TTT*: The Makings of a Troll

*Tiny Tyrant Tales

By nature, my husband and I possess a decent trolling abilities. Forged in uniquely different fires, and each with our own unique delivery. It also appears genetic. I’m pretty sure I got it from my aunt, who could slyly insult you, only you didn’t figure it out until hours later.

Tiny Tyrant goes to daycare during the week. This affords her the opportunity to play and develop relationships. She learns all kinds of crap she’s supposed to know by the time she reaches kindergarten. (Even though this totally wasn’t a thing when I was her age. You just turned five, and into half-day kindergarten you went. But I digress.)

Now, Tiny Tyrant has gained a reputation of being very bright, very funny, and very very stubborn. Only recently did I have to report to the director’s office because she got mad and head-butted the assistant director.

Mr. Jake is her teacher, or at least he was until this past Friday, which was his last day. No, TT didn’t drive him away. Not that I am aware of.

Mr. Jake works from 8am-5pm. On. The. Dot. As his last day was winding down, he tells his kids that he’s going bye-bye. He will miss them all. And he will pop in once in a while and say hello (he’s engaged to one of the teachers there). The kids all line up to give hugs and tell Mr. Jake good-bye.

Finally, it’s my daughter’s turn.

Mr. Jake beckons to TT, she approaches him quietly. Cautiously. Never breaking eye contact. She stands before Mr. Jake, as he holds out his arms for his hug. This tender moment that teachers look back and remember fondly.

“I pooped.”

The time is 4:59 pm.

 

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Tempus Fugit

Tomorrow, Tiny Tyrant moves from the Toddler Room to the “Big Kid Room” at the daycare. Luckily, we found a good daycare that transitions to preschool, we like a lot. So, TT’s movement will be minimal. Just one great, big transition to kindergarten when she turns 5. But we still have a couple more years until that bridge is crossed.

Time moves too damned fast.

It seems like yesterday, she was just stumbling through her first steps. Making her own little chatter than only she understood. Her tiny, baby face gave way to a, while still a small one, face that lost all it’s baby features. The sweet baby smell long gone, replaced by the smell of dirt, crayons, and yogurt. I am the mother of a 3 year old with he own personality; stubborn, charismatic, and hilarious. It’s amazing that she came up with it, all on her own. Her life is one, great adventure, and her Mom and Dad are just along for the ride.

As with every transition, there comes a small degree of sadness. I felt it when I stopped breastfeeding. When I put the outgrown clothes and toys away, their usefulness passed. I’m excited to see the person she grows up to be, but I do miss the tiny baby I once had. How light she felt when I carried her. How she snuggled in such a way that her body just seemed to fit against mine like a perfect puzzle piece.

But it’s not all sad. In place of the baby, I have a girl who is bursting at the seams with energy, and she wants to share it all with Mommy and Daddy. Her animated excitement at her best friends at school. How she has to be the one who makes the introductions of anyone who comes over to the house. How playing in a water sprinkler and having a popcicle on Fridays is the perfect finish to her week.

But still…time moves too damned fast.

At the Center: Fire In Unexpected Places

At the Center, we have volunteers. In the summer is when you see the teenagers. Any other time, it’s typically the older folks. They are generally cheerful, and I feel like the day is improved because they are there.

Around the lunch time hour, the volunteers load up a big cart full of snacks, beverages, and small sack lunches to pass around. All of these things are free for patients.

Now, I understand that nutrition is important when fighting the Big C. I’ve heard of a wide array of diets. All raw foods. Veggies Only. Fish Only. Gluten-free. Etc. At the Center, we didn’t really offer any of those things. It’s snack chips, cookies, Coke, Juice…pretty much a 4th graders absolute dream of a snack cache. Yeah, you could argue that offering these things are counter-intuitive. We can’t really offer fresh fruits or veggies because it would all go to rot before it would get eaten. Gluten-free or the like are just plain gross and the patients want nothing to do with them. My general philosophy is this: if the only thing you can eat and manage to keep down is a bag of Doritos, eat as many of them as you like. Even shitty food is better than no food at all.

