Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Embracing the Pain

Once again, I have been on hiatus from writing for a while. I have had a lot of stuff happen and I was afraid to sit down and open up my brain and heart to write, because that is a big scary dose of reality.

When big things happen, I tend to become the Doer of All The Things. That comes in handy to a lot of people in a lot of ways. It also is one immensely effective defense mechanism, because as long as you keep DOING ALL THE THINGS-- and there are so very many to be done when shit hits the fan-- you can spend all your waking moments doing that, and busy yourself just well enough that you can maybe drop, exhausted, onto something soft at the end of a day full of Doing Things that you don't have to actually think about anything. Or, God forbid, FEEL anything.

Yeah...I am really, REALLY good at that.

Too good, probably.

And while life has been flung through the worst fan and the pieces have scattered all over, I've been spending the past couple weeks feeling like my time as the Doer of All The Things is kind of running out. There are fewer Things and we're down to just regular more capital "T" to prioritize or hide or distract me now.

So, here's where the Things and the things collide, and it is time to get real.

So where have I been?

Mourning my father.

My dad died.

You know what's so bizarre? It's not like this is news (at least to me), because it has been over two months now. But my breath caught in my throat when I typed those words. Typing them makes it more real, because it's not just my's "internet confirmed" reality now. Not sure if that makes it a Thing or a thing, or what.

I've been trying to figure out how/when/what to post here and coming up with just...nothing. But recently, I was blessed with the opportunity to go see Glennon from Momastery. If you haven't seen her or read her stuff, go check out She is amazing and REAL, and if you have the chance to attend one of her talks, YOU MUST GO. Glennon spoke so openly about grief and loss this weekend. It was the kick in the pants I sorely needed.

One thing in particular really stuck with me: So much of what we seem to do-- the Doing All The Things mode we ALL get sucked into at some time, and addictions, and so many various ways we find to numb ourselves-- we do all that because we're afraid of pain. We have been taught to avoid pain or anything similarly icky like a hot potato- drop it and MOVE ON, SISTER. But that doesn't work, does it? We do all of that stuff to avoid the pain, and find ourselves doing it over and over and over, because pain is always showing back up.

So maybe, just maybe...we shouldn't drop that hot potato so quickly. Maybe, instead, what we're meant to do is dive into it-- embrace that pain, because it is here to teach us something. Maybe if you stop pushing it away or pretending it isn't there, you might just find what you're supposed to learn from all of it. Maybe you find your purpose, your passion, your...whatever it is you need to find, it's a pretty safe bet that you won't ever get there by lying to yourself or running from what hurts.

So thank you, Glennon. I couldn't write before now, because I was running from the pain and I was afraid of how much writing would hurt.

Now I know it will... and it has to hurt, and that's exactly why I need to write again. So, here I am. Embracing the pain. Waving to Glennon, wherever she is at the moment. Probably shoeless.

The last time I posted here was the end of February, and I was feeling that creeping nag of something not-so-good slinking around the outskirts of my life. It has happened before, that feeling, and as many times as I tried to push it away or pretend I didn't see it, the darting shadows in the corner of my perception have never lied.

I knew something was coming, and I had a pretty good idea what it was going to be. And yet, I tried to Do Things and push it away, like a kid singing loudly when she rides her bike past the graveyard.

We had gotten the happy news that Monkey had been pulled into an enhancement class for reading and writing, because she was leaps and bounds ahead of her kindergarten classmates. It was not unexpected, as she's been kinda bored with the curriculum for most of the year. Still, the school usually starts enhancement in second grade. This year, the differential instruction teacher had a free period and the school had five kindergarten kids who needed more challenge, so they tried a pickup class for them. There are three classrooms for each grade at her school, about 75 kids per grade total. Monkey was the only one from her classroom selected; two came from each of the other two kindergarten classes. They were meeting once a week, on Mondays.

When I had called to tell my parents the good news, Papi actually answered the phone. That was a bit unusual. Most of the time when I called, Bunny answered. I think she was sort of screening calls. Unbeknownst to me, Papi was napping...a lot.

