Thursday, December 22, 2011

Santa dreidel dreidel Santa

Kiddo goes to school with contraband dreidels stuffed in his coat pockets and makes Christmas crafts. We light the menorah my parents brought us from Israel and then open another box in our Playmobil Advent calendar (this one, courtesy of a co-worker, and it's entirely cute). The candy canes are piled up next to the chocolate gelt. Welcome to our schizophrenic holiday, 2011 edition.

The kids' classes have a sign-up sheet asking which holiday everyone celebrates, I guess so the teachers can talk about the holidays with them. Our kids are the only ones on the sheet to have Christmas and Hanukkah next to their names. So far they're completely blase about it. Kiddo seems to find this book useful, and has been making happy comments about his "two holidays." Which is good. 

So far we have seen Santa several times, and the kids have yet to wonder when Santa has time to make all those toys if he's bopping around having breakfast with everybody and riding random trains to nowhere. I assume that whole logic thing will kick in in a couple of years. Or else I will be a dumdum and slip up.

At any rate, we took the Santa train out of Hackettstown this year, which gave me the added bonus of now knowing where the train station is in Hackettstown. Sometime this decade, I sincerely hope to learn my way around the area. Grandma came with us this time, because she was in town, and because she is a good sport. We took two cars, because the car seats basically suck up all the extra space in our car, and that provided the added bonus of 1. our cars getting separated and 2. Grandma getting lost. She insisted we go without her if she didn't get there in time. I had visions of the kids' faces pressed to the train window, horrified that we had abandoned Grandma.

We got to the station just barely in time, I thought, and then I saw other parents frantically hauling small children toward the train and I realized the train folks must be used to this sort of thing. Because when do parents of small children ever arrive on time for anything? Inevitably there is a diaper blowout or a lost toy or a sudden tantrum, or the child decides now would be the perfect time to run in the exact opposite direction from you, and you're lucky you're able to leave the house at all, frankly.

So we walked up to pay for our tickets and we realized that the Santa train is so adorably old-fashioned that tickets are cash-only. And we froze, because we never carry cash anymore. The "conductor" took pity on us, though, and took whatever cash we happened to have and let us on board. I guess the slight monetary loss was easier to take than the inevitable crying fits when the kids weren't allowed on the train.

And we were on our way! Sort of. In that the train was experiencing technical difficulties. So it started, briefly, then stopped. In the meantime, Santa began to make his rounds. He was quite a friendly Santa, and posed quite nicely with the kids, even if he couldn't get a smile out of kiddette. But then Miss Poker Face never smiles for pictures, except the school pictures, and I would love to know that photographer's secret.

Santa went his merry way, even though the train still wasn't going anywhere. And then out the window, we all saw ... Grandma! Hustling toward the train. And they let her on, since we weren't moving yet anyway. What a perfectly timed electrical problem. The kids were thrilled that Grandma made it, I was secretly relieved, and we'll be coming back to this train group next year, because they were so nice about the whole thing.

Of course, once the train actually got moving, kiddette realized that Santa had been the high point, and was exceedingly annoyed that I wouldn't let her spend the trip racing up and down the aisle. Fortunately, Snoopy and the Grinch came around too, and Mrs. Claus, and then one of the women pulled out a guitar and started singing holiday tunes, so that kept the kids more or less occupied. (A quibble: "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer"? I thought it was funny too when I was in 8th grade, but isn't that a little ... dark for a holiday sing-along?)

Balancing things out, we visited my parents' synagogue over the weekend for a Hanukkah party. The party kicked off with each Hebrew school class performing a skit, which was cute, but it did remind me that I have years of such performances to look forward to. Also, now I can't get this song out of my head. Then everyone headed downstairs for a DJ dance party, latkes and crafts. The kids have developed an appreciation for latkes, but they haven't quite figured out the point of the applesauce yet. It'll come with time. (And yes, applesauce. Not sour cream. Absolutely not ketchup. They're not Tater Tots, people.)

Kiddo danced a little and then sweet-talked yet another adult he'd just met into giving him something -- in this case, one of the light-up toys the DJ was giving out. I think maybe I should prevent this kid from going into politics.

The music actually made me a little nostalgic for when I used to go out dancing. Clearly I wasn't the only one, considering all the moms on the dance floor. Can't say I blame them.

We left after the Limbo started, mainly because I'd gotten hit with a cold or something cold-like and was petrified I was going to infect someone, even though I was slathering my hands in sanitizer. Still, good timing, since kiddo left under the impression he'd won Limbo, because the DJ had given him (along with all the other eliminated folks) a shiny dreidel. He was so taken with the dreidel, he decided to give it a spin, right there in front of the Limbo bar. I had to haul him away before someone tripped over him.

And now, as our Merry Everything celebration gets well under way, I say to you: Merry Everything! May your latkes be crisp and your eggnog incredibly spiked. May Santa or Hanukkah Harry bring you whatever you wanted, except a Lexus, because I hate those commercials. And maybe one of those guys could bring me what I want too. I don't care which one. They can draw straws for it.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Progress, of sorts

Apparently all I had to do to get the hospital to call me back was leave an icily angry voicemail noting that this was the fourth time I was calling, and no one had returned my calls yet. Literally, within minutes they called me.

Man. Every time I feel bad about my icy voice and Look of Death (as DH refers to it), not wanting to be a jerk and be mean to people, I'm reminded all over again that being a jerk is frequently what works. Whoever said you catch more flies with honey than vinegar is a moron. You don't catch more flies with honey. You catch more flies with a flyswatter.

So we've got a February appointment. Yes, that would be February as in next year. Apparently no one else is as bothered by this as I am. But then, I'm impatient. Anyway we're on the waiting list in case something else opens up.

Meantime, his letters are looking slightly less like chicken scratch, but he still loses interest in writing pretty quickly. And his attention span is ... finite.

I took the kiddies downtown for lunch, and for the Victorian carolers and horse-drawn carriage rides (yes, really. It's that kind of town). He was fine through lunch. He was fine on the carriage ride -- though he, and the other little boy on the ride, were incredibly quick to notice the horses', um,  deposits on the street. Walking back through downtown, clearly, was when his attention ran out. He started to run ahead and behind us, instead of walking with us. I warned him, and then he ran off again in a parking lot and started to mess around with one of the bushes -- which happened to have berries on it. Which, with my luck, would have been the toxic kind. This scored him an early end to the field trip.

I wonder if it's length of time, or the amount of stimulation, that sets him off. I wonder if that's something I'll find out in February.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The waiting game

Really, three phone messages in two weeks and the hospital still can't be bothered to call me back? Oh, sorry, did my kid's situation not sound dire enough for you? Tell you what, office staff, I'll just swing by and drop him off to hang out with you for a few dozen hours or so. Then you tell me what you think about his hyperactivity. Kay?

Honestly. I cannot stand unreturned phone calls. I return calls when I'm at work. Blowing off messages isn't just unprofessional, it's rude. And also it will make me leave even more messages.

When I am presented with a problem, I want to solve the problem. On the spot. Five minutes ago if possible. Waiting and waiting while other people maybe sorta eventually get around to caring about the existence of a problem is maddening.

And I'm not really sure how long we can wait on this, since as things stand, is kiddo really going to be ready for kindergarten next year?

He's at least a little better with the letters, in that they sort of resemble letters, except the capital D, which resembles a crooked balloon. But it's hard to know when he's genuinely having a problem with a task and when he's goofing around because, you know, he's 4. Which is the sort of thing an expert could probably help out with, if we could get one on the phone.

I'm going to chat with the pediatrician about alternatives, I think, because a place too busy to return my calls is too busy to be of much use.