We also found out that when we switched over to name brand snacks and soda, patients didn’t seem to mind waiting as much. Coke Classic has magical properties!

A volunteer of ours, a diminutive man with white hair, was pushing the lunch cart around when he happened upon the room I was working in. I stopped whatever it was I was doing to allow him to peddle his wares. My patient perused the offerings and immediately laid into the poor guy about “giving crap to cancer patients”. The tirade lasted a good 2-3 minutes, all about the lack of fresh fruits, and the amount of preservatives and blah, blah, blah. I interjected when I could. It wasn’t like this volunteer was personally responsible for our snack purchases. Finally, the old guy just shrugged.

“I don’t care,” he said, preparing to move his cart to the next room. The patient snorted. I froze. You can always tell when a fight is going to erupt. “I really don’t care.” He repeated.

“You don’t care??” The patient was incredulous. “I’m sure all the people here fighting cancer care!”

Shit. How was I going to diffuse this???

“Well,” the volunteer replied, in his soft-spoke voice, “I have cancer. I still don’t care.”

With that, he moved on. The patient didn’t utter another peep.

It wasn’t until almost a year after I transferred to the center that I discovered that many of our adult volunteers are or were cancer patients themselves. Some were survivors, some were still getting treated. All just wanted an opportunity to give back. I have also discovered, and have warned people about, is that you never fuck around with a cancer patient/survivor. They have been baptized by fire, and no amount of bad shit that has happened in your life will ever, ever compare to what they have endured. They fight with everything they have because they have everything to lose. Mere words cannot describe the amount of respect I have for them. So, because they fight, I also fight.

To be honest, I didn’t even mind the patient having a nutritional axe to grind. It shows a fire in her belly, and a willingness to fight.

And that, is half the battle.

Burn It Down

There are a select few things I hate with the fire of a thousand hot suns. Trump being one. And I wasn’t a bandwagon hater. I’ve detested this man since the 80’s…before it was cool. I am the hipster of Trump Haters. But, I am not here to bash on Trump…today. Not really.  Well, maybe just a little.

Another thing that makes my blood boil are antivaxxers. Before I had Tiny Tyrant, my niece’s mother preached to me how vaccinating was evil and how she had a book for me to read to know the perils of vaccines. I declined the book, knowing full well what I would do with it. I remembered all the times my niece was in the hospital as an infant, earning her immune system the old fashioned way. Thank the gods that she never caught anything that would have killed her.

People wonder what makes antivaxxers so dumb. The doctor who started this hot mess was proved a fraud, his “study” proven a sham to make himself rich, his medical license revoked. Every claim they make, has been debunked thoroughly by actual scientists and doctors. What would make seemingly intelligent people fall for something so easily proved false?

Probably one of the most sound reasons is that these people simply do not know what life is like with polio, or measles, or mumps. Those are illnesses of the older generations, eradicated (for a while at least), the younger generations have enjoyed the immunity that vaccinations have given us, but some of us forgot how we got that immunity. Now, they are terrified of autism, which has been turned into some sort of Boogie Man that is apparently worse than dying from polio.

The only thing I can liken this to is a schizophrenic that stops taking their meds because they feel normal, and decide that they don’t need the meds anymore.

Now that certain illnesses are making a comeback in thanks to many parents who need a swift kick in the ass, we get to experience it all over again. Happy days are here again, people. Hope you got your Iron Lung ready.

It got me thinking about this whole mess with the healthcare debate. And that fucking orange Cheeto stinking up the White House, when he isn’t trying to recruit Boy Scouts for his own Hitler Youth. People are allowing this to happen because they simply have no clue what life was like before The New Deal. No social programs. No infrastructure. No government help. You were pretty much on your own. People lived a lot differently before the 1900’s. If you were homeless, no one cared. If you were hungry, you might be able to find a church that had a soup kitchen. If you were old and sick…that’s too bad.