But I reached him directly. He sounded wistful, and tired, but was genuinely happy to hear she was doing such advanced work. Her regular class was still working on reading and writing uppercase and lowercase letters together. The "Monday class" was breaking down parts of a story, examining elements of the setting and time frame. They did actual reading comprehension work, and wrote and illustrated their stories.

Papi was so proud, and not the slightest bit surprised. My brother and I were both advanced writers from a pretty early age, and so were both my parents. I remember entering my first Young Authors' Contest as a kindergartener. (I came in second place...out of two entries. Which sucked as badly as it sounds.He had better pictures. Someday, I might even let that go...or not.)

I could tell Papi was tired, so I didn't keep him long on the phone. I just said I'd wanted to share it with them and we'd send some copies of her work once we had some. I recall exactly how he ended the conversation: "Hey, I'm glad you called to tell me. It's nice to get some GOOD news for once."

BOOM. Shoe? Dropped.

Many repetitions of four letter words ran through my head. But that was not yet the time for reality, because my dad was also in the Do All the Things mode and like any parent, wanted to protect his child from the pain and fear he was already facing. And as the dutiful child recognizing the steps of that particular dance, I didn't push for reality yet. I knew it was time for follow-up scans, and because they hadn't said anything about the process, I had to trust he'd tell me when there was no way to not tell me anymore.

He'd had one follow-up scan just before that call. And based on that, the doctors ordered two more for the following week.

Now, as anyone who has made the tour of Cancerville knows, that time frame almost never signifies good things. No, the GOOD plan is when you have your MRI or PET scan and the doctor says, "All clear! See you in six months!" Six months = good news. Six months = breathe easy, at least for now. Next week? And TWICE next week? Yeah...that means those peripheral shadows are pulling their nastiness again, and you'd better buckle up, baby.

So he went in for the first follow up scans the first week of March, with a second round bumped the following week. They got results on March 13-- Friday the 13th, for those keeping track.

The protective brain radiation had done its job, in protecting his brain from the preferred location of small-cell lung cancer to colonize. His brain was clear.

EVERYTHING else was riddled with it.

It was everywhere.

Throughout his bones. Large lesions in and on his liver. Another chunk in his shoulder, which explained why he'd been unable to sleep well: he couldn't find a comfortable position that didn't press on either that spot or his back.

Reeling from the immediate and undeniable reality, my parents didn't tell me on the 13th. It was such a blow that I don't think they could have called me then.

Here in the Land of Lincoln, that weekend was the first nice-weather weekend of spring. Around our neighborhood, people started emerging from their winterized hobbit holes to converse in the streets and sidewalks like a class reunion. Dogs were walked, bikes ridden, and the swings at the park were in high demand.

It was beautiful, good-smelling, perfect Chicagoland weather. I took the opportunity to ride my three-wheeler (adult trike, since my legs don't work) with Monkey on her two-wheeler. We rode all the way down to the park, about three long blocks from our house.

Somehow, when we got there, we were alone. It was a perfectly blue sky in the sweet-smelling breeze of new sunshine refreshing what the harsh winter had crushed. And I knew that underlying all that was something dark coming.

I sat on the swing next to my girl, who alternated between sitting the "normal" way to swing, and flipping over to put her belly on the swing and flying like Superman. I remember doing the same thing as a kid. My heart ached watching her, and knowing that I would soon have to tell her things that would taint that beautiful kid-ness of her.

We had a planned trip to Bunny and Papi's house for the girls' upcoming spring break. It was still a couple weeks away. I knew Monkey was excited, for a lot of reasons. It would be the first time Big Sis got to go to Florida with us. Monkey was looking forward to showing her all the cool things about their house. She was relishing the concept of knowing more about something than her sister. She also was excited to see the neighbors, especially their beautiful yellow lab, who is lovingly referred to as Bunny's "god-puppy" and spoiled rotten by her, accordingly.

