m so glad that Monkey is in such a good place for him. I kinda want to send Jack there too. The commute isn’t too bad, right? We’ve established that we’re both in the same time zone, right?

  45. vanessa

    I went to a Hippie School too (little teeny tiny Quaker school for HS) and I LOVED it. I am so glad that Monkey loves his Hippe Place. And I love the story of them seeing each other! Ack! My little heart grew two sizes.
    I hope Chickie is feeling OK!

  46. Deanna

    Yay!! Forests and slugs and baby goats!!! I’m not surprised monkey stepped up, he’s such a sweetheart, he knew that the really big thing that his sister was going through meant mom was just about at the end of her rope. :). My monkey was better behaved during his “sissy’s” hospitalization than I think he ever was before or since. So glad that hippie school was such a soft place for him to land!

  47. addy

    ummm no slugs ever – not even one. Those things are beyond disgusting!! And yes hospital rules are ridiculous sometimes. Been there lived through that. Glad there are a few rays of sunshine now.

  48. Chris

    Ok I am also very distracted by the slug licking but Cheers for Hippie School, Hippie School parents and a little bit of well-needed cheer in an otherwise trying time.

  49. Mir

    I feel I must clarify that yes, they were all licking the same slug. GROSS.

    Also, I cannot believe I forgot to mention this: Monkey refused to lick the slug, but he then decided to name it… Slurpy. Slurpy the Slug. At the end of the day we stood in a big Kumbaya circle and went around and each said what our favorite part of the day was, and I said it was my new friend Slurpy (which made Monkey laugh, which was the point).

  50. Steph

    I got nothin’ except: Yaaaay! :)

  51. Elizabeth

    So deeply grateful on your behalf! Hippie School rocks.

  52. Kailani

    Happy Love Thursday!
    So glad your family is reunited.
    Glad your tears are the melt-your-heart kind and not broken hearted ones.
    Continuous prayers for Chickie’s swift recovery.

    Oh… And hooray for hippie school…but the SAME slug?!?! Ewwwww!!!!!

  53. Debra

    This made me smile and feel all warm and fuzzy inside. ((hugs))

  54. The Other Leanne

    Yes, one extremely valuable thing I learned from one of my Native American coworkers: If you are out in the woods and are suddenly bleeding copiously, grab a slug. Stops the bleeding–seriously–if you can actually pick the dang thing up and apply it. Slime for all! Hippie School rocks!

  55. Annette

    That is so great Mir:). I love his school too. I wish my monkey-type had a school available to him:(. I was worried about he was doing Chickie-less…

  56. Brigitte

    I like to live in the land on denial and focus on the inconsequential things, so I was another one focussed on the slug-licking, glad you clarified a bit. However, does this work with ALL slugs, or only certain varieties? Not that I’ll do it, of course, just curious.

    And much as I dislike slugs, I’m kinda feeling bad for Slurpy!

  57. Jodi F.

    Slug licking? I have no words.

    Glad your girl is home. Although I can’t imagine the stress for you as mom, I do think that moms have some kind of empathy that makes us feel another’s pain, even when it is not our own experience. So moms reading your blog are in some way sharing what you are going through.

    A standard poodle is a large, intelligent, hypo-allergenic, non-shedding dog. Just saying.

  58. Andrea

    Glad you’re getting some well-deserved sunshine over at Casa Mir. Hope it continues getting brighter every day!
    Man, I wish we had a hippie school.
    Oh, and if you want to feed Monkey’s love for baby goats? Look up Jingle Goats on Youtube. I’m not sure why it’s set to Christmas music, but it’s jumping baby goats. What’s not to like?

  59. Tracy B

    Ahhhh, I’d love to see pictures of the baby goat!!! And I love the description…”kiss of God”…love that!

  60. Jen

    I love Hippie School. :) I hope you’re telling Teresa and Merry that the internet loves them. :)

  61. elz

    I was equally worried for Monkey and I’m glad to hear that he handled everything better than anyone hoped. Also-slug licking???Ugh-VOMIT.

  62. ann(i)eb

    Slurpy the Slug-a children’s book in the making? And what did Slurpy have to say to his/her (slugs are hermaphrodites) slippery companions out in the woods?
    Perhaps, “Guess what? I was out slicking and got a licking!”

    Slugs are snails without a home on its back For an interesting read, try The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating—–really!
    Surely slugs have a kiss of God too? Lick a slug, kiss a goat.
    Yeah yeah yeah for hippie school!

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