Maybe these people need to experience how shitty life can be before they can truly appreciate what they have available to them. No more Medicare. No more Social Security (which people will defend that as something they paid into, so they should get that back. Poor people largely view Social Security as their retirement plan, which is why they don’t consider it welfare.). No more SNAP cards, subsidized housing, or free school lunch. All of it…gone.

It’s a direction we’re heading. Some will feel the effects before it reaches other people.  A lot of those “uneducated working ‘Mericans” that Trump loves so much will be the first to be hit. Sure, churches and other organizations will help out, but at the end of the day, it’s not going to be enough.

It easy to care about this, but it’s difficult to stay that way. Maybe we should let the chips fall where they may. Maybe people need to be reminded of the way Americans used to live, before World Wars I and II. Maybe it all needs to be burned to the ground. Maybe then, people will understand and give a shit about their fellow man. Only then can something meaningful can emerge from the ashes.

Some people learn from history. They heed the warnings. They can see when patterns repeat themselves. Others, they ignore all of that. Their great teacher is experience. This is something they are very proud of.

Let them learn.

The Time I Almost Got a Lot Lizard for a Mommy

After my parents split up, my Dad wasn’t all that eager to jump back into the dating pool. For a while, he was content just hanging out with friends and drinking his beer. He had three kids to manage. It wasn’t until a few years after the divorce that I even saw him interested in anyone. A woman named Donna, introduced through a mutual friend of the family. She seemed nice enough, and I noticed my father talking to her more than he usually talked to people.

After one night of visiting, we came home. As I was brushing my teeth, he stood in the doorway of the bathroom.

“What do you think of Donna?” he asked. I shrugged.

“She seems okay.”

“What would you think if I asked her out on a date?”

“I think that would be okay,” I answered earnestly. “Mom has a boyfriend. There’s no reason you shouldn’t go out with people, too.”

Dad nodded and nothing more was said of the subject.

A week or so later, Dad came home late at night, looking annoyed. I asked him what was wrong.

“Have you ever heard of a Lot Lizard?”

I had not.

So, earlier that evening, my father was over at mutual family friend’s house. So was Donna. Donna and Dad were visiting, he asked her out. They made a plan to go out that weekend. At the end of the evening, Donna needs a ride home, Dad offers said ride. Donna accepts.

As they are driving, Donna asks my father to drop her off at a truck stop that they are coming upon, and just leave her there. Dad is confused.

“I need to make some money tonight.” Explains Donna. Dad is still confused.

Upon further questioning, Donna explains that she provides company to lonely truck drivers for a nominal fee.

Dad noped right out of that. The planned date never happened. Dad never spoke to Donna again. He may have been an alcoholic, but even he had standards.

Dad and I had stopped by Mutual Family Friend some time later, and the old bat had the nerve to chastise my father for being stuck up and too good to date Donna.

“Some people have to make money the only way they know how!” She reasoned.

Dad argued that she could wash dishes or something that didn’t involve sucking some guy off. Dad may have had standards, but he still spoke bluntly.

And thus ended my close encounter with having a new Mommy who was a Lot Lizard.

 

Sun Rises and Clean Slates

I really, really don’t like working on weekends.

Oh sure, I knew that when I became a nurse, I should expect to work holidays and weekends. Expect I am going to miss out on stuff because of what I do. That being said, I really, really hate working weekends. I hate getting up early, I hate being away from my husband, and I hate being away from my daughter. There’s one thing I don’t hate, however, is the drive to work.