But those dark shadows were big and slinky that day on the swings, and I knew I had to use the calmness of the day to start a conversation I wish I didn't have to have. I reminded Monkey of our earlier talks the prior year, when Papi was first sick and we were planning to go see him over the Fourth of July. He'd had the first radiation cycle and chemo at that point, and no one really knew how he'd be doing by the time we got there. We'd carefully explained then that our trip might not be like other Florida trips, because we'd be going to help, not really as a vacation.

So, dragging my feet in the loose playground dirt, I reminded my girl about those talks. She remembered how I'd explained that we might not be going lots of places, and I might have to take Papi to doctor visits or the hospital. Monkey would probably get to help Bunny cook, or work in the garden...but we might not be doing much at all.

"Papi's still sick, isn't he?"

She knew, too. My sweet ponytailed girl, with yogurt on her cheek and marker stains on her hands, who had been flying like Superman...she knew.

I did the hardest thing: I was honest.

I told her I didn't know for sure, but there were a lot of tests happening. I explained this spring break trip was looking like it would be what we thought our July trip was going to be. There was a lot I didn't know, and it was scary. But I promised her I wouldn't hide things. She said she wanted to help, however she could, and my heart shattered again at the depth of her love and compassion,

My girl understands more at six and a half, than I did, probably all through my teens. I'd like to take credit for that, but I don't see how I could. She is who she has chosen to be, and our role is to help her figure that out. She's a better person than I will ever be.

The next day, Monday, was the prettiest, best day I can remember having in a very long time. Everything went well. I had a decent commute, got a bunch of things done at work in record time and with minimal issues, and picked up Monkey from the sitter. She had a great day, and was loving life and ready to go play outside. She got on her bike while I cleaned up a bit and started dinner. All the windows were open, music was playing, and the sounds and smells of spring were blooming all around me.

It was one of those moments when you look around and freeze time in your mind. Because when you've been through so many violent storms in life, the rainbows and warm fuzzy times are few and far between.

Monkey excitedly yelled through the screen that it was OUR DINNER that smelled so yummy outside! And she gets to eat that soon!!

...and then the house phone rang. And I knew.

I knew before I touched the receiver who it was and what it meant. Somehow I still answered it, grateful that my husband and daughter were not inside while I faced this conversation.

The peripheral shadows circled around me as I heard my mother's voice. She was crying.

They'd spent the day in and out of doctors' offices and lab tests and she'd had to help him in and out of the car all day. And he couldn't walk so well. And the lab results were back, and it was bad.

Really, really bad.

In a whisper I had never heard--and never want to hear again-- my mother asked me if I could get there. It was time, she said.

My brain was at war with itself. One side was arguing, NO NO NO!! This is NOT REAL! But the other, the side that saw those shadows and smelled that perfect day, the side that doubts every good thing because it always has its equal and opposite reaction-- that side said, simply: Told you so.

Told you so.

MDD came inside and Bunny asked to talk to him. I blurted it all out as he picked up the downstairs extension. I heard her apologize to him for "taking me away" to help her. 

Oh, the things we do to try to protect those we love from pain. Not that it ever works, does it??

We told Bunny I would work on a flight and call her back. MDD got my suitcase and brought it to our room so I could throw things together. I asked him to keep Monkey occupied because I didn't know how to face her right then. I just couldn't think. So I got on the computer.

It was 7:00 PM in Chicago on 3/16, and according to the Southwest website, the last flight of the evening left at 7:55. There was no way for me to get out that night. Our existing trip had been booked for 3/28, so I was going to change just my ticket to 3/17. I started to try that online, but couldn't see straight anymore through the tears and was afraid I was going to mess up. I gave up and called them instead. The guy who answered did an excellent job of both ignoring my snorting and sniffling and showing me the utmost compassion, which of course just made me cry more.

He separated my ticket from the rest of my family's confirmation and set me up for the earliest flight the next morning, 5:55. Thank God I didn't try to do all that online, or I would have set us all up to leave then. Monkey and Big Sis still had school and Monkey Doodle Daddy didn't have the time off from work yet.

MDD and I agreed that it would just be me going first, and once I got there I would assess the situation. Depending on what we needed/wanted to do, we'd look into changing the other tickets to arrive earlier. I just didn't know what would need to happen until I got there.

My dad's oncologist had laid out an array of choices, and we had to decide what to do. He offered another round of chemo, tentatively scheduled to begin that Wednesday. If it did anything, there would be one more round the following Wednesday. Papi initially said he wanted to do it. Bunny didn't think it would be good. I couldn't contribute to the conversation until I got there, because some things just do not translate well over the telephone. I had to SEE him to know.

Monkey wandered up to the doorway of the master bedroom while I was staring blankly into my closet. She saw my suitcase and grinned. "Mommy! You're excited for spring break, too? Are you going to pack now so you're ready? We still have over a week..."

I lost it. I turned and looked at this beautiful girl, all lit up with excitement for the long-awaited trip, and just...lost it.

She blinked and took one, tentative, small step into our room. ",,,Mom...?"

I said I was going to have to get to Florida a little earlier than we had planned. I was, in fact, leaving very early the next morning.

And I saw it.

I SAW the change in my child, as the reality I couldn't protect her from came crashing into that room and broke her heart, right in front of me. I watched it happen.

"That was Bunny on the phone, wasn't it?"

I said yes, baby, it was.

She ran down the hall to her room-- her perfectly Pinterest-worthy cartoon nature room, with its trees and birds and flowers against the perfect shade of lavender--and flung herself onto her bed, sobbing. I held her, and rocked her, and smoothed her crazy hair away from where it stuck to her wet cheeks, and I sobbed along with her. We held each other and broke somewhere, separately but somehow in sync with one another. I realized that's what my mother must have felt when she picked up that phone.

Monkey was adamant about going with me. I couldn't convince her otherwise. She wanted to HELP, she had agreed to HELP, all these times-- why wouldn't I let her help??

I don't even know what I told her. She recognized my fear, and in her big, brave way, she didn't want me to do whatever I had to do without her there.

My little girl reminds me of the description I heard once about firefighters: they are the heroes who run IN, when everyone else is running OUT. That's just who she is. I admire that so much, and aspire to do more of that myself. Sometimes I can do it, but other times... Well, she is braver at six years old than I sometimes know how to be at forty.

But as adamant and helpful as Monkey wanted to be, she is still just six years old. I couldn't make peace with flinging her into an unknown situation when I didn't even have any idea what would be happening once I walked into that house.

I don't really remember packing, except it was interrupted umpteen times by various rounds of crying and forgetting stuff and bathroom trips and MDD and I both trying in vain to get our distraught child into her bed.

Several times, I crumpled and just hung onto my husband, who held me up and said all the things that needed to be said and heard. At some point, I declared the bag packed and he took it downstairs. I crawled into bed to lie partially awake until I got up to meet the taxi at 3:30 AM.

I think I showered. I don't know. I do know I kissed my girl on her sleeping forehead and inhaled deeply to keep her scent with me. I took with me her stuffed elephant she'd gotten from the urgent care center when they'd had to swab her throat for strep. We were giving it to Papi, because it helped her be brave when she was sick.

I stumbled out into the cold, with a last big hug from MDD and promise to call when I figured out what I needed to do. I got into the cab, wearing my late brother's big fuzzy sweater as insulation from the external and internal cold I shivered through.

The bank sign by our house declared the temperature to be 42 degrees, a sign from my brother regarding the answer to the universe. I cried silently the whole ride, feeling queasy and sort of floating out-of-my-body-ish after the three hours of semi-sleep I almost sort of got.

The cabbie asked where I was headed, and I croaked, "Florida." He asked if it was business or vacation. I gulped and whispered, "Family emergency."

He said he was sorry and stopped talking.

When we got to the airport, the driver brought my bags to the curb and made eye contact. He held that contact until I acknowledged it. He told me he was praying for my family and me, and that prayer and patience would bring peace. I thanked him, but I don't think any sound actually came out; I just mouthed the words.

I don't recall much else, except getting to the gate and wondering where the hell all these people were going at o-dark-thirty on Saint Patrick's Day. It was packed, and I wanted to be invisible.