We live in a rural area. Not podunk country, we’re 15 minutes away from all the creature conveniences of city life. No, we’re rural enough that we have a big-assed propane tank by our house, and a septic tank buried somewhere in front of it. Our place is nestled in the slow rolling hills of our county, the beauty of the nature surrounding us only matched with the crappiness of the cellular signal. Driving out of our “neighborhood”, you climb a big hill, and upon cresting, you can see for miles. You can see the city in the far off distance, the activity of the airport, the little McMansions dotted across the countryside, the trees, the fields waiting for their crops to be planted.

On those Sunday mornings I am driving to work, I also get to see the sun rise when I crest that hill, painting the land with its oranges and pinks while it waits for the rest of the world to wake up. It takes my breath away every single time.

I love going on cruises. Logtar, not so much. He asks my why I love it, and I really don’t have one singular answer. There’s a lot of things I don’t like about it: the crowds, the seemingly inflexible schedule, the crowds, the rude passengers. But probably one of my most favorite things is pulling into port.

Usually, ships arrive at their port early, early in the morning, while everyone is sleeping. So, when you wake up, boom, you’re there! Excitement builds as everyone gets ready for their island adventure.

For me, I tend to wake up right about the time the ship nears the port. I wake up on my own, I don’t know why. I step out onto the balcony and watch as we drift slowly towards our stop. The island coming closer and closer. The only sounds you hear is the splashing of the water as the ship navigates its position towards the dock, you may hear the squeal of a seagull or two. The air is fresh and salty. The temperature is just right. You feel a slight breeze on your face. Meanwhile, you’re a little closer to the island, and from your elevated vantage point, you can take a better look. The dark of night ebbing slowly, like a wave good-bye to an old friend. No people milling around. No cars. Virtually no activity. The sun makes its sleepy debut, and your pupils begin to dilate in delight of the beautiful pastels of the sun rise. You are witnessing the world, still asleep, on the cusp of waking up. You are witness to a brand new day, full of endless possibility. Your day is a blank slate, and you have the ability to make your own adventure in this new place. Small worries melt away as you realize just how awesome your life is. You lean over the balcony rail, and look up and down the side of the ship, seeing a few others doing the same thing you are doing, with the same look of peace and contentment on their face.

I get this exact same feeling on those Sunday mornings when I am driving to work.

It’s so easy to get caught up in worldly events. It’s even easier to fall into despair because it seems hope is a luxury that few can afford. I’ve fallen prey to it just as easily. In my early morning commute, I wondered why I just don’t feel this way all the time. The answer is easy…you just simply forget to.

How hard would it be to wake up every day with a sense of wonder? Instead of worrying about what may or may not happen at work, instead be excited that you have another day to be master of your life. To spend with family and friends. To finally make plans to do something you have been putting off. To make a difference. To have an adventure, no matter how big or how small. How difficult would it be to get out of bed thinking about all the cool stuff you have in your life, versus what is missing? What a challenge would it be to wake up with the singular thought, “MY LIFE IS AWESOME!” Instead of waking up and just going through the same motions you do everyday, and not take notice because you think what you do is unremarkable.

Attitude is everything, and you can have one everyday. Everyone has the choice: will it be a good one or a  bad one? Why wait until an early morning sunset on vacation or just driving in your car to have an epiphany on how great your life is? Appreciate ALL THE THINGS. Your hot (or iced) cup of coffee. That your husband gets out of bed, and makes a beeline for your side to give you a kiss good morning. That your baby always smiles when she sees you. That your husband is always excited to see you.

When you start thinking of all the good things, and start approaching each day like a blank slate, more and more you feel that amazing lift that comes when you crest a hill and see the whole world laying before you. Before too long, you will agree…that your life is awesome.

Now, go out there and have your adventure!

Getting Out: Crabs in a Bucket

When fishermen catch a bunch of crabs, it is not unusual for them to keep the crabs in a bucket and not have a lid on it. Common sense would tell you that this is a dumb idea because the crabs would just climb out of the bucket. However, the fishermen know that this is probably not going to happen because if one crab tries to climb out, the other crabs will grab onto the would-be escapee and pull it down in an effort to pull themselves out. No one escapes, and at the end of the day, they go on to end up on someone’s dinner plate.

blue-crabs-in-a-bucket-300x300

The general idea is that the mob mentality can keep a person from forging ahead and doing better for themselves. “If I can’t do it, neither can you!”