It was Spring Break time, and a lot of the other travelers looked bound for Florida adventures I suspected would be vastly different than what my own. It was a packed, bumpy flight, and pretty hellish on my troubled stomach. The buzzing of the engines replaced the buzzing in my head.

I had made arrangements with my parents' neighbors to pick me up from the airport. I called when we landed, retrieved my checked bag and stumbled out into the mugginess of a Florida spring morning. All around me, people were exuberant and chatting about their hotels and trips and plans. I just blinked at the sunshine and wondered if I was awake or not. This is happening, I kept reminding myself. Sometimes, it's hard to tell.

It would be the first airport pickup my father wouldn't be greeting me. Every other time, I'd meet him either at the end of the shuttle tram stop or at the baggage claim. We'd be one of those reuniting families, chatting about plans and dinner and who's where.

Not this time. This one was just me, silently lugging my crap to the curb as I watched for the neighbors' SUV.

to be continued...

Friday, February 27, 2015

Not-So-Baby Baby

It's been a weird few weeks with the Monkey girl. There has been drama and crying and ravenous eating that is impressive by its sheer magnitude (and the related issue of where all of that is going, because I swear this kid never poops anymore).

She has been saying for months that she has a loose tooth. When asked to demonstrate, she will rub her finger back and forth on one of her bottom front teeth. MDD and I have repeatedly had to burst her bubble by telling her that all that's actually moving is her finger.

But at her most recent dental checkup, along with the all-clear for no cavities (yay!), there was actual confirmation by trained dental professionals of the looseness of the toothness.

But it's not one. Oh, of course not! Why would we settle for that?

Nope. All FOUR of her front bottom teeth are loose.

Which certainly explains why the two middle ones are looking kinda snaggly lately. They are pushing up and out and starting to look like they are trying to be the "Y" in the "YMCA dance."

Monkey is of course excited and proud, if a little scared also.

I am...I don't even know. It's so weird and kind of stupid, because these things are supposed to be happening, of course.

It's just...those were the first two little teeth we saw for her. The first brave stragglers poking through just before she turned a year old, after MONTHS of teething pain and horrific diaper blowouts that Ti-Ti still swears may have peeled the paint off her walls.

Monkey's happy, because although she is the second oldest kid in her class (one girl beat her by literally ONE DAY), she is one of the last to have any loose or missing teeth. So I think she is feeling relieved to be reclaiming her oldest/big-kid status in class.

Mommy is conflicted.

It is one more set of firm, tangible proof that every day is one day closer to her growing up and never being this same little kid anymore. It is hard to imagine and bittersweet to grasp and I wind up simultaneously clinging to her little-ness and bursting with pride at the amazing person I see her becoming.

Slowly, but surely, bit by bit, my baby is no longer a baby.

She will of course tell me she hasn't been a baby for a LONG TIME. Duh, not since she ditched the binky, because those were FOR BABIES. 

Every once in a while I ask her to make me a promise. Sometimes she rolls her eyes, but she always complies.

My sweet little Monkey has promised that somewhere in her, she will always stay just a LITTLE BIT little. Just for her Mommy, who looks at her no-longer-chubby cheeks and her ankles poking out of the pants we JUST BOUGHT a couple months ago...

For her Mommy, who now cringes when she brushes this child's teeth because the move in weird ways and Mommy's stomach flips a little bit every time.

For her Mommy, who knows this most unexpected and ridiculously loved blessing will be the one and only person on earth who will ever know what my voice and heartbeat sound like from the inside.

For me, she will hold some part of her childhood, in acknowledgement that I will always see her as my baby. Even when she is forty years old herself and dealing with who-knows-what in her own family and career.

Even then, I will look at her smirky smile and remember those two brave teeth poking their way through her then-empty, gummy mouth.

I will remember the open-mouthed, drooling baby "kisses" and the sound of "Mama!" uttered in joy but muffled by the ever-present pacifier.

I will remember that we ate "be-seens" and "go-go" and watched "El-MO-mo" together.

I will remember the distinct movement she makes as she falls asleep on my chest. Which has not changed, in 6+ years. If she is snuggled on me, I can tell you exactly when she has fallen asleep. There is a settling to her snuggle and a warmth to her head that I would know anywhere.

There has been a lot going on with me lately. Medical stuff and tests and doctors and things I don't want to get into right now. But it's made me look around and realize that I need to be present IN the present. See. Smell, Hug. Live.

Because if those coltish legs and lumberjack appetite are any indication, she's growing like crazy and OK-- she's supposed to, it's good.

But it also takes her, by little baby steps, just a wee bit further away from being that round little baby with the smiling, chubby cheeks.

She has friends and activities and homework and this whole life of her her own that is just starting to make its fuzzy landscape known. Much of it will involve me-- as much as she will let me, really, when it all comes down to it.

But the whole point of raising tiny humans is to give them their foundation so they find their own way into the world. I don't know that I really saw how torn that makes every parent...

When your child is an infant, you are kinda consumed by infancy. There are schedules and feedings and serious sleep deprivation, and laundry (dear GOD, the laundry!). Then they get mobile and it's all about making sure they don't eat rocks or put things in the outlet or fall down steps.

It's all such a blur sometimes, and they are just changing and growing and developing. That's why I started this blog in the first place. I haven't kept up with writing as often as I had hoped.

I write so I will remember, and share that with her. I want her to know how much every little nuance of her being has changed my entire world-- and I wouldn't want it any other way.

And yes...all this because of some loose teeth and outgrown pants. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The White Mouse Will NOT Explode...Maybe

So, I have to admit: we caved. This year's edition of Disney on Ice was "Frozen" and we all know Monkey is obsessed. Somewhat thanks to the nine million and four commercials, it has been REPEATEDLY brought to our attention that ELSA WILL BE IN CHICAGO, MOM.

Sort of. But, whatever--she's six.

Anyway, Monk's obsession with the movie, and moreover, the MUSIC, of said Mouse Production has become legendary in our home. Her birthday was "Frozen" and she sang "Let It Go" to the adoring throngs. Or sugared-up kindergarteners...same thing. 

We are lucky to be close to such amazing feats of cultural importance due to our proximity to the Second City. Big shows come here, folks, reallybigshowwws...

There were several funny things about this whole event. First was determining who would be going. MDD asked Big Sis if she was interested. We had all gone (the four of us, and Big Sis' mom) a couple of years ago. That was an interesting day. I was right in the midst of Kidney Stone Hell and loaded up on narcotics. Ariel skating to "Under the Sea" with BLACKLIGHTS? With narcotics on board? Good times!!

This year, no one was screaming in agony, at least. Well, Big Sis might have been, because she hates "Frozen" with an intensity I have to admire, actually. She might not hate the actual movie so much...probably more the music, as it's been sung/screamed ad nauseum by the Monkey for well over a year now.

Anyway, the showtimes we were researching fell during crossover times where Big Sis either could go with us, or go back to her mom's early. MDD asked if she wanted to see Disney on Ice. Their conversation went thusly:

BS: Uh...depends. What is it?
MDD: ...Frozen.
BS: NO. Nuh-UH. N. O.

MDD: And it's advertised as a sing-along.
BS: ...Not even a little bit. No.

Tell us how you REALLY feel... ;)

So we made arrangements for the crossover for Big Sis and got our tickets. Folks, let me add something here. The producers of these types of events are not playing around. There is SERIOUS money being made here, and we all know it, and we're all sucked into it anyway. It is mind-boggling.

I am part of a couple of Facebook groups for parents in our area. Selling used toys/furniture, etc. One mom posed a question to one of them about these sets of shows. It seems these same few seats were available for EVERY showing of this blessed event, and she was wondering why. Was there something wrong? Obstructed view? How were these available for all shows, when we're talking several options daily??

She added a snapshot of the seating chart with the seats highlighted. They were basically rink-side. Someone responded to her: Those seats are probably still available because no one wants to shell out that kind of cash for tickets to this thing. Get 'em if you want 'em, lady.