This analogy is a perfect example of trying to get out of the cycle of poverty. Even if you strip away the systems in place that keep people in poverty (welfare, cost of education, etc), it doesn’t consider that one of the biggest hurdles of breaking the cycle are the ones closest to you: friends and family.

You hear about this peppered through the pages of the news: people who win the lottery, professional athletes. I don’t have to look much further than my own personal experiences. I grew up poor, my whole family did. My father’s family is a never-ending cycle of it, and only recently have some of my generation or newer are getting out of the pot. I’ve heard the crab in the pot attitudes echoing throughout my entire life.

  • Cousin marries, they acquire a couple of modest rental properties and during the summers have their own fireworks stand. (She thinks she’s too good to spend time with us since she has money.)
  • Aunt remarries a guy who works hard at a steady job. He’s a hard worker. He eats out whenever he wants, has a hobby of rebuilding classic cars and going to car shows, and drives a newer truck. (She married a high-roller, and now she’s thinks her shit doesn’t stink.)
  • People that live in nice houses and have swimming pools are automatically assholes.

I even experienced this directly. I received a settlement after a bad car accident. A family member assumed I would give him half because he happened to be in the car with me when it happened (he was uninjured). When I told the family member that the settlement was for medical bills and the rest would be applied to nursing school, I was accused of being greedy and putting money over family. That family member was living with me at the time, and decided to stop paying their share of the rent because they felt I didn’t need the money.

Another example being that my chosen career path pays well. While it does not put me into a wealthy category, it certainly offers security, good benefits, and not worrying about things like broken down cars, food in the fridge, and clothes on my back. Instead of being happy, family members have replied bitterly, “Must be nice to not have to worry!”

As far as crabs in a barrel? I’ve experienced that, too. I kept “loaning”money to a family member who was always short on their house payment. “If we miss this payment, we will get foreclosed on, and our kids will be out on the streets.” I found out the hard lesson that loans to family members weren’t really loans at all, but viewed as some sort of  profit-sharing between family members that did well and those who couldn’t manage their money. I almost ended up losing my house because I was funneling so much money to help other family members, that I was neglecting my own needs.

Just like crabs in a barrel.

Why, you  may wonder, would someone almost go into foreclosure to help a family member? Guilt. It is the guilt of getting out, and leaving family members behind. This guilt starts at an early age. When you are poor, you don’t have anything but your family. This idea is drilled into you, that the family is all you have, and you must keep it intact at all costs. This mentality, while seemingly noble, is what not only keeps poor people poor, it also guards secrets that should not be kept in the dark, like molestation. All fueled by the guilt that consumes you and prevents you from fighting to get out of that damn bucket.

Some would argue that there is honor in such blind loyalty to family. Looking at it now, it looks more like insanity.

I have a cousin, who has a niece, and she will be the first in her family to attend university. Not just any university. A big one. She is the oldest of 6 kids, and she has known poverty for her entire life. While her Dad has been encouraging, and an Aunt who has been her biggest cheerleader, her brothers and sisters seem to be disinterested in doing better for themselves, and a mother that thinks panhandling and prostitution is a perfectly acceptable way of making money. I would think about her a lot, knowing just how hard she would have to work, and how difficult it would be to maintain focus.

“At this stage in your life, the decisions you make will affect the rest of your life. Move cautiously, be smart, and never lose focus,” I told her.

As I write this, she is home, pregnant with the father of the baby having seemingly abandoned her, and slim to no chance she will be returning to college. No job skills other than working at a Subway, no solid support system. Another crab, almost out, now pulled back into the bucket. The cycle of poverty ensured for the next generation.

I hate that goddamn bucket.