I did not opt for such an expensive purchase. I don't need to get snowed on by Elsa for my kid to have a good time. We can see just fine from the upper level, thanks.

One of the most often-recurring issues in our home seems to be time management. MDD and I have vastly different ways of doing things and while most of the time, we figure out our own rhythm to achieve common goals, sometimes our methods class horrifically.

This excursion seemed destined to demonstrate the latter. Big Sis was picked up early. I got Monkey changed into her beloved Elsa shirt and appropriately sparkle-ized with tights and accessories. A proper princess must have her BLING, darling!

I kind of wanted to leave then-ish. But we hadn't printed the tickets out yet. Oops. MDD sat down to do that...

Half an hour later, we are still at home. Then MDD had to change his pants. Then there was snow. And traffic. And, ho boy, LOTS of people headed to the SAME FRICKING PLACE we were.

The GPS countdown to arrival was not looking good for us being on time. I was holding my tongue. MDD was already irritated by the traffic and delays and it was a bit tense in the vehicle. Except for Monkey, who just kept asking if we were close to the arena yet. Because THAT helps. Always.

MDD took a moment to talk to her, and apologized upfront that we were running late, and probably going to miss the first song at least. But that we couldn't really do anything about it and the traffic was slowing us down more.

My sweet, overly-excited, bursting-at-the-seams child, responded, "That's OK, Dad. I don't really NEED to see the first song, anyway. It's fine."

I didn't know how to take that. If she really was fine with it, that's one thing, but it was hard to tell. She might have just been saying what she felt was the right thing to say to placate her stressed-out parents stuck in the off-ramp of the highway. Or, she might have really thought it to be true.

Either way, that was an amazing thing for a six-year-old to say, IMHO. 

It wound up actually being moot, anyway. We got to the parking lot a few minutes before the scheduled show time. Courtesy of my handicapped parking placard (these stupid semi-functioning legs have at least a few perks, sometimes) and our untimely arrival, we wound up getting waved into a parking spot literally just outside the door.

Getting into the actual seats was interesting, as we had to find a staircase that was NOT roped off, and we were definitely salmon headed upstream to find our section. Music started playing from the main arena right as we were getting through the gates, so the sense of urgency was huge.

As it turned out, there was a "warmup" skating group out there, talking to the crowd and making sure everyone was "ready to DANCE? And SING?" Blah blah, sure-- where are our seats, mouse? 

We got situated JUST as the real opening number started. Hall. Le. Lu. IA.

It was certainly engaging and included all the music Monkey loves, though some songs were expanded and others condensed, which I found interesting. They also took a couple of scenes out of order, and that just completely made me twitch. The universe has RULES and ORDER and things go 1, 2, 3, 4...not 1, 2, 6, 3. GAAAHH. 

Le Monk cared not. She was vibrating and squee-ing and laughing and clapping. All the things she should be doing. MDD and I shared many loving, contented looks over the top of her bouncing head as she wiggled between us.

What was NOT cool:
The grandparents behind us with their granddaughter (who was loving life) and grandson (who clearly wanted to Not. Be. There.). Because the boy was fidgety and not paying attention, and walking back and forth in their row (grabbing my hair/seat every time, mind you), they very "wisely" bought him one of the overpriced light-up toys to occupy him.

Gave it to him. He turned it on and pointed it IN MY FACE. Like, between the seats, in my face, between my daughter and me. I gently shoved it back at him. He took it with him to go get popcorn. On the way back, stepping over grandma, he FULL ON CLOCKED ME IN THE EAR with that $*@$& thing.

I nearly punched him. And his grandparents. Because, HELLO? Other people exist! And-- it REALLY hurt. Like, a LOT.  My ear was ringing for hours.

MDD and I have had many, many discussions about the rampant "boys-will-be-boys" mentality that seems to be a poor cover-up excuse for parents just letting male children run around like crazed lunatics 100% of the time. We see it at school, at church, and just in the general public. Boys are running around tackling each other, screaming, hitting, and just...wild. Moreso than I can recall kids being when I was younger. And parents just either don't see it, or shrug it off, or (worse) think it's "cute."

We are teaching our children to respect themselves and other people equally. The golden rule, and all that. Don't go flailing around kicking people if you wouldn't want to be kicked by someone flailing around like a jackass. Makes sense to me, and yet we seem to be the only ones focused on keeping that crap to a minimum.

He and I have both agreed it is probably a good thing we have female offspring, because our expectations of behavior and consideration of other human beings (and habit of actually following through with consequences for violating such expectations), while firmly lodging us in the minority of parents of this generation of children, would make us quite ridiculously beyond the norm if our kids were male.

Which I think is dumb, and a double-standard, and not helping anyone. But true, nonetheless. 

I mean, someday, our girls will grow up and potentially be dating these "boys-will-be-boys" wolf-raised children. Although not until they are 25, per MDD. He can dream on, on that one. 

Anyhoo, wild-beast-boy aside, it was actually a pretty good show. Monkey was absolutely blown away because "ELSA WAVED *AT ME*!!!" You and 20,000 of your friends, my love, but...OK. 

One of the funniest Monkey moments ever actually took place at intermission of this blessed event. We know our girl, and you can only go so long without some kind of snack to placate the beast living in her belly.

Those Snickers commercials were clearly made with our daughter in mind. She turns into a completely different person when she is hungry, and it is a cross between super diva Mariah Carey and The Hulk. Picture that. Yep. That is Low Blood Sugar Monkey. 

We were not about to try to leave our seats, because scrambling over a whole row of people just wasn't going to happen without injury to ourselves or others. So our options were the vendors coming around the aisles.

They know their markets, these vendors. One had cotton candy and the other had snow cones in souvenir cups. Thus came the adorable Monkey moment.

We told her she could only get ONE. So she had to choose.

Both came with souvenirs. The bag of cotton candy had a (cheap looking) hat attached, and you could get either a princess tiara hat or Olaf. The snow-cone guy had Olaf cups or a combination Elsa/Anna cup.

Cotton candy guy on the left. Snow cone guy on the right.

She stood there, AGONIZING.

MDD and I started giggling. 

She was actually turning full on to each option, and the little gears turning in her head were visible. Should I get the hat? I don't know, it looks kind of small...and I have a big head... I see a couple people whose hats already broke, too. 

Snow cone? But it's messy and I am wearing my favorite Elsa shirt! And then would it be Olaf, or the combo one with the princesses? 

Decisions, decisions...turn left and look...turn right and look...chewing her nails as she tried to decide...

MDD and I were *ROLLING* by this time. OMG. ROLLING!!

Finally, like a Wheel of Fortune contestant beating the clock, she blurted out: "SNOW CONE!! OLAF SNOW CONE, please!!!!!"

It was well worth the $15 (no kiding- FIFTEEN FRIGGIN DOLLARS) to hand her the Olaf snow-cone in the souvenir cup.

Then I realized the top of the cup that flips up to show the snow-cone is actually the top of Olaf's skull, because the cup is just his face.

Thus, it occurred to me that my dear little angel was quite joyfully eating Olaf's rainbow-colored, fruity brains.

Aaaaaaaaaaand that's all folks. Mommy down. I lost it. 

I was snickering so hard I was tearing up. Monkey just kept looking at me quizzically.
MDD raised one eyebrow.

Composing myself slightly and clearing my throat, I asked him, "Um...doesn't this look...a little...morbid... to you? At all? Or, is it just me??"

He looked at her, then at me. Then back to the cup and Olaf's flip-top head and rainbow brain.

Then he lost it, too. Further proof I have married my soulmate. 

Oh, and that little stinker ate nearly the whole thing, too. 
Well, to be fair, she DID offer me a bite. I...uh...I just couldn't. 

She got about halfway through it, and then joyfully declared: "Hey! It looks like I ate his BRAINS!"

Yep. Sure does. 

Family bonding, Disney-style. Come to our show! See your favorite characters! 
Then, eat their brains! 

Good. Times.